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Of Puffy Sleeves and Romance Novels

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It all started with a romance novel.

Impey had joined Cardia and Victor to the local library, having come to a mental roadblock with his inventions and needing some new sights to see. Normally the inventor would go straight to the history section, maybe peek at a few science journals for the latest on steam machinery.

Today, he ended up in the romance aisle, searching the spines for an interesting read. His eyes landed upon one in particular: “The Mistress and Her Vampire.” Intrigued, he picked up the book, nearly keeling over with muffled giggles at the cover. It was a woman in a long white gown, staring up at an open bloused, puffy sleeved man above her. Her delicate hand reached up to his chiseled jaw, looking up at him with adoring eyes. His mouth was curved into a toothy grin, vampire fangs gleaming in the moonlight.

“Is this what’s in right now?” Impey asked, giggling softly as he read the synopsis. A woman gets kidnapped by a gorgeous stranger and soon falls in love with him. “Now who does that sound like…” Impey grinned, fully intrigued by the book now. Taking it, along with a few other select books, he went to the checkout counter, fully invested in the cheesy romance.


“Impey? What- Pffft!” Lupin all but wheezed when he walked into Impey’s bedroom, bursting into hysterical laughter at Impey’s new look. After reading the vampire romance novel, Impey decided he should give the strange fashion a shot, ordering a white puffy sleeved blouse similar to the one in the book. He made care to keep the chest open, smoothing out the cuffed sleeves and tucking the shirt into the nicest pair of pants he owned. If you’d asked him, he’d say he looked pretty good.

“What? This is what humans think vampires wear! I wanted to see the appeal!” The inventor tried to defend himself, feeling a smile pull at his lips as Lupin doubled over against the door, holding his stomach as he laughed. “Oohohohoho god! This is amazing! Pffft! Ahahehehheha!” The gentleman thief could barely keep it together, fresh laughter escaping his lips whenever he peeked up at Impey.

“Whatever! I think I look rather dashing! Check it out, I even got the smolder down.” Lupin looked up at Impey’s attempt at a smolder, a tea kettle like wheeze busting out of his mouth as he fell to the ground. “Iahhahahha can’t! *wheeze* Ohohhoho god! Impey!” He reached up to dab at his eyes, leaning back against the wall, weak with laughter. “M-My apolhologiehes! I just...heheh..heh..” Lupin bit down a laugh when Impey gave him a halfhearted glare, running his hand through his messy hair. “Sorry! Sorry, I look-” A snort escaped, and Lupin had to cover his mouth.

“Yes, yes, laugh it up.” Impey gave up trying to be offended and laughed too, looking at himself in the mirror. “I thought it was silly too. Really though, this is quite the outfit. Do you think Miss Cardia would laugh?” A brief wave of self-consciousness filled the redhead’s gaze, calming Lupin down enough to join him at the mirror.

“Maybe, but I don’t think she’d think of you in any negative light.” Lupin turned the redhead to face him, giving him a once over. “There’s definitely a lot, that’s being shown. And the sleeves!” Lupin tugged gently on the puffy material, straightening one of the arms. “It’s a look even I couldn’t pull off.”

“Oh come now! If you wore something like this, I don’t think any lady could resist you!” Impey playfully poked the brunette in the stomach, making Lupin jump back with a yelp. “You could pull off the ‘mysterious vampire lover who’s swooning the woman off their feet’ character rather well. You already do that with your usual charms.” Impey followed his friend with more playful pokes, backing Lupin into a wall with wiggling fingers. “Miss Cardia could be the darling lady in white who you swoop away- hey, you’ve already done that, didn’t you? Now we just need the costume!”

“Ihihihihihimpey! You dohohohohohlt!” Lupin’s amused laughter shifted to helpless giggles as Impey poked and prodded his sides and ribs, tickling him. Sinking to the floor once more, the thief fought at the hands clawing at his torso like a cat playing with a ball of yarn. “Aehhhhehehehehehehe! Stahhahhhhap!” He felt his cheeks flush a warm pink color, squeezing his eyes shut as he curled into himself.

“What? You didn’t have a problem laughing at me when you walked in! What’s stopping you now?” The redheaded vampire giggled along with his friend, worming his fingers up to Lupin’s armpits, knowing how bad that spot was for the gentleman thief.

“IHIHIHIIHIIHIHMMPY STAHHAHHAHAHAP!” Lupin full-body spasmed beneath Impey’s fast fingers, howling with laughter. Realizing he wasn’t getting out of this anytime soon, it was time for plan B. Darting his hands out, he latches his hands onto Impey’s sides, kneading and massaging beneath his ribs. Impey shot back like a rocket, a yelp escaping his lips as he pulled his arms back towards his sides.

“No! Nononoonononono! Ahehehehehehheahahha!” Lupin grinned as he quickly pushed the redhead down to the ground, fingers flying over every tickle spot. “Hey, this shirt might not be such a bad idea! Look at all the tickle spots I can reach!” He snickered gleefully as Impey shrieked and giggled, squirming to and from beneath Lupin’s tickly touch. “Luhuhuhuhuhuuhuhuhuhpin! Ahehehehhahahahahhahaha! *snort* *squeak* Ahehehehahhahahahahahaha!”

“Hm? I can’t understand what you’re saying, Impey. Can you speak more clearly?” The thief grinned, hands targeting that bad spot along Impey’s hips, nearly getting thrown off by the redhead’s squirming. “AIIIIEEEE! AHEHEHHAHAHAHHAhAHAHHA! LUHUHUUHUHUHPIN! GAHAHHAHAHA!” His cheeks were bright red, rivaling his hair. Tears of mirth dotted his eyes, threatening to spill down his cheeks. “LUHUHUHUHUHUHPIN!”
“Heh, take that, Impey-Ah!” The redhead shot his arms up, grabbing Lupin and tugging him into his chest, trapping him in an impromptu bear hug. He tried to squirm away, but Impey had a strong grip on him, tucking him close. “Hehe...heh...That’s enough now…” Impey wheezed, resting his chin against the thief’s head.

Lupin blinked against Impey’s warm chest, not prepared for the sudden closeness. Rolling his eyes with a grin, he let the vampire inventor hug him, holding his hands-at least, what he could hold up, in surrender. “Very well. You win.” Impey gave him a squeeze, the two falling into comfortable silence.

“Well, this is quite the scene.” Lupin and Impey quickly scrambled away from each other, faces aflame as they looked up at Saint Germain. The pale man wore his usual smile, clear amusement in those striking blue eyes. “Erm...dinners ready, you two…” A soft voice said behind the count, making Lupin blush even more. “M-Miss Cardia! How long were you two standing there?” He asked, hating how shy his voice sounded as the poisonous girl smiled politely. “Up to where you were giving Impey a reason to laugh.” Saint replied, taking obvious joy in utterly embarrassing the pair.

“W-Well, that’s- wait? Dinner’s ready...who’s cooking?” Impey suddenly asked, palling when Cardia looked away. “Oh god, Van’s cooking? DON’T EAT THE FOOD UNLESS YOU WANT TO DIE!” Impey raced out of the room, clothes completely forgotten about as he went to stop the intestinal disaster that was sure to happen. Lupin, despite his utter embarrassment, couldn’t help but chuckle, sitting up and watching his friend race away. “That dolt…”

Cardia offered him a gloved hand, her smile sweet. “He’s such a good friend, though. Say, Lupin? What was Impey just wearing? It looked rather…odd.”

The thief and the count shared a look before bursting into renewed laughter, guiding a sweetly blissful Cardia to dinner with the promise to explain later.