“Kali you’re not cutting out already are you?” Jonny called out, running towards the rag top Kali was lent against. Kali sighed as his footsteps grew closer, trying to stem the pickles of irritation already creeping up her spine. Jonny was a fream slip of a sixteen year old who had somehow took it upon himself to become Kali’s personal paper shaker. Kali was pretty sure he thought of himself as her scooch as well, despite her many attempts to rebuff the sentiment. The fact Kali hadn’t ripped his throat out yet, had more to do with the promise she’d made Jennifer than any sort of affection for the boy, despite what Jennifer may think.
“I’ve burned enough rubber today.” Kali answered, casting an eyeball over Jonny and noting the new duck butt hairstyle he was sporting. Kali took a moment to wonder what his mother would make of it; she was expecting her son to be an ivy leaguer not some greaser wannabe, before realising she didn’t give a damn.
“Come on Kali, you’ve only blown off one guy.” Jonny protested, his voice taking the tone of an ankle-biter begging their mother for a slurg.
“I’m ready to split.” Kali said curtly, her patience already waning.
“You’ve not even gone for pinks yet.” He exclaimed, gawking at her. Shrugging Kali pulled out a packet of due backs from the pocket of her leather jacket. She offered one to Jonny who looked at the packet briefly debating within himself, before finally declining. Kali hid the ghost of her smile by putting a cigarette between her painted blood red lips and lighting it. Not such a rebel after all, she thought.
“What’s so important you got to cut out early anyhow?” Johnny asked after a moment’s silence.
“Are you writing a book?” Kali snapped, her dark sunglasses hiding the flash of red in her eyes.
“Don’t get all salty on me, I was just wondering.” Johnny laughed; clearly oblivious to the real danger he was in whenever he tested Kali’s patience.
“You’re curiosity’s gonna get you in a heap load of trouble one day bug.” Kali stated, flicking ash from her cigarette onto the dusty ground. Smiling Johnny shrugged his shoulders as if to say ‘eh, what you gonna do.’ Taking another drag Kali blew smoke rings into the air.
“You know what tonight is?” she asked deciding to give into his inquiries. Experience had taught her he wasn’t going to leave her alone till he knew.
“Sure Halloween; the little monsters have been going on about it for weeks. I promised the keepers I’d take them out.”
“Yeah well Jennifer’s holding a bash tonight and she requested my help to set up.”
“Oh, but you’re coming back for the big hallow eve race though right? There’s a lot of bread to be made from that one.”
“Doubt it kid. Jennifer’s bash probably won’t cut out till early hours, what with it being Saturday. Wardens got to get their kicks someone I suppose.”
“Ain’t that a bite!” Jonny exclaimed, leaning back against Kali’s chariot. If Kali had it her way that’s exactly what she would be doing. She hated Halloween; it wasn’t as if the night made holding the wolf back harder, it was the mockery of her kind the night brought that Kali couldn’t stand. All those people running around in werewolf costumes; it made her blood boil, claws aching to tear flesh from bone.
As for Jennifer she loved it, or at least she did now. Back before Jennifer had become Jennifer's handle she hadn’t cared either way but now, now there was power to be had for a Darach. Kali supposes it’s a suitable punishment, one made from her own two hands. It certainly served as a reminder to what she had done and almost lost, but the less she lingers on that the better. Besides they’re past that now. They’ve not exactly run off into the sunset and a fairy-tale happily ever after but they were together and that at least seemed to be enough. Finishing off her cigarette Kali dropped it on the ground before stomping out the light with the bottom of her Chuck Taylors.
“Well Jonny, it’s been a kick but it’s time for me to agitate the gravel.” Kali said; the sarcasm in her voice just barely contained.
“No sweat. Later.” Jonny took a few steps back as Kali got into her chariot before adding. “Say Hi to Miss Blake for me.”
By the time Kali arrived at the suburb hose, the powdered blue car was already sitting in the driveway, signifying Jennifer was home. Personally Kali preferred the roughness of the pad she owned, not that she spent a lot of time in it. Most of her time was spent here in Nowheresville. Jennifer refused to step foot in her place, claiming it would raise too many questions. After all what would a heart be doing in a place like that, with a woman like Kali.
