The Ordinary Vampire
Written for Stardance on her birthday.
"That one!" George pointed excitedly, grabbing Tim's arm and hugging it close.
"No," Tim easily dismissed the delectable youngster George had spotted with his keen eye, "too thin."
And all right, so maybe George had thought the same, but really, was that any reason for Tim poo-poo his suggestion? He thought not. "Oh, like you're one to talk," he snorted, ignoring the way Tim elbowed him in the stomach. "What about that one?" He pointed to a smartly dressed gentleman across the street. In any other town, seeing this many people out walking the streets this late at night might be a sign of a high crime rate, or a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.
But in their town? Hell. This was normal. George would be more worried if no one was about.
"Hmm." Tim eyed the snappily dressed young buck with his pseudo critical eye. "Maybe."
"He's wearing Prada," Tim made a face. As if that were a bad thing, honestly. Ben, their neighbor and the entire purpose of this outing, dressed as if his closet was composed of nothing but scrubs and jeans. The poor man could use a little style in his life. Heavens knew that maybe with a little help, Ben would start appreciating the effort that George put into his ensembles. This cocktail gown was a vintage Versace. Miss Elvira, who could barely see out of her eyes, had recognized how gorgeous his dress was. Had Ben even batted an eyelash? George didn't think so.
"So, Ben doesn't even know how to spell Prada let alone figure out what the hell it is," Tim muttered, confirming George's thoughts. "Too fussy for him," he dismissed easily, though.
"Well no wonder he doesn't have anyone," George rolled his eyes, putting a hand on his hip and rounding on Tim. "If he's half as picky as you, he never will." Honestly, they were never going to get anywhere if Tim couldn't settle on anyone. Ben needed a partner, and as his loving and caring neighbors, it was their duty to see to it that Ben ended up with someone good this time. And hot.
Maybe Miss Elvira had been right. Maybe they did need a hobby. Still, what more fun a hobby could they possibly find than interfering in their friends' lives? He wasn't going to be one of those dull retirees that played golf by moonlight and nattered on about the good old days. He and Tim were in their prime! These were the good old days. And this town needed them.
Ben needed them. Because heavens knew the lad couldn't pick out his own lovers to save his life. After watching loser after loser come and go, George figured it was time that they intervened.
"There!" Tim whispered, accidentally groping George's butt in his excitement, not that George minded. "That one!"
"What? Who? That fellow in the suit?" Well, it wasn't designer, but George supposed that the fellow looked decent. Maybe not as well put together as the Prada gentleman, but less likely to intimidate Ben with his showiness.
"God no," Tim shuddered and George frowned at him. "That one! The one looking in the bakery window." Tim pointed excitedly.
There were no words. George's mouth moved soundlessly for a few seconds before he finally managed, "…he's a bum."
"He is not. He's perfect for someone like Ben. If I were twenty years younger, I might not have minded a go at him."
George squinted, hoping that might make the bum look better or that he might figure out what it was that Tim was seeing, but no. The bum had shaggy yellow hair that was in desperate need of a comb. His jeans looked as if they hadn't been washed in the last decade and he was wearing the most horrid looking plaid shirt that George had ever seen subjected to mankind.
"Thirty," he corrected. Maybe if Tim hadn't chosen the skuzziest man on the block, George would have cut him some slack. But Tim would have been fifty twenty years ago, and there was just no way. Not unless he was supporting the bum's crack habit or something. "And he looks dirty." Understatement of the year.
"Well of course he looks dirty," Tim laughed, slinging an arm around George's shoulders and pulling him close. "He's a werewolf. They always look dirty when they're in their homeless phase." Tim waved vaguely.
"What in the hell makes you think he's a werewolf?"
"He's got that scruffy, hairy unkempt look. Plus, he's got a grungy duffel bag. What else would he be?" Tim asked as if his conclusion were perfectly natural.
"Someone passing through," George said, stating the obvious. He gave the man a dubious second glance. The bum would be taller than Ben and he had broader shoulders. His build was lanky, and he seemed to have horrible posture, what with the way he was slouched over and peering through the window, limbs all akimbo.
"Passing through in this town?" Tim snorted. "Not likely. His clothes are all well worn, too."
George rolled his eyes. "You are so stereotyping. How do you know he isn't a gargoyle or a vampire?" And why stop there? What prevented this chap from being an axe murder or something? Ben had already had enough bad luck with boyfriends without them adding to it.
"Please," Tim scoffed, "your Prada boy was a gargoyle. They'll do anything to cover up their rough spots. And vampire? Don't make me laugh. For one, he isn't wearing a speck of black."
"Neither does Ben."
"Ben's the exception to the rule."
"Then how do you know he isn't, too?" Honestly, someone had to put these questions to Tim. George loved the man, but no one should be that naïve.
"He's a werewolf," Tim grinned, completely convinced. "Trust me."
"That's what you said when we tried to invade that banshee's dream."
"This is different."
"Prove it," George poked his hairless chest. God help him if Tim was actually right. He'd never hear the end of it. Still, with such blatantly obvious stereotyping, there was no way the bum was a werewolf. Besides, any self respecting werewolf would have been drooling in front of the butcher, not in front of the bakery.
"I'll do you a step better," Tim told him smugly. "Let's go catch him for Ben."
Jacob was torn between laughing, crying, and pleading for his sanity to return.
Currently, he was tied up to a porch post with twine. He'd have protested that, but the gag in his mouth made talking a somewhat difficult affair.
At first, he'd been certain that his father had finally managed to track him down and hire thugs to forcibly make him return home. But no. That would have made some kind of sense.
As it was, some old guy in black leather pants that hung loosely off his nonexistent butt was dangling a sprig of wolfsbane in front of Jacob, making him dizzy. And while Jacob realized on a conscious level that one's sex drive did not vanish into thin air with age, he wasn't used to being confronted with it up close and personal. Seeing leather bondage gear on a seventy year old man that was currently tying him up was more than a little worrisome.
If not just a little surreal.
Leather Man's partner in crime, Dress Man, was twisting his hands nervously. "Tim, hurry up! Ben's going to be home soon." If Leather Man had been a little worrisome, Dress Man was downright terrifying. He had on a red sequenced gown with a split that went all the way up his hairy thigh. Then, just in case the dress wasn't dramatic enough, Dress Man had added red stiletto heels and a choker with a rose attached to it. And entirely too much make-up for a seventy year old man.
"Don't get your pantyhose in a bunch. I'm almost done. All he needs now is a bow." Leather Man put a big green Christmas bow on top of his head and tied the sprig of wolfsbane to the bow, leaving Jacob seeing two of Leather Man, which really was two, too many. Once that chore was accomplished, he wiggled his two hairy eyebrows before tweaking Jacob's nose. "Good luck, Puppy."
"Try not to mess it all up," Dress Man added before attempting to artfully rearrange Jacob's hair with long candy apple red acrylic fingernails. Jacob would have told him, if he weren't trussed up like the Christmas turkey, that the effort was futile as he hadn't had control over his hair since he'd hit puberty, but hell. Dress Man didn't seem to give much of a damn. Besides that, Leather Man was looking impatient and grabbed Dress Man's hand, pulling him back across the yard to the house across the way.
Man, Jacob really could have used a jelly doughnut with sprinkles. Or a chocolate éclair. There'd even been some nice croissants in the bakery window, too, that would have taken the edge of off getting kidnapped by two insane elderly people and tied to a complete stranger's house.
