Disclaimers: mildly nsfw, vulgar, cringeworthy
Faith had strutted home, just before sunrise.
The gig had been AMAZING but Seth had been a total dick last night, calling her a nightmare. However that wasn’t what hurt the most. Nor was it that he’d embarrassed her in front of her idols. The sorest point for Faith was that he hadn’t followed her when she’d left.
The band had not been as rock and roll as Faith had hoped; Nani had taken off almost immediately and Blu was in bed by eleven. Faith had partied with Caustic and Floppy for a while until Floppy also left for bed, giving Faith a sickly grin as she passed. That woman was so weird.
Faith and Caustic had had a few beers together, the boundaries becoming steadily more blurred. Caustic had gathered that Faith was using a fake name but naturally, Faith had an answer for that.
“You would use a fake name too if your real name was Fanny. Besides, you can hardly talk.”
He’d liked that. His hand that been resting on the bar had found its way to her knee. Alone with the pink-bearded rock star, who was making his intentions very clear, Faith asked where Seth had gotten to. She really wasn’t sure why.
Justification for not moving Caustic’s hand? Did she need justification? They’d never said they were exclusive and it’s not every day she got a chance to sleep with a rock star. There was probably some sort of exception to the rule for that scenario, right?
Whatever. Hearing Caustic tell her that Seth had just up and ditched them all not long after Faith left, following a rant about how ‘bloody awful and ungrateful’ she was, sounded – to Faith’s slightly tipsy ears – totally legit.
So when Caustic told her she was the ‘hottest fan he’d ever seen’ and suggested they get closer, she was completely willing to let him bed her.
Well, to let him take her over a sink, same thing.
She had to pinch herself a few times during the whole act. Trying not to get too wrapped up in the moment of fucking a rock star! and fangirling into a puddle. Staying grounded was helped by the fact that compared to Seth, Caustic was kinda shit at it and banging against the sink was bruising her hip bones.
To add insult to injury, he’d changed his attitude immediately after emptying his balls, discarding her like she was a used tissue. She did manage to steal his keys though before he threw her out – revenge and a souvenir all in one.
The gig venue wasn’t that far from their apartment, so she took her time ambling back, walking up every street and down every alleyway so that Seth could worry about her for a while. She’d naturally drawn the attention of a few passing men as she’d gone – this allure was awesome – and had chosen one for a small snack.
When the sun began to peek over the horizon and Faith could stay outdoors no more, she begrudgingly went back into the apartment, expecting to see Seth there with a face like a slapped arse.
Seth wasn’t there, but his pirate garb was still hanging up in the bathroom where they’d left it.
It caused Faith to pause; he’d been so reluctant to leave his coat behind that she thought that even if he was ditching her forever, he’d surely have come back for this. Maybe the jeans grew on him, she thought with a smirk.
He was always very possessive of his coat. Other than the odd occasion when he’d whip out a knife, Faith had never seen the contents of it. She gave into the temptation of a little peek only to realise that the thing was stuffed full of revolting junk.
Collected pebbles, most without any interesting features that Faith could see. Dead bugs. Lots of knives of various sizes, most looked old and/or rusty, as were the selection of tools she found in an inner pocket. There was a handkerchief that was absolutely gross, covered in bloodstains and fuck knows what else, probably never been washed. A roll of bank notes, a sleeve of matches and half a carton of cigarettes – she didn’t even know that he smoked! – a big, old-fashioned key and what looked like part of a map.
What did he need all of this stuff for?
Finally, Faith pulled out from the depths of this stinking treasure trove a tattered notebook and a broken pencil bound together with a frayed length of string. The book had clearly been soaked through a few times and most of the pages had dried together, but they all seemed to contain the same thing: Seth’s tiny, spider-scrawl handwriting made up of random words and disconnected thoughts that she couldn’t follow.
Faith carefully placed all the items back into the pockets she’d found them and wandered out of the bathroom, looking for any sign that he’d been back.
He might leave her behind – his nightmare – but he wouldn’t leave his coat behind; his whole life was in that thing.
Maybe he was just trying to worry her. Maybe he was playing her at her own game and if he was then dammit, he’d won again.
Trapped by the rising sun, Faith had had no option but to stay put in the apartment until sunset and wait for him to walk through the door, gloating.
But as the sun began it’s slow descent to the horizon and no dashingly-handsome-but-totally-infuriating master vampire had materialised, Faith finally realised that something might actually be wrong.
