Lisa shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t…”
“Don’t you play coy with me, Little Sister.” Jack warned. “Plan A didn’t work – I haven’t a clue why you thought it would – or more likely, you didn’t think it through at all. Whatever, it didn’t work – everyone got upset and there was no way moving out was going to let you have any peace and quiet with this family. At some point, you knew that so you went to Plan B. You didn’t move out – and you didn’t bring him over here to meet Momma until you were sure.”
“Sure of what, Jackie Boy?” Momma asked.
“That a house full of slayers weren’t going to turn her boyfriend into chop suey.” Jack answered, then turned back to his sibling. “I even bought that line of yours about being insecure – the real reason you were ready to move in with him was that at first you didn’t think you could ever bring him safely here, isn’t that it, Lisa?”
Lisa gave a curt nod, “This is why I hate playing Risk with you – you’re always ten steps ahead. But you’re wrong – it wasn’t a line. I mean, sure, I knew it was too good to be true but I wanted just once for someone to really like me. It happened and he’s perfect – except for being puppy chow in a house full of dogs.”
“So how did you do it?” Jack demanded.
“And this is why I beat your socks off in Monopoly – you never read the rules all the way.” Lisa snorted, “It doesn’t matter if he’s a faodahl or a vampire or a freaking dragon – what matters is what color he is. Read the stupid books already – good or evil matter – creature or not doesn’t – at least not that much.”
“You can see color?” her mother asked incredulously.
Lisa shook her head, “No, Momma. I knew he was a good guy – I really did. I knew he was … he wasn’t there because of me, not at first. But…” She turned to look at James, “You really stink at role playing, you know that? I knew when you first walked up you were faking it. That’s why I didn’t give you my number that first time. But when we got to actually talk – you stopped faking. I think I actually scared you when I suggested moving in.”
Thompkins nodded dumbly, “You did, Li-li. I – you were right, I was sent here, not my idea, don’t suppose that’ll matter to you…” Thompkins paused and drew a deep breathe. “I have had this conversation with you a million times in my head. Until yesterday, having it with you for real was just a fantasy. I guess I kinda knew you were on to me. That, and that you weren’t even a little put off when I got all geeky, that made me start loving you. But I’m not like you – may never be – and this – us – it started all wrong. I knew I’d have to tell you the truth – I just didn’t realize you’d already guessed.”
Lisa giggled, “Guessed? I mean seriously, what ‘guessing’ was there? You came on strong, then when I turned the tables you were trying to talk me out of it without actually making it sound that way – and you were way too desperate. You could have just said let’s wait a while – you were babbling about your apartment needing painting instead. You were spooked – it took me a couple days to put it together but I didn’t have to guess. You were supposed to, what, lure me away from my family? When it looked like you might succeed, that was when you panicked.”
Lisa turned back to her brother, “That was when I knew he wasn’t a bad guy.” She sighed, “Truth was, I knew I couldn’t move in with him – that would never work, Momma’d kill me and probably wasn’t safe anyway. I didn’t think I could bring him here – and you were acting all weird and stuff. Besides, Mr J had just been killed – I didn’t know but with all the weird stuff I didn’t want to chance things being connected in ways I didn’t understand.”
“So, the big announcement was an act?” Crystal asked quietly.
Lisa nodded, “I figured that would get Jack to look into it without my telling him – if it was related, if I was wrong about James, Jack would figure it out – that’s what he does best. If not, it bought me some time to get in touch with Uncle Cyrus and Aunt Kimmie.”
“You sneaking little – why didn’t you just tell me?!” Jack demanded.
“Bobby Whitaker.” Lisa replied blandly.
“Oh for the love of Pete – he was Donna’s boyfriend and that was when we were, what, twelve?” Jack glared at his sister.
“Tell me again – my boyfriend is an Irish werewolf spy and Bobby was just a jerk carrying out a dare – which one is more likely to get his head handed to him, in this case literally?” Lisa glared right back. “I thought James was okay but I didn’t know for sure until Aunt Kimmie came and took a look at him for me. I didn’t want you killing him before I could find out – and even then if it… ” The pause was long and pregnant.
“I didn’t have anything to do with anyone being killed.” James said quietly. “We’re not like traditional werewolves but we’re not… safe, either. Li-li…”
“I know that. But…” She turned to him again, “Mr J was family. I never really thought you were involved – I might not be as good at Risk as Jack is, but I did learn from him. You have to consider all the possibilities. Using me, that would be bad enough but on top of helping… No, if that was what you’d done, I wasn’t going to ask my big brother for that one.”
“Wow. If I were human, I’d ask you to marry me now.”
“The only non-slayer in the room was ready to kill you herself if she needed to and THAT makes you want to propose?!” Jack asked incredulously.
“Loyalty and strength – who wouldn’t propose to her?” Thompkins replied, still looking at Lisa.
Mrs. Scarlotti went to the house phone and dialed. Lisa and Thompkins were whispering quietly. Tresmayne and Nyota decided the kitchen was the safest place to be. Crystal tackled trying to calm Jack down. Mr Scarlotti went to the restroom.
Mr Scarlotti was back when his wife got off the phone. Nyota and Tresmayne listened from the safety of the kitchen.
“I spoke to Kimmie. She thought you had already – we’ll talk about that later. She confirmed your story – says he’s about a 7 on the white scale, which means more to her and the Mistress than to me. But white he is…” She turned to Thompkins, “Which is no excuse for trying to take my baby girl…”
Jack sat back down as his mother read Thompkins the riot act. He still wanted to strangle his sister, had no clue what to tell her about the night before, had a new question for the Mistress about normal people reading things they shouldn’t be able to and had the beginnings of a lovely migraine to go with it. Despite all that, somehow, the day was ending on an up note. Only in Jack’s inanely weird world would this evening’s revelations be considered an improvement.