It was weird. He didn’t ‘feel’ like a vampire or werewolf but he didn’t seem human to me, either. I couldn’t very well ask him about it with my entire family and then some right there but I had no intention of losing the opportunity to finally talk to this guy. I did the only thing I could – I invited him to my place and it got weirder.
I suppose I should expect it by now. But it wasn’t on my mind as I excused myself and the others from my family’s gathering. Momma wasn’t pleased and that distracted me. Of course, she wanted to get to know the guy that had her baby girl all a flutter. I resisted the urge to tell her I would prefer to just ‘flutter’ him out the door completely – why make things worse?
Anyway, I hustled him, Wolfe, Crystal and Nyota to my apartment, trying to get away before Lisa could decide to tag along. But Momma had decided to settle for Lisa as second prize so for the moment, we had young Mr Thompson all to ourselves.
I got everyone in and passed out drinks as requested. I’m my momma’s boy, too, after all. I had had ages to think about what to say to this guy when the time came but I found that now I didn’t like the approach I’d decided on. I was making up my mind on a new tack as I seated myself.
Nyota beat me to it. "So, what are you?" she asked Thompson.
"Probably dead." He replied seriously, looking around at a room full of slayers and a really big werewolf.
"I meant your creature type." Nyota replied unphased.
"I’m a faoladh."
"Irish, eh? You don’t sound it." Wolff remarked.
"In type, sure. Born in Ontario. Never even been to Ireland. My parents came over during the famine."
I shook my head. "The potato famine?"
Thompson nodded, "Yes. Faoladh are born, not created."
"You’re also protectors so what’s the big deal?" Crystal demanded.
"It wasn’t my idea!" Thompson protested. "I didn’t want to even come here! I didn’t have a choice."
I got up and got one of the books Crystal had lent me. Looking it up, I found that he was a Irish werewolf noted for protecting lost children and wounded men. They live a few hundred years. I put the book back on the desk, only half listening to the conversation. This made less sense every time I turned around. It did explain why he was so hard to detect – the book said he was a Twilight despite being a werewolf.
I was wondering what idiot had come up with that stupid system of categorizing these things as I took my seat. I’d heard most of what was said – basically, Thompson claimed to have been commanded to come down here and to meet Lisa.
I wasn’t in my best humor and I’m sure it showed. "Okay, back up. Who gave you that command?"
"I don’t know his real name. He was waiting for me one afternoon in the park."
"How’d he know to wait there?"
Thompson shrugged, "I’m a faoladh – it’s not that hard to figure we’re going to be where children might need us. There’s a big park on the north side of Ontario and kids get lost in it all the time. I generally go up there three times a week. Someone could have noticed me or he just looked around parks until he found me."
"That only works if he knew what you were." I replied.
He nodded, "Sure, but he did know – that was why he wanted me. I don’t know how he knew there were faoladh in Ontario but he must have."
"When was this?"
"One month ago tomorrow."
"Tell me exactly what he said and did." I ordered.
"Minus the sarcasm."
Wolff intervened, "You commanded him."
"I… crap, never mind. My bad. Just tell me." I thumped my own head.
"Yes… sir. I was on the walking path and he was sitting on the park bench. I saw him and realized he was a slayer so I turned to go another way but he called me."
Thompson shook his head, "He called me faoladh. He told me to come to him. I couldn’t help myself. When I reached him he got up and said to follow him and to keep silent. I did as he said – I tried to fight it but it was no use. He led me to his car and told me to get in the back and lay down. He drove for over an hour then pulled into a garage."
"House or professional?" I asked.
"House. He told me to get out and to go sit in the kitchen, I did as I was told. He came in a short while later and pulled out a briefcase. He kept me there for two days, teaching me about Miss Lisa and telling me what I was to do. He had the whole thing planned. I was to meet her and get her to come away with me. If not, to come to live with me."
"And if not?"
"I was to stay as close to her as I could until I received further instructions."
"And did you?"
"Yes sir. When I told him she wouldn’t live with me he told me to arrange to bring her to the Falcon…"
"The club on East 67?"
"Yes sir. But then he changed his mind. He told me to just remain her boyfriend for the time being and not to go near her family."
"So why are you here tonight?"
"He called this morning and said to accept her invitation the next time she asked me to come."
He shrugged, "Nothing. I asked what I should do if I saw you but he just laughed and hung up. I assumed he was tired of me and …" Thompson stopped speaking abruptly.
