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Suck It and See

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“suck it and see”

 

British idiom, informal

 

Meaning: to try something in order to find out if it will be successful. 

 

 


 

Generally speaking, vampires aren’t fond of change. A lot of this, Guillermo thinks, comes down to their concept of time. When you’re undead, you can lose track of it pretty easily. After hundreds of years, it all starts to get a bit…compressed.

 

The best way he can think of to describe it is that for vampires, life is like one long and very confusing party. Not necessarily a bad party (there’s an open bar after all) but every five minutes people keep changing the music and bringing out new drinks. You’re just settling in with a good flagon of mead, listening to some talented young minstrel pluck at a lute, when suddenly someone hands you a pornstar martini and starts blasting ABBA. It’s not that you don’t like ABBA- it’s just that you were really wanted to see how that ballad about the lovely maiden and the goatherd was going to end. And if, if by some chance you were flexible enough to give ‘Dancing Queen’ a try, it won’t be long till someone switches it off and starts trying to sell you on the idea of Justin Timberlake.

 

It must be disorientating to say the least. When you’re an immortal you have to learn to hold on tight to the things you liked before they were snatched away by the relentless march of time.  Metaphorically this sometimes means barricading yourself in the kitchen with a gramophone, a plate of prawn canapes and a crate of the really good craft beer.

 

Vampires are by their nature, stubborn creatures. It’s difficult to take away something they’ve grown fond of. It’s even harder to take away something they’re used to. You’ll be prying their whalebone corsets and silk doublets from their cold dead hands.  Guillermo has first-hand experience of this from laundry day.

 

This isn’t a spur-of-the-moment theory. He’s had ten years of close encounters and daily observation to back this up. In his dark moments, he had always thought this was why his hopes of being made into a vampire were pretty much doomed from the outset. To them, ten years was nothing. A blip- a summer internship at best.

 

In his even darker moments, he had thought that this was the reason his mast- that Nandor would never see him as anything other than a familiar. Not because Nandor didn’t feel anything (right from the start Guillermo had always suspected that Nandor was at the very least fond of him) but because Nandor would simply never get around to it. Because Nandor was comfortable in their relationship as it was. And even if he did want to get Guillermo into bed (or in his case, coffin) he might be willing to repress that feeling if it meant keeping the status quo in place.

 

The thing about eternal life is that it makes it very easy to procrastinate. And for his mast- for Nandor, there was no rush.

 

Which is why Guillermo was surprised to learn, when the whole…thing between them comes to a head, that not only was Nandor willing to enter this new stage of their relationship, he was pretty fucking enthusiastic about the whole thing.

 

So enthusiastic in fact that, after they got through the mortifying stumbling proposition and into the really good bit involving tongues, the two of them don’t end up leaving Nandor’s bedroom for a solid three and a half days.

 

(When Guillermo tries to think back to what actually happened in that time, it’s very difficult to get a clear hold on what was actually involved. He knows he enjoyed it a lot, but beyond that it’s all a bit murky. The thing about vampire sex….is that it’s A Lot. A lot of interesting new positions for one. There’s the big advantage of not being restrained by the laws of gravity. It goes on lot longer as well- it’s the first sex Guillermo’s ever had that had scheduled breaks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It also for some reason involves a lot of red velvet, strange smoke and weirdest of all, a lot of emphasis on cuddling. That last one could be specific to Nandor of course. Guillermo can’t imagine Laszlo sighing happily into his hair. But then again, he didn’t really want to.)

 

 

But as good as the sex was, Guillermo knew that when it came to the other areas of their relationship, Nandor probably wasn’t going to be as flexible. Emotionally flexible that is. Which is why, around lunchtime on the fourth day of their lovemaking session, he comes up with The List.

 

“What are you writing?” Nandor asks him, head propped up on Guillermo’s shoulder. “Is it a love poem for me? I never knew you were such a romantic Guillermo.”

 

“It’s not a poem,” Guillermo tells him firmly. “It’s a list of chores.”

 

“Oh,” Nandor says, sounding put out. “Well that’s not romantic at all.”

 

Guillermo has to angle his head in a weird way to look at him. Nandor’s head is resting in the crook of Guillermo’s shoulder, face pressed into the soft spot.

 

 Once Guillermo would have thrilled to have Nandor’s teeth so close to his jugular. Even now he’s still sort of thrilled, just in a different way. Nandor’s hair has fallen down over Guillermo’s bare chest in a dark waterfall. It’s tickly but Guillermo doesn’t mind.

 

“It’s a list of chores that you’re going to help me with. Things are going to have to change around here. If you want this to work.” Here Guillermo faltered a little. “Is, um…is that what you want?”

 

“Of course, it is!” Nandor says and then, in something like a whine, “I thought I was making that pretty clear with all my excellent lovemaking.”

 

Guillermo smiles at him, feeling suddenly shy, which odd considering how they had spent the past few days. After some of the more…complicated positions, he’s surprised he’s still able to blush.

 

But Nandor must feel something like that too (even if blushing is literally impossible for him) because he’s not making eye contact, seemingly fascinated by the list in Guillermo’s hands.

