“Where the hell are my pants?”
The boys, in the middle of unpacking the last of their possessions brought over from the cave, looked up as David stormed into the room. He was dressed the same as always, except for the absence of pants.
“Well? Where are they?”
Paul looked at the region where the pants should be and began laughing like a lunatic. “Dude, you have a huge smiley face across your ass!”
“What the hell?” They’d looked plain white when he put them on. David twisted around to look, and yes, there was a round, grinning, yellow smiley face in a place where he did not want same.
“Where did these come from?”
“The drawer,” Dwayne pointed out. He held up a tie-dyed shirt. “Whose do you think this is supposed to be?”
“I’m not wearin’ that thing!” Paul declared.
“Me either,” said Marko.
David was not happy. Where did these unwanted new clothes come from? And where were his pants? Come to think of it, his jacket had gone missing, too.
“Oh, you found them!” Lucy Emerson came into what had formerly been the spare bedroom, carrying a stack of dark clothes. “I hope they fit--I had to guess at the sizes.”
She put the clothes down on the closest of the twin beds. “I washed your things for you. And honey,” she said to David, who probably hadn’t been called “honey” since he was five years old (and never mind how long ago that was), “I fixed that hole in your jacket. All good as new.”
Now was as good a time as any to say what had to be said. “Lucy,” he said, “we’re grateful to you for letting us stay here and all, but . . . why is there a happy face on my . . . briefs?”
“I think they’re cute!”
“See, that’s the thing. Cute and vampires don’t mix.”
She waved a hand dismissively. “It’s not like anyone will ever see them! Not unless you make a habit of losing your pants.”
“That’s not the point. I know it’s there. It’s hard to be taken seriously when you have smiley-face briefs on. Max always said that clothes make the man.”
Lucy’s expression went dark. “I thought we weren’t going to talk about him.”
“The point I’m trying to make is, thanks for thinking of us, but we’ll stick to basic black.”
He picked up the offending tie-dye shirt and handed it to her. “I just don’t think this works with the rest of our wardrobe.”
“I was just trying to help! I thought you’d like new things! Your old ones are falling apart!” She threw her hands up in the air. “Fine! Next time, I’ll take you shopping with me, and you can pick out what you like! Okay?”
It sounded like a fair compromise. “Okay,” David said. He grabbed his pants from the pile of clothes. “Do you mind?”
“Huh? Oh, sure.” Lucy closed the door behind her.
“Is she for real or what?” Paul exclaimed. He dug through the pile, tossing clothes left and right, to find his favorite mesh T-shirt.
“She’s a nice lady,” David said. He tugged the pants over his hips and zipped them up. Wonderful invention, the zipper. So much more efficient than having to do up a row of buttons every time.
“No one is that fucking nice. What’s she up to?”
“She’s not ‘up to’ anything! She’s just nice, okay?” David’s expression turned very dark. “Don’t screw up the good thing we’ve got going here. Out there, without an Alpha, how long do you think we’d last?”
Marko stared at him in confusion. “I thought you were our Alpha.”
“We didn’t have the Ceremony! It’s not official without the Ceremony!”
“Are we having a Ceremony?” Dwayne asked. “I’ll get the candles and the cup.”
David wondered where, exactly, he’d lost control of this whole situation. “Forget it! Just forget it!”
“But you said--“
“I’ll figure out something. You do realize, gentlemen, that this is an unprecedented situation in the history of our kind. No pack has ever had a human Alpha before.”
“But he killed Max!” said Marko.
“That’s what makes this so tricky. Under pack law, the one who kills off the old Alpha becomes the new Alpha. Our problem is . . . we had human intervention.”
Dwayne looked at him, comprehension dawning on his face. “We can’t have a real Ceremony without turning him . . . and only the Alpha can create a new vampire.”
“Exactly my point.”
“Well, what are you gonna do?” asked Paul.
That was a good question. What could they do?
And then, in a flash of inspiration, the solution presented itself. “You said we can’t have a real Ceremony,” David said to Dwayne.
David just smiled.
“Is this gonna take long? I was goin’ to bed!”
“It’s okay, Grandpa,” Michael said. “David knows what he’s doing.”
“I think this is creepy,” said Sam.
