I hovered like a disembodied spirit while Fumiko brought my dad up to speed. I was impressed by how succinctly she laid out the facts — at least, as impressed as I could be while dormant. Fumiko’s explanations were much clearer and more succinct than my own rambling attempts when I’d tried to explain myself to her.
They were also a little less inclusive, leaving out details like my confusion over my relationships or the things I used to do to cope with stress. I guess Fumiko thought I’d like to keep those things private. I probably would be grateful when I woke up. I’d always kept from sharing my personal life with my parents. It had been too intimidating to face what they might think of me if they really knew how messed up I was. I’d known I was already enough of a disappointment — even if Dad never said it, and had coddled me anyway, Mom had never hesitated to call me on my obvious failings.
Eventually Dad carried my corpse to the bed. He laid me out there, and covered me with blankets. Lots of them, like I prefer when I’m really sleeping. Unfortunately, when he stepped away to speak with Fumiko more it took him out of the radius that my awareness could stretch to. For a while — I have no idea how long — I just drifted with nothing by which to measure the time.
Being dormant was nice. Almost meditative — or so I imagined, having never really been able to meditate without going down a rabbit hole of nightmarish speculations, instead. I could kind of see that being interred might not actually be a very bad thing — except that I remained aware of all the things I had to do that required me to be alive enough to do them.
That was almost disappointing, but the tranquility kept disappointment away, too.
My focus-less drifting was interrupted eventually — or perhaps immediately — by my dad coming back. He sat by the bedside and watched me for a while, like he had when I’d been a child and needed someone to keep the monsters away while I slept. I didn’t remember his face being so worn back then, though.
“I’m sorry, Abigail,” Dad’s whisper interrupted the silence. “I… I always tried to take care of you. I tried to make sure you knew about the monsters out there, but I never thought…” He took a deep breath and let it out in a shuddering exhalation. “I never imagined something like this would happen.”
I would have liked to have been alive enough to give Dad a hug. He had tried. And it wasn’t his fault that he hadn’t known there were more monsters in the world than the plain old human ones! I couldn’t, though, so I just remained a silent witness while my dad turned away and covered his face with his hand.
No: while he covered his tears with his hand.
After a while longer, he stood and walked away. When he came back another unknown stretch of time had passed — but his eyes weren’t red anymore. This time, before he sat down, I noticed that he had reclaimed his gun. “I know this is too little, too late,” he said. “And you already took care of that monster, Salvatore. And I don’t know if you can really hear me right now, but I’m proud of you for that, Abby. For taking care of your friends and standing up to protect them. I don’t know if your mom and I told you we were proud of you often enough. But if we didn’t then I wish we had, and… And I wish you hadn’t had to go through this. No one should have to go through… He killed you. And… and I wasn’t there to help you then. But I’ll do whatever I can to make up for that, now. If you can hear me, I… I’m not going to let you down again, pumpkin. I won’t.”
We sat in silence together for a while longer, and then he abruptly lifted his head in the direction of the hotel door — a space outside of my awareness. He stood again and stepped away, leaving me to mull over what he’d said and how he’d said it — and try to figure out how I would feel about it once I could really feel again.
Fumiko sat with me next. It was a little silly, I decided. It wasn’t like I was a coma patient or something. But at the same time, I thought I would probably appreciate the solidarity when I did revive. Fumiko didn’t say anything for what I imagined was a long time. Then she stood. “Not yet,” she said to someone outside my awareness. Dad, I guessed. “But it’ll be an hour or so, I think. Couldn’t you tell from outside?”
Then Dad stepped back into my region of awareness. He was shaking his head. “Not through all the clouds. It may as well be night already — or at least dusk. I caught the forecast coming through the lobby, though, and the weatherman did say the storms should break tonight around nine.”
Fumiko bit her lip and nodded. “Maybe I can look it up on my phone,” she said. “It seems like one of those time websites would probably keep track of when the sun is supposed to set.”
Dad nodded, then chuckled. “So, do you suppose all those calendars with phases of the moon on them are really marketed toward werewolves? I mean, how many people out there do you think actually care if it’s waning or waxing?”
Fumiko smiled, but didn’t laugh. She stood up, then stepped away. I assumed it was to get her phone. I had to guess, though, because after that I couldn’t perceive her again.
Dad reclaimed the chair. After a while he spoke, again to someone where I couldn’t see: “No, thank you. You go ahead. And Fumiko… Thank you. For everything you’ve done for… for my Abby. As far as I’m concerned, you’re family. I mean, you’ve taking care of her like a sister, so…” He squeezed his eyes shut and started over. “What I’m trying to say is: if you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to come to us. The way you’ve been taking care of her isn’t something that could ever be repaid, and to say we owe you would be a criminal understatement. I can’t express how glad I am that my daughter found people like you to be her friends, and I wouldn’t hesitate to offer anything I can to you or Megan that Abby would if she were able.”
Fumiko’s response was lost to me but she must have said something because it took a moment before Dad turned away from the outside of my awareness and back toward me. We sat silently together once more.
After that, the next thing that caught my attention was when I felt the sunset approaching. At least, that’s what I figured it had to be: abruptly the tranquility I’d been experiencing began to shed away. It felt like time was speeding up, but actually I was just becoming emotionally invested in its passage again. Had I really spent all day lying there, doing nothing?! I should have at least been trying to figure out what to do next! I should have…
I gasped and sat upright. My awareness snapped back into my body, and the sudden shift from limited omniscience to hyper-receptive vampire senses was intensely disconcerting. I tried to blink away the sensation of tunnel vision as my sight collapsed to just one point of view. The sound of Fumiko calling “Abby!” at the same time as my dad shouted “Abigail!” crashed into my ears. The pressure and texture of the blankets overwhelmed the nothingness I’d been feeling while dormant, while the scent of fast food assaulted my nose. Burgers and… tacos? I looked around and yelped when my swinging vision unexpectedly brought my dad and Fumiko into view — both rushing to my side.
