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Realistic or Modern Fairweather Communications - Urban Fantasy

Sub Genres
  1. LGTBQ
  2. Magical
  3. Realistic
  4. Supernatural


One Thousand Club
'You're nothing like him'

Wade didn't think any words could ever relieve him more than that.

He tried to look offended when Azrael insisted she was right, but he couldn't hide the smile on his face.

"Oh, I'll admit you know more than me about medical stuff, and you definitely know more big words than me, but I'm pretty sure I'm right about things sometimes too. Like Lev. You took my advice, it seems," he said, his voice cheeky.

It was hard to hear that he was a good person without immediately deflecting it. But he had been trying lately.

"Maybe not that, but I did make one of the interns cry by pulling out his headphones when he was watching porn in the office," he said grinning. "Guy quit the next week."

He settled after that, going a bit quiet. Right. He had people here for him. He didn't want to get them involved in his messes, but maybe he should rely on them a little more.

He licked his lips, then nodded.

"Yeah," he said after a long moment. "I-- I'll keep that in mind, when it gets... when it gets really bad."

He was quiet for a moment, then shifted, squirming a bit.

"Would... Ok, this is a weird change of subject, but do you think you and Thea would want to come over some time? It's been a long time since I played the piano for friends."


Nerdy Vampire
Azrael humphed. "I'm sure you know big programing words. None of them are as fun as juxtaglomerular, though."

Azrael flicked Wade. He didn't have to be so smug that she had taken his advice. "Yes, well, you can understand my hesitation with the whole mafia family thing," she grumbled. "But... yes. It was good advice. And. I appreciate it. It made me think that maybe... maybe I could."

She shrugged, feeling a little stupid and fuzzy.

At the mention of the intern who watched porn, Azrael screwed up her face. "Well, they deserved that."

She leaned next to him, enjoying the quiet and the contact. "Or when it just gets bad. You don't have to wait until it gets really bad."

But, ultimately, she just hoped she had become another option for him. She hoped it was the option where he was call or ask to come over, but it if was the option that involved her getting him and taking him home so she could nurse him back to health, she was okay with that. As long as she was an option.

Her surprise was almost so complete that she held her breath for a second. He was... inviting her over? To his home? First Lev, now Wade? She opened and closed her mouth several times before remembering how to talk.

"I'm honored. Yes, I would like that very much. And I'm sure Thea would, as well. I'll ask them. We really enjoyed your playing last night."


One Thousand Club
Wade gave Azrael another smile.

"Maybe, but I could beat you any day at interpreting java," he shot back. He considered asking what juxtaglomerular meant, but then decided it was probably gross and he didn't want to know.

Besides, he was too busy being smug, and maybe a little proud.

"Yeah. I mean, it's hard. Lev doesn't know who my dad is. Nobody knows besides people I went to school with. But I told him about the things he did when we became friends. Lev never judged me. He just... He tried to help me, when I wanted it. When I didn't, he was just a friend. He's a great guy that way. He likes to help everyone. At first I thought he was just trying to fix people, you know? Like be a hero or whatever, but... he just genuinely wants to see the people around him happy. He's one of a kind."

He smiled softly, because Lev had fallen into his life when he had needed him most, and he wouldn't trade him for the world.

He went quiet then, but flushed when Azrael expressed her surprise.

"I mean," he began, awkwardly rubbing the back of his neck. "It's been a while since I've just played for friends. When I feel really down, I perform at the club, and it's fine, but... Sometimes I just want to play casually for a small audience. It's different, playing for people who ca-- know you."

He grimaced at the way that he had automatically corrected himself. He shouldn't do that, but it was a hard habit to break.


Nerdy Vampire
"I hear 'java' and I think coffee," Azrael agreed. "So I think you are probably right on that account."

Azrael's expression was a bit chagrined but it softened as Wade talked about Lev. It was good knowing he knew Wade's dad was a horrible person and still wanted to associate with him. It gave her a little hope, anyway. Her lips twitched.

"If you're trying to talk him up, I'm already sold," she said, her tone dry but her smirk pleased. "I am glad you rely on him, though. That's good."

Azrael chuckled as he got all embarrassed. He was such a dork. Such a loud dork.

"Yes, I'm sure it is nice playing for people who care about you." Her favorite professor in undergrad had always repeated things back to her students but with the corrections in it, and Azrael had always thought that was helpful. And anyway, he might just need verbal affirmation. "I certainly would love to come and listen, and I'm sure Thea would as well. Just set a date and we'll be there."


One Thousand Club
Wade pressed one hand to his chest in mock distress.

"If you were anyone else, I'd be offended," he said, because he had taught himself java and every other programming language he knew. It had been hard, but he knew it wasn't really common knowledge. "I'm only not offended because I know you're, you know. A vampire and all that. Bet you grew up in a gothic castle using candles to read creepy horror novels, not playing around with a computer or an atari."

His tone was joking, and he smiled so she didn't think he was actually serious.

