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Rich is pretty used to weirdos. A year and a half at a twenty-four-hour diner brings in all sorts, even on Staten Island. He’s got a Fortnite buddy who works the third shift at a Waffle House in Duluth, and he says shit is wild all the time, and they’re not even inside the perimeter.

Still, Staten Island is Staten Island. Not many people come in past like one, and about none of them are sober. Rich’s never seen either of these two drunk, though, no matter how late they come in.

They make a kinda bizarre couple, some sweater guy and his boyfriend dressed like he made all his clothes out of curtains. They always sit on opposite sides of the booth and don’t talk much, or hold hands or make gooey eyes at each other. It reminds him a bit of his grandparents sitting next to each other on the couch during the holidays.

Most of his coworkers have some sort of idea about what their deal is. His best guess is they work at one of the fancy art theatres around town, and the guy in the cape is the usher or something, and he just waits until they get home to change. The other guy works the projector or something.

The tall guy never ordered anything, just squinted at the menu while his boyfriend ordered and handed over the menu reluctantly once he was done. The other guy’s ordered varied- two eggs over hard, a reuben sandwich- Carlee says one time he came in at one-thirty splattered in what she swears looked like blood and ordered a full stack of chocolate chip pancakes and ate it all without breaking eye contact with the far wall- plus a side salad.

They remind him of him and Krissie, making midnight grilled cheese with the lights off so her asshole roommate didn’t yell at them for waking her up, trying not to laugh too loud in the dark. Most couples nowadays reminded Rich of her, though.

They weren’t even close to the strangest people to walk through their doors. Most people came and went like rain flowing down a gutter, and definitely didn’t inspire the kind of whispering over the kitchen window these two did. They stuck in their minds for one reason, though:

What kind of freak ordered a side salad at four a.m.?

 

“My master was saying sometime next year. If I’m lucky, January.”

“You said last time they said that he would turn you this year.”

“I got some write-ups. He caught me on my phone during work hours.”

“I was thinking a fall transformation for my turning. It’ll be fitting. A season of transition, my body growing cold at the same time as the air turns cold.”

“See but did your master even bring it up? I don’t think so.”

“Do either of you know anyone who’s been turned? Like at all?”

“Sarah got turned. You wouldn’t know her, she worked for the vampire that hosts the Centennial Gala. M-something. The ancient Egyptian.”

“If Sara got turned, why the fuck was she dm-ing me about getting blood out of a ballet skirt?”

“Not that Sara, Sarah with an h.”

“I heard she got hit by a car.”

“Yes, and that’s why she got turned. Her master wanted her to take the job at the British Museum so she could keep an eye on things, apparently. It was more of an apprenticeship than a familiar situation, you know.”

“How would that even work?”

“I don’t know anyone, but I’ve heard of a few familiars who are def getting the bite.”

“It’s hard, working for vampires with power and influence, not that you would know.”

“Okay, fuck off-”

“I know a chick on Staten Island, says she knows a familiar who bathes his master. Every night, full scrubdown.”

“What?”

“…They’ve got to be fucking, right?”

“See, she says he didn’t even think it was weird. Just la-di-da, apparently thought it was totally chill when he brought it up. Like, talking about hair oil.”

“Maybe he’s a bloodbag?”

"He was at the familiar mixer, so probably not?”

“I don’t think those two are mutually exclusive.”

"But yeah, they've got to be fucking."

 

He’s like your dream guy, is the thing. All soft curves and soft eyes and soft smiles, demure enough to just miss eye contact with the camera in all his profile photos. One of his pics even looks like it was taken during a Christmas service, poinsettias in the background and everything.

You’re lucky; guys like him usually get scared off Grindr by the shallow dickwads pretty quick.

So he’s got you on the ferry to Staten Island on the coldest night of the year, and then you’ve still got to take a fucking bus. It makes you think of this one song your mom used to play though, about going to Staten Island to buy a mandolin, so you manage to kill some time on the way there trying to figure out who it’s by.