His father had told him he'd come to a bad end, rejecting his inheritance and leaving home to forge his own way. And maybe, in the back of his mind, Jacob had suspected that he'd be right. But he sincerely doubted his father could have predicted this. Hell, it hadn't even been among the top twenty ways that Jacob had envisioned himself. Getting gutted by someone he'd bummed a ride from? Sure. Starving to death or dying from exposure? Of course, that would have been expected.
To be brought down by two grandpas, a cocktail dress and wolfsbane? How the hell did one anticipate something like that?
Man, he'd have even settled for a simple glazed doughnut right about now. Sugar always made these sorts of situations seem better.
Thankfully, he didn't have too long to wait, as a small compact car pulled up the drive. A dog started barking from inside the house, startling Jacob as the damned creature hadn't made a peep when Leather Man had been wrestling and tying him down. The car circled to a stop in front of the porch and Jacob watched as a man got out, a cooler in one hand and keys in the other.
He was pretty. And the wolfsbane was beginning to rot Jacob's brain.
The pretty was little shorter than Jacob himself maybe, but he had a trim frame, dark auburn hair and the pale skin that went with it. He was in scrubs, so Jacob assumed he was in some sort of medical profession.
On the upside, when Jacob overdosed on this stupid wolfsbane sprig, there would be someone there to resuscitate him.
He tried saying hello, forgetting that the gag was in the way. Although, for his efforts, the pretty man did look in his direction.
"What. The. Hell?"
The expression on his face was just priceless.
"What are you doing on my porch?" the pretty demanded, cautiously walking up and setting the cooler down on the front step before rounding on Jacob. "Who are you? Why are you tied to my porch? Who tied you--oh god no." The pretty groaned, and ran a frustrated hand through his straight hair and then bent down to inspect the knots Leather Man had made in the twine. "This is the work of my neighbors," he explained curtly, making Jacob wonder just how often this kind of thing occurred. "You just happen to be their hapless victim of circumstance for the month." He made short work of the twine, and Jacob brought his hands back in front of him, rubbing his now sore wrists and sneezing as the wolfsbane fell off his head and onto the porch in front of him along with the bow. He jerked though, as the pretty's hands went to the back of his head, presumably to undo the knot on the gag. "Although, I have no idea what they hoped to accomplish with a bow and a couple flowers."
"Wolfsbane," Jacob managed to choke out before entering another sneezing fit. "I'm allergic," he wheezed slightly. Of course, allergic was a bit of an understatement, but then again, one just didn't go around admitting that one was a werewolf. It just wasn't done, as his mother tutted every time he brought his condition up to her. "Name's Jacob," he managed without sneezing again before he held out a hand which the pretty reluctantly shook.
"Ben," the pretty admitted cautiously, before putting his key into the front door and unlocking it. Of course, once it swung open, the hell hound of the apocalypse shot through it, making a beeline for Jacob and almost tipping over the cooler in the process. Dog was definitely not an accurate way to describe her. Small horse or water buffalo might have been more apt. She was a solid black, and Jacob was too slow to keep her from licking half his head in one excited swipe. "Down, dumb dog," Ben grumbled without any heat, grabbing the dog's collar and pulling her back long enough for Jacob to gather some of his scattered wits and stand up. "Sorry about that. She was raised by werewolves and tends to forget at times that she's not human."
Jacob jerked at the mention of werewolves. He didn't know how the neighbors had figured it out, but he sure wasn't going to clue Ben in unless absolutely necessary. Besides, what normal self respecting person actually believed in werewolves? Well, aside from those that were actually werewolves, that was.
Either way, it was of the utmost importance to act normal. "Cute dog," he attempted, scratching the happy dog behind the ears. "What's her name?"
"Spot," Ben said as he picked up his cooler and set it down just inside the house.
"But she doesn't have any."
"I know," he returned defensively. "Look, I'm sorry that Tim and George tied you to my porch. They mean well, but they get carried away sometimes."
"They are some kind of crazy." He ambled up onto the porch. "But they still have my duffel bag. You wouldn't have any idea how I could go about getting that back from them, would you?"
"How badly do you need the duffel?" Ben asked with a pained expression on his face.
"It's got all my clothes, my money and my wallet in it." Not to mention that it wasn't always a good idea to stick around in one place for too long. It just gave his father too much of an opportunity to track him down. They were in a bit of a stalemate. Until his dad realized that he wasn't going to buckle and join the family business, he was in an elaborate game of hide and seek. Which was much easier to play if he hid by running from obscure place to obscure place.
"God dammit." Ben looked furious. He knew he shouldn't be, but Jacob was amused by it. Ben just looked so put out and frustrated.
Harassed was actually a pretty good look for him. Jacob tried to keep the stupid grin off his face. Up close, Ben had dark brown eyes and two earrings in his left ear. He'd never, of course, go for a messed up kid like Jacob whose family hadn't heard—let alone understood—the concept of space, but it was fun to pretend. Just a little. "You wanna come in?" Ben sighed as he opened the door farther and gestured Jacob in begrudgingly.
Trying not to grin, Jacob took it for the invitation that it was and followed the hell hound in. He might not be in any position to stick around, but that didn't mean that he couldn't appreciate the view while he had the chance.
Ben looked at the werewolf that Tim and George had left on his doorstep and tried not to panic. Honestly, he had no idea what the two had been thinking. Vampires and Werewolves? Traditionally, they did not get along. In fact, most meetings usually ended up with one or both parties dead.
And Spot, traitorous dog that she was, seemed to love this Jacob as she hadn't left his side since she met him. "So," he drawled out nervously as Jacob looked around the house with interest, "thirsty?" That was right, wasn't it? Offering him a drink?
God damned, but he sucked at this. Hadn't Kyle told him over and over that he was an awkward and uncomfortable host? People didn't like coming over because of it and they certainly didn't stay for that very reason.
Not to mention that Jacob hadn't exactly been the most willing of guests to begin with.
"I'd love a glass of milk." Jacob looked hopeful and Ben nodded, glad for once that he'd spent the extra money to pick up a gallon of the stuff. Really, the price of milk was exorbitant. Were they piping it in from Saudi Arabia? It was getting to be just as expensive as gas even.
Because if Jacob hadn't been put off by the fact that his insane neighbors had tied him to a porch, then Ben was sure to win him over with his Scrooge impersonation. Rolling his eyes at himself, he gestured for Jacob to follow him into the kitchen.
Pulling out a chair as he made his way towards the cupboards, Ben nodded for Jacob to sit before he grabbed a cheap glass and opened the fridge. Placing the glass down in front of Jacob, he tried not to stare too obviously. Zahn, had enlightened him to that particular bad habit. Course, Zahn had enlightened him to a lot of his bad habits.
Zahn, though, and a couple of others, had shown him what he'd been too naïve to see as a kid. There were no happy endings in the future for guys like him.
Sneaking a peek, though, Ben couldn't help a wistful smile. For a werewolf, Jacob wasn't half bad. He had curly blond hair that flopped over in his face and he had incredibly pale blue eyes. He probably was one hell of a stunning wolf, not that Ben ever planned on getting close enough to see an actual transformation. He was a few dozen shades tanner than Ben, but then again since Ben never saw the light of day, that wasn't all that strange.
"Man, I love milk," Jacob grinned happily after he drained the glass in one go. "You wouldn't happen to have any doughnuts, would you?"
It was stupid to feel regret over not having bought any doughnuts. Ben wasn't a doughnut kind of guy. Besides, damn things cost an arm and a leg. "No," he shrugged apologetically. "I don't. Sorry." Dammit, why had he never invested in doughnuts?
