“Oh look, here’s the one you got him last year.” Guillermo picked up a birthday card from the rack and handed it to Laszlo.
“He did enjoy this one very much,” Laszlo smiled at the memory. “But we need something new. We can’t just get him the same one.”
“Not like he remembers it from last year anyway,” Guillermo shrugged.
Laszlo narrowed his eyes, "I will know, Gizmo.” He opened the card and tinny music played, “Anyway, I don’t think Colin likes 'The Hamster Dance' anymore.”
“Well, just pick a different one then.”
“I’m trying. I need the perfect one.”
“Well, then we just need to find a first birthday card for someone who used to be your hundred-year-old friend who regenerated into a baby that you decided to raise and now view as a son. See any like that?”
Laszlo resisted the urge to hiss at Guillermo’s irritating sarcasm. “Remind me again why I invited you along for this instead of Nadja.”
“Because I actually care about Colin.”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
Guillermo sighed, “Laszlo, we’ve been standing in front of these cards for ten minutes! Just pick one so we can move on. Please!”
Laszlo was starting to regret inviting Gizmo along with him to get the preparations for Colin’s first birthday party. At least when he shopped alone, there was no one there to nag at him. He grazed his eyes over all of the card options again and tried to decide on which one Colin would like best. Finally, he saw one that he thought would work. It was simple but it still conveyed a sense of affection and care. The best part is that it left enough room on the inside so that a lot of people could sign it.
He handed it to Guillermo, “What about this one?”
Guillermo immediately put it in the basket he was carrying, “It’s perfect.”
“You didn’t even look at it.”
Guillermo looked over to him with a fake smile on his face, “I know that whatever you chose will be great, Daddy Laszlo.”
He rolled his eyes.
After checking out, Laszlo and Guillermo unpacked all of the decorations and supplies for the party in the car, then headed back home.
“Bringing your boyfriend?” Laszlo looked over to Guillermo from the passenger seat.
“Well, we’re not really official.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“Like we’re not super serious. We’re just casually hanging out.”
Laszlo scrunched up his face, “He’s one hell of a handsome fella. What’s stopping you from being serious with him?”
Guillermo sighed, “I don’t really wanna talk about this.”
“I just don’t understand. I mean, you’ve brought the boy over to the house a few times. Seems serious enough to me.”
“Well, it’s not. Anyway, I’ve only ever let him come inside the house when it was absolutely necessary.”
Laszlo shrugged, “So, you’re the one who doesn’t want to make it, as you say, official. Am I right?” Guillermo didn’t answer. Laszlo felt like pushing it, “Perhaps you’re still hung up on a certain 700-year-old idiot.”
“Why are we still talking about this? I thought I said to drop it!”
Laszlo could tell that he hit a nerve, “Fine. All I want to say is that you owe it to yourself to move on.”
Guillermo shook his head and chuckled cynically, “Just because you have a year of parenting under your belt doesn’t mean you need to give me fatherly advice, Laszlo. Thanks, but no thanks.”
He grinned and mumbled, “Cheeky bastard.”
A silence lingered between them for about a minute until Laszlo spoke up again, “So, what did you get for Colin?”
“I found him this old Team Jacob shirt at Goodwill the other week.”
“That Twilight shit?”
Guillermo nodded, “It was the first thing me and him really bonded over. Plus, I think it’s funny and I wanna see him in it.”
Laszlo chuckled, “He’ll appreciate that.”
Laszlo smiled inwardly to himself. He never would’ve realized how much he enjoyed Guillermo’s company but the past few months of him living back at the house, without Nandor, had opened Laszlo’s eyes. Gizmo was a good kid, if only Nandor had appreciated that.
“Where the fuck is he?” Laszlo was a bundle of nerves. He had spent all night putting up the decorations and organizing the festivities. He had told Colin to come midnight. But it was half past and he still wasn’t there.
A few weeks ago, Colin had moved into an apartment with Dave Lewis. Which meant that Laszlo had much less time to spend with him, and way more time to spend worrying about him.
