“You can rest your head on my shoulder, if you want to get older with me.
Cause a little bit of summer makes a lot of history.”
John Mayer, ‘Wildfire’
Ever since she can remember, there’s always been something about the sea that felt like home to her. It might’ve been the way the waves crashed against the shore; sometimes slowly, in a combination of soothing sounds and movements, and other times angry and loud, washing everything on its way without sparing a second thought to it. In her teenage years, she’d realize that her moods changed with the tides, that the moon controlled the movements of her heart much like it controlled the movements of the sea.
In a world where she often felt like the odd one out, the sea gave her a feeling of belonging.
Some people were scared of the sea; scared of how vast and mysterious it could be. How so many things were hidden in its depths, lurking in the darkness, never truly revealing themselves because people feared the unknown - couldn’t look past the things they couldn’t understand to see how truly beautiful they could be. That was yet another thing that she identified with; in the sea, she could be herself. She didn’t have to hide.
In the sea, she was free.
She liked to lie at night, the sand against her back - sometimes reaching the worst possible places - and gaze at the stars while the waves crashed against her, thinking of how small she was, in comparison to the whole universe that was out there. That, in the end, nothing she did really mattered, because she was just one in billions, someone that could disappear in a second and no one would really notice. And maybe she should feel like that with the sea, but she never did. It was as if, in the sky, she was one of many. There was nothing connecting her to the sun and the stars.
But the sea was water. And her body was water. It made sense that she always felt such a pull towards it because, in her mind, there was no place she could possibly return to than the one that she was convinced she came from. It was a silly thought, of course. She was a human being and human beings walked the land, not the sea. But that didn’t matter to her; had never mattered, really. Not since that first moment when she was a toddler and her parents took her for her first summer in Hawaii.
When her feet touched the sand and her eyes met that endless stretch of blue, she was a goner.
She was home.
She’s 19 now, and Hawaii is actually home.
Somewhere along the way, her love for the sea became her love for surfing and that became her way to deal with life; her escape. When things got rough - and they did, for quite some time - she would disappear into the waves, only coming back when her skin was completely rugged and her teeth were shattering.
In a perfect world - or, the world her foster mother wanted for her - she’d be in college. Probably majoring in something pretentious like law or business. But that’s not the life she wanted for herself, and she knows that her parents would’ve wanted for her to be happy, no matter what. And Hawaii makes her happy. Surfing makes her happy. The sea, most importantly, makes her happy.
There’s no place she’d rather be.
Everyday, she rises with the sun and she hits the waves first thing, because there’s never been a better way to wake up, really. She usually spends a couple hours in the water before she goes on about her day.
Most of the time, when the sun is setting over the horizon line, casting an ethereal glow against the sea, she finds herself sitting on the sand, surf board stuck by her side, the familiar fresh seaside scent surrounding her.
In her mind, there’s nothing better in the whole world.
Safety measures dictate that swimming is ill-advised after the sun has set due to the influx of man-o-war’s resulting from the wind and current changes, not to mention that the waves get bigger and the sea gets angrier, which means even seasoned surfers and swimmers can get caught between the waves and never make it back to land. If there’s one thing she’s learned in her life is that if you don’t respect the sea, you have no place in it.
She’s never actually seen anyone disrespect those rules, which is why she thinks she’s imagining things when she hears a call for help.
(There’s no way someone would be dumb enough to actually go into the water.)
But then she hears it again.
The voice is muffled by the sound of the waves washing upon the shore and she can barely hear it but she knows it's there.
She's on her feet now and her eyes are narrowed, gazing intently into the never ending sea that extends in front of her and for a moment she's scared it'll be too late, when she sees it.
And by it, she means a hand flailing in the air, about fifty feet from the shore and definitely not in a place anyone should be in this time of the night.
Once she can see where the person is - the girl, she realizes, as the scream for help comes again - she wastes no time grabbing her board and diving into water.