Their contrasting appearances, Kali in her tight fitted pants and leather jackets, while Jennifer preferred the prim and polished housewife look was already causing eyebrows to rise and tongues to waggle. So it was just as well that Kali was incredibly skilled at sneaking in and out of a place unseen by prying neighbours eyes. Jennifer’s house was usually a picture of perfection. The crisp cut lawn, surrounded by a white picket fence, never had a single blade of grass out of place. It was the envy of every housewife in town or so Kali had been told, frankly it was too square for her tastes. Today though it was completely covered in spooky decorations, there didn’t seem to be an inch of the garden not covered. Jennifer had obviously been hard at work.
Carved pumpkins with various haunting expressions and images where scattered across the lawn along with headstones, ghosts and skeletons. On the front porch was a menacing Grimm reaper and a witch’s caldron, which was surly, meant for the candy. The front house was covered in cobwebs and spiders and a served hand hovered over the doorbell. However the centre piece of the rather elaborate display was a large tree trunk stump; its roots stretched out wide across the lawn and were covered in green moss. Next to the tree was a large headstone with the name Julia Baccari carved into it, dead birds were scattered around the gravestone and resting against it was a pumpkin with a wolf howling at the moon carved into it. A body covered in dirt and blood seemed to be rising from the grave but only the torso could be seen. The face of the model had large deep slashes to the face and one arm was outstretched towards the Nemeton replica, fingers brushing against a root.
Kali breath caught in her throat and her stomach did a flip. It wasn’t that she and Jennifer hid from their turbulent past, they often made snide comments to the each other, a threat here and there, where was the fun otherwise; but never had either of them displayed something so raw. For a moment Kali just stood and stared, trying to figure out the meaning of it all. She couldn’t help but wonder if their past year of togetherness had all been leading up to this. Maybe this had just been part of Jennifer’s plan all along. Trick Kali into believing they had some sort of future together, that being on the hook was enough to stem the lust for blood and revenge before striking the final blow. But then why would she display it all over the front lawn and give Kali warning, it didn’t make sense.
“There you are, you’re late you know.” The sound of Jennifer’s rebuking voice pulled Kali out of her thoughts. Turning Kali stared up at Jennifer, who beamed back at her, her perfect smile bright and beautiful. In one hand was a large silver bowl and in the other a spoon with cookie batter sticking to it.
Kali felt her fingernails being to grow, shoes becoming tight as her toenails scratched against the material, threating to burst. Jennifer tilted her head inquisitively, eyebrows rising as Kali’s eyes flashed red and a low deep growl scratched its way out of her throat. Slowly Jennifer began mixing the contents of the bowl; all the while eyeballing Kali with a steely gaze as the glass in the windows began to tremble. They stayed like that for what seemed like an eternity, each passing second stretched and disjointed as they watched and waited for the other to make a move. Jennifer seemed more confused by the situation than Kali felt, her eyebrows knotted together. It wasn’t until Jennifer glanced over at the decorations that something seemed to click and she laughed.
“Cool it Kali.“That,” Jennifer pointed to the display, “it’s not a threat; it’s just a little fun.”
“Sure looks like a threat to me.” Kali practically growled her suspicion still strong.
“Sometimes baby you aint got much jets.” Jennifer sighed. That made Kali pause, Jennifer never called her baby, at least never in public where someone might here. “It’s not a threat honest. Now come on in, before you make a scene.” Jennifer quipped before turning on her heel and entering the house.
Kali stayed posed for attack a second longer debating whether or not to believe her. It wasn’t as simple as it was with a human, she couldn’t just listen to her heartbeat to see if she was lighting up the tilt sign. Finally she decided to give Jennifer the benefit of the doubt and retracted her claws before following her inside, closing the door with more slightly more vigour than necessary.
“If you cream my door there will be hell to pay.” Jennifer’s sing song voice called out from the kitchen. A pumpkin pie was cooling on the windowsill, two trays of biscuits were already out of the oven, all Halloween inspired. Kali could see a cake baking in the oven as well.
“You’ve been busy.” Kali stated; her mouth-watering at the sight. It was a well-known fact that Jennifer made the best bake goods in town and she was a complete actor about it.