Then again, what the hell was he thinking? Tim and George were deranged. They were forever trying to set him up with men that they found loitering around town. But this? This was a new level of demented, even for them. There was no way that they'd actually managed to find someone who would want to be Ben's boyfriend and then tied him to Ben's front porch. That kind of thing just didn't happen. Ever.
"I've got some left over turkey," he offered hesitantly. He was merely being a good host. That's what decent people did. They offered a drink and then some food to guests who came over. And all right, maybe Jacob's sudden appearance at his house didn't exactly qualify as coming over for a visit, but it was a matter of good manners.
He was not ogling the pretty eye candy. He was not hoping for more than polite disinterest. And he was not curious about what kind of person Tim and George had decided would be good for him. Because those things would only end in disaster, and he knew that from experience.
Maybe if he kept telling himself that, he'd come to believe it.
"That would be awesome," Jacob said sheepishly. "I'm starving."
"Well, I've got the makings for sandwiches." Ben shrugged and started getting out all the fixings for it. Awkward silence descended, and Ben fidgeted as he handed Jacob a plate with a sandwich on it and refilled his glass with milk.
Kyle had hated it when Ben lapsed into silent fidgeting. Said it reminded him of a mute monkey. Zahn had always barked at him to speak the fuck up and quit cowering stupidly.
They were gone, though, and he was here. Jacob, for the most part, seemed oblivious. Sitting down with his own sandwich, Ben snuck a couple of glances in between bites. Jacob ate like he'd been starving, and maybe he had, as he did look pretty skinny. His clothes were dirty, and he had a scraggly beard that looked in good need of a shave.
And yet, in spite of all of that, he seemed completely at home in Ben's kitchen, unaffected by the silence.
"So, how long have you known those two?" Jacob jolted him out of his thoughts as he finished off his sandwich.
"Tim and George? About seven years. I got a job over at the hospital when I got out of nursing school, and they welcomed me to the neighborhood." Trying not to show how nervous all this was making him, Ben nonchalantly pulled out his chair and then almost fell on the floor when he tripped himself in the process. Kyle had complained about it incessantly. Klutzy was only attractive if you were a short adolescent girl. It wasn't quite so attractive on a full grown male vampire.
It was even less attractive if you accidentally head-butted your partner in the middle of sex. He couldn't help it though, his nerves always managed to find a way to get the best of him. Thankfully, Jacob didn't make a big deal of his clumsiness and let the incident slide as Ben righted himself and sat down.
"I'll bet that was one hell of a welcome to the neighborhood party. They certainly don't look like the type to do things half way."
"Yeah," he chuckled self consciously, "they sure don't." They'd run a fake blood bank drive and gotten enough blood to keep him sated for a month and a half. It had been sweet, in an incredibly morally reprehensible and embarrassing way. "What about you? Where are you from? I could give you a ride home if you want and get your stuff from Tim and George when I see them tomorrow." Because, oh boy, would he be seeing them tomorrow. Those two needed a hobby. One that preferably did not involve him or his nonexistent love life. Why couldn't they just golf like any of the other normal senior citizens?
He appreciated their concern. Really, he did. He just didn't need to be constantly reminded that he was alone and too unattractive to find his own dates.
"Ah," Jacob looked sheepish, "I'm actually between homes at the moment." He scratched the back of his neck self consciously.
"I don't think I follow," Ben frowned. Jacob mumbled something, but it was too soft for Ben to hear. "Pardon?"
"I'm homeless," Jacob's face colored considerably.
"Well, that's common when you're just starting off as a werewolf," he tried reassuring, "it's hard to hold down a job when you have to request three days off each month."
Jacob gaped at him. "What the? Am I wearing a necklace or something? A nametag that proclaims what I am? I mean, I don't hide it real well, I guess, but still. This is creepy." He looked so bewildered that Ben couldn't help but snicker, which made Jacob frown.
"No, no. It's just," he tried, not wanting Jacob to get mad but not being able to stop smiling, "do you have any idea where you are?"
"This town. It's a stomping ground for pretty much any and every supernatural and mythical creature you can think up. Tim and George? They're incubi." Ben relaxed a little.
"They're incubi. There's a little old lady down the street who's half gargoyle and a family on the corner who're gremlins," he added thoughtfully. "Whole town's full of the strange. If you're looking for a place to settle down, this is quite nice." And could he be any more insipid? His last ex, David, had hated that about him. People weren't looking for 'quite nice', they were looking for exciting and fun. Good thing the chamber of commerce hadn't had him draw up the tourism brochures.
Jacob leaned back in his chair, an arm wrapped over the back as he stared at Ben. At first, it didn't bother him that much, but then he started getting paranoid. Was there something wrong with him? Well, besides the obvious things that all his exes had pointed out. Was his hair messed up? Did he have food stuck in his teeth? Had he gotten blood on his scrubs?
"Vampire," Jacob snapped his fingers suddenly, grinning at Ben with a dimple in his cheek.
"Dammit, I've got blood on my scrubs, don't I," Ben mumbled, his face flushing in embarrassment. "I'll go change."
"No, no, there's nothing on your scrubs," Jacob laughed, catching him by the arm as he walked by. "I guessed. You had a cooler with you, and unless you plan on performing a transplant or something, the best explanation was that it was holding blood."
"Right," Ben mumbled, stumbling back to the front of the house, ignoring the fact that Jacob was following him. Grabbing the cooler, he turned around and almost jumped half a foot in the air as Jacob was standing right behind him, bracing an elbow on the door frame. "It's on ice right now, but I've got to get it in the fridge."
"They let you take blood home from the hospital? Isn't that kind of frowned upon?"
"It's old blood."
"Blood's only good for about six weeks and then they can't use it for transfusions. It still tastes fine to me for about another two or three days and then it's a bit like drinking sour milk," he tried not to squeak as Jacob leaned against the counter top by the fridge, invading Ben's personal space. Yup, definitely a werewolf. The vast majority of them had a definite lack of understanding when it came to personal space. And this werewolf was definitely in his personal space. Quickly, he emptied the contents of the cooler into the fridge and then sat back down in a chair opposite the one Jacob had been sitting in.
"You work nights, then?" Jacob moved away from the counters, and thankfully sat down across from Ben.
"Yes." After all, he was a vampire. Working during the day kind of involved death, and Ben wasn't the world's biggest fan of death. "What about you? What are your plans?"
"Plans?" There was a deer-in-the-headlight look to Jacob's face.
"Yes, plans. You need one. While werewolves do wander around aimlessly in their youth trying to find a job, they still need one. Most usually end up going back home and getting together enough of a nest egg that they can keep themselves afloat should they ever find themselves between jobs."
"I am not going home," Jacob announced emphatically.
"Why not?" Well, Ben's first ex, Kyle, had always said he was entirely too nosey for his own good.
"Because," Jacob started off vaguely, his cheeks turning pink. "Fine. My parents are loaded and they'd be perfectly happy to loan me some money," Jacob admitted slumping down in his chair.
"So the problem is?"
"They'll only do it if I promise to become an accountant in my dad's company."
"And you don't want to," Ben said, piecing it together. "Is it really so bad?"
"No," Jacob sighed, "I guess not. It's just stifling. And completely uninteresting. I don't know, isn't the point of being an adult taking care of yourself and finding your own path to follow? Kind of defeats the purpose if you turn into a fifty year old accountant who gets paid to do what mommy and daddy say."