It's probably a stupid idea; actually, she knows it is. The currents keep pulling her back and she has a hard time guiding her board to where she last saw the girl. The wind is heavy and the water keeps hitting her face, making it almost impossible for her to keep her eyes open, let alone actually making any progress.
"Fuck," she curses, pushing her hair from her eyes and squinting as she tries to gather her bearings.
She's not a lifesaver; never really had the patience to get through the training.
(In hindsight, maybe she should have.)
There's no sign of the girl and she's already hating herself from having lost her when a hand shoots up about ten feet from her, fingers clutching at nothing but air before they disappear into the water again.
And that's when she does something really stupid.
Without thinking too much about it - or at all, really - she lets go of her board and dives into the ocean. It's dark and she can't really see anything but, after a couple of hard strokes, her outstretched hands touch something and she wastes no time in swimming to the surface, thanking all of the sea deities that the water makes it easier for her to hold both of their bodies afloat.
(She's specially thankful that it's not raining because that would be a bitch.)
She sees that her board hasn't floated too far away and quickly paddles toward it, pulling on its string and using all the strength she has left - which is not much, at this point - to push the girl on top of it; or at least as close as she can come to that.
The currents are getting stronger and she's afraid they'll both get sucked into the deep end so she takes a deep breath and knocks her feet against the water with all the strength she has, nearly collapsing on the sand when she finally makes to the shore.
Her arms are burning and she can't remember a time when her legs ever felt so useless, but the girl in front of her is turning an alarming shade of purple and she can't feel her pulse, which, she thinks she remembers from her first aid classes, is a sign she should do something and quick.
"Fuck, I did not sign up for this."
She closes her hands against each other and pushes them against the girl's chest, counting each push in her mind.
When she gets to thirty and there's nothing, she rolls her eyes, "Here goes nothing."
Pinching the girl's nose with one hand, she presses her pink lips to blue ones, blowing twice into her mouth before pulling back and pushing against her chest again.
"Come on, you idiot, you can't give up on me now."
She tries again, and something like a weight is lifted off her chest when the girl coughs out, to which she immediately wastes no time before turning her aside and letting her spit out the water.
The girl's eyes flutter open and she can't see much except that they're a light shade of brown or maybe green, before they focus on her and blue lips part in wonder.
"Am I dead?" the girl asks, quickly followed by a coughing fit. And then, "Are you an angel?"
At that, she chuckles, shaking her head as she lets her hands drop to her side, "Nope, not an angel, cutie. I'm Carmilla. And we need to get you to a hospital."
Her body feels heavy and she's cold, even though she can feel something warm pressed against her body.
There's a beeping sound to her right and maybe the sound of voices, but she can't be sure if they're actually there or just in her mind. She's probably dead, only she remembers dark hair and twisted pink lips saying she's not, but maybe that was also her imagination.
She wants to open her eyes and find out for once what is going on, but everything hurts. Her throat, especially. She feels it burning, as if there's fire in her lungs and she'll start spitting it out like a dragon anytime soon.
Open her eyes. She needs to do that.
"I don't know what happened," okay, that's definitely a voice and she thinks there's something familiar about it, "I was at the beach and I heard her screaming for help. I got her out but she didn't say much before she passed out again."
So that explains why the voice is familiar. It's the girl who saved her, Mircalla? Arcillma? Carmilla!
"You did good, sweetheart," the other voice says - a woman.
She recalls Carmilla saying something about a hospital. So maybe a doctor?
This is really confusing.
"Ugh," she coughs, gathering her strength and pushing her eyes open, only to close them again at the light in the room. "Too bright."
"Ah, she lives," a voice drawls, and she recognizes it as Carmilla's once again. "Maybe I am an angel after all."
There's something against her lips and she realizes it’s a straw. She takes a sip of water and forces her eyes open again, blinking against the brightness in the room until she focuses on the figure standing at the foot of her bed; dark hair, streaked with lighter marks that she assumes aren't really intentional, and sun kissed skin covered with freckles. The girl wearing surfer shorts and a loose tank top and she just knows that that's Carmilla.
