With newer, faster, more ruthless technology, vampires are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Offering his blood and his time to save a dying race seems almost like a joke to Alfred. He wouldn't have agreed if he hadn't seen those green eyes. USUK vampire AU

It's almost Halloween. And I felt the need to get in the spirit with a strange story. Not necessarily scary, but strange. I've always liked this idea and I hope that you will too!

The title won't make sense until later (or not at all), so don't worry about it too much. It sounds cool, right?

This story may seem a bit confusing at first, but it's fairly simplistic, so I hope you'll read all the way through! Thanks for your time.

Much love, doze.

The drizzling damp of the sewers prompts Alfred to draw his trenchcoat more tightly around himself. "The refugees live here?" He asks his older cousin Matthew as they troop through the forgotten tunnels.

"Our group does." Matthew holds the flashlight up, peering carefully around the bend. His lank hair dangles about his face, unwashed and filthy. A heavy shooter hangs at his hip. "Other groups live in different places. We try not to keep them here too long. They're more susceptible to the damp than we are. We always try to rehabilitate as soon as possible."

"You make it sound like an enlivening side project," Alfred mutters. "How exactly do you... feed them, again?"

Matthew stops short, his odd purple eyes glowing in the dark. "What do you think, Alfred?" He jerks back his sleeve and shows the litter of small punctures. There must be hundreds. Alfred's stomach turns.

"You let them do that to you?"

"We get medical blood when we can," Matthew says coldly, "But our hospital man has been compromised. We can't let them starve."

"No, I guess not." Alfred falls silent. Comprised is a nice way to put arrested and beheaded for assisting a creature of the night. "Matthew, I didn't agree to anything. I don't know what you're expecting from me, but I..."

"I'm aware, Alfred. I only want you to meet them. I know you think I'm crazy for joining up with these people, but they're really no different from you and me.'

"Okay," Alfred says uncomfortably. Their feet make sickening noises as they troop through the goo. Alfred can feel it oozing even through his boots. "Matthew?"


"How do you keep them from hurting you?"

Matthew stops just at the beginning of a brightly lit tunnel. Alfred almost expects him to say it's a myth propagated by the government, that vampires actually aren't dangerous. He looks back with a grim look on his face, his eyes sad. "Most of them won't hurt you," he whispers, "We try not to let them get hungry enough to consider it. But people have died for the cause, Alfred."

Alfred feels bile at the back of his throat. "Don't you think that's a little sick? You're risking your lives to help these people when they could so easily turn on you? Hell, the government's at your door like everyday of your life, Matt. Wouldn't it be easier to just turn them in?"

"Perhaps, it would be less trouble." Matthew mutters. "But I don't think it would be easier. Why don't you come meet them?"

Reluctantly, Alfred follows his cousin into the warmth of a large underground cavern. The sewage seems to have been redirected to other channels. The filthy smell is less obvious. There are flimsy old hospital beds with moldy sheets that line the curved walls. In the very center, a large fire pit crackles and a handful of humans crowd around it roasting hotdogs. Alfred's eyes nervously trail from there, to the monsters on the fringes.

The vampires are obvious by their mannerisms. Alfred has seen enough propaganda on television to point them out without trying. They look human enough, but often they move too fast and they stay notoriously far away from the light in the center. Even with each other, they don't appear to be socializing. Their eyes glow out of the dark corners, the first to notice the loud entrance of the newcomers.

"Matthew," A loud beaming young man bucks up considerably at his cousin approaches. "We were starting to worry that the old gov's ghoulies had got ya, haha!" His wild blonde hair is stringy with dirt and his face covered in patchy stubble. Yet his brilliant white teeth light up the room.

Matthew grunts as the man pulls him into a quick embrace. Alfred gets the odd sense that they really were worried about whether Matthew would return. "Thanks, Mathias," he grunts, turning towards Alfred.