He was also glad she was giving Lev a chance, and that she seemed to like him.

"I don't need to talk Lev up. He talks himself up. He's, like, too good. I would say he's a boyscout, but I don't think he's ever actually been in the wilderness for more than five minutes. Hope you don't mind being the one to squish the spiders in the relationship."

Lev would probably kill him for telling her that, but hey, there was nothing wrong with being afraid of spiders.

He opened his mouth to protest her correction, but he couldn't do that without looking like a dick. And anyways, it was true.

"O-ok then. I guess... This weekend, if that works. Or next weekend. I should probably clean first..."

He shoved his hands into his pockets, staring down at the desk in front of him.

"Anyways, I... I'm sorry about earlier. And thanks, you know. For checking on me."


Nerdy Vampire
Azrael snorted. Right. He thought he was joking, but he was partially right. Her house had been styled after a gothic castle, and they had electricity. And she hated horror. Horror novels were ok, but she did not like horror movies. She had watched one with her cousins and she had hidden behind her hands the whole time.

"Oh, so spiders are his kryptonite? Good to know. At least I have spider-squishing skills to offer." She knew she was doing what she had just told Wade not to do, but she honestly wasn't sure what Lev thought he was getting. She was a good doctor, but this was a relationship, not a hospital.

Azrael chuckled. "Well, you let us know when you get your apartment cleaned. I can bring drinks. I'll let Lev and Thea handle the cooking."

She almost told him that no apology was needed. But, he had made her a little mad and he was apologizing. Azrael nodded. "Apology accepted and forgiveness granted. And you're welcome. I'm happy to do it."

Straightening, she stretched. "Well, I have notes to type up and I'm sure you have java to code. I'll see you for lunch."

Azrael stepped outside of Wade's office and spotted Rowan, who looked like someone had just told him the day he would die. "Mr. Shepard? Everything alright?"

Rowan flushed. "Oh, uh..."

Azrael arched an eyebrow, watching him try to lie to her.

He finally got away with, "It's fine."

"Are you lying to me, Mr. Shepard?" she asked, and he hunched his shoulders as if trying to make himself look smaller.

"I may have forgotten my lunch and my wallet," he admitted. "Neither are in my bag. I forgot to grab them from my counter."

Azrael sort of wanted to put "handle with care" tape on him. He was a disaster. "Come to my office at lunch. I can help you out."

Rowan flushed even deeper. "Thanks, Dr. Drake."

She smiled, shaking her head. "Happy to help. See you in a little while."

"Yes! I'll be there! Thank you."


One Thousand Club
"You have a lot more than that," Wade added, but he didn't push it. She wanted to go do doctorly things, and he was feeling a lot better, so he'd let her. "I'll shoot you a text, I guess. And I'll probably see you soon when Lev comes by with lunch."

Which would probably be soon. They had been talking for a little while, and the whole thing had taken up more time than he'd thought.

He peeked out the door when Azrael confronted Rowan, his eyebrows drawing together. It wasn't his job to pry, and he had just promised that he wasn't going to take on everyone's problems anymore. But the kid looked kind of distraught.

"Everything good, Newbie?" He asked, toeing open his office door and peeking his head out once Azrael was gone. "Your rash bothering you again? Because if you don't go down to the clinic voluntarily, I will drag you there to get it looked at."


Nerdy Vampire
Rowan startled slightly when Wade spoke to him. He had just gotten out of Dr. Drake's line of sight and now here was his boss. He felt heat rushing to his face when Wade threatened to drag him down to the clinic.

"No! No, not the rash. That's cleared up. Or... the old one is. I've got a new one on my hand but I've got the cream. The cream works great. Makes it feel better instantly."

Rowan cleared his throat, shifting. He had thought perhaps his inability to lie to the doctor was her intense gaze. But Wade wasn't as scary as her--or, maybe he was scary but just in a different way.

"Fine, it's fine," he added. He winced. It sounded so fake.

Clearing his throat, Rowan admitted, "I forgot my lunch and wallet at home. It's fine, though. I'm not even hungry."

As if to prove he was a terrible liar, his stomach growled.

Rowan pinked. "Or maybe I'm a little hungry. The Doc said she'd figure something out for me but I don't want to inconvenience her, you know. So."

Looking anywhere but Wade, he scratched the back of his head. "I, uh. I'll probably just eat when I get home. It's fine."


One Thousand Club
Wade's eyebrows climbed steadily higher.

Man, this kid was a nervous wreck. It kinda sucked that he'd been saddled with one of the most abrasive team leaders in the whole company.

He made an affirmative noise in the back of his throat, then ducked back into his office to grab his cell phone. He picked out Lev's number from his contacts and sent him a quick message.

'u at ur parents yet? newbie 4got wallet'
'if ur dad doesn't have enuf then i can pay for mcds'

He waited a moment for Lev's reply, then realized that he hadn't actually explained himself.