The other woman, the one who put the straw in her mouth, has a stethoscope around her neck and is wearing a doctor's coat on top of her scrubs, so maybe it wasn't really that hard for her to put two and two together and figure out who had been her savior.
"Hi," the doctor says, "I'm Dr. Kirsch and you're at Hawaii State Hospital, how you're feeling?"
"Like trash," she says and Carmilla snorts, while Dr. Kirsch bites on her lip to fight a smile.
"Better than dead, I say."
"Carmilla," Dr. Kirsch throws her a pointed gaze. And then she looks back at her, "What is your name, honey?"
She looks between the two occupants in the room before she croaks out, "Laura. Laura Hollis."
Dr. Kirsch writes down her name on a file and sticks it to the chart that's hanging from her bed. She offers Laura another sip of water and then asks, "What were you doing out in the water, Laura?"
That seems to catch Carmilla's attention, because she shifts on her feet and looks intently at Laura, who suddenly feels her cheeks burning in embarrassment.
"I just wanted to go for a swim. It's hot and the water looked so inviting- I guess- I think I didn't realize how bad of an idea it was."
Carmilla rolls her eyes, "There are signs everywhere letting you know exactly how much of a bad idea that was."
Dr. Kirsch sighs, "Carmilla, honey, please."
"Sorry," Carmilla rushes out, looking down at her feet. "Can I go now? She's fine, right?"
Laura doesn't really wants her to go, but Dr. Kirsch gives her a nod and she's out of the room before she can say anything, barely throwing a glance in Laura's direction which, honestly, rude.
"I'm sorry about her," Dr. Kirsch apologizes as soon as Carmilla is out of the room. "She's a good girl, but not exactly a people's person."
Laura laughs and immediately gets into a coughing fit, "You don't say," she wheezes out.
Dr. Kirsch gives her a small smile and checks at her vitals for a moment, before she nods to herself, “You’re not really in danger. Carmilla got you out of the water just in time and she did a pretty good job with her CPR, which I gotta say I’m impressed. I never really thought she paid much attention to her first aid classes.” she seems to realize she’s gotten distracted, because she shakes her head and gives Laura’s arm a soft squeeze, “I just want to keep you here for the night, and then tomorrow you’re free to go back to your hotel.”
“How do you know I’m at a hotel?” Laura asks, because she doesn’t remember actually saying anything about herself other than her name.
The doctor gives her a knowing smile, “Natives know better than to test the wrath of the sea, honey.”
That makes Laura blush again.
“That was stupid, huh?”
“It happens,” Dr. Kirsch reassures her. “But you were lucky Carmilla was there. She knows that beach like the palm of her hand and she’s an exceptional swimmer. You really couldn’t ask for a better equipped person to save you.”
Laura bites on her lip, nodding in thought, “I suppose not.”
“Now you rest,” the doctor instructs. “I’ll be back later to check in on you.”
And she wants to rest, she does. But whenever she closes her eyes, she sees dark hair and sarcastic smile and she knows that, rude as Carmila may be, she still saved her life. She risked herself for someone she didn’t even know and Laura realizes that maybe there’s more to Carmilla than meets the eye.
Plus, Laura really needs to thank her.
She’s going through her inventory and checking which supplies she needs to order when her partner pushes his elbows against the counter, leaning closer to her with his obnoxiously large face split in a grin that lets her know whatever is coming out of his mouth will do nothing but annoy her.
“So,” he drags the word, knowing how much she hates it when he does that, “ you saved a chick last night, huh?”
She lets out a heavy sigh, “Yes, Kirsch, I saved a girl last night. Helen really sucks at keeping secrets.”
“Wait,” he furrows his brows. “Why was it a secret?”
