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The Beat of My Heart... or Lack of it

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Hello, there new readers,

 

This is my first Carmilla fic so comments and kudos will be greatly appreciated as encouragement if you enjoy this. Here I bring a Carmilla fic centring on how Carmilla would be after her humanity is gifted to her post season 3. This is somewhat AU and the events of The Movie haven't happened here. I hope everyone enjoys the angst, drama and excitement this fic will have. Italics are for flashback events and formatting has been adapted for easy reading. Hopefully, you guys will enjoy this as much as the Lost girl community enjoys my other stuff. You can also follow me on twitter and tumblr for updates, music for the fic and just keeping up @last_dragomir and @last-dragomir16

 

Cheers eh!



DISCLAIMER: THE CHARACTERS BELONG TO THE AUTHOR OF THE SERIES AND NOVEL. ONLY ORIGINAL CHARACTERS AND SITUATIONS OF PLOT ARE MINE.

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The Beat of My Heart... Or Lack of It



Chapter 01:

 

It was perhaps the toughest time in the world for things to happen the way they did, and boy, did I have the grounds to say that. It was not an easy time for me for sure, but that had been the norm for a number of years already so I had become comfortable with the misery and disdain I had for myself and the way I lived my life so far. However, I remembered that first in-person meeting like it was yesterday. Years could pass me by with no regard but I will forever remember how it went when I was finally in front of Laura Hollis.

 

**Flashback**

 

When I had walked into that dorm room I understood the meaning of "my breath caught in my throat". It had been a feeling I had not felt in so long that for a second I wondered if I had indeed imagined it, like a ghost limb when lost. I would be lying if I didn't admit that I had seen the mousy larger than life girl around campus. In fact, it had been my job to find her, study her, and find an opportune moment to intercept her. I needed to make an impression on her, this was my job, however, there was an aching in my long cold heart to be sincere in the way I treated this girl from the moment I walked into the now cramped space of her room.

 

"Hey." I had offered but my voice came out rough and bitten with spite as always. I needed to work on my boredom with existence.

 

Her whiskey coloured eyes looked over me sending a shiver down my spine and the outrage that ran through her face was so pure and sincere that I couldn't help but smirk. She was going to put up a fight and the predatory animal inside of me roared with approval.

 

"Excuse me, but who the hell are you?" the young girl asked standing up.

 

"Carmilla. I'm your new roommate, sweetheart." I tried again. Attaching a nickname would make my tone less harsh I hoped.

 

"My what?" she asked once more perplexed.

 

"Your new roommate." I declared looking around to distract myself from her presence.

 

"I already have a roommate." She declared and I smirked at her fire.

 

"Don't you catch on fast?" I teased as I opened a drink to chug down. Made the drink less horrible than sipping it.

 

"No, I…"

 

She flustered and huffed as she rambled about her last roommate Betty. When my lack of apathy and biting tone got to her head she huffed even more. My challenge to produce this Betty person and the lack of regard for personal privacy with Betty's things made her downright rage as she stood up to stop me. As if she could.

 

I offered her a solution I knew was impossible and she took it as a challenge. I had to bite back my smile as I saw her frustration pour over but it also fed into her determination. Her outrage was now external as she raved about me not being her roommate and not allowing this to happen. It was always the same when prey didn't know they were prey, however, this one, in particular, had something that drew me like a moth to a flame. The small college student walked briskly the length of the division between our beds. It wasn't much of a space and I could still smell her overwhelming scent around the room, I could hear her pulse throbbing fast with adrenaline even from the length of space between us. I had to stop myself from salivating like an animal. It embarrassed me and I angered at the monster I was. So in penance, I let her rage and make a quip about my leather pants as I made myself comfortable on the bed and my newly minted roommate made her way to the desk with the ever-present camera and laptop setup for her vlog or whatever they called these kinds of things these days. She could change everything; if she survived.

 

**End Flashback**

 

I closed my eyes to steady my hands at the longing of the memory. I needed pretty steady hands for my task but it was useless when thinking of Laura. I sighed and moved away from the polishing wheel and took my heavy duty work gloves off in frustration removing the security earmuffs next. It was then that the sound of my workshop surrounding me completely jarred me out of my reverie. It hadn't been lost on me what day it was, but I was expecting every year to get less hard than the previous one to no avail. I hung my head in my hands letting out a big sigh. I knew work wasn't going to go well today and I couldn't work without concentration, it was my first rule after all. I scoffed at the irony, Carmilla Karnstein following rules… I guessed that when you loved someone the way I loved Laura things tended to stick.

