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coming down to blood

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The townspeople call her Dr. Chopper, after a while, after Dr. Bleak has passed on and the lightning could not save him, after she kissed Alexis under The Moon and slipped a wedding ring made of silver on her finger.

She takes the name in stride, her first name said only by her wife and mother-in-law, whenever they go to the Inn for dinner.

(In the castle, Jill slowly becomes The Master, her father lost in a fight with the Things in the Sea. And now they are two sides of the same coin, once again, pretty-girl with fang-teeth and the mad scientist in the windmill.)

She saves three foundlings.

The first two are a pair, Castor and Helen, dirty-blonde hair and skewed glasses on Castor’s face reminiscent of a set years before.

Jack is called to the castle, and she leaves with them both after Helen drags Castor down the stairs in the early moonlight, makes her promise to take them and teach them and get them out of here.

Jack does, Jack does before Jill can begin to protest, Jack makes them run through the brambles and the thorns until they come upon the windmill, Alexis waiting inside with two plates of hot food and a kiss for Jack.

The last arrives on her own- Alison, curly hair and freckles, her door appearing behind the windmill, next to Dr. Bleak’s grave.

Jack takes all three as apprentices, is gruff and strict and above all kind, helps them learn how to crack open life itself and take from it, how to sew limbs together perfectly, and most importantly how to run from the Things out to get them. And Alexis loves them, of course.

Jack pretends she doesn’t.

When Castor and Helen turn fourteen and Alison turns twelve, Jack teaches them the secret of the doors.

And after they are fast asleep on the mattress Alexis gave them (“You spoil them to death,” Jack whispers, falling in love a little more), all growing limbs and soft breaths, Jack kisses her wife. Jack soaks her hands in her blood and she cuts a hole through nothing and then she is in the Wolcott attic, marching downstairs and happening upon a family dinner.

The idea is foolish. But she wants to know if they have grown since she was twelve- since they, Jack and Jill, were twelve, and all the Wolcotts wanted were two perfect daughters, through any means necessary.

She had been back twice before, once to explain where they had been and once to introduce them to Alexis (Dr. Bleak had insisted on the formality, though both she and her teacher knew the only parent Alexis needed to impress was him). They only gape slightly as she washes her hands (vigorously), puts her gloves back on, wipes her glasses, and sits down.

“Jacqueline.” Chester Wolcott looked none too happy with the situation, running a hand through half-grey hair.

“It’s Jack, as I am positive you know by now. Doctor Jack Chopper, if we’re being formal.”

She does not remove her gloves.

“Why have you returned?”

“Because my children are safe, and my wife is asleep, and I was bored of bringing back the dead.”

She meets his glare evenly before glancing at Serena Wolcott (pale, grimacing as she looks her over), and the small boy seated between them (eyes like saucers).

“And who would you be?” She asks him, knowing her own nose and Jill’s freckles across his face, but not his name.

“Conner,” he says. “Mom and Dad say you’re my sister.”

“Perhaps.” She sighs. “Though my father would say blood is always trustworthy, I can most certainly assure you that these two say lots of things they don’t mean.”

Serena opens her mouth, but Jack cuts her off, still staring at the boy. “Mostly, I am here because my family would like to invite you to dinner. I will be back tomorrow evening. Come with me through the door, have a good meal, and we can pretend this never happened.”

With that, she stands up, pushes in her chair, and disappears through the cellar door.

 

Helen and Alison have a fight over who gets to wear Alexis’ earrings for dinner (Jack resolves it easily, giving one to each of them and rolling her eyes at Alexis’ fond smile). Castor fidgets with his bow tie until Helen has to fix it for him, the three of them wearing almost matching versions of the outfit Jack has worn since her teenage years, albeit done with personal flair.

Alexis is wearing her nicest dress (Jack has been blushing for what seems like an eternity) as the scientist opens the door, finding the Wolcotts where she meant them to be, assembled in the living room in absurdly formal wear.

