Nandor is confused. It is the start of his first night in the Formerly Fanged, and he is currently face-to-face with Jan, who brandishes a mean-looking pair of pliers. True fear fills his heart, and if it still beat, he swore it would be hammering by now. In his nervous state, his thoughts drifted to Guillermo: to his beautiful, tear streaked face and shiny eyes.
He wondered if he was anything more than a pair of fangs to the human. He shook the thought away, and looked at Jan. She wears a piercing, zealous look that bores into his unsure soul, and it fills the doubts with purpose, to be human. He opens his mouth, and lets his deadly incisors be ripped from his gums. The pain felt like rebirth.
In all honesty, during his first week, Nandor didn’t truly believe he could become human. He simply wanted to give this whole “community living” a try. The fact that Jan was so beautiful didn’t hurt, either. He still thinks of his housemates, every now and then. Specifically Guillermo. Sometimes he expects the smaller man to come bursting through the doors in a blaze of glory at any moment, like he did for Nandor at the theatre many months ago.
He didn’t know why he thought this, because he wasn’t in any danger, of course, but that fact didn’t stop the thoughts from coming regardless.
But as every night came and went, those thoughts of the smaller, bespectacled human coming to see him slowly drifted out of his mind. And when Jan suggested that he cut his long locks, of which Guillermo had enjoyed brushing so thoroughly, Nandor couldn’t agree fast enough.
Then when she suggested he trade his tunic, cape, boots and deerskin trousers for a fuzzy sweater and shorts, he welcomed the way his new vestments made him feel lighter. His chest felt more exposed without his layers of clothing, but he welcomed the way in which the new sense of belonging had taken residence within him like a shielding presence.
Then there was Jan. She was a force to be reckoned with. Her zeal for their way of life lit a spark within Nandor like he’d never felt before. When they made love together at night, it was unlike anything he’d felt in years: not even Gail made him feel like this. She took the empty, lifeless heart in his chest and breathed life, purpose, and power into it. He felt truly alive for the first time in nearly 800 years.
She whispered in his ear and told him they would be unstoppable together, that they were a force to be reckoned with together, that his old housemates were stupid for treating him the way that they did. Nobody would ever understand what they had, everybody would tell him he’s crazy, but he and Jan know the truth of it all. And after 2 weeks, he no longer thought of Guillermo.
Guillermo is here. Why was he here? The smaller man was looking at him with a strange sort of desperation tinting his deep amber gaze. Nandor couldn’t help but notice that he wasn’t in his usual attire… where did he get gym clothes? And why did he look so handsome in them?
“Are you here to spy on me!?” Nandor hissed under his breath, and Guillermo’s eyes flashed with sadness, desperation intensifying.
“No! I just wanted to--”
Jan’s raspy voice filled the room over the PA system, announcing the start of their workout.
Nandor is swathed in thick darkness. He can’t see the edges of the cage that confines him, but he’s able to catch the glint of the silver chains against subtle, soft ambient light with his vampiric vision. He’s been in this cage for an unspeakable amount of time. All Nandor knows is that it's been too long.
His roommates find him in a depression, and they avoid him. They find him “brainwashed,” and they lock him in a cage. But not once does it dawn on any of these idiots that maybe Nandor just needs to talk to one of them? No, it doesn’t. So he sits in the dark and brews in his frustration, his fists clenched, resting on his knees, violently grinding his teeth.
When the lights come on, it’s the last person he wants to see, standing there sheepishly. Guillermo has the audacity to be sheepish in front of him! The man practically kicked the fear of God back into all of his friends!
Where his meekness might’ve made him feel the warmth of affection once, it only serves to make Nandor shake with anger now.
“What do you want,” he spits, and Guillermo flinches away infinitesimally. Nandor regrets being so harsh, but only a little.
“I- uhm-- I just--”
“Spit it out.” Nandor hissed once again, relishing in the way Guillermo shrinks in on himself.