“Yes and if someone wasn’t such a fade out I’d have more done” Jennifer teased as she opened up the oven and put the tray of chocolate chip cookies in the shape of witches hats on the bottom tray. “What were you doing anyway? Racing?”
“Yeah.” Kali replied, her thoughts still playing on the garden display.
“You win?” Jennifer asked.
Jennifer sighed and wiped her hands down her apron before she turned to face Kali. “You’re not sore are you?” she asked.
“No.” Kali inwardly winced, she didn’t sound convincing at all. Jennifer put her hands on her hips, her gaze boring into Kali.
“Oh really because usually when I ask you about a race you give me a play by play of every moment not just…Yeah” she said mimicking Kali’s unenthusiastic tone. Despite herself, Kali’s lips tugged upwards in a half smile.
“Jen.” Kali began before Jennifer cut her off.
“It’s not a threat. Honest.” Jennifer put her right hand across her heart and made a girl guide salute with the other.
“Still a royal shaft though.” Kali grumbled.
“Yeah maybe it was a little harsh.” Jennifer agreed. “Sorry.” She flashed her best innocent smile and battered her eyelashes at Kali.
“You’re done trying to kill me then.” Kali quipped.
“Well we’re circled now…sort of…in every way that matters to us and I’m far too pretty to be a widow, besides I’m not that fond of black.” Jennifer winked, grabbing the edges of Kali’s jacket and pulling her closer.
“You have to admit it is a little suspicious.” Kali said; instinctively letting her hands come to rest against Jennifer’s hips, fingers digging in just a little.
“Don’t be a Mickey Mouse.” Jennifer chastised, wrapping her arms around Kali’s neck and drawing her closer. “Besides if I was going to try and kill you…again. I wouldn’t give you any clues.” She said pressing her forehead against Kali’s. “I’d just do it.” She punctuated the statement with a nipping kiss.
“And I’d slash you’re face open again if you tried.” Kali snarled through a smirk, leaning down to draw her human teeth across the skin of Jennifer’s jugular.
“Oh I’m real gone on you.” Jennifer laughed shakily as Kali’s tongue drew circles into her skin causing her body to shudder. Kali mumbled her agreement pulling back and pressing her lips firmly against Jennifer’s. The kitchen timer buzzing broke them apart a few moments later.
“Back to business.” Jennifer said, untangling herself from Kali’s embrace and returning to her baking. Kali looked around the house, spotting the four large boxes full of decorations on the dining room table.
“You want me to put those up?” she asked, gesturing to the boxes.
“Uh-Huh. There’s another four, five in the hallway.” Jennifer said, taking the cake out of the oven.
“Holy cow, that’s a lot of stuff Jen!” Kali exclaimed.
“I know which is why I asked you to be here by 10. I hope you made lots of bread at those races today.”
“Not really I only did one. I was on my way but Jonny caught me. He's a real germ.”
“Oh hush.” Jennifer objected. “You know he made my Nemeton replica for me. He’s a good lad.”
“Precisely.” Kali said pointedly.
“You like him really.” Jennifer said shaking her head fondly at Kali when she made a face of disgust.
“Do you care where all of this stuff goes.” Kali asked, changing the subject.
“There should be pieces of paper,” she glanced around and spotted them hiding under one of the boxes. “Here.” She said, grabbing the edges and pulling it out. “Each box is labelled with the room it’s for as well.” She added.
“You’re really are looking to kill these folks tonight huh?” Kali stated flicking through the papers. Each one had a hand sketched drawing of a room in the house with the decorations that where to go there, Jennifer had even planned for the bathroom to have a few.
“Yes. Though not literally, unfortunately.”
“Why you making such an effort anyway?” Kali questioned as she began emptying the box labelled hallway.
“One, I love Halloween. Two, the more I have those cubes eating from the palm of my hand the less those tongues will be wagging about our…” she gestured between the two of them “relationship.”
“Who cares what they think?” Kali never understood Jennifer’s need to keep up appearances.
“I like it here and if possible I want to stay. That means I can’t have parents, teachers or students gossiping about me in the corral, or anyone for that matter. It will only lead to accusations of an immoral lifestyle, which would lead to me losing my gig at the school. So it’s just better to keep them on side.” Jennifer reasoned, grabbing ingredients from the cupboard as she prepared to make more delicious treats.
