What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Part Ten

Jack, once he finally stopped snickering, motioned to me. It wasn’t hard to guess – someone might as well go talk to his mom and it couldn’t be him. I left while Mr McKenzie was asking Jack if this was some kind of a joke. Jack was telling him, no, but it should be, as I closed the door.

Not sure why Jack bothered – I mean, he had to have known it was useless. Mrs Scarlotti very politely but firmly shooed me away as she listened to whomever was on the other end of the phone. Mr. McKenzie was reading again as I returned to Jack’s apartment and my seat.

"The business with the cats makes no sense. Werewolves kill for animals for food only unless under specific command. Now, a modern might vary from that but it’s doubtful and if he has a modern under his command he’s a total idiot wasting his time that way. There is one other possibility, especially in a sanctuary – are you sure they were cats?"

Jack looked skeptical as Mr McKenzie paused, "She wants an answer?"

"Yes, she gave a couple possible responses depending on your answer." Mr McKenzie’s voice told us.

"What the heck else could they be?" Jack asked.

"Familiars." Tresmayne answered. "That makes a great deal more sense." He stood, "I’ll be back shortly."

Jack looked at me. "Should I ask or should I just give up now?"

I smiled, I hoped sympathetically. "Familiars are animals with special abilities that assist slayers. They’re very rare and only a fever see one, let alone have one." I explained.

"Why would the Myers have them?" Jack looked even more skeptical. "Besides, those were the laziest cats I ever saw…"

I shrugged, "I dunno…"

"Myers? The people on the third floor, yes?" Nyota asked.

Jack nodded, "That’s right."

"The man is a slayer. Did you not know that?"

We both goggled at her. Jack isn’t used to sensing slayers but I didn’t think I was that bad at it.

Nyota shrugged, "This is a sanctuary – why are you so surprised that other slayers are here? Really, Children, have you understood so little? This fool who would slay you – do you really think he would avoid direct confrontation merely because touching you might hurt? What kind of a slayer is so afraid of pain? he fears taking on a house full of slayers, that is why he sends creatures that only you can sense and refuses to show himself."

Jack pounded his forehead, "Just great – I would dearly love it if just once I wasn’t totally clueless."

Nyota shrugged, "I am sorry if I’ve offended…"

I shook my head, "He doesn’t know that much yet and it never occurred to me that so many could hide their presence like that."

"Oh, but that is the nature of a sanctuary – it can permit total concealment when a slayer is inactive. Many retiring or recovering slayers will seek sanctuary for that reason. Child, why haven’t you taught him better?"

"Me? I’m not his mentor, Mr Colin is." I replied.

Nyota shook her head, "No, Child, he is not. You are. You were the first, were you not? It matters little – the bond is plain enough. You are his mentor."

Jack and I exchanged bewildered glances. I looked at Nyota. "Say what? But, but I thought you had to be an experienced slayer and all?"

"You are an experienced slayer, Child" She sighed, "Colin said he thought the boy was progressing slowly. Now I see why. Colin said you had sought his assistance for the strange occurrences – he obviously never realized you thought him a mentor. Well, it’s done now. I will help you and we’ll get him up to speed, as you say."

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What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Part Nine

Mr McKenzie, after introductions and being put on speaker, got straight down to business. It was funny, in a way, since he was obviously reading from a text. He sounded like the kid stuck reading Jabberwocky out loud in English class. He was pretty obviously not a slayer but he gave it his best shot.

"Question number one," his rather deep tenor intoned, "why can there be only one commander type slayer? Answer: it’s nonsense. There can be more than one but most true born won’t permit more than one in the field at a time. Still, there is a pretty strong belief that only one can exist at a time thanks to that nonsense about one dying within seven years. I’m pretty sure the Master of the Dawn of 987 started that idiocy."