Nadja touched his shoulder gently, “Calm down, my dark love muffin. I’m sure he will arrive shortly.”
Laszlo sighed and looked around the room. The birthday banner him and Gizmo bought was hanging in the entryway, so that Colin could be greeted by it right away. The guests were milling about, appearing jovial. He had already made sure that each one signed the birthday card. He even discussed his plan about jumping out of the shadows when Colin came in to surprise him. Everything was perfect. If only the boy was on time.
A few minutes later, the door opened. In walked a human.
“Marcus?” Guillermo walked over to him.
“Hey, uh, your roommate invited me over. Said there was a party happening. It’s pretty late but I wasn’t doing anything else.”
Laszlo watched as Guillermo turned his head to glare at him.
“I hope it’s okay that I came. I called you a few times but you didn’t answer. I figured you must’ve been busy getting everything ready for the party.”
“Yeah, yeah, I was.”
Laszlo got bored of listening to their conversation and addressed the group, “Not one of you hid in the shadows before the door opened like we discussed. What if that had been Colin? The surprise would’ve been ruined! Do better next time!”
Everyone around the room shrugged and went back to their socializing.
Guillermo stomped over to him, leaving his human not-boyfriend across the room by Nadja.
“Why the fuck did you invite him?” He yelled quietly.
“The more the merrier.”
“I swear to- You have no brain.”
Laszlo hissed at the near utterance of the G-word and the insult.
“This is a first birthday party for a man who looks like he’s in his mid-20s.”
Laszlo shrugged, “Just tell him the number one on the banner is a joke.”
“Okay, then how about the fact that this is a birthday party and there’s no food? No birthday cake?!”
Laszlo paused; the boy had a point there.
Guillermo continued, “Everyone here is drinking blood from glasses. He’s a human! Do you want him to know that vampires are real?”
“Perhaps I didn’t think it all the way through.”
Guillermo nodded snidely, “Yeah, perhaps not.”
“I simply want you to be unencumbered. To allow yourself to forget about that blundering fool Nandor.”
“I don’t need-”
Nadja’s boisterous voice interrupted him. “Everybody shut the fuck up and get into your hiding places! I hear Colin coming.”
Laszlo grabbed Guillermo and dragged him to a hiding spot.
A few seconds later, the door opened and everyone jumped out, yelling, “Surprise!”
But when Laszlo saw who had opened the door, it took everything in his power to not scream and murder everyone there.
“A surprise party for me? How did you all know I was coming back today?” In the doorway, a huge grin plastered Nandor’s face and he looked around the room with joy.
“You fucking stupid prick, Nandor! This isn’t for you. Read the fucking banner! This party is for Colin.”
Laszlo watched Nandor’s face drop and then noticed Colin and his pal Dave Lewis walk up the steps behind him.
“Hidey-ho.” Colin pushed past Nandor and looked at all of the decorations, “Oh wow. I didn’t know this was gonna be a big thing, Dad. You told me it was just gonna be family board game night.”
“Fuck’s sake, Nandor! You ruined the bloody surprise!”
Nandor was still stood in the doorway, his stupid mouth agape like he was looking to trap flies in it.
Colin shrugged, “Hey, don’t sweat it. I’m thoroughly surprised.”
Laszlo sighed and walked over to him, “Happy birthday, my boy.”
Colin smiled and gave him a side hug, “Thanks. You didn’t have to put all this together you know.”
“Pish posh. Of course I did. Your last birthday didn’t go so well. Figured I’d try to make up for it.”
Dave Lewis laughed, “I’m not lookin’ forward to that when my hundredth birthday comes.”
“Well, it could be worse. You could just die and not come back.”
Dave Lewis smiled and nodded slowly. Laszlo could tell that he was high as all hell. “True that, Mr. Cravensworth.”
“As I’ve told you many times before, you don’t need to call me that.” Laszlo looked at Colin, “Go mingle about. I have to sort some things out.”
“Aye, aye, captain.”
