One family becomes more complete, and a new one is begun.
It was the next night, and it was the big game. Against her better judgment, Elda decided to show up. Since this was a high school affair, the crowd was no more than about five or six thousand present. This meant great seats for everyone. However, because of the dome, it sounded like 25,000 people. The surface was FieldTurf, so that made the players feel a bit better. Astroturf is fairly much a forbidden surface for Rugby, due to the hardness of the surface, and the burns to the skin. However, this stuff was like playing on real grass, so there were no problems. Jean-Claude had no light difficulties in this facility, so he was geared up for the game. Elda was not sure about the game, for it had not been invented when she and the survivors of Europe left for Japan. Kenta started to fill her in on the game, and at first, she thought it a bit barbaric. However, when she saw the two teams warming up, and saw the finesse of the set plays, she figured that it just might be a good competition. Yuriya then said, “That’s why they call it elegant violence. Watch, and you’ll see!”
She was resplendent in the team jersey, his bat ears from the concert, with the jersey over the pretty, black dress she normally wore. It was clear that she and Jean-Claude had fallen head over heels for each other, and the three eldest adults figure that this was a good thing, in that, at least they understood each other, and they could give each other comfort. Jean-Claude was still trying to gain her spiritually, but he also figured that, one, she was his only chance, and two, he had nearly eternity to work on her.
The Bats’ opponent was a school from Okinawa, and they were a big and tough team. The Bats knew they were in for a fight, so they definitely were not going to take their opponent lightly. However, this is what the other team may have been doing, when, in the first five minutes, Jean-Claude came up with a big tackle that forced them back, and set up a bad scenario for the next phase. The other team came out with the ball, and the player with the ball was immediately hit. Jean-Claude, sensing the flow, dove in quickly to set up the ruck, and managed a forceful enough blow to drive back the opposition, and turn over the ball. However, his zeal caused him to foot back the ball hard, and roll it deep. The fly half was on top of it, but he was immediately in trouble. He could not kick it, but he managed to avoid the tackle. He charged forward a few steps, and popped a high bomb cross field. A Bat halfback quickly gathered it, and he charged downfield. After a scissor and skip move, the fullback had the ball at midfield. He was hit but offloaded to Jean-Claude, who rumbled forward ten meters, and managed to flip it to a charging scrum half as he was being gang tackled. His size drew off enough of the defense that it allowed the Bats to overload and roll in for the try. That set the pace for the rest of the game. For nearly the full 80 minutes, the game rolled back and forth. It was such an intriguing game that even Elda was cheering. Henry was getting in and looking just as proud as any dad would to see his son play. Anjou did not say much, but she smiled when Jean-Claude made a good play, and looked anxious when the other team seemed to be getting the upper hand. Because of a missed conversion, the Bats were down by two, and the 80-minute mark passed. However, the Bats now had the ball and were inching closer and closer. They had to keep possession; else, the other team would kick it out, end the play, and consequently, the game. They were just inside the 22-meter line, and the ruck had formed. There was enough in the ruck to secure the ball for the Bats that Jean-Claude stepped back to be an extra body in the line. The ball came out, but they were quickly choked out. The offload came back to Jean-Claude, and, seeing neither his fly half, a way through that could at least keep possession, or anyone to pass to, he had no choice but to try for the goal. He had been practicing the drop kick, and he had become pretty good at it. The Bats figured that it was good that someone in the scrum could do this, because that man could be a secret weapon in a situation like this, and now was the time. His fly half nodded to kick, and he put it down. It was a solid kick, end over end, with the distance…off the post! Jean-Claude saw this, and in the heat of the situation, used just a touch of his vampire speed to try to get to the ball and maybe fall on it for the score. Since it was coming back to the field of play, it would be a live ball. Sadly, as he tried to get in, he was hit, and he fell one foot short of the line. Because he could not release towards his team after the tackle, due to he trying to score, the other team quickly collected the ball, and kicked it into touch, ending the game. The team from Okinawa waked away with the win. As they made their way to midfield to celebrate, Jean-Claude just lay there, staring at the goal line, knowing how close to a championship they had come. He put his face in the turf, and though he did not bawl, he did shed some tears. He sat back up as the rest of the team converged around him, helped him to his feet, and did what they could to console him. After all, he had done all he could to make it happen, and he left it all out on the field. Sadly, it just was not enough. The Markers, Usuis, and Yuriya saw what had happened and fell silent. It just wasn’t that the school had lost, but Jean-Claude had come so close to gaining the victory, only to fall short by one foot. Yuriya’s heart dropped into her shorts. She deeply felt his pain, and consoling him was the only thing on her mind. Karin, on the other hand, had to beat a hasty retreat, because the unhappiness around her started to creep in, and she felt a slight rise. Kenta got her to a place where she would not have a rise, and then came back to tell the others that he was going to keep her at least ten feet from everyone to keep disaster from happening. Henry then said, “That won’t be necessary. Can you get Karin to give me her cell phone?”
Kenta went to fetch it, and Henry started to make some reservations.