He paused briefly then continued, "Question number two: why can’t commander types touch each other? Answer: most can. The only time they can’t is when they are of opposing periods and colors – i.e. a black Day couldn’t tolerate being touched by a white Night. That has to do with the power they exert. Unlike true born, it’s a power, not a birthright. Those powers repel each other when in opposition. It can cause a rather nasty type of burn from the opposing energies. Do you need the technical explanation or will that do?"

Mr McKenzie paused and we looked expectantly at Jack. He thought for a moment before speaking, "I don’t think we need the technical. I may change my mind after I hear the rest, though."

"Fair enough. Just let me know." Mr. McKenzie replied, "Ready?"

"Yes." Jack told the speaker phone.

"Question number three…" There was a long pause.

"Hello?" Jack asked.

"Oh? Sorry… weirdest junk she’s ever… Er, sorry about that. I’ll just go on now." Mr McKenzie told us, "How do commander types sense one another? Answer: like any slayer, they develop the sensitivity to both creatures and other slayers. Unlike even other true slayers, they become extremely sensitive and eventually most can identify creature and slayer types by sensation alone. You’ll probably notice it first with creatures. I understand you’ve had a good bit of activity with werewolves and vampires. I expect you’ll notice it with them first. You should be able to tell when you sense it what it is, if you’ve been exposed before. That will happen, I expect, first with vampires and werewolves. Probably sooner rather than later."

He paused again, evidently trying not to laugh, or something. After a moment, he continued. "Question number four: is there any other reason the other commander type might want me dead? Answer: yes, if he’s in opposition to you, which it sounds like he is, but I doubt that it matters. Opposition slayers have been known to kill one another merely to curry favor with their true born or to win battles. From your letter and the Chronicles, it sounds to me like he’s just spooked and trying to avoid the Seven Year curse nonsense."

"Hang on a second." Mr McKenzie said. There was a muffled sound of someone clearing his throat. "Sorry. Question number five: Do you know Geoffrey Whitaker? Answer: Not by that name, no. But I suspect you are asking about the other commander type, right? I do know him – seen him a few times in the field and have had occasion to investigate him once or twice. Warren have Cassie pull…" Mr McKenzie stopped reading and paused, "Sorry, that part’s for me. She wants me to send you a declassified file. Would you prefer email or fax?"

Thompson answered, "Email. The address is…"

While they were sorting out the transfer, I got up and attended to the call of nature. By the time I got back, Mr McKenzie was reading again. "Answer: no, he isn’t likely to get close – he believes that curse nonsense. IT’s just as well – you are definitely in opposition if it’s him and you should avoid touching him if at all possible. The thing with your sister is odd. I don’t think it was an attempt to gain a hostage – he could have already done that. It sounds more like an attempt to gain entrance to the sanctuary, since your sister has that and could grant it to a creature inadvertently. My best guess is it is a trial run to find out if it can be done. He seems to prefer vampires and traditionals will require invitation. I’d worry more about that. Warren, see the second… Sorry, that’s for me again. Oh…" he paused, "Um, Jack, is it?"

"Yes?" Jack responded.

Mr McKenzie sighed audibly, "I need your mother’s phone number. There’s a second letter for her. Danged silly… oops…"

Jack threw back his head and laughed, "I know exactly how you feel, Brother!" He howled in laughter and motioned to Thompson.

Looking at Jack as if he doubted Jack’s sanity, Thompson nevertheless took the hint, "I just got your email. Can I send you the number the same way?"

"Sure." Mr McKenzie’s voice answered wearily. It became muffled for a moment, "Cassie? Here, take this and call the number I’m about to forward to you. Read the letter to her…. Don’t ask me, it’s one of my crazy partner’s crazy… Yeah, the whole letter. Thanks."

Jack was struggling to get himself under control. Hearing Mr McKenzie didn’t help at all. Jack was still chortling when Mr McKenzie began to read again.

