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It’s exhausting, pretending to be something you’re not. Particularly when what you are is a vampire, and what you’re pretending to be is a convincing approximation of a normal human being.

 

In her 141 years on earth, Ava Daniels has inhabited many identities, lived many places, loved… well, lusted after quite a few people. 

 

One would think that she would’ve figured out a way to be a better person by now, or done something for the world like devoting a century to discovering the cure to cancer or something. Alas, a lack of mortality is actually, like, totally counterintuitive to personal growth. Turns out, if all you have is time, it’s incredibly easy to spend a century just kinda… fuckin’ around. 

 

Every twenty years, for the last twelve decades, she’s disappeared into a new life and a new name and started over from scratch, not having learned a damn thing. Pretending to be an awkward teenager is a great cover for acclimating to a new generation’s social mores, and no one’s suspicious of her perfect skin and unchanging body until around age 35 or so; by then she’s so thoroughly blown up whatever life she’s created that a new beginning is not only welcome, but inevitable. 

 

Every era has its drawbacks and its gifts; Travel is easier than ever now, but surveillance is everywhere. It’s much easier to buy blood, but much more difficult to disappear someone if an inopportune hunger craving strikes, and her impulses get the best of her. The internet is a marvelous timesuck when you’re an immortal being who doesn’t actually sleep (Ava had watched the entirety of vine before it disappeared, rip to a real one), but it makes the whole “vanish off the face of the planet and start a new life elsewhere” thing considerably harder. Never before in her existence has Ava had to worry about becoming the subject of a podcast when it’s time for her to assume a new identity. 

 

The relative gender parity of the twenty-first century gives Ava more career options this time around; she could’ve been a doctor instead of a nurse, or a Fortune 500 CEO instead of his secretary. She lands in a writers’ room eventually, midway through an excruciating attempt at being an undergrad again, because comedy is the perfect career for a nocturnal hedonist who’s long lost her joie de vivre, if it was ever there in the first place. But success threatens Ava; fame means interest, and interest means wooden stakes, eventually. (Even if they come from unhinged conspiracy theorists; a wooden stake is a wooden stake. Just because, to her knowledge, Ava and her family are the only vampires in the United States, doesn’t mean that some Alex Jones listener isn’t going to go full Infowars on her and she’d rather not fuck around and find out.)  The tweet was meant to be a way out of this particular identity.  Sure she’d put up a fight and act like she was heartbroken, and then she’d disappear back to Dennis and Nina for a few years to figure out where they’d reinvent themselves next. Every day, hundreds of asshole twenty-somethings tweet themselves out of the career of their dreams. It’s a flawless plan, except—

 

Fucking Jimmy. 

_

 

Las Vegas is a great place for a hunting vampire (so much desperation and sadness, it’s easy to find targets who will not be missed, not that Ava kills people anymore, but she could , if she wanted to), but working for a boss who insists on being awake during daylight hours? Fucking brutal. And the worst part is, by a couple weeks in, Ava loves it. The work, the banter with Deborah, the sense that maybe, for the first time in literal decades, she’s actually good at something. And there are worse places to exist when you don’t really sleep, places where it’s harder to keep a steady supply of blood without raising too many eyebrows. Shit is like, solidly okay , until Deborah drags her on a “retreat” with zero notice and she winds up in a hospital. 

 

And Deborah is concerned, and kind of possessive, and angry in a way that is very hot (she’ll unpack that later, when she’s not on the verge of well, not dying, but straight up not having a good vampire time). 

 

“So, Dee, here’s the thing,” Ava rasps, gathering all her strength. 

 

“— Just because you’re unwell does not mean you get to use nicknames with me.” 

 

“— I need you to get me a bag of blood.” 

 

“Like a transfusion?” 

 

Ava groans. 

 

“If you can threaten them into that, it’ll work. I’ll explain later, but, uh, if you can’t intimidate someone into giving me unnecessary medical care, it’s not gonna go too well for me.” 

 

“If this is some weird kink, you’re fired.” 

 

“Aw, you did read my one woman show.” 

 

“Just shut up and rest,” Deborah frowns, but she looks more than a little scared, and Ava guesses her pallor is even more… undead than usual. 