"Wandering around aimlessly doesn't exactly help you find the right path, either though." Ben frowned. "You need a plan. Something to keep you on your feet and protected in case something comes along and happens. It's one thing to have no where to go when you're healthy and young. What about when you get sick or as you get older?" His parents had booted him out at eighteen, telling him to fend for himself. Luckily, he'd managed some scholarships, gotten some loans—some of which he was still paying off—and had been on his own since. Still, he'd made a great many mistakes along the way that he wished he could take back. "I could help," he heard himself offer before his brain could stop his mouth from responding.
Damn Jacob for looking hopeful. And somewhat wholesome. Really, Ben had the worst taste in men, and damn Tim and George for finding someone to continue the trend. "Yeah," he finally sighed, "Pete's Pet Emporium is looking for full time help. Russell will understand your needing days off for the full, and he'll make sure to work around them."
"He owns the place."
"Russell owns Pete's Pet Emporium? What happened to Pete?"
"There's no Pete," Ben explained. "Russell just thought Pete's Pet Emporium sounded catchier. You'll have to wait till tomorrow night though. He's open from three in the afternoon until three in the morning."
"Huh." Jacob looked like he wanted to laugh. "I'll have to do that. Thanks." He smiled again, the dimple popping into appearance. "Is this town big enough to have a homeless shelter? Or do you know of any cheap motels I could try?"
When Tim and George had his wallet? No, Ben didn't know of any place that would let him stay for free. And this town was entirely too small for the homeless. "You can stay here," he said slowly, thinking it over. "I've got a guest room with an attached bath you can have for the moment," he offered, hoping to hell he wouldn't regret it later. His last ex, David, would look hopefully pathetic like that over something until Ben inevitably caved, and then he'd clean out Ben's bank account.
But Ben was smarter now. More savvy. Or, at least, that's what he wanted to believe. That side of the house, Ben vowed, would be where Jacob stayed. Yes, maybe somewhere deep, deep down in the terrified recesses of his heart, he wanted something like what Tim and George had. But he'd learned how to be cautious the hard way from his exes. He just wasn't the kind of guy someone could fall in love with. Men only found him interesting if they had an ulterior motive. Besides, Jacob wouldn't even want anything of that nature from him anyway. He'd be Jacob's friend, but he wasn't going to hold out hope for anything else, let alone true love.
Hell, he half suspected it didn't exist in the first place anyway.
"Ten dollars a day," George offered, shoving a wrinkled bill into Jacob's astonished hands.
"Excuse me?" The entire town was cracked, that was the only explanation. Pete's Pet Emporium had ended up being part pet shop and part coffee shop, which was fine, but Russell had given him the third degree the minute he'd brought up Ben's name. Over protective didn't even seem to cover it. He'd even given Jacob a pay advance with the explicit instructions for Jacob to use it to find an apartment and, as Russell had put it, 'get the hell out of that sweet vampire's house'.
Jealousy would have been a decent explanation, too, if it weren't for the fact that Russell was in his fifties and had the walls of his office plastered with pictures of his wife and kids. Plus, he'd pretty much come out and said that Ben was like a son to him.
Fact of the matter was, though, Ben was the only person that Jacob had come into contact with so far that even seemed remotely down to earth. And as much as his comments had stung, Jacob had seen the common sense in them. If he stayed continually on the run, then he might as well just tuck his tail in between his legs and run home. Nothing was going to be accomplished unless he got up the courage to put down roots somewhere and give it a try.
So what if his father sent thugs? It wasn't like he was a scared and unruly teenager anymore. It was about time he proved to them and to himself that he was more than that, and that he could be more than that without their interfering and trying to fix things up for him.
It was odd to come to such a fundamental realization when nothing else in this town seemed to follow the fundamental rules of anything. Here was Dress Man, without his sidekick Leather Man, offering him money. "Look, I know Russell's given you an advance and I can't compete with that kind of cash. But ten dollars a day and you can just save until you can get a really nice apartment if that's what you want."
"You want me to stay with Ben?"
"Yes," George pouted, "the poor boy's lonely."
"He's got a dog." Which was to say that Ben probably didn't need another stray mongrel cluttering up his life.
"There a lot of things a dog can't do. Just stick around a couple more days and see what you think."
"I dunno. I'm only staying here because Ben was kind enough to let me. I don't want to take advantage of his good nature."
"That's great!" George beamed, confusing the hell out of Jacob. "So, stay a couple more days. You could do a lot worse than someone like Ben."
Jacob blinked. As if Ben would want a backwards wastrel like him. He didn't exactly have a lot to offer. He was virtually penniless, had just gotten his first job, and had all the experience of a newborn pup. Truth be told, he would have gotten an apartment today and put an end to all the nonsense, except that this was a small town. And currently? There were no vacancies. Short of buying the haunted mansion on the corner of main street—which he had absolutely no intention of doing as it looked like there was still a ghost living in it—there was no place available for him to rent within walking distance of his new job. "Um, I think I'll just work it out with--"
"Eep!" George squealed like an adolescent school girl and thus becoming something that Jacob was sure he'd have nightmares over. "He's back! Good luck, Pup!" He slapped Jacob on the back, sending him careening forward. And then, George booked it back across the yard to his house leaving Jacob to marvel at how fast he could haul ass in three inch heels.
And sure enough, there was Ben pulling up the drive in his car. Leaning back against the porch railings, Jacob waited for him to climb out of the car and make his way over to the house.
"Back again, huh?" Ben offered him a shy half smile, which Jacob had no problems returning as he offered a hand to carry the cooler. "Why didn't you let yourself in?"
Jacob grinned as Ben looked at him askance. "Cause I don't have a key. Besides, I wasn't sure how welcome I'd be. I mean, I did kinda just crash in on you last night."
"Oh," Ben shrugged, unconcerned. "My hide-a-key's in the plastic dog doo there. I just assumed that Tim or George would've told you when they saw you on the porch. Plus, everyone in town knows it's there." Picking up the pile, he flipped it over to demonstrate.
"Cute," Jacob snickered. Geez, he left home, and he was still more of a kid than ever. Of course, from the way Ben grinned back, maybe it wasn't so bad. "Don't you worry about people getting in though?"
Course, if they did come in without Ben's permission, Jacob imagined that half the town would be there to tar and feather them. He'd had a difficult time trying to open a bank account once word got around that he was currently staying at Ben's.
"Well, my last ex, David, used it to pretty much take me for everything I had, but," Ben shrugged again, some of his good mood dissipating at the mention of his ex. "He got pretty much anything that was worth taking."
That was most certainly debatable, Jacob decided as he tried to remind himself not to stare at Ben's ass as he opened the front door.
Spot came barreling out the front door, barking up a storm, and Jacob pulled his cowboy hat off his head to laugh as the dog raced clumsily all the way to the mailbox before squatting to pee.
"Big, dumb dog," Ben shook his head, but his mouth was curved up in the corners. Grinning, Jacob walked over; slapping his hat over Ben's head and leaning against the house next to him to wait as Spot came loping back like a moose with a balance problem.
"Who's a good girl?" Jacob cooed at the dog as she jumped up on him, her paws on his shoulders. "Who's a good girl? Is Spot a good girl?" The dog bayed practically in his ear, rendering him deaf for half a second. "Yes, you're a good girl. Loud, but good." He pushed her down with his free hand, before turning to follow Ben back into the house.
He grinned. The hat didn't look half bad on Ben.