 

“What does that say?” he says, jabbing a long finger at the page. “Why don’t you use proper calligraphy Guillermo? You know I find it hard to understand when the letters don’t join up.”

 

“Polish candlesticks,” Guillermo says, biting back the instinctive ‘sorry master’. “This are my daily tasks. I was thinking now that we’re… you know…. you could help me with them. To make things more fair.”

 

“Fair?” Nandor says, moving the word around in his mouth as if he’s struggling with the taste of it.

 

“I’m not going to sleep with you and do all the chores,” Guillermo says hotly. “For a start, I don’t have enough time.”

 

“Well what if you did all your duties in the daytime?”

 

“When would I sleep?”

 

Nandor scowls. “Well how long does that take you? One hour? Two?”

 

These days that was about right but it wasn’t something Guillermo was very happy about.

 

“This makes it fair,” he says again sternly. “Otherwise it’s… it’s exploitation. And not a healthy basis for a relationship.”

 

Nandor gave him a strange look; Guillermo tried to keep his face arranged in a way that didn’t reveal that this was lifted completely from the self-help book he had stashed under his mattress. He’s expecting Nandor to argue, or at least look hurt, but instead he just nods meekly.

 

“Okay then,” Nandor says. “If you’re sure you want me polishing candlesticks instead of polishing y-“

 

“I do!” Guillermo yelps and then stumbles to add. “I mean I am sure. At least, let’s start with the candlesticks.”

 

 


 

 

It’s not long before a new routine establishes itself. When the sun sets, Guillermo wakes Nandor up bright and early (or rather, dark and late) and the two of them try and get as much done as possible before the rest of the house begins to stir.

 

At first it takes a while for Nandor to get to grips with the concept of helping. He’s obviously much more comfortable delegating chores than actually doing them. When he finally does pick up the broom or starts dusting, he tends to act as if he’s doing it as a helpful demonstration to Guillermo of how it should be done (You see these curtains must be brushed downwards like so, you see, that way you can gather up all the webs as you go along. It’s very simple Guillermo. Guillermo? Guillermo are you looking at how I’m brushing?)

 

Guillermo had hoped that having two people do chores would speed things up but usually they’re lucky if they managed a room a day.

 

It’s not all annoying. A lot of the time is wasted just goofing off.

 

(Look at me vacuuming the ceiling Guillermo. I vant to suck up dust. Get it? Do you get the joke Guillermo?)

 

A lot more of the time it’s wasted having sex, and admittedly Guillermo is just as, if not more responsible for this. It turns out that Nandor is a lot less frustrating to deal with now that Guillermo can make out with him anytime he wants.

 

The biggest relief is not having to deal with the corpses by himself. That’s still the worst part of the job. It wasn’t just that they were heavy. It was the leaking.

 

“Do you ever think it’s kind of wasteful?” Guillermo asks as the two of them are mopping up one night. “Just to take the blood and nothing else?”

 

“Wasteful?” Nandor repeats, crossing his arms with a glare. The effect is somewhat ruined by the strawberry patterned apron he wears for cleaning. “That’s very rude. I don’t go around calling you wasteful. You know we can’t handle solids.”

 

“Well you could liquefy the rest,” Guillermo suggests and then instantly regrets it, thinking about having to pick all the bone chunks out of the smoothie machine.

 

Nandor makes a face of disgust, sticking his tongue out. “Well maybe you could eat the burger wrapper when you have McDonalds hmm? See how you like it.”

 

 


 

 

Some things didn’t change. By unspoken agreement, Guillermo still brushes Nandor’s hair. Now though, the noises Nandor made were less complain-ey and more appreciative. It was…nice. The whole thing was disturbingly nice actually.

 

It was a little bit like discovering his hidden ability to kill vampires; only this time he was discovering a hidden ability to be happy. Aside from the looming (and suddenly a lot more complicated) question of when Nandor was finally going to get around to turning him, things were on the whole going pretty well.

 

The only really hard part was trying to keep this new arrangement from the others

 

Part of Guillermo still isn’t sure why this was necessary.

 

“Is it a taboo?” he asks when it first comes up. “To sleep with a human?”

 

“A human? No. A familiar though?” Nandor makes a face. “It’s…well…it’s…”

 

“Forbidden?”

 

“Icky,” Nandor says decisively. “I guess you would say…disgusting.”

 

“But they know you’re fond of me,” Guillermo says. He frowns. “Don’t they?”

 

“Well yes,” Nandor admits. “Think of it like this. Imagine your friend has a very cute little pet bunny…”

 

Guillermo scowls and says nothing.

 

“Well,” Nandor goes on quickly. “You would think it was fine for your friend to be fond of the bunny, yes? But if you found out that your friend was having sex with it….”

 

“I’m not a bunny,” Guillermo says in a dangerous voice. “You know that don’t you? Please tell me you know that.”

 

Nandor waves his arm, with a flourish of cape.  “Yes, yes, well that was just a metaphor. But you see the point?”

 

“You think they might what…laugh at you?”

