The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes convinced me I was still unconscious. A real-life Prince Tanaka filled my field of vision. But for some reason his hair was slicked back in short, punky spikes. And he had an earring. Clearly my brain was in some weird fangirl dream.
“Prince… Spikey?” I asked in befuddlement.
His eyes widened slightly. “Abigail,” Ben exclaimed. “Oh, thank god.”
I blinked a couple of times. I could smell blood — enough of it that I couldn’t tell who all had spilt it. “What… you look like you’ve seen a ghost,” I told him. It was an unironic observation: as far as I was aware he didn’t have the ability to look into the astral world like I could. But as soon as the words were out of my mouth I wanted to giggle at them. And what was up with that cosplay? I mean: alright, I was intrigued. But Fumiko was going to be upset if he hadnt asked for her input on the costu….
Oh no. I had turned my glamour into armor for him, hadn’t I?
I went as still as a corpse could.
Don’t look. Don’t look don’t look don’t look. If I didn’t look down at myself and didn’t move, maybe nothing would confirm that I was laying on my back in the woods after midnight, naked with a hot vampire leaning over me. My mouth felt dry, which was weird because it had the distinct taste of blood in it so I knew I’d been forced to drink recently. Still, my attention locked on Prince Spikey’s mouth instead of my own. I am not naked, I told myself firmly. My boyfriend is not standing in front of me wearing my underwear under my platemail. Except: Fuuuuuck. I could see fangs. That was like a face boner for vampires. I was definitely nude. Or he was thirsty. Thirsty and leaning over me like he was just seconds away from biting and dammit, now my fangs were starting to slip.
“I thought you might have become one,” Ben admitted. “You collapsed, but there were no injuries and blood wouldn’t revive you.” His voice became low: troubled and dangerous. “I don’t know what exactly happened in that circle, but don’t do it again.”
My eyes shied away from his. I was mortified by how much I wanted to celebrate that I was alive by yanking Ben down by the gorget and pulling his mouth to my neck. How fucked up was it that I wanted to celebrate surviving a near death experience by having an apex predator sink his teeth into me?
I shivered. I’d inadvertantly looked down, which only heightened my feeling embarrassment. Yes, I was naked. But at least someone had draped a long coat over me. “Right,” I said. “No more doing stripteases for you,” was my auto pilot’s glib responce. I wasn’t ready to admit how close that had been to being the end. “I promise to keep my clothes on when we’re attacked by ghost zombies in the future.” The weave would hold me to that, too. Which was good, since apparently I couldn’t be trusted not to get naked at inappropriate times without a magical compulsion to stop me.
God, was I really turning into a nudist?
My eyes darted to either side. Partially to identify the other people who were near me so I could judge just how freaked out I should be right now. Which should have defaulted to epically massively, except my aura was bloated enough at the moment that my emotions were surprisingly stable. I mean: Yeah, I was embarassed. But that’s a far cry from mortification.
Ben and Hans were next to me. Ben on one side; Hans crouched on the other. Thadeus was there, too, except he was in the astral plane. Hans looked like my waking up had yanked him out of some kind of panic attack: I could still hear his heart pounding. Ben looked like, well, like he’d seen a ghost. And Thaddeus looked like he was a ghost. He was extra transparent and seemed to be having trouble even keeping as close to our reality as he barely was.
The werepups were arrayed — as much as two people and one wolf were able — in a defencive wall behind Hans. Benny was with them, too. I guess he was an honorary werepup, or something. They were between us and everyone else, with their backs to us. Shantaya had glanced back when she heard my voice, but when I caught her eyes she snapped her gaze back forward, to the next semi-circle of people. Those seemed to be Ben’s donors. One of them wasn’t wearing a coat.
Somewhere past the donors I could hear other people still in the woods. Fiore and Valerie and Cassie and some others, talking about what had just happened. And what to do next.
“She woke up,” I heard Elaine interrupt the solock who was currently speaking.
“She what?” the solock in question — some guy who’s voice I didn’t recognize with a name — blurted in disbelief.
“Of course,” Fiore answered dryly. He didn’t even try to hide the annoyance in his tone. “This is Abigail. Why wouldn’t she be utterly unresponsive to being revived with blood only to spontaneously ‘wake up’ from being dormant?”
Whatever. He was probably just mad because he’d missed out on another chance to put my remains in a box, ship them to The Center’s morgue, and then live unlife pretending I’d never happened.
Plus ten jackass points for him, though.
That line of reaffirmation was interrupted, though, when I heard the people who had been talking safely ‘over there’ start moving toward us. My brain squeaked in mild panic. ‘Over here’ was not a safe place for them to be. Not safe for me for them to be. I was still lying on the ground naked over here!