 

I left my workshop in a daze, but I made sure I locked the door behind me. As I passed the door of the business I shared space with the redhead looked at me enthusiastically and my heart panged with pain. I had to take care of them, it was the least I could do. She excitedly beckoned me inside too and with a huge sigh, I decided to go see what she wanted. It wasn't like I was in a hurry.

 

"Hey, Carmilla!" I heard happily as I crossed the threshold of 'The Apothecary and Scientific Solutions.'

 

"Hey there Perry, how are you today?" I asked pleasantly as my eyes almost watered at the strain of my feelings. It had to be the date.

 

"I'm swell, LaF is in the back trying some new thing. Some mumbles of brilliance were followed by maniacal laughter so I'm certain it's going to blow up." Perry ranted as I laughed wholeheartedly.

 

I loved the ginger woman's nervous energy. The years had been kind to LaF and Perry and even in their 30's their skin was still taut around their features, their smiles big, their bickering ever sharp as the only thing changed really was the laugh lines and how they had deepened. There was a heavy dark pushed to the back sadness to their eyes but after everything, it was expected of us to be destroyed.

 

"I don't think I've heard LaF be maniacal for a long time." I commented in my usual monotone. "Perhaps something interesting will come from this.”

 

"One can only hope." Perry kept her optimism at bay. "How are you holding up today?"

 

There it was, that motherly sad tone Perry had taken to use with me. I didn't want to call it pity because I was sure as hell not going to accept that. Whatever it was, was warm and sweet beckoning me home. I couldn't bring myself to fully open up or rely on anybody else after Laura. Perry and LaF were my responsibility and not the other way around.

 

"I'm good, why wouldn't I be today out of all days? It's just another Monday." I shrugged as I lied and Perry shot me that resigned look before I gave her an awkward wave. "I have to go meet a client."

 

When I headed out the bitterness of the lies I threw at our feet was almost stifling. I hated not being frank with them simply because they actually cared for me. We had come a long way from the chair tying incident to now, but I couldn't even get myself to talk about it. So I did what I did best and hid behind a shrug and a look at my shoes.

 

"You know, you're as stubborn as you ar-" BOOM!

 

A loud explosion shook this side of the building and I made a mental note that this side needed more soundproofing. I shook my head in amusement as Perry went ashen white and wide-eyed as she excused herself. I knew the drill by now so with a chuckle and flipping the 'open' sign to 'close' I closed the door behind me as I walked out.

 

When I got to my apartment it was dark and stale. I took a long sigh flipping the switch as the fluorescent lights of the marble, cement and steel apartment came to life. It was quite modest compared to the lavish rooms I had spent when following Mother around, but it was home now. The open concept layout stretched from the front door to the small leather-clad living room, its walls covered with books I had collected in my travels. It was there that I threw down my leather jacket and leather driving gloves trying to get comfortable after I had kicked my boots off in the foyer. I threw a longing look to the marble steel wide gallow-style kitchen wondering if I wanted to make myself something to eat. I sighed knowing I didn't want to eat and followed the hallway straight to the master bedroom in the back.

 

**Flashback**

I drank the litre slowly but knowing I couldn't stop once I tasted it. I was starved and I needed the savoury nectar to regain my strength feeling every cell of my being screaming for the nutrients that I needed. I could tell I had been close to the end, if not there already. I was so done with this heroic vampire bullshit. More than seeing it I felt Laura pull away from me, and suddenly a new aching woke within me that had nothing to do with my hunger. I had heard her voice in a chant as the first thing coming back to existence. "Please don't be dead" she had begged. I used every ounce of strength left in me to raise myself and sit at the edge of the bed trying to process everything that had happened.

 

"Whoa, that was a kick." I noted ironically before I felt Laura's arms circle my frame with full force.

 

I took in her scent as I felt her pull away before looking at me with those damn doe eyes that had gotten me into this mess in the first place. Yeah, Hollis was worth this and more and if she was going to look at me this way, then I would gladly go through hell and back once more. The tiny human ranted because that was Laura for you, she ranted when nervous; this time about my non-existent injuries. I wanted to tell her that I was not hurt, but she went on as she usually did once she got started.

 

I stood slowly and deliberate as I watched her sexy lips move in nervous word-vomit. I looked at her wondering eyes as she moved her hands about to express herself better. It was all too much for me, the aching in my non-beating heart intensified along with the arousal between my legs. My hands moved on their own accord and framed her face while my lips found her warm ones. It was bliss as her tongue darted out exploring my own mouth and I felt as I had breathed again for the first time. Her hands caressed my arms pulling down as she pulled away making me impossibly shiver. I wasn't prone to changes in temperature but that had been intense. I stared and as if nothing at all Laura started ranting again making my smile widen impossibly. So I did what I wanted to do for the rest of my immortal life and I kissed Laura Hollis again and again and yet again. Her squeals between kisses and giggles were my delight and when she pulled away I could do nothing but smile.