 

Deborah badgers a nurse into setting up an IV, Ava faintly hears something about “ I don’t think you’ll have a leg to stand on about medical necessity when I sue you into so much debt you’ll have to sell your own plasma, you little blood bitch ” and ten minutes later, Ava has a bag of O negative at her bedside. 

 

“You might want to look away for this,” She warns, before ripping the IV out of her arm and, in a word, going to fucking town.  

 

If Deborah listens to her warning, it doesn’t last once she hears slurping sounds.

 

“Jesus Christ, are you fucking kidding me? There are other ways to get iron, you know? Do I not pay you enough to buy a steak every now and then?” 

 

Ava ignores her, unable to stop until the bag is empty and she starts to feel alive (there’s got to be a better word for a vampire’s “healthy” existence by now, but whatever) again. 

 

Ava smiles, accentuating her fangs. She wipes a bit of blood from the corner of her mouth. The fresh stuff always hits better. 

 

“This is entirely not a bit, lady.”  

 

“So the surgery on the ruptured cyst?” Deborah frowns. 

 

“Oh, yeah, I actually totally had one of those when I was alive. It about took me out, actually, given how awful medicine was in 1900, but classic meet-cute, shady stranger at a world’s fair turned me and my parents into vampires without our consent and here we are!” 

 

“That explains the old timey chimney sweep boots,” Deborah mutters. Ava’s impressed at how steady her composure is, but of course Deborah Vance would be the exception to everyone she ever attempted to tell her truth. (It’s a short list, but an ugly one.) 

 

“Can you, like, sneak me out of here AMA and we can talk about this somewhere more private?” Ava hops out of bed, throwing the offending blood bag into the trash and attempting to hide the evidence of her drinking habit. 

 

Deborah rolls her eyes but gathers her purse and pretends to whatever staff will listen to her that she has a show tonight and Ava will be there regardless of what some podunk doctor may or may not recommend. A nurse catches her eye as they’re walking out and whispers that she, too, has a boss from hell, and they she hopes Ava can find another job soon. 

 

“Right.” Deborah starts, once they’re back in the car and she’s behind the wheel. (In control. Classic Deb.) “So you want me to believe you’re a…” 

 

“Vampire, baybee,” Ava grins. “Some rumors are actually mostly true.”

 

“Well why the hell are you spending your time in show business if you’re old enough to know better?” 

 

“I could say the same about  y—”

 

“— watch it ,” Deborah warns. 

 

Ava sighs. “Look, I’ve had a lot of time to observe human nature, alright? And making people laugh is like, the one thing about existing corporeally in the world that doesn’t get old.” 

 

“Told you it was better than sex,” Deborah grumbles. 

 

“Yeah,” Ava laughs, “Most of the time. But, you know, I was trying to convince you I was an asshole twenty-five year old and thinking you invented sex is a pretty big part of that.” 

 

“So what, you’re an asshole _____?” 

 

“One hundred forty one-year old.” 

 

Deborah’s eyes widen but she doesn’t crash the car or pass out (it would endanger her more than Ava, but still, she doesn’t love a vehicular accident). 

 

“Is this where you tell me you’re actually much wiser than your behavior would suggest and you’ve been stringing me along for laughs?” 

 

“Nah,” Ava pops her gum. “The thing about not being able to die, is there’s not really any urgency to figure your shit out. Or any stakes if you fuck up. I’m like, remarkably bad at learning how to be a good person or having any impetus to do so.” 

 

“Well, I suppose vampires aren’t known for their selflessness and generosity.” 

 

“Hey, I quit feeding on people like 60 years ago.” 

 

“What do you want me to do? Give you a fuckin’ medal?” 

 

“Just saying,” Ava frowns. “I’m not a murderer . Anymore.” 

 

They pull up at Deborah’s. Ava had expected the trip to feel longer, or at least more fraught with tension, but maybe Deborah is saving her freakout for the privacy of her own mansion. 

 

“Don’t forget DJ’s birthday party tomorrow,” Deborah reminds her. 

 

“So I’m not fired? Or at least deemed to be a social liability?” 

 

“Not anymore than you already were,” Deborah rolls her eyes. “And don’t think about trying to get out of it. I won’t hesitate to out you.” 

 

“Cool, cool, I’ll be sure to let your legions of gay fans know how you feel about a person’s right to privacy.” 

 

“Don’t go acting like you’re a victim,” Deborah scoffs. “This era really is your moment to shine, huh? You’ve trained for decades for the oppression olympics.” 

