Roman had a problem. And yes, it might be one of those “regular” problems that came with being a member of the undead but it was still a problem.
“Roman can you get some more milk when you’re out? I thought I got some the day before but there’s none left.”
That wasn’t the problem. Well, it was a problem; he’d realised last night that it had been a while since he’d “eaten” some of the food bought in during the week and in his defence it had been a long time since he’d had to use milk with anything. He couldn’t quite remember what was and was not an appropriate amount to get through in one sitting but that wasn’t the problem.
The problem was that he was living with it. Him. He was living with him. He had a human roommate. An unbelievably adorable, funny, cheery, happy human roommate and Roman was in love with him.
Patton poked his head out of the kitchen when he didn’t get a response, smiling in that unobtrusive yet quietly concerned way he did when he wanted to make sure Roman was alright and Roman wondered if still hearts could skip a beat. He noticed the little smile on his own face about a split-second after Patton did and while his cheeks couldn’t heat themselves without a meal he felt them burn nonetheless. With a spin that was almost too fast to be human he turned away and busied himself with his sports bag, pretending to check his belongings before actually checking for his wallet and slinging it up on his shoulder.
“Of course! No friend of mine shall go without because of my own selfish actions.” He announced, loud to deflect attention from how awkward his own actions had been as he heard Patton step into the sitting room. He turned to face him with a more intentional smile and added, at a normal volume, “I won’t be long.”
Patton had gotten used to Roman’s late-night ventures out to town, “to the gym” he had told him early on in their friendship, and yet every night before he left, he stopped him in the doorway for a hug.
“Be careful, ok?” He insisted as he always did, the most testing part of Roman’s day and the most dangerous part of Patton’s as he stepped into Roman’s space and looped his arms around his midriff. Roman pressed his cheek to Patton’s shoulder, facing away from his neck as his scent sunk deep into his lungs. It begged him to turn his head, to press his face to his skin, to breathe in deep, to kiss, to bite.
“Of course I will.” Roman answered, pulling away from the hug and gripping tight to his bag straps with an easy, close-mouthed smile, lips straining against his fangs. “I’ll be home soon.” He repeated and stood smiling in the doorway. A beat passed. And another, until Patton’s eyes naturally flicked to the hall and Roman remembered that yes. Leaving actually involved leaving. He cleared his throat with a wave and was gone, Patton’s quiet laugh behind him reigniting his ongoing debate if he could have a soul so full of love for one person and be the biggest risk to them at the same time. It was something he tried not to think about as he hunted through the streets for a meal, for a victim since Remus had gone quiet on him.
His brother was a complicated man and as such they had a complicated relationship. Just about the only thing he could be counted on for, until now of course, was a supply. He had “friends.” He had Janus. He had ways of getting blood that didn’t result in death which they both knew he only did so Roman would keep talking to him. Remus had a steady yet undoubtably illegal supply of blood to support them both; and Janus (Roman didn’t need or want to know what his brother’s relationship was with the human) seemed willing enough to step in as a donor when the need arose. Yesterday however Remus hadn’t answered his phone. He also hadn’t answered any of Roman’s texts or subsequent calls despite having clearly seen them, and so he was forced to hunt.
It didn’t take long to find someone who met his requirements. Young enough, healthy, not too strong, alone: all things that gave them a better chance of recovering. Years of disuse had left his ability to compel his victims shaky at best but he’d found that the faster he could subdue them, the fewer memories he needed to alter. He ignored his phone vibrating in his pocket as he drank from a student he’d caught on his way home from the library, his bookbag heavy enough to help Roman overbalance him and force him to sleep. It buzzed again as he was propping the boy up against the wall, hidden from the main street. Grumbling about impatient texters, Roman carefully set the boy’s glasses right on his face and gently woke him up.
It was easier when they were dazed, he acknowledged, guilt pulling horribly at his heart as he instructed the boy to get up, to continue home and forget this ever happening. As he watched the boy leave he pulled out his phone, keeping half an eye on him to make sure he was steady on his feet as he checked his messages.
Remus: whr r u I hv th stff
It was sent alongside a series of squirting and heart emojis and Roman was filled with the same regret for texting first that he always had when he got a reply from his brother. He knew Remus made his texts as unreadable as possible on purpose, he’d seen him fighting with autocorrect more than once when it tried to fix them. Over the years, however, he’d gotten not only used to them but good at reading them so it only took a moment for the second text to drain the blood from his newly flushed cheeks.
