Jack was up much earlier than he planned. No longer sleepy, he tiptoed into the kitchen and was debating pop-up pastry versus microwave pancakes when Thompkins joined him.
“Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to wake you.”
“No, sir, I had only just gone back to bed. These ‘amber alerts’ are useful – I wish we had had them when I was a pup.”
“Amber… oh, you went out?” Jack asked.
Thompkins nodded, “I assume I didn’t wake you but when I got the alert on my phone, I had a sense that it was close by. Once I got away from this building, it was easy to find the child.”
Jack popped the plate of pancakes into the microwave, “How’s that work? Was it a neighborhood kid or…?”
“It’s probably a lot like a slayer – when children are nearby and in distress, we can sense it. I’m still young so it has to be within a mile or so of me. My father can sense them ten miles away.”
“So, a neighborhood kid…”
Thompkins shook his head, “No sir, this time the child was brought into my sphere.”
“Brought? As in kidnapped?”
“Yes sir. I found them about three quarters of a mile from here. Near the river.”
“He’s fine. He won’t remember much – that’s a side effect of my presence in my natural state. But the police arrived shortly after I called them – the kidnappers were found with him. Well, so the police think.”
“You were there, huh?”
“Yes sir. I took the child to safety then let the police imagine I was the child. It’s pretty simple to switch places later in all the confusion – that way the child is safe, I don’t have to resort to more violent means and the criminals can be handled by the law.”
“Wow, I hadn’t thought about it before – your people must put a lot of thought into blending in with humans while protecting them.” Jack commented, dividing the stack of pancakes between two plates.
“Yes sir, we can’t let our baser natures win – no matter how much we might want to at times. Humans would soon realize the world has more things than they are really ready to deal with.” Thompkins began pouring syrup on his stack. “Besides, it’s better to let the police sort these things out. I’m not even human, I’ve no right to judge.”
Jack chewed thoughtfully. Thompkins hadn’t said what precisely was going on when he got there, but taking a kid to the deserted area around the river couldn’t mean anything good. Jack could imagine several possibilities – all of which would have inclined him to deal very violently with the offenders. Jack had begun to like his sister’s geeky boyfriend – now he was beginning to respect him.
It also brought some other things into perspective. Like why slayers and creatures could work together. Despite the language, it wasn’t a ‘black and white’, you’re this, I get to kill you, thing. Creatures had their place, too – slayers were only there like a dam, to keep the river from overflowing. Not all vampires needed a stake through the heart – some just needed a chance to find something non-human to feed on. Even if they weren’t like the faodahl, and didn’t protect humans, it was enough that they were trying not to hurt humans.
Which brought Jack strangely back to the other night. Strategically and tactically, it was the right decision – but morally? No, Jack wasn’t going to weasel out of the implications of his deed. It wasn’t the moral thing.
On this color scale thing, whatever that was, Jack was fairly sure his ‘white’ had moved down a notch – or ten.
Perhaps because of the early hour, Jack found his mind kept wandering. More likely because he didn’t yet want to discuss the matter with Thompkins, but Jack’s thoughts strayed to more mundane matters.
“I guess I should have thought about this before – there’s no reason you have to keep camping on my couch. You must have your own place…”
“Actually, I rented a hotel room by the week.”
“And Lisa didn’t know you – wait, I could have sworn she told Tim and I that you had an apartment.”
“It’s an extended stay place – it looks like an apartment. She only saw it a couple times when we drove by – Li-li has never been inside.”
Jack grinned, “That little pipsqueak – of course not. She’s going to be wearing white for her wedding – and it mean something. She has always sworn that. She’d never go into a guy’s apartment without an escort – probably a whole gaggle of female escorts, knowing her.”
“She told me that as well – I guess that was why I was so shocked when she suggested moving in with me.”
Jack laughed, “On of these days, I won’t be able to beat her at Risk. She knew danged good and well you weren’t going to go for it – but she needed you to back up her story if we contacted you. The little pipsqueak.”
Thompkns chuckled, “She’s brilliant – she’ll be a fine doctor someday.”
“Maybe…” Jack conceded, “as long as she never pulls another stunt like this one.” He grew serious, “What do you want to do, then? Move to NYC? Go back to Canada? Camp out on my couch until she graduates?”
“My mother would kill me if I did that last one. She is annoyed now because I lost my last job.”
“Oh crap – I didn’t even think about that. You not showing up for weeks…”
Thompkins nodded, “I called my employer and told them I’d moved to the States unexpectedly for an emergency stay. I apologized – and they had already fired me, of course. But I still wanted to apologize. But that’s the worst of it – I only took that job to make some extra money to buy Mother a trip to Ireland for Christmas. I normally freelance. I will have to take some extra work to make up for it, but that’s all.”
“Well, that’s good.”
Thompkins smiled, “I actually may already have something. Since I was supposedly attending Julliard, I hung around campus a bit. I found a flyer for recorder players – I audition next week. I mean, assuming nothing else goes wrong.”
“I wouldn’t make that assumption around here – what the heck is a recorder? It can’t be what I think it is.”
“It’s a type of flute – looks a bit like a clarinet. I learned to play it as a pup. Father is fond of them and he taught me.” Thompkins finished his last bite. “I would like to find a place here – at least until Li-li graduates or you get tired of me.”
Jack’s question remained unasked. There was a knock at the door.