 

“Hard work pays off,” Ava smiles, letting her fangs glint in the moonlight, before ducking out of the car and venturing back to the Palmetto. 

_

 

There’s something different between them at the party. Deborah’s greeting of “ Ava, you look pretty ” feels almost like a threat, in a way that makes Ava’s nostrils flare and her head pound. She knows even before dinner is served that her night will end in a bloodbath, a disappointing binge of reasonably ethically sourced ichor that will do little to quell the desire coursing through her. 

 

Deborah looks timeless tonight. She could’ve held her own against the intellectual beauties in Gertrude Stein’s Paris’s salons, or the pinup girls who adorned the airplanes of the Pacific Theater. In any and every era Deborah Vance would be a star. 

 

In any and every era, Ava has not been one, nor will she ever be. She knows now this is the order of the universe; there are those who gaze, and those who are gazed upon. 

 

But tonight, in the doorway, Ava had felt the heat of Deborah’s stare, had felt a warmth she had long forgotten. 

 

And it’s not just a primal, physical instinct, this pull to Deborah. It’s… intimate, and emotional, and altogether something that Ava really ought to find revolting, but instead she’s sharing her daydreams with Kiki and chauffeuring DJ through a drive-thru chapel and being, well, kind for the first time in nearly a century. 

 

She’s absolutely fucked. 

 

“Fucking Marty ,” Deborah yells, as Ava attempts to gather her most prized possessions in preparation for this writing marathon/hostage situation. 

 

“Are you sure you don’t want me to kill him? Because I was only half-kidding,” Ava offers. 

No,” Deborah hisses. “I want to see that asshole suffer. At my hand. No easy outs.” 

 

“I could make it hurt, but I respect you wanting to get revenge yourself,” Ava shrugs. 

 

“It’s sweet of you to suggest, really ,” Deborah assures her. “I’ll let you know when I truly just want someone to disappear.” 

 

“Thanks,” Ava rolls her eyes. 

 

“You better be glad you don’t have to sleep,” Deborah hums, pushing Ava out the door so they can get back to the mansion as quickly as possible, “Because we are going to write the fucking show of the century.” 

_

 

Writing quickly devolves into fucking around on the internet, but Ava’s got nothing but time, and it really is tragic that Deborah doesn’t even know what YouTube is. 

 

“Wait,” Deborah interrupts, when Ava’s midway through showing her the best cats of TikTok, “How the hell do you have an Instagram? I thought you weren’t supposed to show up in photos?” 

 

“Eh, that legend is actually like, daguerrotype specific? Something about the silver plate, idk. Doesn’t apply to digital photography, though, I can take as many tit pics as I want. Technology is so beautiful.” 

 

“And mirrors?” 

 

“Everything is so cheap now, they’re backed with aluminum, not silver. As long as I stay away from your jewelry drawer, I’m probably good.” 

 

“Well you don’t have to worry about DJ’s stuff,” Deborah scoffs. “Are you shitting me about not knowing Alan Alda, though? You were alive in the 70s, right?” 

 

“Spent most of the decade hiding out with draft dodgers in the Hawaiian rainforest. Missed out on a lot of television, but did some really good drugs.” 

 

“You and me both, sister,” Deborah nods. “Okay, give me the rundown on all your identities, maybe we can turn one of them into a story for the act.” 

 

“Born in 1880 in Boston. My parents and I attended the 1900 Paris exposition and got vampired, as one does. Spent the next 15 years working in the variety circuit in England. Did a bit of nursing during the war, faked my death, popped up in Paris and palled around with the surrealists. Oh, I actually did work as a mechanic during World War II, and did a fair amount of homosexual activity then, too, so like, well played on that joke. Let’s see, another faked death, wars are great for those, real bummer otherwise though. We tried the whole postwar suburban utopia thing for a while but ended up driving each other crazy so we all parted ways, see aforementioned Hawaiian sojourn, then I did a decade in Manhattan in finance, which was really just a lot of cocaine, then we tried living in a cave for like a dozen years before my current identity. I’ll die happy if I never see another bat again. ” 

 

“Which decade had the best drugs, do you think?” 

 

Ava racks her memory. 

 

“Absinthe and opium was a time, but modern chemistry can’t be discounted,” Ava ponders. “Although it takes so much for me to get high I’m not sure my answer is relevant to your experience.” 

