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Three am is a time for sleeping.
A time to escape from the harsh reality that is midterm papers, exams, ten page essays and web vlogs.
Not a time to be doing laundry.
That’s what Laura tells herself as she drowsily makes her way to her dorms laundry room, a blue basket filled with dirty clothes on her hands. She was supposed to do her laundry during the day, but she had papers to do and weird occurrences to report. The university quad was glowing pink and there was a weird cloud hovering above it, and that’s more important than dirty clothes. She only remembered it at around 1am, when she realized that she has nothing to wear as all of her pajamas were stained with cocoa.
Laura opens the door and steps inside the empty room. She goes straight to the washer in the middle and puts her basket down. She hums Taylor Swift’s I Know Places as she separates her whites from the darks. When all of her garments are color separated, Laura stands up and pats her pockets for her student card.
Laura groans, of course she would forget it in her room, which is on the other side of the building. She looks around her empty surroundings and shrugs. The only advantage to be doing laundry in the dead of the night is that she’s alone. She can leave without the need to worry about other students stealing her socks. She quickly walks to her room and grabs her card, then makes a dash back. Once she reaches the laundry room she opens the door and stops on her tracks.
She isn’t alone anymore.
There on the washer next to her basket is third year philosophy major Carmilla Karnstein, wearing a black muscle tee, with black pants, and those black boots. Along with her perfect hair and eyeliner. Seriously? Laura shakes her head. Who the heck looks that good at three in the morning?
Laura watches as Carmilla loads her clothes in the washer. She must have noticed that she’s not alone as she turns around and sees Laura by the door. She raises her eyebrow and smirks, making Laura blush. Laura nods in acknowledgment and slowly makes her way to her own washer.
The two of them work in silence for a while, the only sounds that can be heard are the whirring of the machines and Laura’s breathing. Laura sneaks glances at Carmilla, who’s reading a philosophy book as she absent mindedly throws her clothes in. Her eyes drift down to Carmilla’s washer and her breath stops. There on the cluster of blacks is something pink, something pink and oddly familiar.
It’s Laura’s polka dot underwear.
Her eyes widen and she glances at Carmilla, whose gaze is still fixed on her book. How it got there Laura doesn’t know, and she’s too busy formulating a plan on how to snatch the thing before Carmilla notices.
Laura leans forward slowly, her heart hammering. If she’s quiet maybe she can grab her underwear without Carmilla seeing…
Carmilla’s voice makes Laura snap back to her original position. Her hands are clenched around her blue button down as she watches Carmilla extract the pink garment from the washer. Carmilla tilts her head and furrows her brows. If Laura wasn’t on the verge of exploding from embarrassment she would have found it cute.
“This isn’t mine.” Carmilla says, holding the underwear in front of her. Laura couldn’t take it anymore, she snatches the garment from Carmilla’s hands, making the older girl jump, then she throws it on her washer and slams it shut.
“I-erm, uh, it’s mine.” Laura states, her face red. Carmilla raises her brow and doesn’t say anything.
“Don’t worry.” Laura quickly adds, scratching the back of her neck. “It’s not used. I just bought it. I mean I’m not a big fan of polka dots but it was 50% off, and underwear is expensive and hey you don’t see underwear going 50% every day and I’m going to shut up now.”
Carmilla still doesn’t say anything, she’s just gazing at Laura with an amused expression. Laura holds up the blue button down that she’s been holding and hides her face behind it. She wants nothing more than the ground to open up and swallow her whole because it would honestly be better than embarrassing herself some more in front of Carmilla.
She hears Carmilla chuckle and she lowers her shirt to look at her. Carmilla’s still looking at her with that smirk that makes Laura melt.
“I kinda find you adorable right now.” Carmilla says, tilting her head.
“I kinda want to jump off a cliff right now.” Laura deadpans, making Carmilla laugh.
“Please don’t. I don’t even know your name yet. I don’t want to remember you as ‘The girl with the polka dot underwear’.”
Laura laughs and she feels her embarrassment fading away. She bites her lip and looks at Carmilla.
Laura smiles and nods. She turns towards her washer and rotates the switch, adjusting the water temperature to her preferred settings. The machine whirrs to life, vibrating a little.
“So.” Carmilla says as she starts her own machine. “We’re going to be here a while. Why don’t you tell me more about yourself?”
Laura sees Carmilla a week later.
She’s at the laundry room again at three am and she can barely keep her eyes open. Her Sociology professor decided to move the deadline of their paper in the morning and Laura spent all night cramming on it. She was exhausted, mentally and physically. She didn’t even want to do her laundry, the only thing that motivated her to go is the thought of seeing Carmilla again. But as Laura stepped into the room and saw the empty surroundings, her shoulders slumped in disappointment.
After ten minutes of just standing around, Laura loads her clothes in the washer. Why was she even waiting for her anyway, it’s not like I have a crush on her or anything. She finishes loading and fiddles with the switches, turning the machine on.
Still no Carmilla.
Laura sighs and leans forward the washer. She rests her head on top of it as she waits for her clothes to finish washing. Maybe she can doze off for a bit…
“Hey!” A familiar voice wakes Laura, she stands up and looks behind her, it’s Carmilla, a basket of clothes in her arms.