"Who's this?" A quiet voice from the dark makes Alfred's skin crawl. A gaunt looking vampire steps softly into the circle of light, eyes a sharp crystal blue. His blonde hair is the best kept of everybody's and curls lightly at his shoulders.

Matthew sees him and smiles. Alfred watches in shock as his cousin steps forward and pulls the creature into an embrace. "Francis," he sighs. "That's my cousin, Alfred, the one I told you about."

"Ah, so you convinced him," Francis watches him over Matthew's shoulder, eyes unreadable. His long thin fingers hold Matthew's hips in a way that makes Alfred even more uncomfortable.

"Oh, is he our new blood man?" chimes in a Chinese man near the fire. "I'm starting to run out of bandages, honestly." Blood is dripping down from a pair of puncture marks on his arm. Dozens of other little holes have scabbed over nearby. Alfred wonders if he can keep from being sick.

"No," Matthew pulls back from Francis, giving Alfred an apologetic smile. "He's just here to say hi, right now. Of course, if he's up for it, I think he'd be a perfect rehabilitation candidate."

"Oh dear, one of us will be getting out of here, I suppose," Francis casts a smirk back into the dark. All Alfred can make of it are shifting shadows. Francis seems the only one brave enough to venture out. "I doubt it will be me."

"Don't whine," Matthew swats him, almost playfully, before sighing.

Mathias gives a sigh too. "Yeah, that whole rehabilitated in a year scheme has kinda gone to the trash."

"Wh-what do you mean by rehabilitated?" Alfred finds his voice, feeling extremely self-conscious as all eyes, seen and unseen, come to rest on him.

"By god, did you tell him anything, Matthew?" The Chinese man snorts.

"Yes, how can he be a capable candidate if he doesn't even know?" Francis inquires, a hint of incredulity slipping into his manners. When he bites his lip, Alfred nearly flinches to see the pointy teeth. Damn all those bed time stories his father used to tell him.

"Come on, guys," Matthew holds up his hands, coming around to swing an arm over Alfred's shoulders. "He may not look like much, but he's AO5 certified to carry. He has his own place in Devil's Gap and no government official would suspect a thing."

"Why is that?" Francis asks, looking unimpressed.

"Because his father- my uncle- is-

"The head of Hunting Division," Mathias and the Chinese man whisper in unison.

"That's brilliant, mate!" Mathias comes galloping over to slap Alfred on the shoulder. "Welcome to the party, friend!"

"I... I'm just here to visit right now," Alfred murmurs uncertainly.

"Well, visit we shall. Come on out here fellas! We've got a prime candidate!" Mathias shouts boldly into the dark. At first there is only silence, but like the dangers they are, the vampires seem to slowly merge out of nowhere. Soon, they're surrounded by a small group of about twenty. Alfred doesn't like the fact that he's trapped in their circle. They obviously outnumber the humans. He'll have to ask Matthew why he thought that was a good idea.

"I'm not even up for rehabilitation anymore," grouses an irritable boy with an Italian accent. He can't be more than 17. His pointy teeth flash when he talks. "Fucking goddamn lived here for half my natural life."

"Come on, Lovi! You don't even remember your natural life," chirps another strikingly similar Italian boy with a teasing grin.

"Well, it just helps to fucking know who's even a fucking candidate," Lovino growls, staring sullenly about. "We've been here for two years. Who's up first, Williams?"

There's a general rustle and murmur of agreement in the group. All eyes on Matthew. Matthew, who has returned to his place at Francis' side, only gives a tired shrug. "I don't know who's next in line. If we did it the proper way, we'd find someone to match Alfred. We'll need a credible disguise. But... honestly?" Matthew shrugs again. "I'm leaving this one to you guys. Who needs out the worst?"

Alfred isn't much liking the democracy here. He hasn't agreed to anything yet, after all.

He hears the soft whispers of voices around the circle. Francis doesn't join in with the talking. Judging by the arm around Matthew's waist, he seems content where he is. Alfred has never known humans and vampires to be affectionate. It's true. His father is the head of Hunting Division, and particularly the Extinction Project of 1999. Whereby, it became illegal on US soil (as it already was in Europe) to be a vampire. The Hunting Division was set up solely to investigate vampire cases and to execute known vampires.

