lb_lee: (art)
[personal profile] lb_lee
This story was prompted by [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith , Anon, and [profile] nevacaruso !  It was sponsored by AnonSwede!  It's part of the Old Bloods universe, but requires no context.  Enjoy, and happy Kindathon!

Acts of Kindness
Summary: When going to her Biters Anonymous meeting, Carlisla finds that her friend Rashid has just had a friendship go horribly wrong.
Notes: Yes, I am working my way through all the Vampires You Never See.  Feel free to request more of any you like!


After the vampire attack and subsequent chaos, Carlisla’s life had finally settled into a rhythm.  She worked, walked her dog, and every week she biked to the Biters Anonymous meeting.  She finally felt like her life was back together.

Good thing too.  She arrived at the meeting a little early and found Rashid sitting on the church steps, looking as though he’d wandered in from an accident.  His eyes were glassy, his hair and clothes disheveled—and he didn’t seem to notice Carli at all.  Normally, he was a walking random act of kindness.

“Rashid?” Carli said. “What happened?”

Rashid’s eyeballs swiveled towards her.  It seemed to take a moment for him to recognize her, and then his lips started to tremble.

“Carli,” he said, “I screwed up.”

And he burst into tears.

Carlisla hugged him, tried to calm him down and get the story out of him.  This obviously couldn’t wait for the meeting.

“She was in my Ottoman history class,” he sobbed. “We studied together after I loaned her my umbrella.  She seemed so nice.  She was funny and smart and I told her no sex.  I told her I wasn’t into that, and she said okay.  I thought it was okay.  But then I got hungry.”

“Oh no.”

It took a while for a body to adjust to hemophagia.  For the first few months, the hunger was unbearably intense and hit seemingly at random.  But Rashid was always meticulous in his meal schedule.  His turning had been violent and brutal, and he never wanted to do that to someone else.

“She hid my food, Carli.  She told me she’d always wanted to get bitten, that she trusted me, it wasn’t a sex thing to her, it was bigger than that…”

Carlisla closed her eyes.

“I didn’t know what to do!  She blocked the door, wouldn’t let me leave, and I didn’t want to hurt her.  She just said one bite, no turning or anything, but—”

Carli squeezed him. “It’s okay.  It’s okay.”

“I should’ve just done it!  Done it and gone before the hunger got too bad.  But I waited too long, I thought she’d give me my food back if I asked enough, and—and—”

And then the hunger had hit. “Is she all right?  Did you—”

“My roommate came home before I bit her.  He got me away from her and locked me in the bathroom until he found my food.  She’s okay.”

“Oh thank god.” Rashid would likely never have forgiven himself otherwise. “Rashid, listen to me.  This isn’t your fault.  You kept to your meal schedule, you had plenty of food, you did everything right.  She’s the one who—”

“I nearly bit her!  I could’ve—”

At that moment, a battered blue Honda pulled into the parking spot.  It was Charlotte, the Biters Anonymous facilitator.  She got out, looking alarmed. “What’s going on?  Is everything all right?  I felt trauma.”

“Rashid got a chaser,” Carli said. “A really creepy, abusive one.”

“Damn, Rashid, where do you find these girls?  I swear to god…” Carli glared at Charlotte, and she cut herself off. “Are there cops involved?  You need legal help?”

“No, no, his roommate stopped him.”

“Not what or who I asked.  Rashid, calm down.  Look at me.”

Her voice seemed to cut through Rashid’s panic, and he swallowed his tears.

“Is she pressing charges?”

Rashid looked lost.

“Did you touch or grab her in any way?”

Rashid nodded.

“But you didn’t bite her.”

Rashid shook his head.

“Okay, good.  Did you leave any marks?”

Rashid took a moment to think about it. “No.  I don’t think so.  It wasn’t that strong a hunger.  I only went like,” he reached, touched Charlotte’s shoulder.

“Okay.  Were there any witnesses?”

“She wouldn’t—”

“She’s a chaser, Rashid, and you didn’t give her what she wanted.  Never underestimate a pissed chaser.” She rubbed her temple, looked momentarily pained; Rashid’s mind was probably rough.  But she remained all business. “But you didn’t leave marks, you didn’t bite her, everyone knows you’re a marshmallow, I think you’re safe from assault charges.  But stay the hell away from that girl.  Do not let her near you.  If your roommate can’t play bodyguard, call me; I work from home, I can swing it.”