"You definitely need to take some precautions against vampire and werewolf entry…" Mr McKenzie stopped reading again. "Give me a second…" He was having trouble keeping a straight face – we could hear it in his voice… "Try garlic on the window sills…. Oh, come on now…"

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What have I Gotten Myself Into? Part Eight

It took another ten minutes of dancing around before I finally got Finlay to explain.

"There was a vampire that came every day for a fortnight. Then the second one came but the third night, it entered the building. Mistress didn’t hear me. The boy slayer didn’t notice it at first. It gave a victory cry when it was leaving. The boy reacted to that."

"That was when it killed?"

"Just after, Lady. It made an awful racket. I thought surely Mistress would hear, but the boy did instead. When she was young she never missed one."

"What kind of cry? Vibration?" I asked. Swords can’t really hear, of course but they do detect the vibration of sound. An attuned sword – one that’s recorded a psyche like Finlay can also sense the psyches around them. I was basically asking which it was."

"No vibration, Lady."

That meant it was a psychic war cry. Weird, vampires rarely do that – and this one was supposed to be middle aged. "Can you repeat the cry?"

"Certainly. ‘Ich habe mein Meister hochst zufrieden! Er will mir eine shone Belohnung geben!’ "

On the bright side, since they are little more than recorders, swords can accurately recall words they don’t understand. On the not so bright side, Finlay spoke with a Scottiish accent and I was pretty sure my Southern drawl on top of it wasn’t gonna help matters. I turned to Tresmayne, "He heard something in a foreign language. Would you mind listening to see if you might know what it means?"

Another ten minutes wasted while I tried to pronounce a bunch of German words well enough that Tresmayne could make sense of them. It boiled down to "I’ve really pleased my master! He will give me a handsome reward."

Jack made a noise. He didn’t look any too pleased.

"What?"

"What said that? The vampire that killed Old Man Jenkins?"

I nodded.

"Then I’d bet you Arnie is out of luck. That thing couldn’t have screwed up much worse. It probably got destroyed as its reward."

I shrugged and went back to Finlay. There wasn’t much more so it only took a few more minutes. I ended our talk and resheathed him. I barely got started reporting the conversation when the phone rang.

Jack answered it. He looked a little puzzled as he passed the instrument to me.

"Hello?"

"Is this Miss Crystal Abernathy?" A man’s voice asked me. Weird on two counts, he knew I was there and we were expecting the Mistress to call. It definitely wasn’t her.

"Yes sir, speaking." I replied.

"My name is Warren McKenzie. We have a mutual acquaintance…"

I listened as he explained that he worked with the Mistress and was calling on her behalf. Something had come up and she was travelling again. He then asked me if the tide in Amsterdam had disturbed my trip.

"Only when the gulls sang lullabies." I told him. Honestly, I was so surprised that someone finally actually used that code I almost forgot what the correct response was. Well, I knew now for certain the Mistress really had told him to call.

"Good, good – now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, I’ve got a report for you. Ready?"

I grabbed my notepad and pen, "Ready."

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What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Part Seven

spacer.gifspacer.gifLike I said, swords don’t have real minds and cannot think. But the danged things don’t know that. This one had more attitude that a overgrown piece of cutlery had any right to. It was determined that it would be the boss.

I had other ideas.

It’s a mental game, really. I was vaguely aware that the others were looking at me but since they couldn’t hear either the sword or my mental voice, they had no idea what was going on. I was a bit too busy to bother trying to tell them.

Finlay was a handful. He was trying to force me into submission by sheer force of will alone. Caught off balance, it threw me at first – which just encouraged the stupid thing more. But ultimately, it’s all bluster. Swords don’t really have minds or even wills of their own. If you can stand the initial onslaught, the battle is yours.

As I began to get the upper hand, I could hear Nyota and Tresmayne calmly debating what was going on. Nyota figured I was just intent on my job but Tresmayne had guessed the truth. I ignored them.

