Family Demons

by Vanzetti

Julian doesn't know much about demons, but he has a talent for killing. Connor can appreciate that.  He just wishes that Julian would turn on the central heating a little more often.  His cellphone is ringing, and it's in his jacket, which is all the way across the bedroom.  The floor is going to be like ice.

He says as much to Julian.  "Don't be such an American," Julian says.  "And put the kettle on while you're up."

The floor is like ice, and by the time he gets to his jacket the phone has stopped ringing.  Once downstairs, he ignores the electric kettle and starts the coffeemaker which is his one contribution to the household; he listens to the message while it drips, and wonders whether he should go up and tell Julian the bad news.

"You look grim," Julian says, when he finally makes it downstairs.  Fully clothed, Connor notes, and wearing a sweater.  The need to wear sweaters indoors is one of the things Connor dislikes about Oxford.

"My father wants to visit," he says.  "My real father."

"Ah," Julian says.  "The vampire."

Connor supposes that one of the benefits of having met Julian while fighting zombies in the Westgate Centre parking garage is that they got all the weirdness out of the way early on.  "The vampire," he says.

"And the problem is?"

Connor stares out the kitchen window into the tiny garden, but he can still hear Julian moving around behind him.  "I needn't be here," Julian offers. "You can always pretend that you live in college."

"It's not that," Connor says.  "It's not you."

"We could have him killed," Julian says.  "Vampires aren't terribly difficult."

"I think we've already been through that phase in our relationship."

"Do you think he's a threat to you?"

Connor shrugs.  "He's OK.  He has a soul."

"If you're not trying to kill him, and he's not trying to kill you, what's the difficulty?"  Julian, Connor sometimes thinks, has a refreshingly simple view of human relationships.  "We'll take him out to dinner at...  Can we take him out to dinner?"

Connor rolls his eyes, and then turns around because the expression is wasted while he has his back to Julian.  "He'll start bossing me around," he says.  "Just wait.  It'll be the end of the world or something, and he'll be telling me to go hide somewhere safe."

"Or you could take him to deal with that nest of Hrothmarl demons up in Headington Quarry."  Julian pauses, as if in thought.  "Perhaps I will be out of town when he visits."

"I was thinking of going up to Headington Quarry tonight."

"I have a business engagement.  In Marseilles."  Julian doesn't sound at all sorry.


"You know that I'm not averse to killing.  It's the slime that bothers me."

Connor shrugs.  "Fine.  Whatever.  He'll be here next week.  Thursday.  You won't be in Marseilles then, will you?"

"You aren't seriously planning to introduce me to your father."

"Why not?"


"There won't be any slime," he points out.  "And he can't object to your job."  He waits until Julian starts to smile; the coffee is ready now and the sun is warm, falling through the window on his back.


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