Of course, Alfred had known that secret groups like this existed to save the species. He had even suspected for awhile that Matthew was part of one. He isn't sure how he feels about it, to be perfectly honest. As the son of the head of HD, it was nearly impossible for him to have any interactions with vampires, except to wear their teeth as a necklace in fifth grade.

He had thought for a long time that vampires ought to be able to take care of themselves. Yet, as he looks around this battered group of specimens, he realizes how true the claims of victory of the war on vampires happen to be. They all seem rather hollow-faced, skinny and gaunt. Their teeth are still noticeably long and frightening, but other than that, they seem to huddle together like a beaten pack of wolves. There are only so many places they can hide. Alfred knows his father would laugh to see them squatting in their own filth.

It becomes clear after awhile that an argument has broken out. Apparently, deciding who gets to return to the world up there is a large matter. Alfred wonders how long some of them have been stuck down here.

Matthew steps forward to break up the fight, shoving two of them off of each other. "Obviously, I had put more faith in you than you deserved," He berates the group at large, crossing his arms angrily. "Remember. Returning to the outside world is a privilege and a dangerous one. If you cannot hold your tempers and hide your teeth, you'll never see it again. That is the reason why some of you have been here so long."

"Well, that and no one is stupid enough to host a vampire with HD breathing down their necks," hisses an angry voice from the corner. It's one of the vampires who had been fighting. His red eyes host a hostile gleam.

"I'm well aware," Matthew sighs, looking a bit defeated. "How about this? Alfred can decide who he takes."

Alfred's eyes widen. "I didn't say I would-

"If you can convince him," Matthew adds with almost an evil smile. Francis smirks too. Alfred can see where he learned it from.

When someone leaps forward to shake his hand, Alfred nearly jumps backward into the fire. "Hi, I'm Feliciano and this is my brother Lovi!" The other young Italian boy blathers excitedly. "It's such a wonder getting to meet you! How strange it must be to be the son of HD and support the vampires! Please tell us about it!"

Alfred stares, feeling his mouth go dry. The group is closing in on him like a pack of wolves. "It's alright. I haven't told anybody."

"Well, you better have fucking not. Or we'd be fucking compromised!" Lovino snaps at his brother's side.

"You mean have our heads chopped off, right? I don't see any use calling it what it's not." The red-eyed one smiles brilliantly. "I'm Gilbert and I think we could get along nicely."

Alfred nods tentatively. By the end of so many discussions, his hands are freezing cold from shaking theirs. He looks down to see that his fingers are blue. Now that they've all introduced themselves, they seem to have lost interest him and all return to their spots in the dark. The humans and Francis are reclined near the fire, talking politics.

Alfred scurries over to join them.

"I don't know," Yao the Chinese man is saying. "We need a hospital guy pretty soon. Cuz we're all stretching ourselves pretty thin."

"I know, I know," Matthew groans. "I'm looking, okay. I have to move carefully up there or I'll give away our whole operation. It's hard."

"We understand, Matthew," Francis murmurs, absently stroking at his hair. "No one would dare speak out against you."

"You wouldn't. Probably because you're getting extra helpings." retorts Gilbert from somewhere.

Francis only answers with a tepid growl.

"Well, there is urgency," Mathias pushes on earnestly. "Lukas is sick!"

"And Emil."

"Kirkland, too." Matthew chimes in heavily.

Francis snorts. "Don't put too much weight in that, Matthew. Kirkland has been sick since the dawn of time. I heard they changed him when he was sick. He's bound to be haunted by that old ghost pain for all eternity."

"It's not that, Francis," Matthew lowers his voice. "He's lost weight. He's not taking enough."

Francis snorts again. "It's melodrama. I know him well, you forget."

"Well, he has a nasty head cold."