Another few minutes went by, probably just as boring for them as this is for you. It’s hard to describe the battle since it’s just one force of will against another and since I’m an actual person, the outcome was never in doubt. From my point of view it’s like a lot of emotional shoving. No real ‘talking’ going on, just one will against the other, pushing back and forth.

It’s to Finlay’s credit that it took me ten minutes to subdue him. I’d never before taken more than a few seconds to get one in line. The psyche that he’d recorded was ferocious. But eventually, that force dies back – the sword can’t sustain it the way a person can. At long last, Finlay settled down.

It’s funny that something so strong can suddenly become so servile. But they do. I was the boss; Finlay knew it. Score one for the home team.

I came back to the sofa and sat down. I poked Nyota, "I don’t get that intent!"

"What’d you get?" Jack asked.

"Nothing yet – Finlay gave me some attitude but we’re friends now. Give me a few minutes." I replied.

He nodded, "Sure." He glanced at his watch, "That call should come in about a half hour."

"Got it." I told him. I concentrated on Finlay, "So, did you sense the new slayer?" I asked. Yes, I know – I didn’t need to know that. But swords don’t read calendars and I had to get the time frame straight somehow.

"Mistress’ first born became a slayer. Is that what you mean, Lady?" Finlay’s voice boomed. I was surprised at the Scottish accent.I wasn’t surprised he called Mrs Scarlotti ‘mistress’ – a lot of older blades do that.

"Yes, that’s the one." I told him.

"Mistress always knew the boy would." He confided.

"So I heard. Do you remember what happened when he emerged?"

"He was slow. When Mistress was a slayer, she was never that slow. He didn’t even get the second one."

"Second?" I asked.

"Yes, the second slow one."

"Vampire?"

"Yes, Lady. the second vampire. He didn’t get it." Finlay told me.
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What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Part Six

spacer.gifspacer.gifThere was another knock at the door and Mrs Scarlotti joined us. She brought with her a Claymore in its beautiful hand tooled sheath. I’ve seen a couple in museums but never held one. I have to admit, I was excited.

She came straight to me and to the point, "My Jackie Boy says you would like to talk to my Finlay. I’ve never let a singer handle him before but I’ll do it this one time."

She handed the sword to me. She was right. It was a male. I knew that at once. Even still in the sheath, I could already hear his rumbling voice. I grasped the hilt above the gold inlay on the white leather sheath, "I understand…" I started to pull.

"Hold on, Dear." Mrs Scarlotti said.

I stopped and waited.

"I… well, it may sound silly, but I don’t want to hear about … well, whatever. I don’t have my powers any longer but I still have a little skill. I’ve always had the feeling that knowing … Well, anyway, I don’t want to know. Wait for me to leave, please, before you draw him. Jackie boy, he can stay here in your place for as long as you need him."

Jack nodded, "Okay. Thank you, Momma."

She nodded, "You coming?" She asked Mr Scarlotti.

"Not just yet."

She gave a half nod but stopped and cocked her head, "Isn’t that Arnie?"

"It’s Daniel’s bayonet. It has a name?"

She nodded, "Janus talked to it once. You remember? They were all back from that big hunt upstate and Daniel was on our sofa because he had to work and three of his kids were sick with the mumps."

"Oh yeah, he stayed with us that week. I forget why he had the bayonet…"

"Because his oldest boy was getting better and into everything. They had to lock up the kitchen knives. I wish they’d locked up the toilet paper…"

Mr Scarlotti laughed, "That’s right – he tried to flush a whole roll and stopped up the main drain. I’d forgotten."

"Don’t see how – it took you a day and a half to clear that drain. But anyway, that was when."

"Mrs Scarlotti?" I said.

"Yes Dear?"

"Do you remember what Arnie said back then? I mean…"

She shook her head, "Janus told me his name but I stopped him from telling me anything more. I knew enough from Daniel. I didn’t need to hear from his blade as well."

"I see. Thank you." I smiled.