“You okay?” She asks, her brows furrowing. Laura nods and runs a hand over her hair. “Yeah,” she mumbles. “Just tired.”
Carmilla makes her way to the washer next to Laura. “Well,” she remarks. “If you’re tired why aren’t you sleeping? Why are up this late, cutie?”
“I have this killer paper due in five hours.” Laura’s voice hitches, because what the heck did Carmilla just call her a cutie?
“What’s it about?”
“Diffusion of innovation in Eastern European culture.”
Carmilla smirks, her dark eyes twinkling. “That’s interesting.”
Laura groans and rubs her eyes. “It’s not yet even done. I haven’t edited it and I’m one page short.”
“Do you want my help?” Carmilla asks, her voice sincere.
Laura shakes her head quickly. “Oh no! I don’t want to be a bother.” Carmilla snorts and hops on top of the washer. “Please, it’s not a big deal. I’m from Eastern Europe so I’m quite educated with your topic.” Laura looks at her and bites her lip, her brows furrowing. “C’mon cupcake. Get your paper, I’ll be right here.” Laura nods and dashes off to her room.
They spend the next hour working on Laura’s paper. Well mostly it’s just Carmilla who’s working, Laura is too busy staring at her to think.
The next time they meet in the laundry room, Carmilla brings coffee.
“Here,” She says, handing Laura the steaming cup. “Wouldn’t want you to fall asleep and drown in the washer wouldn’t we?”
Laura sticks her tongue out at her and takes the cup. They pass the time playing Tic Tac Toe on Carmilla’s iPad.
She gets an A- on her Sociology paper.
On her way back to her dorm Laura passes by her favorite café and buys some cookies as a thank you gift.
Carmilla eats it all in one sitting.
They work out a pattern.
They would do laundry every Tuesday and Friday, at three am.
“Why do you always wash your clothes really late?” Laura asks as they sit cross-legged on the tiled floor, separating the whites from the darks. Laura had a good reason, she’s too caught up with school work during the day, but Carmilla? She’s really smart and could probably do a day’s worth of work in an hour.
“Because I’m a vampire.” Carmilla says nonchalantly, not taking her eyes of her black shirts.
Laura gapes at her, eyes wide. After a moment Carmilla laughs and she smacks her with a shirt.
Carmilla grins but doesn’t say anything.
Carmilla’s clothes sometimes finds its way to Laura’s basket. Laura doesn’t mind though, in fact she secretly loves it. She loves the way it smells, like detergent, chocolate and a hint of something smoky, something that reminds Laura of the woods.
She likes the way it feels again her skin, they use the same soap but Carmilla’s shirts feel softer. Laura wears it to bed as often as she can. She doesn’t know why but there’s something about her shirts that makes Laura more relaxed.
When Carmilla’s scent starts fading Laura puts it on her laundry basket and discreetly throws it in the other girl’s washer when she’s not looking.
Laura’s shirts also goes missing sometimes and would suddenly make their way back to her basket.
She pretends not to notice.
“What the heck?”
Laura bangs on the door of the laundry room. They just finished and were getting ready to leave, but when Laura tried to open the door the knob wouldn’t budge. Normally the image of her and Carmilla stuck in a room would be appealing to Laura, but right now the washers were glowing green and hovering an inch in from the floor, and she does not want to get eaten by a washing machine.
“We need to get out fast.” Carmilla states, banging her fists on the door. The washers were slowly inching towards them, the whirring sounds getting louder.
“How?” Laura asks, her whole body shaking from fear.
Carmilla gestures for her to move. She takes a step back and leans forward, her left foot in front.
“What are you-“ Before Laura can finish her sentence Carmilla swings her right leg with a grunt, her foot landing just below the door knob, effectively breaking it down. The whole door comes off, the loud crash echoing through the empty hallway. Laura stares at her, unsure of what just happened. She looks to her right and sees a dryer a feet away from them, propelling towards them at an alarmingly fast speed.
“Carm!” Laura shouts, her heart pounding. This is it, she’s going to die, she’s going to die because she got mauled by a home appliance. Carmilla turns away from the door and delivers a punch to the dryer, sending it to the back of the room with a loud thud, its sides denting.
Laura looks at her disbelievingly. What the heck just happened? Carmilla suddenly grabs her hand and they’re running away from the washers. They reach the end of the hall when Laura stops, her breathing heavy. She leans against the wall and looks at Carmilla, who isn’t even sweating at all. She takes a deep breath and glowers at her.
“What the heck was that?!” She half-shouts, gesturing to the direction of the laundry room.
“Uh that was me saving your ass from getting crushed?” Carmilla replies as she puts their baskets down.
“No, I mean I’m pretty sure they don’t teach breaking doors down and sending a 150 pound machine on the other side of the room with only one hand in Philosophy 101!”
“I already told you.”
Carmilla picks up her basket. “A few weeks ago. I’ll see you later. Stay away from the machines sweetheart.” She turns around and makes her way back to her dorm, and Laura realizes that she doesn’t even know where Carmilla’s room is.