"Oh, poor Artie's got the sniffles." Gilbert steps suddenly into the light, wiping at his dripping nose. "Who doesn't at this point? You'd think he'd at least be polite enough to say hi to the fresh meat." He kicks his foot at Alfred, who gives him a sullen scowl.

Francis snorts, "Please, Arthur's been here longer than any of us. I'd say he's a fixture."

"How long has he been here?" Alfred asks. The most he's heard is five years.

"Ten years, I think?" Francis glances at Gilbert for confirmation, who nods.

"Ten?" Alfred shudders at the thought of living in a sewer for ten years.

"Don't feel too sorry for him," Gilbert mutters, plopping down too close for comfort. Alfred nonchalantly leans away from him. "He's a nasty piece of work. He'll probably die down here. Speaking of that, do I get mine today?" He flashes his teeth purposefully wide, making Alfred flinch.

"Tomorrow." Matthew answers, checking his watch. "I'm going to check on them. Come with me, Alfred."

"Where are we going?" Alfred scurries to keep up with him as Matthew leads him down another branching set of tunnels.

"Sick room, or something like it. When they aren't feeling good, they tend to want to be alone. So we set this up."

"Oh." Alfred pants as he jogs along.

"So what do you think so far?"

"It's not as bad as I thought. This place still gives me the heebeegeebees, but they aren't like I thought they'd be."
"Reconsidering rehabilitation then?" Matthew flashes him a hopeful grin.

"Matt, I don't even know what that is."

"Basically, you take one of them with you. Like vampire adoption," Matthew chuckles at his own joke. "It's not good for them to be stuck down here so long. If we can get them back up there, it's best for everybody."

"What do you mean it's not good?" Alfred's brow furrows.

"Well, I'm about to show you." Matthew stops outside a round wooden door with a serious look on his face. "If they stay down here too long, they get sick. The inadequate blood supply and the damp don't do them much good."

"But I thought they liked the dark?"

"Sure, but they also like the moonlight and the trees and the fresh air. They are alive, Alfred."

"That's not what I've been taught." Alfred mutters, earning himself a tired grin from Matthew. "I still don't get it. I just take one of them home, and what?"

"Well, generally, they're unhealthy." Matthew shifts, tracing the butt of his gun with his finger. "We do our best here, but we're overcrowded. It's unlikely they've been feeding as much as they should or sleeping as much. We can't give them all individual attention, and frankly they'll only accept special attention under certain circumstances."

"Like with you and Francis?" Alfred asks curiously. A light blush colors Matthew's cheeks.

"Something like that." He agrees with a nervous laugh. "They're proud people. They don't want to seem weak. Even after all that's happened."

"So you just take in a vampire, is that what you're telling me? You think I'd be good at that?"

Matthew laughs. "There's more to it. You don't just take one in. You get them back on their feet and find a place for them in society. It's unlikely they'll be able to leave you since you are their source of food. They're not stupid enough to go hunting random people, because of the new technology. But they need someone willing to provide it."
Alfred runs a hand down his forearm nervously. "Doesn't that hurt?"

Matthew shakes his head. "Less than giving blood for Red Cross. I promise, and they're very gentle. They're thankful for it."

"Wait! What's to stop them from just draining me dry?"

"Nothing, I guess. But it's rare even for an exceptionally hungry vampire to completely drain his victim, especially these days. Back then it was something that royalty did at feasts. The picture of extravagance. In fact, if you allow them to drink everyday, that'll be way more than they're used to." Matthew murmurs thoughtfully. "We have them on a once a week cycle."

"They can survive on that?"

"Barely," Matthew smiles tightly. "The sick ones need more than that, too. It's why I'm always tired, I think."

"Geez, I would think so." Alfred swallows nervously. "So getting rid of one would be really helpful?"

"Extremely," Matthew nods. "It wouldn't seem like much but it would eliminate one feeding from our calendar."

Alfred bites his lips. "How much do the sick ones have to?"