It was dumb to be over the moon because someone put an ugly hat on his head. It really was. It probably made his big ugly head look even bigger with the brim, but Ben couldn't help but run a finger along it and smile to himself as he headed into the kitchen. He knew Jacob was trailing in after him, if only because he could hear Spot's toenails on the floor as she scrambled to follow him. Maybe it was a werewolf thing. Spot hadn't liked any man Ben had brought home with the exception of Tim and George, but Jacob? She wouldn't leave him alone.
And he was not going to get jealous of the dog. He just wasn't. Even he wasn't that pathetic. Maybe.
"So, how'd the job interview go?" he asked cautiously, putting his blood away as fast as he could. Yes, he was a vampire. Yes, he drank blood. That didn't mean he wanted to dwell on it. Especially in front of a cute sort-of stranger.
"Got the job." Jacob moved closer, reaching for the cupboard behind Ben to grab a glass. Kyle had done that too, Ben tried to remind himself. Kyle had been a master at making himself at home in Ben's house. Hell, he'd been a master at making himself at home in anyone's house, which was probably why it had been so easy for him to sleep with half the town while he'd been with Ben.
Moving away, Ben absently patted Spot on the head as he went out to the living room and plopped down on the couch. Moments later, Jacob appeared in the doorway, looking a little sheepish.
"Hey, sorry about that. My mom gets on my case all the time about it. I just have no sense of personal space," Jacob shrugged awkwardly, moving to plop down on the opposite end of the couch.
And for the life of him, Ben couldn't figure out if he was relieved or disappointed that it wasn't anything personal. "Most werewolves don't," he offered softly. "Are you the only in your family?"
"Yeah," Jacob scratched his nose, laughing a little. "I'm a bit of a throw back to older generations. My parents, I think, were seriously over protective because of it. So, when I was old enough, I took off. The first year was a little rough, but you know," he shrugged as Spot put her massive head on his knee, "when you're the thing that most people are scared of, it's easy to feel a little over confident about your ability to defend yourself. Had to get into a couple of fights before I learned not to pick 'em."
"How old are you?" First year? Just how long had Jacob been homeless?
Ben tried to remember to breathe. "Really? Nineteen. That's great." Tim and George had tied—for all intents and purposes—jailbait to his front porch.
"You okay, there?" Jacob laughed, tapping the hat Ben was still wearing. "C'mon, you can't be that much older than me."
Right. Sure. He gingerly took off the hat and handed it back to Jacob who easily threw it back on his own head. "I'm thirty." And officially too old for Jacob. There was no way someone like him would be interested in Ben's sad, baggy bones. "Don't your parents worry? Do you ever talk to them?" Could he expect them turning up on his doorstep long after Jacob had left for greener pastures?
Jacob scratched his nose again, and Ben raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "Yeah, not really. They just don't understand and don't seem too keen on attempting to try." Jacob scooted closer as Spot attempted to climb onto him, taking up half the couch in the process. "I suppose being thirty, your parents aren't forever trying to make you come home and conform."
"Nah, my parents pretty much showed me the door at eighteen and said to come back when I was ready to drink like a real vamp."
"Ouch," Jacob winced, leaning back on the sofa and once again getting in Ben's personal space. He liked it better when he thought Jacob was in his late twenties. Made it so much easier to fantasize that he might actually be hitting on him. Of course, who was he kidding. If anything, learning Jacob's age only showed how deluded Ben had allowed himself to be. "How does a real vamp drink?"
"Straight from the throat," Ben managed wryly. Stretching out, he put his feet up on the coffee table and relaxed. "Zahn, one of my exes, used to get so pissed that I wouldn't join him in his drinking sprees."
"Ew," Jacob made a face, and Ben couldn't help but laugh. Which was actually nice for a change. He'd been devastated when Zahn had left. Tim and George had assured him that the problem had belonged with Zahn, and not with him, but it was hard to believe. "Well, for the record, I'm glad you don't go on drinking sprees. Do all vampires do that?"
"Nah, just the purists." He let his eyes drift shut. The couch was comfy, and since it was freezing inside, it felt nice to have Jacob so close, giving off body heat. Work had been a bitch and he was ready to relax a little.
"Feelin' a little sleepy there?" Jacob teased, and Ben tried desperately to pry his eyes back open. "I suppose it is getting late for you. I just had something I wanted to run by you before you drifted off to la-la land."
"Oh?" he mumbled sleepily.
"I tried looking for a place to live, but there aren't any vacancies in town. I was wondering, do you think I could rent a room from you?" Jacob asked hesitantly, and Ben made the extra effort to sit up and pay attention. "It wouldn't be for very long. Just until I can find a place that's close enough to work that I can walk, and then I'll be out of your hair all together."
Yeah, that was better, wasn't it? Best to think of Jacob as a renter instead of an imaginary love interest. And if he was paying, then Ben wouldn't have to worry about him freeloading and then robbing him blind like David had. "How much were you thinking?"
"Fifty a week?"
"Sixty," he blurted out automatically before wincing. He'd always been tight with money, but after David, he'd probably gone off the miserly deep end. He couldn't help it though. He hated the feeling of helplessness that came with not having enough to make ends meet.
"Fifty five, and you turn the thermostat up two degrees," Jacob shot back with a dimpled grin.
"Fifty," Ben offered in return, a wry smile finding its way to his lips, "and you pay half the energy bill."
"Done," Jacob offered a hand to shake, and gingerly, Ben accepted it before almost jumping out of his skin as Jacob pulled him forward into an excited hug. "You won't regret it, I swear."
Too late, Ben couldn't help but think.
Two week had gone by incredibly fast, Jacob decided, as he let himself into the house. He barely stepped out of the way in time to avoid getting knocked over by Spot as she bolted out the front door barking at a squirrel that only she could see.
"Ben? You home?" he hollered, pulling off his cowboy hat and leaving it on the cheap table in the entry way. He left the door wide open—it wasn't like any of the heat was going to get out, it was already warmer outside than it was inside and it was practically December. Spot would come in when she got sick of chasing the imaginary squirrel.
"Living room," Ben called back, and Jacob grinned, shucking his coat as and throwing it on the coat rack. Sure enough, Ben was sitting barefoot on the couch in the living room in a pair of jeans and a sweater. He had a mystery thriller in one hand and his other was tugging absently at his auburn hair. There were reading glasses perched on his nose, and Jacob wanted to take a picture and frame it.
George had made a huge deal of Ben's hair, the last time he'd forced ten bucks into Jacob's hands oblivious to Jacob's protests, saying that most vampires were brunettes. And Tim had chimed in with the fact that they all wore black except for Ben and had perfect eyesight. George had pinched his ass next, drawing that conversation to a quick end, but he could see their point.
Ben was one of a kind.
"So, what're you reading tonight?" He plucked the book out of Ben's protesting hands, sighing to himself as Ben whipped off the glasses and tossed them on the coffee table. For someone who didn't seem to care that Jacob was red-green colorblind and wore some of the most hideously clashing outfits known to man, he was incredibly judgmental of himself. Jacob suspected he knew the source too, having heard more than a few little slipped remarks about the exes.
He'd never really thought of himself as the protective type. After all, having parents that had kittens when he so much as stubbed a toe hadn't really lent itself to situations in which he was viewed as the stronger person. But Ben? Was it bad that if given five minutes, he wouldn't have minded ripping the exes' heads off their shoulders with his bare hands?
