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A Measure of Kindness

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“One hundred is too much,” Tommy complained, throwing a hand over his face. He was curled up on Wilbur’s couch, while the man himself was perched on the armrest like some sort of lanky gargoyle.

“Fine. What about one twenty?”

“Wilbur. Look me in the eyes. That's going up instead of down, bitch, don’t you know how bargaining works at all?”

Laughing, Wilbur smirked at Tommy. “Well, I haven’t taken school in at least a few centuries, so maybe I don’t. Anyways, on your end aren’t you supposed to be raising the price, not lowering it? That’s how bargaining works, not… whatever you’re doing here.” He waved a hand dismissively.

Tommy looked almost guilty. “No it's not... you fucking… immortal mosquito bastard.”

“Y’know, I love your insults. Have I told you that?” Wilbur grinned. “They’re very… eloquent.”

Tommy huffed, turning his head. “They’re great, Wilbur! How dare you? Maybe the hundreds you pay me are necessary for my emotional compensation.”

“The hundreds are a tip, not your legal fees.” Wilbur shifted, and let himself fall backwards onto the couch, his knees still hooked over the armest. His hair flopped onto the cushions, narrowly missing Tommy’s lap.

“You mean all this has been me arguing over what tip I’m getting? Not my hourly pay?”

“Listen, I can’t change your wage, can I? That’s up to you, Mr Independent Contractor. This is just me supporting local food service workers.”

“ ‘Local food service workers.’ ” Tommy glowered. “You think you’re so funny, Big Dubs.”

“I am. It's called having self awareness, Tommy. You should get some.”

“Fuck off.” 

Tommy gave Wilbur’s upside down face a glare, then reached out and tousled his hair. Wilbur seemed to enjoy doing the same thing to Tommy, for whatever reason, so this was payback.

Wilbur’s eyes softened and he smiled at Tommy. “Awww… you’re picking up my habits.”

“Fucking - the only thing I’ve ever picked up of yours would be that antique silverware you left on the table the first time I came here, Wil.”

“Can I have that back, by the way?” Wilbur sighed. “It’s an heirloom.”

“You said you bought it yourself when you were drunk and having an emotional crisis in the 1700s,” Tommy recited dutifully.

“Still an heirloom. It’s old.”

“ You’re old.”

“Such a smart child, aren’t you? I haven’t heard that one before. Not at all. You’re the first.”

“I’m not a child! Fuck you, fuck you.”

“That’s also something I’ve never heard before. Especially not from you. You’re so creative.”

“I am, thank you, the ladies all compliment me on it.” Tommy thumped himself on the chest. 

“This is why I don’t usually mingle with children, y’know. So boring. Fuck you guys.”

Tommy scowled. “Being 468 is much better, is that what you’re saying? Yeah right. You’re just old. Real old, as in you should be dead and buried by now.”

Wilbur cooed, and reached for Tommy’s hand. “Oh, you remember my exact age? That’s so sweet.”

“Fucking - nobody but you would think that's sweet.” Tommy ducked away, sputtering.

“They should. Being old is cool, Tommy. You’re just an ageist prick.” Wilbur sat up on his elbows, and tugged at the collar of his shirt.

“Most people don’t get to look 20 for eternity, bitch. Nobody’s even going to know how ‘cool’ you are.”

“Well, yeah. They’d get all jealous if they did. Start making little clubs.” Like the Vampire Hunters Guild, Wilbur meant, but it went unsaid.

Tommy choked on a laugh, clearly picking up on the reference.

Wilbur made a noncommittal noise. “Look, I’m just saying, living forever is kind of neat.”

“Sure, if you like sorting sand for eternity and a half,” Tommy muttered.

“My sand collection only took me about 60 years to accumulate, I’ll have you know.” Wilbur beamed, clearly happy with his accomplishments.

“I guess a normal person could do that. If any person would count as normal after eating fucking sand. Seriously, Wilbur, what the fuck?”