“And this was not your fault,” Carli added.

Rashid didn’t seem to believe her.

At that point, other members of the group started showing up, and Charlotte had to get up to unlock the church and let them all in.  The Biters Anonymous meeting had officially started.

It was not the best-organized meeting they’d had.  Rashid was the focus of everyone’s attention, despite him obviously being uncomfortable, and Charlotte eventually had to use her iron fist to get people to leave him alone and drag them back on-track.  They went around, discussed progress, the upcoming blood drive, Carli’s work with the Sunshine Brigade.  Carli was frustrated, wishing she could talk to Rashid more, but he seemed to be getting progressively calmer now that other people were talking.

Eventually, their time was up.  People tossed bits of money to Charlotte to cover the room and began to wander off.

“Rashid,” Charlotte said. “Church needs the space for Bible Study.  Help me move the furniture.”

Carli decided to help, mostly to watch Rashid. “Does he still think it’s his fault?” she whispered to Charlotte when his back was turned.

“Of course he does,” Charlotte snapped. “And if you’re smart, you’ll shut up about it till at least next week.”

“But—”

“Look,” Charlotte said, “he only just had this happen.  He’s in shock.  He can’t handle logic right now.  Just let him work through things, let him do his kindness thing, and try again next week.”

Carli was frowned.  Charlotte had been a vampire for a couple years now—she knew her stuff.  But still. “Why did the hemophagia make you an empath?”

“Irony,” Charlotte replied flatly, and then started ordering Rashid to stack the chairs.

Once they’d arranged the room to Charlotte’s satisfaction, they left.  Carli knew there wasn’t anything left to do, but still felt worried and irritated.

Then she passed by the church meeting board.  There was no Bible Study tomorrow.

Carli looked at Charlotte.  Charlotte stared back at her, daring her to say something.

Carli said nothing.

“That’s right,” Charlotte said, and went to give Rashid a ride home.

Maybe Charlotte wasn’t as heartless as she acted.

Date: 2014-12-10 01:58 am (UTC)
okami_no_mure: Close up of Derek looking slightly down and off-screen, eyes glowing red. (Derek)
From: [personal profile] okami_no_mure
OH my god I want to hug Rashid. He sounds so much like the guy named Stefan who lives here, who is a vampire, but was adopted by a family of werewolves. Maybe we'll have to write him into a story sometime, seeing as he's my cousin.

Date: 2014-12-11 06:41 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] okami_no_mure
Definitely in need of hugs then. Chasers suck.

-Stefan

Date: 2014-12-10 08:32 am (UTC)
ljlee: (grief)
From: [personal profile] ljlee
Wow, this struck me hard. I'm representing a man who endured prolonged stalking and abuse from his now ex-wife, and I found myself identifying with the situation in the story. I loved the way Charlotte and Carli helped him out, and I like the understated and plausible worldbuilding re vampirism.

Date: 2014-12-10 09:32 pm (UTC)
ljlee: (muzi_tears)
From: [personal profile] ljlee
Nah, it's good. It's cathartic to read stories where these issues are acknowledged and where people work toward resolution. Kind of like this webcomic shows.

I think it's the sexily angsting vampires that turned me off the genre. They're actually deeply interesting as a metaphor for the nature of modern life and the struggle to live ethically, but mostly the device seems to have been used in boring and self-indulgent ways. I like your take much better!

Date: 2014-12-11 03:23 am (UTC)
ljlee: (mwahaha)
From: [personal profile] ljlee
Because Key & Peele have everything, they had a hilarious take on the sexy vampire trope.

It also just irritated the hell out of me how vampires are heavily associated with New Orleans and Lousiana (thanks a lot, Ann Rice) but THEY'RE ALL WHITE.

Maybe they work like racist zombies? Told ya Key & Peele have everything.

That is awesome about old vampires and the actual implications of immortality. Which, no, pouting in ridiculously sexualized goth getup about the tragedy of your life is not it. I agree with you that the way vampires act destroys any suspension of belief that these are old people. Now vampires dealing with really being old, those are stories I can get behind!

O_O

Date: 2014-12-10 09:26 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Thanks to the donor!

Poor Rashid. I hate it when the law blames the victim, but that happens a lot.

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