Still, he wasn't going to think of them right now. Right now, he was making sure to hold the thriller high enough so that Ben couldn't reach as he climbed off the couch and stood on his tip toes in an attempt to grab it back. That his shirt climbed up and Jacob got a peek at his lean stomach? Well, that had been the whole point, but it was best not to let on too much that he harassed Ben because he was over the moon for him.
Ben seemed to think that Jacob was too young and too hot for an oldster like him. Jacob, however, thought that anyone with two eyeballs in their head could see what a catch Ben was. Getting tied to Ben's front porch? Quite possibly the best thing that had ever happened to him in his entire life.
He'd even made it a point to thank Tim and George for doing just that in a note he'd enclosed with all the stupid money he'd mailed back to them a couple of days ago.
"You're home early," Ben commented, distracting him long enough to jump up and grab the book back.
"Slow day. Russell said I could take off a half hour early if I wanted." He flopped down on the couch beside Ben, who had resettled against an arm. The best part of being a werewolf in this scenario? He squirmed a little, until he was practically touching Ben. Granted, he invaded personal space unconsciously a lot, but he mostly slipped when he was nervous. He hadn't told Ben that, and maybe one of these days, he'd come clean, but right now it was just a nice excuse to get close enough to smell Ben's unique clean vampire scent.
Truth be told, it was a bit addicting.
"What did you want for dinner tonight?" Ben asked, fidgeting like mad. Frowning, Jacob backed off a little and gave him some space. Ben had been getting increasingly antsy these last couple of days. Jacob half wanted to ask him if the moon phases affected vampires too, as next week was the full.
As far as Jacob could tell, Ben did a couple days on at the hospital and then had a couple off. This week, he'd worked five days and he had four off. He had one more day off before he had to go back on Monday, and Jacob would have thought that he'd have spent them being happy not to have to drive in and deal with work, but if anything, Ben had just gotten more and more cranky.
"Doughnut pizza?" He'd finally managed to convince Ed of the pizzeria down the street that glazed dounghnut halves on a pepperoni pizza was heaven on a slice. Of course, he was pretty much the only one who thought so, but Ben could have whatever he wanted on his half.
"Delivery's expensive," Ben snapped back, startling Jacob as he pushed up off the couch and went towards the kitchen.
"Okay," he returned softly, watching as Ben pulled open the fridge, rifling through its contents. And actually, in the fluorescent lighting of the kitchen, Ben looked awfully pale. Or, really, paler than normal. "Are you feeling all right?"
Ben stopped in mid grab and turned to look at Jacob, shocked. "Huh? Me? Oh, I'm perfectly fine. It's nothing to worry about. I'm sorry I snapped. I've just been feeling a little out of sorts," Ben shrugged awkwardly. "Too much time on my hands, I think."
"Sure," Jacob nodded gently, offering a small smile at the miserable expression on Ben's face.
"You wanna go grab Spot for me? She has a tendency to dig up George's voodoo patch."
"No problem," Jacob agreed easily, before slowly turning to walk out of the kitchen.
In the corner of his eye, he saw Ben grab a bag of blood and make a disgusted face as he pulled it out of the fridge.
Good god, he was starving. Ben tried not to whimper as Jacob left the kitchen. It wasn't fair, really. The bags he'd brought home had gone sour faster than he'd thought, and then Jacob had hung around, tempting him.
Flipping the one bag he had left over in his hand, he sighed. He was pretty sure it was sour too, but it was all he had left. Sighing, he put his mouth to the bag, his fangs growing automatically and puncturing the plastic.
Two sips and he had to put it down as his mouth turned inside out. Sour didn't even begin to cover it. Putridly disgusting might have been more accurate. Trashing the bag, he turned only to find Jacob leaning against the door frame to the kitchen, a secretive smile on his face.
Ben did not scream. Vampires did not scream.
But he might have squeaked as he quickly covered his mouth with his hand. Dammit, as if it weren't bad enough that he was having fantasies about doing more than hanging out with his cute renter, said cute renter was seeing his pathetic non-purist attempts to stay alive. Then there was the tiny matter of his fangs.
"I kinda figured you were hungry when you sent me to go get Spot."
"Where is she?" In spite of all attempts not to, he lisped. It was virtually impossible to speak normally with his fangs extended.
"Cruising the neighborhood, I imagine. I tried calling, but you know how she gets. She'll come back when she wants to," Jacob shrugged easily, walking further into the kitchen and leaning against the counter beside Ben. "So, can I see 'em?" he teased, mischief in his eyes.
"See what?" Ben tried evading.
Jacob rolled his eyes and pointed. "Your fangs, what else? I've never seen a vampire in fang form. Well, not unless you count a couple B rated movies I saw as a kid. And I doubt those fangs were real."
"I'd rather not," Ben mumbled, feeling his face heat up. What a stupid time to blush.
"C'mon, just let me see," Jacob wheedled, looking all cute and young and yummy.
And he was entirely out of Ben's league. This wasn't going to happen. Ever. And the sooner he got that through his abnormally big—but stupid—head, the better. Kyle had been older than him, and Ben hadn't been enough to satisfy him. Zahn had been the same age, and had pointed out just how repulsive Ben could be. David, well, sometimes he didn't even think David counted because all David had wanted was a free ride and sex. Both of which Ben had unwittingly managed to provide in spades.
To someone like Jacob? Hell, half the time he wondered if it wouldn't be a good idea to walk around with a bag on his head so he didn't have to subject the kid to his longing glances and hideous appearance. He was old and ugly and dull. There couldn't possibly be anything about him that might even remotely appeal to Jacob.
And yet, in spite of that, he'd still managed to ferret away some tiny little hope that maybe, just maybe, Jacob might come to like him. Just a little.
Which was stupid. Then again, if nothing else, Ben had proven time and again that he wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to love. As for his fangs? Well, according to Zahn, they were pretty much the epitome of what was wrong with him. They were pathetic, weak, and unimpressive. Not to mention slightly deformed.
"They're not all that interesting. You don't want to see them, really," he tried convincing again. Jacob, however, stubborn ass that he was, seemed completely unfazed by the assurance.
"Now you're just making me curious. Let me see? Please? Pretty please?" Jacob reached up, and Ben jerked away.
"No," he growled, keeping his hand in front of his mouth.
"There have got to be more embarrassing things in the world than having grown fangs."
"Seriously, let me look."
"They're curly," he finally admitted. Well, why the hell not. It was stupid to hold out hope that Jacob might find him attractive—someday in the distant future—if only he kept all his flaws hidden.
"They're what?" Jacob raised an eyebrow in confusion.
"My fangs. They're curly."
"You're demented, just let me see," Jacob laughed, reaching up with one long arm and curling his fingers around Ben's and pulling down. Reluctantly, Ben let him, exposing his fangs.
And then Jacob laughed. Well, maybe not so much laughed as snickered, but still, the damage was done. Jerking away, Ben turned around to storm back into his bedroom. He'd known this would be the outcome, hadn't he? Who the hell had he thought he'd be fooling? So George and Tim had tied him to the porch. That didn't mean that they were meant to be or that Jacob would be the one to see all him in all his disgustingness and still like what he saw?
And really, was there anyone in the world who was going to do that? If he couldn't see it himself, it stood to reason that no one else was going to. He was an idiot. And he'd brought this on himself, he really had.
"Ben," Jacob hollered after him.
"Just leave it alone. I knew you wouldn't understand," he accused softly, whirling around to stare Jacob down.
"Understand what?" Jacob had the gall to look perplexed. "Your fangs are adorable."
