Julia watched it through a wall that was one thick pane of glass. It paced back and forth in the ‘condo’, the nicely furnished area reserved for participants in long-term studies. Certainly, it looked human, in almost every way. Almost black hair, pale but not inhumanly pale skin, and dark eyes. It was how it moved that spoke of differences. There was strength in each stride, ferocity in how it clenched its slender hands, a sense that the situation could be reversed in the blink of an eye.
Lily. That was what it said its name was.
Lily The Vampire.
Sometimes it made Julia laugh.
Vampires had become rare by the middle of the 21st century. Not the stuff of legend, yet, but attacks were infrequent, and their numbers, while not known, were likely small. The massacres of the 20s were history.
“Agitated today, isn’t she?” the Technician Abbot remarked while entering some cryptic numbers into his datapad.
“Yeah. Check when the last feeding was done?”
“We slotted the last tube, um, 3am today. Have you tried asking her if something is wrong?”
They both chuckled. Lily’s conversational style could be described as terse, on a good day. In the three months the vampire had been in captivity, she’d spoken maybe a couple thousand words, and most of those while doped up on the sedatives they gave her before physical exams.
Lily had stopped pacing, and had stretched out on the sofa. Still, her fingers played nervously with her almost-black hair, and worried at loose threads on her scrubs.
“Hm. OK, I’d like to try something. We’ve been consistent with the blood type we’ve been feeding her, but not with the source itself. I’d like to transition her to a single source.”
“That’s a problem. She consumes a pint a day right now. She can live on less, but then there are behavioral issues.”
“If I feed the Generator a small amount each day, it can use that as a base to build at least a pint of blood.”
The Generator was one of the advances that had come from having to deal with the vampires. Using a combination of nanotechnology and stem cells, it could basically make blood, using just a few millimeters as a template.
“If we make use of the current supplies, there’ll be auditing rules to follow.”
“We’ll use mine as the base and template. It doesn’t require very much as a starter.”
“I’m fairly certain that Administrator Devond wouldn’t approve that, Dr. Hammond.”
“Well, if we use it off-hours, Mr. Abbot, I don’t see any reason Devond has to know, do you?”
Julia gave the smile that tended to bring the technician over to her side.
“No, I suppose not,” he sighed.
Abbot’s tone and expression said he knew he was being played, but didn’t see any real problem with the idea.
“Excellent. Go get the blood draw kit and we can get prepped.”
Through the thick glass, Julia watched Lily, and wondered.
“Goooood morning, Julia,” Lily purred from the condo’s bed.
“Good morning to you too, Lily.”
In the weeks since changing her diet, Lily’s entire demeanor had shifted. People had often compared vampires to wolves, but Julia saw them now as cats. Hunters to be sure, but languid and decadent when their needs were met. A well-fed lioness on the Serengeti.
The change in attitude had started quickly, but Julia had made sure to not rush things, not to push her luck. But day after day, as Lily drank more and more of Julia’s blood, her mood improved in leaps and bounds. They exchanged pleasantries, made small talk, and so on.
Julia put her bag down and took a seat on the desk chair in front of the window. From her datapad, she shifted the hidden cameras in the condo to all focus on Lily, and one in the lab to focus on herself.
“So, I was wondering if you felt like talking.”
“We talk every day, Julia,” the vampire rolled over to face the other woman.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Oh, you want to do more than chat? Whatever shall we talk about?” Lily rested her smiling face in the palms of her hands, elbows propping her up.
“Well, you, of course.”
“Don’t your tests tell you everything you need to know?”
“Not really. I mean, they tell me a bit about your body, but not very much beyond that. You are one of the very few living vampires we’ve ever had. And your body isn’t all there is to you. You are more complicated than that.”
“Mmmmm…was that an attempt at flattery? Playing to my ego? We may have to work on that. But yes, we can talk. I’ll answer your questions, but you have to do something for me.”
Julia paused, uncertain.
“No, nothing horrible, Doctor. I’m just tired of scrubs. Maybe you could get me a pair of pajamas? Something to lounge in? Something silk?”
Lily dragged out the ‘s’ sound.
“I guess I don’t see anything wrong with that. I’ll see what I can do. Any particular color?” Julia half-joked.
“You decide. You are the one who has to look at me, aren’t you?”
“So, uh, I was hoping you could tell me…” Julia started, only to be interrupted.
“I’m sorry, I don’t see any PJs here, do you?”
“I said I’d see what I could do.”
“I suppose it’s unfair of me to make you wait,” Lily rolled over onto her back, her head hanging down over the edge of the bed, black hair draped to the floor. “We can talk, but only a little, tiny, bit. Call me a tease.”
Julia cleared her throat.
“OK, how old are you?”
“I was reborn, or turned, or whatever melodramatic way you want to put it, 17 years ago. I was 26. I assume that’s what you wanted to know.”
“Yes, thank you. And how were you…”
“Made? Nope. That’s a secret. I’m keeping it. Perhaps another time.”
“Another time then. So you are fairly young.”
“As these things go, yes. I’m not one of those unhinged ancient ones.”