Matthew chuckles, reaching to lay a hand on the doorknob. "It depends, but we try to keep it to every other day. If not, they start dying."
"Vampires can just die?" Alfred asks in shock.

"Not what you've been told, right?" Matthew stares hard at the floor. "It's the beauty of this whole Extinction act really. They're removing the food source. Of course, they'd die without food."

"But wouldn't they get desperate and just start killing people?"

"Some, maybe." Matthew shrugs. "Have you ever seen humans starve, Alfred? They could eat each other or do drastic things, but most of them don't."

"I never thought of it that way," Alfred whispers grimly.

Matthew nods again, pushing open the door. The sick room is much cozier than the main cavern. Several battery powered miniature space heaters sit in the corners. The covers on the beds aren't as moldy, but have just as many holes. Three vampires are there. Two pairs of bright eyes are cutting in the dim light. But the third one has the pillow pulled over his head with white knuckles.

"Hello," Matthew greets in a soft voice, ushering Alfred in so that he can close the door. "This is Alfred. He's visiting today."

"For rehabilitation?" asks a pale blonde boy, strange eyes gleaming in the dark.

"Hopefully," Matthew gives him a warm smile. "Alfred has just been talking to the others."

"Can I go first?" another blonde boy interrupts, leaning forward impatiently. Matthew smiles at him.

"Sure, Emil." He rolls up his sleeve and perches on the edge of the bed. The boy takes his arm carefully and then slides his fangs through the skin like butter.

"You look like Matthew," the pale one mutters.

"I do." Alfred nods. "What's your name?"

"Lukas." He answers, looking bored. "That is Emil. Am I next?"

"Yes," Matthew answers, giving Emil a prompting push. The vampire reluctantly withdraws his bloody fangs, licking quickly at his lips.

"Sorry," He pants. His hollow cheeks are much worse than those outside.

Matthew smiles sadly. "It's alright." He holds his arm out to Lukas, who laps the blood with his tongue before carefully inserting his teeth into the same puncture holes.

"Are you going to feed Arthur, too?" Emil asks, his eyes shining brighter now as he reclines back into his pillows.

"If he'll allow it." Matthew murmurs. Alfred notices his brow furrow.

Once Lukas is done, the other two vampires watch Matthew curiously as he goes over to the third. "Arthur," Matthew says softly, laying a hand on the man's shoulder. "Are you awake?"

"How could I not be? You're so bloody loud." Though his voice is muffled by the pillow, Alfred recognizes a strong English accent.

"Arthur, I think you need to feed." Matthew says it seriously this time.

Arthur groans. "I'm fine. I just want to rest. Must you trouble me so often?"

"You haven't fed for two weeks, Arthur. This isn't good."

"And I'm fine," Arthur snarls, voice decidedly nasty. He actually growls, livid and loud, when Matthew jerks the pillow from him. Alfred is startled by his sharp green eyes, piercing and dangerous like acid. However, just as quickly, the danger is lost on him as he takes in the extremely hollowed cheeks and the receded eyes. As he sits up, Alfred can see the outline of every bone in his body through a thin t-shirt. He's starving.

He opens his mouth to berate Matthew even further, but a hacking cough sends him into a fit and he turns abruptly away. When he's finished, he manages a sulky glare. "You're in no fit state to feed me. Look at yourself, Williams."

It is true. Matthew is swaying slightly back and forth, looking on the verge of passing out. "Nonsense." Matthew grumbles. "I'm fine." He holds his bloodied arm out like a delicacy, but Arthur turns his nose up at it.

"You need to feed." Matthew says, beginning to sound frustrated. "I won't let you sit here and starve."

"I'm fine." Arthur spits the words furiously. "I've been around longer than you've been born, boy. I know a bloodless human when I see one. Leave me in peace."

Matthew scowls in disgust. "I'm sending one of the others in here."

"And I'll be sending them right back out. You're all too bloodless. Are you looking to kill yourselves?"

"Are you?" Matthew loses his temper.