She nodded absently and left.

I started to pull Finlay and realized that I couldn’t while sitting. I got up and moved away from the others to have enough room. Claymores are great swords – huge things. I’d never handled a full two handed sword before. Even pulling it from the sheath was an exercise.

Maybe that was why or maybe I was just careless. I admit, I was tired, but I didn’t think I was that tired. Anyway, my guard wasn’t what it should have been. I knew the instant Finlay cleared the sheath – that booming voice nearly knocked me over. I’ve had a few try to dominate me before, but this one was incredibly strong. I had a fight on my hands – one I had to fight alone.

Unfortunately for Finlay – I absolutely hate to lose.
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What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Part Five

spacer.gifspacer.gifJack swears I became hysterical. I did not. Thompson declined to take sides; Nyota said I was only upset and Tresmayne pled that ancient werewolves aren’t good at understanding human females (the big chicken!). I was not hysterical. I was pretty danged upset.

Okay, to be fair, I was mostly upset with myself. I mean, of course – a blade can carry a memory as few objects can and certainly most slayers know that. If you’re trying to find out about something or get a connection to someone, there are ways to use blades to do both of those things. I knew it and I hadn’t even warned Arnie!

Anyway, five minutes later Jack left to go get Arnie from his brother Kevin. I was still kicking myself. Thompson was on the other side of the living room now – seriously, am I that scary? Nyota poked me in the ribs again.

"What?" I turned to her.

"What about any other blades?"

I stopped to think. It’s a good question, actually. Swords make the best ‘recorders’ but not the only ones. I once had a three hour conversation with a kitchen knife that was… well, never mind, I’m rambling again. I couldn’t think of any but then a thought occurred to me, "Hey, Tresmayne, what kind of slayer was Mrs. Scarlotti? Blade, traditional means or eclectic?"

Thompson looked at me like I was speaking Greek.

Tresmayne considered a moment before answering, "I believe blade. I seem to recall seeing her with a sword, or at least a sheath. Why?"

"Her sword, if she still has it, would probably be connected. Just because none of us knew she’d been a slayer doesn’t mean no one else did. That, and her blade would be better attuned than Arnie. Even from a distance, it might well have gotten some sense of the vampire – or the other ones that have been hanging around so much. Worth a try, anyway."

Nyota, seeing Thompson’s confusion, addressed him, "She’s referring to the methods that a given slayer uses. Some slayers use blades exclusively. Crystal and I are both of that type. Some use only traditional methods like stakes for vampires. And some, like Jack, can use whatever is handy – those are the eclectic slayers."

"So Mister Jack is eclectic as well as commander?"

The person in question picked that moment to walk back in, "I’m what?" Jack asked.

"An eclectic slayer," Nyota answered, "it just refers to how you slay. You have the ability to slay with whatever weapon is at hand."

Jack returned to his seat and passed Arnie to me, "You mean you can’t?"

Nyota shook her head, "No, I am a blade type. I can kill any creature with a blade or with traditional methods if need be, but not with any other sort of weapon. Only eclectics can do that."

"Oh." Jack shrugged.

"Don’t get comfy – could you run ask you mom for her sword, too?" I asked sweetly.

Jack looked at me, "Her what?"

"Tresmayne thinks she was a blade type. If so, I’d like to talk to her sword." For a smart guy, Jack can be dense sometimes.

But he got it then. Without a word, he got back up and left.

I took Arnie from his sheath. He wanted to know if we had gotten the vampire yet. I told him no but we were still trying. I paused, told him to wait and turned to Nyota, "Hey, eclectics can use blades too, can’t they?"

She nodded, "Yes, Little Flower."

I made a face at her for calling me that with company present and went back to talking to Arnie. It took a while. He rambles and had a lot to say about Kevin and the old days with Mr Jenkins. You just have to be patient when a blade is like that. They don’t have minds, really, so they can’t sort information well. But if you’re patient, they can provide a wealth of information. That was the danger here.

