Here are the things Laura brings with her on the run:
- A handful of t-shirts from the her laundry hamper and two pairs of jeans. She dumps her entire underwear drawer into the duffel. She might be running away from Carmilla's evil vampire mother, but she's not going to do it in dirty underwear.
- All the snacks she's been hoarding. Even if Carmilla's not going to eat it, Laura still needs sustenance. Plus, she bought those fancy cookies at the supermarket yesterday, and she's not going to let them go to waste.
- Her passport and all the cash she has on hand.
- A thermos of tea.
- Her laptop and a notebook.
Sorry Dad, she writes on a sheet of ripped notebook paper, and runs out of things to say after that. She places it in the center of her desk, using the TARDIS mug as a paperweight.
Here are the things Carmilla brings with her on the run:
- The container of blood in the fridge.
- All the clothes in her closet.
- A second pair of boots.
- Laura's yellow pillow.
- Three murder mystery novels.
"Are you ready?" she asks Laura, swinging her bag over one shoulder.
Laura swallows nervously, nods. She hefts her own bag. "Ready."
The last time Laura ran away, she was ten and all she took with her were books and a ham sandwich. It's a little different running away as an adult.
They wait until the corridor's quiet. Carmilla hovers by the door, unmoving, like one of those creepy street performers with the metallic paint that pretend to be statues (Laura hates those). Only the faintest flicker of her eyelashes tell Laura she's alert. Laura wills her heartbeat to slow, tries to calm her furious pulse by mentally talking herself down. She's only going with Carmilla to make sure Carmilla doesn't attack strangers. She's going to save Carmilla from herself. When it stops, when it dies down, they can come back to Silas. That's the only reason she's going at all.
Carmilla opens the door, and offers Laura her hand.
Laura takes it, and Carmilla pulls her up.
It takes them twenty minutes to make it off-campus. They have to wind their way through the woods bordering the edge of the university. Carmilla tugs Laura along, through paths of bramble and dense patches of branches. Carmilla's grip is iron-strong, and Laura has to run to keep up. They emerge onto a quiet residential street, the houses shuttered and dark for the night, and the sidewalks empty.
Laura's face stings. She touches her cheek gingerly, and her fingers come back dark with blood. She scrubs at herself with her knuckles.
"I -- " she starts, unsure of what to say when Carmilla glances at her.
Carmilla lifts her wrist and studies her red-streaked knuckles beneath the orange glow of a streetlight. She lowers her head and licks the blood off, her tongue a warm shock against Laura's skin. It sends a hot shiver through Laura, and she snatches her hand back.
"What? You were going to waste it otherwise," Carmilla says.
"Don't -- don't do that," Laura says, her voice sounding small and breathless.
Carmilla shrugs. "Fine. Come on."
She hot wires a car while Laura looks nervously on. Laura can't help but lecture Carmilla quietly, in a quick and annoyed whisper about stealing and morals and karma. It's wrong. It doesn't matter that they need a getaway vehicle -- it's still wrong and she wants Carmilla to know that she isn't condoning this by agreeing to get in it with her. Carmilla ignores all of it until she's done, the engine coming alive beneath her hands. She opens the passenger side door for Laura with a mocking smile.
"Shut up," Laura says, blushing, and gets in.
"Madam," Carmilla says slowly, sarcastically, and backs them out of the driveway.
"You should sleep," Carmilla says.
She cracks open a back window and Laura leans back in her seat, listening to the sound of the wind. She falls asleep like that, and dreams of nothing.
It's early when she wakes up, predawn light just touching the edges of the horizon. Laura tries to roll the crick out of her neck. Carmilla's bite mark is scabbing over. Laura strokes it idly with the pad of her forefinger, and pulls herself up to look out the window. They're parked on the side of a deserted stretch of road, cornfields going on and on. Carmilla's sitting on the hood of the car. Laura scrambles out.
"You're up," Carmilla says. She's smoking. Laura sees the glow of the cigarette when Carmilla inhales.
