Author's note: You may notice Charity has a few extra pounds on her. All of my postpartum sims get the "fat" body state until their babies are toddlers. It's just one of my rules. (wink)
To Fear the Dawn: Chapter 31
Warnings: Partial nudity, implied sex
After the older children left for school later that morning, Vidcund said they should all head down to the lab to perform the tests on Lucas.
The baby squinted, flinched, and cried a little as the direct sunlight hit him, which frightened Charity; however, although he seemed uncomfortable, he didn’t appear to be in any danger or excruciating pain.
Charity examined the baby worriedly, but she had no way of knowing if the direct sunlight had anything to do with his fussing or not. To her relief, however, once he was in the car and strapped into his car seat, he promptly went back to sleep, just like any other newborn.
As they drove to the lab, Charity realized this was only the beginning. She would never know if any of Luke’s behavior was because of his unusual condition or just... because.
Luke was an anomaly, and as such, there was no baseline; no standard of measure. She was grateful he was alive and doing well, at least for the time being, but she was also happy Vidcund suggested doing the laboratory tests on him. Much as she hated feeling as though her son was a scientific experiment, she knew it was for his own welfare.
Pascal decided he would draw the infant’s blood while Vidcund and Lazlo set up the lab equipment for the tests they wanted to run. He lay out everything he needed, indicating for Charity to sit in a chair opposite him, holding her son.
“He’s not going to like this,” Pascal warned as he prepared a small syringe, “but taking blood is the only way we can run some of these tests.”
“It’s okay, Pascal,” Charity said, holding Lucas securely on her lap. “We need to find out everything we possibly can.”
She looked away as Pascal inserted the small needle into what appeared to be an even smaller blood vessel, but she held her son steady as the enraged newborn screamed his displeasure.
“Well, there’s one thing that looks encouraging, Charity.” Pascal commented as he withdrew the syringe and stuck a small adhesive bandage on the wound. “Luke’s blood looks better than the blood I remember taking from Nervous when he was a vampire.”
“What do you mean?” asked Charity, holding her crying infant close to comfort him.
“See how dark this is?” Pascal asked, holding the small tube with the baby’s blood in it up to the light. “That’s the way normal blood looks. Nervous’ blood looked almost translucent, it was so much lighter. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t judge iron or platelet counts by vision alone, but I can tell you it looks encouraging.”
“That’s good,” Charity breathed, and settled herself to wait for the test results.
“Well, there’s good news and bad news,” Vidcund said somberly some time later. “...and as far as the bad news goes, how bad it is still remains to be seen.” He took a deep breath and sat down at one of the lab’s research tables with his wife and brothers, and spread the prints from all the tests in front of him. “...but I won’t lie to you, Charity. One of the things we found, I was really hoping we wouldn’t.”
“What?” Charity cried in alarm. “Tell me!”
“Luke has the virus present in his cells,” Vidcund said quietly, having decided it was better just to get the worst out in the open.
“Oh, Vidcund! Oh no!” Charity cried, covering her mouth.
“Hold on, hold on...” Vidcund said in a reassuring tone. “Remember when I said how bad it was remained to be seen? Well, the virus is present, but it’s not active. Not whatsoever. It’s encapsulated. Completely dormant.”
Charity looked at all three brothers in turn. “So... what does that mean?”
“Right now it means nothing is happening,” Lazlo said. “The virus is in there, but it’s not doing a damn thing. We don’t even think it can be passed on right now... not unless something triggers it..."
“The problem is,” Pascal interrupted, “is that we don’t know what, if anything, would act as that trigger.”
He turned to Charity. “When we did these same tests on the cells of an active vampire, those viruses were replicating so fast it was like they were doubling before our eyes. In Luke’s cells, they’re just... there. Not active, but not dead. Just... waiting.”
“So any time, if something triggers the virus, he could just....Turn?” Charity whispered in horror. “With no warning? Just like that?”
Vidcund shook his head. “There’s more to it than that. The other vampires’ tissues were also significantly different than Luke’s. Even notwithstanding the effects of the virus. We’re talking fundamental, physiological differences that could not be accounted for any other way.”
He stood up and began to walk back and forth while he spoke. “The good news I told you about? Luke has none of those differences. As far as all his tests are concerned, he’s completely human. His nutritional needs are the same as ours. His blood counts are within normal range. His organ functions are perfect...”
“Basically,” Pascal said, “Luke is a human carrier of a dormant form of the virus, which is something that’s never happened before. Ever. So even if the virus does become active, say, during the hormonal changes of puberty, we don’t know what it will do to him, if anything at all. We’ll just need to watch him as he grows and note any changes.”
Charity bowed her head and cried softly, unable to speak.
Vidcund stood up, walked over to his wife and gave her a gentle squeeze. “Charity, for the most part, the news is good,” he whispered. “For all intents and purposes, he’s a normal boy. All that anemia you had during your pregnancy? It was only that. Anemia during pregnancy, and nothing more. Luke didn’t cause it. He’s as normal as he can be, Charity. And until something happens that makes him otherwise, if it ever does, we should just treat him that way.”
Charity sighed and gulped back her tears. “Vidcund, I don’t know what I would do without you.” She rested her head on his shoulder gently. “You’ve done so much for me. I love you so much and I hate the fact that your life will forever be altered because of all this! He’s not even your child...!”
“He is as far as I’m concerned.” Vidcund said firmly. “Why do you think it was so important to me that we be married before he was born? Charity, I will be by your side through this, no matter what happens,” He wrapped his arms around her, reassuring her the best way he could. “Oh, Charity... I love you more than you can possibly know...”
Some time later, after she had sufficiently recovered from Luke’s birth, Charity did realize the depth of her husband’s love for her, and it took her breath away.
Yes, she and Vidcund were husband and wife now, but before all that, they had been companions, house-mates, friends... they had shared the same breakfast table, seen each other in their underwear, cleaned up after each other, and had too many conversations to count.
With Reginald, Charity felt she had been swept completely off her feet, and although she knew more than a little of the vampire’s powers of persuasion had been involved at first, she had truly loved Reginald. When they had been together as husband and wife, she felt she had wanted nothing more.
Now she realized she had not known truly how much more there could be.
With all the history between Charity and Vidcund, and the depth of the love they shared, they lost themselves together as they gently and lovingly reached the ultimate mating of heart, soul, mind and flesh.
Vidcund realized, with a feeling of satisfaction, that experience didn’t matter one bit when there was enough love involved.
His heart told him everything he needed to know.
To Be Continued…