Convincing Lisa to go clean her own room took longer than it should have. Jack grabbed the phone quickly, afraid Lisa might come back to vacuum the fire escape or something equally unnecessary.
Mr. Abernathy answered. They were already up and having breakfast. Small families get to sleep more, Jack decided as Mr. Abernathy went to get his daughter. Crystal didn’t sound all that awake when she came on the line. Jack explained quickly. Crystal promised to be over shortly. Jack was saying good bye as his front door opened again.
Jack put down the receiver as he turned to face his brother, “You do know how to knock, right, Tim?”
Tim grinned as he closed the door and took a seat, “Seems like Momma taught me that once. How’d you do it?”
Jack exhaled as he seated himself, “Darned if I know. She was just ready, I guess. I really expected it to be more of a fight.”
“I don’t get it. She was hellbent last night. Now she’s cleaning the refrigerator. Did you transplant her brain or something?”
Jack shrugged, “I dunno. I really don’t.”
Tim grew more serious, “What’s going on with you, Jack?”
“I imagine I know what you’re talking about and I won’t pretend different. But I’m not ready to talk about it – don’t know that I will be. It’s something I need to work out.” Jack told his brother frankly.
Tim nodded, “Fair enough, I guess.”
If Jack decided to confide his new found occupation with anyone, it would be Tim. Tim didn’t need Jack to say so and he didn’t need Jack to soft soap anything. The brothers had grown up together fulfilling a childhood pact to always be straight with one another. Neither was willing to give that up now.
“You can warm up the sofa some more or you can go get your Sunday clothes on. I’m getting a shower, one way or the other…” Jack declared as he pulled himself out of his seat.
The phone rang. Tim grinned as he, too, got up. “Crystal?”
Jack tossed a sofa pillow at his brother, “Smart alec…” Jack picked up the phone, “Um, hi…”
Tim laughed aloud as he walked out the door. Jack hadn’t said her name but there was only one person currently that he answered with that tone of voice. A second sofa pillow hit the door as it closed behind him.
Forty five minutes later, Crystal appeared on Jack’s doorstep in a lovely yellow chiffon dress carrying her Bible. Jack gave her his arm as he led her across the hall to his parents apartment where he announced that she would be joining them for church. He promptly lost custody to his sisters, Lisa included. He left them alone as they conducted whatever girl business they had. Some things are more frightening than vampires, he concluded as he joined his brothers in the hallway.
Two and a half hours later, they were all back, Crystal having been commandeered for lunch – much to Jack’s pleasure. There was no good way to rush matters and Jack trusted Crystal to let him know if she needed to talk to him urgently. No signal came so he decided to relax and enjoy the company. There would be plenty of time to worry later.
Crystal invited Jack to her home for supper, giving them both the much needed excuse to find a more private setting. Jack had enjoyed the afternoon immensely but there’s a time for play and a time for work. At six, he presented himself on the Abernathy doorstep and was once more welcomed inside.
Jack took a seat at the kitchen table. Mrs Abernathy was checking what smelled like roast in the oven. Crystal had her homework in front of her but closed the book as Jack sat down.
Crystal shook her head, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get a thing. Maybe Nyota will have better luck when she gets here in two weeks.”
“No, that’s okay. Mr. Wolff said it might not work. He was supposed to call Ethan in hopes that Ethan might be able to find a Day Slayer to help us out.”
“Said it wrong?” Jack asked.
Crystal nodded, “It’s a Day Creature Slayer or a Day Creature True Slayer, depending. It’s not important, it just struck me funny, talking about slaying the day…”
Jack gave awry grin, “Yeah, okay, I can see that. In the meantime, I was wondering if I could borrow your book on Day Creatures again?”
“Sure, you want Dawn too?” Crystal hopped off her stool.
“Oh, right – yeah, Dawn and Day have a lot of overlap. Mr Tresmayne is right that it’s probably a Day but there might be a Dawn that could do it, too.”
Jack nodded, “Then yeah, both please.”
Crystal smiled and left the room. Jack looked around at Mrs Abernathy, “Someday, we’re gonna have a completely normal, boring conversation at your table.” Jack commented dryly.
Mrs Abernathy smiled, “No, you won’t. We haven’t had one of those since she was five. Don’t even remember what they’re like. Now, make yourself useful and get the blue dishes, won’t you?”
Jack grinned, “Yes, Ma’am…”