 

"So you're a giant black cat huh?" Laura asked as I basked in the feeling of life for the first time in centuries.

 

The warmth I felt as I looked at the human was unparalleled with anything I had ever felt before. As I started at her I couldn't quite believe how incredibly lucky I felt. Suddenly it was like the flip of a switch, the scene changed and darkness clouded the room we were in. No longer was Laura within arm's reach, but a good 3 meters from me. The chasm that stretched out between us dark and endless. I couldn't look at this again, I didn't want to see. I could feel my heart beating faster, my pulse quickening the sweat on my palms and the heaviness of my breath all too human for what was about to happen. I lunged forward trying in vain to prevent what was happening, to keep her selfishly with me but in the end, I was mortal and not fast enough. As I watched her auburn hair blow around her lovely face our eyes met and I had to look away.

**End Flashback**

 

The screams woke me up and it was then that I realized it was me the one screaming. I was hyperventilating and pulling the wastebasket from next to my bed I threw up the contents of my stomach harshly. With that, I threw myself back in the bed staring at the ceiling as my chest came up and down in exertion even though it wasn't necessary. The intensity between moments had been the same but the spectrums very different. I had just relived my happiest memory and my most painful one in this warped and fucked up dream I couldn't quite wrap my head around.

I looked about my room and the bright red lights of my alarm clock told me it was close to 3:00 pm. It was too early for me to be awake, but I simply couldn't go back to bed after that. After splashing water on my face to calm myself down I decided that coffee wouldn't do me any harm and went about the stylish kitchen to make it. The hardwood was cold on my bare feet and I quite enjoyed the contrast with the heat coming off from the coffee maker. I laid my head against the cabinets and tried to shake the feeling I had gotten from that nightmare.

 

"I gave you what you wanted, an opportunity to find her Mircalla. I don't want you to make the same mistakes, child." I knew the voice so I didn't turn around, there was no use.

 

"Mother please, I am not in the mood to duel just this second." I said closing my eyes defeated even before the battle had begun.

 

"I'm not here to antagonize you, child." My Mother suggested but I knew better.

 

"I am not-"

 

"Then why do you insist in petulance?" she interrupted my bitter claim. "I give your life and you blame it on losing your dear Laura again, I give you death and you do nothing with it?"

 

"Aren't you a God?" I asked bitterly letting out a long sigh.

 

"I cannot keep helping you like this. You need to use the tools you're given Mircalla, you need to help yourself."

 

Just like that, my Mother was gone and I sat there defeated and confused. It had been years since I had spoken to Mother, so I knew this was of importance somehow. She wouldn't have contacted otherwise, and I half expected Mattie to show up as well. I let out a shaky breath knowing today wasn't going to be any easier than yesterday. Maybe today I could deliver the shipment of knives I had been completing. I had been putting the long trip off for a week now and even though I knew it would probably get my mind off things I didn't want to make such a long journey.

 

I had taken up blacksmithing after college, in a surprising twist of events I adored working with my hands and the cold steel is involved. When Laura and I had left Silas into the adult human world she took the time to peel back the layers of myself I thought too deeply forgotten. The adorable woman was always busy with her paranormal curiosity between being a reputable journalism professor on the subject but she somehow took the time to notice me in all the buzz of her life. She always made it a point to really see me.

 

**Flashback**

I was unboxing the contents of the kitchen with a slight hum to my work. This being human was a drag sometimes, I would've been able to reload this whole kitchen in a matter of seconds, or rather hire the right people to do so had I been a vampire still. However, there was no time whatsoever for movers or vampire speed with how things had gone about. When we got the call for Laura's transfer to Ottawa it was sudden, but, she couldn't pass up the chance. I knew her sense of morality played a big part in her decision; it's not every day Parliament calls with a job offer this highly decorated. While our shenanigans in Toronto had been fun, the way Laura's face lit up while on the phone as our eyes connected told me all I needed to know, I would go where she was going. And that was Ottawa so we packed and in excitement for the new adventure we had left.

 

Apparently, she wasn't allowed to disclose the information she had received from her call. It was of utmost secrecy and even though we were honest with each other, she kept insisting it was not her secret to tell. I didn't push, I knew Laura enough to know someday she'd come home frustrated and tell me what she did for a living. All she was allowed to tell me was that this was a huge honour on her field and that she had been handpicked by the Prime Minister for such a task. I nodded my understanding not able to contain my pride. I knew finally someone could see how special Laura really was.