 

“I think they would confiscate the bunny,” Nandor says, with wide eyes. “If you know what I mean.”

 

“…I do.”

 

“I mean they would probably kill-“

 

“Yeah, okay, I get it. So, what, we just keep this hidden for now? Until you turn me?”

 

“Yes,” Nandor say, “Definitely. Until then.”

 

But even as he says it, his eyes skitter and slide away. If this thing between them weren’t so new…so fragile…then Guillermo might push a little harder. As it was, he just holds his tongue and thinks, wait. Just a little longer. I’ll ask again tomorrow.

 


 

 

Tomorrow comes and goes and then there’s another tomorrow and another…

 

Part of the trouble was that all the sex makes it so much easier to get distracted. Sometimes Guillermo suspects Nandor is doing it on purpose. In the old days, all Nandor had to do was say something like ‘wow Guillermo your neck is looking particularly appetising tonight’ and Guillermo would hop to do whatever was required. But now Nandor is actively trying to avoid the topic. Now whenever the topic comes up bats his eyelashes and says something like ‘wow Guillermo aren’t I looking particularly appetising tonight?’ and then Guillermo ends up forgetting all about it for at least the next three hours.

 

 

(The thing about sex with Nandor is that he really tries. He might be a show-off and an annoying stickler for detail but in the bedroom, these have turned out to be unexpected qualities. He approaches sex in the same way he had approached making that awful anniversary picture: with a fierce intensity and often, way too much glitter. He always wants to impress but specifically, he always wants to impress Guillermo. He was still very bossy, but that was alright. In fact, Guillermo quite likes that. With other people, he had always had the vague feeling that he was doing something wrong. Having Nandor give him a running commentary on his technique was not only quite helpful but also surprisingly, not a turn off. Quite the opposite in fact.)

 

 

There are other distractions too, which aren’t as sexy. For some reason Nandor is very keen on the idea of Date Night. Sometimes, this is fun. There’s something surprisingly beautiful about going to the beach at night, with the waves crashing in the dark and the lights glimmering of the water. It’s a lot colder of course, but there aren’t as many tourists or small children running around to knock over your sandcastles. Sometimes other couples had the same idea of course, but in what Guillermo thinks is a touching display of romance, Nandor hardly ever eats them.

 

Some nights though, Nandor gets to choose what they do, which usually turns into another marathon of the Twilight movies. It’s not that Guillermo hates Twilight but honestly it feels stupid to watch it over and over when Interview With a Vampire is right there on amazon prime. Plus, even after four re-watches, the weird CGI baby still freaks him out.

 

It’s almost a relief when, halfway through New Moon on a Tuesday night, they hear Laszlo shouting from the other room.

 

“Should we go and check on him?” Guillermo asks, peering at the door from under Nandor’s arm.

 

“But this is the scene where Edward and Bella are reunited,” Nandor protests, his voice suspiciously thick. When Guillermo squints at him, he can’t help but notice a distinctly wet sheen around his eyes.

 

“I think we should go and check,” Guillermo says hurriedly.

 

There’s the sound of something bellowing next door; it could be Laszlo, if Laszlo was having a tantrum and a particularly bad cold. It gets louder and more animalistic as they get closer; on top of it is the sound of Nadja shrieking. 


“It’s just a row,” Nandor whispers loudly. “We should go away before we get dragged in.”

 

Guillermo isn’t sure though. His hand itches for a stake, but they’re all in his minifridge. It’s felt wrong to carry them around recently. It tends to make Nandor nervous when they fell out of Guillermo’s jacket when they were getting undressed.

 

“Stay still you beautiful beast,” he hears Laszlo shout. “I have no quarrel with you. Ow, goddamnit, that hurt like a motherfu-“

 

“Definitely a row,” Nandor says darkly. “You’d rather do this than watch Micheal Sheen with his nice long hair?”

 

“I think that was a wig,” Guillermo hisses back. “Look, let’s just check and then we can go…”

 

 As they emerge into the entrance hall, Guillermo has a brief sudden impression of something huge and furry and black barrelling towards him, fangs gaping open, claws outstretched. At the last moment, Nandor’s arm wraps around his waist and pulls him up into the air, out of the way. The…whatever it was, snarls and disappears around a corner.

 

“Really Laszlo…” Nandor whines as they float back to earth. “We can’t have big hairy animals running around all over the place…what if it sheds on the sofa?”

 

“Was that a werewolf?” Guillermo asks shakily, heart still pounding.  

 

“Werewolf?” Laszlo says contemptuously and then spits on the floor in disgust. “Of course, it wasn’t a bloody werewolf. You think I’d let one of those filthy bastards in here? No, that, my friends is a genuine ursus americanus.”

 

“A what now?” Guillermo asks, baffled.

 

“It’s a bloody great bear is what it is,” Nadja announces petulantly from the upper landing. “And you can’t fucking keep it Laszlo I already told you.”

 

“Actually, I think you’ll find I am fucking keeping it,” Laszlo snaps, and then as an afterthought adds, “My sweet darling.”

 

“It smells, Laszlo, it’s really horrible, get it out of here. If you want a pet just get a raven or something traditional.”

