Hi everyone! I’ve been concentrating on making things ready for the Quest and as such was planning to update this fortnightly for a bit… and then I had a birthday weekend with a friend round, and now another friend is round… basically my simming time has been pushed away from the weekends a lot lately! Things will be quieter after this weekend so hopefully you’ll see me in the comments 😀
“Why exactly are you taking this so seriously?” Rhoan asked, hovering at Law’s shoulder as he started up the web browser for research. The pair had an English project to work on and since they both lived too far away to do it afterschool, they had to dedicate some class time to the computer lab. “Actually, scratch that, I know why you’re taking this so seriously. You take everything seriously,” Rhoan tutted. Law tried to elbow him but the nimble ten-year-old ducked out of the way with a smarmy grin.
“It’s interesting,” Law protested. “I mean, myths of vampires – and other fantastical things – have been around for thousands of years. Different cultural groups have different names for them, but usually they have at their core some characteristics that they share. Doesn’t that strike you as too much of a coincidence?”
Law snorted. “No harm in keeping an open mind.”
“I thought you liked science and logic?”
“I do. The real drawback of scientists and the logical mind is discounting what seems to be preposterous at first. To really create theories and obtain evidence to discount or support a hypothesis one has to have an open mind or your bias will inevitably affect results. Anyway, I’m not saying that vampires are real.”
“Oh? Pray tell, Law, what you’re really trying to say.”
Briefly Law glanced over his shoulder to raise an eyebrow at Rhoan, and they both shared a grin at their banter. Law turned back to the screen. “Myths and legends were created to share knowledge, and stories, and make connections with the world and the people around you. They were never intended to be taken at face-value. They always have a symbolic meaning underneath. Think of the stories behind the constellations: a great hunter in the sky, never seen at the same time as the scorpion which was said to have killed him; Orpheus placed into the stars next to his instrument which was precious to him in life, and so on. They were made to be remembered so that people could find their way about.”
“And going back to vampires?” Rhoan asked, tilting his head to the side.
“I’m not sure,” Law shrugged. “But it’s hardly like Dracula was the first vampire story. There are tonnes of myths – particularly from Eastern Europe – talking about creatures that fed from blood and whatnot. Maybe they were told to keep people from venturing too far at night, hence keeping them safe, or maybe it was warning them against a certain type of people who drained others financially or morally. What we do know is that obviously the stories and myths had a use. If they didn’t they would have died out.”
“Right. The whole theory of natural selection, but for myths and language.”
Law beamed at his friend. “Exactly! And that’s the aspect I want to argue in our presentation. The evolution of a myth made to either warn people or help people, to something we build upon for completely different reasons – the gothic and the horror. That change represents the change of our society in needing a different sort of story, and those myths that made those jumps must have the right parts of a story to survive the transition.”
After Law had shut the computer down and they turned to go outside for break, Rhoan threw his arms around his friend. Law turned to him and giggled at the grave look in Rhoan’s eyes; if he’d learned anything about his friend, it was that he was always looking for the possibility to be silly and dramatic.
“I know we all go to a genius school,” Rhoan said, patting Law’s shoulder, “but you are such a nerd.”
“Gee, thanks,” Law muttered, nudging his friend playfully.
Rhoan laughed. “Good thing I have to put up with you, eh?”
“Are you just going to stand there and watch?” Jasmine accused, turning around to see Kane leaning on the kitchen table. The kitchen was more cramped than before, since the old sofa had finally been updated and the table and TV rearranged, but since Jas’ apartment wasn’t a whole lot better she couldn’t complain.
“Sure, you don’t need my help,” Kane grinned.
Jasmine muttered under her breath as she turned back to the cookbook. The recipe she was following was to make traybake, from the cookbook that Kane had bought when he had started to bake.
She poured the digestive biscuits into a bowl and started trying to break them up with a fork, causing Kane to start laughing at the vicious stabbing she was giving them.
“Oh, and I bet you could do it better,” she huffed.
Kane stepped up behind her and reached around for an empty food bag. “Pour them in here and hit it with a rolling pin. It’s definitely easier than…” He pointed to the fork which had made very little impact on the shield of biscuits.
“You’d think the cookbook would tell you that.”
“You’d think no one would be silly enough to try a fork,” Kane retorted, his breath whispering past her ear. He felt her fidget against him and realised how close he was to her, how much of her warmth he could feel, and stepped back. She turned with him.
“I’m buttering you up,” Jasmine giggled. Kane shoved her hand away.
“That was awful. You should be ashamed, seriously, that was barely a pun.”
Jasmine laughed and grabbed a piece of kitchen roll, wiping off her hand before dabbing at his cheek. “Well, you were the one being mean to me while I’m being so kind as to bake for you.” She pouted playfully, looking up at him through her eyelashes, and something twisted in Kane’s gut.
He shuffled back. “You are too kind, it’s true.” He meant it to come out as joking, but his voice was flat. Jas blinked up at him.
Kane pressed his lips together. He swore he could feel her heart beat through her clothes. Maybe it was just his going double time. “Do I, though?”