 

So with the blur of the Capital city's life, Laura was stuck in yet another briefing and I was bored at home. Being a human was a hard adjustment for me and it continued to be a challenge in many ways. Just like I missed my speed, I missed my strength but I also missed having a purpose. Not that I wanted to go back to kidnapping college girls for my Mother, but between that, fighting my Mother, saving Silas and making sure Laura was kept alive it left little downtime. However now as a human, I was destined to run with the clicks of the clock like everyone else. I had to be careful with how I spent that time and what I would do with my second opportunity. So far, jobless was my main description.

 

So in an attempt to bring myself out of self-pity and to give myself a task I took a challenge. I had told myself if Laura came home to an unpacked kitchen and living room that she would be a lot happier than the grumpy morning she had. The poor one hadn't been able to find her Doctor Who mug in the boxes we had brought from Toronto, so it threw off her whole day. I was still getting the periodical text with sad faces about the whole ordeal and as cute as I found it I knew my lady appreciated organization. The task of the living room had been completed before noon and I had taken the opportunity to try out the gaming console to make sure it had survived the move before moving onto the kitchen.

 

Gaming had become my guilty pleasure in this now mortal life. I loved riding fast bikes and playing videogames so Laura would laugh at me all the time at what a cliché I was. She was a jester after all and any opportunity at teasing me was very well appreciated. Videogames gave me the experience to be these many lives and characters that not even in my many lives had I experienced. It reminded me of being myself… because even with the beating heartbeat I still felt odd in this new fragile body. I was clumsy, uncoordinated and most people now considered me broody. It was something that caught me by surprise, I hadn't thought much of what I was bummed out about lately until jokingly Laura had gotten me the console with a vampire zombie killer game. Now like every human I lived precariously through a screen.

 

By the time I heard the keys jiggling on the front door, it was around supper time. I was a bit behind with dinner, but I had happily put together the kitchen with much effort. I knew she would appreciate it, but I still felt nervous about the gesture. Laura Hollis made me feel like every day was the first day of my life, and today was no exception. I decided to keep my pace at dinner, hoping to have something in her stomach before she had to go to bed. I was aware that the first few days were going to be a lot of rinse and repeat with Laura in Parliament instead of home.

 

I listened to her shed her formal flats and throw them on the shoe rack I had set up there beside the foyer table where I could hear her keys being dropped with a sigh and the door lock behind her. I could recognize the rustling of fabric as she took off her warm coat and I smiled as my stomach made jumps of anticipation at seeing her smiling face. I had missed her, no doubt and it took me by surprise every time.

 

"Carm? Baby the living room looks-" she started as she walked into view taking in my work but then she turned around to face me.

 

Her smile lit up so much it took my breath away and I couldn't help but chuckle and blush at the feeling like I was a schoolgirl. She drank me with her eyes like someone eyes a cold glass of water in a hot humid day. Her eyes fell to my hands and the precision with which I was taken to task with my chore. It was important to have sharpened knives in the kitchen. I learnt this in France, being good friends with Georges Auguste Escoffier while he created the Nouvelle Cuisine. It was the first thing I had to do before starting the preparations for dinner.

 

Laura's head tilted in an adorable way, I knew this was a sign of thought and I let her process whatever her mouth was about to grace me with. It was as inevitable as dusk and dawn.

 

"You're really good with your hands baby." Laura spoke while walking towards me and I smirked as she blushed.

 

"Why thank you creampuff, I'm glad you noticed after all this time. How many orgasms have there been…eight hundred and-"

 

"Entirely not the point here Carmilla!" Laura chuckled as she wrapped her arms around my waist and embraced me from the back smelling me.

 

I closed my eyes and stilled my movements savouring the contact. Her body finally touching mine in any way was a breath of fresh air in the deep realms of the ocean. Her white blouse was delicate and smelled like her perfume and starch from the dry cleaners but I loved how it snuggly fit her body with the map I had to match it within my mind. The racing this produced of my heart always shocked me as I felt my body throb with the ache of 'missing her' being replaced by the fullness of her presence.

 

"I mean, I've always seen you sharpen knives in Silas, in Toronto and now, here." I could feel her smile on my shoulder as her arms tightened around my waist. "And every time I feel like it's mesmerizing and you could probably hold a webcast on you honing knives all day."

