Flexibility (attn: Alexander)
Aishe remained in the studio while Alexander's class let out. She came to every one of his yoga classes, even the weekly one he gave at Liefde. She couldn't help it, she was a fan. Not only of yoga but of her friend, who was a quiet, serene instructor. She love his voice particularly. It was a tenor, very smooth, with a cultured tone to it that spoke of language classes, perhaps, as a child. It did have a lilt that couldn't really be passed off as straight but it wasn't a lisp or anything annoying. It was a gentle tone, really, and more than one woman had sighed voer it in class.
When the last student had left Alex pulled his on yoga mat over and set it in front of Aishe's. The young vampire had studied yoga for some time but it wasn't until she'd started practicing with Alexander that she had really begun to learn. Now they frequently had extra sessions by themselves; Alex didn't have a lot of students who could do the advanced poses.
She also never got tired of watching him. He didn't often demonstrate these things - they weren't for showing off, he maintained. They were stretching and breathing and flowing exercises. But, she thought with a smile as she sat down in a lotus and they both stretched forward, hands pressing together at the palms, pushing gently against each other, she could still admire him.
Alex was quiet for a while which wasn't unusual. He wasn't the loud, boisterous type. His silence had a thoughtful quality to it though. She looked at him with empathic eyes and saw colors of curiosity. Colors that indicated he had questions and wanted to learn something. From her? Or from someone else? She didn't know what knowledge she had that he'd want. Well, the archaeology thing tended to get people thinking sometimes.
"Something on your mind?"
She smiled at him and raised her eyebrows at her quiet friend.
He had finally given in to curiosity and asked MARI a few questions. Short ones. The things he wanted to know, he wasn't sure if he could or should ask Eiryk. Aishe though, was about his age. And from what he understood, she had been human not long ago.
It was hard to think of her as a vampire at all, really. He had never gotten the impression from her that she was looking at anyone in the room like they might be a meal. She was one, though. She hunted. She drank blood. She never went out in the daylight.
"Can I ask you a personal question? Or... twenty?"
She and Alex had been friends for a while. Aishe had met him when he'd first opened his store, and he had told her about his yoga classes at that time. She'd been his friend since, although she would admit it had taken him a little time to warm up to her beyond a professional relationship. That was just Alex, though. He was guarded by nature. Once they'd become friends she had seen just how warm and sweet he was. She didn't know a lot about his past but she gathered from the emotions around him, and around Eiryk, that it wasn't a pleasant one.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what his questions might be about either. There were two topics she thought Alexander might be interested in. The first was Evenhet. He knew about them, although she didn't know how much. He wasn't Eiryk's familiar but instead enjoyed an unbound sort of association with the human-friendly Clan. Naturally, he might have things to ask that he wasn't comfortable approaching MARI or some of his other friends with.
The other might be marriage. She and Kiamhaat had a long-standing relationship, very stable. He and Eiryk had been together for several years now and they might be at a point where they might be discussing more commitment. She waited for him to continue.
Finally he gave a sigh and looked at her. "The um... the thing," he said, knowing his face was turning red but not sure if he should even say certain words out loud, alone or not. "I mean, you were turned not too long ago. Right?"
Aishe nodded and said nothing; she didn't look insulted. Alex continued.
"Did you have a choice?"
Alex didn't know the details of how it came about. He'd never really asked anyone this before. Of his very close friends he knew Eiryk's story and he knew Rowan's. They had both volunteered that information to him and neither one had been a planned thing. Was it always a spontaneous kind of event?
She rolled over onto her back, her head toward Alex, crossing her arms under her head and looking up at him. "Yes," she said. "I had a choice. I demanded a choice, in fact."
She grinned up at Alex, not making any attempt to hide her delicately pointed canines. They weren't very obvious, anyway. At his expression she laughed and then gave him the short short version of how she had come to Nachton.
"So," he said when she was finished, "how do you like it now? The blood, the dark. Not being in the sun anymore."
How would he feel if he couldn't have sunlight every day? Alex was an outdoorsman. He'd always been. It had been the only hobby of his growing up that his parents had considered manly enough for him to pursue.