I grabbed Ben by the gorget, but only yanked mentally — not physically. Armor was exactly what I needed right now, and we didn’t have time for a quick peck on the neck, let alone a bite and tussle.
I felt a psychic chill as the faerie bubble in my soul emptied of what little essence had been spooling inside. Thaddeus and the astral plane snapped out of view for a second as I leveraged that essence to strip Ben and clothe myself. But my aura was bloated from Thaddeus’ efforts — and those of whoever else had given me blood while I was dormant — so almost immediately the psychic brainfreeze faded as some of the essence in my buffer sifted down into the faerie bubble.
Even more importantly: the sphere I’d built did it’s job. It neither ripped apart nor collapsed in the brief instant I’d emptied it.
I laughed shakily. Partially because I only realized what I’d done after the fact. If my newly refurbished faerie core hadn’t done its job my panic could have killed me. And some of the laughter came from Ben’s startled expression. But mostly it was from relief that I was now covered by the best night time armor I could imagine.
Which was apparently still full-body, long sleeved, button up flannel pajamas.
“Sorry, Prince Spikey,” I said. It was a sympathetic apology: I too knew how disconcerting it could be for your underwear to magically disappear. But at least he was wearing another pair, dammit!
My cheeks started to heat up. The weave grabbed my apology and tied an obligation from me to Ben. I baarely noticed because now I was too busy wondering if I should’ve let him keep the underwear. And why were my boyfriends all such kinky bastards?!
I looked away from Ben before my autopilot could wreak havoc by blurting any of those thoughts out, and pushed myself upright. The coat slid off me as I stood. I needed a distraction from my burning ears and cheeks and now rampant speculation about whether or not there was anything under Ben’s jeans other than his cock. I mean: I knew Hans went commando, but I was pretty sure that was more of a werewolf convenience thing than an under-clad pervert thing. And now my brain was taunting me with mental images of Ben sans pants. Dammit, Ben! Wasn’t I supposed to be mad at him over Megan, still? It was bad enough that I had to think about him biting me all the time, and now this?!
Fortunately, I had a distraction near at hand. A distraction other than Hans and a brand new fantasy about the two of them getting into an arguement about which of them could best seduce me pantsless, while pantsless. An arguement which of course had to be settled through competition, because that’s how testosterone driven, alpha-male types settle their differences without killing each other: on the field. Probably of heather, over the crags of Hans’ homeland and under the glimmering moon’s light. Because: Sports. And everyone knows “sports” are a thinly veiled metaphor for yaoi.
But that wasn’t my replacement distraction! My replacemennt distraction was the aproaching vampires and the row of werepups that seemed — if their growling ghost wolves (or growling wolf, in jock boy’s case) — determined to make sure no one bothered me while I was indisposed.
And also, there was the realization that I was going to have to replace Salvatore in my slash fic with Ben. Because Salvatore was creepy, and Hans deserved better. Ooo! Or maybe after Salvatore turns evil, Hans and Ben can hook up. Because sports and heartbreak. That would make a good plotline, right? Plus it would preserve Salvatore as the villainous, bitter ex who tries to ruin the future of the protagonsts’ budding relationship together in cruel and underhanded ways.
Wait… when had this thing started developing a plot?
I did my best to shove those thoughts aside and focus on more immediate things. Like what had happened to my flannels, and why was I in a nightie now? I squeezed my eyes shut and focused. At least it was easy to lengthen and opaquen the nightie into a proper-ish dress. Not that I often wore dresses, but it was actually probably a better option than pajamas if I wanted to be taken seriously. Or spare myself embarassment.
I found what loose threads I could see in the glamour and did my best to tie them in place. Hopefully that will keep it from shifting erratically for a while. As it was, I was already a little miffed with Hans and Ben for succeeding in getting me pantsless, after all. This was not an appropriate time for that! We were so going to have to sit down and have a conversation about proper decorum, later.
With that reesolution firmly set — and my clothes no longer in a state of emotionally reflective flux — I stepped toward my line of defenders. I paused to give a quick glare back and forth over my shoulder to let Ben and Hans know I had their number — and then I stepped past Shantaya and the others. My aura was sufficiently bloated from everyone’s misguided attempts to revive me that I really wasn’t freaking out to the extent that I really, really should be. And as much as I would’ve liked to just enjoy not falling apart over every little thing while I could, it made more sense to use it by dealing with the other vampires and the fallout of our ghost hunt, instead.
Damn, but being a rational, responsible, emotionally balanced vampire just sucks sometimes.