They were crowded into the kitchen, which was the only place David could draw a chalk circle wide enough. “Please take your places in the circle.”
“Honey, what is this all about?” Lucy asked.
“All will be explained,” he said cryptically. “Take your seats, and we will begin.”
They sat on the floor, humans and vampires together, as David turned the lights down and lit a row of candles on the counter. The kitchen filled with the smell of cinnamon and vanilla.
“Are those my good candles?” Lucy twisted around to get a better look. “Those cost three dollars apiece!”
“We only need them for a little while. It’s for the atmosphere.”
“I wish you’d ask before you went and used my things like that . . .”
“If they burn down, I’ll replace them. We shouldn’t be here that long.”
“I hope not. It’s almost eleven o’clock!”
“That early, huh?” He had planned to do all this at midnight, but humans and their unnecessarily early sleep schedules. Oh well, they would all have to make adjustments . . .
The Ceremony was supposed to be in the ancient language--that was what Damian had always done--but since none of the humans understood the ancient language, it would have to be in English. Max would have approved. His big thing was, as he put it, “bringing the old ways into modern times,” and that included the language. David had privately thought that Max was screwing up everything for no reason other than because he could, but he had to go along with it, like it or not.
“We gather here together,” he began the expedited version, “as one family, to welcome our new head of the household.”
“It’s my damn house,” Grandpa muttered.
“We are one life, one blood . . .”
“Gross!” said Sam, and Michael shushed him.
“With this cup,” he said, raising a hand-painted wine goblet he’d bought in a gift shop when he couldn’t find the original piece, “we drink of our oneness.”
“What the hell is that?” Dwayne whispered.
“The sacred cup. Our new sacred cup. Get the bottle out of the fridge.”
Dwayne took a glass bottle out of the refrigerator and put it on the counter. “This is totally fucked.”
“No one has to know. Sit down now, the good part’s starting.”
Dwayne sat back in his place. Nothing about this impromptu Ceremony was right, but there was nothing he could do about it.
David popped the top off the bottle. “Normally, at this point in the Ceremony, the Alpha would fill the sacred cup with his own blood, for all to share. But since this is a special circumstance, we made a slight adjustment.” He turned the bottle around so they could see the label. It was one of Grandpa’s root beers.
“All right, but from now on, you stay outa my shelf.”
“Sure, Grandpa.” He filled the cup with the dark liquid, which was totally the wrong consistency to even pretend it was blood. He should have bought some Hawaiian Punch or something; it would still be the wrong consistency, but at least the right color.
“Now we pass the cup around and share our oneness.”
The Alpha always drank first, so he handed the cup to Grandpa, who took a swig and passed it to Lucy.
“Is this safe?” she asked David, who had taken his place to the Alpha’s right.
“It’s just root beer. It’s perfectly safe.”
“Oh. Okay.” She took a tiny sip and passed it along.
Michael took the cup and raised it to his lips, thinking of the last time he had accepted a drink from David. He looked over at the vampire, whose blue eyes said, Trust me.
Having drunk, he passed it to his brother. Sam looked into the cup, which was still three-quarters full, and drank a big gulp. Then he wiped the rim of the cup with his sleeve and passed it along.
The vampires drank in their turn, with no qualms whatsoever. The cup made its way back to David, who drained the last drops. Damn, that’s good root beer. I know I promised not to, but I feel like stealing one. Maybe later.
He set the empty cup back on the counter. “Now,” he said, “we are one family. We stand together against all that threatens us.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Sam droned. “Can we go to bed now?”
David gave up. There was no point in continuing this farce any longer. “Sure. Pleasant dreams.”
“I thought it was very nice,” Lucy said. "Don't forget to blow the candles out."
Dwayne was shaking his head as the humans left the kitchen. “What exactly was the point of all that?”
“Now we have an Alpha. Even if he is human. And they know we’re on their side and won’t kill them in their sleep or anything.”
“You could have just told them that, without the theatrics.”
“It wouldn’t have been as fun.”
Dwayne just gave him a look. He had come to the Lost Boys from another, more conservative pack, and still clung to the old ways. But time would change all things, in the end.
“Let’s go out,” David announced to the boys. “I feel like dinner. How about you?”