Arthur only snorts. "Get some rest, Williams. I'll fight with you another day."

Matthew whirls on his foot, heading for the door angrily. "Come on, Alfred."

At his name, Arthur turns eyes on him for the first time, expressionless. Alfred feels an odd jolt in his stomach, looking down and seeing the chiseled bones of Arthur's chest and arms. "I'll do it." He says, without even thinking about what he's saying.

"What?" Matthew looks back at him in disbelief.

"Sure," Alfred nods jumpily, pushing up his trenchcoat sleeve. "I've got more than enough blood. That should help you guys out a little bit."

Matthew's eyes flick over to Arthur, whose lip has begun to curl in disgust. "There was a day when I could get my own food and didn't have to be coddled by such breast-feeders."

"Come on," Alfred says nervously. He takes a tentative step forward, holding his arm out like a slab of meat.

Arthur watches him with hard eyes. "You're here for rehabilitation, boy. Save yourself."

"I don't know who I'm taking yet," Alfred points out, feeling oddly mesmerized by Arthur's harsh features. "And I've never done it before." He takes another step forward. "I could at least do with some practice, so I know what I'm getting into." Indeed, what was he getting into? Approaching a vampire unarmed like this? His father would hit him upside the head.

Arthur licks his lips and he hears Matthew give a soft gasp. Just as quickly, Arthur snarls at him, "Get out, Williams. I don't need your commentary."

Matthew doesn't move, though. And Arthur has already forgotten about him. He holds out a skeletal hand to Alfred, a strange gleam in his eyes. Alfred takes the final step forward and shivers at Arthur's ice cold touch. He traces the unharmed skin with his fingers before looking up in confusion.

"You've never been bitten." It's not a question.

"Never." Alfred agrees.

"Why are you here then? The only people who return are those who have been bitten and spared. Who see what we are." He sounds tired, like he might just fall asleep sitting up.

Alfred slowly sinks to sit on the bed. "I've heard about nothing but vampires since the day I was born, but I've never met one until today."

"How is that?" Arthur whispers, laying his thumb very carefully against the major vein in Alfred's arm.

Alfred suddenly finds his throat blocked. He doesn't want to tell. Arthur's emaciated body, the hollowed cheeks of the others, there's nothing monstrous about them, except these things. "My father's the head of HD." He whispers, hanging his head in shame.

"Hunting Division?" Arthur's tone is unreadable. "And you are here with us?"

"I..." Alfred forces himself to look up and meet those green eyes. "I thought they might be wrong."

"Indeed," Arthur says, his lip curling up a bit. He swallows, looking down at Alfred's arm with suddenly hungry eyes. Alfred is shocked to see it. He had been so composed before.

"You can." Alfred prompts when he hesitates. "I don't mind."

"Then, I suppose there is no excuse," Arthur says lightly and raises Alfred's arm to his lips. It is a strange feeling. The pinching of his teeth going in is far from pleasant, but the actual sucking hardly feels like anything. If he didn't know better, he'd just say Arthur had kissed his arm. Arthur makes a hungry gurgled sort of noise and a few drops of blood bloom on the bedspread.

Matthew takes a step forward warily.

But Alfred isn't worried. He closes his eyes, imagining what his father would say. The cool edges of the vampire's face and his freezing hands clutch tightly, holding him still. He relaxes. Strange. This might even be called pleasant. Arthur is noisy compared to the other two, but Alfred attributes this to his hunger. Two weeks is a long time not to eat anything.

He reaches up with his eyes still closed, using his other hand to comb back Arthur's hair. There's fuzziness beginning to touch the edges of his vision, Arthur slurping desperately is the only sound that he hears. And then suddenly...

"Stop. Stop! Arthur, I said stop!" Matthew's big warm hands are wrenching them apart. Alfred's eyes fly open and he nearly tumbles off the bed. His vision is full of stars.

"You've had enough," Matthew is saying angrily. "More than enough. Control yourself."