“Is that worse than drinking blood in your books?” Wilbur snickered. “I swear, I’m a very normal person, Tommy.”

“Yeah, right, bitch boy. You’re fucking weird as shit.”

Wilbur gave Tommy’s hand a quick squeeze, and he frowned in response.

“Is it time?” Tommy asked. “You’re getting a little clingy.”

“I guess. I don’t know, are you feeling good?”

“Yeah, I’m doing pretty pog. Pretty pogchamp, even.”

“Right… want to put on some music? I’ll grab you some juice for after.”

A wild grin spread across Tommy’s face. “Able Sisters, Able Sisters.”

“You have too much fun with this, Toms,” Wilbur groaned. “It scares me.”

“What, you want me not to have fun while being your source of protein? That’s shit.”

“I want you to have fun… in ways that don’t assault my eardrums, how about.”

“No.”

Wilbur groaned. “Fucking hell.” He walked out of the living room, and Tommy picked up his phone to put some music on. Able Sisters… Wii shop music theme… all the classics. The first time Wilbur had seen his playlist, he just about had an aneurysm. 

The initial notes of the song started blaring, and Wilbur came back into the room carrying a big glass full of smoothie.

“That’s not juice,” Tommy pointed out.

Wilbur looked… proud of himself. “No, it’s a smoothie. See, I made it just for you. Strawberry pineapple.”

“Really? Can you even taste it?”

“Not at all. And I have extra… you can take it with you for later.”

“Food and bribery? You’ve gone all out, man.”

“I know,” Wilbur said smugly. He sank into the couch, pulling a blanket over his chest and opening an arm. “Tommy?”

He shifted to Wilbur's side, and rested his head on the man's shoulder.

"Arm or neck?"

"Neck."

Wilbur traced a spot with two fingers. "This okay?"

"Mhm."

"Right, now tell me to stop if it hurts too bad." He sank his fangs into flesh, and blood trickled into his mouth, warm and rich.

Tommy jerked a little, and Wilbur stroked his back.

"I reckon you should do… ear piercings…"

Now came the difficult task of not laughing while Tommy said shit like that.

He relaxed a bit, his words coming out easier. "You'd make good money, Will. This feels fine. I don't even have piercings, but I hear there's guns involved, that's more painful, for sure."

Techno would disagree, Wilbur thought. He certainly liked his piercings more than the vampire bites he’d accumulated over the years.

Tommy nuzzled closer, and Wilbur felt a surge of protectiveness, bundling Tommy up in his arms.

"Fucking… stop purring. You're interrupting my music."

Wilbur hadn’t even realized he’d been doing that. He let himself purr louder, just for the sake of it. His throat rumbled, and the sound resonated through his chest.

“Wilbur…” Tommy whined. “Wilbur, why. My Able Sisters, no no no no no.”

Patting Tommy on the back consolingly, Wilbur tried not to smile. That would probably hurt him while he was being fed from.

Strength was flowing back into Wilbur’s body, his arms feeling lighter, steadier, as he took in more  of his sustenance.

Tommy’s blood tasted like spice, strange as it was. It depended on the person, that taste. It was never bad.

Eventually, he pulled away, and looked Tommy in the eyes. His head was drooping a little.

“Hey Toms, you good?”

Tommy hummed. 

“Do you feel lightheaded, or just sleepy?” Lightheadedness would be evident of blood loss, while tiredness was a side effect of vampire venom, which healed and numbed wounds. 

“...sleepy,” he said, punctuating his words with a yawn.

“Okay, good.”

Wilbur sat up and grabbed the smoothie, holding a straw to Tommy’s lips.

“Could you drink, please? There you go.”

He waited until Tommy was more than half done before letting him stop. Then he pulled an extra wool blanket over the both of them and laid down on the couch, Tommy clinging to his side.