The house looks old and kind of decrepit, but it makes you wonder how many roommates he’s gotta have to afford the place. Maybe a relative owns it? Do people even rent on Staten Island? It looks almost like something out of a dream with the stained glass windows and the icicles hanging off the front porch.

You can hear the doorbell reverberate through the house when you ring it; it sounds tinny and out-of-tune, probably old as the rest of the place. He opens the door only a few seconds later, and you wonder if he was waiting just inside. Cute as hell.

He offers to take your coat, and you hand him your hat and scarf and gloves as well. It’s cold in the house, though, you notice as you walk in. It’s almost eerily still, too. In person, there’s something a little still about him too, in a way that doesn’t show up on in the pictures. You can’t put your finger on it, but he’s got something in the way he stands that makes him seem a little off. But he catches you staring and gives you a little smile and a nod, and you have to bite back an apology for being rude.

“Here, let me show you to my room.” he says. Damn, forward. You’re almost embarrassed to say you feel giddy with excitement, though. The house is weird and old, but he seems well-suited to it. Like a ghost haunting the place, which you realize is a stupid thought as soon as you think it. He ushers you into a room off the front hall. It’s more of the same dark paneling and lamplight, with a big writing desk dominating most of it.

There’s another guy already in the room.

Your brain doesn’t register he’s there for a second, because he’s so still and the room’s lit up with low lamplight. He almost blends in with the reds and browns and golds of the furniture, like he sprouted from it like a mushroom out of a dead log. He stands and smiles indulgently when you walk in. He’s smiling behind you, though, where your dream guy is hopefully still standing.

You were not expecting a boyfriend situation. It’s not that you mind a threesome, per se, especially if that’s the price of admission for your dream guy, but it’s rude not to give any warning. Now you have to try and figure out if he’s going to want to join in or just watch without saying anything that comes off as too judgy.

“Wonderful job.” The man says, still not to you. You hear an exhale of breath behind you that sounds pretty happy.

This close, the guy is about your size. He puts his hands on your shoulders like your stepdad, which is somehow the weirdest thing to happen to you this week. It’s rapidly surpassed by him biting your neck, like really really hard.

You try to push him off, but he’s got a grip like getting your hand slammed in a car door. His bite didn’t really hurt at first, but now the pain is radiating out from the cut and you can feel the muscles clenched in his jaw, and you’re thrashing now, twisting like you got pulled into 2-meter and the guard is trying to push you under. The guy stops biting you and swears under his breath.

“Guillermo, if you could-” who the fuck is Guillermo? Your wrists are grabbed and pulled behind your back with a surprising amount of force. He’s up against your back, pinning you against the guy who’s put his jaws around your neck again. You can feel his breath against the back of your neck and his soft stomach pressed against you.

Your vision is starting to swim a bit. Your fingers feel cold, or maybe they’re going numb. There’s a rattling in your chest that you think might be your heartbeat, until you realize the guy is groaning from deep within his chest as he’s clamped on to your neck. You don’t have anything left in you to struggle.

You start to slump a bit, pressed up between them. It’s almost nice, feeling his soft cheek pressed against your shoulder blade, his erection pressed against the back of your leg.

You black out.

 

The Marquis Taffypaws was not surprised when Sam came crawling back to him, but he couldn’t say he was displeased either.

He looked awful. His new master had obviously been running him ragged. That was the problem with humans; they didn’t understand how important sleep was for maintaining a sleek coat and a sharp mind. Most human familiars he had seen looked so bedraggled and bleary.

Sam had come to beg for his job back. Apparently his work for this Cosmos vampire had come to an unceremonious and bloody end. Sam had been rescued from a similar fate by another familiar named Guillermo- a name that conjured a vaguely familiar frumpy, weary shape in the Marquis’s eye. That was that familiar of Nandor the Relentless, though the Marquis couldn’t imagine what on earth he would have been doing there. Nandor would have never let this familiar out of his grasp.