"Oh, Lev's bringing me lunch anyways. He can bring some extra, or he can grab something on his way here, if you don't mind eating with us and the med crew.," he suggested. "Wait, do you like spicy food? Lev's dad makes a lot of spicy food. Although I guess he's in a cabbage phase lately? The man's one of the best cooks I've ever met, but he does the weirdest experimental things sometimes."

He laughed, remembering the first time that Lev had shown up with a soy-sauce glazed cheesecake for desert. Wade had expected it to be disgusting, and was very disappointed when it was actually really good.

"Anyways, it's up to you, but don't say no because you think you're putting people out. I'm your boss, it's my job to take care of you," he said proudly, then frowned. They had just had this conversation, hadn't they. "Uh. Within reason. S'long as you don't call me after midnight, I'll help you out with whatever you need."

That was a boundary, right? He could do boundaries.


Nerdy Vampire
Rowan was pretty sure Wade was doing something about his food-less and wallet-less state, but he was not sure what. He had sort of thought maybe Wade had just decided it wasn't his problem and went back into his office. But then he returned, texting someone, and Rowan wasn't sure what to think.

And then Wade just stared at his phone.

Rowan thought he should probably get back to what he was working on, but was worried the click of the keys would bother whatever deep thinking Wade was doing.

When he finally explained, Rowan opened and closed his mouth a few times. Lev was bringing food? And he was going to share? And Rowan was invited? He wanted to eagerly say that he'd love to do that. But he didn't want to seem desperate or needy.

"Yeah, that'd be cool," he said, his voice too low. He really needed to relax. Wade wasn't going to eat him.

Rowan cleared his throat, and, in closer to his normal voice, said, "I mean, I'd like that a lot. If, you know, it's not an inconvenience."

He knew that Wade had already said it wasn't, but he wasn't to make sure.

"I like spicy food," Rowan said confidently, because had had buffalo wings once and it had only made his eyes water a little bit.

He was pretty sure it was not his boss' job to take care of him, but he was definitely sure that calling people at midnight was rude. "I would never!" he promised.


One Thousand Club
Wade gave him a wry smile.

"If it was an inconvenience, I wouldn't be asking. I'll get you to rely on me yet, newbie," he said, and with his tone, it sounded almost like a challenge. "Anyways, Lev'll be here in about half an hour or so? Maybe a bit longer. He's taking the subway from his parents' place, and they're not too far away. I already told Azrael and Thea we would eat together, so I hope they didn't forget. Oh! If you like spicy food, I should totally take you to Clara's bar when Habib's cooking, it'll be great."

He trailed off then, a small frown coming to his face. On the one hand, he wanted to honor what he'd told Azrael, and set boundaries. It was important, and he needed to take better care of himself. But on the other hand, Rowan kind of looked like a sad puppy, and there was no way he could leave that alone.

"Ok, how's this. If you need something at a reasonable time, give me a shout. It doesn't even have to be as a boss. Just, I know you're not from the city and all, so if you ever need a friend, I'll give you my number. I'm not from here either, you know? When I first got my apartment it was in a part of the city I'd never even been to, and it was a crazy adjustment, so I know it can be hard. It's always good to have someone you can call if you need to."

He hoped he wouldn't be too scared to call. He had a feeling Rowan, as a fae kid who had never been in the big city, would probably need somebody to guide him a bit. Wade loved being a source of guidance. It made him feel useful.

Lev eyed thedoor of the train as he shifted the veritable tower of tupperware that was balanced in his lap. When he asked his dad if he could throw in some extra food for Wade and a few of his friends, both of his parents had immediately pounced. Normally the only person he was close enough to bring lunch for was Wade, so these new friends must be quite something. When he had finally explained that he and the doctor at the clinic were getting to know each other, his dad had gone into his uber chef mode and given him way more food than all of them put together could ever hope to eat. Especially considering Azrael was a vampire, and he didn't think she ate a lot of solid food.

It was kind of a relief when Wade said that Rowan had forgotten his wallet, because it meant Lev wouldn't have leftovers in his fridge all week.

Once the train reached his stop, he got out, navigating the crowd like a pro so he didn't drop any of his cargo, until he came to the office building. He pushed the wheelchair door access with his hip, then frowned as he came up to the elevator. That would be harder to operate without hands, but the last thing he wanted to do was carry this up the stairs.


Nerdy Vampire
Rowan smiled and nodded. Right. He wasn't an inconvenience. He knew that. He did. Still. He always felt like relying on other people meant he was too weak to do it himself. And he had made it this far himself.

Well. Except for the food bit. He definitely needed food.

Rowan had no idea who Clara or Habib was, but he nodded anyway.

Rowan cleared his throat when Wade offered to help him out. That was awfully kind. And having someone to call when he got hopelessly lost--which was often--would be nice. He wasn't usually out late, so that wouldn't be an issue.

"Ok. Yeah, I'll do that. Thanks."

Thea groaned and dramatically slid down in their chair. "They rejected another Vamprexin."

