"No Refunds, Returns, or Exchanges"

No Refunds, Returns, or Exchanges
by Becky S.

Dec. 24th, 1977

           "Greedy boy," Lucard said, looking down at the shreds of wrapping paper strewn everywhere. "Always in such a hurry to unwrap your presents." But there was indulgence in his voice. It was Christmas Eve, after all.
           Having already attacked all the other, larger gifts under the towering and artfully decorated tree, Klaus was sitting on the floor industriously struggling with the last one, a tiny box wrapped in green, red, and silver. The end finally flew open, and a pair of keys fell out onto his palm. He took in a sharp breath. "A car! Is it...?"
           "A '68 Jaguar XKE," Lucard confirmed. "Silver, I thought, would suit you best."
           "But I thought you said I couldn't--"
           Lucard chuckled. "Well, you've been such a good boy this year, I changed my mind." He raised a hand to silence his protege, who seemed about to burst into effusive thanks. "Now, Klaus, remember--you will maintain this delicate plant out of your own allowance. If you insist on driving such an unreliable machine, it is your responsibility."
           "Of course, of course. Thank you," Klaus said, delighted. But even as he looked admiringly at the keys in his hand, his expression grew pensive. "Alexander?"
           Lucard glanced down at him. "Hmm?"
           "I...I didn't get anything for you." He met Lucard's eyes briefly, looking for a reaction, but his master only nodded slightly. "Even if I had, it wouldn't make a difference. You've given me everything. Not just these presents, but all this." He gazed about him at the sumptuously-decorated hall, lost in memory and wonder, for a long moment. "I can never give you anything to match it," he concluded softly, almost sorrowfully.
           Lucard smiled to himself and knelt down on one knee next to his apprentice. "Quite the contrary, Klaus. You can give me something I value greatly. Several things, in fact."
           "Your loyalty. Your dedication. Your"--he paused for an instant--"devotion."
           Klaus immediately grasped the older vampire's hand. He bit his lip and declared fervently, "You will always have them, Alexander. Always. I swear it."
           Lucard's eyes gleamed in the candlelight from the tree. "Then I assure you, my dear Klaus, that you have given me a splendid enough gift. To begin with, at least."


           "Greedy boy," Lucard breathed some time later as eager fingers fumbled at his collar. "Always in such a hurry to unwrap your presents." But there was indulgence in his voice. It was Christmas Eve, after all.

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