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“Sleep, tonight, got it?” said Myrnin to Sam, eyes narrowed a bit so he got the point. Sam blanched a bit, but it wasn’t like he could put up much of a protest. He was having a hard time keeping his eyes open as it was. So, protest was futile. “You planning on sleeping at all?” he almost joked at Myrnin, sending the accusation right back. Sam wasn’t stupid. He was just taking a leaf out of Myrnin’s book and avoiding the nightmares. The older vampire frowned down at him, a finger nail clicking against a glass beaker as he looked over at where Sam was sitting. “Humph. We’ll see.”
Sam shrugged using one shoulder. “If that’s what I’m getting, I’ll just sleep in the chair. Maybe if I snore you’ll stop acting like me and take care of yourself.” He could joke but that didn’t mean he cared for the idea of sleeping. But he closed his eyes anyway and that was pretty much all that was needed thanks to how long he’d been awake. If Myrnin had ever answered than he never heard it.
His breath stopped, chest no longer rising or falling, though he wasn’t actively aware of that. In fact, as soon as he exited dreamless sleep and entered dreams, he couldn’t remember he was asleep at all.
He was the same height as always, but someone wearing a green sweater was walking beside him, much taller than he was. He didn’t look up, but he knew who this person was anyway. His hand was wrapped around there’s, though the sweater sleeve was between his hand and their skin.
It was hard to tell if there was a sky above him, but if he looked up he seemed to sense the beginnings of stars above. He breathed out slowly. A tightening in his chest had already started. Why was he here again? When was this? He shook his head, trying to work out what was going on.
His head was moving back and forth in the real world too. Myrnin stopped what he was doing, frowning at the boy. Slowly he lowered the vial of liquid he’d been holding, intending to just shake the boy awake. But the outstretched hand stopped. Because this was just going to continue to happen. He tilted his head, studying the boy’s face. He was probably going to get kicked out for this, but he could try to help…
It was with good intentions if slightly invasive (he’d never had a sense of personal space before, so there seemed little reason to start being aware of other people) that he reached out, pressing one thumb into Samuel’s temple. He squinted his eyes, trying to figure out what to change.
Sam wasn’t sure for a second what street he had turned into right up into the point he saw the door to Myrnin’s little shack. And recognized it. The boy gaped at it a bit, wondering how it had turned up in his nightmare. And it was a nightmare, though he wasn’t sure at what point he’d come to understand it. The person now holding his wrist instead of the other way around, had stopped with him. “What?” asked the familiar female voice.
And then the door to that shack opened and Myrnin pushed the door open. Sam squinted his eyes, watching as it seemed to be a bit painful for Myrnin to exit. Like the door was sticking or trying to close on him. “Ah,” he said, as he squeezed through and almost got his shoe caught. He eyed the woman. “Friend of yours, Sam?” It seemed like he already knew, but how … Oh. He’d done this once before and Sam at once knew that this was no dream Myrnin.
“What are you doing in my head?” he practically growled.
Myrnin pointed at the woman, as if this explained everything. Sam wasn’t able to look where the pointing finger was indicating. “That really how you see her face now?” he leaned a few inches closer, even though there was a good ten feet between where they were standing. Sam didn’t dare look up. Not that far. “You’re also,” Myrnin pointed out off-handedly, “Shrinking yourself. So yes, even if there hadn’t been the ‘but how … oh’ moment then I’d have probably figured everything out by now.” Now Sam was very sure Myrnin could read his mind, probably because he was in it. But Myrnin was distracting him from all that by talking about the woman and that just meant Samuel was focusing far more on her than he was on the other vampire.
I can’t take him. You take him. He’s supposed to be your son anyway. And there it was, Sam’s body almost trembling. Myrnin seemed to keep that completely blank expression. Watching. That was all.
“Why,” he said after a second. “Aren’t you fighting?”
Sam froze. Wait, what?
“Fighting,” Myrnin repeated. “You know. Doing something other than a deer in headlights impression.”
Sam felt like he wanted to smack the green-eyed man. What did he think he was saying?