Laszlo turned around and looked at everyone. The local vampires that he invited were in a group talking to each other. Nadja was in the corner flirting with a freshly-turned vampire she’d met a few weeks ago. That left Guillermo, his boyfriend, and Nandor standing next to each other awkwardly. Laszlo knew that Guillermo absolutely despised him in that moment and he needed to go try to remedy the situation.
He walked up to the group, “So, what brings you back to Staten Island, Nandor?”
“I was just telling Guillermo that I was very lonely traveling all alone.”
Laszlo nodded, “I see. Well, you should probably go away. Upstairs, I mean. Unpack your things.”
“Well, that isn’t really possible. Is it Laszlo? I moved into his room, remember?” Guillermo’s tone of voice was full of utter vitriol and Laszlo tried not to flinch at it.
“Right,” Laszlo nodded. “Uh-”
“And who is this?” Nandor pointed to Marcus. “Did you finally get a new familiar, Laszlo?”
“Uh, no. No.” Laszlo knew he needed to change the subject, quickly. “Um, did you see Colin? He’s regenerated. I don’t know if anyone told you.”
Nandor narrowed his eyes and looked across the room towards Colin, “That is Colin Robinson?”
Laszlo watched as Guillermo grabbed Marcus’ arm and led him away from the group. Nandor looked over but Laszlo spoke before he could say anything about it.
“Yeah, it’s him. I found him in the basement, after he died. He was a baby.”
“And now he is a grown man?” Nandor looked confused.
“Yeah, turns out energy vampires age rather quickly.” Laszlo looked over to Guillermo and his not-quite boyfriend. He felt bad about Nandor showing up. Gizmo was clearly trying to keep his cool around Marcus, and failing.
“Okay. Well, I don’t need to keep having a conversation about Colin Robinson. That was enough. Now, tell me, who is that man with Guillermo?”
“I’ll have to catch up with you later, chap. We’re about to start the games and I’m in charge of them.”
Nandor opened his mouth but Laszlo left before he could say anything.
‘Fuck. Fuck!’ Laszlo thought this party couldn’t turn out any worse than it had started. It was only up from here... Hopefully.
He hurried over to Nadja, who was giggling and twirling the hair of the fair young vampire pulled close to her.
Laszlo butt himself in between them. Nadja's face dropped but he kept on anyway, “I need you to keep Nandor away from Gizmo and his boyfriend for the rest of the night.”
Nadja groaned, “How the fuck am I supposed to do that?”
“I don’t know. Just make sure they don’t talk or get too close. I’m confident you can do it, my darling.” Laszlo smiled and kissed her cheek before leaving her to her flirting, then he went to the fancy room.
“There’s a lot of energy radiating off you tonight.”
Laszlo had been getting some of the games that he had planned for the night ready as he turned around to see Colin standing in the doorway.
“Yeah, feel free to take it from me.”
Colin shook his head and smiled, “Oh, I don’t want it. Doesn’t taste good- too bitter.”
Laszlo sighed and sat on the couch.
“What’s got you so flustered? It’s a good party. You don’t need to be worried.”
“It’s not that. It’s fucking Nandor. Why the fuck did he have to show up tonight, of all nights?”
“Oh, is that who that was? I thought his face looked familiar.”
“Unfortunately so.” He put his head in his hands, “You’ve heard how Guillermo’s always been smitten with him?”
“Well, I invited the man that Guillermo’s been seeing to the party tonight, after he specifically told me that he didn’t want the guy to come. Because I thought it might help him get over Nandor. And now Nandor’s showed up. And everything’s fucked.”
“Well, that explains the weird energy I’ve been getting from those two.”
“And how’s that? A treat?”
Colin nodded, “Pretty tasty.”
Laszlo laughed, “You’re welcome for that.”
“Look,” Colin put his hand on Laszlo’s shoulder, “what’s done is done. You can’t control what happens now. They’re adults. They were gonna have to figure it out on their own eventually.”
“I know, but if I hadn’t-”
“Forget about it. Let’s just have fun tonight. I mean, you threw this big party for me. Celebrate it.”
Laszlo looked up at him and smiled, “You’re right. Now go back to being the kid. I much prefer the father role.”