“You think you don’t?”
“I don’t deserve you, that’s for sure,” he mumbled, avoiding her eyes to stare at the digestive crumbs she’d put all over his cookbook.
Gently, Jasmine turned his chin back so that he would look at her. “Let me decide what I deserve, okay? I’ve got pretty good at it.” Her eyes searched his for something, for something Kane felt like he couldn’t – shouldn’t – give her.
He thought of Elspeth briefly, of all the opportunities he’d missed because he hadn’t deserved them.
Jasmine made a small noise of surprise and then came up on her tiptoes to deepen their kiss, her hands fluttering up and then resting on his chest, smoothing over his hoodie in a way that was both familiar and completely, utterly, new. Kane could feel warmth rush through his entire body, feel the goosebumps over her bare sides as he brushed his thumbs over the skin at her waist, feel Jasmine’s lips against his own.
He’d had electric kisses before, desperate kisses, even angry kisses… but this was simple, and comforting, and right.
Law laughed at Eilidh’s whining. She was going into high school next year, and while the boundary for primary and secondary school was blurred for Law due to the programme he was on, he would start taking exams and choosing electives soon. It didn’t seem much of a step for him, but he guessed that Eilidh was worried; after all, high school was much bigger and further away, consisting of a lot of other schools coming together.
“You’ll be fine,” he scoffed. “You’re so outgoing and friendly. There’s no way you’re going to not make friends.”
Law hid his laughter behind his hand. “Yeah, your entire head is flushed down the u-bend and you end up in the sewers, separated from your body.”
Eilidh huffed and shoved him backwards, sticking out her tongue again. “I dare you to eat something from this garden.”
Law glanced around. “You realise that everything here is edible and free, right?”
“Do you think Eilidh will take to high school well?” Kane asked, nursing his tea on his lap. Elspeth sat across from him, perfectly presented and poised as always, her complicated coffee nonsense cooling on the table between them.
“Oh, I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t. I think it’ll be difficult to get her to pay attention to school, however. More difficult than it already is.” Elspeth rolled her eyes heavenwards. “I am grateful that she has shown interest in some subjects, even if they aren’t as academic as I’d like.”
“Right, drama and art, yeah?”
“Yes. She quite likes costume design and acting. It’s hardly a financially sound career but at least she’s passionate about something.”
Kane smiled at Elspeth’s words. Despite their previous differences, the time she had spent tutoring him and – as a result – the time their children spent together had given them plenty of opportunities to get to know one another. Though Elspeth valued hard work and academic qualities, she was happy to let her daughter make her own choices in life. Kane and Elspeth still did not see eye to eye on many things but they both wanted their children to be happy. Most of the rest could be forgotten about; it was this that Kane respected most in her.
“Oh, Jacqueline mentioned that you and Jasmine were courting, finally.”
Kane rolled his eyes. “Have you been gossiping about me?”
“Merely wondering how long it would take. Anyhow, no need to think it is just you we talk about. I was telling her that Matthew had apparently found someone new, and then gave her the same choice he gave me when I was pregnant.”
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. The other woman is, by all accounts, happy to get on with her life without him or a child. She decided to get the abortion he so wanted but also threw him out of her life. The fact that the man hates children so much that he’ll let it ruin his relationship is a mystery, but at least Eilidh is no worse for it.”
Law had discovered the small tap which watered the greenhouse and filled up one of his water balloons until it bulged and the colour lightened as the material spread. While Eilidh was investigating the vines, he tied it off and then threw it at point blank range, successfully soaking her top. She squealed in surprise and then in laughter, and scampered away from him while Law hurriedly filled his next balloon.
Kane paused as he thought he heard a very Eilidh-like squeal from outside, but when nothing else happened he returned his attention to their conversation. The kids outside were perfectly safe, and anyway, Kane remembered Law cackling to himself as he put a handful of water balloons into his pocket that morning.
“Do you ever wish things were different?”
“Not at all; going down the route of what-if is a dangerous exercise, Kane. I am happy in my life now, so why would I wish that away on something that could have changed life drastically? Why do you ask? Do you think about his mother, still?”
Kane made a face. “Not so much. I just… can’t bring myself to lie to him about her, but I also don’t want him to think that she left because he wasn’t good enough. I don’t think anyone can really understand what she was like until you meet her. I guess sometimes I do wonder what it would have been like…”
Elspeth looked as sympathetic as she possibly could, given how rarely she embraced the emotion, and finished off the remains of her coffee. “From all I have heard of her, Kane, I think Law would be a very different person than he is today with that influence in his life. And from how I’ve grown to know and respect you, I think you wouldn’t be the same person either.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s true.”
“The problem,” Elspeth said as she stood, brushing imaginary crumbs off her jeans, “is that you are still holding out for closure, I think. You want her to know what she’s missed out on, and to regret the choice she made.”
Kane hated how perceptive Elspeth could be, at times, and kept silent as he internally acknowledged she was probably right. As if reading his mind Elspeth smiled victoriously.