 

“And what about the best jokes?” 

 

“I can say with complete and utter sincerity that I have never laughed as much in my time on earth as I have with you.” 

 

Ava’s pretty sure she sees Deborah blush. It feels better than winning the war. Either of them. 

 

“God, you’re so full of shit. Show me more vine compilations.” 

 

“Isn’t the sun supposed to turn you to dust, or melt you or whatever?” 

 

Deborah taps her nails on the steering wheel. Why they’re driving nine fucking hours to Sacramento is anyone’s guess, but if Deborah wants to pretend she’s still a road dog, sobeit. 

 

“SPF 100, and hangover sunglasses, mama. Any other questions, or can we get back to you telling me all about the good old days, et cetera?” 

 

Deborah’s face screws up in deep contemplation. 

 

“Do vampires fuck? I mean, does everything still work the way it needs to?” 

 

Ava raises an eyebrow. Deborah’s not exactly a prude but she tends to use sex as a weapon. Ava senses that her interest isn’t purely academic (because she’s old enough now to only expend energy on attractions that are mutual, because she can sense someone else’s want acutely even if nothing ever comes of it). 

 

“I can’t speak to vampires with cocks—”

 

“—Seriously? You were born in eighteen fucking eighty and you’re trying to make my gender politics look regressive by comparison?” 

 

“I’ve learned a lot over the course of my second life,” Ava sighs. “And my point, you’ll remember, is that while I cannot speak for every vampire, I absolutely fuck. And I’ve had a lot of practice.” 

 

“I get it— you’re older and wiser than me, although that last point is highly debatable.” 

 

Ava makes a point to slide her sunglasses down her nose so she can look Deborah in the eye (bless these vacant, miserable desert highways). 

 

“I’m a great fucking lay, Deborah.” 

 

“Christ, no need to be so braggy about it. No one likes a showoff.” 

 

(Ava has a feeling she can prove Deborah wrong there, but she doesn’t press the issue. She’s not in a rush.) 

_

 

Deborah makes far more millennial digs at Ava’s expense to Francine than is strictly necessary, and Ava upplays her petulant tendencies. It feels like another shared bit, the meta-humor of them being the only two in on the joke. 

 

Seeing the pictures of Deborah on the wall from thirty years ago, hearing the stories of the never ending slog to the top, it hits Ava with a wave of sadness she hadn’t been expecting.

 

She's spent her existence flitting from identity to identity, playing dress-up for a couple years before starting somewhere new as someone else. Deborah has only ever been Deborah fucking Vance, and she has dedicated every fiber of her being to the construction of that persona, to honing her craft. She’s done it for longer and better than anyone ever believed she would, and she will continue to do it until the day that she dies.  

 

Ava doesn’t even like Ava Daniels, not most of the time anyway, and yet she would do anything to not have a choice anymore, to have to see something through to the bitter end. 

 

She rushes to the bathroom to hide her sobs. 

 

When she returns to the green room Deborah gives her a funny look. 

 

“You’re not going through withdrawal again are you? Because you told me the Matcha covered up the smell enough for you to make it work on the road.” 

 

“Nah, I’m good,” Ava shrugs, clearing her throat. “Just went too hard on those onion rings.” 

 

“I don’t understand why you eat garbage. What’s the point?” 

 

“Just because something doesn’t nourish me doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it,” Ava huffs.

 

Deborah scoffs. “Congratulations for your superhuman metabolism, I guess. Your skin looks awful, though.” 

 

Ava has seen Deborah perform before, but at the Palmetto, the room’s full of people who already love her. They’ve already told themselves the story she wants them to hear. Tonight, in this Northern California shithole, she turns the fucking tide, and the moon itself couldn’t outsway her. For all her alleged supernatural abilities, Ava has never been so powerful. And across a dozen lives in a dozen places, she has never been so unable to take her gaze off of someone. 

 

Deborah complains after that they didn’t try the new material, that that asshole ended up getting the attention he wanted anyway, and then very nearly commits vehicular homicide when her sister shows up seeking amends. But Ava refuses to let this go, to reduce Deborah’s magnificence to anything other than what it is.

 

She hasn’t wanted anything in so, so long.

 

Deborah takes them to a motel on the outskirts of town, clean but not luxurious. 

