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Blood Bank
Series: Old Bloods
Word Count: 1000
Summary: Now that Carli has her dog back, she starts working on getting her blood safely and ethically. The Daylight Brigade decides to help.
Notes: This story is a leftover from Servathon. It was prompted by Lydean, and sponsored by the general fund! Enjoy!


The most important part of being a newly-turned hemophage was keeping a rigid meal schedule. The physiological transformation burned massive amounts of energy, and if the metabolism wasn't fueled, the vampire would feed on any and everything it could. Unfortunately, it usually took a while for the hunger feeling to manifest properly, making it very easy to forget food.

Which meant Carlisla was stuck on the couch with a stein full of straws and pints of O-negative, consuming one every two hours under Jamie's watchful eye.

“This stuff tastes awful,” she mumbled. Her jaws ached from the fangs, and her head was fuzzy with sedatives.

“Yeah, well, could be worse. This guy we got at the hospital couldn't keep it down; we had to tube-feed him.”

Carli grimaced but kept sucking the blood through a straw.

“Irony,” she said. “Cosmic punishment for my years of veganism. Where's this stuff come from, anyway?”

Jamie checked the back of the pouch. “Sangre-La. Whatever that is. I don't know much about them, except they're the source for a lot of hospitals these days.”

“Hmm.” Carli had heard some shady things about Sangre-La. “Moment I can do more than sit here and feel awful, I'm getting a better connection.”

“Good luck with that. Supplies are tight.”

Carli tried to concentrate, but couldn't. So she sat and watched another season of Buffy.

...


Carli had met the Daylight Brigade in passing on her quest to get Lacey back. Known by their detractors as the Sunshine Brigade, they were a group of humans who stood against vampire brutality. They taught self-defense, legalities, and the vast majority of them had either been attacked or known someone who had. They were also primarily poor black and Hispanic folk—victims vampires assumed wouldn't be missed or defended.

Besides being a member himself, Jamie was close friends with a higher-up named Toriana, who had somehow (and probably dubiously) gotten Terry evicted from Carli's head and rescued her dog. Since then, Toriana and her chapter had treated Carli with a standoffish politeness.

So when Carli finally recovered enough to make good on her promise, she asked Jamie to call her. It seemed more polite than making Toriana deal with a hemophage.

“Tori? Hey, it's Jamie. You know anything about Sangre-La?”

The response was long and passionate enough that Carli could hear it from her seat in the kitchen.

“Yeah, well look, hey, can you recommend anything better for Carli?”

Ominous silence. On one level, as Jamie's friend and a fellow attack survivor, the Daylight Brigade had some sympathy for her. Still, though, she was now part of the group that'd attacked many of them. After a moment, Jamie hung up.

“She'll get back to us,” he said.

That didn't sound promising, but a few days later, Toriana dropped by. She gave Carli a wary berth and wouldn't make eye contact, but she could at least stand to be in the same room—with Jamie there, anyway.

Lacey bounced over, not so much wagging her tail as her whole back end, and Toriana's expression melted.

“Hiya, baby!" She crooned, kneeling to scratch the dog's ears. “Are you a good girl? Who's a good girl?”

Lacey slobbered and wriggled with joy and rolled onto her back for belly rubs.

“You have a pit bull?” Carli asked.

Toriana looked up. Love of dogs fought dislike of hemophages, and dogs won, by a small margin. “Mastiff. Saved me when I was attacked.” Pause. “She was killed.”

Carli was silent. Somehow, she suspected apologizing wouldn't help. “Thank you for saving my dog,” she said instead.

Toriana smiled a little, though it might have just been at Lacey. “She's a good dog.”

Ice broken, they got down to business.

“Sangre-La has the market cornered, “Toriana explained, petting Lacey. “But they're very opaque about their practices. Bleed Green is more transparent, but it's expensive hipster shit—most people can't afford it for daily. Everywhere else is somewhere between the two.”

“Plus you get fillers and additives,” Jamie added. He might not have known the politics around blood, but he was expert on what was in it. “It can cause allergic reactions, but so far, there's practically no legislation or FDA oversight regarding consumable blood. It's very hard to tell what's good and what isn't, and blood goes bad so quickly...” He spread his hands. “The epidemic moves fast, the government slow.”

“Where do the old bloods get theirs?” Carli had gotten blood at Vasilov's before, and it hadn't tasted nearly so bad.

“Private donors, probably,” Jamie said. “It's not like you need much, once you're over the transformation hump.” Then his eyes lit up.  He turned to Toriana. “Do you think any of the Brigade would be interested in a donation ring? I'm a phlebotomist, I could help.”

Carli could see the battle in Toriana's face—rage at being asked to help feed the very group of people who'd attacked her, versus the pragmatism of insuring a local hemophage was ethically well-fed.

“I'll ask,” she said through her teeth.

She left soon after, slamming the door after her.

“I feel bad for asking,” Carli said.

“I can't feed you myself,” Jamie said. “I have a problem with anemia as it is. And Vasilov wouldn't share his connections for drugs or money. The Daylight Brigade is our best bet. Worse comes to worse, Toriana hates you forever, and she was halfway there anyway.”

“Great,” Carli sighed, and resigned herself to a life of Sangre-La.

Much to her surprise, though, a few days later, the Daylight Brigade called up Jamie expressing agreement. About half a dozen people were willing to donate for Carli and passed Jamie's tests for communicable diseases. However, they had a request.

“The outreach coordinator wants in with Biters Anon,” Toriana said, “and I know you're a member. Can we make a deal?”

“Definitely,” Carli said. “Let's do this.”

And just like that, what'd started as a food connection had turned into a community project.
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