Laura climbs onto the hood, and Carmilla moves to make room. "I didn't know vampires could smoke."
"We can do a lot of things," Carmilla says, shrugging.
"Are we still in Styria?" Laura asks.
Carmilla offers Laura the cigarette. Laura hesitates for a second, and before she can decide otherwise, she takes it. She holds it like she's seen people do in movies, puts her lips around the end and sucks in. Smoke catches in her lungs and sears the back of her throat. She bends over, coughing. Carmilla plucks the cigarette away, and gives Laura two rough thumps on the back.
"I should've known you hadn't smoked before," Carmilla sighs. She takes one last drag, and tosses the butt into the road. "No," she says after a pause. "We've left."
Laura's never left Styria before. In her entire life. She rubs her arms, suddenly cold. Carmilla slides out of her leather jacket and drapes it around Laura's shoulders.
"Humans are so frail," she says in a slow drawl, avoiding Laura's eyes.
"This frail human thanks you," Laura says.
(She tucks her face into the collar when Carmilla takes out her phone. It smells like rust and smoke.)
Day 1, Laura writes in her notebook, Ran away with a vampire. Probably the start of a terrible YA novel.
She considers writing more, but she's not sure there's much else to say. That sums it up.
Laura takes the daylight shift. Carmilla sleeps in the passenger seat, her face hidden in a deep hoodie. She sleeps for hours and doesn't even stir when Laura drapes a blanket over her and drives them through a McDonald's drivethrough. Laura listens to miles and miles of talk shows and top 40, changing stations whenever the old one starts to get fuzzy. She drives until her body aches from sitting too long and her vision starts to blur at the corners.
She spends at least an hour wondering what Danny's doing, and how she's reacting to Laura's disappearance. She spends another hour imagining their reunion.
"You're thinking about that giant lit TA, aren't you?" Carmilla asks through a thick yawn. She sits up, her dark hair tousled. She shakes her head, and the curls settle around her face. "I can see it on your face. You're mooning."
Laura opens her mouth to argue, and shuts it again. "I'm -- I was just wondering what people back at Silas are thinking."
"Probably that I kidnapped you," Carmilla says immediately. "They're not wrong."
"What? You didn't kidnap me. I wanted to come."
Carmilla gives a bark of laughter. "You only came because you think I'm gonna go on some murder spree. You would never have come with me otherwise."
"No," Laura protests unconvincingly. "I would never."
"Hey sweetheart, you can protest all you like, but I'm not a goldfish. You tied me to a chair because you thought I was kidnapping girls."
"I wasn't wrong either," Laura snaps.
"No," Carmilla says after a beat.
Day 5, Laura writes, Driving is boring and Carmilla hates Taylor Swift, the smell of my gum, and possibly joy.
Carmilla checks them into a motel on the edge of town (any town, some town, it doesn't seem to matter). It's rundown and Laura swears there's black mold on the ceiling, but she shuts up when Carmilla says she needs to eat, and unless Laura's volunteering, she's going to have to find some fresh blood. She leaves while Laura's taking a hot shower in flip-flops. Laura eats a dinner comprised of items from the vending machine and watches staticky TV while waiting for her hair to dry. She's about to go to sleep when Carmilla returns, looking better than she has in days.
"I thought you'd be out later," Laura says, sliding beneath the sheets.
Carmilla shuts the door behind her with one foot, and flops down on the other bed. "Town's small. Can't be too obvious while I'm out."
"But you found something."
"Yeah," Carmilla says, and wipes a small smudge of red from the corner of her mouth.
Laura shudders and curls up in bed. The healing puncture wound on her neck gives a sudden throb. She puts a hand to it, unthinking.
"Relax," Carmilla says. "I'm not going to eat you."
"It hurts," Laura says. "Thanks to you."
Carmilla crosses to her and sits down at the edge of the bed. She pulls Laura's hand away from the wound, brushes Laura's hair back. Her eyes are very dark in the dim light, and her fingers are cool, her touch gentle. Laura hears her own breathing, just a little too fast, as Carmilla examines the mark.