 

As they start to bicker, Nandor leans over to Guillermo and whispers accusingly, “We could be starting Eclipse right now. That’s the one where they get engaged.”

 

Before Guillermo can answer, there’s a loud crash and a roar from down the corridor. It’s loud enough to make Laszlo and Nadja stop mid-argument which pretty much unprecedented. They all swivel their heads to look and then a moment later, Colin Robinson appears from the direction of the crash, looking slightly more rumpled than usual.

 

“Hey guys,” he says. “Having bear problems huh?”

 

“Just a minor hiccup,” Laszlo says. “Soon she’ll feel just like part of the family.”

 

He says this with extreme confidence considering they can all hear the sound of the bear tearing apart what sounds like the Second Fanciest Room.

 

“Oh, and who’s going to feed it Laszlo? And clean up after it?” Nadja asks, crossing her arms. “Because we all know you’re just going to forget in a week’s time. I don’t want a bloody great bear wandering around trying to eat me all the time.”

 

“I’m confident she wouldn’t eat you my treasure,” Laszlo says reassuringly. “It wouldn’t dare. And don’t worry about the rest- we have Gizmo to take care of that.”

 

Guillermo has a sudden vivid image of what his life would become if the bear stayed. If it was a film, it would have been rated NC-17 for violence.

 

He shoots Nandor an alarmed look. Nandor rubs the back of his head sheepishly.

 

“Maybe..um…maybe that’s not such a good idea,” Nandor suggests hesitantly. “Maybe Guillermo doesn’t have to look after it all the time. Not on the weekends maybe.”

 

Guillermo elbows him hard in the ribs and Nandor winces.

 

“Or maybe not at all,” he says quickly.

 

“You want to take away my faithful companion?” Laszlo says, puffing up his chest. “My one true comfort in this barren world?  Bollocks to that.”

 

“Your one comfort?” Nadja asks shrilly. “Well that’s very nice of you Laszlo, thank you so much for that. You’ve only had this mangy creature for five minutes.”

 

“You know,” Colin Robinson says thoughtfully. “Fewer than one in a million bears will attack humans. Or maybe that’s just black bears…It’s actually fascinating how many different variations there are in the species. There’s the grizzly, the sun bear, the sloth bear and of course, my favourite, the koala. Of course, the koala bear isn’t actually a bear, it’s a marsupial…”

 

At this point Nandor and Guillermo make a tactical exit. Colin Robinson seems perfectly content droning away at Nadja and Laszlo, whose fight is starting to reach terrifying new levels of volume.

 

“We aren’t really going to keep it are we?” Guillermo asks anxiously when they’re alone.

 

“No. I don’t think Nadja would allow it. She seems pretty pissed.”

 

“Um. Thanks,” Guillermo says, feeling suddenly shy. “For sticking up for me back there.”

 

“Well I can’t have you eaten by some wild animal,” Nandor says, looking equally awkward. “And besides, I hate bears. I used to have a pet one back when I was ruling Al Quolanudar. It once bit my fourth favourite wife. Very annoying creature. Very grumpy.”

 

“Well, I appreciate it,” Guillermo says warmly.

 

He really did. Back in the old days, Nandor probably wouldn’t have thought twice before sending him off to try and house-train a 700-pound predator.

 

It was the little things really, that make the difference.

 


 

Maybe things would carried on like that if it hadn’t been for the bed.

 

It turns out, for all Guillermo’s childhood fantasies, sleeping in a coffin is actually a lot less cool than it seems. For a start, it’s pretty claustrophobic, especially when you’re sharing. Guillermo’s always been a restless sleeper and has a tendency to jump at strange noises in the night. When there’s three inches of solid oak panelling just above your nose this leads to a lot of injuries.

 

Of course, this wouldn’t be an issue if Nandor wasn’t so clingy. Spending the night together was something he insisted on right from the start, which was difficult for Guillermo because a vampire version of ‘spending the night’ translated to being stuck in a wooden box from about 5AM to 8PM next to what was essentially an unmoving corpse. Around noon on the first day, Guillermo had tried to sneak out for lunch but as he was prying up the lid, he suddenly realised he couldn’t remember if he had closed the curtains properly.

 

The thought of accidently immolating Nandor right after they had finally gotten to third base was too much for him, and in the end he had to just wait it out, listening to his stomach rumble in the dark.  

 

They tried using Guillermo’s bed of course, but they could only sort of manage to fit if Nandor was sort of hovering in mid-air. The trouble was of course that it was barely big enough for Guillermo on his own, let alone Guillermo plus a full-grown vampire plus his full-length fur trimmed velvet cloak.

 

In the end they decide to go and pick out a new one from IKEA.

 

This is strangely enough, Nandor’s suggestion and more than that, he was worryingly enthusiastic about the whole expedition. He insists on coming along, even though that only gives them a two-hour window in between sunset and closing time. Guillermo has never liked IKEA; all the bright lights and pinewood make him twitchy. When they get there, he tries to make a beeline through the display area, a slip of paper marked KVALFJORD clutched in his increasingly sweaty hand. Guillermo had spent a lot of time researching and he already knows exactly where it is in the warehouse. The only trouble is that Nandor keeps wandering off along the way.