“Welcome to the windmill. Please do not touch anything you do not understand.”

Castor hides himself behind Alexis’ leg and Alison scurries behind Jack, only Helen remaining to shake their hands and introduce herself.

“Helen Chopper, pleased to meet you. My brother is hiding behind Dr. Chopper’s legs, and Ali is over there. They’re nice once you get to know them.”

Jack nearly chokes.

Alexis smiles at her (the apprentices took their last name! What!) and waves graciously at the Wolcotts. “I’m Alexis Chopper- we’ve met. Come sit down.”

Castor runs out from behind Jack to reach the food first (“If you don’t wash your hands, you’re on grave digging duty for a month,” Jack warns him) and Helen and Alison sit on her either side, Alexis across the table and Castor next to Conner, enthusiastically shoveling potatoes into his mouth as he explains the finer points of animal reanimation. Conner, for his part, looks only mildly disgusted.

Serena and Chester sit stiff and uncomfortable, avoiding the children’s questions and barely touching their food.

There comes a knocking on the door as Jack finishes, Alison taking Jack’s plate along with her own and kicking Helen’s foot to remind her to help while Jack opens the door.

A girl with Jack’s face and bloodshot eyes stands there grinning, dress a deep red and skin paler than Jack could remember, since the last time she had been to the castle (they had discovered Alison’s existence, and oh, how Jill had raged, how Jack had screamed.)

“I heard you invited our parents to dinner.”

“I did not invite you here, Jillian. Aren’t your kind supposed to wait at the door?”

Her twin pushes her aside and walks into the kitchen, scoffing. “Don’t take that tone with me, Jacqueline. You know your little windmill only still runs through my good will.”

Alison spots her first, backing up from the dishes and staring at Jack.

“Dr. Chopper?”

“Go to the operating room and stay there, Alison.”

And this is what the obedience drills are for, Jack knows, when Alison doesn’t even hesitate before taking the twins by the hand and pulling them down the stairs.

And thus left the vampire, the scientist, and her wife, glaring at each other as the human family that had left them behind sat terrified in their seats.

“Why are you here, Jill?”

“I simply wanted to check on our lovely parents, Jack. And a new child, too- how interesting.” Her sister giggles, fangs out completely now. “Your, ah, children, too, Jack- they would make such pretty additions to my castle.”

“Get out of my windmill.” Jack spits. “We have an arrangement. You must honor it.”

“Our arrangement includes the foundlings and your wife. Nothing was said about these… humans.”

“You were human, once, yourself, you know. I seem to remember someone being terrified of the after school Dracula specials.”

Jill hisses. “I’m not a little girl anymore, Jack. If you want to keep them all to yourself, be my guest. I seem to remember someone wearing dresses everyday and wanting nothing more than to please her mother- seems nothing has changed.”

And with that, she sweeps out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

Jack breathes a sigh of relief as Alexis goes to get the children, avoiding Serena’s eyes.

“Was that Jillian?” Chester cried. “Is she- is she really-“

“A vampire? Yes. Since we were eighteen.”

“She’s a vampire?” Serena cries.

 

“Do you want me to repeat it? Yes. She is. She will suck you dry and leave you rotting in the woods without a second thought. Such is the Moors. You need to leave. Now, before she returns.”

“But-“

“You weren’t so concerned with her when we were your children. You have no right to be now. Get out of this windmill before my family is harmed.”

You invited us!”

“I wanted to see if you had changed. You have not. Get out.”

Chester begins to shout, anger in his eyes all too familiar, and Jack finds herself shouting back.

“You have nothing on either of us anymore. My father is dead, and her father is at the bottom of the ocean with a stake through his heart. Now get out!”

 

She cuts through the air again, pushing them into their living room before giving Conner a last look. “You, however, are welcome back, should you ever want to. Tap thrice on the chest in the attic and I will come get you.”

He nods as the door closes on the Moors, Jack’s last sight of him waving.