Short Story – You Are My Sunshine

This is a short story I did which is basically an AU version of some of my vampire characters.  Lagatto has changed from being a super serious adult to being a wonderfully awkward and adorable child, and instead of hating his father he lives with him and loves him and they’re all one big happy family.  Except for Vlad, he’s just a grump.

All characters belong to me.

Lagatto sat on the corner, lightly rolling a ball back and forth with one finger, looking rather downcast. It wasn’t that he didn’t like his mother and father; he loved them both very much, and his father did always try to spare time to play with him, but it was never enough for Lagatto. He wanted some friends. But there didn’t seem to be anybody his age around.

He sighed and was about to get up and go back inside when he heard a voice beside him. “Hey, where’d you get that ball?”

He blinked and looked up to see a girl with long hair standing next to him. He wasn’t sure how to answer at first, but then said in a small voice, “My dad got it for me.”

Can I see it?” she asked, peering down at him.

Um… sure.” He slowly lifted the ball up and gave it to her. She turned it around in her hands, her brown eyes sparkling.

Wow, it’s really cool! Hey, what’s your name? My name’s Hope.”

Oh, uh, I’m Lagatto,” he said. Hope wrinkled her nose.

That’s a weird name.”

Oh, is it?” Lagatto blushed and turned his face away. Hope shoved the ball back into his hands.

Do you have to go? Maybe we could play some time. I live just over there.” She pointed across the street to a small white house.

Oh, y-yeah, I do,” he said slowly. “But we could play some time, yeah.” He nodded his head slowly then turned and pointed to his house. “I live over there.”

Hope’s eyes grew wide. “You live in that big mansion? Whoa… are you rich?”

Um, maybe, I guess…”

Cool! Well, I have to go home, too, but you can come over and see me any time, okay?”

Okay…”

Hope smiled then ran off toward her house. Lagatto watched for a time then went off to his own house, feeling confused and awkward but strangely warm inside. He went to his father’s office and knocked on the door. “Father?”

Come in, come in.”

Lagatto went into the office to find his father, Neculai, sitting in his big comfy chair at the desk. His father turned and smiled at him, then patted the arm of the chair to indicate that Lagatto should sit in his lap. Lagatto climbed up with him and nestled close.

Is something bothering you, son?” Neculai asked.

Do you know anything about… girls?”

Neculai blinked and stared at him for a long moment. “Lagatto, I think you’re too young to be asking questions like that.”

No, but! I-I met a girl outside, just now. Her name’s Hope. She said she would play with me.”

Oh?” Neculai tilted his head to the side. “Would you like that?”

Yes, I think I would.” Lagatto nodded his head quietly. “I don’t have any other friends, and it gets lonely sometimes.”

His father frowned a little. “Don’t you like playing with me?”

Yes,” Lagatto said. “But you’re so busy all the time that I don’t always get to play with you when I’d like.”

Neculai sighed and nodded his head. “I apologize for that. I do try to make time for you, it’s just hard sometimes, son.”

So what do you know about girls?” Lagatto asked again. Neculai winced and turned his head away, lightly running his hand over the back of his neck.

You’ll have to be more specific than that.”

What do girls like? Do they like playing ball? Or exploring? Or what?”

Neculai tapped his finger on his chin. “Every person is different – including girls – so you’ll just have to ask her what she’d like to do and find out. Seem reasonable enough?”

I guess so,” he said with a quiet nod.

Good. If you’re still not sure, why don’t you ask your mother? She’s a girl, after all, I think she would know better than me.”

I could ask grandpa, too,” Lagatto said as he slid off his father’s lap. “He’s really old, he probably knows loads.”

Yes, I’m sure he does,” Neculai said as he watched Lagatto leave the room. “Though I do believe he knows less about women than I do.”

Lagatto went to his grandfather before going to his mother to ask for advice. He knocked on the door to his grandfather’s library and then peered inside. “Grandpa Vlad?”

Enter,” his grandfather said. Lagatto went inside and found his grandfather sitting in his favorite armchair in front of the fireplace, a glass of wine in his hand, looking as young and handsome as ever.

Grandpa,” Lagatto started, “do you know anything about girls? Like, how to get them to like you?”

Vlad raised an eyebrow. “Where’d this come from all of a sudden?”

I met a girl,” Lagatto said. “And I like her and I want her to like me, too. Everyone says you’re a lady killer-”

More in a literal sense than what most people mean,” Vlad said with a frown. “Nobody knows what I am truly like. All those films made about me are rubbish at even adapting from the book they’re based on, which is also rubbish.”

Father likes that book, though.”

Well your father has rubbish taste in books then.” Vlad set his glass down and crossed his arms over his chest. “Is this girl human?”

Probably,” Lagatto said. “Is that… a problem?”

It could be. We do not exactly mix well with humankind, or perhaps you haven’t interacted with humans enough to realize this.”

She doesn’t have to find out I’m a vampire,” Lagatto said with a frown.