 

Guillermo suspects it might have something to do with the novelty of the little show rooms. Nandor is seemingly delighted by the fact he doesn’t have to be invited in. Not once but three times on their way through the store, Guillermo loses sight of him, only to find him examining some piece of homeware with an air of fascinated reverence. 

 

“Oh, look Guillermo, these pasta spoons have a little dragon on them isn’t that sweet? Do we need a new pasta spoon do you know?”

 

“Guillermo, look, this coffee table is called an ODMJUK. I once knew a blacksmith called Odmjuk back in the 15th century- do you think he had something to do with it?”

 

 

By the time they finally get back to the house Guillermo is already exhausted and ready to go and lie in a dark room for the rest of the night . Unfortunately, Nandor insists that they try to assemble the stupid thing right there and then.

 

It’s not long before Guillermo is starting to look back at the IKEA showroom with something almost like nostalgia. Things take a turn for the worse almost immediately when Nandor decides they don’t need the instructions.

 

“Really Guillermo,” he huffs. “I used to build empires and you think I can’t put together a measly little bed?”

 

Guillermo refrains from mentioning that from the sound of it, Nandor had spent a lot more time burning empires to the ground instead of doing anything particularly helpful in the way of improving infrastructure. Instead he just tries tactfully to suggest that maybe Nandor shouldn’t be using his vampiric super-strength to bend pieces into the right shapes.

 

The man at the checkout desk had told them cheerfully that it shouldn’t take more than an hour to finish. Five hours after starting, surrounded by loose timber and  Allen keys, Guillermo is tempted to just stake them both through the heart and be done with the whole thing.  To make matters worse, as if smelling fresh blood in the water, at some point Colin Robinson had materialised and set himself up in a corner to observe and call out the occasional helpful piece of advice.

 

Still, Guillermo thinks gloomily, at least someone is having fun.

 

“You know what?” Guillermo says at last, voice frayed. “I can just sleep on the floor. It’s fine.”

 

“No,” Nandor says firmly. “Just hold on a moment…I almost have it….”

 

The pieces he’s trying to manoeuvre together snap with a sudden sickening splinter of wood. Guillermo draws in a sharp breath and watched Nandor’s eyes flash red.



“Fucking thing,” Nandor says, with extreme feeling.

 

“Whoopsy,” Colin Robinson says cheerfully. “Looks like an important piece too. No worries though. You just have to ring up the company and they’ll send you out a replacement. Should be about three or four working days. Of course, the real challenge is getting through to the customer helpline-“

 

Guillermo looks over at Nandor while Colin Robinson drones on happily in the background. He’s staring down at the splintered wood in his hands, an expression of complete abject misery on his face.

 

“It’s okay really,” Guillermo whispers, leaning just close enough so that his knee is just brushing Nandor’s. “It’s just a bed.”

 

“I wanted to do this for you,” Nandor says, in such a low tone that Guillermo has to lean in very close to hear him over the sound of Colin Robinson explaining Scandinavian customer service procedures. “You’re always doing things for me.”

 

“Well…I’m your familiar,” Guillermo points out. “It’s my job.”

 

He can sense the moment that he’s said it that it was the wrong thing to say. Nandor doesn’t look very comforted. If anything, his face just falls further.

 


“Oh,” he says in a blank tone. “Yes of course.”

 

“Na-“Guillermo begins and then, aware of Colin Robinson, he corrects himself. “Master, listen-“

 

Nandor stands up abruptly. “Excuse me. I have some important...things to attend to.”

 

“What things?” Guillermo asks, squinting up at him. His knee feels suddenly cold in the place it was touching Nandor’s.

 

Nandor sniffs. “Vampire things. You wouldn’t understand.”

 

Guillermo stiffens a little and he takes a deep breath, trying not to get offended.

 

“Okay,” he says slowly. “I’ll see you later then.”

 

Nandor shrugs gloomily and then leaves with a sweep of his cloak. It’s not a very enthusistic sweep; his heart obviously isn’t in it.

 

Guillermo looks after him and then looks back at the wreckage of the KVALFJORD lying around him. He wishes it was fixed; then he could at least have the satisfaction of smashing it. Unfortunately, it looks pretty smashed already.  He thinks about cursing in Spanish on the basis that this did actually help sometimes,  but he can’t quite work up the energy.

 

“So, how long have you two been doing the horizontal tango?” Colin Robinson asks.

 

Guillermo, who had almost forgotten he was still there, jumps.

 

“What?” he stutters. “I mean no. No way. I don’t even know who you’re talking about.”

 

Colin Robinson smiles placidly. “You and Nandor. It must have been a while huh?”

 

“You think that…” Guillermo says, high pitched and then tries to laugh airily. It comes out as a pained gargle. “That’s ridiculous.”

 

Colin Robinson blinks slowly. “You think I don’t recognise the taste of a lover’s quarrel? That’s like vintage Chardonnay to energy vampires. Why do you think I wanted to live with Nadja and Laszlo?”