Vampires didn’t need to sleep, but Wilbur liked resting all the same. He was comfy, his thoughts slowed down, and Tommy seemed to enjoy his presence. That was enough.

(He’d also taken the time to turn the Able Sisters theme off, which made relaxing a hell of a lot easier. Tommy would have to deal.)

-

An hour later, Tommy came awake, poking Wilbur in the nose before he even had a chance to notice.

“You little menace,” Wilbur said, poking him back. He laughed.

“How was the food? I’m expecting a 5 star yelp review, Wil.”

“The food was good but the customer service was terrible.”

“No no no. Fuck you. Fuck you. You’re a wrongun. I am great in all ways.”

“I’m kidding of course, you’re the best. 10 stars.” Wilbur crossed his fingers, in clear view of Tommy’s face.

The pillow that smacked him in the chest a few seconds later wasn’t exactly unexpected. Neither was the string of swears that greeted his ears. 

“You fucking bitch I don’t know why I put up with this you’re all weird and have fucking dietary restrictions and dress like a soft boy-”

Wilbur cackled. Tommy pounced.

Within a few moments they were both reduced to lying in a comfortable sprawl on the floor, Tommy because of exhaustion, Wilbur because he’d been feeling left out. 

He turned his head to the side, and counted scratches in the hardwood. He’d need to deal with those… eventually. He’d had this apartment for a few hundred years at this point, it needed a bit of work.

“Hey. Tommy?” Wilbur closed his eyes.

“Yeah?”

“Would you like to come to the aquarium with me tomorrow? I - I just happened to have extra tickets, and I know you probably have stuff to do but I think it might be fun. They have orcas.”  

Wilbur couldn’t keep the nerves out of his voice. Tommy hadn’t taken kindly to being asked things like this when they’d first met. He’d probably still think of it as kindness born of pity, as he tended to do. 

Foster kids were oh so wary of any help, which was why Wilbur had to dress his charity up as necessary for the both of them. Tommy might not even be a foster kid anymore. Wilbur had a sneaking suspicion that he had run away, that he was actually homeless.

There was a long stretch of silence.

“Why?” Tommy asked, almost pleading. “Why? Isn’t that expensive?”

“Huh?”

“You really, seriously, want to go somewhere with me? Me, of all people?”

“Of course I do, Tommy, I like spending time with you.” Wilbur sat up, and there was Tommy, staring in bewilderment.

“That’s not true. I know - I know you only care about me for my blood. Because it’s convenient, isn’t it? Fucking hell - I know that’s the only reason you’d ever invite me here.”

“Tommy…” Now Wilbur didn’t know what to say. “That’s not it. I like you, as a person.”

“I’m just a human.”

“Yeah, and?” Wilbur blinked. “Tommy, you seemed so comfortable around me. Can I just ask... why didn’t you say something about this?”

Tommy sniffed, and Wilbur abruptly noticed the shine in his eyes. “I didn’t want to ruin anything. I thought - I thought you only put up with me because you needed to.”

“Oh no, no… come here.”

Tommy fell into Wilbur’s awaiting embrace.

“Of course I care about you, Tommy. You’re funny, and smart, and you deserve so much. And I don’t mind that you’re human, not at all.

“I know lots of humans, they’re certainly more interesting to talk to than my bunch. I’m gonna be honest with you: I like meeting new people, and it’s hard to do that with vampires.”

Tommy giggled, choked off and quiet.

“I should have said this sooner, but look: I see you as a friend, Tommy.”

Tightening his fingers on Wilbur’s shirt, Tommy whispered “me too.”

In saying those words, he hadn’t hesitated. Tommy had cared about Wilbur for who knew how long, all while assuming Wilbur didn’t feel the same. It made something in the vampire’s heart clench, still and unbeating as it was.

“I’ll come to the aquarium with you,” Tommy said, all of a sudden. “I will. If you still want me.”

“Of course I do, Toms. Of course.”