“My mind is a little faster than yours because it has to be, with my senses so much sharper. I might even be a little smarter than you, and maybe some of those stories about us being able to do mind-tricks are true,” Lily grinned. “But the mind isn’t designed to live for hundreds of years. The ancient ones, you can think of them as having something a little like Alzheimer’s. Most of them, at least.”
“Interesting. We didn’t know that.”
“That isn’t surprising. You aren’t likely to meet any of them. It’s why they tend to hole themselves away. The rest of us, we’re as social as you are. At least when it’s safe.”
“We knew that. We knew you had…”
“Packs, yes, which is a little insulting. Tell me, Dr. Julia, do I seem like a wolf to you?” Lily arched her back, lifting a leg, toes pointed towards the ceiling.
“No. Not like a wolf.”
There was a soft click as the ventilation system in the condo exhaled cool air. Lily’s eyelids drooped and her lower lip quivered as the breeze fluttered over her.
Her voice became quiet.
“Very good. Now, off with you.”
It took Julia several moments before she could look away.
“Oh, I DO like the black!” Lily admired herself in the mirror. “My skin looks magical. You have good taste, Dr. Julia.”
“So we can talk some more then?”
“Yes,” Lily slipped into the plush chair at the center of the condo and licked her lips. “I think I like this arrangement; three questions and then I get a favor.”
Julia sighed, having expected as much.
“And what would that next favor be?”
“It’s an easy one. I know there’s a sound system in here. I want it online. I want music.”
“Done. As soon as you answer my questions.”
“Oh, of course,” the vampire smiled.
Julia found herself distracted for a moment. The vampire’s body seemed to be in a constant state of motion. Just the tiniest movements; legs running together, back arching a bit, fingertips playing with a sleeve. Julia imagined she could hear the sound of silk on cool skin, and nervously smoothed her skirt and crossed her legs.
“Your mood has changed quite a bit over the last few weeks. Do you know why?”
“It’s the blood, of course. Given a choice, we want blood from the same source, every time.”
“Maybe because it is comforting and soothing. It means security. It means we aren’t hunting and can turn our rather significant attentions to other things. That’s something the legends got right. That whole vassal thing. They don’t last though. They can’t. As much as we care for them. Am I right in assuming you have some toy that keeps making this delicious fluid for me?”
“Yes. We normally use it to make samples last longer, or when someone with a rare blood type needs a transfusion.”
Lily tilted her head to one side slightly.
“Is this blood yours, Dr. Julia?”
“Yes,” though she was certain she’d meant to say ‘no’.
Lily simply smiled.
Julia’s mouth went dry.
“So,” she tried to clear her throat, “the blood has a real effect on you. It isn’t simply food?”
“Yes. And the sudden rush can be overwhelming. It can leave us quite vulnerable for a bit. That’s why you seldom see an actual feeding. But, sadly, pretty soon after we have to start becoming concerned about where our next,” she grinned, “fix is coming.”
“No no, that’s three.”
Julia quickly replayed the conversation in her head and cursed softly.
“The control is in the nightstand.”
“Yes, I found it a while ago. Oh, and Julia, if you are going to wear heels to work, you might as well wear nice ones.”
Julia turned away before the blush filled her face.
Julia watched Lily moving to the music, the way her body bent so fluidly, the way it seemed to respond to the music as if being physically guided, touched, moved and posed. The vampire spun for a seemingly impossible amount of time, leaving the doctor with a sense of dizziness and disorientation.
Finally, the song ended, and both seemed to relax.
“That was wonderful. I should have asked for music before the pajamas.”
“You’re as graceful as I expected, but it was like…”
“Like the music itself was moving me, and that’s how it felt. You have to understand, my formidable senses no longer have to worry about providing, about hunting. And so they are now just focused on the here and now and that is a very powerful, potent thing.”
“So the music, the silk are all for physical pleasure?”
Lily’s eyelids drooped slightly as she took a long, slow breath. Her entire body seemed to move with the inhale, and shiver with the exhale.
“Oh, Dr. Julia, you have absolutely no idea. But I see you took my advice on footwear. Basic black, so unadventurous, but still, more slender, and much more elegant.”
Julia felt an unexpected smile on her lips.
Lily let herself drop gracefully into the plush chair, facing Julia through the glass.
“So, you have your questions then.”
“Yes, we talked about the blood yesterday, how this situation works for you. Couldn’t vampires simply survive happily if we provided each of them with a source like this?”
“Maybe. We aren’t all the same, I don’t speak for everyone, but technically, I suspect so. The problem isn’t just us. It’s you.”
“Exactly how would you convince the public that the best way to handle keeping predators at bay was to keep feeding them? Ask some ranchers when they have wolf problems.”
“I see what you mean.”
Lily turned in her chair, letting her legs dangle over one arm, her head fall back over the other. Fingernails ran lightly along her silk-wrapped thigh, absently caressing.
“And do you mate?”
Lily smiled, lost in thought for a moment, her fingernails still gliding along her thigh.
