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Read after Blood Moon 009
[/et_pb_blurb][et_pb_text admin_label=”Story Info” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” background_size=”initial”]
Point of View: Julian
Featured Characters: Julian Hollinger, Leo Lanier
Word Count: 2,520
Julian is having trouble finding something to eat.
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There was nothing to eat.
Julian was rummaging around in her empty kitchen in her empty house (okay, not so empty. a hoard of shadows were now also going through her cabinets and not at all being helpful) and trying to find something better than cereal so she could actually go to BED at a reasonable hour. You could only eat so many bowls of cereal in a day before you needed to find something else.
“I don’t have any soup.” she muttered, shooing one out of the way and peeping in to another cabinet.
Oh. This is doable.
Julian snatched a package of cinnamon rolls. One of Angela’s stashes no doubt. Immediately she popped open the lid and picked one up, only to make little faces at it.
“Isn’t that against the rules, Jules?” she mimicked Leo’s voice.
“Whachu gonna do about it, you’re not heee-eeeer.” she answered herself, before stuffing more than half of the thing in her mouth.
Julian paused and squinted at a shadow on the counter.
“I mean, you’re already breaking all the rules so far,” chimed in the authentic article in the wake of her silly imitation. “What’s a few more tweaks and caveats?”
As per usual, he’d somehow managed to get into the room without her noticing. And into the house too, for that matter; Julian was pretty sure he hadn’t been home when she came downstairs. Stupid sneaky vampires.
He stood just inside the doorway, leaning his hip and one elbow against the end of the counter. There was a shadow playing around the tips of his fingers. Leo didn’t seem to notice. The jury was still out on what that meant or if that would continue, but for now maybe it was a good sign that his blue eyes were fixed only on Julian.
“Hi,” he continued. “Plan on sharing those?”
“Hrmf!” was not much of a response, but Julian was more concerned with the fact she never knew when Leo was sneaking up on her until it was far too late. Not a sense, not a tingle, not a itch or even a thought. Which was incredibly annoying for when once she DID know, it was obvious. He was all sparky-smug, especially when he’d catch her doing something weird. For a psychic, she really sucked at not getting snuck up on.
Before Julian turned around, she as subtly as possible nudged the box of cinnamon rolls on to the counter and right under a couple of pot holders. The half eaten one stayed hidden behind her back.
“Loorf-” she cut off quickly, throwing the back of her hand up against her mouth as she quickly chewed and swallowed. Any other remaining evidence was swiped away with her thumb.
“It’s way too late for big words like caveat, and I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was just going to bed.” She almost got through the whole thing with a straight face, but about the moment she hit going to bed the corner of her mouth was twitching and she had to turn her head just out of sight as she eased herself around the center island to tip toe for escape.
He laughed and sidestepped to cut off her path to the door, a lackadaisical little smirk on his face.
“I can smell the sugar from here, you know,” he informed her. He didn’t seem all that concerned about her choice of late-night snack. “If you’re not going to eat them, I sure will. I’m starving.”
Before she could react, Leo ducked around the island (and Julian) and snagged the half-eaten roll right out of her fingers. A moment later, the pastry was down to a quarter of its original size- and judging by the humming sound of satisfaction from the vampire as he chewed on the pilfered cinnamon roll, she wasn’t about to get even that much back.
Leo received the most sour expression she could muster, one that a few years ago probably preceded a foot stomping temper tantrum. He could have just confiscated the box, he didn’t have to take hers! It faded just as quickly as it came, probably because she wasn’t six years old and it was way more fun being snarky.
“That’s too bad, I’ve claimed them first.” Julian tried to match his exact smirk, but just ended up grinning silly instead. She didn’t know why. It was probably his fault, though.
Now that her cover was blown (not that anybody was fooled, and who the hell asked you anyway, Francis!), she licked the left over bits of icing off her fingers and flicked the potholders off the hidden box.
“Besides, it’s not really dinner time. More like… gremlin snacking time.” Speaking of which, there was a severe lack of enough sugar for her late night treat. Julian leaned over the counter to pull open a different cabinet door, having to raise up on her toes to reach for a bottle of colorful sprinkles.
