I never would have imagined that an impromptu dance party with only five participants could have lasted for several hours, but that was exactly what happened after Emma went down to her room. Aaliyah assured me that the soundproofing between floors was more than adequate for keeping the noise from disturbing Emma, and who would really know better?
Though Mila looked very similar to Alma in her new body, dancing with her made the differences more apparent to me. Mila’s hand felt fragile in comparison. She was agile, but her movements didn’t seem quite as graceful to my eye, though I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference just a day ago. Even while concerned for my life earlier this night, I had been captivated with the beauty of Alma’s deadly movements as she fought me. There never seemed to be wasted motion, and she continuously used spells to support her movement, something I hadn’t really realized before. Now I could remember every last spell I saw her cast, even though I wasn’t certain what all of them did. Mila’s lack of magic was another obvious difference between the two. Even as soft as Mila’s skin seemed, I knew Alma’s was softer. Everything I touched was so different to me now.
Cosette, for example, had a pulse, which I hadn’t expected to feel in a vampire’s hand. Despite being fabricated by Aaliyah and Jarod, Mila actually had a pulse due to a type of circulatory system that Aaliyah had made for her. When I asked Cosette about hers, she claimed that all vampires have a pulse, but their hearts beat extremely slowly most of the time, especially the hearts of older vampires. A vampire’s heartbeat, she explained, was tied to their magic. Every beat circulated the magic in her blood, allowing the use of her numerous abilities. The more magic being used, the more her heart must beat. Older vampires could use magic much more efficiently and could also store more magic in their blood, so ones as old as her father was might only have one heartbeat per hour.
Cosette’s heart was beating like an Olympic athlete at rest because she was showing off as she danced. She shrunk her body when she danced with Aaliyah, grew slightly taller to dance with me, and duplicated Mila’s appearance when dancing with her. For Portentia, she kept her normal form, completely shocked by Portentia’s lack of a heartbeat, as she claimed there was one when she had fed.
I was still impressed with how well Portentia learned to dance when she could only go off her partner’s pace and the flashing lights provided by Mila’s dance software displayed on the mirrors. Well, there were vibrations from the music with how loud it was, but that didn’t detract from how impressed I was in the least.
Aaliyah’s grace still impressed me despite all I knew about her now. Her dancing was perfection given form, every movement being as filled with expression as it was beautiful. Even now that I was able to see things so much more clearly, she never misstepped or faltered in the slightest. Who would ever have thought that literally dancing with Death would be so entertaining?
“Master, you should probably change clothes and head to breakfast. Marco will have food prepared in seven minutes. You are scheduled to give your normal instruction this morning, though we might need to switch to the employee recreation center if the evil twins don’t give Cosette permission to use their gym.” stated Mila when the music suddenly stopped.
“Oh. Fair point. I best be on my way then.” I replied. I was shocked that I still didn’t feel remotely exhausted yet, since I had been up since the previous morning. Turning to the others, I told them “Thank you, everyone, for the lovely time.” Then I asked Aaliyah “Care for me to come back this way on my way to the kitchen, or should I just meet you there?”
She tapped her chin for a moment as if in thought, and then told me “I’ll go to the kitchen with Cosette. I bet she’d love to try Marco’s cooking!”
“Wait. What? She eats food?” I asked.
“I’m perfectly capable of eating, yes. See, I have teeth.” replied Cosette, very large fangs now prominent in her open mouth. She giggled, and said, “Sorry. Vampire humor.” Then her teeth shrank back to human proportions. “You’d be amazed what my parents saved on dental work.”
Despite her joke, the sadness over the loss of her parents was evident in her voice. I could only imagine how much time she’d need to really get feeling better. “I bet, but you still won’t get paid extra for not making use of our dental plan.” I told her with a wink.
She laughed and said, “You’re as bad as Aaliyah, ruining my perfectly good plans before I can get started. In all seriousness, I can consume human food just fine. I simply don’t get any nutritional value from it. As long as I keep my tongue active, I do get to enjoy the flavor as well.”
“Umm… Keep your tongue active?” I asked.
“Well, I’ve been told I’m an amazing kisser, so I suppose I can demonstrate.” she replied, stepping toward me.
“What!? That has nothing to do with eating.” I told her.
“For a vampire, it can.” she claimed with a smile.
“Vampires have a great deal of control over their bodies, boss-man, sir. She can ‘turn off’ her taste buds. Vampires keep a large number of their organs inactive to conserve energy.” explained Aaliyah.
“Generally speaking, it’s just easier as well. Keeping things active takes concentration. You wouldn’t believe how difficult carrying a baby is for a vampire. I have huge respect for my mother.” added Cosette.
Aaliyah walked over and hugged Cosette at that point.
“Ah. I see. I really must be going though. I’ll meet you both in the kitchen.” I told them.
“I’m going too.” stated Portentia.
“Well, the three of you. Sorry. See you soon!” I replied before heading toward the door with Mila following closely behind.
“You really don’t need to come along, Mila.” I told her on the way.
“But master, I can finally help you change!” complained Mila.
“Absolutely not.” I told her.
“Why not, master? I obviously won’t be seeing anything new. I’m certain that I’ll make things more efficient for you as well.” she explained.
“As reasonable as that may be, I’m uncomfortable with the idea, so please keep your new body out of the room when I’m not dressed.” I replied.
Mila sounded disappointed as she said, “As you wish, master, but do tell me as soon as you change your mind. If you won’t allow me to assist, you may want to pick up the pace, so you won’t keep the others waiting.”
I did agree with the last part at least, so I sped up, arriving inside my room a moment later. Mila couldn’t even come close to keeping up with me, though she had the door waiting open electronically, and I was able to change my clothes before she arrived.
“How fast can you run?” I asked as we headed back downstairs.
“Not nearly as fast as you, master, though I can easily outpace most humans. Jarod and I still have ideas to test for improvements, but there are inherent limitations with this human form for speed if I am to arrive completely intact. I would postulate that your body now utilizes magic in countless ways you couldn’t before.” she explained.
“Why do you say my body is utilizing magic in new ways?” I asked.
Then she told me “For example, I detected no increase in heat when you ran up here, but your speed should have generated sufficient friction for my sensors to detect some. My pressure sensors didn’t detect sufficient pressure for your jumps when you took the stairs a flight at a time, yet you obviously succeeded.”
“I see.” I told her as I wondered what else I’d discover about myself.
We caught up with Cosette, Aaliyah, and Portentia just before they reached the kitchen, and I soon found that most everyone was taking breakfast in the kitchen this morning. By the sour expressions Ai and Mai gave Cosette, I was certain Alma had already mentioned her presence to them. Convincing everyone to get along was still going to take some work.