Jean-Claude had a long, hot shower, trying to wash away the disappointment in the thunderously quiet locker room. He wanted to shake off the unhappiness in his heart for the sake of Karin. The last thing they needed was to add a nosebleed to the night’s bad outcome. The coach congratulated the team for a great season, and not to feel bad, they had won the city and conference championships, and thus, they had much to celebrate. He also said that it would set them up for a good run the next year. After he was done, he said to Jean-Claude, “Son, don’t take this on your shoulders. That could have happened to anyone. The fact that you had the wherewithal to charge the kick with that fantastic sprint to try to score says much about the way you played tonight. There was no quit in you, and it showed. They just got the better of you at the wrong moment. You did well, son—no sad stories tonight.”
He patted him on the back, and said, “Oh, there are some people outside waiting for you.”
He thought that strange, so he got his bag and made his way out. He was surprised to see the whole family outside waiting for him as well as the Usuis and Yuriya. They were all smiling and applauding him, with Henry saying, “Son, you had a great year, and we are all so proud of you!”
He smiled, having this put him in a good mood, and he said, “Now is this not a sight? Normally we…I just didn’t expect this for certain reasons.”
“Son, you taught us to be a family,” said Henry, “which is revolutionary for our kind. This normally does not happen. It rather feels good! Now, we have reservations, so let’s go celebrate!”
They returned to the house, and Maki excused herself to spend some time with Wiener. Karin came back out with Kenta as they sat on the porch. Meanwhile, Henry had a private word with Jean-Claude. He asked, “So, I’ve seen you around Tachibiana-chan quite a bit.”
“I like her,” he said, “I only wish she would believe, as I, because, well, she’s the only one I think would have me, or I could be with.”
“Does it bother you that you two won’t have any children?” Henry asked.
“A bit,” he said, “But I’ve been thinking that Karin may help with that. Who knows? Anyway, why do you ask?”
“Calera accuses me often of not having a spine, or being able to handle family affairs,” answered Henry, “But when it comes to you kids, I care much, and want to do whatever it takes to make you happy. Because of what you are—what we are—I can have it arranged that you to can be paired. It would be legal amongst us, and in the mortal world. What do you think?”
Jean-Claude rubbed his neck, and said, “I already owe you a lot, you don’t have to go that far for me.”
“You’re my son now,” said Henry, “Besides, it’s my job to pair up my children, and you two are a match.”
He thought for a moment, and then said to Henry, “Then, give me a chance to do it right. Let me get a ring and make it official.”
“Well, don’t expect an elaborate ceremony,” he said, “because, in this world, it’s just made official, and that’s that. In fact, for your privacy, we can have a house built here on the grounds for you two. As long as you pay your share on the property, utilities, and such like, it would be no problem.”
“Well, she wouldn’t have to live in a rundown slum anymore, not with my money,” he said, “Man, all I came to Japan for was to get rid of a cancer, and then settle down. I never expected this!”
“We never expected you, son,” Henry laughed, “You’re one in a million! Besides, we are glad you came.”
He then got a wild hair up his nose, and he looked at his watch, and said, “There may be just enough time,” and rushed out of the house. Henry said, “What nutty thing is he going to do now?”
Everyone was shocked as they saw a blur snap by them, stirring up the autumn air around them, and five minutes later, the blur came back, with Jean-Claude being the source of it. “Sorry if I scared you, I had to do something real quick,” he said.
Kenta then said, “’Real quick?’ That’s the understatement of the year!”
Jean-Claude went into the house, and came back out with his guitar. Anjou saw this, and she came back out with her own. Jean-Claude took a seat on the swing, as Yuriya snuggled next to him, and Anjou sat in a char perpendicular to them. He started to play Ventura Highway, and Anjou, after listening for a few minutes, began to play some lead licks over it. “You’ve been practicing, Muff!” he said, and she answered, “Once you and sister go to bed, and I’ve already fed, there is not much else to do.”
That hit home with him, and he said, “I’ll tell you what, if you can endure this school year, I can shift my life to the evening. It’s better for me anyway.”
She just looked up, smiled her gentle smile, and she said, “Try this one.”
She then began to play Tin Man, and he said, “I also see that you’ve been expanding your repertoire,” as he joined her. Karin said, “One day, your kids are going to love you,” to which Anjou said, “And I thank you for your help with that in advance.”
Karin just had to hug her, and felt so much closer to her sister, knowing that she could now repay her for all those years of Anjou covering for her. Kenta looked back, smiling at the sight, thinking, “Wow! These guys are more of a family than most mortal people are. It’s so nice to see.”
Fumio came out with some coffee, saying, “It’s chilly, kids, here’s something to warm you!”