The Marquis had always regarded the Relentless highly, though they had gotten off to a rocky start with that “here, kitty kitty, aren’t you a cute little kitty” business. Nandor had always treated him with the proper regard, a rarity at vampire social events, and he really did have a wide breadth of knowledge in the more violent arts.

This business about losing a familiar surprised him, especially this one. The Marquis knew he held a fundamental, almost canine neediness that was personally off-putting, but this particular familiar had seemed to enjoy it. Cohabitating with a familiar in that way was looked down upon by most vampires, but Nandor seemed willing to face the sneering and snide comments from his peers.

As the Marquis felt the gentle sandpapery sensation of Sam’s tongue in his ear as he began to groom him, he supposed he could understand the sentiment.

 

Sometimes, Charmaine felt bad for Colin Robinson. It couldn’t be easy being the only single guy in a house full of couples. She knew how strong Nadja and Laszlo’s marriage was. She’d heard their ups and downs from next door, but they were like her and Sean: no matter how bad it got, they always came back to each other.

And everyone in the house had been so helpful when Sean was recovering. Nandor had even sent Guillermo over with dinner a couple of times and an offer to help clean the house. And of course Laszlo had seemed overjoyed to take over their caring for their lawn. The yard looked better than it ever had.

Charmaine kept her hand rubbing circles on Guillermo’s back where he was hunched over in one of the old chairs in the hall. All the folding ones in the community center had been dragged inside the auditorium for the meeting, and Charmaine could see the foam stuffing creeping out of a rip in the fabric. She had a glass of water for when he’d stopped hyperventilating long enough to drink it.

“Lisa Castellano had no right to speak to you like that. She needs to mind her own damn business.” She said, trying to soothe him.

And wasn’t it just like her, to start making snide comments at the HOA annual meet-and-greet. Poor Guillermo had gone wide-eyed and pale and fled not long after she started in on him and Nandor, and now he was bent over with his elbows on his knees and his hands in his hair, stammering to himself.

“I called him that… in public… eleven years…” he whimpered, almost inaudibly.

“You two have a beautiful relationship.” Guillermo made a strangled noise. “You think Lisa’s first marriage made it as long as you two have? You two’ve got something real.” Guillermo’s breathing picked up again, which was not what Charmaine was trying to accomplish here.

Charmaine wasn’t a busybody like her husband could be, and she sure as hell wasn’t as judgmental as some of the other names on their neighborhood Facebook group. She had fled west to San Francisco for college when she was younger, and she knew that sometimes people’s relationships looked different from what Lisa and Sandra thought was “appropriate”. So what if Nandor and Guillermo had their own thing going?

Besides, and Charmaine felt guilty for thinking this, Nadja and Laszlo seemed to be the cause of most of the problems coming from that household. It was hard to top three incidents of sex on the front lawn in three nights.

 

did you get a picture of the latin hw?

 

You will not believe what happened at work

 

what?

 

Guess!!

 

uhh you had to kick people out of a screening

for doing stupid shit

like you do every shift

 

Yes but guess what movie

THE SAW 2 SCREENING

 

???why are you showing saw

 

We’re doing a 2000s horror retrospective this week

The projectionist came to get me because they were literally probably about to fuck

 

not illegal?

 

No like really

It was these two middle aged guys

One of them literally had the balls to bitch at us and say we had no right

Like it was constitutionally inscribed that they could play grab ass

The other guy was at least embarrassed about it

Like he hadn’t literally been in the other dudes lap while some dude onscreen was slicing his neck up like he was making sushi

I came in and just blood spray on screen and ass fondling on deck

 

so that’s how hard you have to be making out to get kicked out

six degrees from penetration

 

What?

 

movie joke nevermind

 

They were legit in the front row

Everyone behind them could see them

Also HEAR them

Garth wanted to ban them but Rob said no because they had season passes and apparently they know some friends of his that come to all the silent film screenings

 

that’s wild

so did you get a picture of the latin hw?