Remus: nvrmnd il mt u at ur plc
I’ll meet you at your place. Roman was texting back so fast the display on his screen was warping.
Roman: Don’t I’m not home!
Roman: Seriously don’t I’m out
Roman: I’m not home don’t go there
“Shit!” He swore, throwing his phone into his back and tearing home, praying that Remus was bluffing, that he was just ignoring him to be a pain, that he would get there before his brother did.
Patton opened the door to what might have been the silliest knock he had ever heard. He maybe shouldn’t have; it was pretty late at night and he wasn’t expecting anyone but someone from the street couldn’t get in unless they knew the code for the main door so he figured it was likely a neighbour in need or a lost guest. What he wasn’t expecting was a doppelganger of his roommate grinning in his face.
“O-oh!” The exclamation was about all he could manage as he took in the person in front of him. The cartoonish moustache would have been cute if it wasn’t poised above a too-sharp grin, and the familiarity of Roman’s eyes set into the foreign face made their proximity a little unsettling. It had to be Roman’s brother, there was no other explanation for the similarities, but that knowledge didn’t really make him feel better. Roman barely ever spoke about him, Patton wasn’t even too sure of his name, but what he did say was rarely complimentary.
Still, he put on a Patton-ted smile and did his best to look welcoming. He was greeting a guest after all, though Remus beat him to the introductions.
“Hi! You must be the roommate Roman won’t let me meet.” Remus announced, his grin looking a little more charming now that his face was moving.
“And I take it you must be the brother.” Patton replied with a slightly easier smile, holding his hand out to shake. “I’m Patton.”
If Patton noticed the flirty purr he didn’t mention it, just like he didn’t mention the fact that Remus had the same icy cold hands that Roman was so self-conscious about. He just took a step back from the door, determined as ever to take as much care of the person in front of him in the limited time they had. Step number one was warming this boy up!
“Roman isn’t here right now, did you want to come in and wait? He probably won’t be too long but I can text him if you like?” He offered and Remus took him up on it immediately, throwing his body into the flat with a kind of reckless abandon as he started nosying around looking for the secrets of this hidden part of his brother’s life. The only thing he seemed to be careful with was the bag he was carrying, the same kind that Roman had left with, which he was taking care not to swing as he scurried around.
“Oh, I already texted him,” Remus informed, smirking to himself as he ceased his search and turned his attention back to Patton. “He should be here really soon.”
“Well that's good.” Patton smiled back, a little uneasy again now that Remus was inside and being so ominous but he gestured him towards the couch anyway and waited as he took a seat and set his bag to the side. After a moment’s hesitation he joined him, his face flushing uncomfortably as his guest watched him every step of the way. Remus must have been able to tell he was beginning to feel awkward because he leaned away as he settled down and Patton used that space to take a steadying breath before smiling again, determined to hold his own and make his guest feel at home.
Remus was honestly impressed with the little blood-bag. He was cute, there was no denying that, and clearly had balls if he was this happy to sit beside a vampire he technically didn't know who was clearly ready for his next meal. It was a constant source of amusement for him how often Roman needed to feed, a running joke that his brother didn’t appreciate, but if Patton always sat this close, was so quick to blush all the time, and smelled this good then it was no wonder. It wouldn’t really be fair to use Patton all the time so filling up on Remus’s supplies was starting to make sense, but he was really taking this “consideration of others” thing a bit far if he was getting through so much as well as his roommate. Either that or he really couldn’t resist the boy and that was something Remus was very curious to learn more about.
“I’m getting an idea of why Roman’s been keeping you all secreted away.” He told him with a wink, breathing in deep as Patton blushed beside him. “You really are something special.” He added and sighed out happily, enjoying the sound and smell of excited, rushing blood in such close proximity.
“I don’t know about that.” Patton deflected. He couldn't remember the last time a stranger made him blush this much. Remus’s compliments were strange, sure, but there was something about them coming from such a familiar face that was really flustering him. It wasn't Roman saying it, though. Worse than that, he was Roman’s brother, and he was eager to move the conversation along. “Um, do you want something to eat while you wait?”