“I have blood here for you. You need to eat-- Jan was starving you.” Guillermo held up a flask, presumably filled with blood, walking closer to his cage.
“I don’t have to do anything. Now get out of here.” Nandor met Guillermo’s shiny eyes with a scathing gaze. Maybe now Guillermo will finally understand that he’s not some child to be coddled.
Guillermo took a deep breath, eyes visibly filling with tears, and uncapped the flask. Shoulders slumped slightly, the small human approached, the scent of blood getting stronger as he approached.
“Get away! I am a human and I don’t eat blood!” Nandor hissed, but Guillermo remained unphased, he steadily approached. “Do you hear me? Do you ever listen?” Nandor screeched again.
“Yes! Yes I do listen! I’ve never stopped listening! I hung onto your every word for 11 years, but you never treated me with the same respect!” Guillermo snapped, edging closer to the cage, meeting Nandor’s glare with his own fiery gaze.
“I care about you. I just want to help.” Guillermo said, a newfound strength in his voice as he met Nandor’s gaze. The anger within those piercing, beautiful human eyes shifted into something else, a strong emotion that Nandor couldn’t name, even if he wanted to.
Without breaking his gaze, Guillermo placed the uncapped flask of blood inside the cage. Turning around, the small human walked away without a word.
Nandor had only been back at the house for 2 days, when Guillermo was awoken by a pained howling coming from the basement. It was nearly nightfall, and the rest of the house had yet to wake, so Guillermo was the only one disturbed by the sound.
He shot out of his cot, scrambling for his glasses, some sweatpants and a tee shirt, before he made a beeline for the basement door. The sight that greeted him when he arrived at Nandor’s cage was gruesome, even for a man well acquainted with violence like Guillermo. The vampire had attempted to rip his fangs out by himself. However, it looked like he only succeeded in getting his fangs halfway out, and leaving them angled so they were lodged in his gums.
He wailed and screamed at the combination of the sharp incisor ripping at his gums, and the tooth that was still connected to his nerves. It looked like he’d tried to use one of the bars as leverage to mutilate himself. Guillermo shuddered, and he felt like he was going to be sick.
“Nandor?” He said frantically, and received only a panicked wail in return.
”Shitshitshitshit--” Guillermo’s heart was constricting painfully at the display of agony, and he quickly rushed to grab the keys to the cage.
“Nandor, I’m coming!” he announced urgently, rushing to the door of the prison. Nandor currently stood in the center of the entrapment, wailing and crying at his predicament, his hands outstretched and fists clenched.
Guillermo inhaled a shaky breath, “Alright, I’m going to open the door now,” the human announced carefully, the vampire simply sobbed in response.
The moment that the cage door was open, however, Nandor’s entire demeanor changed, like a switch that had been flipped. Nandor’s display of pain almost immediately ceased, and the offending fang fell from his mouth like a lame pebble. Guillermo quickly closed the door behind him, and its good that he did, because Nandor keys in on the human like a predator to prey, and his eyes turn sharp and deadly with focus.
“...Nandor..?” Guillermo said, taking a step back, genuine fear coating his voice. The vampire had never looked at him this way, the focus which he regarded the human was unnerving. The tension between them both like a rubber band pulled to its limits-- ready to snap.
There was a flurry of movement, and Guillermo felt a bulky weight slam into him, knocking the wind from his chest and sending them both tumbling to the floor. Nandor landed on top of him, thick thighs framing his hips, bulky fingers encasing his wrists.
“Nandor! Wh--?” Guillermo choked out, as he struggled underneath him. Nandor merely hissed in response, “Let me out!” his face so close to Guillermo’s he could feel the rush of unnecessary breath on his face.
The other man gritted his teeth, schooling his features from the shocked and hurt expression he wore, to that of a blank mask. Lightning fast, Guillermo shifted his weight to the side, using the leverage from his legs to buck Nandor off of him in one smooth motion. He rolled away from the vampire, springing to his feet, raising his hands to the defensive, one held out, another thumbing the silver crucifix he kept with him always.
