My Life Without Garlic
Part III-- And I just can't look-- Okay I can!
Tony should have been alarmed by how happy it made him to find Augustin waiting for him when he woke up. “Hey,” was all Tony could manage when his throat was tightening with an emotion he didn’t want to acknowledge.
Augustin has a life of his own. No matter how often he told himself that, the idea of letting Augustin go still seemed wrong.
But that was his possessiveness showing. If he really did care about Augustin, he’d let him go. There was some saying to that effect, and Tony had always thought it was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard—until now. Now he understood it.
Augustin scrunched up his nose. “Why are you staring at me like that? Do I have toothpaste on my chin or something?”
Tony brushed at a clean spot by the side of Augustin’s mouth. “No.”
Augustin frowned, then he turned his head quickly and sucked Tony’s thumb into his mouth. The flick of tongue, the hard suction—both conspired to make Tony’s dick perk up and beg for attention.
Augustin released his thumb. “That’s impressive,” he said, gesturing to Tony’s groin. “You know, I was watching you while you, er, slept. Your chest moved, just barely.”
Tony propped himself up on one elbow, confused as to where Augustin was going with this. “And? I breathe.”
“I guess I didn’t think you had to,” Augustin said. “Didn’t you die?”
“It doesn’t work that way.” Tony sat up all the way and leaned against the headboard. “Clod—damn it—Claude didn’t kill me. He just drained most of my blood out. Granted, I’d have died if he hadn’t given me his blood in return, but I didn’t die. I don’t know how all this—“ He waved a hand in front of himself, “Works, but it does. I’m alive. I didn’t die. I breathe.”
Augustin’s confusion was clear in his expression. “The coffins—“
“Are ventilated,” Tony interrupted. “We’d suffocate otherwise. Look closely at them next time.”
“Pass.” Augustin shuddered. “Why do you sleep in them?”
“I didn’t yesterday or today,” Tony pointed out.
“Everyone else did.”
Tony sighed. “Fine. It’s comfortable, and it’s more of a habit than anything else. We’re pretty much out of it when we sleep. Maybe our respiratory system slows down more or something, I don’t know. Waking one of us up can be difficult. I was jazzed on my sire’s blood yesterday, so I didn’t have to sleep. But some of the mates, most of them as far as I know, find it creepy to see their lover so…unwakeable.”
Augustin plopped down beside him. “You didn’t wake up when Abernathy was here.”
Tony’s possessiveness—okay, jealousy—reared its green little head. “Abernathy was here?”
“He’s a friend,” Augustin said with a hint of defensiveness. “Nothing wrong with him being here.”
But Tony wanted to growl and argue otherwise right after making sure Abernathy knew Augustin was his. That was stupid; Abernathy had a mate. “I’m glad he kept you company.”
Augustin rolled his lips in.
“What?” Tony asked, alarms dinging in his head. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“How committed are mates to each other?” Augustin asked.
Tony sat and, growling as he shoved the sheet off.
Augustin shoved him back none too gently. “Oh calm down, for God’s sake. I wasn’t asking because he was coming onto me. And for the record, jealousy might be nice in theory, but in practice—no. I don’t like it, not from either end.”
Tony lightly thumped his head against the headboard. “Sorry, sorry.” He just wasn’t used to caring about someone like he did Augustin. “Besides Claude, I really don’t have a lot of experience with relationships.” He wanted to slap himself as soon as he said it. Tony closed his eyes.
Augustin grabbed him by the chin, at the same time straddling his lap. “Oh no you don’t, asshole. Open your eyes. You don’t get to say something like that then hide away like a toddler. And just because you can’t see me doesn’t mean I can’t see you.”
Tony peeked out of one eye.
Augustin snickered. “Seriously, I’m supposed to be the melodramatic one here. Now open them both.”
Tony did, though not very much. Augustin was kind of blurry.
“Were you saying in a roundabout way that we’re in a relationship?” Augustin asked.
“You want to go back to your regular life,” Tony offered instead.
Augustin gave his chin a little shake. “Not what I asked, was it? And FYI, even a one-off is a relationship, a sexual one. It may only last a few minutes—though wow, what a disappointment if it was over that quick—but whatever, it was still a sexual relationship. I suppose if someone paid for sex, that’d be a working relationship. Maybe. I’m not real clear on that one. The point is, there are a shitload of different kinds of relationships. We have an adversarial slash sexual one with shades of friendship thrown in. Don’t you think?”
“I hadn’t categorized it,” Tony said through a swell of relief. And at least Augustin hadn’t gotten all bent out of shape over his kind-of slip. He wanted to admit to more—to feelings and hopes that he knew were best kept secret. It wasn’t going to happen. Augustin had just defined what they had, what they were to each other, and his view was not reflective of Tony’s feelings.
“Well, if there’s anything you’d like to add to it.” Augustin raised an eyebrow and waited expectantly.
Tony didn’t have the nerve. He grunted and closed his eyes again. “Mates are supposed to be bound together, unless they feed off each other and the vampire turns his or her human mate into one of us. Then that bond is altered.”
“I remember. It’s like going from lovers to bam! Incest.”
“It is not,” Tony huffed. “Jesus.” He had to open his eyes again to glare at Augustin. “That’s messed up, man.”
Augustin shrugged. “That whole blood swapping vampire turning bit is messed up. One second you’re lovers, the next you’re sire and offspring. Wait.” Augustin scowled. “Oh, ew! You and Clod—“
“It’s not like that!” Tony said a little more loudly than he’d intended. “It doesn’t instantly turn us into family members!”
“But you share the same blood,” Augustin said. “So the same DNA—“
Tony groaned. “No, no, no, no. Not going there, Augustin. Turning someone into a vampire doesn’t make them related to you anymore than donating blood makes you family with whoever receives it. If you gave blood to a sibling, would that make you double-related?”
“Fuck. You just had to use logic,” Augustin groused. “But I get it. So, back to mates. That bond is the same for all of them?”
Tony wondered why Augustin was asking such questions. “I guess, though if you ask, each pair will tell you their connection is unique.”
Augustin hummed, and looked thoughtful. Tony tried to brace himself for whatever the next round of questions held.