"It'll heal," Carmilla says finally, and pulls the sheet a little further up Laura's body. "Go to sleep, cutie."
Laura shuts her eyes tight. Doesn't open them again until morning.
Laura's first self-defense class is at age six. Her dad signs her up for karate. She ends up sobbing over a broken arm three weeks in, and she can't do anything that summer -- not swim at the lake with her cousins or go on the big camping trip her dad promised. (He still gets her the bear spray though.)
None of her self-defense classes have ever told her what to do when she's running away with a vampire. What if Carmilla gets peckish in the middle of the night? Should Laura rub garlic cloves against her skin before she goes to sleep? Douse herself in holy water?
"You really think you're that irresistible?" Carmilla snorts, when Laura comes back from a supermarket with five heads of garlic.
"I have blood, don't I?" But Carmilla gives her such a distasteful look that Laura tucks the garlic back in the plastic shopping bag. She's lasted this long, and Carmilla hasn't killed her yet.
"I don't eat everything that moves."
Laura rolls her eyes. "Oh, you have a discriminating palate."
"People taste different," Carmilla says.
Which is kind of horrifying to think about, actually. But also -- really? Not that Laura's thought about it.
"Your blood's sweet," Carmilla continues.
Laura clears her throat softly. "So I'm dessert."
"I'm a good girl. I eat my dinner first," Carmilla says.
Laura's about to say something about being a rebel or living a little, but oh my god, is she actually encouraging Carmilla to drink her blood? She must be insane. Instead she goes opens her suitcase and starts refolding her clothes, sorting through the t-shirts and pairs of underwear, trying to decide if she needs to do laundry or not.
"I see your mom did something right," Laura mumbles.
Carmilla's face goes carefully blank.
Day 17, Laura scribbles while Carmilla pumps gas, Wish I had the foresight to bring some audiobooks.
Being on the run is way less romantic than it looks in movies.
Not that -- romantic isn't the right word for it -- Laura doesn't mean romantic romantic. She means romantic in a totally platonic way, if that makes any sense. Because, look, Carmilla's a vampire. Yeah, she's a really hot vampire, no one can dispute that. Laura has eyes, even with Carmilla parading those study partners around. She's got those leather pants and the corsets and that mouth, but, you know, fangs in that mouth, which doesn't exactly do it for Laura.
The point is -- being on the run kind of sucks, actually. It's stressful and gross and Carmilla's broody all the time. Laura tries to alleviate some of the tension in the car with a running commentary on the scenery, but there's only so much she can say before she's run out of "interesting trees" to look at.
"Do you ever wish you weren't a vampire?" Laura asks, three weeks into their impromptu roadtrip. They're lounging, fully-dressed, by the side of a motel pool. It's cold and dark and there are dead leaves floating on the water's surface, but they don't care.
Carmilla tilts her head back, baring her neck and the strip of pale skin there. Laura stares at it for a second too long. "If I weren't a vampire, I'd be dead."
"So you're glad you're a vampire."
"No, I didn't say that."
Laura burrows a little deeper in her hoodie.
"I don't know," Carmilla continues. "It's not that simple. I don't -- " She worries her bottom lip, drops her gaze down to her feet.
"I'm sorry," Laura says quietly.
"It will be," Laura says, not sure of it at all. She reaches across and touches Carmilla's hand, tentative.
Carmilla turns her hand up, and Laura rests the tips of two fingers against Carmilla's palm. She wonders what she'd feel if she touched Carmilla's pulsepoint, at her wrist. Would there be nothing? Or a phantom heartbeat?
"Okay." Carmilla closes her eyes. She looks tired.
Laura doesn't move. "Okay," she says, and leaves her hand right where it is.
Here are all the ways Laura's thought about getting in contact with everyone back home:
- Email. Dumb, obviously.
- Text message or phone call. Even dumber. She's had her phone off for ages now.