Colin chuckled and shook his head, “So, what game are we going to play first?”
Laszlo smiled and held up a box. Twister. He knew that it was one of Colin’s favorites because the awkward and somewhat sexual positions people found themselves in when playing the game made for delicious energy.
“Oh, you are feeding me good tonight,” Colin grinned.
“Left foot blue!” Laszlo shouted among the cacophony of yelling and groaning from the players with twisted bodies trying to stay off the ground.
He had set up two mats so that more people could join in on the fun, which meant more energy for Colin and Dave Lewis to enjoy. They were both playing on a mat with Nadja and her young maiden, Ella. The other mat had Nandor and three of the local vampires playing. Guillermo and Marcus were in a corner of the room, whispering to each other. But Laszlo could still hear their conversation when he trained his ear on them.
“You can leave whenever you want, you know. These parties usually go pretty late.”
“It sounds like you don’t want me here.”
Guillermo paused for far too long and Laszlo cringed at the second-hand awkwardness.
He looked over to Colin to see if he was sensing the energy and found that both him and Dave Lewis’ eyes were glowing bright blue. Laszlo chuckled to himself and flicked the spinner on the board, yelling the next move, “Left hand yellow!”
He watched the horde of tangled limbs desperately attempting to untangle themselves, all while re-tangling themselves, then went back to eavesdropping.
“You didn’t even invite me here yourself. Your roommate did. God, I don’t think you’ve even told me his name. I feel like I barely know anything about you.”
Laszlo recoiled slightly at the G-word.
“It’s, it’s complicated. There’s so much to explain, and I-”
“If you explained it, it wouldn’t be so complicated, Guillermo. If you opened up to me, even just once, it would be easier. You have to trust me.”
“Marcus, it’s not that easy. There’s things you don’t know about-”
“I know! That’s why I want you to tell me.”
Guillermo sighed, “I can’t.”
“Hey! What’s the next move?” Someone yelled out to Laszlo.
He sighed and spun the wheel again, “Right hand red!”
Laszlo watched as Guillermo and Marcus left the room. Then suddenly, Nadja’s vampire girlfriend fell onto the floor, bringing down Nadja with her. Laszlo smiled as they laughed and kissed each other.
Colin looked down at them, “Move it. I got a game to finish here.”
Nadja and Ella got up and left the room, going who knows where to do who knows what. Laszlo had the urge to follow after them and watch the undoubtedly scintillating show but he needed to continue as host of the party.
After about ten long minutes, Dave Lewis was officially declared the winner of Twister.
After Twister, they had started a game of Operation. Guillermo walked into the room a few minutes later. No Marcus in sight. Laszlo groaned internally. He really cocked this one up.
“Oh good, Guillermo, you’re here. We are playing in teams and I still need a partner.”
Guillermo looked over to Nandor, “Oh, sorry, I don’t really feel like playing right now.”
“Ah, come on, Memo. Just one game,” Colin pleaded.
Guillermo sighed and sat next to Nandor, “Fine.”
Laszlo noticed Colin and Dave Lewis exchange glances, as if they were acknowledging the uncomfortable energy radiating from Guillermo and Nandor.
After a few minutes of truly awful gameplaying, Dave Lewis looked over to Guillermo, “Hey, where did your boyfriend go?”
Colin elbowed him in the stomach, but couldn’t hide the emerging grin on his face.
Nandor’s eyes widened, “Boyfriend?”
Laszlo shook his head at both of the energy vampires trying to hide their chuckling as their eyes lit up bright blue.
Guillermo glared at them and Colin shrugged his shoulders, looking a little guilty.
Laszlo needed to break the awkwardness, “Marcus is just a friend. Isn’t that right, Gizmo?”
“Yeah. Though he probably won’t even be my friend after tonight anyway. Thanks for that, Laszlo.”
He sighed and looked over at Colin and Dave Lewis, whose eyes were even brighter than before. At least Laszlo knew he was throwing a good party for Colin, as much as he wished it hadn’t gone this way.
Dave Lewis pointed at Nandor, “It’s your turn, man.”