Carmilla rolls her eyes, wondering why she ever thought it’d be a good idea to be his friend, let alone open a business with him.
He open his mouth and she knows he wants to say something else, but thankfully the bell rings behind them and another figure walks into the store.
“Hey, babe,” she greets, pressing a kiss to Kirsch’s cheek and nodding to Carmilla, “Broodstein.”
“Ha ha,” Carmilla deadpans. “You’re hilarious, Lawrence.”
“Babe, check this out,” Kirsch jumps in, pushing himself back and forth against the counter like an excited puppy, “Carmilla saved a girl from drowning last night.”
Danny turns to her, eyebrow raised, “You did? I didn’t know you were capable of such a humanly act, satan.”
Kirsch laughs and pulls Danny to him, pressing a kiss to her cheek as Carmilla flicks a piece of paper at her.
“I liked you two better when you hated each other,” she huffs, walking around the counter to the front of the store, “Stop making out in my shop.”
“It’s our shop,” Kirsch calls out. “I can make out in my 50% of it if I want.”
She rolls her eyes at them, not even needing to turn around to know that Kirsch probably has Danny pinned against the counter in some disgusting display of affection that they’re so fond of these days, probably making up for all the time they spent denying how much they wanted each other.
Carmilla doesn’t like to see them swapping saliva at all, but she figures it’s better than having to listen to their endless arguments about stupid things like whether long boards where better than short boards and shit like that.
(And they’re her friends, or something like that, so maybe she’s happy for them. Just maybe.)
She’s at the front of the store, checking the boards on display to see if they need any repair, when she hears someone clearing their throat behind her.
“Just a second,” she calls out, setting the board she’s been examining back on its stand and turning around, only to have the wind knocked out of her at the sight of the girl standing on the steps of K&K Surf Shop.
The night before, Laura Hollis hadn’t been much more than blue lips and cold skin to her, but now, with her color back on the ‘alive’ side of the scale and the sun shining against her dirty blonde hair, Carmilla can’t deny the girl is gorgeous.
“Hi,” Laura says, biting her lip and giving her a shy wave.
“Didn’t think I’d see you this close to the water anytime soon, cupcake,” she says, and she knows it’s an awful thing to say to someone who might actually have some PTSD, but sometimes she really doesn’t know how to deal with people.
She wants to blame it on the early death of her parents and growing up with a certified sociopath as a foster mother, but maybe she’s just damaged in her own way and these things just made it all worse in the end.
To her surprise, Laura actually laughs, “I don’t think I’ll be swimming anytime soon, but I still like the sea too much to stay away from it.”
The words tug at her heart; that’s a feeling she can understand.
“So, what brings you here?” she asks, leaning against the railing, a few steps above Laura.
Laura pushes a piece of her hair behind her ear and looks up at Carmilla, a small smile tugging on her lips, “Well, first I wanted to properly introduce myself,” she pushes a hand in front of her, “I’m Laura Hollis. It’s nice to meet you.”
Carmilla bites hard on her lip to keep herself from smiling as she takes the hand that’s being offered at her, “Likewise, Laura Hollis. I’m Carmilla Karnstein.”
“Karnstein,” Laura lets out a low whistle, “Fancy name. Definitely not Hawaiian.”
She shakes her head, “No, definitely not. European, actually.”
Laura tilts her head to the side, scrunching up her nose in thought and Carmilla can’t help but think she looks even cuter when she does that.
“You’re a long way from home,” she comments. She then looks at their hands and when she drops their hold, Carmilla tries not to be too disappointed at it.
“Quite on the contrary, actually,” she lets her gaze focus on the ocean before them and she smiles to herself, “I’m not a long way from it at all.”
They fall quiet for a moment when Laura follows her gaze and Carmilla starts to wonder what it is about this stranger that just makes it so comfortable for her to be herself like that, something that most people she’s known for years have yet to accomplish. Maybe they have some sort of connection now; maybe that’s what happens when you save someone from certain death.
