The day after they moved into the tiny flat above the barber's shop, where Leo would spend the next ten years sweeping the floors, and the next forty-five after that honing his craft to become the best barber in Southend, Leo gave Hal a small wooden box, and motioned for his friend to take a seat at the kitchen table.
Hal slid the lid off the box to reveal a set of twenty-eight dominoes, neatly packed in increasing numerical order. "Leo, how could you possibly afford…?" he began, but Leo cut him off with a wave of his arm as he sat down opposite the vampire.
"I want you to line these up," Leo ordered.
"Why?" asked Hal, but Leo just raised his eyebrows mysteriously, so Hal did as he was told.
He picked up a tile, and inspected it. There were two sunken black pips, one on either side of an indented line running down the middle of the ivory background, with a brass pin in the very centre.
"You and me," Leo smiled. "Each dot is alone, on either side of the line, but together they make up one whole piece."
Hal beamed at his friend. "Together," he agreed. Just as he was about to place it down, though, his eyes caught on a chip in the paint of one of the spots. Seeing Hal's hands begin to shake, Leo followed his gaze to the imperfection in the shining varnish.
"That one is me, Hal," he said gently. "Because you like to be polished and perfect, while I am rough, and have flaws. But you see my good qualities, and you appreciate me anyway."
Hal took a shuddering breath and nodded. He concentrated on quieting the tremor, until, finally, he was able to place the domino upright on the table. Leo's dot was above his.
"Very good!" Leo congratulated him. "Now the next one."
Fifty-five years later, Hal sat on the edge of his bed in an unfamiliar house, alone. He twirled the domino in his fingers, over and over again, feeling for the tiny crack in the paint, another tear escaping from his eyes every time it faced away from his heart.