I finally got him back on track. He told me the story of that night again, just as bitterly as the first time. That’s normal with blades. Since they record the human psyche, they never ‘get over’ anything. They can’t. But he did tell me something he hadn’t mentioned before. Mr Jenkins had had Arnie out on the dresser for his monthly cleaning. It was the vampire that resheathed him. I know – anyone would know that was an important point. But Arnie isn’t a person; he’s just a bayonet. Although blades can be quirky, they can’t really, truly ‘think’.

And this happened to be Arnie’s quirk – he didn’t like the fact that the vampire had touched him but he hadn’t cut the vampire. Obviously, he couldn’t – he is a bayonet with no independent mobility at all but it was still an embarrassment to him. My guess is he just didn’t think to tell me the first time because he didn’t want to remember it.

I didn’t tell Arnie that he’d made a huge mistake doing that – he couldn’t help it. I did get him to tell me the story again, top to bottom, and made sure he wasn’t leaving anything out. That took even longer since he now recited it as a play by play. I motioned for a pad and Nyota got one for me. I wrote it down as Arnie recounted it again.

Once he was finished and I was out of questions, I handed the pad to Jack, who had long since returned empty handed. While he looked it over, I admonished Arnie gently not to talk to any other singers until I told him it was okay. He promised, not really understanding or caring why. Jack had a few questions and I got the answers from Arnie but it was basically the same as the original story, with just the one change. Once Jack and everyone else confirmed they had no further questions, I told Arnie to sleep and resheathed him.

I passed him back to Jack, "It’s safe now. I locked him so no other singer can hear his voice. I’ll need to undo that when it’s okay, or before he’s used. He still wants to kill that vampire and you can use him, if you’re willing."

Jack looked at Arnie strangely. "I don’t guess I really understand how you can talk to an inanimate object but yeah, if I get the chance, I’d be proud to use Old Man Jenkin’s bayonet to get that … vampire. I’ll ask Kevin if I can hang on to it, er him, for a while."

I smiled. "You don’t have to use gender pronouns on them just because I do. After all, you can’t hear the voice."

Jack nodded, setting Arnie on the coffee table, "I talked to Momma and she’s getting her sword. She said she’d bring it when the youngest are all in bed. Shouldn’t be long now."

On cue, there was a knock at the door. Jack got up and attended to it. I must admit, I was surprised to see his father coming in.

Mr Scarlotti smiled at us, "Mind if an old man joins you?"

We assured him he was welcome and he took a seat. Jack got him a soda and rejoined us. Mr Scarlotti picked up Arnie from the coffee table. "Daniel always said there was something special about this thing. Saved his life more than once, knowing how to use it. It was also the thing he was most ashamed of – he always said the damnedest thing one man could teach another was how to kill. It’s not something you ever forget. Sometimes, you can’t turn it off."

Mr Scarlotti leaned back, still holding Arnie, "There was a kid. couldn’t have been more than sixteen, seventeen, Daniel said. Somehow, despite his age, they had him in full combat gear shooting at Americans. Of course, the Nicaraguans weren’t as well armed so they soon ran out of bullets. The kid followed two other guys into a machine gun emplacement. He still had his AK. He came at one of Daniel’s men and Daniel put this through him. It was then that he realized it was just a kid. He never got over that, not really."

Mr Scarlotti put Arnie back on the table. "I know you kids aren’t here to listen to an old man ramble. But I thought you should know something about this thing." He scratched his head, "I’ve been married to a slayer for going on twenty-five years and I still don’t understand half of the stuff you kids do. I can’t imagine why this old blade would interest you but I learned long ago that just because I don’t know something doesn’t make that something unimportant." He shrugged, "Don’t know that it helps, either."