- Another YouTube video, which seems like the dumbest. Yeah, sure, why not broadcast to the whole internet that she's run away with a vampire?
- Teleportation. She's not having much luck with that one.
- Carrier pigeon. A last resort.
She decides to count this as her semester abroad. At least she's learning a lot about covering her tracks. She can probably talk the registrar into giving her two credits for that, at least.
"If you could go anywhere," Carmilla says, her eyes steady on the road, "where would you go?"
Laura considers. "I've always wanted to see the ocean. My dad -- he thought it was too dangerous to go. He kept saying we'd do it when I was older."
"You've never seen the ocean?"
"I've never left Styria." The until now part of the sentence doesn't need to be said. It hangs between them, filling up the silence.
Carmilla flicks on the turn signal, changes lanes. "I'll take you. And I promise to save you if a seagull gets too close. Your dad can rest easy."
Thinking about her dad makes something catch in Laura's throat. She turns away from Carmilla. She wonders just how freaked out he must be. Carmilla reaches over after a second, takes Laura's hand in hers. She squeezes it twice. Laura breathes evenly to temper her surprise, and her heartbeat pulses at her neck.
"You know," she says after she's gotten her voice under control. "I've never been to Paris either."
"Don't push your luck," Carmilla says.
Day 26, Laura chews on the end of her pen, Carmilla made me dine and dash yesterday. Now officially a morally corrupt person.
Laura learns that Carmilla has crazy weird stories -- like presidential assassination weird. That she doesn't like animals because they get aggressive and skittish around her (point animals, Laura thinks). Carmilla likes to watch the sunset, wrapped up in protective coverings so the light doesn't make her skin break out. That she reads. A lot. Indiscriminately. That she likes to go to the movies, and that she's good at getting in without paying (she's good at getting a lot of things without paying).
She thinks True Blood went on for way too long, and she lost interest in The Vampire Diaries after season two.
Laura also learns the way Carmilla looks when she's hungry, the way her eyes go slightly feral, and how her stance is just a little too rigid to be right. But she doesn't bite Laura. Not once. Well, aside from that first time. She buys a cooler instead, and raids a blood drive, and happily sucks down a packet of A negative while Laura drives them away from the scene of the crime. A crime she didn't even know they were committing until Carmilla barreled into the passenger seat, gleeful, urging Laura to slam on the gas. It's the last time she lets Carmilla talk her into anything. ("Drive around the corner!" she had said to Laura, "I just have to pick something up!")
"If we get arrested -- " Laura starts.
"Chill out, cupcake. I'll bite the police officer for you," Carmilla grins. It's bloody. Laura looks away.
Laura switches on the radio, changing through stations to find something. "You're a messy eater. It's disgusting."
"Yeah, and I can be even messier when I'm eating out -- "
"Oh my god, stop!" Laura yelps.
"What's wrong with eating out? You don't like going out to eat?"
"That is not what you meant."
Carmilla sucks blood off her thumb. "What did I mean?"
"You meant," Laura blushes. "You meant…"
"Jesus Christ, if you can't even say it, how can you do it?"
"Not that it's any of your business, but I can do it just fine."
"I've never gotten any complaints," Laura says firmly.
Carmilla yawns. "Low bar."
"Just because some of us don't practice as much as you do -- "
"Don't slutshame me. That's rude. I thought you were all about girl solidarity or whatever."
"Human girls," Laura says. "I'm in solidarity with the human girls that you've been 'studying' with."
"What can I say, I got an A in anatomy."
Laura stifles a laugh. Carmilla puts away the empty blood pouch and stretches, unfurling her limbs like a cat in sunlight. She gives Laura a sideways glance, and leans in close, her face inches from Laura's. Laura jerks the car a little, swerving, and quickly steadies it.
"What are you doing?" she asks, suddenly nervous and too warm.
Carmilla touches Laura's cheek with the pad of her thumb, stroking lightly against the ridge of Laura's cheekbone. "Eyelash," she says, and pulls away, holding her hand out for Laura to see. "Make a wish."
