Agnes' revelation about the identity of Sherman Potter's father floored him. For not only had Andrew Potter been a vampire--not only had he been cured of his condition--Nick's eternal goal--but 'Andrew Potter' had been none other than Andre', the son of his dear sister Fleur.
"Did he mention why I brought him over?"
"Andy told me that he attacked you, and that in defending yourself, you mortally wounded him. That you did it to save his life."
Agnes could easily read the look on Nick's face.
"There's more, isn't there?"
"Yes. There is a great deal more."
The tale was painful, but this woman was Nick's own kin, and she deserved to know as much of the truth as he could tell.
"By 1255, Andre had finally accepted what I had become. Mind you, he didn't like it--but we had an understanding."
Agnes was confused.
"His version had led me to believe that he attacked you out of hatred for your being a vampire."
"I'm not surprised that's what he told you. No, he came prepared to destroy me. But not over what I am. You see, he had found out that Fleur's husband was not his father. My sister never told me who was, but Andre had his suspicions. Among the suspects--myself."
"He asked me whether I had now added incest to my repretoire. I told him quite firmly that I had not. Still, he thought certain that I at least knew who it was. A young man in those times would stop at nothing to find out who he truly was. That was when he attacked me."
Agnes was crying.
"Keeping the secret--the secrets--from Sherman was always a source of pain for my Andy. Now I know why."
Now Nick asked a very painful question.
"Agnes--how did my nephew finally die?"
Nick expected to hear about a thresher, a mad bull, or some very mortal aspect of life. But that was not what had happened.
"Andy was very upset when Sherman snuck off and joined the Army. We both were. It was and is important to us that Sherman's attraction to blood be directed in a positive manner."
"His attraction to blood?"
"Well, yes. I mean, there's the vampire in Andy, cure or no cure, and my life as a Slayer. Slayers are drawn to spilt blood. It tells us--told me--where our quarry is. While a Slayer's mantle may not be inherited, and a male child can never be one--something of it does carry over to the children. In unusual circumstances--like mine--the child is truly gifted. Mother Russell said that Sherman would either become a great healer and born leader of men---or a Great Destroyer. That was why Kronopoulis sought him out. That monster knew how easily my boy's spirit could be twisted."
"You Know About 'The Boys From Golgotha'?"
Her eyes and voice gained a disturbingly familiar flavor.
"Nicholas, there is very little my son can do that I am not aware of."
Startled, Nick steered the conversation back.
"Agnes--the matter of Andre's death--"
"Yes. His rage was enormous. I'd never seen him like that before. Then, I remembered Mammy saying that I should avoid making Andrew truly angry-- Because I wouldn't care for the results. But Sherman was a boy, and boys defy their parents. What happened next was no one's fault--except mine, for being so blasted naive. Nick---Andre' reverted."
"As a vampire is, when newly born. Hungry--and feral. Except it didn't pass. And cow's blood was not an acceptable substitute. He dragged me down to the basement. He drained me badly. I found the shotgun. It was all done quickly. Then---I died. Using what Mammy had taught me, I skipped my own craziness. A Slayer must live with the expectation that one day you might wake up across. Since then---I've waited for my son's return. It was two years before he wrote me, after he left--he was afraid we'd disowned him."
There was another piece to all this, but Nick accepted that he would not find it on this day.
"Agnes--family or no, you are entrusting me with a fair amount of your secrets. May I ask why?"
She took his hand in hers.
"He needs guidance, Nick. Guidance from someone who knows the allure of blood and why it should be fought. Will you, my boy's great-uncle, serve as the big brother he needed but never had?"
Real family, and full acceptance. The hint of a cure. Running away from what he was while fulfilling Lacroix's wishes. Nick's answer was pre-ordained.
"Of course. We'll start by having him look at college, and then, perhaps, medical school. Lets try and fulfill Mrs. Russell's predictions. The Army can be a help, there. What it can't or won't do-I will."
Agnes smiled. Her hunger for her son's happiness was stronger than any other desire---for now.
"Nick---I have a bit of a surprise for Sherman--a good one. For this upcoming night. We can go upstairs now. Teresa closes all the drapes and windows by 9, after the town gossips have gone to market."
Later, Nick undertook the thankless task of getting Sherm ready for Agnes' surprise.
"Aw, Nick! I've been knee-deep in the dead, swimming in an inferno for two years. Why does Mother want me all gussied up, all of a sudden?"
"Don't look at me, Sherman. She runs this house, after all."
"So ya think my idea about medical school down the road is a good one?"
"Absolutely. The fact is, that Doctor Braymore you worked under is an instructor at a very prestigious one. I'll speak to him for you."
He stood, dressed in his best.
"How do I look, Count?"
"Don't Call Me Count. And, you still need to do something."
Nick shouted in Sherman's face.
Sherm relaxed, but only reluctantly.
"Reserve or no, Nick--I'm still a soldier."
"Then lets just leave those army boots under the bed for tonight--deal?"
"Why the grin?"
"Nick---Don't tell Mother---but I always wished I had a big brother. Silly, huh?"
Nick straightened his tie.
"Family is everything, Sherm."
Down the stairs they went, to Agnes standing by an opened front door. Sherm was understandably suspicious.
"All Right, Mother---What Are You Up To?"
She motioned towards the door, and out from the side came the most beautiful woman Sherman had ever seen. And he would always feel that way.
"Sherman Potter----Meet Mildred Finch."
Looking the knockout, sweet-faced girl over, Sherm finally understood what Captain Truman had been saying about his Bess. She liked what she saw, as well. Agnes indeed knew her boy. Mildred just bubbled with enthusiasm.
"Let's Face It, Doughboy---You Just Hit The Jackpot!"