There were a few irritated huffs when she couldn’t quite get her fingers at it until something knocked it right out of the cabinet and over her head.
“Damnit, Francis! That’s not how you help!”
Leo tried to make a grab for the bottle as it fell, but for once he was just a little too slow on the draw. It fumbled between his fingers and shattered with a tinkling noise against the kitchen tile.
“Shit,” he swore around a mouthful of sticky roll, swallowing. He set down the leftovers atop the box, sucked his thumb clean, and pushed his palms against the small of Julian’s back until her stomach was flush against the counter. “Don’t move. I’m not picking glass and sprinkles out of your feet.”
He was wearing his boots, at least. She could hear the crunch under his sole as he hopped over the pile, crowding up behind her for a moment- close enough she could feel his breath against the back of her neck as he let out an irritated sigh.
“Can’t you make those things clean up after themselves?” he asked. The words were exasperated, but there was a playful note behind them, like he found this situation horribly amusing. “Gotta get them house-trained.”
Then he was crouching down, picking shards up off the floor like they were nothing and placing them in his cupped palm. If she watched she could see little beads of blood well up on his fingers every so often, but the wounds seemed to close up as quickly as they appeared.
“I can’t just stand here while you paw up glass like an idiot. There’s brooms for this kind of thing.” Julian peered down at him from over her shoulder, twisting up her mouth in a frown. Sometimes it was easy forget he could just heal in a split second. Lucky for him, since he kept getting in to all kinds of trouble, but a broom would still be a way better idea.
After all, the floor was now covered in a rainbow of sprinkles. And though she was pretty sure her shadows enjoyed sprinkles (at the very least playing with them, Julian couldn’t recall ever seeing one get eaten), they didn’t always understand what was helpful and what was a huge pain in the ass.
“How about you take over the shadow babysitting, and I get to do things like sleep and sneak up on you when you’re being naughty.” Speaking of being naughty, that last tiny bit of pastry was plucked up and vanished in to her mouth.
She had about two seconds of satisfaction before one of those Francises decided Leo needed assistance. Julian poked out her foot quickly, setting her big toe down on the shadow to hold it still. It seemed as surprised as she did that it worked. Julian giggled softly.
“I can’t see them, remember?” was Leo’s reply, after a beat. “Makes babysitting a bit tricky. I’m good with you sneaking up on me when I’m being naughty, though.”
Despite the tease, there was an inflection in those words that was just a little bit off. It was subtle. If Julian weren’t psychic (and by now, so attuned to Leo’s cues), she might have missed it.
Before she could figure out whether she was going to pry, though, he lifted his head. His fingers curled around his handful of glass.
“Do you wonder what would happen if we just up and left?” he asked. He straightened up, maneuvering around the dusting of jar that remained on the floor in order to dump his burden into the kitchen trash. “Just you and me. And Angela. Get the hell out of this town and away from whatever bullshit we’re tangled up in. It’s selfish and obviously we’re not going to do that- and somehow I think shit’ll just follow us anyway- but you know, sometimes it sounds like the right idea.”
“I did offer to run away with you. Twice even.” It was hard to tell if she were serious or not by her tone, and she didn’t give away in her expression either. Julian was focused on balancing with one feet, while sliding her toe and her captured shadow across the floor. She let Francis go near a pile of sprinkles.
“I’ve tried to run away.” she finally admitted with all sincerity. Julian leaned backwards until she could rest her elbows on the counter. Her shoulder shrugged when she cast him a sheepish glance. “I don’t really get very far before I talk myself out of it. …I let Walter talk me out of it last time. That was embarrassing.”
Reliving that moment was not what she wanted to think about. Those two days were pretty much the worst of the worst – that she could remember anyway. Walter calling her a dumbass pretty much was the icing on the cake.
“We’re not going to, but what if. What about Missouri? Nothing ever happens in Missouri.” she waited just long enough before she sighed and glanced up at the ceiling. “You know, I’ve never actually been outside of Silent Pines before. Maybe the next towns over a few times, but I’ve never gone anywhere. And I’d really like to. Just once before there’s an apocalypse.”
Her suggestion earned a derisive snort.