Laura tries to think of something about running and her dad and Silas. But all she can think about is Carmilla in front of her -- Carmilla for all the past weeks and all the future ones to come. She can still feel Carmilla's touch long afterwards, ghosting over her skin.
Carmilla sleeps completely still, curled up on herself in the passenger seat of the car, under piles of blankets and jackets. She sleeps like the dead, which Laura supposes she technically is, but it still freaks her out. She's sort of adjusted by now. Laura's learned that she can play music at top volume, sing to herself, listen to podcasts, and Carmilla will never wake up before sunset. Laura's gotten through most of the hits of the early 2000s that way. Cheaper than a karaoke bar.
So when Carmilla bolts upright, in the middle of the afternoon, Laura nearly drives them off the road.
"Are you okay?" she asks, alarmed.
Carmilla gasps, looking dazed. The sunlight's already burning her skin. Laura can see the telltale red rash spreading across her bare arms. Carmilla drags a blanket over her head. Laura pulls over as soon as she can. It's an empty stretch of road, and Laura nudges the car forward until it's shaded beneath a copse of trees. Carmilla hunches over in her seat, clutching the door handle hard. Laura gingerly rests a hand on Carmilla's back, rubbing what she hopes are comforting circles.
"Nightmare," Carmilla says, muffled by the blanket. "I'm fine."
Laura tugs the fabric from Carmilla's face, smoothing down flyaway strands of her hair. "Hey. What was it?"
"Nothing," Carmilla snarls, yanking the blanket from Laura's hands.
"I'm just -- " Laura reels back.
She can hear Carmilla breathing, ragged and unsteady. It fills up the whole car, and it lodges deep in Laura's chest, how it feels like fear, deep and dark and tangible. She reaches across again, stroking Carmilla's hair, gently raking her fingers through. Laura rubs her thumb against the back of Carmilla's neck, and Carmilla seems to relax into it. Her grip loosens on the blanket.
"Sorry," she says finally, voice hoarse.
Carmilla shuts her eyes. "My mother. Reliving less pleasant days."
They haven't talked much about the dean. Laura supposes she doesn't want to jinx things, summon Carmilla's mother accidentally just by saying her name. It's totally weird, but it makes her feel like she finally understands the whole You-Know-Who, Voldemort thing. Not that she has any proof that the dean has supersonic hearing or anything -- actually, don't bats have really good hearing? No, she's not going down that road. It's just going to make things worse.
Laura draws her hand back a little, letting it rest on Carmilla's shoulder.
"Thank you," Carmilla says, her eyes fluttering open. "That was nice." She turns her head and presses her lips to Laura's fingers, a soft kiss that makes Laura's skin tingle.
"Yeah, anytime," Laura mumbles.
"We should probably keep going," Carmilla says.
Laura starts a little. "Right. Yeah. Okay."
She throws the car back into drive, and pulls away from the roadside. A vampire, she tells herself, Carmilla's still a vampire. Nothing has changed at all.
Day 41, Laura writes, huddled on the toilet in a motel bathroom, I think I want to kiss Carmilla. I think I've lost my goddamn mind.
Here are the reasons why it's a bad idea for Laura to kiss Carmilla:
- She's a vampire.
- She's a vampire.
- Has Laura mentioned that Carmilla's a vampire?
- Laura's always been a little bit scared of blood. Not in a debilitating way. But, no one really likes having their blood drawn, right?
- Carmilla's still a fucking vampire.
"Hi, my name's Laura Hollis, and I have a crush on my vampire roommate who I've run away with," Laura says to her reflection in the bathroom mirror, the water running.
She makes a face at herself, and goes back to brushing her teeth.
Sometimes Laura thinks she should have stayed at Silas. If she had stayed, her life would probably be normal now. She'd be with Danny -- tall, adorable Danny and the way she flirts with Laura during class, and Laura feels that delicious thrill of doing something she's not supposed to. Laura would be doing homework, calling her dad, living an otherwise unremarkable life. Instead she's holed up in a motel room with Carmilla, watching an old horror movie, and eating microwave popcorn.