“What is wrong with you?!” Guillermo screeched, thoroughly incredulous.
“I want to go back to Jan!” he roared in response, running towards Guillermo with a ferocity and speed the human never thought would be directed at him.
“Do you really hate it here that much? Do you hate being with me that much?!” Guillermo sobbed, but Nandor wasn’t listening. The man was coming at him with frenzied determination, and he wouldn’t stop until he had the keys.
Not going to happen Guillermo thought.
Nandor approached him quickly, his fists raised and ready to strike. The older man must’ve gotten rusty from his years in the shadows, because Guillermo could instantly tell that his swing was wide. The human dodged the fist hurtling his way, and grabbed his wrist, planting his palm in the center of Nandor’s chest. Using momentum against him, Guillermo tripped the larger man, pulling his arm and pushing upwards on his chest, and sent him sailing through the air above his shoulder. Nandor landed supine on the ground, with a positively painful sounding ‘whump!’
Guillermo clung to the arm he’d used to take him down, placing his knee on the softness of Nandor’s chest.
The human man had tears in his eyes, and Nandor vaguely thought he looked beautiful like this. He hated the thought, he hated the way this small, breathtaking human made him feel. The silence between them both was thick enough to span galaxies, until Guillermo sniffled.
“I won’t hurt you,” he croaked brokenly, his grip on Nandor’s wrist tightening protectively.
Nandor met his eyes in an unwavering, piercing gaze, “You already have.”
The smaller man felt like he’d been slapped. Guillermo’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. He had no clue how to respond to that. The human was always used to being the spurned one in an argument. He’d never imagined a time would come where his actions might’ve affected Nandor, but maybe he was still too naive.
“I--” Guillermo floundered, he hadn’t the slightest clue what to say. He had Nandor pinned under him, the vampire being physically at his mercy, and yet it was Guillermo who felt trapped by his honest gaze.
“I’m sorry,” he breathed subtley, though he knew Nandor would hear him.
Nandor’s harsh expression smoothed out, features softening, “You don’t even know what you’re apologizing for, do you?” his voice was soft, albeit a little rough.
“I’m sorry...I don’t,” Guillermo bowed his head, suddenly finding the pattern on Nandor’s sweater extremely interesting.
“Stop apologizing.” He said, voice soft yet firm, “Guillermo, I--” he started again, taking a deep breath, the muscles in his arms and chest contracted, as if he were bracing himself for something he’d been dreading to say aloud.
“Am I just a pair of fangs to you?”
Guillermo freezes. His limbs go stiff atop Nandor and the vampire can feel the way his question affects him, and his stomach drops: that can’t be good.
Guillermo takes a shaky breath, his eyes going to look at a place faraway as he thinks.
Guillermo wants to scream in his face, he wants to tell him he’s everything. He’s his reason for staying and his reason for wanting, needing eternity because it’d only be worth it if Nandor was by his side. He’d killed for him, put his life on the line for him and would do it again without hesitation. He’d hang the moon and all the stars in the sky for this vampire, and yet this idiot still thought his fangs were the only thing that mattered to Guillermo.
How stupid could someone be, to see Guillermo’s lovestruck face gazing down at him every morning with devotion and care and still not be completely convinced that Guillermo was beyond the point of any return. But his throat felt like it was filled with cotton, and he choked on the monumental size and depth of emotions that he felt for this dumb, incredible, strong vampire. And unfortunately, the other man took Guillermo’s silence as affirmative to his fears.
“I--” his chest was heaving, moving up and down in quick succession as he panicked. There was no way he could answer this question without spilling the entire damn can of beans everywhere and ruining his relationship with the vampire. But it was already ruined, so--
“Guillermo, I’m tired. Please get off me.” the vampire huffed, “I promise I won’t be going anywhere, just--” Nandor’s chest deflated with visible disappointment, “Get off me.”