She will find out eventually, though, if you remain friends. I will say there are some humans who accept our kind, but most of them don’t, and most of them end up sending hunters after us. Not like any hunters could kill us, but it would still be troublesome.”

Lagatto stuck out his lower lip then turned away. “Father was right, you don’t know anything about girls.”

Vlad snorted a little then picked up a book. “I never said I did.”

Lagatto then went to his mother and held his arms out to her. She lifted him up and smiled down at him. “Are you hungry?” she asked. He shook his head.

Do you know what I should do to get a girl to like me?” he asked. She blinked down at him.

Aren’t you a little young for that still?”

I met a girl named Hope and she said she would play with me, and I like her, so is that okay? What do I do to keep her playing with me?”

Hmm…” She settled down into a rocking chair with him, looking thoughtful. “What does she look like?”

She has long brown hair,” he said, leaning against her. “She said she liked my ball and she lives in that white house across the street.”

I see.” His mother frowned slightly for a moment then looked down at him. “Well, why don’t you play with her and see how it goes first?”

Lagatto blinked, as if he hadn’t considered that possibility before. “Okay.”

The next day when he went out to play, he looked across toward the white house, wondering if Hope would come out. When he had finally given up on that notion, she appeared beside him and smiled. “Hi, funny-name-boy! Do you wanna play?”

Lagatto squeaked a little then nodded and held his ball out toward her. “Do you wanna play ball?”

Sure!” She paused then glanced around. “We should go into one of our yards to do it, though. My dad says it’s not a good idea to play so close to the street.”

Oh, yeah, right. Do you wanna go to your yard?”

She nodded and pranced away toward her house. “Follow me!”

The two of them played with the ball by tossing it back and forth, rolling it to each other, and kicking it against a tree as hard as they could. The warm feeling inside of Lagatto seemed to grow bigger than before.

After a while, Hope smiled and said, “I should probably go now. You should probably go home, too. But I had fun playing with you. We should do it again tomorrow. Would you like that?”

Yes,” Lagatto said, nodding. “I would.”

Okay! Maybe we could play in your yard next time.”

Okay…” He managed a small smile and started walking home as Hope went into her house. Lagatto went back in and went to talk to his mother again. “We played and she said she had fun and that we should play again tomorrow. Is it okay if we play in our yard?”

Of course,” she said with a smile.

So the next day Lagatto waited at the corner for Hope again. She came up beside him and smiled. “Hi! Do you wanna play again?”

Yeah,” Lagatto said with a smile. He led her to the big yard around his family’s house and they did just as they had before, kicking and rolling and throwing the ball back and forth while laughing with each other.

At some point, the door opened and the two children looked up to see Lagatto’s father standing there. Neculai smiled and walked out to them. “So, is this the friend you kept talking about, Lagatto?” he asked.

Lagatto nodded quietly then turned to Hope and said, “This is my father. Sorry if he’s weird.”

Neculai stared at his son for a moment then turned his attention back to Hope, a charming smile on his face. “What a lovely young lady.”

Are you really old?” she asked. Neculai blinked at her.

What makes you ask that, my dear?”

Your hairs all white,” she said. “Also long. I didn’t think guys had long hair.”

Well… everyone is different, young lady. Also it’s not nice to point out how different people are.”

You always make fun of me for having blue hair,” Lagatto muttered.

Neculai coughed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Yes, well, um… I’ll just be going then, I have some work to attend to. Nice to meet you, Hope.” He slipped back in the house as the two children watched.

Hope looked at Lagatto and said, “You’re dad’s really weird.”

I know,” he mumbled.

They played until Hope had to go home, saying they could play in her yard again the next day. When Lagatto went back inside, he found his father standing there waiting for him with a wide grin on his face.

I can see why you like her so much,” he said.

Lagatto blinked and took a step back. “Were you spying on us?”

Spying? Me? Please, don’t make such accusations. I was just keeping an eye on you two to make sure you were okay.”

Lagatto narrowed his eyes and started walking past his father, but Neculai held him fast. Lagatto gazed up at his father and saw a slightly frightening look in his eyes.

Tell me honestly, son,” he murmured, “do you have any desire to feed on that girl?”

No!” Lagatto pulled out of his arms. “Why would you think that?”

It’s only natural when a boy meets a girl he likes! Well, if you’re a vampire, anyway, which you are.”

Lagatto frowned. “I don’t like being a vampire.”

Neculai sighed softly and patted his son’s shoulder. “I know, I know, but there’s nothing we can do about it. But if you do like that girl as you say, I can help you find ways to get her to like you, too.”

I don’t want your help,” he said and walked away.

Neculai watched him and murmured, “Well you’re getting it anyway.”

The next day, Lagatto sat on the corner waiting for Hope to come around. He seemed to be waiting an awful long time, but at last she came up to him, though she had a downcast look in her eyes.

I’m not allowed to play with you anymore,” she said.

Lagatto blinked. “Wh-why not?”