Adorable? Adorable? What, had the idiot been sniffing glue? "They're hideous," he growled, lisping as said teeth got in the way. "I look like a deranged cartoon."
"You look nothing of the sort. You're being over sensitive about it," Jacob chided softly, drawing closer. Wary, Ben let him come near. Jacob reached up with one hand to cup the side of his face and draw a thumb over one long fang. "They're cute. The way you were going on about it, I'd have thought they would have been pointing the wrong way entirely." He stroked and then pricked his thumb on the tip, drawing blood.
Shivering, Ben had to remind himself to not let it go to his head. "They're deformed. Zahn used to say that I should get them surgically altered."
"Zahn was an ass," Jacob informed him curtly, drawing closer. His other hand came up to caress a cheek. "In fact, all your exes were asses."
"You didn't know them," Ben sighed, bringing his hand up to pull Jacob's down, but losing his nerve as his fingers gripped Jacob's wrist. "They were good guys in their own right. The problem was me," he explained patiently. It was about time Jacob came to terms with it. Ben didn't know what kind of rose colored glasses the kid had to look at the world, but it was time to take them off.
"Not likely," Jacob snorted, startling him, as he gently pulled Ben closer. "Everything I've heard about those three idiots has only made me want to bash their heads in. They weren't good guys, Ben."
"It takes two people to argue, I'm not blameless," he pointed out. "I let them. I let them in, I bought into their bullshit. I mean, let's face it, I'm not good at relationships," he managed with a self deprecating laugh. "Hell, my neighbors tied you to the porch in an attempt to set me up. It doesn't get much worse than that."
"Look," Jacob ran both thumbs down his fangs, "there are a lot of people out there in the world who don't deserve your trust or your faith or your affection. But you shouldn't include yourself in that group." Jacob drew closer; their noses practically touching as Jacob drew his thumbs down Ben's fangs once more, impaling the pads on the tips. Ben's eyes rolled back in his head and he tried not to turn into a pathetic, drooling puddle at Jacob's feet.
"But--" he started, only to have Jacob cut him off.
"But nothing." Jacob grinned at him a little uncertainly before closing the gap between them and brushing his lips against Ben's in a light kiss. "You're worth it." He wrapped his arms around Ben's shoulders, forcibly pulling him in close and up against his chest.
Of course, their differences in height put Ben's head hovering around the crook of Jacob's neck. He could practically feel Jacob's pulse beating against his teeth. "I can't do this," he muttered miserably, trying to shove Jacob back.
"Of course you can," Jacob returned simply with a laugh. "I trust you." And then Jacob bent down and nuzzled Ben's neck.
Almost in spite of himself, Ben hesitantly reached up to grab Jacob's shoulders. Jacob was worth trusting, wasn't he? It was so hard to tell. There were so many people that weren't, himself included as Jacob had inadvertently pointed out. Still, he was so very hungry.
And Jacob was offering.
Slowly, he gave Jacob's neck a tentative lick, almost pushing himself out of Jacob's arms completely as Jacob giggled and squirmed slightly.
"Sorry. Tickled," Jacob murmured in his ear, amused.
"Are you sure? I mean, I'll live without blood for another day or two. You don't have to do this to save my life or anything," he tried backpedaling.
Jacob's hands ran down his sides, before grabbing the belt loops of his jeans and pulling Ben fully up against him. There was no mistaking the lump in Jacob's pants, although the very fact that it was there floored Ben. "I want you to," Jacob muttered before kissing his neck. His hands were wandering up under Ben's shirt, and really? What was he waiting for? An engraved invitation?
Cautiously, he opened his mouth and squeezed his eyes shut as he gingerly put his fangs up against the soft skin of Jacob's throat. It felt weird. And kinda gross. But then Jacob's wet thumbs brushed over his chest, and Ben started drinking.
And then it was anything but disgusting.
Ben woke the next night to the weight of Jacob's arm on his waist. Squirming, he all but bolted from the bed once he was out from under the weight. Making a beeline for the bathroom, he ducked around the doorframe to get a peak as Jacob lazily mumbled and stole Ben's pillow to hug tight in his sleep.
Jacob was in his bed.
Naked. Because they'd done more than play purist last night. The blood had gone straight to his head.
Ben felt the heat rush to his face as he blushed. Jacob hadn't picked on him for his puny physique or commented on his entire lack of natural pigmentation. Hell, he was as white as a ghost, and yet Jacob hadn't seemed to even care.
Ben had slept with his renter. He'd slept with Jacob.
Okay, it was time to panic now. And get clothed. Grabbing his jeans from last night, he hurriedly got into them and then quietly slipped out of the room, shutting the door behind him.
Spot was conked out on the couch, a thin stream of drool running from her jowls. Shaking his head, Ben walked past her to the foyer, only to see that they'd left the front door open last night. Lovely. Even when he was trying to be smart, he was blindingly stupid. Really? It was amazing that an axe murderer hadn't killed him in his sleep yet. Sighing, he stepped out onto the front porch and shut the door behind him. It was frigidly cold out, and he was certain he smelled snow on the wind.
And while Spot had indeed managed to find her way home sometime in the daytime hours, she'd left the paper on the step. Ben bent down to get it, but as he was coming back up, he felt something cold and metal against the nape of his neck.
"Where is he?" a low voice growled.
"Who?" He didn't dare turn around to look. As dangerous as vampires could be, they weren't bullet proof. Was anyone really? Besides that, as far as dangerous vampires went, it wasn't like he ranked high on the scale. Jacob's neck was the first that he'd sucked on since he'd been a little kid feeding off his mother.
"My son! I know you're holding him," the man grunted, sending Ben stumbling slightly as he jabbed the gun against his neck again.
"Yoohoo! Benny boy! Looks like you've got company," George called from across the way in a peignoir that in no way was keeping out the cold. Or leaving anything to the imagination. "Care to introduce us?"
"Call them off!" the man snapped, sounding a little panicked. The door behind Ben opened though, as George cheerfully made his way across the lawn.
"Dad? What the hell are you doing here?"
The gun dropped and Ben took the opportunity to whirl around and stare. On his front porch was a middle aged man in an expensive tux. He had a small pistol in one hand and a pissed expression plastered on his face as he glared at a sleepy Jacob.
"Jacob! Do you have any idea what your mother and I have gone through looking for you?!"
Jacob blinked, and only then did Ben realize that all he was wearing was a bath towel around his waist. "Do you have any idea what I've gone through trying to get you off my tail?" Jacob retorted back, leaning back against the doorframe.
"Um," Ben stammered, his face turning red as they both turned to look at him.
"Benny boy!" George saved him from replying as he all but leaped up the step and swung his arms around Ben, practically choking him. "I'm impressed. I didn't think you were ready for a threesome."
Okay, where was a hole in the ground to swallow you up when you needed one?
"Threesome!" Jacob's father looked close to having a heart attack. "What the hell have you done to my son?" The gun flew up, and of course, it was pointed at Ben's head.
"Dad, put that damned thing away," Jacob snapped angrily, storming to Ben's other side and wrapping his arms around Ben's waist. It would have been lovely. If it weren't for the fact that they were all out on the porch in broad moonlight, Jacob's father was watching, and Ben could see George ogling Jacob's chest from the corner of his eye.
Thankfully, though, Jacob's father put the gun down just as Tim started making his way across the yard in his usual bondage gear.
"Lovey, what have I told you about leaving the house in your sleepwear?" Tim all put purred in George's ear as he got up the step and peeled George off Ben. "Ooh, is Ben having a threesome?"