Azreal, who had taken up residence at the desk next to Thea, frowned. "'They' being United? For who?"

"Mrs. Lang."

Azrael made a face. "Because she hasn't tried Flagyl."

"Yeah," Thea huffed. "But you listed her as allergic to Flagyl."

"Bleeding Josh," Azrael said.

Thea snorted. "You don't know it was Josh."

"It was Josh. He's the only one who gives me trouble for that because 'there's nothing in the literature that suggests jiangshi can't take Flagyl'. She mimicked Josh's voice by sounding stoned. Thea was pretty sure that wasn't how he sounded. "When of course there's nothing in the literature because Flagyl isn't going to admit their method of action causes massive embolisms in vampires, banshees, and jiangshi. I'm going to publish my own bloody paper and then there will be literature. And I'll mail him one hundred copies."

"You know he does that just because he hates you. I'm appealing it," Thea said, pulling up Mrs. Lang's medical records.

"Don't bother. It's Saturday and I have Joshua Carter Gerarah's cell phone number." Azrael cackled to herself.

"How the heck--"

"He made the mistake of doing a 'peer'-to-peer with me on his cell," Azrael answered. "I didn't get it illegally."

A message popped up on Thea's chat room, and they said, "Well, you're going to have to wait to bully Josh into changing his decision because the security guard says Lev is here with a leaning tower of food."

Grumbling threats against BSNs who worked for the devil, Azrael pocked her phone and stood to follow Thea.

Next to Lev, someone cleared their throat. Garth smiled a little awkwardly when Lev glanced his way. He had been pretty impressed seeing Lev walk in with all this food in his arms. But he couldn't let the poor guy suffer as he stared at the buttons. So he had walked over to help out. Partially as an apology and partly as a thank you. Maybe to make up a little for earlier.

"Can I get that for you?" He asked with that same awkward smile. "Where you headed?"


One Thousand Club
Lev startled when Garth cleared his throat, and he was very impressed he managed to keep his load steady. That could have been terrible.

"Oh, hey. Uh, sure, thanks. If you could hit third floor, that'd be great," he said with a smile. Once they were in the elevator and he had off-loaded some of the food onto Garth, he lapsed into silence. He wasn't really sure what to say. He was glad the guy was being nice, though he wasn't really sure why he had stuck around.

"So, you're from Cleveland?" He asked, just as the door opened. The programming office was just down the hall, and he figured there was no harm in small-talk on the way. "I've never been there. Haven't really been to a lot of places outside New York and the one time I went to Korea. Since you're on sabatical now, you gonna do a bit of travelling? I hear it's super relaxing."

He pushed open the door to the office with his hip, and Wade looked up from where he had been looking over a problematic part in Rowan's code to see if he could unravel it.

"Oh, Lev, hey. Didn't know your dad was feeding the entire army," he said with a grin, his eyes flicking over to Garth for a second in confusion. He was pretty sure that was the guy who had been leaving the doctor's office this morning. Huh. Maybe there was more going on here than he thought.

Lev walked over to the of the large work tables they had set up in the room, setting the food down.

"Yeah, well. He heard I was bringing Azrael lunch, so he went all out," Lev grumbled. It was a little embarrassing, really. He had wanted to woo her with his cooking, but it was hard to stand up to his dad when it came to food. Judging by the grin on Wade's face and the way he wiggled his eyebrows, he was totally enjoying it.

"Rejoice, newbie, you get to eat Lev's dad's food. The man's a wizard, it's awesome. Who's your friend, anyways, Lev?"

Lev rolled his eyes, because Wade was not subtle, as usual.

"This is Garth. He's from out of town and visiting, so I was thinking of giving him that list of live music places you have on your laptop," Lev said, and sure enough, Wade fell for the distraction. He completely forgot to ask who Garth was, and his face lit up as he grinned from ear to ear.

"Oh, really? Man, lemme just print it out real quick. You're going down to eat with the clinic crew, right? I'll just get that list real quick--"

He darted off into his office, and Lev gave Garth a sympathetic look.

"Sorry, he might talk your ear off now. Anyway, Rowan, heard you forgot your wallet. You're in luck. Pick whatever you want, and don't hold back. There's no way I can eat all the leftovers from this by myself. You too, Garth. Forage away."


Nerdy Vampire
Garth glanced at Lev. "Uh, Columbus, actually. It's about an hour north. I transferred to Cleveland a few years ago."

He sort of figured it was best to not explain why.

"Uh..." Garth said. "I'm not sure, really. They don't really pay me enough to travel, y'know? But maybe I could go... roadtriping or something. Korea, though? That's really cool. I've only ever been to Canada."

Garth put the food he had been carrying down next to the food Lev had been carrying. He was about to turn around and make as graceful an exit as he could when Wade asked about him.

He smiled a little weirdly, like he couldn't remember how to do it, but then Wade was assuming he was going to eat with them and off to print out a list of venues for him.

"Oh, no worries," Garth was saying without really paying attention to what Lev was apologizing for. His brain did catch the bit where Lev told him to stay and eat and he had only had part of a doughnut and coffee this morning but--

"I am so hungry I could eat a whole person!"

"Hilarious, Thea."

Garth felt like he should probably turn around. But he also didn't want to look her in the eye. He compromised by glancing over his shoulder and yup. She was glaring at him.

"Why are you not fast asleep in a hotel, Hogarth Dekker?" Azrael Drake demanded.

The main reason was that he hadn't booked a hotel, but also he had felt like he had unfinished business here. But he wasn't about to tell her that. "None of your damn business."

Azrael scowled, but Thea decided to step in and stop this argument before it started. "Rowan! Hi! How are you?"

Rowan smiled, his face flushing. He had never seen a more dazzling smile on any other person in his whole life. Also their scrubs were colorful, so that might be part of it. "I'm well, thank you. You?"

"I am fan-tab-ulous."

"You didn't come down to see me," Azrael said with a frown at Rowan.

Thea squeezed her shoulder. "I think Lev has got it covered. Or Lev's dad, anyway! Dang! How many of us does he think there are?" They slid their eyes to Azrael. "Or is this all for the good Doc?"

Azrael looked like she was about to flush red but she didn't. Probably her blood magic. No wonder she rarely blushed. Instead she was smiling what Thea had named her "Lev Smile" and giving him a respectful vampire nod. "Please convey our gratitude to your father for his generosity."

"Oh man, this looks so amazing. Stop making eyes at the host, Doc, you're in my way."

Thea shuffled Azrael off to the side so they could get in and get food. They passed a plate to Rowan, forcing him to take it and not hold up the line. Once they all had food, Thea grinned at the poor nervous new kid.

"How's the coding going?"

Rowan smiled. He wasn't sure how someone could make him simultaneously relaxed and nervous. "Wade was just helping me with a bit that's been giving me trouble recently, but I think we've almost got it figured out."

"Oh, good!" Thea hummed in pleasure. "This is so good. Your dad is amazing, Lev. Are your parents looking for a new kid? I'll happily adopt myself to them. Or like... can they be my aunt and uncle? I can submit my resume if they want it. I think my strongest quality is being able to eat what your dad cooks, though."

"They are also not half-bad at brewing coffee," Azrael added. "They aren't half-good, either, but I'll provide a letter of recommendation if they need it."


One Thousand Club
Wade came out of his office when the whole crew arrived, and he couldn't help it. He laughed.

"Man, Hogarth? And I thought my name was bad," he said with a grin. Lev rolled his eyes, because Wade was the last person who got to crap on other people's names.

"If you're going to be a dick, I'll tell everyone what your birth name is," he said lightly, and Wade looked at him with utter betrayal on his face.

"You wouldn't."

Lev shrugged noncommittally. He probably wouldn't. But sometimes it was good to let the threat hang over Wade's head a little. Kept him humble.

Besides, Thea distracted him by suggesting he'd brought everything for Azrael, and his cheeks turned pink as he sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck.

"Well, I mentioned I was eating with some friends besides Wade, so my dad got kind of excited," he admitted. "He likes to show off."

Wade grinned as he took his plate, stuffing his face with a mixed green dish sauteed in some kind of sweet and spicy sauce. It was good. Everything Lev's dad made was good, but it was always fun when he got a new hobby. His experimental food was a real treat.

"Lev's parents basically adopted me already, so they're probably open to it," he said to Thea, and Lev groaned.

"That's because you're a grown adult who can barely take care of himself. My mom is always asking me 'did Wade eat enough this week? Did Wade remember to do his laundry? Does Wade need somebody to bring him some food?'"

Wade laughed loudly, completely unembarrassed.

"Yeah, well, at least I know I'm taken care of with her looking out for me. And I only forgot the laundry, like, one time. She should really let that one go."


Nerdy Vampire
"It's a family name!" Garth groaned.

"His middle name is not a family name," Azrael said, though she didn't think Wade's birth name was that bad.

"Oh, we're doing birth names now, huh?"

Azrael just smiled and mouthed, I will kill you.

Garth wisely chose not to inform everyone of Azrael's last name. Besides, upon trying Lev's dad's cooking, he was also trying to figure out how to adopt himself to Lev's parents.

Azrael was looking between Wade and Garth like she was figuring out a spot-the-difference puzzle. "At least someone is making sure you do laundry and eat."

"Dang," Thea said. "I can take care of myself. Maybe they need a low-maintenance kid? I just need to be fed, is all."

"This is really good, please tell him," Azrael said, nodding with pleasure as she sampled all the food. "I like the spices. "

She smiled to herself, listening to the heat beats in the room. Lev's slightly elevated, Thea's steady, fast, and human, Garth's loud as it dealt with his elevated blood pressure, Wade's also loud and fast, and Rowan's fae beat--which was going faster than it should.

Azrael looked over to find tears clouding Rowan's eyes and coming out of his nose. Oh no. She located the starch on the table and passed it to him. "Eat this, it will bind the capsaicin."

Rowan stared at the rice through bleary eyes. "Bind the what?"

"Oh! Honey! Do you need water?" Thea asked, realizing what was going on.

Azrael scowled and shook the rice until Rowan took it and added some to his plate. "Water will make it worse. It just spreads the capsaicin around. A starch--like rice--will bind it."

Rowan felt heat rising to his cheeks, and it wasn't from the spicy food. "It's really good," he promised Lev. "I'm just--wow. Spicy."

"Capsaicin is a mild poison, there's nothing to be ashamed of," Azrael assured him, passing him a napkin to wipe his nose with.


One Thousand Club
"I do laundry and eat on my own, just not as regularly," Wade argued. It wasn't like he forgot to eat for a week the way Lev made it sound. Just a meal here and there. It wasn't really a big deal.

"My mom would love you," Lev said to Thea with a grin. "She'd probably ask you who does your hair and immediately invite you over for every holiday dinner that exists."

She would like Azrael too, he was sure. Saying that would be a little embarrassing, so he just nodded as he dug into his own food.

"I'll tell him. He'll probably want to cook for you and Thea again, just so you know. He likes to have 'unbiased tasters' for his new recipes."

"It's usually my job," Wade said proudly, and Lev huffed out a small laugh.

"Yeah, my dad drills Wade about food all the time. I'll try to keep him from giving you guys the questionnaire," he teased. Everybody likely thought he was joking, but he had actually given Wade a questionnaire after feeding him some of the dishes he wanted to try at the restaurant, and Wade had filled out the whole thing with long-form answers. It was ridiculous.

Wade would have had something to say about that, if he hadn't noticed that poor Rowan seemed like his mouth was on fire.

"You good, newbie?" he asked, looking around to see if they had any milk. Lev looked a little guilty as he fished a thermos out of one of the food bags.

"Here, drink this. Milk usually helps," he said, glancing at Azrael as if looking to get her approval. "Sorry, I should have mentioned it was spicy. Wade's used to my dad's food by now, so it totally slipped my mind."

"Yeah, sorry about that. I forgot that people have different spice tolerances," Wade said. Lev quickly sorted through the dishes at the table, then pushed a tupperware towards Rowan.

"This one's sweet, it should be a bit better. There's chicken in there, though. You're not, uh, vegan or anything, are you?"


Nerdy Vampire
"Glad to know no one has to spoon-feed you, Wadethon," Thea said with a grin.

Azrael shook her head. Thea's attempts to make Wade's name longer was going to give her a headache.

"One of my cousins does my hair--she has a little parlor two blocks from me. She is amazing. I can get her card if your mom is interested in pink hair." Thea considered. "Though, she'll have to fight my parents for Christmas. And I'm booked on Halloween. The Doc lets me dress up and decorate the whole office and then we watch Nightmare Before Christmas because otherwise she'll talk the whole time about how guts don't look like that. She came dressed up as a doctor once--which I mean she dressed like she always does--but then the next year she dressed up as--"

Thea stared at her and Azrael tried very hard not to laugh.

"You let me give you that speech about appropriating another species' culture for Halloween!"

"It was very sweet, no one ever defends vampires," Azrael said. "I was touched. I was specifically dressed as Carmilla, though, who is a character in a gothic novel."

"You went to a Halloween party dressed up as a vampire," Garth said, his mouth full of food and his expression unimpressed.

Rowan nodded to himself. Ah. So the doctor was a vampire. That explained why she was so intimidating. Somehow, that made her less frightening.

"I don't know if I'd be any good at being a taste-tester," Azrael said. "But I can do my best."

"I'm a great taste-tester, sign me up," Thea said.

Garth thought about offering to also be on that list, but he was probably leaving soon. Probably. There was no real reason for him to stay.

And anyway, the poor kid was dying, apparently.

Azrael smiled at Lev, so Rowan took that to mean milk also was good to bind the poison-stuff. He took the milk and drank it, then ate some rice as Azrael had insisted. He was slowly starting to feel better. At least he could see, now. He smiled at everyone, wishing he wasn't the center of attention for being an absolute mess.

"No, not vegan. I do try to eat humanely-sourced animal products, though," Rowan said. His family had kept chickens, and his father had taught him to be respectful of them as they kept the community fed. "Thanks, I'll try that."

The sweet dish was much better. It did not call attention to the fact that he apparently was not good with spicy food.


One Thousand Club
"I can spoon feed myself just fine," Wade said, taking a bite of his food for emphasis, but he turned an unimpressed look on Azrael when Thea said she nitpicked horror movies. "And movie guts are supposed to look bad and fake. That's the whole charm! It's better when they're as cheap and fake as possible. Practical effects!"

"I just don't like horror movies at all," Lev said with a shrug. "Nightmare before christmas is about as spooky as I go."