“Think of this: the woman who has effectively been Law’s mother figure for most of his life knows him, cares for him, and would never regret his birth mother’s choice.”
Law craned his neck up so he could see the top of the rock wall. The sun was shining from high onto the coloured grips and the light backing, so much so that Law had to squint to look at the entire wall. “You know,” Law said to Rhoan, who was standing in the shade next to him, “why is it only me doing this?”
“Because my ankle, dude. My poor ankle. I hurt it so badly, you know, when I was walking the dog.” Rhoan peered at the expanse of rock wall before them. “And anyway, you don’t have to do it, it is a free PE session after all. You can go back inside and be boring, hitting away at your wooden dummy things… Or you could be out in the sun keeping me company!”
“Yeah, about that… why can’t we just chuck the frisbee?”
Rhoan grinned innocently. “What fun would that be?”
“Even physical ones, I see. Which is good for the scrawny thing that you are.”
“Hey,” Law protested, pausing to glare down at his friend. Rhoan looked too warm in his black jacket and dark jeans, but Law knew him too well to expect them to come off until heatstroke threatened. Rhoan was too obsessed with his so-called unique style (far be it for Law to mention casually the several thousand well known musicians and so on who had done the style before him).
Nearby, two of their classmates passed a kickball back and forth, and focusing on their back and forth helped Law to relax and focus. He hauled himself up to the next section and looked determinedly up.
The reason the class was outside in the gym field today was both because the sun was out, and their usual teacher was off sick, so the fill in (Mr. Al-Shehri, actually) had told them to amuse themselves with something active outdoors. Though they could have easily all lain in the sun, they hadn’t got as far as they had by taking the opportunity to pass up on bettering themselves. It was the one thing they all had in common.
There were – surprisingly – several people Law didn’t know well. Now that he was in the high school programme proper, each class was made up of people at the same level, so Law found himself in classes with new faces. In their PE class, things were more relaxed, though Law had decided to take martial arts as an elective after finding he had a surprising aptitude for it.
Across the field, where a small number of students from the upper PE class were practicing football, a cheer rang out as their best player scored a goal. For a moment everyone paused and looked towards the sound, except for Law, who found himself struggling to find the next handhold.
The striker came over towards them after the celebrations died down. Law grunted at Rhoan’s unhelpful advice about what to do next and stood with shaking arms dithering where to go next. The footballer laughed up at him and waved casually.
“You should push yourself up with your legs, not pull yourself up.”
“I think I might just pass on this altogether, actually,” Law mumbled, feeling his cheeks burn. He glanced down at the mat and made a face as he let go.
Thankfully, he didn’t entirely embarrass himself in front of his friend, and managed to stick the landing. He offered Rhoan the one finger salute when Rhoan laughed in evil joy, and glanced over to the boy who’d given him the advice. Law tried to remember his name – he was sure they shared a class together. Was it Chase? He certainly looked the part of a ‘jock’, even though Law had to quickly admonish himself for the assumption. No one was just what they seemed here. Consider Law, who may look scrawny (thanks Rhoan), but could certainly take his friend down in seconds thanks to the martial arts he had been learning.
There was a mischievous glint in Chase’s eyes, and a sly grin, so Law knew he was being teased. Even so he felt himself blush a little, though he wasn’t entirely sure why. What was there to be embarrassed about? So what, he wasn’t an instant expert at it. He couldn’t be good at everything, as Jasmine so often said.
“Maybe I could do some football instead,” Law offered. “Score some goals against you?”
Chase looked delighted that his comment hadn’t been taken the wrong way. “Oh, sure, I’ll let you get a couple in. So you don’t feel too unathletic next to me.”
“Maybe afterwards you could come inside and spar with me. I’ll go easy on you, too.”
Chase laughed. “Right! You’re the one who took martial arts as an elective. That’s cool. I tried it for about five minutes and that training dummy kicked my ass.”
“More to prevent that, but also the footie was over and I’d heard through the grapevine that we’re getting assigned some art and design projects at the end of the week.” Chase rolled his eyes to show what he thought of that subject and Law couldn’t help but agree. He didn’t have the talent for it, though he sometimes enjoyed the class. It must be there that Law recognised Chase from.
Rhoan grinned. “Ah, and you want to snag Law as your partner early? Too bad, unwritten Rhoan rule: he’s always my partner.”
“No one else puts up with him,” Law said gravely.
Chase snorted. “It’s actually a trio thing, which was why I asked. The other trio I could have gone with is with Bett and, well, we don’t always get along.”
“Oh, sure then.” Law glanced to Rhoan who shrugged to show he didn’t care either way.
“I’ll see you two in class,” Chase said, waving as he walked away to change.
Rhoan leaned close to Law. “Seems like a nice guy. You think we could get him to do all the work?”
Law smacked his friend’s arm even though he knew it was a joke. “Actually I have a friend back home that might be able to give us some advice. You should come to Aelview and meet her.”
A/N: Whoa, long chapter alert! Sorry ’bout that. Think of it as making up for my three weeks absence! Has it really been that long? Oops..