 

“You mean you aren’t going to make me drive through the night so you can do your morning laps in the comfort of your own pool?” 

 

“Shut up or you can sleep— or I guess just lie there— in the car.” 

 

Ava gives her her best shit-eating grin and grabs Deborah’s suitcase out of the trunk(It’s filled primarily with skin products. One night off of her evening routine could spell disaster). 

 

Ava pays for a room in cash, and slips Deborah in through the back (not that anyone here would frankly give a damn about her identity). 

 

“You didn’t even get your own room did you, you little shit,” Deborah looks down at her, running her tongue over her teeth. She’s still too high from the gig to be anything more than a little annoyed; the run-in with Kathy has only made her more euphoric, if the size of her pupils or the flare of her nostrils is any indication.

 

“We need to save money. You just gave an asshole a million bucks.” 

 

Deborah locks the door behind her, and corners Ava. There’s a joke here about predators and prey, but for once, she’s not really in the mood to make it.

 

“You know,” Deborah starts, brushing Ava’s hair behind her ear, letting her fingernails scrape oh-so-lightly down her neck, “I thought at first that your blatantly obvious thing for me was just some sort of misplaced authority issue, but I’m really the ingenue here, aren’t I?” 

 

Ava fights the urge to slip back into this persona she’s created, young and unsure and foolish. 

 

“I’ve got a thing for younger women, apparently,” Ava leans forward and whispers into Deborah’s ear. She’s close enough she can smell her scent, the human one beneath the lotions and perfumes and serums, and Ava feels a rush of hunger, a craving that feels insurmountable. 

 

Deborah steps back and appraises her. 

 

“Let me see how immortality compares to my surgeon.” 

 

Ava obliges, grateful for the expediency of modern clothing fasteners. She feels a swell of pride at causing Deborah to bite her lip. (Best not to think too much about biting, though.) 

 

“Alright, your turn, let me judge your guy,” Ava crosses her arms. 

 

Deborah shakes her head. 



“If you think I’m gonna let a vampire get me naked you’re stupider than I thought.” 

 

“Oh, you just wanted to practice your figure drawing with a live model?” 

 

Deborah smirks, and Ava thinks she would make an incredible supervillain if she ever felt called to that life. Well, depending on who she asks in Vegas, that’s maybe not too far off the mark anyhow. 

 

“You said vampires could fuck. I intend to find out if I can fuck vampires.” 

Her research includes: 

 

  • Deborah using her own underwear as a gag for Ava (a risky but ingenious move; prevent her from biting but give her a literal taste of the object of her desire).
  • Ascertaining whether vampires can also come in as many different ways as human women (they can, they do, if Ava were human she would’ve passed out around number 3 but as it is they reach 5 before Deborah concludes she has all the data she needs.)
  • Tying Ava to the bed as she watches Deborah make herself come. Well, this one’s not really research so much as Deborah just being a massive bit of a bitch.

 

When it’s all said and done, Ava slumps back against the pillows and stares at the ceiling, imagining the water stains are a map of all the places she’s been. 

 

“I’d invite you to join me in the shower, but well…” Deborah shrugs. 

 

“Sweet of you to think of it,” Ava sighs. 

 

“So not being able to swim is just a really chickenshit excuse, huh?”

 

“I mean… I can’t swim. Am physically repelled by water. No cruise gigs either, yeah?” 

 

“But the pj’s fine? Fucking convenient.” 

 

“What can I say, 30,000 feet is enough space to get over most repulsions.” 

 

“Hmmph,” is Deborah’s only response, as the water turns on. 

 

Ava’s never taken a shower; she supposes she never will. 

_

 

As the first rays of light stream in the window, Ava leaps up to close the curtain. She’s pretty sure she doesn’t have sunscreen on her ass, and she’d rather not find out the hard way. 

 

Deborah doesn’t wake, so Ava takes a moment to memorize her in a rare moment of peace. 

 

She has spent so much of her time trying to forget, to move on constantly with little regard to the places or people left behind. This urge to remember feels itchy and uncomfortable, like a too small wool sweater on a spring day, cozy enough in the cool morning but unbearable by afternoon. 

 

“Watching me sleep? Played out,” Deborah mumbles into her pillow. “Good thing there’s not a piano in here.” 

 

“I’m sorry, are you referencing Twilight ? Don’t tell me you’ve been Team Jacob all this time.” 