Guillermo shot up from atop Nandor, like the vampire was a pile of hot coals. Tears burned his eyes once again, blurring his vision, as his throat felt stuffed full of scratchy fabric, and his stomach felt heavy with stones. He backed out of the cage, not once turning away from the vampire, and when he bumped into the iron, he quickly turned tail and made a hasty retreat.
Nandor had spent a week in this cage, and his hair was steadily becoming a matted mess. Since the scuffle he had with Guillermo on his second day, the human refused to come near him, much less look at him, so he seriously doubted that he’d be able to ask him for assistance.
Every day, his housemates had a licensed vampire therapist come and work with Nandor for a couple hours. Every day, Guillermo could see slight improvements to his demeanor. But the tension between them both was still palpable.
Guillermo knew he needed to fix things, and he had to do it now. The thought of losing Nandor was obviously too much for Guillermo to bear, the man had risked his life on several occasions to make sure that thought never became a reality. So thus, there he stood, one hand clutching a hair brush, while the other hovered inches away from the door handle.
In his head, he struggled to find the right words, but he knew that if he tried thinking too hard about what he’d say, he would never face the vampire. In a split second decision, he opened the door. Nandor sat on his bed, head in his hands, feet flush to the floor. He looked neither composed nor at peace. Guillermo’s hands itched to place a warm hand to his cold shoulder. Instead, he swallowed loudly, and cleared his throat.
Nandor’s head whipped up to meet his gaze. They both stood there for a moment, the tension spanning long and thick between them, eyes interlocked with the other. Guillermo took a breath.
“I’m sorry,” they said to the other in unison.
“No, Nandor. You had every right to be mad--”
“No, it was uncalled for--”
“Stop talking.” Guillermo blurted, not unkindly. He simply needed to get his word in, “I needed that to happen, okay? I had no idea I was hurting you until it was almost too late,” he drew in a deep breath,
“I don’t want to lose you.”
Nandor’s eyebrows rose so far up, Guillermo thought they might fall off his forehead.
“L-lose me?” Nandor breathed dumbly, “what--what do you--” the vampire stuttered, eyes wide and jaw slack.
“You’re so much more than just a pair of fangs to me, Nandor.” He said suddenly, before he lost his courage. Stepping closer to his cage, he continued, “I’m sorry I hadn’t made that clear to you.”
He was in front of the cage now, and he gripped the bars in his hands with merciless force, knuckles turning bone-white. His eyes burned with the threat of tears and his throat hurt from pushing years of emotions up through it. Like a bad, emotional indigestion.
“Nandor, I’ve killed for you, I’ve put my life on the line for you more than once, served you thanklessly for a decade, and loved you all the while. I’m sorry I made you feel like the only part of you that mattered to me was your promise of eternal life.” Guillermo could feel tears rolling down the crest of his cheeks.
“Because, to be honest? The only thing that made eternal life worthwhile, was the hope that you’d be the one to spend it with me.”
“Guillermo…” Nandor looked stunned. He sat stock still, frozen with shock.
Nandor still wasn’t responding, he just looked at Guillermo with this star-struck expression that unnerved the other man. He rushed to fill the intense silence.
“--You don’t have to say anything, just…” Guillermo wrung out his hands from the nerves, “your hair is matted, can I brush it for you?”
Nandor looked at him dumbly once again, his mouth opening and closing like a drowning fish. After a moment, though, he seemed to snap out of it suddenly, eyes filling with unlife once more.
“Y-yes. By all means.” He gestured to the door of the cage, and Guillermo carefully unlocked it, stepping inside and closing the door behind him.
Being in this confined space with Nandor was somehow more intimate than confessing his undying love for him was. Guillermo felt warm, his cheeks burning from the tears, and from something else. Nandor was still looking at him with an intense expression that Guillermo could only describe as dark and complex. It made his stomach tie itself into a mess of knots and butterflies, for reasons he didn’t dare to name.