Well, um…”

A man walked up behind her then and glared at Lagatto. “Because you’re a vampire,” he hissed. “I don’t want my daughter anywhere near you. I knew it was a bad idea to live so close to you, but my wife insisted.”

Lagatto took a step back, trembling. Hope looked like she was about to cry, too, obviously not wanting to leave her new friend. Lagatto drew in a breath and said in a shaky voice, “I… I wouldn’t hurt her, she’s my friend! Please…”

Please, Daddy!” Hope begged.

Enough! Hope, go back home, we’re done here.” He pointed back toward their house and Hope went home crying. Lagatto watched for a time then ran back to his home, trying to get the sight of her father’s accusing glare out of his mind. He ran inside and slammed the door shut then curled up in an armchair in the living room, hugging his knees to his chest.

Neculai came in and found Lagatto sitting there. He reached down and patted his son’s head sympathetically. “I’m sorry, Lagatto,” he murmured. “I know what happened. It was… my fault. I went to talk to her parents, get to know them better, you know? It turns out they knew we were vampires all along but they didn’t know you’d been playing with their daughter, so…”

Lagatto began to sob. “I-it’s you’re fault? Y-your fault my only friend isn’t a-a-allowed to s-see me?”

Neculai stiffened, not quite sure what to do about his son’s crying. “Lagatto, please, I didn’t mean-”

It’s your fault!” he screamed, his face burning red as tears rolled down his cheeks. He started coughing with his sobs and then a little bit of blood came up.

Neculai screeched and began flailing his arms wildly. “No no no no, stop crying, please! I didn’t mean to do it, I’m so, so sorry, please stop crying!”

Lagatto crumpled on the floor, coughing up blood and Neculai continued screeching and flapping his arms. Lagatto’s mother came in a moment later, gave a look at the two of them, then scooped Lagatto up into her arms.

You need to learn to be a better parent,” she said as she carried him away, leaving Neculai standing there feeling useless.

Lagatto sat out on the sidewalk again the next day, gazing out toward Hope’s house and wishing she could come out and play with him. He could see her father glaring at him through the window and so retreated into his yard, where he continued to absently roll his ball back and forth. After about two days of this happening, Neculai put his foot down.

Look, I know I messed this up,” he said, “but I’m going to make things better, okay? Lagatto, come with me, we’re going over there right now.”

His mother stepped in front of Neculai and scowled. “You really think after what’s happened that’s a good idea? Do you want hunters after us?”

It’s not like they could kill us anyway,” Vlad said from the corner with his nose buried in a book.

I don’t care! I don’t want to have to deal with hunters at all! I just want to live a normal life!”

That’s why I want to talk to them,” Neculai said, holding his son’s hand. “I want to see if I can convince them to let Lagatto play with their daughter at the very least, even if we can’t be friends.”

His wife glared at him for a long time then she sighed and stepped out of the way. “Fine, but if you mess this up, I’m going to be the one who kills you, understood?”

Neculai coughed and nodded, skittering out of the room and pulling Lagatto along. “Yes dear, of course dear, I love you too, bye!”

He walked across the street with Lagatto, who seemed rather unsure and frightened about this. Neculai went right up to the door and knocked three times then took a step back and glanced down at his son. He squeezed his shoulder reassuringly and then the door opened and Hope’s father appeared, looking just as angry as he had when he told Lagatto to stay away.

Hello, sir,” Neculai said in as courteous a voice as he could muster. “I believe we got off on the wrong foot the other day, and well, I just wanted to reassure you that we mean no one any harm, and certainly not your daughter. You see, my son is just lonely and wanted a friend to play with. Is that so wrong?”

The man glowered at the two of them. “You’re bloodsuckers. What make you think I’m going to trust anything you say?”

Well, um, what if I gave you my word?”

He snorted and turned to go back into the house. “Get out of here before I stake you through the heart.”

Please, I just-”

I said get out!” the man screamed. He just about slammed the door in their face, but then Lagatto’s mother appeared and held the door open. She looked straight into the man’s eyes, a cold look in hers.

May I speak with your wife a moment?” she asked.

The man retreated into the house and a moment later a tall, rather intimidating looking woman stepped out and looked the family up and down. Lagatto’s mother smiled, introduced them all, then began her own set of tactics.

As one mother to another,” she said, leaning in close to Hope’s mother, “I think you should realize how important it is for your child to have friends of any kind. My son has been rather miserable since, and I’m sure your daughter hasn’t been much better, yes?”

Hope peered out from behind her mother and gazed at Lagatto with glimmering eyes. Lagatto gazed back, a look of hopeful longing in his.

Their mothers exchanged a few more words but neither of them heard or were listening. But finally, Hope’s mother sighed and said, “Very well. If you wish, you may keep playing with him.”

Hope’s eyes grew wider. “Really? I can!”

Yes.”

Lagatto blinked as Hope ran out the door and grabbed him by the hand, then went skipping off the porch with him around the yard. He smiled a little and squeezed her hand a little tighter. At last, then, he had a friend, and she was there to stay.

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