“Nothing ever happens in Missouri because it’s the middle of fucking nowhere. Though I guess that’s the trade-off, huh. Still…”
Leo walked back over and rested his hands on the counter to either side of her, fingers gripping the edge. The corner of his mouth quirked upward as he held her gaze.
“Let’s go,” he suggested. “Not to Missouri, but. Somewhere. Where do you want to go?”
“You told me not to move.” she teased, giving him that cheesy wide grin she always seemed to get whenever she thought she had a particularly good comeback. Julian shifted to lean on her hands instead of her elbows, just so she could be that much closer without actually touching.
“Since you hate poor under appreciated Missouri…” Julian muttered first, breaking eye contact to glance around as if she were searching for the answer somewhere in her kitchen. Maybe she was listening for suggestions. She wrinkle her nose up, or twist her mouth to the side. After a moment that fake thoughtful look shifted to something more sincere.
“Argentina? I’ll get to do real Tango Argentino and maybe you’ll learn something to surprise Margrit with.” There was the smile again, and she couldn’t resist lifting a hand to press her finger to the tip of his nose. He kept doing it to her all the damn time, she hoped it annoyed him just as much.
“You know, I might surprise you with what I already know,” he shot back. Before she could pounce on that leading remark, though, he licked her finger. Slimy tongue wiggled against her skin.
The minute her hand retracted, he leaned in to close the distance between their mouths. The kiss was unusually unhurried and comparatively chaste for Leo, but still had an edge. Like he was holding something back. His hands left the counter top to settle on her hips.
“Okay, so. Argentina. Get your passport,” was what he told her when he came up for air.
She didn’t even have the opportunity to go blech and complain. Even her giggling was cut short, so by the time he pulled away she was leaning forward to follow his mouth. At that point Julian just gave up the game of trying to be a foxy tease and caved in to candid affection. Her arms curled around him and she dropped her head to his shoulder.
“There’s one tiny problem with that.” she murmured in to his shirt, rubbing her cheek against the fabric and not even bothering to suppress her grinning. Okay, maybe candid affection still came with the teasing touch. One of her hands slipped under his shirt, her thumb brushing softly over his spine. Julian wondered if he knew how warm and sparky he was – or if it was just because her hands were cold and she was just stupidly infatuated.
“I don’t have a passport.” she explained, finally tilting her head just enough so she could press her lips to his throat. Could a vampire get and keep a hickey? Julian was about to test that out.
He sucked in a breath. She felt him swallow, his Adam’s apple shifting under the press of her mouth.
“That’s okay,” he told her, laughing. “Neither do I.”
She didn’t get much further into her exploration of “scientific research” before he did something else to surprise her: push her away. Not far, just enough to give her a look that said Later and lock down her roaming hands.
“Right. We’re gonna have to stick closer to home then. Grab your jacket. There’s no real food in this house, so let’s go find some.”
“See. Missouri is sounding better and better, isn’t it? It’s only a nine hour drive, piece of cake.” Even though she really wanted to see what else she could do to catch his breath, the promise of food was too good to resist. With all the crap they’d been getting in to lately, her usual slap-and-dash meals weren’t cutting it. At this rate she was gonna end up taking a bite out of him, and that might’ve been a lot of fun, but it wasn’t food.
For her anyway.
Julian frowned at the floor, then she stepped around him and very carefully hop-scotched her way safely through the sprinkle graveyard. She finished it off with an elegant curtsy just for Leo’s benefit before she backed towards the front door and grabbed her jacket off a hook.
“Okay, but I’m not going in anywhere that requires clothes.” Julian stuffed her arms in to her coat and followed up by grabbing a scarf to throw over her shoulder and slipping in to some flats she left by the door. Her day was over, she didn’t want to run upstairs and get dressed all over again. “It’s pajamas or nothing!”
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- 2010: Angela’s Thirteenth Birthday Wish
- 2012: Margrit’s Sweet Sixteen
- 2012: Teenage Girls
- 2012: Crime is the Best Part
- 2013: Sleepover
- 2013 Family Breakfast
- 2014: Valentine’s Day
- 2014: I Know You’re in There
- 2014: Don’t Feed Them After Midnight