 

“Damien’s obsessed. I absorb more than I would like through osmosis.” 

 

“Don’t worry, I don’t date high schoolers. Fucking creep,” Ava spits. Fictional or not, ethics are important, especially in the era of Me Too. 

_

 

Ava remains at Deborah’s; the show still needs work, Marty is still dead to Deborah, and the mansion is big enough that there’s an endless list of places for them to fuck. And Deborah buying liters of blood to store in her refrigerator is like, third-tier on the list of wild celebrity expenditures. 

 

“Careful, you’ll give the QAnon crowd ammo,” Ava tsks into her “matcha latte.”  

 

Deborah shrugs. 

 

“Nothing I’ve ever done or will do can compare to Barbra Streisand on a given Tuesday. It’s nothing.” 

 

(It’s not nothing, and it makes Ava’s heart feel all aflutter, but she doesn’t show it.) 

 

Deborah makes sure she’s well-fed before kissing her the first time. 

 

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Ava asks, pausing Deborah’s hand’s journey up the front of her shirt. (She’s not wearing a bra, the perks of ‘youth’ and all.) 

 

“This is me trusting you,” Deborah admits, giving Ava the kind of look that would peer into her soul if she had one. “Don’t fuck it up.” 

 

She lets Ava finally use her fingers for their god-given purpose (Ava thinks, feeling Deborah squeeze around her, that maybe this is what she’s been sticking around all this time for, that this is worth waiting for a hundred years, in the end) in the master bedroom, and Ava gives every inch of Deborah Vance the attention it so richly deserves. 

 

They’re beautiful, all the marks of her mortality. The faded hysterectomy scar, the freckles on her chest, the lines around her eyes. Despite her best efforts, the evidence of Deborah’s one wild and precious life is all over her body, and it’s stunning. 

 

“I swear to god if you call me alive girl like fucking Jeff Bezos or some shit I will throw you out of this house and you will never see me again.” 

 

“I thought you were into rich dudes,” Ava pouts, tracing the line of Deborah’s collarbone with her index finger.

 

“But not bald ones. A woman’s got to have some standards.” 

 

“What if I shaved my head? Would you still let me fuck you?” Ava can’t keep the adoration off her face; Deborah can see she’s too far gone, and she’s not going to give her a soft place to land, not yet. 

 

“You’d look like Willem Dafoe. Don’t do that to yourself to try to prove me wrong, it’s not worth it.” 

 

Deborah pulls the covers up, tired of Ava’s appreciation scrutiny.

 

“I could turn you, you know,” Ava whispers, before she can think better of it. “No more touchups, no more airbrushes.” 

 

Ava, ” Deborah starts, and she doesn’t need to hear a no to know her answer.

 

God , it was stupid to hope she wouldn’t be alone until the end of time. 

 

“Listen, if you want to spend all your money on plastic surgery, be my guest. I was just offering a cost-effective solution so you can buy more pepper shakers. Suit yourself.”

 

Deborah turns to her, determined to make Ava hear her. To not brush this off the way she’d rather they did.

 

“I’ve almost outlived my daughter twice. There is no greater pain in this world, I’m not about to welcome it with open arms.” 

 

“Hey, I could turn DJ too, family package,” Ava shrugs. 

 

Deborah shakes her head. 

 

“I don’t think she or the world could handle that, frankly.” 

 

I could, but I don’t want to goes unspoken. 

 

“Forget about it. It was stupid, I don’t know why I said it.” 

 

Deborah takes her hand, runs her thumb across Ava’s cool skin. 

 

“Ava, I love you, but you’re the most miserable motherfucker I’ve ever met, and I work in comedy. That’s truly saying something.” 

 

“Tough, but fair,” Ava sighs. “If it’s worth anything, I think I’m considerably less miserable now than I was before.” 

 

Deborah smiles, and for once the sun doesn’t burn. 

 

“Me, too.” 

_

 

Her dad dies, actually dies, and Deborah doesn’t believe her, because why would she? Ava hasn’t told her of how tired he is, how there are ways to stop the cravings, to quell the desire to endure in this world. And for his part, his father has not announced his departure, leaving her mother utterly bereft in the world. 

 

“I can’t do this alone, Ava,” she insists, and so, Ava is pulled back into the orbit of her family, the only other turned ones she has ever known. She burns a few bridges on her way out of town to make the break permanent. She was never meant for the life she was building, it was just another way to pass the fucking time. 