Nandor pulled his legs up onto his bed, turning his back to Guillermo and scooting forward, as a form of invitation. Guillermo obliged the wordless command, sitting behind Nandor, thighs bracketing his hips, lightly brushing the skin there. Guillermo, despite having done this easily thousands of times over a decade, still felt out of his depth. Out of all the times he’d done this, not once was he straddling Nandor at his back. It was maddeningly distracting, and Guillermo suddenly forgot how exactly he used to do this.
Nandor sensed his hesitance, and sheepishly looked over his shoulder at the smaller human, “Guillermo, your heart is beating very fast… are you okay?”
The comment about his heart beat only served to make it beat faster. Nandor furrowed his brow.
“Guillermo…?” He shifted his body so he was facing Guillermo, now. Their physical proximity doing very little to calm him down. “Is your human heart attacking you?” he reaches his large hand out towards Guillermo, placing the sturdy mass against his breast.
“Wow, it’s really going fast...Humans are so amazing,” Nandor stared at Guillermos chest, looking awestruck, as if he hadn’t spent the last 750 years killing the very things he praised.
“Y-yeah,” Guillermo said weakly. Nandor met his eyes, then.
“Did you really mean what you said?” His gaze was once again dark and intense, except that look was so overwhelming up close, like the sun.
“About...how you--” Nandor paused, pondering his words, “--care about me, beyond what I can give you?” He placed his other hand atop Guillermo’s shoulder, gently sliding it to rest upon the junction between his neck and collarbone.
“Of-of course.” Guillermo breathed weakly, feeling faint, both for the close proximity and the hands on his body.
“Then…” the hand upon his shoulder slides up the smooth plane of his neck, “would you mind if I--” his other hand, currently resting on his chest, slowly slid down his front, over his stomach and down to the dimple of his hip. Nandor’s face inched closer to his own, and a small, confident smirk spread across his lips, which did some things to Guillermos insides, honestly.
“--take your breath away, as the humans say?”
Guillermo couldn’t wait a second longer for this moment to come, and instead he decided it was his turn to stun him. He surged up, quick as lightning, and planted a quick kiss to Nandor’s lips.
When he sat back down on his haunches, Nandor was looking at him as if he’d hung the moon, his eyebrows raised, eyes widened, and mouth agape, he was the picture of shock. Until something in his eyes clicked into place, and he was sliding his hand up to cradle Guillermo’s jaw. Nandor surged down to capture the human’s lips in a bruising kiss, pressing his cold and soft lips insistently to Guillermo’s warm and chapped ones.
He did, quite literally, take Guillermo’s breath away, as the human let out a sigh against his lips, letting himself be angled just so. He could feel the slight warmth of a tongue peeking into his mouth, beyond Nandor’s lips, and he let himself release a wanton noise, deep from within his throat. He could feel his fangs against his lips, too, and the feeling was exhiliarating.
Nandor’s hand was pawing at his hip, slowly snaking its way around to his backside, resting sturdily against the bare skin at the small of his back. Guillermo felt as if his entire body had been lit aflame with sensation, and the sturdy weight of Nandor’s body kept him trapped in place, so he could simply melt into the vampire’s arms and enjoy it.
When Nandor finally pulled away to let his human breathe, he took a moment to look at him. His lips, red with life, were swollen from kissing, his hair was mussed in the back. Even though they’d just been kissing, he still looked debauched.
“You’re beautiful,” Nandor said, without thinking. Guillermo’s eyes snapped to meet his, they were filled with shock and… something else. Nandor had seen that look in his eyes so many times before, but only now was he wise enough to see what it meant. Love. Nandor grinned, his hand still laying possessively over the small of his back, as he leaned in once more to kiss his cheek, his nose, his eyelids, his forehead. He allowed the joyous sounds of Guillermos laughs to wash over him, and he finally pulled away.
Guillermo was beaming, like a ray of sunshine bottled just for Nandor, deadly yet intense. Nandor was gone for him.