 

Her giggle rung in my ear as a smile widened my lips with it. I loved hearing Laura giggle but I knew what else I heard in her tone; determination. I knew that when my girlfriend would get this idea into her head there was nothing else to do but to buckle up for the ride.

**End Flashback**

 

As I hit the keys of the keyboard I tried re-reading the original email again.

 

The official investigation by the Ottawa Police Department concluded that there were no significant findings at this time to continue the investigation on the case of Laura Hollis and its classification as a suicide. Unless new information is brought forward on a suspected crime, the records will continue to be stored by the Detectives at the Cold Cases Unit of our Department. The Department will communicate with you about any changes that occur after this method of communication you have selected.

 

My mouse lingered over the blue link that read ' unsubscribe '. I wanted to press it and with it restart everything all over again in some kind of cosmic chasm. I had decided to come into work and get some invoicing settled for the work week. I already had everything printed out, shipping materials all taped up and products ready for shipping awaiting transport. It was around 5:00 a.m. and I was ready to call it a night after making the shipping checklists for Perry to help me out when I decided to give my e-mail one last look. It looked to be an automated email, something abundantly impersonal that could be re-used later. The e-mail communications would save a Detective an awkward trip anyways. I didn't know an official account of things when I was there. I didn't want to deal with this right now, I couldn't. So with a press of a button, I shut off the computer before holding my head in my hands knowing I needed a break.

 

**

 

BE SAFE CARMILLA! USE HAND SANITIZER AND DON'T EAT ANYTHING TOO RAW!

-Perry and LaF (Get samples of interesting things)

 

I couldn't help but chuckle at the text message as I read it over and over again. I had already replied but I was happy to have the duo in my life. They reminded me of happier times, times where I felt like I had the world at my feet. I was interrupted about my train of thought when the redhead who had been serving me started approaching me with coffee. The beauty of being nocturnal was that there was always a pot on it seemed. The redhead was tall and reminded me of Danny. The way the freckles adorned her face made her seem more attractive than she really was. I liked her face, but her voice left much to be desired with its pitch. I almost cringed knowing she was about to talk but took care in holding my face in that stoic look I was known for.

 

"Hey, there cutie, more coffee?" the redhead asked obviously interested.

 

"No, thank you just the check." I tried politely.

 

"Oh, don't worry. There was a woman who picked up the tab for you. She said something about paying it forward or something." The waitress admitted and I sat there dumbfounded.

 

I hadn't noticed anyone come and go, or notice me beside the red-headed waitress. Granted I was too into my coffee and self-pity that I hadn't quite looked around at all. Now the small metal and red-leather diner were mostly empty and the red neon gave the tables a glow that was quite a sight. Long ahead I looked at a shrouded figure but upon a second look, I decided that perhaps it was my imagination and a raincoat playing tricks on me for it was there no longer. With this in mind and the knowledge that daylight would be fast approaching, I threw some cash on the table and with a smirk towards the waitress I left.

 

By the time I had found a small motel on the side of the road, it was starting to clear up into the new day. I was cutting it close a lot these days and I wondered deep inside me if I had finally gotten to the point of giving up this cruel existence. The thought plagued me more often than not after Laura, to be honest only the thought of Perry's horror and LaF's heartbreak had held me back most days. However here I was nobody to no one. The anonymity made my thoughts race in a dark direction.

 

I shed my boots off, along with my shirt and pants dropping onto the musty bed in just my underwear. I was tired of driving for roughly 13 hours, but mostly I was tired of moving forward despite your happiness being behind you. The ache in my chest was still ever present from the loss and after so many years I still found myself breathless from grief on most days. I kept telling myself Laura would've wanted me to live a happy life, but what is happiness without her? Yes; I'd pretty much like to be dead now.

 

I cried myself to sleep that dawn like I had so many others and despite my wishes for the contrary, my eyes opened up again into a new night when 4:00 pm rolled around. I took a litre of 'soy milk' out of the arctic cooler LaF had developed for me and polished it for breakfast. I liked to be full before having my coffee when I was out of the workshop. In the workshop, my hands would be busy and coffee would give them a second of delay so my brain could re-evaluate the particular piece I was working on. With that in mind and the long road ahead I wrangled my belongings with haste.

 

I felt the breeze hit my face as my hair flew all around me. I enjoyed the crispness of the night and the sound of my radio as the stars adorned my way. It helped me clear my thoughts but not forget them. It's why I had chosen the long drive instead of the flight. I planned on making the 37-hour drive mostly at night when traffic wasn't unbearable and I could shave time off the schedule. Perks of being a vampire included: night vision, advanced reflexes, super speed, and durability among others. These combined let me speed as fast as I dared when no other vehicles were in danger and the reflexes to know when to tone it down. So far I had taken off about 20 hours from the trip but right now I wasn't in the mood to be vigilant or speed. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to enjoy the moment away from the hustling and bustling of the Toronto lifestyle.