 

Guillermo had never actually thought about this before. He had always vaguely thought Colin Robinson had come with the house, like the mould and the termite infestation.

 

Guillermo hesitates and then sighs. “Are you going to tell anyone?”

 

Colin Robinson shrugs. “Probably not. I’ll get a lot more out of watching you two try and hide it.”

 

“Um, thanks. I guess.”

 

“Don’t mention it. Guess this means I’ll be third wheeling two couples not just one,” Colin Robinson says, looking very excited about the prospect. He’s practically licking his lips.

 

“Well, we’re not really a couple,” Guillermo says miserably before he can stop himself.

 

“Well what are you then?”

 

Guillermo thinks about it and then has to stop when his head starts hurting. “I don’t know. Something. Maybe.”

 

“Good enough for me,” Colin Robinson says happily and then claps his hands together. “Now let’s see if we can get stuck into this bed assembly huh?”

 

Guillermo thinks about trying to escape but the sad truth is he would rather stay and be drained by Colin Robinson than take the chance of running into Nandor in the corridor.

 

 

“Fine,” he says wearily. “Pass me the Allen key. “

 

 


 

 

Things are awkward after that. Nandor to his credit still wakes up early to do the chores, but now it’s with an air of brooding sadness. Guillermo’s almost impressed; he didn’t think it was possible to wash dishes and mope at the same time. The two of them don’t talk while they do it either and after a while the whole thing becomes so painful that Guillermo starts finding excuses to be in other rooms. Mostly this means lying on his Scandinavian death trap of a new bed, staring up at the ceiling and trying not to move around too much in case the whole thing collapses in on him like a bear trap.

 

They’ve stopped having sex as well, which is…well not great, but fine. Guillermo’s spent most of his life not having sex with Nandor so at least he’s used to it. He does miss the cuddling though. A lot more than he though he would.

 

The problem is that Guillermo still doesn’t really know what the problem is. It can’t be just about the bed. Part of him thinks maybe its about the fact they still haven’t talked about Guillermo becoming a vampire. But that fanged elephant has been in the room for so long now that Guillermo doesn’t feel know how to bring it up now.

 

Things go on like this and the house slowly gets filthier and filthier and then after about a week, Guillermo is sadly walking down a dark corridor, when the door to Nadja and Laszlo’s room creaks open next to him.

 

“Guillermo darling? Could you come in for a moment please?” Nadja’s voice asks sweetly.

 

Guillermo freezes up. He’s not sure what’s more disturbing, the please or the fact that she does in fact seem to know his real name. He edges closer to the door and peeks inside.

 

Nadja smiles sweetly at him from one end of a wine-red velvet couch. On the other end sits Laszlo, wearing a cravat and a deep scowl.  

 

“I was thinking you could have a little chat? Would that be nice?” Nadja says. “Why don’t you come inside?”

 

As Nandor’s familiar, Guillermo doesn’t technically have to follow orders from the other two, but he shuffles inside the room anyway.

 

“Just close the door behind you, if you would be so kind?” Nadja asks and then smiles again, showing off her canines.  She pats the spot next to her on the couch. “Come and have a seat next to Aunty Nadja.”

 

Guillermo swallows and closes the door without locking it.  

 

“Is this about the cleaning?” he asks, keeping a careful distance.

 

Nadja pats the couch more forcefully this time, sending up a small cloud of dust and one very surprised spider. Guillermo relents and goes over to sit between them. The sofa wasn’t intended for three; it’s a tight fit and Guillermo feels suddenly very aware of the exposed skin of his neck. He doesn’t know where to look; either way he faces leaves him open to attack. In the end he just stares forward into the middle distance and tries his best to look unappetising.

 

“We wanted to have a little talk to you about the state of the house…We noticed, well we think maybe things have been slipping a little bit over the last few days, hmm?” Nadja says, in the same kind friendly voice you would hear from a nurse right before they plunge the needle in.

 

“Are you going to kill me?” Guillermo says, suddenly ready to just get it over with.

 

Nadja’s dark eyes widen. “Oh no! Nothing like that!”

“We thought about it,” Laszlo says sourly.

 

“Of course, we thought about it,” Nadja agrees. “But then we decided it would be better to sit you down and have a nice chat instead.”

Laszlo makes a disgruntled sound as if to indicate he’s still not entirely sure about this decision.  

 

“It’s not just about the cleaning you see…” Nadja says. “It’s about Nandor. He’s been very well, what’s the way to say it?”

 

“He’s being a miserable git,” Laszlo chimes in.

 

“Yes, that’s it,” Nadja say, holding up one sharp finger. “Always dragging his feet around and staring out of windows. It’s really very annoying to be around.”

 

“It’s a fucking downer,” Laszlo says.

 

“And we wanted to see if maybe it had something to do with your new relationship?” Nadja asks, mouth pinched in concern. “Are you maybe not satisfying him sexually? I know vampiric lovers are very difficult for a human to-“

 

“Woah, woah!” Guillermo says, cutting her off before she can go into detail. “You uh, you two know about it?”