Carmilla doesn't eat regular food often or much. It's not like she needs to. Sometimes she'll snag a piece of candy from Laura's stash. Occasionally she'll order pancakes at a diner with Laura so not to look suspicious. Tonight she's sitting next to Laura on the bed, sharing in the popcorn. She likes to take each piece and dip it into the jar of Nutella in her lap. Laura watches her carefully lick the Nutella off the popcorn, and then eat the kernel. The whole process can take a good minute to complete, and Laura's fascinated by it. She's missed half the movie because she's been staring at Carmilla's mouth.
"Don't look so grossed out. It's good," Carmilla says. She offers Laura a Nutella-covered piece.
Laura reaches out for it, and Carmilla grins, pulling back. "Open up," she says, and her look is challenging. Like she expects Laura to refuse.
There's no way she's giving Carmilla the satisfaction. Laura leans forward and opens her mouth, keeping her eyes locked on Carmilla's face. Carmilla laughs a little, and places the kernel on Laura's tongue. She brushes Laura's bottom lip with her chocolate-stained thumb. Her smile shows just the glint of a fang, like some sort of animal, wild and untamed.
Laura closes her mouth, chews. "It's good," she says, swallowing.
"Cool," Carmilla says, smirking, and goes back to the movie.
It's the 53rd day. Laura's written the heading in her journal, propped up against her knees while she waits for Carmilla to fill the gas tank. The sky's overcast, gray and cold, and Carmilla leans against the side of the car, one hand on the pump, humming something off-tune. Laura can hear her through the open window. She toys with her pen and thinks about what to write. It's been unremarkable so far. They've spent the last week in the same town -- and as much as Laura knows it's smart to leave, she still goaded Carmilla into an argument this morning. She misses almost everything about Silas, even the exams.
The gas pump clicks. Laura draws a spiral in the corner of the page.
"I'm going in to buy cigarettes," Carmilla says, tapping on the roof of the car.
Laura watches her go, her sure steps, bundled up in her coat. She looks small when she disappears through the doors of the mini-mart.
Argued this morning like a married couple with 40 years of regret, Laura writes in careful script. I'm tired of running and I'm tired of being tired and I just want my bed.
Carmilla comes back clutching a plastic bag. She gets in the driver's side and throws the bag into Laura's lap, making Laura accidentally draw a squiggle going off the page.
"What the -- " she exclaims.
"You ran out yesterday," Carmilla says, fixing the rearview mirror.
Laura pulls out a bag of salt and vinegar chips. She sits for a second, clutching it between her hands. "...thank you."
"Yeah." Carmilla starts the engine. "You're welcome."
She doesn't even look at Laura -- says it so casually -- and Laura remembers mildly saying something about running out yesterday. Right before she got into the shower. Carmilla was deep in a John Grisham novel she found in the motel lobby, and didn't acknowledge a word.
Laura puts a hand on Carmilla's shoulder. She's not really intending for anything to happen, just to say thank you again, and to mean it, but Carmilla turns her head at just the right moment, at the precise angle, and Laura finds herself pressing in.
She kisses Carmilla.
It's messy, imperfect. Carmilla's hand's on the gearshift, trapped between them, and Laura's distantly aware that she's still holding the bag of chips. Carmilla's mouth is cool against her own. It's an odd sensation, like kissing something Laura isn't exactly sure is real. Which, sure, she's kissing a supernatural creature and the undead; there are bound to be a few differences. But mostly -- Carmilla isn't kissing her back, and Laura breaks away in a violent jerk, panicked.
"I'm sorry -- " she gets out, tripping on the words, flustered.
