A/N: This is one of those working titles that I'm going to get way too attached to.
I've tried to make the German clear enough from the context to not really need translation, but let me know if anything is too confusing to move forward with.
Dracula dabbed at his lips with his napkin, stood up from the table, and tugged at his chest binding garment. The candle in the stick beside him was almost out, as he'd sat at the table lost in thought until long after his food had gone cold. He swooped around the room, cape whipping around behind him, and lit a few of the sconces on the walls. Now he could see the remains of his cold, lonely meal, but what good was that? He sighed, wondering why he'd felt the urge to light the room in the first place. Next thing he'd be willingly looking in a mirror.
He decided he would go remove his binding garment for a moment, perhaps see if he could deal with taking a bath. His dinner had only bloated him, his body having not ingested food in several centuries. He'd had to try though. He couldn't keep living like this. He just hoped it would be more satisfying than his attempts to keep his castle better lit.
The sconces in the corridor along the back of the castle were also dwindling down, candles at the ends of their wicks. He didn't bother to relight them. He ran his finger along the cement between bricks, once again bored out of his skull. When he brought his finger away the thick layer of dust smelled damp. The whole castle was probably riddled with damp, but it wasn't like he had a respiratory system to damage.
He stopped at a window anyway to try to get the smell out of his nostrils. Served him right for voluntarily smelling something around here. There was nothing but decay in this castle. He leaned his elbows on the windowsill, head slumped against his fists as he looked out at the forest below. It had snowed a few days in a row so the trees were fairly coated with it. All undisturbed, of course. He couldn't be bothered with snow anymore. Its novelty had worn off after about the two hundred and fiftieth winter.
Somebody was out there though. He heard a shout, then saw the snow shaken off one of the trees. He stood up straight, stiff with tension as he tried to decide what to do. His hands were still in fists from where he had been leaning against them. Now his fingers curled further and further in until his nails dug into the skin of his palms.
Perhaps he drew blood or something, but suddenly he gasped and lurched forward toward the window. There was something out there. Something he needed. It would seem his dinner hadn't worked after all, because he was still hungry. He needed to feed.
He sprang away from the window and sprinted to the nearest stairwell, which was back next to his dining room. Gripping the banister, his feet glided along the edges of the stairs as he used the muscles in his forearms to whirl him around the tight spiral, whirring faster and faster down towards the ground floor.
The cold hit him smack in the face. He blinked, taken aback for a moment, and thought maybe he could interrupt this. Maybe he could stop chasing and go back inside, back to his stupid cold dry vegetables. But his legs took him, springing forward into a ditch that ran in a ring around his castle, like a thoroughly pathetic moat. The snow crunched when he landed, freezing water seeping through the leather of his shoes. At least, he assumed it was freezing. He hadn't felt temperature in a longer time than he'd last eaten food. He powered forward towards the tree without snow.
He lost sight of the tree briefly, but spotted its glistening leaves, sodden in the last of its melting snow beads. He darted over, treading lighter on the snow now that he had found his feet. The forest was dark, but his eyes were sharp. He felt like they'd got sharper over the centuries, as he got more and more used to living in the shadows. They were sharp enough now to spot the figure trying to hide behind the snowless tree.
"Hello?" he called. Immediately he began to cough. He hadn't spoken in weeks, not since his last shipment of periodicals and letters had been brought up the hill.
The figure emerged slowly from behind the tree. He wore a heavy brown cloak over a plain black coat, out of which poked a scruffy collar of a shirt that may once have been white. The man's face was round, with wide eyes staring at him and teeth chattering together. His knuckles were white from how tightly he gripped the straps of the satchel slung over his back.
"Bitte!" the man yelped. "Bitte nein!"
Dracula blinked and tried to remember when in the last decade he'd spoken German. His Romanian was decent, to talk to the locals when he had to. But English was the language he favoured. "Uh... Es ist gut... Aber ich brauche... ich brauche..." It was at that moment that Dracula realised he didn't know what he needed. The man in front of him seemed sweet enough, but there was nothing within him urging him to feed, nothing pushing from behind, nothing drawing him from in front. He was just there. Standing. In the snow. Frightening the wits out of this poor man.
"Bitte... Lass mich gehen..." the man said. He was quieter now, searching Dracula's face.
"Was hast du in deiner tasche?" Dracula asked, trying to stall for time. His German was flowing back to him now, for all the good it did him.
In answer to his question, the man got the satchel down off his back and pulled out a little paper box. Dracula nearly vomited. His stomach was a mess of tension wriggling about, right on the edge of something. He pushed as best he could, trying not to give in. "Was... was ist in dem karton!"
The man squeaked and said, "Es ist Testosteron, Herr Dra- uh, Frau - Herr? Bitte... bitte... Oh Gott..."
Dracula felt his fangs spring out through his lips, bursting skin and blood everywhere over the blanket of snow. He couldn't keep up with his body as his arms reached out and snatched the box off the man. He tore at it with his fangs, shredding it to pieces, until he was left with a glass vial full of clear liquid, with a hand drawn label tied on. 'Testosteron. Erik O.'
Dracula looked up and snarled at the man. "Ich. Will. Dies."
"Aber ist es fur -" he started, then he shook his head and threw his hands up in the air. "Ach, in ordnung. Alles klar. Nimm es!"
He started to stumble backwards in the snow, picking up speed with every step.
"Wait!" Dracula called. "Uh... wart?"
The man nearly started to cry. But he stopped. He looked down at the ground by Dracula's feet, even when Dracula focused as hard as he could and drew back his fangs, slotting them back inside his gums.
"Sprechst du Englisch?" Dracula asked, his mind straining with the effort of not guzzling this entire vial.
"Yes. Some," the man said, not looking up.
"You say this is for someone else? Jemand... anderes?" Dracula asked, trying not to look at the vial in his hand. For whatever reason, he was being pulled towards it with a draw even stronger than when he fed. But this also felt so big, so important, so all encompassing he knew that if he screwed this up he would regret it.
"Yes. It is for a... kundin. A client?" he tilted his head to the side, momentarily looking up. When his eyes met Dracula he jumped and dropped his eyes to the ground again. He nudged the twigs on the ground in a slow, steady rhythm.
"A customer? You're selling these? How much?" Dracula's voice spiked in volume, but as long as that was the only thing that was spiking.
"It is free," the man said. Suddenly his English got much steadier as he said, "For anyone in the family." Dracula got the feeling maybe that was a slogan.
"What family?" Dracula asked.
"Anyone," the man said.
"Everyone?" Dracula frowned.
"Nein! Um... Anyone who is without everyone else!" the man exclaimed. "Anyone who has no other family."
"Ah... Like me," Dracula said. "But this one is... Erik's?"
The man nodded. "Yes. I can bring you one. It makes your body different... more like you might like? Aber bitte... let me go?"
Dracula's hand tightened so hard around the vial he was worried he would shatter it. But he closed his eyes and handed it back, then took a step back and rubbed at his face with his hands.
"Was ist deine name?" he asked.
"Friedrich," the man said. "And du? Bist du Herr Dracula?"
Dracula grinned, trying not to show too many teeth. "Ja. Ich bin Herr Dracula."