“I could always rip their tongues out.” Kali suggested only half joking. Jennifer smiled softly at her over her shoulder.
“Pass. It’s more fun this way anyway.” Jennifer winked and blew her a kiss.
“There.” Jennifer breathed, completely satisfied as she placed the last cake on the dining room table adorned with ghoulish decor.
“Looks good. Completely disgusting, especially the brain cake, but that’s kind of the point I suppose.” Kali said admiring the presentation.
“Thanks. Are you finished?” Jennifer asked, turning around to inspect Kali’s work. She hadn’t really had the time before, mind too preoccupied with her baking. “WOW.” Jennifer exhaled.
“What do you think?” Kali asked smugly. She knew how good it was. She’d followed Jennifer’s blue prints, but had added her own little touches here and there when the mood had taken her. She’d almost enjoyed herself, almost.
"I think," Jenifer said eyeballing the house, "it looks horrifically far out."
"Got that right. You could charge admission, really."
"Not a bad idea,” Jennifer agreed “running a haunted house would be a blast, not to mentioned a piece of cake. Give me an excuse to exercise some of my gifts. Maybe next year?" she suggested, doe eyes sneaking a quick peek at Kali wide and hopeful. Kali shrugged in response.
"Great!" Jenifer beamed. “Now,” she said glancing at the face “time to get chrome-plated, guests will be here soon.”
“Chrome-plated? You mean costumes? No way.” Kali protested.
“It’s a Halloween party, of course you have to dress up.” Jennifer exclaimed grabbing hold of Kali’s hand and dragging her towards the stairs.
“No.” Kali said bluntly, yanking her hand out of Jennifer’s grip.
“Oh come on Kali, don’t be party popper.” Jennifer pleaded. “I choose you something pretty painless.”
“Really and what’s that?” Kali doubted very much that any scenario where she had to wear a ridiculous outfit could be painless.
“A Devil.” Jennifer said.
“Please baby.” Jennifer pouted, sidling into Kali’s personal space, eyes darkening in her classic ‘I want you to do something that you don’t want to, so I’m going to try and seduce you into doing it’ mode.
“Don’t even try that. Apple butter isn’t going to work with me Jen.” Kali said determined.
“Please.” Jennifer pleaded, leaning up and running her nose up and along Kali’s cheek as she picked up Kali’s hands and manoeuvred them so that they were wrapped around her waist.
“No.” Kali laughed, amused at the effort Jennifer was going to, get her to participate in this stupid holiday tradition.
“Please.” Jennifer pleaded, lips pressed to the shell of Kali ear.
“Jen.” Kali chuckled.
“It’s basically the same clothes you wear now. I even got the pants and top from your closet. The only things not already owned by you are the horns, tail and wings.” Jennifer reasoned. Kali sighed, that didn’t actually sound too bad. Maybe she could tolerate it for a few hours…maybe.
“I’ll make you a deal.” Jennifer said, sensing she was close to victory but still needed a little extra leverage.
“A deal?” Kali queried, curiously.
“If you wear the costume and behave yourself for a few hours then I’ll let you make the hallow eve race scene.”
“Let me?” Kali challenged, not liking the implication that Jennifer controlled her. If she wanted to go, she’d damn well go.
“Don’t rattle your cage. You know what I meant.” Jennifer reassured, though she couldn’t help but roll her eyes at Kali.
“I don’t want to go anyway.”
“Shuckster.” Jennifer declared, lips tugging upwards. Kali didn’t even try and deny it; they both knew how much pleasure a race brought her. “Tell you what I’ll even sweeten the deal. I’ll come watch, even sit in the car with you if you want, do a little back seat bingo.” Jennifer added eyes glinting seductively as her arms snaked around Kali’s neck.
“What about your guests?” Kali asked sceptical that Jenifer, ever the attentive host, would just up and abandon her guests.
“By that time everyone will be so hammered they won’t miss me for an hour or so.” Jennifer said waving away Kali’s concerns. “Come on you know its chili.” She added, fingers playing with the hair at the nape of Kali’s neck. Kali thought it through, brushed their lips together, once, twice as she weighed up the positive and negatives.