Nandor picked up the tweezers and stuck them in the board, slowly trying to get the plastic broken heart piece out of it.
Colin moved his face close to the board, looking intently at every move Nandor made. “Oo, careful there. Keep it steady.”
“I do not need your assistance.”
“I’m just trying to help.”
Nandor started lifting the heart from the board and Colin narrowed his eyes.
“Move the tweezers away from this side. They’re gonna touch the metal.”
“Please, Colin Robinson, shut up and let me do it!”
Laszlo began to get a little annoyed at the way Nandor was yelling at Colin but he calmed himself down after Colin simply shrugged it off. Nandor continued lifting the heart from the board until the tweezer touched the metal sides and the board vibrated in opposition.
“Told ya,” Colin muttered.
“For fuck’s sake, Colin Robinson! I was in the middle of a very important move and you would not stop bothering me! You broke my concentration!”
Laszlo had had enough of Nandor’s beratement. He pointed angrily at him, “First of all, if you keep talking to him like that, I’ll have your fucking balls. Secondly, this is Colin Cravensworth, not Colin Robinson. Act accordingly.”
A few months ago, Colin approached Laszlo, asking him if he could take the Cravensworth name. Of course Laszlo was flattered. He’d had no children of his own when he was a human. Now, he took every chance he got to correct anyone who referred to Colin with his old name.
Nandor just frowned and went back to the game.
Laszlo looked at Colin and gestured with his hand for Colin to tone down the energy sucking. Him and Dave Lewis shrugged sheepishly with slight smirks on their faces.
The party died down a couple hours later and all of the local vampires had left. Laszlo stood at the door with Colin and Dave Lewis, saying their goodbyes.
“Thanks for the party, Dad. It was fun.”
“And delicious,” Dave Lewis added.
Laszlo chuckled, “Yeah, I hope you enjoyed it because that will never happen again.”
“It will certainly be a night to remember,” Colin smiled.
“Are you sure you boys don’t want to stay over? It’s pretty late.”
“We’re fine, not really tired with all the energy we got tonight anyway.”
Laszlo nodded and opened the door, “Right. Well, off you pop.”
Colin and Dave Lewis went through the door and walked off.
Laszlo yelled out, “And don’t be a stranger. Come visit the old man every now and then.”
Colin turned around and smiled, “I will. Goodnight, Dad.”
Laszlo waved them off then went back inside. He sighed as he made his way to Guillermo's room. He didn't really want to confront him and try to apologize, but he knew he needed to.
He knocked on the door then walked in.
“Fuck, Laszlo! Get out!”
Laszlo eyes widened as Nandor and Guillermo, intertwined in a naked sweaty ball on the bed, yelled at him to leave the room.
He laughed, “Well, no need for me to apologize then. It seems you two are working it out well enough on your own. Have a nice night, chaps.”
“Fucking leave!” Guillermo threw a pillow at him.
Laszlo continued chuckling as he left the room.
He decided to go try to find Nadja. There was a good chance that Ella was still with her. Who knows what activities they might be getting up to. Laszlo smirked to himself.
Eventually, he found them in the boudoir, sleeping.
Laszlo sidled up close to Nadja and nuzzled his face against her neck. He breathed in her intoxicating scent and nibbled on her ear. After a minute or two, she began to wake up and Laszlo kissed her neck, just how he knew she liked. She moaned sweetly and turned around to face him.
Nadja smiled, “Oh good, you’re here.”
“Have you been waiting for me?” Laszlo smirked lasciviously.
Nadja nodded and grabbed his arm, pulling him on top of her.
He grinned as he hungrily placed his lips on hers.
Nadja pushed Ella’s arm to wake her up. She opened her eyes, noticing Nadja and Laszlo and smiled.
Laszlo watched as Nadja pulled her in for a languid kiss then guided her to Laszlo. He took Ella’s head in his hands and kissed the soft, cool skin on her neck. She moaned and Laszlo felt his desire grow stronger.
He pulled away from her and looked at the two beautiful maidens staring at him with lust in their gazes.
Laszlo grinned. Life was good.