Carmilla is a vampire.
Laura has a crush on a vampire.
She couldn’t believe how blind she’s been. After the incident at the laundry room Laura racked her brain through all the conversations she’s had with Carmilla.
“Because I’m a vampire.”
After that everything clicked to pieces. On why Carmilla would only do her laundry at three am, why she only had classes at night, and why she had that superhuman strength. There’s also the fact that she has this flask and would take swigs out of it when she thought Laura wasn’t looking. Oh god, Laura thought. That’s blood isn’t it?
“Why are you even sweating about this?” LaFontaine suddenly asks, making Laura jump.
“Uhm why?” Laura looks at them, her brows raised. “I just discovered that she’s a vampire!”
“A vampire LaFontaine! As in honest to Lestat vampire!” She explains, raising her hands. “Aren’t you freaked out by this?!”
LaFontaine shrugs. “Why would I be freaked out I mean I’ve known for a while.”
“Uh, I what?” LaFontaine scurries to the other side of the bed, they pull their knees to their chest, looking scared for their life.
“How did you know?!” Laura demands, moving closer to LaF.
“A few weeks.” LaF replies, their voice small. “When you said that she only comes at the middle of the night I mean it’s pretty obvious. You’re just too whipped to notice.”
Laura sighs and lies down the bed. “You’re right.” She mumbles, staring at the ceiling. “I was too whipped. And honestly? I still am.”
“Then what’s stopping you?”
Laura glares at them, they shrug. “Yeah she’s a vampire blah blah. But she never tried to hurt you. And she told you flat out from the start, you just didn’t believe her.”
“You think I should still talk to her?”
“Why not? And besides, you’re gonna have to return that jacket of hers that you’re wearing sometime soon.”
“Hey,” Laura says softly as she approaches Carmilla by their usual spot. Carmilla nods at her and continues loading her clothes. Laura sighs and takes a deep breath.
“Thank you, for last time.”
Carmilla shrugs. “Eh, it’s nothing. You’re too cute, couldn’t let you die.”
Laura takes Carmilla’s hand, startling her. “I mean it. And the vampire thing, it’s okay. I-I really like you a lot.” She says quietly, looking down at their hands. Carmilla doesn’t answer. Laura stays still and counts up to twenty in her head.
“I’m not good enough for you.” Carmilla suddenly whispers, her voice cracking at the end.
Laura shakes her head and snorts. “You’re too good for me actually.”
Carmilla gazes at her like a blind man seeing for the first time, turning her into a deep shade of red, she brings Laura’s hand to her lips and kisses her knuckles. Laura swears that Carmilla could probably hear her heart pounding through her chest, but Laura doesn’t care if she did, let her know what kind of effect she has on me. They grin at each other like two love struck teenagers, fingers intertwined.
“So,” Laura states, lightening the mood. “We’re going to be here a while. Why don’t you tell me more about yourself?”
Carmilla’s bought chinese take-out.
Laura smelled it instantly when Carmilla came back in the room. She had been complaining to her thirty minutes earlier that she has been craving for egg rolls. Carmilla stood up and told her to stay put, that she was just going to get something, then she suddenly disappeared into a puff of smoke.
“Where did you even get that?” She asks as Carmilla takes the boxes out of the plastic.
“There’s this really good 24 hour Chinese restaurant in New York.” Carmilla answers, handing her a box of egg rolls.
Laura almost drops the box.
“We are eating Chinese take out from New York?!”
Carmilla nods, hoisting herself on top of her washer. She pats the space next to her and Laura climbs up, she crosses her legs and takes the chopsticks.
“Vampire advantages I suppose.”
“Gee. You really know how to charm a girl on a date.”
Carmilla smirks. “This is a date?” She asks, popping a piece of sweet and sour pork in her mouth.
“I mean-“ Laura stammers, her face turning red. “It’s just, erm, I don’t- ugh. Please forget I said anything.” She mutters, taking a bite of her roll. She should really learn how to keep her mouth shut.
“Why would I want to forget what you said? What if I also want this to be a date?”
Carmilla’s answer makes Laura freeze. She slowly looks at the vampire, her egg roll halfway through her mouth.
“You uhm, you want this, whatever this is?” She asks, gesturing to the both of them.
Carmilla doesn’t say anything. Instead, she leans forward and presses her lips gently against Laura’s. Laura automatically closes her eyes and stops breathing, her heart pounding hard. Carmilla tastes like chocolate, and Chinese food, and something sweet that makes her want more. She backs away and Laura sighs, opening her eyes.
“Yeah, I want this. Whatever this is.” Carmilla says softly, smiling at Laura.
They spend the next hour eating Chinese take out on top of their washers. Carmilla distracts her with kisses and steals pieces of her food when she thought Laura isn’t looking.
Laura doesn’t mind.
Carmilla walks her to her door after.
And as they walk hand in hand in the empty hallway, a basket of clean clothes in their arms, with the sounds of their footsteps and Carmilla’s velvety voice in her ears, Laura thinks.
Three am is a time for sleeping.
But it’s also a time for falling in love.