Witches were built with an innate sense of spirit, an energy that could tune into the world around them. They could sense the weather turning, for example, or interpret the subtle changes in nature that signalled distress. They were healers, nature’s guardians and in return for their devotion, they were rewarded with the ability to channel the Earth’s energy, to harness it, to further the cause.
A witch, as they matured, would naturally attune to the main elements of nature – earth, air, fire and water – and that is where the wealth of their power lay.
When Broof was a boy, he had stormed home one evening, soaked through and frustrated that he couldn’t manipulate water as well as Wyatt could. Ma had explained that nature was one united language but with multiple dialects – a witch could understand them all, but only one would bring the comfort and confidence of ‘home’.
Broof was registered as ‘fire-aligned’ but only as he was marginally less awful at this magick than the others. The only energy Broof could really attune to these days was an emotional energy, the aura of those around him. And this room, full of undead creatures of the night, was surprisingly thick with it. Waves of nervous energy flowed from his companions through his wiped-out core and only intensified as Sage took her place beside her flipchart.
“Good afternoon all. My name is Mrs. Harper and today’s lesson is an education on sex and relationships!” Sage sang, bouncing on her heels, her smile bright.
The reactions varied around the room; Wyatt groaned like he was in pain, Melinda cleared her throat and looked at the floor, Caleb looked amused and April looked genuinely curious.
Broof swallowed back a lump in his throat that, of late, did not seem to clear. So many times in the mansion he’d wanted to educate April about the facts of life and the world outside her four walls. But finding an uninterrupted time and place had been virtually impossible and in all honestly, had it been his responsibility?
He’d assumed, perhaps wrongly, that in the absence of Sandy, Travis or that stuffy school she went to teaching her anything, April’s friends would fill her in.
Not her school friends; he knew she hadn’t had any of those.
Her so-called ‘secret friends’. But it was clear from April’s wide eyes and the permanent little ‘O’ of her mouth that Sage’s words were all new to her.
He knew that Melinda was bright and sensible; she asked a lot of questions and studied anything she didn’t have an answer to – why hadn’t she told April anything? And he’d seen Faith around town in a few questionable situations that a girl her age probably shouldn’t have been in; she’d clearly understood the physical side, if not the emotional one. Shoot, that girl was probably having the time of her life, out there alone with boundless allure.
It made Broof sick to think about it. He made a mental note to revisit a few of her old haunts, see if he could find her. But not right now. Right now he had to sit here and pretend that he would be of any use whatsoever if these vampires all went rogue and attacked Sage.
The elderly witch had finished her introduction and had turned the page to the first of, as Broof had heard previously from Wyatt, ‘endless’ pictorial pages. Wyatt progressed from his pained groaned to a high-pitched whine of dismay as the first poorly-drawn page appeared before them.
“Now then,” Sage cooed brightly. “Who can tell me; what is the first step towards fulfilling sex?”
Wyatt opened his mouth but a hard glare from his mother closed it again.
“Not you, Wyatt! You’re not speeding through this by giving everyone the answers,” Sage admonished him. “Anyone else?” Sage asked again. “Caleb?”
Caleb looked up as Sage addressed him, his face registered surprise, as if he thought none of this really applied to him. “Um, well, I guess first you have to find a woman.”
The green witch clicked her tongue; a sign Broof recognised as annoyance, yet she remained as cool as ever. “Any woman?”
Caleb shrugged and nodded.
“And what do you say to this woman, Caleb?”
“Nothing much, usually,” Caleb replied, clearly not seeing the problem with his answer.
“I see,” Sage muttered. “Does anyone have anything to add to that?”
“Am I wrong?” Caleb asked, incredulously, to which sweet little Melinda responded with an uncharacteristic growl.
“You’re always wrong, you soggy banana.”
“Well if you know everything, why don’t you answer, virgin?” Caleb sneered.
“I don’t claim to know everything, Caleb. But I know that first you’re supposed to find a willing partner. Perhaps spend some time getting to know them.”
“Why?” Caleb scoffed.
“Why?!” Melinda squeaked. “Why?! So you don’t end up just forcing yourself on someone who doesn’t want to do it!”
“I don’t force myself on anyone,” Caleb snarled. “All women always want to do it.”
“No, Caleb, they do not,” Sage muttered. “Women are people, not toys.”