 

So she’s back with her mother, who has still not learned to relax in her nearly 200 years. Ava had once suggested they spend a decade at a Buddhist retreat, but the meditation didn’t take. It’s a small miracle and her mother hasn’t simply crumbled to dust yet under the force of her own anxiety, but she endures, they endure, the world endures.  

 

There are things to be done, appearances to be kept, before they move and start the whole process over again, and it’s old hat now, disappearing, but for the first time, Ava finds she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t want to give up on comedy, the most pointless of all her careers that has become something very much like a purpose. She doesn’t want to give up on Deborah, who knows the worst parts of her and somehow, impossibly, still wants her around. Or wanted , until very recently. She doesn’t want to be stuck with her family of origin forever, merely because they share an affliction. But now she’s not so sure she has a choice, if Deborah has anything to do about it.

 

But then Deborah shows up at the funeral, and Ava thinks she’s not the one with superhuman abilities in this relationship, not when Deborah makes a vampire’s sparsely-attended funeral more lively than a Friar’s Club roast. 

 

The crowd filters out, and the wake moves to her mother’s home, and Deborah is still there, in this facsimile of a child’s bedroom.

 

“So, the vampires can’t go into a church legend must be bunk, huh?” Deborah smirks. 

 

“Do you mean to honestly tell me that the Catholic church isn’t a source of evil in the world?” 

 

“Touché. Where are you actually banned?” 

 

“My guess is the Fred Rogers center, but I’d rather not risk it.” 

 

Deborah looks at her like she’s about to protest, like she’s going to insist that Ava’s not actually evil, that maybe vampires are all just misunderstood or something, but she holds her tongue, so Ava speaks on. 

 

“It’s nice of you to say goodbye properly, I guess. My mom wants to reinvent herself in Switzerland this time… she’s no good alone. So,” Ava shrugs trying to look like it’s all no big deal, a drop in the bucket. “Off to live out my Heidi dreams.” 



“You can’t pull off lederhosen,” Deborah scoffs. “Besides, you can’t quit, you’re too good. ” 

 

And it’s an assessment of her abilities, sure, but it’s also a redemption. 

 

It’s a lifeline, and Ava has finally learned not to be too proud to take it. 

_

 

They have fifteen good years together, riding the wave of the “Vance-issance” and writing 5 specials, two screenplays, and one memoir. Ava ages up her wardrobe periodically and no one ever notices that her face remains unchanged. Given that most actors get botox for their 21st birthday, it’s easier than ever to fake a normal life as an immortal. Deborah, because she is a rotten little troll to her very core, refers to Ava as an “old soul” in every interview she gives and does PSAs for the Red Cross’s blood drives. 

 

Deborah retires just before her 80th birthday, after a diagnosis of congestive heart failure and a realization that she has, in fact, done enough, and is ready to rest. 

 

The prognosis isn’t good, a couple years at best,  and the terror of being alone again after all this time leads Ava to offer immortality again. 

 

“Oh, Ava ,” Deborah starts, and she’s wrong— Ava would never get tired of hearing Deborah say her name, not in a million years, literally. “The only reason this has been so good was that it had to come to an end at some point. Love shouldn’t be Saturday Night Live .” 

 

“I still have bits for you I haven’t done,” Ava pleads, fighting back selfish tears. 

 

“Then you better make the most of the next few months. You know I’m impatient.” 

_

 

Deborah dies on the same day as Marty, making his obituary a tiny footnote in the day’s press. Fitting, Ava thinks, that Deborah gets the last laugh. She chortles enough for the both of them, before feeling very much like she will never smile again.



Ava sticks long enough to grieve properly; she feels like she owes it to Deborah, to the life they built (in fits and starts and fights and very, very wonderful reconciliations). She lets herself feel what is possibly the most human experience, of bereavement, and talks to every single person who will listen about how wonderful Deborah Vance was, and how much she loved her. 

 

A year to the day of her passing, Ava takes Deborah’s ashes (mixed with Barry’s and Cara’s, because a family can be one adult woman, two corgis, and a vampire) and drives out into the desert. 

 

She lays in the sun, which hurts less than Deborah’s absence, which makes her laugh, until she cannot laugh anymore. 

 

Together, they become sand.