That didn't mean Wade didn't make him watch terrible b-movies with him. Lev had seen a great deal of terrible horror movies, and he really did not get the appeal.

Wade paused with his spoon half-way to his mouth, because he figured that Azrael being a vampire was kind of a secret. He doubted Rowan knew. But everyone was talking about it pretty casually, so he wasn't going to draw attention to it.

"Unfortunately, you can't dress up when you're an upright elite office worker," he said with a dramatic sigh. "But last year I dressed up as the phantom of the opera to play at Clara's bar, that was pretty fun. Not the biggest fan of that guy, but the audience loved it."

"At least you didn't sing to go with it," Lev teased. Wade choked on his food, then elbowed him.

"Just because it's halloween doesn't mean we want to get too horrifying," he said dryly. Lev was grinning at him, but Wade knew he had a habit of singing loudly when he got very, very drunk, and he wasn't going to give him a chance to bring it up.

Rowan's bout with spicy Korean fusion food seemed to be just the distraction he was looking for.

"It's totally cool, not everyone likes spice," Wade said with a shrug.

He opened his mouth to give the anecdote of how one time he'd given Percival chicken fingers with ghost pepper dipping sauce, but... He wasn't really sure he wanted to talk about him right now. He was still feeling a little raw about earlier.

"Anyways, it's all cool. And raising chickens! That's awesome. Not a lot of space for chicken raising in New York. Around here, you have better luck getting a cat."


Nerdy Vampire
Thea groaned when Azrael made a face about the fake guts. "Once I tried to get her to watch a medical thriller with me after work and she screamed when they--"

"You can't defibrillate someone in asystole because there is no electrical signal to correct," Azrael interrupted emphatically. "Chest compressions!"

Thea patted her. "Yes, Doc. That's why we'll let you do the defibrilating. There was no reason so shout 'No!' at the TV. They can't hear you." Thea rolled their eyes. "To translate, it drives her nuts when someone flatlines and they shock the patient because you would never do that in an actual hospital."

Azrael would have given a formal lecture on everything she had hated about that medical thriller but Wade mentioned the Phantom of the Opera. "Yes, agree, but I do love the music from the play. Very atmospheric."

Garth snorted. "Of course you do."

Azrael pointed her fork at him. "You had a doughnut for breakfast so you don't get to talk."

"You know what we should do?!" Thea asked, in the tone of someone having an epiphany. "We should do karaoke!"

"I thought the idea was not to let Wade sing," Azrael said, never one to pass up an opportunity to tease Wade a little bit.

"Wade doesn't have to sing, but I bet Lev has a good voice. And Rowan, you look like you'd have a good voice, too."

Rowan shook his head at this. He had liked singing as a kid, but he didn't think he was good enough to sing in front of people. He quickly latched on to the other topic--the one that didn't involve him singing in front of people. "Yeah, I, uh, kinda grew up on a farm. Mostly vegetables, but also chickens."

"Where?" Thea asked curiously.

"Upstate," Rowan said. "My dad has a crazy green thumb. He can grow just about anything. Even stuff that isn't supposed to grow this far north."

He was starting to relax and felt more like these people might be okay. And the sweeter chicken dish was really good.

"Does your dad grow any of these vegetables, Lev?" Rowan asked. "It tastes like he grows them."


One Thousand Club
Wade nodded like a wise sage, clearly agreeing with Azrael's opinions on musical theatre.

"Atmosphere is everything. If you don't set the atmosphere right, the whole musical fails."

He looked like he might go on a rant about musicals and theatre and the ways that so many people failed at writing them, but he was quickly distracted by Thea's suggestions of karaoke. To Lev's eternal amusement, he looked downright embarrassed.

"No, no karaoke. Azrael's right, you don't want to hear me sing," he insisted, and Lev laughed.

"I mean, I think it sounds fun. I'd be down, if you guys are down," he said, and Wade shot him a sad puppydog look that said 'traitor'.

"Ooh, a farm," Lev said, immediately interested. "Not a lot of those around here. My dad does some urban farming, balconey greenhouses and stuff, but you can do so much more on an actual farm. I bet your parents' cooking must be great."


Nerdy Vampire
Azrael might have protested, but Thea's, "YEEEEEESSSSSSS" drowned out any opposition. Not that it much mattered to her. She didn't listen to pop music, so it wasn't like she could sing karaoke. She would listen, though, that would be fun.

Little did Azrael know, Thea knew exactly what music she listened to and had every intention of making her sing.

"You give me a time and place, Lev Choi, and I will be there for karaoke. I'll even bring the Doc." Thea grinned. "You don't have to sing, Wade, but you can come and cheer us on."

Rowan nodded. He could always tell when the food he was eating had been lovingly grown and tended. It made sense that Lev's dad had a balcony garden.

Smiling, Azrael set her plate down. "As much as I hate to do this, I should get back to work."

"Gotta call Josh and read him the riot act," Thea sighed, stretching.

