Vlad at work to make in through school. Drawn for TinnyVlad from TTICSY

“Hey Vlad!” Danny called out as he closed the heavily ornate door of the castle like mansion behind him.

“I’m in the study,” echoed a response from what is assumed to be the study that lay somewhere inside this vast manor. The loud casual, almost distracted, voice elicited a warm smile on the Danny’s face. Beaming, he quickly adjusted the strap of the backpack slung across his back before giddily rushing off through the corridors, navigating the maze of halls with an intimately familiar ease.

“Vlad!” he exclaimed as he burst into a sunlit room with opulent furnishings and shelves upon shelves of regal books. “You’ll never guess what I saw today!”

Vlad, a tall man with long grey hair pulled back and subtle glasses perched upon his nose, was rifling through papers at a grand desk. He turned in his office chair, crossing his arms, to quirk an inquisitive brow at Danny.

“Oh?” asked Vlad. When the boy’s expression turned to one of mischievous glee the corners of his lips twitched downwards. When the boy started outright chuckling he frowned. “What is it, Danny?” he asked again, extremely wary, this time making certain to articulate his query.

Danny ignored Vlad in favor of shucking his backpack by the doorway, next to the nearest bookcase, and snickering when Vlad scrunched his nose up in frustration. After a couple more snickers he cut Vlad some slack and scooped up the bag while rambling melodramatically, “I know. I know. Backpack goes on the backpack chair.” With a ridiculous flourish he carefully placed the bag in question on what was apparently its assigned seat, which was on the right side of the desk.

“Thank you.” Vlad said curtly, eyes narrowing as he watched the boy lean against the desk.

“Does the name ‘Ralph’ mean anything to you?” asked Danny with an air of mock innocence that was instantly exposed by a very cheeky smirk when Vlad froze at the question.

“No… Doesn’t ring a bell…” Vlad brushed off, knowing full well that Danny had caught the nearly imperceptible tensing of his shoulders. He was caught with no way out, but he hoped the boy would be merciful.

No such luck.

Damn nosy stubborn seventeen year olds.

“Really?” Danny feigned confusion, casually shifting to lean on the man’s nervously taut shoulder in an pensive manner. He tapped his finger against his chin dramatically for gratuitous emphasis. “Maybe it was a relative of yours who has that lovely framed photo under ‘Employee of the Month’ at Ralph’s.”

Vlad sighed as Danny quickly fished out his cell phone from his back pocket and quickly pulled up a snapshot, “Is he a brother you don’t like to talk about? Maybe a cousin?”

“You know full well that’s me, Danny.” Vlad grumbled.

“Aw, I thought you would deny it just a little bit!” The boy stuck his tongue out playfully before plopping himself down in the last available chair, which was on Vlad’s left. “Seriously, though. What’s with the award?” he said, joking manner suddenly turning to genuine curiosity.

Vlad sighed deeply in frustration before collecting himself. He removed his glasses, putting them aside on the desk, straightened his posture and turned to face Danny properly.

“As you know, Daniel, I am new money.”

Danny flinched at the formal use of ‘Daniel’. Vlad only did that during tutoring sessions when he was all business and no play. The silence that followed confirmed it, he was in lecturer mode. Danny groaned, having to play pupil. “Yeah, I know.”

“And ‘new money’ means?” Vlad pressed, like a elementary school teacher helping a kid through a homework.

“What?” Danny balked at Vlad’s sudden patronizing words, but he grumbled an answer anyway. “That you didn’t have money before?”

“Exactly. And what does one do before striking it rich?”

Danny rolled his eyes to hide just how much the words hurt. “Get a job?”

Vlad smirked. “There you go! Mystery solved!” he ruffled Danny’s hair and spun around in his office chair to return to whatever it was that he had been working on.

“I was only teasing…” Danny said, turning away with a huff. “I really wanted to know the story about you working at Ralph’s… There was no need to be mean.” He crossed his arms and was totally not pouting. Pouting was what kids did. Danny wasn’t a kid.

Vlad looked over his shoulder at the miserable sight behind him and was immediately contrite. He swiveled back towards Danny and gently tugged the boy’s seat cushion so the chair would spin towards him. Danny didn’t resist, but he refused to look Vlad in the eye.

The older man sighed. “I went too far, didn’t I?”

“You know you did.” Danny mumbled softly, deflating a little.

Vlad carefully put what he hoped was a comforting hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. I really am an old snickerdoodle, aren’t I.”

Danny looked up at that. “What? No you’re not!” he exclaimed, then was struck with a sudden realization. “‘Employee of the Month?’” Vlad looked away in embarrassment, confirming Danny’s suspicions.”You were worried by that?! I didn’t even read the plaque! I just thought it was funny that you, a rich eccentric scientist and half ghost, were a cashier!”

“I should have known that you didn’t mean it that way, I admit.” Vlad fidgeted nervously, still avoiding Danny’s gaze. “But I couldn’t help but take it that way…”

An awkward silence fell over them.

“I suppose we’re both sensitive about… age, huh?” Danny finally voiced the issue, looking up sheepishly from under his bangs.

“With good reason.” Vlad gritted through clenched teeth.

“Hey…” said Danny softly, gently taking Vlad’s hand. “I love you just as you are, like I’m sure you love me as I am, right?”

Vlad didn’t move, except to gently squeeze the hand that held his. “I do.” he said and finally looked Danny in the eye. “Everyone else can go fudge themselves.”

Danny laughed, “that is the closest to an actual curse word I’ll hear you say, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know, I’m sure there are other desserts that sound like bad words.” Vlad was smiling now. “I’ll be sure to look into that later. I do believe I was in the middle of telling you about my days at Ralph’s.” The joyous smile that bloomed on Danny’s face at the words had Vlad’s chest tighten fondly at the sight.

“Yes. You were just about to tell me how you got that spiffy photo put on the wall.” Danny said as he rolled his chair so it was flush against Vlad’s. He then interlocked their hands firmly atop the joined armrests.

“Oh, you wouldn’t believe the degrading stupidity I had to endure working there! The award may as well have been handed to me on a silver platter.”

“I think I can imagine a little.” Danny chuckled, before sighing happily and settling back to hear the adventures of Vlad Plasmius: Cashier.

Rebloging for Mistys great story.






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