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Hi everybody! This is a story for [profile] nevacaruso , who requested more of Luis and Larry in the Old Bloods universe.  It's a leftover for Thanksathon.  Enjoy!

Mao Xue Wang
Summary: Larry is having a hard time keeping blood down, and Luis is afraid for his health. Their crotchety old neighbor Han comes up with a delicious solution.


Larry can’t keep blood down.

This is a major concern. Sure, Larry had fainted at every blood draw since before Luis met him, but they’d tacitly assumed that hemophagia would confer an automatic love of blood.

It did not.

Luis feels so helpless. Larry hasn’t even begun to regain the weight he lost in the attack. They try feeding him lying down, with distractions, with meditation, with anti-nausea medication. None of it works.

It doesn’t work this evening either, but Luis says, “you’ll be fine,” fluffs the pillows behind Larry’s head, and then Angel comes bouncing in, wanting to show Dad her new pictures, and Luis ducks outside to cry.

This is so stupid. They’ve downsized their lives, soldiered through the insurance train wreck, only to have this happen? There must be a solution. There has to be.

But Luis doesn’t know what it is, so he cries. In a moment, he knows he’ll be all right and come up with a new thing to try, but right now he’s just drained and afraid.

“Hey.”

Luis looks up.

It’s Mr. Han, the crotchety old next-door neighbor. He’s out watering his petunias.

“What’s the mater with you?” He asks. His tone is softer than his volume; he’s been hard of hearing for going on a century.

Luis is too tired to put on his strong face. “It’s Larry. He can’t keep blood down.”

“Eh?” Han cups one ear.

Luis repeats it louder.

“Hmmm,” Han says, cupping his chin in one gnarled hand. “It’s a problem, yes. How have you prepared it?”

“The blood? It’s just the packets you get from the shop…”

Han looks appalled. “No wonder!” he declares, clapping a hand to his forehead. “That is shop shit! Shit, I tell you! Here, I come over, I make you mao xue wang. Very good, very nutritious.”

Luis has no idea what mao xue wang is, but at this point, he doesn’t care. Han has been a hemophage since the Boxer Rebellion. He knows what he’s talking about more than Luis does. “Sure. Okay. Can I help?”

Han waves him off. “It’s fine. Easy. Be over in one hour. Make sure little girl is in bed; I hate kids.”

Luis nods, and Han goes back to watering his flowers. After taking a moment to compose himself, he wipes his eyes, blows his nose, and goes inside to help Larry put Angel to bed with a bedtime story.

“I want to stay up with Dad!” She complains. “It’s not fair! He’s never up when I am!”

“Don’t worry. Soon I’ll sleep less and we can spend the evening together,” Larry soothes, kissing her corkscrew curls. “Promise.”

Luis is silent. He knows Larry is sleeping too much out of malnutrition.

They read Angel the Talking Eggs and Goodnight Moon, and she finally falls asleep, snuggled in with her stuffed squid, Edna. Larry sits and watches her as Luis turns out the light; his eyes reflect yellow in the dark now, like a cat’s.

“Do you need help getting up?” Luis whispers, and Larry nods.

Luis has been small and delicate since he was a child, but now he’s the robust one, and Larry leans on his shoulders as they go into the kitchen. Luis tells him about Han and about this mysterious miracle-recipe.

Han arrives shortly after, wearing fuzzy slippers and a no-nonsense expression. He’s holding his cane and a large pot, and he sweeps in the moment Luis opens the door.

“Ha! I cook you good food, not store shit,” he declares, waving off all small talk. “Home recipe. My mother teach me this recipe one hundred years ago. One hundred years, and still good.”

He plunks the pot down, removes the lid, and Larry and Luis lean in to see this wonder food. It’s a dark red, meaty soup with a spicy smell.

Larry has been apathetic about food since the attack, but now he leans in to smell the soup. His nostrils flare, and his eyes sharpen, the pupils inhumanly large.

“That smells good,” he says. Larry hasn’t said that about anything in weeks.

Han nods with pride. “Duck blood, pig blood, pig blood curd, duck bone and skin, spices, other things. Very nutritious. I become a biter and I change recipe a little, but still good. Why should I eat shit? Because I’m a vampire? Ha!” He pulls a ladle out of his coat pocket and says to Luis, “Here, you eat too. Very important, sharing food together. You don’t eat together, you divorce, and then what? No good.”

Luis knows from his reading that hemophages cat eat blood, some meat, and water, and very little else. The soup looks more substantial than Larry’s new stomach can take, but Luis defers to Han’s judgment and gets bowls and spoons for everyone. Han insists on serving everyone, despite his shaking hands, and Luis finds the little old man intimidating enough that he doesn’t push it.

Larry picks up a spoonful, sips. For a moment, he’s still, but then a huge smile dawns on his face.

“It’s good,” he says.

Han nods, smiles, and digs into his own.

Luis is not as big a fan. Han has obviously removed all the vegetable elements from the recipe, and although it’s hot and filling, Luis doubts he could eat much of it at a time. Still, it’s wonderful to see Larry eating again.

The bedroom door opens and Angel peeks out, clutching Edna. She looks at Han. “Hi.”

Han looks uncomfortable. “Hello, little girl.”

She looks at the soup. “Whatchoo eating?”

“Mao xue wang,” Luis says. “What some?”

Angel screws up her face. She’s always been picky, but Luis sees her look at Larry, eating real food for the first time since the attack.

“Okay,” she says.

Thankfully, Han doesn’t tell her what’s in it. She has a few spoonfuls from Luis’s bowl, declares herself done, and falls asleep again in Luis’s lap. He rocks her gently, watches Larry eat, and the knot of tension in his chest starts to loosen.

It feels so good to be sharing food again. He mentally adds Han to the Christmas card list.
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