"I love it," she finally said. "I was a little afraid that my own determination was making me think this was the only thing to be, but my Creator made me think about it long and hard before he turned me. I joined this Clan and this life because it was the right thing for me. It's opened up a lot of opportunities I never would have had, but more than that, these people are my family and I never want to leave them."
She turned back over and sat up, resting back on her hands. "And I don't really miss the sun, honestly. Maybe when I really think about it I could miss it some, but the people I love live under the moon. I can still do the things I enjoyed, I just have to make some adjustments."
Aishe laughed softly, thinking about blood. That part, she hadn't been so sure of. "The drinking - that comes with the body. As a human it sounds gross. As a vampire, it feels right. It smells right. It tastes right. I can't explain that part but there wasn't anything squicky about it once the change was made and I had turned. In fact, that's the first thing I remember. Drinking."
It was Eiryk, yes, who he loved more than he could ever describe. For being who himself, the cheerful happy man who brought joy into Alex's life and accepted him for who he was. He never tried to make Alex be anything or anyone else. But it was also Rowan, Eiryk's ex-partner, one of his best friends, a teacher and friend to Alex. It was Christian, someone Alex felt very close to - a kindred spirit, almost, who always made Alex feel so welcome. Aishe, who felt like a little sister sometimes in spite of the fact that she was a few years older.
There were others Alex cared about and didn't even know as well. Kem and Alfarinn, Pakpao, Ume, people he ran into on a daily basis now, people who came to his yoga classes. People who saw him in the Mall and had to smile and wave and stop to say hi.
When Aishe finished speaking Alex soaked her words in. Her Creator had made her think about it?
"Am I allowed to ask who... I mean, is it rude to ask who your Creator is?"
Whoever it was was obviously someone Aishe loved. There was a warmth in her face and in her eyes when she spoke of him. Was it Kem? It hadn't sounded like it from her tale.
She watched Alex's face and aura reflect surprise, amused by it. "I must be a disappointment if he's never even mentioned it," she said, rolling her eyes and heaving a dramatic sigh. "I try and I try, but he's so demanding. I can never do anything right."
She grinned at Alex as she spoke, her words clearly untrue. Aishe did not attempt to disguise from anyone her regard for her Creator. She adored Cris and would proudly proclaim that to the universe. Had he gone away for the first couple years of her life? Yes - but he'd had to. She bore no ill will. Now that he was back everything was as it had been before. Cris was everything she could want in a mentor. He was teacher, friend, companion... he was her family. She couldn't be more proud to be his.
His voice trailed off as he realized Aishe was still grinning at him, laughing softly. Of course she understood. She knew Cris better than he did. He was hardly going to march around the Towers with a band proclaiming his relationship out loud.
Then again, Alex thought, he had heard several amusing stories about the very same Cris brainwashing half the population of the Towers with a strange jedi mind trick which somehow involved a very intimate, very public kiss with Rowan. But that was just gossip. It wasn't the kind of thing Cris would do at all.
"It wouldn't have been right if Kem had done it, would it?"
Alex's next question was more of a statement, but it was one he felt he was correct in making.
She sat up again and shrugged her shoulders. "I know it works for some people but for us this was much better."
Aishe wasn't going to go into the fact that Kem had never turned anyone. Nor did he ever think he would, although she suspected that if he had a good enough reason he'd change his mind. He was a different person now than he had been nearly ten years ago when they'd first met.
"Are you giving it some thought yourself?" she finally asked, tilting her head at Alexander. He would make a beautiful vampire. He was a beautiful human.
And, maybe, a tiny little part of her was sort of excited to possibly not be the Evenhet Baby anymore. Only a tiny little part though.
People could change, right? Alex had been so against the idea but it was hard to remain completely resistant when everyone you knew had drunk the Kool-Aid, so to speak, and seemed none the worse for wear. That and, he thought, what if you don't have seventy more years with Eiryk? Things could change very quickly. Like, in a day. In an hour.
He didn't want to leave his boyfriend now. Not when he'd just found him. That, he couldn't handle. But it was Eiryk who'd have to suffer. Alex knew he was loved. It was apparent in everything Eiryk did. More than that, though, like Aishe said, there were things he'd be able to do that he'd never have been able to as a human. He could go places and learn so much.