"No!" he snapped back, frustrated that the two would make that assumption. "This is Jacob's father." Not that they'd been formally introduced, what with Ben being held at gunpoint and all.
"Oh, well, hello Jacob's father," Tim greeted cordially. "Your son's been a good companion to our Benny here."
He was going to hide in his house and never ever come out again. He'd die of blood loss after a couple of days, but it was a small sacrifice to make for his shattered dignity.
"Arnold," Jacob's father managed between clenched teeth. "Jacob, I insist that you leave this place immediately. Your mother and I have given you ample time to pursue your frivolousness. But it's time you came home and found direction in your life. You can't wander like a hobo forever."
"I know," Jacob told him, pulling Ben closer. "And I've found direction. I live in this house, I have a job. I'm happy," he stated simply, quietly.
Turning to look up at him, Ben knew his eyes were growing big. And okay, it wasn't like he was professing his undying love for Ben. Still, it was nice to know that Jacob wasn't miserable living with him. Kyle, Zahn, and David had never been happy. Nothing that Ben had done or not done had managed to make them happy. And yet, he'd barely done anything for Jacob and he was happy?
"Whatever those weirdos are paying you, Jacob," Arnold flicked a hand in Tim and George's direction, "your mother and I can give you more. You don't want to be a part of the family business, all right. It's not as we'd have preferred it, but obviously it's what you want. Just come home."
"What's this about paying?" Ben asked, a niggling sense of dread developing in his stomach. He looked at Jacob, who rolled his eyes, before glancing over at Tim and George.
"Benny boy, we know how lonely you've been. And Russell giving Jacob that pay advance his first day, we just wanted to make sure that he stuck around long enough to fall for you," George murmured apologetically.
The dread multiplied a thousand times, and he stood stock still in Jacob's embrace.
"Honestly, Jacob. You didn't have to run to the middle of nowhere and shack up with a vampire just to get even with us," Arnold added.
Ben shook off Jacob's embrace. Maybe before the exes, he would have denied it all and naively hoped for the best, but not now. He should have known better. He had known better. Trust in himself. What a load of crap.
"Ben," Jacob tugged on an arm, but Ben angrily shook it off, his throat getting tight.
"I think it's time for everyone to leave," he told them quietly, not looking any of them in the eye. They'd had their fun at his expense. He brushed past a miffed Arnold and stepped through his door.
Slamming it shut, he made sure to throw the lock.
Of all the morning afters in the history of morning afters, this had to be one of the worst, Jacob decided. He'd never had a morning after, but he'd had a cheery idea of what it would be like when he'd finally drifted off to sleep last night. There'd be cuddling, an exchange of comforting words, and maybe if he'd woken up in time, dinner in bed.
But no. Instead his insane father was on the front porch in a tux, standing next to the insane neighbors.
And he'd just heard the lock click.
"What are you doing here?" he snarled, turning on his father. "And why the hell are you dressed like that?"
"The private investigator just got me the information he'd gathered on you this evening. I was on my way to a charity event with your mother, but we both decided that this took precedence."
"So, where the hell is she?" Jacob hiked the towel up as his father made yet another disapproving cough.
"She's waiting with the helicopter just outside of town. Come on, Jacob, we're going to be late for this event."
Oh, and that just did it. "Look, I appreciate the concern, and if I weren't so pissed at you right now, I'd go say hello to Mom and reassure her that I'm all right and apologize for not speaking to you two for the last couple of years. But let's get one thing straight. My life is here. This is the way it is, and this is the way I like it. That vampire? Is the guy I fell for, and if you don't like it, tough shit. I've found direction, and he's a part of that. And you've hurt him. Now, I'm going to go in there and try and undo some of what you three have managed to inflict, but for now, none of you is welcome within a mile of this house," he leveled a disgusted look at his father before turning on George and Tim. That George eeped slightly and Tim took him by the arm and escorted him back across the yard only gave him a small sense of satisfaction.
Reaching down, he picked up the fake dog poo, ignoring his father's indignant gasp. Taking the key, he unlocked the door, and then quickly shut it, throwing the lock again. There would be no interruptions.
Now to find Ben. Which was easy enough, he realized as he gingerly made his way into the master bedroom. On the bed, under the comforter, was Ben curled in a ball.
"Spare key," he said dully before Jacob had the chance to say anything. "I forgot that I showed you where that was."
"Ben," Jacob murmured, sitting down on the bed and tentatively brushing Ben's hair out of his eyes.
"Just go away, Jacob," Ben looked up at him.
"No." Silly little vampire. Like Jacob was just going to give up? Not in this lifetime. He stood briefly, watching Ben's face crumple slightly before it closed off, and then he pounced.
"Oof!" Ben yelped as he landed half on top of him. "What the hell are you doing?!"
"Tackling you," Jacob told him smugly, grabbing his wrists and pinning them above Ben's head before grinning down at him mischievously. "Look, there are a lot of idiots in the world. The vast majority of the time? I'm one of 'em. This time however, I think the prize goes to my father and the neighbors," and he paused, bending down until their noses almost touched just to make sure that he had Ben's full attention, "and you."
"I know," Ben managed, looking miserable.
"No, see, you don't," Jacob told him, letting go of his wrists and sliding until he was on his side beside Ben. "You think I'm here because of some stupid payment thing that Tim and George had going. Which is not true at all, because I gave it all back. And however much a nutcase my father might be, I have too much self respect to resort to using people just to get back at him. 'Sides, he's too dense to get it most times anyway"
"You don't love me."
"And why on earth would you think that?" Jacob tugged on a strand of Ben's hair, frowning.
"Cause you don't," Ben shrugged. "It's all right, I understand. You don't have to keep humoring me."
And okay, so maybe that made him a little mad. "You're being an idiot."
"What?" Ben looked startled.
"Of course I love you. What, you think I sleep with everyone who offers room and board?"
"B-but," Ben stammered uncertainly.
"No, look at me, Ben." Jacob pulled Ben's face towards him, squishing Ben's cheeks together slightly in the process. "Now, you're going to repeat after me, okay?"
"No, repeat," Jacob laughed. "'I am a kickass vampire.'"
"This is stupid."
"I," Ben sighed, before mumbling, "am a kickass vampire."
"Good. Now, 'Any guy would be damn lucky to have me, because I'm quite the catch.'"
"You've got to be joking. Are you blind?"
"Repeat." Jacob insisted.
"Any guy would be damn lucky to have me, because I'm quite the catch," Ben rattled off before raising an eyebrow at Jacob.
"'And Jacob loves me, because I'm a sweet, lovable and generous guy. It's not surprising that Jacob fell for a studmuffin like me, because let's face it, I'm pretty damn hot. Plus, I have this kickass cute birthmark on my ass that looks like--"
"Shut up," Ben tried, and failed, to suppress a snicker as he pushed Jacob's face away. "I'm not repeating that."
Jacob grinned, grabbing Ben's middle and pulling him closer. "Okay," he acquiesced. "We'll work on it."
"But," Ben tried to interrupt, looking all cute and pretty and hesitant. Was it any wonder that Jacob couldn't resist tweaking his nose and making him yelp?
"No buts. I love you, and I'm going to keep telling you that I love you until you believe it."
Ben was silent for a long moment, and Jacob was half afraid that he'd pushed too hard, too fast, and too long. Finally, Ben offered him a shaky smile. "I love you back."
Grinning, Jacob leaned in for a kiss.