 

Moving back to Toronto had been my idea after the accident. Or what we liked to call an accident. Perry, LaFontaine, Mr. Hollis, and I cringed and spat on the idea that Laura would've ever taken her life in a manner of suicide. The Ottawa Police Department along with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police thought otherwise. I couldn't stand walking about the damn city every day and look at Parliament the same way so I sold everything and took off. Mr. Hollis who had moved to Ottawa to be closer to us had also left, instead deciding to go off the grid and handle his own investigation. I wanted to have the fire for the vigilante work he was now doing but in the end, I knew some part of the truth on the matter so I couldn't simply handle things the same way.

 

When I had arrived in Toronto I just wanted to forget and get away from Ottawa and the horrible memories I had there. I had been saving up to start my own business and workshop but that was a dream I wasn't ready to face. Laura had been a huge fan of living frugally and I respected that by not dipping into the trust fund Mattie and Mother had left to my name. It felt good too, reaching something by your own merit and knowing that Laura had supported me every step of the way it felt even better.

 

The store for which I had worked for in Ottawa selling, sharpening and ultimately building chef knives had been sad to lose me as a worker but they understood. Everyone around us believed my girlfriend had committed suicide so it was only natural I wanted to skip. I wanted to leave the city but I loved working there and the friendships I made with some of them were not ones I would easily forget. I had happily found my calling in that store, something that gave me purpose away from my Mother, being a former vampire and even from Laura. I had worked and learnt something that was all my own, a reflection of what I truly felt and saw deep inside. If I could erase the last 6 months in Ottawa, the time spent there had been my happiest time.



**Flashback**

When I arrived in Toronto it was rough in the beginning and I had struggled to be on my own. I had refused to get rid of Laura's things, even setting them up as if she was still living with me. I was constantly either working from home or out selling my knives when a chef in the city suggested I got a workshop, somewhere where people could come to me instead of me going to them. I had thought about it but my motivation was non-existent after the incident. I had procrastinated for months about the idea until I was quite literally pushed into it.

 

I was half annoyed and mildly impressed that this new client had given me the actual blueprints of the design they wanted. Most people seek my knives because of the craftsmanship and the flair I gave the steel. I tended to use German steel shaped in a Japanese fashion, I had a trademark for comfort but also durability while giving the chef's the versatility to customize various facets of their non-commercial requests. This took customizing to a whole new level. The sole reason why I had agreed to take it on was because of the challenge and the intricacy of building it. I had been commissioned for something different, the buyer wasn't a chef, more of a hunter and I hesitantly agreed after hearing about the blueprints and the design.

 

After about a month of working my regular orders, like the single set, non-customized sets for bigger operations like hotels and working extra for the new project I had finally completed it. I had welcomed the time it kept my mind and hands busy since I couldn't bear to think of anything else, anything recent. Sadly today the buyer and I were to meet for the first time. It was in a well-known part of town for its convenient location central to markets and restaurants. We hadn't met in person for details, only email as the buyer was away for business apparently. This, however, didn't make me nervous, I knew I could now very well face anything I needed to. I would be ready when life decided to surprise me again.

 

Only I wasn't.

 

When I arrived at the premises I realized it was a double unit commercial warehouse with tons of space. One side sounded vacant but the second was occupied. 'The Apothecary and Scientific Solutions' read the sign outside the tinted door as I secured the knife kit underneath my arm and focused on getting the names the buyer had offered me in the electronic correspondence. Once inside I could see the place was massive.

 

The public space had been carved to be a small Apothecary like the ones I remembered in the good ol' days. I could see shelves upon shelves of goodies like herbal teas and frog's legs and more. It seemed they sold in bulk and the small shop and isles were more for browsing and shopping locally. I could see there were signs that instructed to ask for Specialty Items at the counter. Everything was extremely clean and organized. I directed my attention to such counter and noticed a pretty little blonde with blue eyes staring at me from behind the aforementioned counter. My heartfelt the heaviness of the pang of longing as I saw the woman, not because she looked like the source of my misery but because I couldn't even see another woman without thinking of who I had lost. The attendant gave me a practiced smile as she eyed me up and down before licking her lips. I didn't want her to get the wrong idea so I spoke quickly.

 

"Delivery for Mr. Schwartz."