Azrael smiled grimly. "He just denies my stuff because it's easy to deny."

Garth frowned at the murderous glint in Azrael's eye. "Who is Josh?"

"The Doc's arch nemesis."

Azrael rubbed her forehead. "He's not my nemesis. He's an RN who basically looks over insurance claims and decides if he thinks the patient needs it or not. I don't have a problem with most of them, but Josh is a prick who likes his little reign of terror too much."

Garth was having trouble with the fact that Azrael Drake, eldest child of the blood mafia's dame, had some insurance wonk as an arch nemesis. An insurance wonk. Not a rival gang leader or a clever detective. And insurance pencil pusher.

"You ok, there, Garth?" Thea asked. "Food too spicy?"

"Nah, I'm fine," he said quickly.

"Liar," Azrael said. "You, sir, are going to go check into a hotel and sleep or I'm going to have Thea call your boss."

Thea gave him their evilest grin.

"Well, since I'm being blackmailed," Garth grumbled, but he was a bit tired. Falling into a comfortable bed sounded nice. "Thanks for letting me join, all. I appreciate it. And the food was good, Lev. Tell your dad."


One Thousand Club
Karaoke sounded excellent. Lev was a bit embarrassed about singing, but it would be fun, and maybe he could push Wade to open up a bit more.

"Josh sounds like a dick," Wade said around a mouthful of spicy chicken. "If I worked in insurance, I'd just approve everything. Why be an asshole to people who are already having a bad day?"

Lev agreed, but he also knew that there were rules about that sort of thing. Actually. He had kind of forgotten that he had technically asked Azrael to commit insurance fraud for him a week ago. He really, really hoped that Josh guy didn't end up going after her for that. He would feel terrible.

With Azrael going back downstairs, it seemed like their fun little lunchtime was over. Wade stretched, and decided he should definitely get back to work himself.

"No prob," he said to Garth. He didn't really know the guy, but it was always nice meeting new people. "Any friend of the doc's is a friend of mine."

Lev began to sweat a little, because he was pretty sure Garth would vehemently deny that he and Azrael were not friends, and he really did not want to start a baby fight in the office.

"Yeah, it was nice. I'll let him know everyone approved, he'll be ecstatic. I'll also give you all the address to his restaurant, because I'm a good son who supports my father's business," he said. In truth, his father didn't own the restaurant, but the owner was a good friend of his. Lev's mom said that he acted enough like he owned it sometimes, so there was no problem calling it 'his dad's restaurant'. Peter would get ticked, but it was always all in fun.


Nerdy Vampire
"He is a dick," Azrael agreed. "And if you did that, you'd get fired. They probably have some rule about you have to deny so many claims or something."

"The Doc is an insurance conspiracy-theorist," Thea explained.

"Health insurance agencies are nothing but evil. They screw over patients, healthcare professionals, pharmacists--everyone. They're the only ones who win."

Thea patted her shoulder. "Time to get off the soap box and take that rage to call the poor insurance guy on his day off, m'kay?"

Garth wondered if he shouldn't be worried about this Josh guy even if he did sound like a jerk. But then Wade said he was a friend of Azrael Bloody Drake. He opened his mouth to say he was not her friend, but he realized that that was a good way to make sure he never ever got fed Lev's dad's food again and was a great way to alienate all these people since they apparently liked the doctor. And it had been kinda nice, hanging out with non-cop people.

"Yesssssss," Thea repeated, doing their best snake impression. "Give us the address. Karaoke and then el restaurante de Señor Choi! When we doing it?"

"I wouldn't mind the address, too," Rowan said. "I'm always ready to try new places."


One Thousand Club
Wade shook his head when Thea tried to be reasonable.

"No, no, she's right. They definitely have a rule for working for insurance companies. Like, you have to be this evil to join," he said, holding his hand a few inches above his head. He was lucky enough that his work insurance covered his meds, and he was able to pay for his mom's meds too with his salary, but he knew so many people who weren't as lucky. He didn't know how people like Charles Fairweather could handle having the amount of money they did, being able to solve the financial problems of every single person around them, and just choosing not to do it.

He knew that he had grown up privileged, but it still drove him insane.

He decided not to spur Azrael on anymore, though, because she clearly had work to do.

Lev tensed when it looked like Garth was about to snap, but was pleasantly surprised when he held it together. He smiled brightly, all but beaming at him as he patted him encouragingly on the shoulder. See? They could all get along if they tried.

"Yeah, we could make a whole night of it," Lev said as he wrote down the address and phone number to the restaurant on a few separate napkins, handing them around the table like business cards.

Wade hummed his agreement, then stood up and stretched with a sigh.

"Yeah, one day. I, uh. Is it ok, Doc, if you just... text me later, how your patient is doing? Or, uhm. Well. Maybe you could just tell him to text me himself. I just... I want to make sure he's ok and all," he said awkwardly. Lev glanced at him and raised one eyebrow, but Wade was studiously avoiding his gaze.

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