 

“You think I don’t know what’s going on in my own bloody house?” Laszlo snaps.

 

“Well to be fair, you didn’t darling until I told you,” Nadja tells him and then she turns to Guillermo. “At first we were just going to let you get on with it until all of the…being sad happened.”


Guillermo takes off his glasses and rubs his hand over his eyes. “But…You aren’t disgusted? Nandor said that it was taboo for a vampire to sleep with his familiar?”

 

“What?” Nadja says and then she laughs. “Taboo? Oh that’s so silly! Everyone has sex with their familiars!”

“I know I do!” Laszlo says heartily. “Why do you think most familiars are so sexy?”

 

Guillermo does a quick mental run-through of all the familiars he knows and frowns. He can’t see it himself, but vampires do tend to have odd tastes. He thinks it comes from being so old; there’s been a lot of different beauty standards over the course of human history. A sudden thought occurs to him and he screws up his face.

 

“So, you two and…Topher?” he asks gingerly.

 

“We bonked him silly,” Laszlo says happily. “That sweet beautiful man.”

“He was a most considerate lover,” Nadja agrees and then thinks about it. “At the start anyway.”

 

Guillermo feels faintly sick. “So, you didn’t…after he was a zombie…”

 

“Of course not!” Nadja snaps.

 

“Not after we found out anyway,” Laszlo says.

 

“So why did Nandor tell me that?” Guillermo says hotly, standing up abruptly. “Why would he lie?”

 

“Well probably because he didn’t want to turn you into a vampire,” Nadja says reasonably.

 

“What?”

 

“It’s generally considered good form to turn someone if you’re having sex with them,” Nadja says. “Especially if you’re doing it a lot.”

 

Guillermo tries to process this and for the most part, fails. His mind is a maelstrom; for some reason, the part he keeps coming back to is the implication that had it not been for the accident, Topher would probably have been made a vampire before him. Topher.

 

“Right,” he says. “Right. And you think he doesn’t want to turn me because…”

 

“Well, it’s a real pain in the arse getting a new familiar,” Laszlo says. “He probably doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds, so to speak. “

 

Laszlo lets out a bark of laugh at this and turns to Nadja. “Did you hear that my dove? It’s a joke. A very clever one I think.”

 

“Mm, yes Laszlo,” Nadja says flatly. “Very amusing.”

 

Guillermo barely hears them. He feels strangely numb. His hand keeps going reflexively to the stake hidden under his jumper. He’s so angry, he thinks for a moment that the world has gone blurry before he remembers his glasses are still clenched in his hand.

 

“So, was this helpful?” Nadja asks brightly, hands crossed in her lap. “Do you feel better now?”

 

“Oh yes,” Guillermo says darkly. “I feel better. I see it all now. Very clearly.”

 

“Good man,” Laszlo says. “Now when you’re ready, I think I might have left someone half-drunk in the rhododendron bush-probably better to get that dealt with before he crawls over to the neighbour’s.”

 

“I’ll take care of it,” Guillermo mutters, turning to leave. “I’ll take care of everything.”

 

As he leaves, he hears Nadja whisper, “See, that wasn’t so hard was it?”

 

 


 

It takes Guillermo about half an hour to finally find Nandor up in the attic, and he spends the whole time thinking about whether or not to stake him. The thing is, it would be so easy. Not just because that’s what Guillermo was made to do. Easy because this is just the same as always, nothing had really changed at all. Nandor was still, even after everything, just using him.  

 

He should have done this a long time ago really. It wasn’t enough to just leave. He had to finish it here and now and then, maybe then he could finally be free of this. It wasn’t even about being a vampire anymore; Guillermo isn’t even sure if he wanted to be a vampire after all this. They were all jerks.

 

Guillermo actually has the stake in his hand by the time he’s standing in the attic doorway.

 

At first he thinks it’s empty, until he sees a dark shadow lying on the chaise lounge, playing sadly with a yoyo. It would be impressive (the yoyo was falling upwards after all) but Nandor was looking so desultory that it was hard to feel anything but pity.

 

Guillermo tried hard anyway, gripping tighter on the stake behind his back.

 

“So,” he says, coming closer. “I just had a little chat with the others.”

 

Nandor sits bolt upright, drops the yoyo with a clatter and then makes an obvious effort to look calm and collected.

 

“Oh yes?” he says in a careful voice. “What about?”

 

Guillermo opens his mouth to tell him bit then to his surprise, something completely different comes out in a mad rush, as if the words had been trapped inside him all this time.

 

“Why won’t you make me a vampire?” he demands. “What is it about me? Am I not good enough? Do you not want me to be around forever? Is that it? You think I’m good enough for now, but you don’t want to be stuck with me? Or can you just not be bothered to get a new familiar? Is it like when you need a new phone but all the new ones are harder to get the hang of and they stopped making them with headphone jacks so you just have to use the old one even the microphone doesn’t work?”

 

From the look on Nandor’s face, Guillermo suspects he may have lost him with that last part, so he decided to backtrack.