 

"Oh perfect! This is gonna brighten their day!" the blonde bubbled dumbly and I lost all shadow of interest on this woman.

 

"It's night time." I declared throwing her a puzzled look wondering if she was blind.

 

The whole front of the building was decked with windows giving the counter attendant ample time to see who was coming into the business and what their intentions were.

 

"I know that." The blonde assured as she pressed a button on the phone-looking contraption in front of her.

 

I shifted uncomfortably in my leather pants as I grew impatient. I could smell there were more people here and there was something about the other scents throwing me off. I couldn't quite place it but it had my hair standing on edge. I felt like I would turn into a cat any minute now and flee. As I stood there anxiously the blonde's voice poked my senses again.

 

"Someone is here for Mr. Schwartz."

 

That seemed to be all she needed to say because in seconds she had hung up and gave me a polite smile. She excused herself and disappeared behind the door to the left of the counter before I could protest but in her wake appeared someone else that I couldn't quite believe.

 

"He—Hello Carmilla." the woman uttered as I tried to swallow the lump in my throat at her presence, I couldn't quite believe my eyes.

 

"I… hi." I croaked not being able to say anything else as I gripped tightly to what I was holding.

 

Slowly the dread started to seep into me, the sheer panic that I would have to be the one to deliver the news about Laura. I didn't know where to start or even what to say being in front of Perry. I had failed them just like I had failed Laura and myself. I was ashamed and I couldn't quite understand how to express that after all these lifetimes of not feeling such a thing.

 

"I thought I'd be tongue-tied. I almost nearly was when I saw you standing here fangs and all." Perry tried to joke before it turned into a barrage of words. "No offence, of course, we have the utmost respect for you as always."

 

"Thank you" I whispered hoping to not crush her with what would inevitably be said.

 

"Perr, have you told her yet? I'm growing old here and I have vectors to test for the deadline on the MK Project." I could hear LaF's impatient voice before they came into view.

 

The shorter redhead looked exactly like they did in college and it made me wonder if they were the vampire or if it was I. The exception to this was, of course, the fact that they now sported some sort of high tech monocle looking apparatus on her left eye. They regarded me with a smile and a small awkward wave and it reminded me so much of that time that Laura had disappeared in the library that I could understand that they already knew.

 

"I'm thoroughly confused. Told me what?" I asked Perry who was rolling her eyes at La Fontaine.

 

"As you can see some things have not changed since college like LaF's impatience and my lack of tolerance for it. However, there are some things that have… like you being a vampire again and us having a reputable business."

 

Perry had started nervously ranting before she asked me to follow LaF and her behind the counter and through an orange door on the west wall. When I came through I could appreciate the space was much bigger than I had anticipated the second part of the warehouse would be. It was beautiful, an open canvas of sorts, completely perfect in the availability of the space and structure. I could envision a layout with a small shop in the front much like the apothecary next door while a wall made out of a long slab of wood could separate my actual workshop from the store. This place had potential and I so desperately wanted to reach for it and grab it and make myself a bit less miserable in this existence.

 

"We've had this empty space for quite some time now, LaF insisted they could use more space for whatever the 'science' part of our business is but I have to give them some boundaries to follow. You must remember them." Perry smiled as I chuckled and nodded ruffling LaF's hair to much of their protests to Perry's comments.

 

"It's not like it wouldn't go to good use." LaF countered as Perry smiled gently at them.

 

"It'll go to good use now as well love." Perry mentioned lovingly as LaF blushed and I silently longed for Laura.

 

"So why make me build a very detailed knife to show me this place? Why not just call me up?" I asked shrugging as LaF gaped at me.

 

"Well, I had come to understand that you were a vampire again, had to take precautions… there were rumours of a giant black animal going on a killing spree of hikers near Kingston around the time when-"

 

"La Fontaine that's enough!" Perry chided with force as LaF held their tongue giving me a 'had to do it' look.

 

"It's alright Perry, you're both right to ask." I admitted nodding as I walked about the empty space. "I wished that I could tell you otherwise, I really want the space… but the reality is that it was indeed I who did what I did in Kingston."

 

Perry shook her head giving me a sympathetic look as she reached for my hand. I let her take it, feeling somehow connected to what I had lost. Before I knew it tears were falling down my face and Perry had pulled me against her shoulder.

 

"We need to stick together darling, Laura would've wanted that."

 

With that, I had space to myself and the company of dearest friends.

