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Picture of You

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“Look, uncle Nik! I made you a drawing!” Alice yelled as she ran into his lab.

“Miss Myers, what have I told you about…” The words died on his lips as he saw Alice’s creation. On the page, laughing, stood a pencil outlined Nikola, wearing swim shorts and a shark’s fin on his back. And it wasn’t a stick figure with his name above and an arrow pointing, but an actual, recognisable Nikola. “You drew this?”

She nodded vigorously, sitting next to him by the work bench. “Yes! And see, grandmère’s there too, and we’re at the beach we went to when I was nine.”

Looking back, he smiled as picture Alice waved at Helen, who had ice cream cones in her hands. She’d caught her grandmère’s grace, and smile, in that one drawing, her swimsuit (sapphire blue) and sarong (black, beaded, and not short enough in Nikola’s opinion) exactly as it had been that day. “This is… Impressive, truly.”

“Really?”

He nodded. “Would I say it was if I didn’t believe it?”

Alice thought for a moment, then shook her head.

“Question. Why am I wearing a shark fin?” She mumbled an answer. “What was that? I can’t translate Mumble-ese,” he joked.

“Mum said that you look like a shark when you smile,” she repeated. “And you do!” she added earnestly. “You have lots of teeth! And when you’re fighting you have pointy teeth like a shark.”

That stopped his preening short. “How do you know that?”

“I’ve been learning about abnormals with Daddy and Will, and they told me you’re the last ever vampire, so I… I looked up vampires in the database. It wasn’t scary,” she added, eyes bright, “because I’ve seen a HAP like Mum and Daddy and me, and they have big, pointy teeth too.” Lunging, she hugged Nikola hard. “Pointy shark teeth are cool.”

Sighing indulgently, Nikola hugged her back. “Abnormal teeth are cool,” he corrected. “Vampire ones more than any.”

She laughed, that crystal, clear giggle of a child who thought her uncle was crazy. “My teeth are better than yours.”

“Are not!”

“Are too!”

“Are not!”

“Are too!”

“Children should be seen and not heard,” he said, petulance colouring his words.

“Then you best be quiet too, Nikola,” said Helen from the door.

Grandmère!” As Alice ran to hug her, Nikola’s earlier warning resurrected in his mind.

“Alice Myers, what have I told you about running in my lab?”