 

“I just…” he says and then he doesn’t know how to finish. “I just don’t get it.”

 

Nandor opens his mouth and takes a step forward. His hand comes up and then he seems to think better of it. He looks down at the floor and then mutters something under his breath.

 

“What?” Guillermo asks, leaning forward.

 

“I’m sorry,” Nandor says again, only a fraction louder. “I’m sorry, okay?”

 

“Well…” Guillermo opens and shuts his mouth. “Well, why?”

 

Nandor struggles for a moment and then he closes his eyes and sighs. “I don’t want us to be New Moon.”

 

“New Moon? You… mean the sequel to Twilight?” Guillermo struggles to remember what even happened in that one. They all blur together in his memory in one big sparkly grey mess. “Was that the one where they broke up?”

 

“Yes,” Nandor says, still not making eye contact.

 

“Well, I can’t see that happening unless you leave in which case-“Guillermo starts and then thinks about it. “Oh wait. Are you…are you Bella in this?”

 

Nandor says nothing but he looks away.

 

“You don’t want me to leave,” Guillermo says slowly.

 

Nandor shakes his head just a fraction.

 

“Why do you think I would?”

 

“Well…right now you think I’m a pretty cool guy, yes?”

 

“Eh,” Guillermo says, making a face.

 

“Well maybe you only think I’m a cool guy because I can fly and have fangs and turn into a bat and do all that other cool vampire stuff,” Nandor goes on. “But when you’re a vampire, you’ll do all that stuff too. And then…and then maybe you won’t think I’m so cool anymore.”

 

“Is this why you always cry when we watch that movie?”

 

“Guillermo…”

 

“Sorry, sorry. I just…I think that’s a risk you’re going to have to take. Have you ever heard the expression, if you love something then you have to let it go?”

 

“But I don’t want to let it go,” Nandor says petulantly. “I want it to stay here with me. Forever.”

 

Guillermo feels his heart do a little flicker over this, but he can’t let himself melt, not yet.

 

“Well how about this expression then. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

 

Nandor’s eyes light up at this. “Oh, I know this one. We have our own vampire version. It goes ‘you cannot have sex with your virgin and eat them too’.”

 

“Hmm. Maybe not-“

 

“Because then they would not be a virgin.”

 

“…I get it but maybe it doesn’t really fit what’s happening right now.”

 

“No,” Nandor agrees gravely. “Maybe not.”



“What I mean is you can’t get care about me and have sex with me and stuff if you don’t respect my wishes. It’s not fair.”



“But what if you leave?” Nandor says softly. “You did it before.”



“Then I’ll leave,” Guillermo says bluntly. “And you’ll have to be okay with that.”

 

Nandor sighs but then he seems to reach some internal decision and he nods firmly. “Yes. I suppose that is fair.”

 

Guillermo smiles and then steps a little closer, reaching up to straighten the high collar of Nandor’s cloak.

 

“Besides…I came back before, remember? And just for the record, I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon,” he says. “I think you’re a pretty cool guy even without the vampire bits.”

 

“You do?” Nandor says hopefully, looking down at him with big brown eyes. “You really think I’m cool?”

 

“The coolest,” Guillermo says and goes up on his tiptoes to kiss him.

 

It’s a good kiss; maybe one of their best. When they pull apart Nandor laughs and picks Guillermo up and spins him around by the waist.  This is something Guillermo had always secretly wanted, but he had given up on it ever happening somewhere around the middle of puberty. He’s happy to discover that it feels just as good as he thought it would.

 

Things take their natural course from there and it’s sometime later that they find themselves half-collapsed on the chaise-lounge. Guillermo can’t stop smiling. He kind of wants a cigarette. Usually he would worry about the cancer risk, but he supposes that now he doesn’t have to worry about that.

 

(Something’s Guillermo’s learnt about having sex with someone you really, really, really care about is that…. well, it’s pretty great. Even when it's bad. Even if it’s awkward or the incense smoke gets in your eyes or if someone trips over someone else’s cloak. Guillermo would even go so far as to say he thinks it might be the best type of sex he’s ever had. He’d like to keep doing more of it if possible. In fact, he’d happily do it forever.)

 

“So,” Nandor asks. “You want me to bite you now?”

 

“Right now?” Guillermo asks, whipping his head over to look. “Like, here?”

 

“Why not?” Nandor asks shrugging. “I always get a little snacky after lovemaking anyway.”

 

He grins and his teeth suddenly look a lot more sharp than normal.

 

“Um…will it hurt?” Guillermo asks, suddenly strangely unsure.

 

“Yes,” Nandor says bluntly. “It will feel like an eternity of unending agony. But I can hold your hand. If you like.”

 

He says this last part so shyly that Guillermo has to lean over and kiss him again.

 

“Well…maybe in a little bit then,” he says. “We could just lie here for a while first, if that’s okay?”

 

“I don’t mind,” Nandor says happily and then leans his head so it’s resting on Guillermo’s shoulder. “I’m going to miss you being all warm like this.”

 

“Well,” Guillermo says and then kisses the top of his head. “Maybe we could get a hot water bottle."