“Guillermo,” he grinned lazily, “my hair really does need to be brushed, though.”
Nandor spent the rest of the evening, nestled in Guillermos lap, as he slowly and methodically removed the tangles from his hair. The man was so careful and gentle with his hair, that he barely felt a thing. He even dozed off a couple times, to the rhythmic strokes of the brush, and the light scrape of his fingernails against his scalp. Nandor essentially melted under Guillermo’s touch, as the smaller man slowly helped put him back together.
It’s been three weeks since he got back, the therapy, along with Guillermo’s love and support (and, if he’s honest, rocking body) helped immensely. Last night, he declared to Nadja that he was ready for Vampiric Council work again. So tonight was the night he was to “get back on the horse” as they say. He’d yet to don his old outfits since he got back, though. He’d stuck to shorts and tee shirts that Guillermo helped him fish from his closet or things he found at the charity shops. So there he stood, in front of his wardrobe, looking lost and overwhelmed, when he suddenly heard Guillermo come into his crypt. He felt himself smile.
“Hey, just wanted to let you know that Nadja’s awake. She’ll be leaving for the Council soon.” Nandor turned around to see his partner. The disorientation must’ve been written clear on his face, because Guillermo's kind expression immediately switched to that of worry.
“Nandor, what’s wrong?” he questioned softly, stepping closer.
“I am okay. It is just very stupid--” Nandor fidgeted with the rings on his fingers, a blatant display of anxiety, of which Guillermo didn’t miss.
“Whatever it is, it's not stupid. Your worries are not stupid." he asserted firmly.
Nandor sighed deeply, feeling deeply ashamed that, even after all this progress, he still didn’t know how to do the simplest things. He said as much out loud.
“Hey. None of that. Let me help you.” Guillermo asserted firmly, quickly drawing closer to the vampire. He placed a warm hand to his hip, giving it a small squeeze as he passed.
Nandor watched as his human carefully picked out his favorite old vestments, knowing exactly which pieces went where. The vampire couldn’t help but be in awe over this exhilarating human who knew so much about what he needed. He was a fool not to see it before.
When Guillermo had finished laying out the clothes, he looked to Nandor for his approval on the outfit and--yeah, that was exactly what he needed. It was his favorite combination of clothes, down to the small rings he’d paired it with. Nandor gave him a warm, loving smile in return.
“Need help getting them on?” Guillermo offered.
“But you’re not a familiar anymore,” Nandor said sheepishly.
“I know, I’m offering because I want to do this for you.” Guillermo replied candidly.
“Alright,” with the affirmative, Guillermo beamed, and Nandor felt his insides twist.
Every piece of clothing that Guillermo helped him don was another piece of armor that he placed upon himself with pride. Every cherished item that was placed upon him was another reminder of his long and full life, of the memories he’s made and the things and people he’s come to love.
This vampiric life, he realizes now, has not been a curse, but rather a gift that’s allowed him to see lands untold and find people he never would’ve met in his human life. His heart may lay dormant and his stomach may reject human foods: but it might just all be worth it, to see Guillermo’s smile and hear Laszlo sing, and listen to Nadja tell stories, or go on adventures with Colin. If he were human, he would’ve lost them to the march of time.
The soft brush of his human’s hands against his frame remind him of why he stands tall, as the small human placed more and more layers upon him, encouraging him and telling him he was beautiful and handsome and strong. But it was truly Guillermo who was so strong and remarkable, for he was rebuilding Nandor like a fortress after an enemy force had nearly decimated it. He would only remember his time at the Formerly Fanged as being one where he was constantly being stripped of his armor, of the things that made him who he was. But as he healed, he began to rediscover old and new things that made him Nandor. He began to reinforce and reconstruct the things that made him strong, with a foundation of love instead of fear. All because of a small human man who needed glasses to see, who loved twilight and played video games, he was starting to truly believe that maybe, just maybe, eternity wouldn’t be so bad after all.