Arthur's eyes are wild, his pupils dilated to mere slits. "I'm sorry," he says, panting. His tongue flies across his lips getting the last specks. "It has been awhile." He looks at Alfred carefully. "I apologize."

"No, no, it's fine," Alfred says dizzily as Matthew hurriedly bandages his arm. "They say... they say you've been here for 10 years. Is that true?"

Arthur, still licking his lips, swallows heavily. "Unfortunately." He catches sight of the spots of blood on the comforter and stares at them longingly.

"I'm sorry about that. Do you... do you ever plan on leaving?"

"On my own?" Arthur snorts. "Even I am not so reckless."

"No, like rehabitation or whatever it's called."

Arthur stares at him. "It has never been offered to me before."

Alfred feels Matthew freeze with the gauze. "Alfred..." he says warningly, but they did leave the choice up to him.

"Do you want to?" Alfred asks. "I'd take you."

The shock on Arthur's face is enough to hurt. Evidently, he's never been particularly desirable to candidates before.

"Me?" He asks. "Why me?"

Alfred shrugs. "Why not?"

There is a heavy silence before Arthur looks away in embarrassment. "I'm sick."

"So?" Alfred asks flatly.

Arthur looks at him in bewilderment.

"This would be better for you." He feels Matthew tie the bandage just slightly too tight for comfort. But he's made up his mind. "You could sleep in an actual bed and feed everyday and get outside sometimes. Wouldn't that make you feel better?"

"I..." Judging by the way Arthur's eyes have already started to shine a bit brighter after the meal, Alfred would take it as a yes. "Why me?" He says again, softer, and even Matthew doesn't have the heart to interrupt when Arthur looks so forlorn.

"Well, if anything you have seniority," Alfred points out. "Ten years is a long enough sentence, I'd say. And I like you the most."

"Like me?" Arthur asks as if it's a paradox.

Alfred nods and actually laughs, earning himself an eyebrow raise from Matthew. "Sure, you make me laugh. So do we have a deal?"

"Oh," Arthur stares at his hands. "Are you sure?"

"Of course," Alfred beams.

Arthur sees his smile and actually blushes. Matthew's eyebrows disappear as they raise so high.

"Okay," Arthur agrees.

"Awesome," Alfred smiles, leaning back next to him in the bed and beginning to count on his fingers. "So let's come up with a good back story. You want to be my uncle from England or my friend? I think friend is more versatile. Plus, my dad would totally know you weren't my uncle."

As Alfred continues to blather on carelessly, Matthew stands quietly and heads for the door. He's never seen Arthur this way before. Alfred has always been a bit careless and talkative and wild. It's why he thought Alfred would be good for the job in the first place. Things tended to get drab down here without a little pep.

But for him to convince Arthur to drink was a bit surprising. Arthur had become increasingly more frustrating over time. Matthew got the sense that he'd resigned himself to a hospital bed in the sewer for the rest of his life. Alfred's wild proposition had completely thrown him. He hadn't even thought of Arthur as someone Alfred would be interested in housing. Francis was sadly right. Arthur was basically a fixture.

Of course, it would probably be a lot of trouble to get Arthur settled with Alfred. He was sick, sicker than Alfred realized. They all made jokes about it, because it was basically a permanent condition and it was better than being depressed. He ought to have stopped Alfred from asking, but...

Until right now, Alfred had been sheepish and scared. It was like a switch had flipped. And Arthur... well, there was a lot he could say about Arthur, but it had shocked him to see the hope in his eyes. That someone would be willing to take him aboveground after all this time. Matthew just didn't have the heart to shut it down then.

It would require a lot of work, but if his cousin's smile was anything to go by, things were already looking brighter. Matthew had always suspected Alfred would be an invaluable ally in their operation.

"I'm telling you, Arthur," Alfred is saying happily to the man beside him, fast on his way to dreamworld. His full meal is dragging him under. "I think you'll really like it up there."

"I think so too." Arthur agrees quietly, letting his eyes slip closed.