Caleb shook his head, the message clearly not computing. Wyatt slapped himself in the face and whispered through his teeth, “This is gonna be a long night, dude.”
Sage was coolly smoothing down her skirt, but Broof could feel the mildest tremors beneath his feet and could sense her disdain. Caleb looked to April who couldn’t meet his eye.
“This is all about this morning, isn’t it?” he asked. “When you caught us in the hall? You’re misunderstanding, Sage. Tell her, April, tell her we both wanted—”
“You don’t have to tell me anything, April,” Sage said abruptly. “And Caleb, if you give her another instruction – Goddess help me!” Sage tutted her disproval. “Like it or not, you two are bound together for the foreseeable and we need to move this mess forward. However, Caleb, if you genuinely cannot see why your opinions and actions are inappropriate then I really do have no choice but to keep you completely away from April.”
Wyatt and Melinda sounded their agreement and Caleb, visibly panicked, looked to Broof with a plea written across his pale face.
Maybe he thought he’d found an ally or perhaps he’d identified a weak point. Broof gulped, trying to understand for himself how someone could live for three hundred years and not know how to control himself around women. He tried to put himself in Caleb’s shoes; imagined that he had this vampiric allure and attracted women like a magnet, that every woman he encountered would be wearing the strongest pair of rose-tinted glasses in creation and—
“You’ve never had to worry about consent before, have you, Caleb?” he asked. At Caleb’s blank look, he clarified. “You’ve never had to ask for permission for sex?”
Caleb’s expression was a clear answer. He shook his head. “No.”
“Have you ever actually given permission for sex? Or do you always just go along with it?”
Caleb blinked and looked completely confused. “I go along with it.”
“…I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it,” Caleb said, scratching his jaw. “At the beginning, I suppose, it was because I didn’t want to let anyone down, especially not a pretty girl, and now… now it’s more of a compulsion, I suppose. A habit?”
“So… you don’t always want to, either?”
“No, not always. Not with every woman who comes on to me. No. And yet, I often do, go along with it, I mean.”
“Fuck,” Wyatt breathed to which Sage snapped, “Language!”
Caleb swept a hand through his hair. “I know you all think I’m a monster and I’ve had these kinds of talks enough with Lil to realise that I likely am. But I was doing so well before this binding, I genuinely was. I had been decades without any contact with a woman, I was really getting a handle on it. All right, if I am completely honest, my existence began to feel pointless. I began to look for anywhere to escape to… that’s probably why I went to the mansion in the first place. But now I’ve met April, it’s all I can think about again.” He eyed April as if she were a large slice of rhubarb pie. “Every time I see her I just want to—”
“But what about what she wants?” Broof asked, trying not to drool over the inappropriate thoughts he was having about rhubarb pie. With lashings of custard… where was he? “Have you asked her what she wants?”
“No,” Caleb said reaching for the girl’s hand. She allowed him to take it and looked up at him shyly. “What do you want, April?”
April seemed to be fighting not to speak but eventually seemed to give up her resistance. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“I… I really don’t know how… how... I don’t know what I want, Caleb. I do want you, but I don’t too and… I feel like I should know, but I don’t and I’m sorry,” she whispered from behind her hands.
“Don’t be sorry. It can take a while to know what you want, Miss Mo- April,” Broof said softly. “Can’t it, Sage?”
“It can!” Sage agreed brightly, seemingly very pleased that someone else was joining in. “Goodness, I was in my thirties before I even had a boyfriend and twenty years later I still didn’t know what true pleasure was. Then I met Warren and we tried a few new positions and—”
“Oh god!” Wyatt groaned. “Muuuuuum!”
“Oh for goodness sake, Wyatt! We’re all adults here! Do you think you just appeared from thin air? In fact, the night you were conceived, your father gave me the best orgasm—”
“LA LA LA LA LA!” Wyatt shouted, covering his ears.
Sage grinned at her son and turned back to April; her playfulness gone and her voice soft.
“By the end of this lesson, my dear, you’ll at least have some working knowledge about what things are and what this whole thing entails. Hopefully that will help you figure out a little more what you are, and are not, ready for. And as for you,” she said, turning towards Caleb. “By the end of this lesson you’ll understand the importance of consent and why anything other than hearty ‘yes!’ on both sides is a definite no… or else—” she drew her finger menacingly across her throat, winked, then smiled and turned back to her chart.
“So!” she exclaimed in her sprightly fashion, lifting the next page. “Who can tell me what this is?”