She served, and set out the sugar and cream, as she sat with them. Calera and Henry then joined them. They had no idea that Elda was on the roof above the porch, listening to the whole thing. There were mortals associating with vampires as if it were a normal thing, they were showing love to each other, there were even two half-breeds in the mix. She had believed, as the other vampires there in Japan, (who either fled persecution, or had been raised by those that had,) that there was no chance for mingling. Had they been out of touch so long that they had not seen the world change? It was made more impacting when Anjou and Jean-Claude began to play Catch the Wind. She fed off love and romance, and the air was electric with it—Karin and Kenta, Yuriya and Jean-Claude, Calera and Henry. It made her hungry, and she knew that she had to do something about it. However, she began to think of Alfred, of James, and now Victor. What had she missed? What made matters more interesting was what happened next. Jean-Claude said, “And this is something that I never thought would happen, but that I am going to do now, because it just cannot wait. I may never get this chance again.”
With that, he got down on one knee, produced a health stone from his pocket, and said, “Yuriya Tachibana, will you marry me?”
Her face filled with tears and joy, as her heart began to race at a million miles per hour, screaming, “Yes, yes, OH YES!”
She was on her feet, kissing him, and hugging him as they applauded, and she asked Henry, “Has this all been okayed?”
“Essentially, you two already are married,” he said, “We’re just waiting for the paperwork! Congratulations, you two.”
That was it for Elda. She leapt up and headed into town. They all saw her leave, and they wondered just how much she had heard.
Elda got into town and started to hunt. However, this world seemed different to her. Catch the Wind was rattling around in her head as she hunted, and she did not know what to think, now that she was really taking a good look at the world around for the first time in a long time. She could tell who had money, yet, there was no noble lord and vassal situation, everyone from every class were socializing like peers, everyone was cordial, and even a few vampires were moving amongst them, acting like mortals, socializing with them as if this were a normal thing. Now the Times They Are a Changin’ was rattling through her skull, especially the line that says she has to get out of the new path of travel if she could not lend a hand. Could it be that the only reason why vampires and humans could not get along was more now because of the vampires and not the humans? They only remembered the persecution in Europe some 200 years ago, and became paranoid about the race, thinking that all humans were like that, and that they would never change. Because they had spent so much time ignoring human advance, seeing them more as cattle than anything else, they had not realized that the world was passing them by for not participating in its existence. She was able to find a couple and feed, but at the same time, for the first time, she did not feel like she was exacting some kind of revenge. It was at this point that she finally realized that her status as a vampire did not make her superior and that 90% of the problems people have they bring on themselves. Even when it is not one’s fault, (like what caused them all to flee in the first place,) what happens after is the choice of the wronged. She also began to realize that, to bear a grudge against a present group of people for the sins of the past is wrong. It is only the wrong of the here and now that must be dealt with, and one should never visit the sins of the people on their children, especially if their children want to erase the past. Yes, these humans did not light the fire, and maybe, just maybe, they were trying to fight it. She needed some time to think.
Back at the house, Karin was walking Kenta home, the Markers went out to hunt, and together, for the first time in a long time. Anjou went out herself, and Jean-Claude kissed Yuriya, and said, “See you tomorrow, immortal beloved.”
He went inside, and she stood on the porch. He thought it was over for the night, but it was not! He closed the door behind him, and prepared for bed. He had just gotten his sleep pants on when he sensed a presence behind him. He slowly turned about, and saw Yuriya standing there, fingers interlocked and her arms extending fully, hanging in front. She had a look on her face that exuded love, but it was in such a fashion where she seemed extremely vunerable, and she slowly approached. She then took the sides of her dress, and said, “I am here for you, m’lord.”
Jean-Claude did not understand. He had a guess to the intentions of the moment, but he was a traditionalist. He expected a ceremony or something, and he looked confused. Yuriya detected this confusion, had a guess to his thoughts. She walked up, put a finger on his lips, getting real close, and she whispered, “My darling, there is no need for ceremony in our world. The council acknowledged it, and the paperwork is merely a formality. We are married. I love you.”
She then stepped back, and began to unbutton the front of her dress. She then stopped, and said, “I wear this helper brazier, because I am…”
He stopped her this time, and said, “I know what you are going to say, and that doesn’t matter to me. I didn’t want you in my life because of that.”
She then continued to unbutton, and dropped the dress, standing there in her undergarments. She then embraced his massive form, and tenderly kissed him. He was hesitant at first, thinking he was committing some kind of sin. However, he had to remember that this was a different world, and that they were indeed married. He tried one last feeble protest, and said, “I’m a virgin. Are you sure you want to do this?”
“That’s fine, my love,” she said, “So am I.”
Before one knew it, they were joined as one, consummating their commitment, and knowing that it would be for all eternity. At the key point of the consummation, their hearts were racing in such a fashion that they both began to vamp out a bit. In fact, before they knew it, they were in each other’s necks, not realizing at that moment that they were performing the blood bond. This was a common thing amongst vampire spouses. This would just about insure that they would never separate again. After words, they slept contently in each other’s arms.
Meanwhile, standing in the shabbier parts of the town, there was someone who, beyond her own circumstances, became what she was nearly a millennium ago. She was a vampire, but she was one with who the rest of the vampires would not have anything to do. She came to be by a forbidden power, and now she was searching for the pistis sophia, hoping that, just maybe, it would be the key to becoming normal again—maybe. With that, Chiyuki Tanaka went in search of her hope.