“How romantic. But no, we don’t breed. And you won’t trick me into saying more on how vampires are ‘made’. There’s sex, to a limited degree, but like I said, we are very focused on survival, and that means hunting. Fucking is a luxury. But we do take intimate partners, others we share our lives with, which we trust and hold dear. At least, as best we can.”
“Do you miss it?”
“Sex? No, not normally. It just doesn’t come up much. Of course, now I’m in a slightly different mindset, thanks to you.”
Lily’s eyelids lowered just a bit.
“I think that’s three. Four, actually. But that’s because I want a very big favor.”
Julia swallowed nervously.
“And that is?”
“Next time we talk, you come in here. I don’t like the glass. It’s so impersonal and distant.”
“I’m not sure that’s a very good idea.”
“Have I seemed anything but happy? Beyond happy? Can you think of any reason I’d jeopardize that by hurting you?”
“I’ll…think about it.”
“Please do. Oh, and Dr. Julia, you have a run in your nylons.”
Julia glanced down and found a long run in the fibers where her fingernails had been scraping.
The music on the sound system was something outside of pop, something not so much darker, as deeper, more primal. Julia couldn’t help but feel drawn in.
Lily was sprawled out on the bed, moving slowly, undulating, dancing prone, as she did so much of the time. She turned on the sheets to face her guest.
“Come,” she said, voice floating perfectly along the heavy bass tones, “sit with me.”
Julia took a seat on the edge of the bed, and the vampire seemed to curl up instantly against her.
A gentle dizziness fluttered through the doctor’s head, and a sticky-sweet scent, something exotic. A jungle flower.
“Isn’t this much nicer?” Lily purred.
“I…I can smell you.”
“Yes, you can.”
Julia’s fingers touched tiny beads of moisture on Lily’s brow. A small sound slipped from Lily’s lips.
“Yes, I am.”
A run of notes rushed into the room. Lily’s back arched.
Not in dance.
Julia watched in wonder as the vibrations of the music caressed the vampire.
The moment passed.
Lily’s breathing was not as perfect and even as it had been.
It held just a hint of ragged.
“Why am I here?”
“Because I don’t want to be alone,” a tiny shudder in her breath, “because I want you here with me, Julia.”
Julia could not turn away. She barely noticed that their fingers had become entwined at some point.
She could feel something radiating from Lily, could feel heat, and breath, and a glow.
“Please stay,” Lily’s voice, barely audible.
She watched, entranced, as Lily’s body writhed next to her.
“Tell me,” Julia pleaded.
“The music, the movement of the air, the light, the heat, it’s everything.”
Lily’s eyes were bright.
“Your hand in mine.”
And there, on the edge of perception, Julia felt it too.
She followed Lily’s gyrations, the bend of her spine, the slide of her legs, the glistening of her skin in awe. She felt her breathing coming and going with Lily’s.
“Please, say my name?” half pleading.
Julia slid down, placed her face in the crook of Lily’s neck, grew drunk on the scent, so much stronger here.
Their breathing matched, their pulses matched.
Julia could feel her.
Fire in her blood.
Lily’s radiation wrapped around her, drew her in.
“Please, say my name,” now begging.
Julia’s lips found a delicate ear, and whispered.
And placed the softest of kisses on the bone just behind.
One of them sobbed out loud.
Lily turned, as any remaining control of her body seemed to vanish.
Their eyes met, locked, stayed there.
Julia held her, hearing the confused, but desperate, sounds of a girl discovering her own body. Held her as Lily’s pleasure rushed in again and again, drawing Julia along with it, deeper and deeper.
There were tears.
A whimpered “Julia.”
Lips touched but only just.
And the voice of that girl losing herself.
Over and over again.
She felt need, possessiveness, love. The kiss that had been barely a touching of lips had slipped into something deeper, primal, like the music. Julia felt tears rolling down her cheeks just before she clenched her teeth down on Lily’s lower lip. Hard. Harder. Until something warm and dark and salty trickled onto her tongue.
There were two different moans.
Julia suckled, drank, devoured as Lily held on to her, tightly, keeping her.
Teeth released, lips parted, and Julia’s eyes fell on her vampire.
She had never seen anything so beautiful. Auras of heat and light surrounded Lily, shifting and dancing, and Julia knew Lily was seeing the same from her. The touch of sharp fingernails grazing her neck sent the doctor’s body reeling, every contact was overwhelming. A run of bass in the music gripped her as completely as a hand at the small of her back, as a body pressing itself between her thighs.
She could still smell the exotic perfume that was Lily, but now something else, something fresher, cleaner. Rosewater and metal.
This was her scent.
She felt breath near her ear, heard a single word, “Julia.”
A wave of heat and electricity crashed over her.
She was drowning. Losing.
Lily’s strength keeping her.
Rush after rush, pressure and caress and a fingernail slowly raking down her spine.
A tickle of hair along the underside of her breast.
A lip on the back of her thigh.
The tip of a tongue touching hers.
It was too much.
She would die if it ended, ever.
Blinded by it, barely aware of anything else.
Senses and touch and a kiss and bodies tangled together.
She struggled for one last breath, and fell short.
Lily’s voice, in the distance.
“We are not made. We awaken. We simply are.”
And they were.