Remus’s surprise was clear in his expression and his eyes flicked down to Patton’s neck before checking his face again. There was nothing there to suggest he wasn't being genuine, and his heartbeat was steady (considering how flustered he had been a moment ago) so he likely wasn't lying. Roman would be so pissed. “I will if you’re offering.” He answered anyway, and that seemed to be the right thing to say because Patton lit up, happy to be useful.
“Of course! You’re Roman’s brother.” Patton insisted, angling towards him as he thought of what he had in the fridge that he could heat quickly. He must be starving! And being so surprised to be fed just wouldn’t do. “What would you-” His words died in his throat as Remus moved in, his mouth latching on to his neck and he found himself being pinned to the couch, lying on his back as Remus settled over him and bit down. He lay still for a moment, shock locking his body in place until he felt the first pull of blood leaving his neck. Eyes wide, his hands shot up and struck Remus's body but he didn’t move. He clung to his shirt when pushing yielded no results and as Remus hummed soothingly against his neck he thought he could hear Roman calling his name.
Remus's attack was surprising short lived and Patton soon felt his teeth leave his neck and a tongue swipe over the wound, followed by a quick peck. “There! All cleaned up.”
He could hear Roman again, shouting in the hall, and sure enough his roommate burst through the door just as Remus turned his head to face it, making no move to get off of him as Patton followed his line of sight to the doorway. Face pale, he gave a little wave, spooked and confused as Roman marched towards them.
“You godless fiend!” Roman screamed, pulling Remus off of him with more strength than Patton, as dazed as he was, thought he could gain from his trips to the gym. The only reason Remus wasn't sent flying to the ground was from his own matched ability to take that much pressure on one leg as he landed easily near the door.
“Your roommate is a wonderful host, bro-ski.” Remus crooned as if he hadn't just been thrown across the room; as if Roman wasn’t now stalking towards him. “He offered and I couldn't refuse, he's very tempting. I see why you've been keeping him to yourse-” He choked before he could finish, Roman had grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and dragged him to the hall and up to the roof before he could say another word.
There were tears in Roman's eye when he finally unhanded his brother. Remus wanted to laugh, he wanted to find the humour in the situation and rub Roman’s face in it but he was confused.
“Why are you being such a baby about this? He offered! And you’ve drank from Janus before so you can hardly get all territorial about this one.” He huffed, making no move to straighten out his clothes or hair as Roman stalked around the roof.
“He doesn’t know, Remus!” Roman wailed, pulling at his hair as he spun away, staring at the door back into the building as if Patton would appear there, kitted out with a cross and stake to tell him never to come back. Remus was quiet behind him for a moment before opening his mouth with a pop.
“I think he might have an idea now.” He quipped and Roman wanted to throw him off the roof. “Speaking of Janus-”
“I don’t want to hear about Janus!” Roman yelled back, turning on his brother who looked too unfazed for someone who had been dragged by the neck up three flights of stairs, for someone who had attacked his roommate, for someone who had so completely destroyed his life. “You’ve ruined everything! How can he trust me now? How can he possibly like me after this?”
Remus gave a careless shrug in response and Roman had him by the shirt once again, angling him dangerously over the edge of the roof and Remus continued to speak like this happened every day. It was Remus, it was entirely possible that was true. That or he didn’t think Roman had it in him.
“I’d imagine just the same as he always did. You did rush in to ‘save him’ just now.” He answered, lifting his arms to do the bunny-ears before dropping them back down to his sides, letting them dangle and swing behind him as he relaxed into the angle he was being held at. “Nothing’s really changed, just his world-view.”
“Just his world-view?” Roman seethed, fists tightening in Remus’s shirt before he turned and threw him back onto the roof, watching as he bounced along to an ungraceful halt.
“Yeah! I mean, what else has changed?” Remus asked, looking defensive for the first time since the confrontation started but not angry. “You’re still you, he’s still him, he didn’t really know me so he’s really only learned who I am. And now he’s got a fun new fact about you too!”
“That I’m awful.” Roman despaired though his anger swiftly reappeared when Remus just kissed his fingers and blew it in his direction.
“Exactly! And I think you’ll be fine, just as long as he knows that you’re no more awful than you were yesterday. Just remember, if you’ve really blown it, he probably would’ve died soon anyway!” Remus didn’t wait around to witness the full performance that was Roman’s outrage and skipped instead over to the roof’s edge. “Well! This has been fun, or it was before you showed up. Keep the blood, I’m going home. Don’t bother coming to tell me when this is all inevitably fine and you’ve freaked out for nothing. Tell me if it goes horribly wrong. I’ll let my sources know there’s a new donor on the market.” Remus jumped off the roof before his brother could react or retaliate.