"And?" I cued him.
"And he figured this was the quickest way to be rid of me."
"Six foot two, stout, brown hair with a touch of gray at the peak, broad face, hawkish nose, scar on the left cheek, barely noticeable. Brown eyes, missing a canine on the right side, heavy brows, probably in his mid fifties."
"What did he say to call him?"
"I called him ‘master’. He never gave a name but did say not to refer to him as master in front of anyone else."
"Well?" I turned to Wolff.
He shook his head, "That’s not the Master of the Night. He is of Chinese descent and he wouldn’t have wasted his time with a creature like that."
Thompson spoke, "He wasn’t a master, not like that. I met the Mistress of the Twilight once when I was small. This guy could command me but he felt like a slayer, not a master."
"Could you tell the period?" Wolff asked.
"No, I know it wasn’t twilight but I don’t think it was night, either. I think maybe dawn but just because I had no real sense of it."
I laid my head back on the back of the couch. That sounded like way too much effort to just toss in the towel. Why would this guy want me to know he was after my sister? That I could tell, that was all this had accomplished.
Well, no, it had also created a heck of a headache for me. I couldn’t let this guy near Lisa. Assuming he was telling the truth, all that guy had to do was call in an order and this guy would obey it. But I couldn’t tell Lisa the truth, either. I’m not exactly an old hand yet but I’m far enough along that I knew full well Thompson was white so I couldn’t just slay him, either.
Maybe that was the point. Creating yet another obstacle for me? Nah, that seemed silly. Lots better ways to mess with me than this.
Another, more chilling thought crossed my mind. "You said two days?"
Thompson nodded, "Yes sir."
"And he had a dossier on my sister?"
"He had one on Miss Lisa, one on you, one on Mr Tim, one on your parents and a separate one on your entire family." Thompson looked like he expected me to haul off an hit him at any minute.
"And you studied them?"
"Memorized, yes sir."
My eyes narrowed at him, "Could you reconstruct them?"
He nodded, "Yes, sir."
"How long would it take you?"
"A few days – it was an awful lot of material." Thompson bit his lip. "Sir?"
"Might I be allowed to eat?"
I cocked my head, "What?"
"It’s just… I wasn’t … Two days is a long time and this will be longer. I know what will happen afterwards but I’d rather…"
Crystal and I exchanged glances. I shook my head emphatically, "Nonsense. I don’t know that I believe you and you sure as hell aren’t getting near Lisa again but unless you turn into something black and start munching the neighbors I have no intention of slaying you, let alone half starving you. What part of ‘white’ didn’t you get?"
He just stared at me.
"I’m sorry, sir. I’ve never even heard of slayers that can command creatures before last month. I guess I just thought… If I’d known you would be like this, I’d have tried to reach you myself. That bastard is a monster and if I can’t be free I’d rather serve you."
"Good grief." I shook my head.
Crystal started chuckling.
Wolff sighed, "He makes a good point, Son. If you own him he can’t work against you."
"Two problems with that, besides the whole I am not a master thing." I started, "First, we don’t know enough about how this works. If he’s going to be compelled by whichever one of us happens to have his ear then it’s no use. Second, even if I can somehow override that other guy, what the heck to I do with him? I can’t give him to my sister as a pet and I can’t safely send him back to Canada yet, either."
"Mast.. er, Sir? Are you saying you’ll release me when it’s safe for you to do so?" Thompson asked almost breathlessly.
Crystal fell over laughing. I shot her a dirty look. "I’m saying you aren’t ‘mine’ to release but I guess that’s just semantics. But if you mean do I intend to keep you as a pet the answer is hell no. If I had my choice, I’d send you packing now but he’d only get his hooks back into you and send you back. The way Lisa is right now… it would be bad, leave it at that."
Thompson came out of the chair and fell to his knees, "I can help! I can! I don’t know his name but I can draw him for you. I backhacked his email. I’m sure that is a dummy name and the IP’s are all libraries but given some time…"
"You did what?" I asked incredulously.
"I backhacked his email. I’m a programmer. Even a faoladh has to have a job."
"Does he know that?" I asked.
Thompson shrugged, "I doubt it. He talked like he thought I was still a musician. I gave that up a couple decades ago."
"What was the dummy name?"
"Anderson, Vincent Anderson."
"Good, that gives us something to call him. Now, get up off the floor and let’s see what else we can find out about Vinnie…"