Dad swept me up in a hug. Fumiko stood back to let him, but her eyes seemed a little glassy from relief. I smiled at her. It might have been a little sickly, but that was just because I was realizing that if I went dormant too often then my ‘oh fuck, what’s behind me’ issue was going to get a lot worse.
Why can’t I be semi-omniscient while I’m alive, too? Although, that did sort of beg the question… If I were hungry enough, would I be able to use that extra-sensory awareness? Why did that happen when I went dormant, anyway? In retrospect, I probably would’ve expected something more like sensory deprivation, if I’d ever thought about what it was like to be dead but not really dead, back before I’d been undead.
Even more importantly: I still wasn’t hungry, and didn’t have the slightest urge to rip my dad’s throat out while he was hugging me. I blinked away tears, and I wasn’t sure how much of it was in relief over that and how much of it was from all the emotions catching up to me. Dad rocked me gently. “It’s going to be okay, pumpkin,” he promised. “It’s going to be okay.”
I wanted to believe him. I really, really did. But I couldn’t. An entire day was gone. Who knew what shape Emma was in? Who knew where Megan was now? Whether Hans was under stronger geases? What Lewellan had been up to? There was too much going on, and I had lost too much time.
“Thanks, Dad,” I whispered anyway. I was determined not to get choked up. I had a lost day to make up for. I blinked a few times, but utterly failed to clear away my damn persistent tears. If anything, my vision just got blurrier.
I started to sniffle, too.
Dad stroked my hair and continued to comfort me. Fumiko stood in the background, fidgeting uncomfortably.
Finally I got to the point where I felt like I could talk. I managed to extricate myself from Dad’s hug. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I know. It’ll be okay, right? But it isn’t now. We don’t have time to be comforting me — there’s too much that needs to be done.” My voice cracked despite myself. “Too much, and I don’t even know how to start.”
Dad glanced at Fumiko, and then back at me. “Tell us,” he said.
I blinked a few more times and scrubbed my eyes clear. Then I swallowed and nodded. Then I started to fill them in on last night, scaring off Mr. Eyelids and his fae, tracking down Pipsqueak to put an end to my aura problem — and then getting home, and the Director, and Emma, and… I started crying again before I got to the part where I found Fumiko, but I knew she had already filled Dad in on the stuff she had been there for.
Dad started to try and comfort me again, but I shook my head. “No,” I insisted. “No time. We need to be doing something more useful.” Taking care of me didn’t do shit to take care of all the messes I’d made.
“Okay,” Dad said. “Then it sounds like we need to find out how your girlfriend is doing, without getting anyone close enough to the Director to be geased. We need to find Megan, and we need to get her to Emma. That’s just three things. We can manage that,” he said with a certainty that had always been lacking in my own life.
“How?” I asked. “Hans is already geased, so I can’t call him to ask about Emma. I don’t have Linda’s number, so I can’t ask her. Lewellan is apparently out to get more hostages, so it’s not like you or Fumiko or I can go check on her. And then, Megan isn’t even in this world as far as I can tell. I mean, I think I know how to get her to Emma if I can get to her, but… she’s in another world!” I had trouble getting myself to go to the grocery store most days. I had no fucking idea if I could make myself go to another dimension, even if I had any fucking idea how to. And wasn’t faerie land supposed to be in perpetual day?
We were so fucking screwed.
Dad nodded, but he wasn’t paying attention to the despair welling in my voice. He wasn’t trying to comfort me, either. He had stood, and started pacing. His face was a locked in a frown — the expression of a man who had ‘disengaged from his emotions’ in order to review a problem he had to solve. I’d seen that look on his face sometimes at home, when he’d had a patient at the hospital who was still touch and go. Hell, I’d seen that look on his face this morning, when he’d been trying to revive me after I fell dormant.
“John,” Dad said.
Fumiko beat me to the punch. “We can’t send him to check on Emma,” she said. “Not if the Director is looking for more people to hold hostage. I mean, I don’t know how attached you are to him, Abby, but he seemed pretty darn adamant about you being his adoptive little sister.”
I nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Otherwise I’d be all for it — he’s enough of a stranger that I wouldn’t think he’d be that important to me, too. But Lewellan is going to know about the whole adoptive family thing, because apparently that’s pretty common in vampire ‘clans.'”
Dad looked at both of us. Then he shook his head. “No. We don’t send John to check on Emma. We get Linda’s phone number from him. You said they were old friends, right? Linda, John and Hans? So then we call her to find out how Emma is doing, since she and her circle are supposed to be helping take care of her. Aren’t they?”
Dad had stopped pacing. His frown had shifted into a determined line. “That’s step one. Find out how your girl is doing. Then, while we have Linda, we enact step two.”
“Step two?” I asked.
“We need to find Megan,” he said. “And Megan isn’t in this world.”
I nodded confirmation.
“But Linda and her witches aren’t just taking care of Emma,” Dad said. “They’re also supposed to be guarding the gate Archarel invaded through last time, right?”
I nodded again, and tried to keep the sudden bubble of fear from rising up through my gut and popping in some nightmarish reaction. I didn’t like where this was going, even though now that it had been brought up I couldn’t think of anything else I could possibly do.
“Well,” Dad confirmed my growing dread, “gates typically open both ways. Since we need Megan to save your girlfriend, we’re just going to have to go through that gate to get to her. So while we’re on the phone with Linda, we’re just going to have to convince her to tell us where her gate is, and convince her to have her guards let us through and open it up. Then we’ll go through, deal with whatever we have to in order to get to Megan, and get her to Emma.”