And then Roman was alone. Standing on the roof at nearly midnight while Patton…
He turned and threw himself down the stairs, taking them far too many at a time to be human until he was standing once again in the doorway to his flat, staring at Patton on the couch. His roommate had managed to sit himself up and was cradling his hand against his neck, fingers gently searching for proof of what had just happened over his unblemished neck.
He looked up when Roman appeared at the door and his heart clenched in fear before he realised who he was looking at. Patton sunk back into the couch, feeling a little too weak to stay tense, and gave an awkward smile.
“Hi Roman.” He greeted, just like this was any other day but he had to clear his throat when his voice came out a bit too scratchy to be normal. He looked tired and confused, dazed, but he was still smiling at him as though he wasn’t the worst person in the world. “Your brother’s certainly… interesting.”
Roman felt his heart break. He hurried over but stopped short of truly reaching him, hovering by the end of the couch before dropping to his knees. He didn’t want him to be scared, he didn’t want any of this to have happened, and yet here they were.
“Patton, I’m so sorry.” The apology felt like bile in his mouth, choking back everything he wanted to say and not knowing any words that could express it. He didn’t expect Patton to accept it, but more than that, he didn’t expect Patton to brush it off, shaking his head as he reached a hand over to comfort him. Roman could add it to the list of things he hated about himself in that moment as he took it, giving in to the selfish urge and clinging on as tight as he dared.
“No, it's my fault. I should've…” Patton tried to excuse but that was enough for Roman to find his voice. He never was speechless for long.
“What should you have done? Known? Known that vampires exist? That I would let him find you?” He despaired, the angry tears welling up in his eyes setting Patton off too until they were both crying. “I hid this from you and you got hurt. It’s all my fault.”
“I'm not hurt.” It was an empty comfort, not helped at all by the tears, and Roman shook his head in disbelief.
“Remus drank from you!”
“It was ok.” He flushed at Roman’s incredulous stare and elaborated. “I mean, it wasn’t my favourite thing but it only stung a little. He was nice about it, I think?”
They both squirmed for a moment under Patton’s embarrassment, and Roman took his hand back to both put some distance between them and to wipe his face free of tears. Patton soon copied the action, rubbing self-consciously at his neck again as the quiet of the room swirled around them. There was rarely so little noise in the flat for the natural sounds of a building to make themselves known. In the absence of chatter, singing, music and movement the sitting room was like a stranger’s. Trying to ignore the awkward energy that buzzed low and sporadic between them was like trying not to look at a spider on the wall while never letting it leave your sight, allowing it to become bigger and bigger in your mind until you couldn’t help but be so very aware of it.
“There's nothing about him that's nice.” Roman eventually said, his uncharacteristically quiet voice interrupting the atmosphere if not quite managing to clear it.
Patton didn’t reach for his hand again, something that Roman tried really hard to feel grateful for and did his best not to start crying again. He’d been caught in too many tear loops with Patton over the years and he didn’t deserve to start one now.
The quiet, at least, gave Patton a moment to actually reflect on what had just happened. Roman’s brother had bitten him. He had come to his home and bitten him because he was a vampire. A vampire. Because they were real now. And Roman’s brother was one.
“So…” He tentatively broached, looking down at Roman who was still kneeling beside him on the floor. “Is it just him who’s… y’know?”
“No... I am too.” Roman confessed, dropping his gaze down to the ground as he felt the pain of that secret finally being aired dig deep into his torso instead of lifting off of his shoulders like it should.
“Is this why you won't eat my cookies?” A confused, strangled laugh hit the back of Roman’s throat like he was choking on his own tongue.
“That's what you're worried about?” He spluttered and a quick look up at Patton showed he had reacted just the way Patton had wanted. His eyes searched that reassuring grin for any trace of malice or discomfort and found none. This boy was something else.
“I mean, I was starting to get offended.” Patton joked, unable to sit any longer with his friend looking so sad. Fixing that was easier to focus on but even he couldn’t ignore an issue this big.
“Yeah, it's why I wouldn't eat, well, anything you gave me.” Roman clarified, needing to give the information over regardless of how small a question it had been. Patton deserved this and any other answers he needed; he’d kept them from him for too long.