And pay income taxes forever. Ugh. And worry about profit margins forever. Bleh. But small inconveniences, really, when he thought about it in terms of staying with his family.
She saw Alex's colors change slightly as he fell silent again, obviously thinking. What was going through his mind? What was he thinking that he wasn't telling her? She certainly wasn't going to pry; his thoughts were his own and she imagined everyone in his position had many concerns. Some were surely similar, but others not at all. She didn't think Eiryk was the only reason Alex was reconsidering, and she knew that the appeal of immortality wasn't Alex's weakness either. So something must have changed to make him rethink his stance.
Maybe she'd talk to Cris about it.
Then again, maybe not. It wasn't her business, it was Alexander's and the people Alex chose to consult. It wouldn't be fair for her to go behind his back.
He wished they were in Nachton now. Not that they'd gone off the radar completely; Rowan had sent them several post cards, in fact, of various touristy places in the Caribbean, claiming they hadn't actually visited all that many tourist attractions. They would be back soon and Alex might pay them a visit and ask them about it too.
"How did you know what you wanted would be all right?" Alex asked Aishe. "I mean, there's no membership fee or secret handshake. Would they even... want me?"
Alex had nothing to offer, really. He would be one more mouth to feed. He knew, in spite of the fact that his close friends were Evenhet and not mortal, that their numbers were not great. He imagined new vampires were carefully chosen. When you had multitudes of humans to pick from, you could easily afford to take the best of them. Poets, philosophers, great scientists, musicians. Why would anyone want one broke yoga instructor?
"How do you even pick someone out?"
Alex's next question was a good one, but not one she could answer readily. She lifted one shoulder. "Alex, you're a good person. You have a good head on your shoulders. I've never had to choose someone to bring into this world myself but if I did, I would enjoy having you be part of it."
She understood his doubts. Alex was, if nothing else, disgusting modest. And he was insecure about himself in spite of his acceptance of his own lifestyle. It was plain to all of his friends that he didn't think much of himself overall. "Sometimes it's just having a good makeup that makes you fit in. One of the perks of this sort of life is, you have lots and lots of time to develop your other skills. Look at me. I'm an archaeologist working in security. Who knew?"
She reached out and brushed her hand over Alex's shoulder. "You're already a part of the family," she said softly. "None of us want to see you grow old and die. But if that's what you choose, well, it's your choice to make."
Then she sat up. "And when you're old and grey I'll polish your dentures for you and feed you prunes and applesauce. Promise."
Then he wrinkled his nose at the part about dentures and prunes. "Wow, that's so sweet," he said, his usual sarcasm coming through.
Then he fell silent for a few seconds and shook his head. "I don't think you'll have to see me grow old."
She could interpret that however she liked; whatever happened Alex didn't intend to be a burden on his family. If he did end up needing... well, more particular care... he would find someplace to go. Someplace quiet where he could live out his days and remember his friends with warmth.
It would kill him to leave Eiryk, but then, they were all dying every day just a little bit. Humans, anyway. Some slightly faster than others.
She scooted over to him and wrapped her arms around him, kissing him on the cheek. Then she took his hand and stood up, pulling him along. She noticed he winced slightly as his put weight on his left leg, something he'd been doing for the last few months. He'd hurt it playing tennis. Nothing to do with his current line of thought though, or was it? She couldn't say.
"Let's hang the yoga up tonight," she said. Alex smiled, sort of distracted but agreeable. "I know it's cold out but a hot fudge sundae sounds good to me. I'll buy. You can twist me into a pretzel this weekend, I promise."
She didn't give him much room to argue, really. In a matter of minutes they were bundled up and headed to the ice cream shop. They shared a sundae piled with gooey sugary goodness and dripping in warm rich chocolate. As they talked Aishe watched Alex's aura change back to its usual happy, warm colors. Whatever was bothering him clearly wasn't something he was too preoccupied with. Everyone had up days and down days. She just wanted to make his better.
And hopefully, after giving it due consideration, he might really decide to stay with them. Of all the humans Aishe knew, she thought she might most like to keep Alex around. He was good for Eiryk, but, she thought, he was good for most people he met. He'd never agree with her but that too was what made him lovable.
((ooc: both out))