"It does." I nodded, "It helps a lot." I told him. I understood now why Arnie was so deeply attached to Mr Jenkins. The bitterness of regret, especially over killing, can’t almost weld a blade to someone’s soul. I wished I’d meet Mr. Jenkins. There was so much I could have told him about Arnie that he never knew. Maybe, well, there was no point thinking about that. Mr Jenkins was gone and I would never ask Arnie for the record of that tragic day. It had lived with Mr Jenkins; it should die with him as well.

What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Part Four

spacer.gifspacer.gifBack in Jack’s apartment, I wasn’t feeling so great. Oh, I got the answer I wanted and it was exactly what I’d thought it would be. Thing is, I felt sorry for Thompson, Lisa and even Jack but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t see a ‘happy ending’ possibility for this mess. Worse, I was gonna be the bearer of the bad news – I would have rather retaken Logic 101, or eaten glass, both being equally rotten choices.

I parked on Jack’s sofa next to Nyota. Tresmayne was in the chair to my right. Thompson was on the floor manning fuor laptops he’d spread out on the coffee table. They were ignoring me while Jack was getting snacks from his kitchen.

Jack was trying to find a place for the chips on the crowded coffee table while Thompson tried to explain the back hacking thing to Tresmayne. Nyota seemed halfway interested but I’m sure she was just being polite. I sank deeper into my funk as the conversation floated around me.

“So, you followed this IP thing back to its original source?” Tresmayne was asking.

“Er, more or less.” Thompson admitted, probably while also admitting defeat in the explaining the geek stuff as well.

“How can you be so certain?” Nyota asked.

“Each layer has enough to make it look genuine to the casual observer.” Thompson explained. I wondered idly who would actually casually observe an IP anyway but he continued before I could ponder the ramifications. “But a genuine account will have far more detail. I’ve hunted through dozens. Only this one has all the elements – it’s either the most incredible honey pot I’ve ever seen, or it’s the real deal.”

“The credit cards check out?” Jack asked, seating himself on the armchair opposite Tresmayne.

Thompson nodded, “Yeah, that was good thinking. All the other dummy accounts had fake credit cards but this one the cards are legit. I went in through Buyembay and found a vendor he’d purchased from. That guy’s security was weak – it was a cinch to find the payments. The cards were legit.”

“What did he buy?” Nyota inquired.

“Weird stuff. The vendor sells WWII surplus. This dude must love WWII – he bought more than a half dozen bayonets.”

That got my interest, “Say what?”

Thompson nodded at me, “A half dozen or more bayonets, Madame. All were certified as having been in at least one battle.”

Jack looked at me. “Why would…”

I was too busy with Thompson. “Could you get something on his buying habits?”

He shrugged, “Of course, Madame, but why…”

Jack interrupted, “You think it has something to do with Arnie?”

I nodded, “I think he’s looking for Arnie.”

“Who is Arnie?” Nyota poked me gently in the ribs to get my attention.

“Arnie was Mr Jenkin’s bayonet.” I told her.

“The first victim? I don’t understand. Why would he want such a thing?”

“To use the connection.” Tresmayne answered, “He has a singer. That’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it Mistress Crystal?”

I nodded slowly, “Yes…”

Jack told me later that I’d turned pale as a sheet. I guess that’s why he thought he needed to lighten the mood. But seriously, why is it that no matter how old they get, men always think the best way to get a girl’s attention is to do something stupid? Jack’s idiotic solution was to throw a pillow at me. I batted it aside easily. Men!

What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Part Three

Jack’s mom had me over for dinner. Their whole family was there as usual and it was like the night before hadn’t even happened. It’s nice, the way they all get along – even when they are fighting, they get along. But they don’t fight much. I guess ’cause I’m an only child and sleep overs were the only time I was around other kids for more than a few hours I don’t ‘get’ family the way they do. It’s nice though.

Jack and I went to his apartment during dessert. Honestly, I couldn’t have put in another bite and they were wondering why I didn’t want cake? I did want it – her cakes are fabulous – but a girl can only put away so much, you know?