Patton was glad that Roman had answered him properly. It gave him some confidence to jump from the higher springboard.
“Why didn't you tell me?” And that really was the big question, wasn’t it, even if he could guess at the answer. He didn’t want to feel so hurt for not being trusted but it was a pretty big secret to keep hidden from him. Then again, it was a pretty big secret to need to hide.
“I didn't know how.” Roman admitted, shame in his eyes as he hoped Patton would understand. “I was scared you would be scared, that you would want me to leave. I know I shouldn’t have kept that decision from you and I’m so sorry I did.” Again, Patton was quiet, giving the answer the time it deserved to digest despite knowing his answer.
“Well I'm not scared. And I don’t want you to leave.” He told him, knowing that it didn’t settle everything but wanting to put them on the right track. Still, he couldn’t help but stumble over his next question. “How long have you been a- vampire?”
“A while.” It was an awkward confession to make; he wasn’t entirely sure and he didn’t know if “not that long for a vampire” would fly when he wasn’t really even sure if he’d been forgiven. Patton just nodded knowingly.
“Gotcha. I've seen Twilight.”
Roman was spluttering again and really, it was starting to become unbecoming.
“I am not like Twilight!” He defended, calmed only by how genuine Patton’s laugh was when he inevitably burst into giggles.
“I don't know you've got the pretty and brooding thing down.”
“I do not!” And what was he meant to do in response to that but blush? Curse his timing because of course he couldn’t have made a comment like that before he ate. As much as he appreciated Patton’s attempts to lighten the mood, however, he had to be sure of where they stood. “Are you sure that doesn't hurt?”
“I'll be fine, I'm more surprised than anything. It wasn’t quite what I expected when I offered to feed him.” Patton admitted with a sheepish smile.
“I'm sorry.” Roman apologised again and Patton took his hand with a reassuring squeeze.
“I forgive you. Just… maybe let me know next time your brother is visiting.”
“Can I hug you? Is that ok right now?” Just as always the answer to that was a resounding ‘yes’ and Patton had pulled Roman up into his arms before he could get another word in. Roman smiled into his shoulder, tears once again wetting his eyes as he mumbled into Patton’s shirt. “Remus is never coming over here again.”
“He might need to to get his bag.”
“…I’d not look in there if I were you.”
Across town, Remus arrived home with all the grace of a deflated and oddly damp balloon, kicking up into the air to land on the couch, flat on his back, with his head nestled uncomfortably in Janus’s lap.
“I bit Roman’s roommate today.” He announced without preamble, doing little to help as Janus repositioned himself underneath him so that Remus wasn’t digging into his legs. It left Remus’s neck bent pretty out of place but he didn’t bother correcting it further. It gave him a nice angle to look up from and that was good by him.
“Oh? The one who didn’t know he was a vampire?” Janus enquired, similarly uncaring as he scrolled through his phone with one hand as the other dropped down to play with Remus’s hair.
“Yeah. How’d you know that?”
“Because I’ve met your brother and your brother’s an idiot.”
Remus tsk-ed in annoyance like he’d gotten an easy question wrong on a pub quiz. “I never think of that.”
“It’s admirable to think so highly of him,” Janus drawled in response, finally looking down from his phone to smirk at the man in his lap, “but there’s a good reason you keep me around.”
He moved to pet his hair again but Remus caught his hand before he could reach and pulled it down enough for him to inspect his wrist. The bite mark there was deep but healing well, he noted, pressing a kiss to the skin he knew would do nothing to speed it up. The turning bite could only heal on it’s own; whatever it was that ran through Remus and allowed him to heal was just starting to build up in Janus’s own body. The wound would heal when it was ready.
“Did you tell him?” Janus asked, letting his arm be manipulated long enough for Remus to swipe an impatient tongue over the mark before wriggling himself free to wipe the spit in Remus’s hair, his petting forgotten as he checked his phone again.
“Nah, he was too busy yelling at me. He’ll figure it out when he needs his next meal.” He frowned up at Janus as he made to get up, the new strength of the newly turned vampire making it difficult drag out cuddle sessions.
“Speaking of meals.” Janus purred just as their doorbell rang and Remus perked up, petulance forgotten as he watched him move to answer it. “I ordered takeaway.”
The surly kid on the other side of the door did nothing to lessen Remus’s excitement as he grinned, watching from the couch.
Roman really didn’t need to know about this.