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Pillow Talk

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There are advantages and disadvantages to dating a 177 year old vampire. Sometimes they’re the same thing.

Take, for example, the fact that she has an endless supply of energy (as long as we keep the fridge well stocked with blood) and doesn’t need to breathe.

Don’t get me wrong, the sex is great. It’s not the best thing about our relationship, but it’s easily in the top 5. But it’s also exhausting.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in such good shape in my entire life. But, unlike my beloved, I need to sleep some time.

After the second time tonight, once I’ve caught my breath a bit, I search for a topic to distract her.

“Ada, do you ever think about having children?”

My brain is definitely still fuzzy. If I were more together I’d definitely have chosen a different topic.

She goes still against me.

“Vicky, I’ve had children. Three of them.”

“Oh, um. Of course. Whatever happened to them?”

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I know what happened to them of course.

“They died, as humans tend to do.”

Well, Vicky, mission “kill the mood” well and truly accomplished. The mood has been chased out of the village with pitchforks, caught, and burned at the stake. Good job.

“And you didn’t, uh”

“No. Father made it very clear that an exception was being made for me and that vampires suspected of starting lineages would be made to see the error of their ways post haste.”

Her voice is bitter.

“I’m sorry.”

I hug her. She remains stiff for a moment, but then softens into me. I enjoy the chill of her body against mine for a moment.

She sighs.

“It was a hundred years ago that Anne died. Time has… softened the blow somewhat.”

I hug her tighter.

“You know I’m not planning on dying on you, right?”

“Humans rarely do.”

“Oh, psht. People hope not to die. That’s not a plan, that’s just sloppy thinking. I’ve got about eight contingency plans lined up, and I’m pretty sure of at least three of them.”

I pause.

“OK, two of them, and the third works really well when the subjects don’t explode, and I think I know why that’s been happening.”

“I… would like to believe you.”

I shrug the shoulder that isn’t trapped under her.

“My oldest living ancestor is older than you are, so I think I’ve got a pretty good chance?”

Granted we call him Crazy Uncle Bart, and that’s by our standards. None of the existing methods we have for immortality are quite worth the trade offs. But no need to bore Ada with the details…

Besides, I’m pretty sure this approach involving transfusions of the blood of the young is going to work out great. Not the stupid version Thiel is doing of course - blood doesn’t work like that - but I think I understand enough about the vampirism symbiote now to fake the important bits, and I’ve got access to more than enough electricity to paper over the gaps.

I’m really looking forward to publishing a paper about this in the family journal. I can hear the delighted shrieks about playing god already.

I’ve become distracted by thinking about the process, so I’m surprised when Ada answers my original question.

“But even if I wanted to have children again, it’s quite impossible.”

I blink. Of all the objections I didn’t expect that one.

“What? Why?”

She pulls back slightly and looks at me quizzically.

“To begin with, you know I don’t have a uterus, don’t you?”

“I guessed, sure” - I wasn’t sure exactly how vampirism and cancer interacted, but that was the most likely scenario - “but so what? I don’t have a uterus either!”

Technically false. I have several jars worth of uteri, all perfectly healthy. But I removed the one I was born with years ago as an inconvenience.

Fortunately, as it turns out. Not bleeding every month is very helpful when you’re dating a vampire who you don’t let feed on you.

“I… are you really suggesting we have a child?”

I shift uncomfortably.

“Maybe? I’m not sure. I’ve just been… thinking about it. I’ve always expected I’d continue the family lineage some day, and I’m really very in love with you and um.”

And suddenly I’m out of words. Gods dammit. I’m no good at this. I’ve always been better with brains than hearts. The valves are really tricky to get right.

Fortunately Ada takes it in stride.

“Is it even worth pointing out the other practical obstacles?”

“I don’t know, maybe? Sure.”

Practical obstacles are easy. Practical obstacles I can deal with. You just solve them by being impractical.

“Well we’re both women.”

“Oh, that’s not an issue. So were my mothers. My family has had that one solved for years. We’re even working on going public with it - we’ve refined the process to the point where it’s hardly an abomination against nature at all by now!”

There’s still the thing with the goat, but I don’t see why that’s a problem. People eat goats.

“I see. The next problem of course is that I’m a vampire. The symbiote is… not gentle with children.”

“Easy to fix. I’ve known how to remove vampirism from blood for at least a year.”

She goes absolutely rigid against me and makes a noise in the back of her throat that sends my threat response through the roof.

Ada won’t hurt me. I know Ada will never hurt me unless I ask her to. But being in the grip of a startled predator is disconcerting now matter how much you trust her.

I know she can feel my hearts pounding.

“Are you saying you can cure vampirism?”

Her voice is very measured. Not a threat, stupid body, I’ve just surprised her. Everything is OK. You’re safe and she’s not going to eat you. Not in that sense anyway.

“No no. Of course not.”

She relaxes slightly.

“I’m saying that I can take vampirism out of blood. If I put a vampire in a centrifuge I can ensure that what comes out of the centrifuge will contain no vampirism, but it won’t be a living person either.”

I actually do have some ideas for curing vampirism, but possibly best not to mention that right now.

“So… we really could have a child?”

“A daughter, yes. Or a son if we found a third parent for the Y chromosome. I suppose we could ask Steve…”

“No, no, a daughter would be… fine.”

She’s relaxing again, but sounds quite stunned.

“I need to think about this further. Can I answer later?”

“Of course.”

Ugh. So much for getting some sleep. I’m going to be awake worrying about this all night now. Why did I even bring it up? Stupid.

After about ten minutes of silence I have a thought. It’s not a nice thought, but once I’ve had it it won’t go away.

“If, uh, if you’re worried about…”

I swallow and try again.

“She wouldn’t look much like me. All of the genes for that are recessive. Oh, except the heterochromia. But the kyphosis and the other problems all go away when we breed out of the family.”

And come back when we merge the lines back in of course. The Frankenstein family genealogy is complicated enough that we had to invent a new branch of mathematics just to keep track of it.

Ada kisses me before she responds, lingering just long enough to make it really clear she means it (and remind me which one of us needs to breathe).

“Vicky, it’s not that at all. I like how you look.”

“Um. Sure.”

I don’t like how I look. I could fix most of it, of course, but it’s a point of family honour not to. This is the Frankenstein look, and changing it would be a betrayal: A concession to the world’s lies about the tall, aristocratic Victor Frankenstein that never existed and his poor deformed assistant Igor.

This is how we look, and if you don’t like it we will happily change your mind. A body is a terrible thing to waste after all.

But it’s hard sometimes.

She smooths my frown away with her fingers and kisses me again.

“Stop that. I really do. You’re beautiful, and I will do unspeakably terrible things to anyone who suggests otherwise.”

Ah, love.

I guess I believe her about as much as she believes my promise not to die on her, but the reassurance is enough for now, so I smile faintly in response.

“Even if it’s me saying it?”

She grins wickedly, showing a great deal of teeth, bends towards me and whispers in my ear.

“Oh yes”

Oh gods. This woman is going to break me.

I do get to sleep eventually.