Thompson and Lisa were supposed to join us after dessert so spacer.gifspacer.gifI had to decide if now was the time or not. But Jack ended up deciding for me, although he didn’t know it. He asked if he could have some time with Lisa – Thompson was supposed to make himself scarce for a little while. I told him sure, I’d be on the stoop and could he send Thompson out to me so I could ask him something? He said he would and we chatted about more pleasant matters for a while. Neither of us ‘decided’ to do that – we just had the same urge to talk about something other than slaying.

Someday soon, I’d like to talk about a lot more than slaying. I really like Jack and I’m sure he likes me but all the slaying stuff gets in the way. But it was definitely not for tonight – less than a half hour later the buzzer sounded. I let myself out the bedroom window. Jack does it sometimes – it’s convenient when he’s not locking up – but that doesn’t happen often or his kid sister would be in his stuff. So he says – I’ve never seen Jane even try to go in without Jack being there.

It must have gone more smoothly than I’d have thought because a few minutes later, Thompson came out on the stoop. He seated himself across from me on the other banister.

He cocked his head at me. "I understand you want to speak with me?"

I nodded, "Yep. Don’t need to be so formal." I glanced meaningfully at the roof.

He took my meaning, "Er, perhaps another time in a less public venue, unless you prefer otherwise?"

"No, that’s fine. I’ll get back with you."

He went back inside and I trotted down the step as if to take a walk. I cut through the alley as I usually do and from there hopped up on the fire escape and headed for the roof. Thompson was already waiting for me. Jack said once we should bring chairs up here. I’m all for it. He was kidding; I’m not.

But we found adequate parking for our respective rears. He was nervous and it showed.

"Relax, I don’t bite or anything." I told him.

"Of course not." He said with all the conviction of someone who doesn’t believe a word of what they just said.

"It’s really okay. I understand – not easy to be close to a slayer, is it?"

He smiled slightly and spoke with reserve, "No, I don’t really know how Tresmayne does it."

"Is it hard for you staying with Jack?"

He shook his head slowly, "That’s the weird part. I find him almost comfortable to be around. I … don’t think I should explain, Madame."

"He feels like your master, huh? It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me. But so you know, he won’t get mad. Mr Colin had a long talk with him a couple nights after you arrived and he knows you could get… attached."

"Oh… My thanks to you. That does make it easier."

"Sure thing." I told him, "That’s not exactly what I wanted to talk to you about. I want to ask you something with the understanding that you can choose whether or not to answer and I won’t be upset no matter what you choose, okay?"

He nodded, but didn’t look all that okay.

I chewed my lip and thought for a moment, "No, seriously, if it isn’t okay with you for me to ask I need to know."

"I am afraid, Madame. I don’t want to anger you. I’d rather you just … I’m sorry, I’ve spoken out of turn."

"No you haven’t. You’d rather I just ordered you around so you don’t have to think about whether or not your response will make me mad, right?"

"Madame is very perceptive." He replied, looking away.

Well, this was going well. I sighed, mostly irritated at myself. I swear he winced.

"Madame?"

"Okay, let’s start over. As far as I’m concerned, you belong to Jack and I do mean ‘belong’ as in property of, okay? Since you are someone else’s pet, I will treat you as precisely that – someone else’s property. I don’t get to kill you even if you totally tick me off. The worst I can do is tell Jack you’ve been a bad boy, understand?"

I really wanted to throw something at him right then because he actually breathed a sigh of relief. "Yes, understood, Madame."

I mentally noted I now had yet another thing to tell Jack that I was really sure he wasn’t gonna like. This was beginning to really annoy me. But it wasn’t Thompson’s fault so I told myself to forget it and move on. "Good."

"What would Madame like to ask me?"

I could see why Jack found this so grating. Gathering all my remaining patience, I smiled, "Well…"