Nikola reclined in Helen's chair, feet on her table as he counted the spiders making webs on her ceiling.
"Is there any possibility," she started, forced to retreat to the couch, "that you might refrain from doing that?" The reports in her hand kept sliding, getting themselves out of order despite her efforts. It was her fault – cheap paper. The Sanctuary had been put on a budget since the city pursued her for damages after an incident involving a certain werewolf on the loose.
"Never interrupt a genius," he hissed back, continuing his counting. "Not if you want their help."
"Firstly," Helen gave up on the files, throwing them onto the low coffee table where they flayed out and fell onto the floor in a mess, "it's a favour that you owe me and secondly, you're technically a dead genius and thus excluded from that clause."
Nikola sighed, recrossing his legs. Helen really wished that he wouldn't do that either. She hated cleaning rubber marks off the wood after his visits.
"He's late, as usual," said Nikola, glancing at the clock on the wall behind Helen. It was half-past eleven in the morning, a full two hours after the arranged time.
"You know John," replied Helen, moving to the silver drinks tray.
"Bit early?" Nikola was more amused than concerned. Indeed, his sideways grin appeared to beg for a glass.
"I am immortal," Helen pulled the stopper off the port, "it's not like it's going to kill me."
The liquor was on the lip of the crystal, threatening to trickle into the glass when the door bell echoed through the hallways. Helen straightened the decanter. "Oh well," she set it back down.
"An expedition?" John leant against the wall between the two windows. The curtains framed his height, lushly draped by his side. "Are you being serious?"
Will, Ashley, Helen and Nikola were scattered about the rest of the office. Ashley, like her father, chose to remain standing with her arms folded aggressively over her chest and her short, straight-cut blonde hair draped over the tops of her shoulders.
"Hunting expedition," she corrected her father. "Should be just your style."
"I see she has your tone, Helen," John smirked. "I don't mean to ask the obvious question – but why are we here?" He waved a hand vaguely in Nikola's direction.
"Believe it or not," began Helen, "these things are not easy to catch. They inhabit a unique and vicious ecosystem which I am hesitant to charge into, guns blazing."
"Claws though, you're okay with?" Nikola flashed his vampire side quickly for his own amusement. Ashley looked horrified by the transformation, having never seen a real vampire before.
"This was a bad idea..." Helen muttered. On their own, Nikola and John were perfectly presentable but in each other's company they devolved into primitives squabbling for something shiny – in this case, her. "I don't know what I was thinking."
"Wait a minute," Nikola slid his feet off the desk leaving a dark curved streak. "You brought us all the way down here," for him, at least, it had been a long sequence of planes, trains, buses and footpaths to Helen's door all of which he despised.
John, of course, had flashed into existence just outside the front gates. "It wasn't so far," he cut in.
"Nubbins," said Ashley suddenly, interrupting the two men. "We're hunting for Nubbins and mum says we need your help – whatever that might mean. She's usually right about these things, though."
"That a scientific name?" Nikola scoffed.
"No..." replied Ashley quietly, a little embarrassed.
"They're sinister enough," said Helen, "even for you Nikola."
"All right," he said, his voice turning to silk. "Where exactly will this hunt take place?"
He hadn't expected Helen's eyes to shine with such menace. He had forgotten the Helen that he had watched hunt monsters in her youth.
"Right here..." she whispered. "A colleague of mine sent me a shipment of abnormal creatures he wished me to study. They arrived and were left in the foyer - unattended. By the time I got home, they had gnawed their way out of the box and set themselves loose in the house."
"Henry's fault," Ashley added.
"That's enough, Ashley," her mother scorned. Her daughter had been having a go at poor Henry all day. "The short of it is, we have a pair – probably more by now, of very dangerous pests deciding best how to escape and cause mischief and if you keep smiling, Nikola, I will inform every secret organisation of your miraculous resurrection."
"Capture two small, rodent-like creatures?" John smiled. "Give Nikola and I an hour."
Helen was shaking her head. "We're all going to do this. I am not in the mood to sweep bits of you from the floor."