Carmilla turns her face back and kisses her again, stopping Laura's sentence with her lips. It's warm and long, and so sharp with something that Laura can almost taste it. There's a desperation to it, honed and biting, and Laura lets out a surprised gasp that Carmilla swallows. She pulls Laura close, as close as they can be with their seatbelts in the way. Her hand finds its way beneath Laura's jawline, her thumb tracing the bone as she licks into Laura's mouth. Laura's head's getting fuzzier the more she clings to Carmilla, the air in the car growing hot.
"Are you okay?" Carmilla asks, pulling back just a fraction, breathless. She rests her forehead against Laura's.
"Mmm," Laura mumbles, not trusting herself to speak. "Oh," she whispers after a second. "I can hear your heartbeat. I didn't realize you had one."
"A heart?" Carmilla says, but it's only a tiny bit bitter.
Laura slides a finger beneath the collar of Carmilla's shirt. Carmilla draws in a quick, sharp breath and Laura likes the delicious thrill that goes through her. "Kind of, yeah. I don't know. You're...a vampire. I wasn't sure what the rules were."
"Well, vampires bleed. And you do have to stake us. Just so you know." Carmilla softens the words with quick kiss, pressed to the side of Laura's mouth.
Laura pushes Carmilla's hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. Carmilla's gaze is soft, and Laura thinks she may like that more than anything. "Noted," she says, drawing herself closer, her stomach twisting up as she leans in to kiss Carmilla again.
"Laura," Carmilla laughs. "Hey. Believe me. I want to. But -- I think we should maybe pull out of this gas station."
Oh. Right. "Um. Yeah. Um." Laura pulls away, licks her lips. "That's probably a good idea."
Carmilla merges them back onto the highway. It starts to rain -- a slow, unsteady drizzle. Carmilla flicks the windshield wipers on and off with a practiced hand. Laura presses a hand to her chest, waiting for her heartbeat to slow, until she can breathe like a normal person again.
"So salt and vinegar chips really do it for you?" All she can hear is the smug grin in Carmilla's voice. Usually it would drive Laura crazy, but now it's...well, it's kind of hot. Circumstantial, obviously.
Laura blushes, but she sits up straight and leans over to fiddle with the radio dial. "Yeah," she says, "I guess they do."
Miles later, it occurs to her --
"You said my name."
Carmilla squints at a highway sign. "Of course I did."
"You never say my name."
"It felt right," Carmilla says.
Laura isn't quite sure what she means by that, but it sounds good all the same. She folds her hand over Carmilla's on the gearshift.
When she glances over, Carmilla's smiling.
"The blood-sucking thing's non-negotiable, right?"
"I'm a vampire," Carmilla says.
Worth a shot.
Day 72, Laura writes, trying to keep the pages of her journal down despite the wind.
"You're missing it," Carmilla says, walking back up towards her. Her hands are stuffed in the pockets of her jacket, and her cheeks are pink with cold. She's bundled up more than usual, all so she can emerge in daylight to bring Laura here.
Laura shakes her head, laughing. "It's the ocean. It's not going anywhere. Even I know that."
"Yeah, but you've never seen it, and you're writing in your book. Come on. Experience it." Carmilla offers Laura her hand. "I drove us all the way out here just for you, cutie."
Laura eyes it for half a second before taking it, letting Carmilla pull her to her feet. She sinks a tiny bit into the sand. In the distance, the surf crashes against the shore, the waves foaming. Carmilla wraps an arm around Laura's waist, pressing her face against Laura's hair.
"You smell like the sea," she says, her voice muffled.
"That's impossible. I've never been here until today."
"I know," Carmilla says. "But you do."
Laura tucks herself into Carmilla the way she likes, the way that's new and wonderful and makes her feel like there's something exploding in her chest whenever she does it. She rests her head on Carmilla's shoulder, and Carmilla pulls her in, the two of them huddled together.
"It's not really the right season for it," Carmilla says. "You have to come in the summer."
Laura stares out at the steel-gray waters, the wintry shade of the sky. "It's perfect," she says.
Here are the reasons Laura ran away:
And here are the reasons she stayed:
And here are the reasons, why, it might not be the worst idea she's ever had: