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“Oh wow!” Jules yells, just as Dana is leafing through a book she found in the basement. It’s a diary belonging to a teenage girl, she got that much from the couple of paragraphs she skimmed. “They’ve got wine down here.”

 

Dana shudders as she reads a passage where the girl is describing how her mother screamed in pain while her father cut her belly open and stuffed the coal in it. What the hell kind of people used to live here?

 

“Wine?” Holden asks, and stops playing the music box he picked up. “What kind?”

 

Jules laughs. “Does it matter? C’mon, put that dusty crap down and let’s get back upstairs!” She gives Dana big grin and gestures at her with the bottle. “You still lost a dare, so guess who gets to take the first sip?”

 

Dana pulls a disgusted face, putting the diary back down on the vanity. “Oh, come on, Jules, that’s disgusting, what if it gives me food poisoning?”

 

“Can alcohol even give you food poisoning?” Marty asks, who is already climbing back up the stairs. “Doesn’t it just… become more alcoholic?”

 

“Let’s find out,” Jules tells them, and starts ushering them back up.

 

*

 

When Dana opens the bottle – the letters on it are faded, but she can vaguely make out a few words that definitely aren’t English, and there seems to be a bat on the label – some dust escapes out of it. She tilts it to pour the contents into her glass, but nothing comes out except more dust. “Oh gosh, that’s a shame, now I can’t take that first sip,” she says unconvincingly.

 

Jules takes the bottle from her, eyeing it suspiciously and then turning it upside down, hitting the bottom with the palm of her hand. “Worst. Wine cellar. Ever!” She puts the empty bottle on the table with the rest of their booze. “What’re we gonna make her drink now?”

 

Holden grabs Dana’s glass and the wine they brought themselves. “A nice cocktail?” he suggests, pouring her some wine. He puts the wine back on the table, then grabs another bottle.

 

“No, not wine with rum!” Dana leans forward to grab her glass, but Holden holds it out of her reach.

 

“Uh huh,” he tells her, smiling. “You gotta drink something disgusting, Dana.”

 

She sighs. “Fine.” She sits on the couch next to Holden, and pouts. “I hate you,” she tells Jules, not meaning a word of it.

 

Jules blows her a kiss. “Don’t worry, Dana, I’m sure you’ll survive.”

 

“Might I suggest,” Marty says, lighting up his joint, “some orange juice?” He nods at Holden.

 

“Oh, oh, and some of that Bailey’s crap she loves so much!” Curt shudders theatrically. “Man, I can’t even finish a glass of just that, never mind whatever Holden’s making.”

 

“I’ll remember that in case you need to be punished,” Dana mutters, and winces when Holden hands her the glass. It smells vile, and she’s pretty sure it’s gonna taste even worse.

 

“Mm, I know exactly who can punish me.” Curt reaches for Jules, pulling her into his lap before kissing her.

 

Jules kisses him back enthusiastically, and when Curt’s hands start pulling up Jules’ top, exposing her naked skin, Dana coughs loudly. “Uhm, guys, can you take this somewhere else?” she asks, her cheeks burning.

 

Curt groans as Jules gets off him. “Fine!” He stands up. “How about a nice, moonlit stroll, baby? Just you and me.”

 

“And whatever freaky forest creatures are out there,” Marty mutters.

 

“Sounds like a plan,” Jules says, giving Curt a kiss before turning to Dana. “But you’re still finishing that glass!” She giggles as Curt pulls her over to the door. “Holden, Marty, make sure she does!”

 

Dana sighs as they leave the cabin, and turns to Holden. “Hey, how about I don’t and we say I did?”

 

Holden shakes his head. “Sorry, Dana. Rules are rules.”

 

“And rules,” Marty says, nodding sagely, “have to be followed in our ritual.”

 

Dana snorts. “Dude, it’s Truth or Dare.”

 

“Still a ritual,” Marty replies, and inhales deeply. “Everything’s a ritual.”

 

*

 

Curt is having the time of his life, making out with a horny and not-nearly-naked-enough Jules. Okay, so the forest floor is a little uncomfortable but hey, maybe they can roll over to that nice patch of moss and everything’ll be fine. Just fine.

 

“Bossy,” he murmurs, when Jules bucks her hips and pushes at him to roll onto his back so she can straddle him. He doesn’t mind, since this’ll give him a great view of those gorgeous breasts. He smiles up at her, frowning when Jules isn’t looking at him, but to her left. “Jules? Baby?”