 

**End Flashback**



I didn't know why I bothered with human establishments, but in reality, they were a guilty pleasure. The people watching would take off my mind from heavier things. I had pulled into this small town motel and diner moments before dawn and went to bed. I woke up around 4:00 pm and through the completely tinted lone window of the room, I could see the beautiful scenery outside. I had chosen the room for this reason. After my regression to vampirism, daylight was more damaging towards me than ever.

 

I had my own coffee maker and to my delight, it was a smoking room. With much giddiness, I brewed a pot of my favourite morning liquid and as I counted the drips I reached for a small black bag in my duffel bag. I intended to come back refreshed from this trip and with the beautiful view from this window I couldn't think of a better time to get down to business.

 

I opened the bag meant for makeup slowly, careful to not tousle the contents too much. Once open I pulled out a small torch lighter, a red vampire fanged circular metal piece and a slab of papers. With a steady hand, I reached for the vacuum sealed dispensary bag and opened the lid of the metal grinder before placing a couple of bright green and orange nuggets inside. I found myself humming at the practice and was pleasantly surprised at my good mood. I moved my hands diligently to prepare the ground buds and toss them into the almost translucent paper. With a skill mastered long ago in France, I twisted and twirled the paper until I had a perfectly shaped cigarette looking joint in my hands.

 

With my masterpiece steadily held behind my ear, I went and prepared my coffee just the way I liked it. When I sat back down on the window I took the first sip with a smile before putting my mug down and placing the smooth rolled paper on my lips and lighting it up. As I inhaled the first hit I could instantly taste the coffee lingering on my tongue better, I could hear across the glass to where the cold breeze threatened with the chill of possible ice or snow, I could see the rays of the fading sun creating rainbows across the landscape. Beside my heightened senses, I could feel my body relaxing with every hit as I sank into the seat enjoying the scenery.

 

The crisp brightness of the autumn landscape was my favourite, but here it was almost downright magical. This was the last town before hitting the resort I was meeting the chef in, which was about an hour and a half away. I could certainly see why with how beautiful the wilderness was here. The mountains in the backdrop of the town were coated with a dusting of snow, the gray stone a stark contrast with the red, orange, maroon, yellow and pink trees all around. It was that magical time between seasons where you could feel the cold coming.

 

As I finished my morning, the sun completely ducked down behind the mountains, making way for the night that eagerly awaited me. I decided to take a shower and literally hunt down some breakfast before heading to see where the resort I was delivering it was. I had agreed with the chef to meet them tomorrow night but I liked to be prepared and scope out the routes in and out to where I was going. Secretly I was also hoping to be able to take off for a bit and let the wilder of my sides out. For now, the shower was warm awaiting me.



**Beast**

I could smell the musk of the earth damp with the coldness of the night as the leaves and twigs cracked underneath my weight. I was down with my belly touching the ground as I had followed the scent of blood up a crackling stream. My keen sense of smell was making me salivate even though I was very aware that the blood was an animal's. I could faintly tell there was something else with the bloodied animal but the frenzy the blood created clouded my judgement. So much so, that I was keenly aware that dawn was coming soon but I couldn't turn off the prey drive commanding me to stalk and taste this morsel. After a few more minutes of trekking, I could realize with excitement that I was close enough to sprint to my destination.

 

When I hit the clearing the streams sounds became stronger but I could care less as I made a beeline to the animal carcass that laid there. I savagely pulled on muscle and meat after pulling on fur and skin with my big powerful jaws. I suddenly heard a gasp behind me and I turned around towards the sound. My teeth bare, blood and saliva falling from my jaws undoubtedly making me look more ferocious than I meant to. This was instinct taking over; the overwhelming desire to protect my food was animal enough to leave me no choice.

 

The hunter now in front of me was elbow deep in blood from the elk I had been polishing off, a knife was held protectively between us as they adopted a fight vs flight stance. I could tell the small hunter was experienced despite their stature. I had learnt to not underestimate hunters with the passage of time. The brown hiking leather boots made the leaves and twigs underneath it crunch with the shift of the small hunter's weight as they jabbed at the air in defensive motions. The layers upon layers of clothing combined with the burka and scarf made the animal in me weary as my lip curled into a snarl in warning while a growl resounded from my chest. She lunged in reflex and so did I biting her hand making her drop the weapon. I jumped back instantly regretting it and when our eyes connected the growl that had been deep within my chest died as I let out a whimper from the pits of my stomach. The burning amber colour made my heart wrench in pain even in this form, these eyes reminded me of a love long lost to my existence human or animal. I was overcome with such grief and pain that I took off running in the direction I had come from as inexplicably in the distance I could hear the hunter's muffled call out for me. It couldn't be Laura. I repeated to myself trying to beat the sun.