“Very good! You grew about an inch there. Try again. I’m sure you’ve got more than that in you. You fought the first time, I assume. Not how I did, I didn’t even try. But you were never me. Fight now! It’s your head. Put up a challenge for it.” He nodded in the direction of the woman. The ‘It’.
“B-but I ca – ” started Sam. He didn’t feel himself shrink, but the way Myrnin raised his eyebrow it seemed like he had. It was like a hole of panic was already trying to open under him.
“That,” said Myrnin. “Is because it is.”
And Sam fell.
“Skipping a few steps here, are we?” asked Myrnin. He was falling to now, it seemed, though Sam’s senses were so completely out of whack that the words were in his head – or whispered in his ear in the waking world – more than anything else. “Might as well ride it out till the end if you aren’t going to stop it, Samuel. Must we go through this again?”
Anger again, rising up, boring him up, senses stabilizing. Cold that was setting into his fingers no longer trying to travel up his arms.
“But I ca-” And here Myrnin managed to cut in with words. “Of course, you can. You’re a bloody vampire. You can do whatever you want. To coin a friend’s word. You control your own head. Not me, not your mother, not anyone. If you don’t want this to happen: Make. It. Stop.”
The world froze, melting around Sam a second later to be replaced by the same road, only without Myrnin’s lab right around the corner. He was right back where he had started, but it wasn’t over. His hand was back in the woman’s grip. Now Sam did try to pull a bit, but he felt like his own strength was about as useless as a dishrag. Like before.
You’re a vampire. Were the words. But what if he didn’t want to be? He always dreamed himself human. Always.
And then he was being dragged, for all his attempts. And it was only then that he saw Myrnin again. He appeared directly in front of the woman, blinking into existence like he knew just what it looked like. Like he knew what it looked like to appear and disappear into view. His hand clasped into a fist, pulled back and … he punched Sam’s dream. In this case, the woman. And the dream shattered to pieces, kicking Myrnin out.
Back in the real-world Sam just rolled over and Myrnin’s hand moved back to his side. And there it was. Sam hadn’t properly faced anything, but maybe someday. When he could dream himself as he was now. Far stronger than he thought himself to be. The vampire backed up, massaging a hand that hurt, even though he hadn’t even hit anything physically. He dearly hoped he didn’t look like that when … well … Sam very clearly had demonized his mother by now. But still, Sam had some problems in his life. And here the vampire moved to one of the few chairs.
Would Sam ever get to meet his mother again?
Myrnin really didn’t have a doubt about this. They were tied together, just like he and his ‘master’ used to be. Like any vampire owed their existence to their creator. There was connection, they were aware when one lived or died and sometimes more. And they were all immortal. So Myrnin held not a doubt in his mind that there would be a time when Sam was face to face with the woman who haunted – and would probably still haunt – his sleeping world. There was just no breaking away from that.
However, he didn’t think it would be soon. The world was not some perfect storybook. It didn’t allow you to skip around within the chapters to see how the story ended or where the pieces connected. It never gave you all the answers; that was life. It didn’t wrap everything up in a neat little bow. Instead, it gave you only what you could handle, threw you at hurdles until you jumped or ran into them. Sam had always needed to conquer his own dreaming world if he ever hoped to fully move out of his mother’s shadow and into his own. He had a life to deal with, one he’d chosen and built around himself. No one was deserving of more. So, no, Myrnin saw no reason why the sweatered woman would appear within the year. Or the next hundred. Who knew what had happened to her or why she’d changed Samuel only to abandon him? Because this wasn’t a perfectly laid out mystery, with all the answers to be found if you looked. Maybe they’d never know it all. It wasn’t even the goal to learn it all.
Myrnin leaned against the back of his chair, half closing his eyes again. Sam moved so much faster than he did. Some of the human part of a vampire still allowing him to learn and improve at a logical, unslowed pace, maybe. Living in months and years, instead of hundreds. Maybe there would even be a day when Myrnin could control his own nightmares as easily as Samuel could his. Or, as gloomy as the thought was, maybe Sam just hadn’t seen enough to have them that badly. Steepling his hands in front of him, Myrnin made a bit of a silent promise. That he would make sure that Samuel was as protected as he needed to be. He would do whatever he needed to ensure that the boy had as few bad dreams as possible. For as long as he felt he could.
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