 

“Ssh,” she says, placing a hand over his mouth as she’s watching the bushes. “Quiet.”

 

Curt frowns. It’s not unusual for Jules to take charge during sex, but her tone is completely different from ten seconds ago. No longer teasing or seductive, but cold and firm.

 

He kinda likes it.

 

There’s a soft rustling in the bushes to their left, and Jules get up, picking up a branch and breaking it into two over her knee. She drops one half, and closes her hand tightly around the remaining part, pointing the sharp end at the bushes where the noise is coming from.

 

“Baby?”

 

Something leaps from the undergrowth, a dark blur, and Curt screams when it lunges for him. He tries to scramble away, still on his back on the ground, and before he knows it, the something is crouched on his chest, pushing his shoulders down firmly while Curt stares up at a pale face, its eyes boring into Curt’s, and the creature is moving closer and closer and Curt can’t move, can’t fight, this creature is too strong, he might as well just give in…

 

The creature then explodes into dust, and Jules is grinning at him, brandishing the branch like a sword and offering him her free hand. “C’mon, get up. There’s probably more of them around and we have to get back to the cabin.”

 

Curt blinks, accepting Jules’ hand, and he’s surprised by how easily she pulls him up. “Uhm,” he says, “what?”

 

Jules picks up her shorts and shimmies back into them. “The vampire,” she tells him, and buttons up her blouse with one hand. “I mean, I got that one, but you know what they say, where there’s smoke, there’s, er, vampires.” She scrunches up her nose. “Look, you know what I mean, right?”

 

“Not really,” Curt replies, but when Jules walks off, he follows.

 

Because he might not understand the words coming out of her mouth, but he understand that there’s some creature out here in these woods, and that Jules just killed one.

 

*

 

“Okay,” says Marty, once Jules and Curt are back at the cabin, and she has finished her explanation. “Okay, so… vampires are real?”

 

“Yes,” Jules says, and she’s pacing up and down, glancing out the windows.

 

“And you kill them?” Dana asks, who still can’t believe any of this. “Uhm, since when?”

 

“Since my sixteenth birthday,” Jules replies, and turns around to face them, “which, by the way, made for a pretty weird Sweet Sixteen.” She sighs. “I get that it’s a lot to take in, and I’ll apologise for not telling you guys I’m a Slayer later when we all survive this, but right now we’ve got to move. This place is probably bugged and we need to get out of here before they send out other monsters after us.”

 

“Wait,” Holden says, frowning. “Who’s ‘they’?”

 

“That,” Jules replies, “is the one question I can’t answer. Other Slayers and Watchers have been working on figuring out this mystery their entire lives, but this is the closest we’ve ever gotten. All we know is, there is some sort of worldwide Council of They who gather groups of young people, sometimes even kids, and – and sacrifice them in some creepy ritual.” She gestures at the cellar door. “In our case, involving monsters that are somehow tied to the crap in the cellar.”

 

“The wine bottle.” Dana looks up at her friend. “It’s tied to those – those vampires you mentioned?”

 

Jules gives her an apologetic shrug. “We had to summon something for the ritual, and I figured, play to my strengths, right?”

 

Dana is about to reply that Jules could’ve mentioned this before she summoned the vampires, to see if there wasn’t some object that summoned something easier to defeat, but she hears noises coming from outside, rustling in the bushes, and twigs breaking as if something big is coming for them, and coming for them fast. “Jules? What do we do now?” she asks, her heart racing. She reaches for Holden, feeling a little better when he squeezes her hand.

 

Her smile widens. “We fight back, of course. Those vampires? We can take ‘em. And once we’ve dealt with the vampires, we’ll take on whatever else They have to throw at us.”

 

“Fight the Man!” Marty shouts, pumping his fist in the air. “Yeah!”

 

“Yeah,” Dana echoes weakly, and her heart skips a beat when the noises sound like they’re coming from just outside the door.

 

Still, when she watches Jules turn to face the door, broken-off tree branch in one hand, the other curled into a fist, and Marty get up to join her, even if he is a little wobbly, while Curt runs back into the living room with a baseball bat he grabbed from his luggage, she does feel more confident.

 

The five of them will take on whatever They sends after them.