Or maybe there’s just something about Laura Hollis.
“Anyway,” Laura breaks the silence, pulling Carmilla’s attention back to her. “The second thing was that I wanted to know if I could buy you lunch? You know, as a thank you for saving my life.”
“You don’t have to thank me.”
And she means it; despite Danny’s earlier words, Carmilla would never be capable of turning her back to a person in their time of need. As far as she’s concerned, Laura doesn’t owe her anything.
Laura, however, isn’t deterred, “I’m not leaving here unless you’re coming with me.”
“That’s a bit forceful of you, isn’t it?” Carmilla raises an eyebrow, smirking at the shorter girl. In truth, she’s already going to accept the offer. But she’s realized that Laura looks really cute when she’s frustrated and maybe she wants to see that look on her face again before she gives in.
“I’m sorry,” Laura flushes. “But come on, you can’t deny me that.”
Carmilla relents, shrugging her shoulders as she slips her hands into the pockets of her shorts, “Alright, lunch it is. When do you wanna do it?”
“Are you free now?”
Her eyes widen slightly, “Now?”
“Yeah,” Laura shrugs. “It’s almost lunch time and I haven’t eaten anything since I got released from the hospital. Now works pretty well for me.”
She lets out a small chuckle, rocking on the balls of her feet, “You are something, Laura Hollis. Come on,” she nods towards the shop, “Let me just grab my stuff and we can go. And, uh, don’t pay attention to what might be happening inside.”
Laura throws her a confused look, but Carmilla doesn’t say anything as she pushes into the store, watching as Kirsch and Danny immediately jump apart, though Danny’s hands stay under his shirt and Kirsch lets his head fall against his girlfriend’s shoulder as he lets out a frustrated groan.
“I kinda hate you sometimes, you know?” he says, pulling back and finally turning around. When he notices Laura, his ears go as red as Danny’s hair. “Shit, uh, hi. Can I help you?”
“This is Laura,” Carmilla introduces her, a satisfied smirk on her lips. “Laura, this is my business partner Brody Kirsch and his girlfriend Danny Lawrence.”
Once again, Laura gives a shy wave and then raises an eyebrow, looking between Carmilla and the boy, “Wait, Kirsch?”
He looks confused, and Carmilla explains, “Dr. Kirsch is his mother.”
“Oh!” Laura’s eyes widen in understanding. “Your mom is pretty nice.”
“You’re the chi-” Danny elbows his side, glaring at him, “I mean, the girl that Carmilla saved last night, huh? You were lucky she was there, shorty.”
His girlfriend hums in agreement, “He’s right. Spawn of satan that she is, she’s the best surfer on this side of Hawaii.”
Carmilla rolls her eyes, picking up something behind the counter, “Please, I’m the best surfer in all of Hawaii.”
Kirsch and Danny throw her identical unimpressed looks, but Laura seems to find her antics amusing.
“I guess I really am lucky,” she agrees. She turns to Carmilla, “shall we?”
“We shall,” Carmilla nods, before turning to Kirsch and Danny, “I’m gonna go grab lunch, so can I trust you two to refrain from having sex against the counter while a client might walk in?”
Kirsch launches into a coughing fit and Danny throws her a glare as she rubs her boyfriend’s back, “We’ll try our best. Have fun.”
Sensing that retaliation might come from embarrassing them like that, Carmilla tugs on Laura’s arm and quickly pull her out of the store.
(She really needs new friends.)
It’s absolutely ridiculous how attractive Carmilla is.
And Laura shouldn’t be noticing this. They’re only having lunch because she wants to thank her, but it’s hard to focus on that particular reason when Carmilla looks downright sinful in black surfer shorts, a red tank top, snapback and goddamn flip flops.
Laura is sure that there’s a rule somewhere that people aren’t allowed to look good in flip flops, but somehow Carmilla manages to pull that off and she pulls that off insanely well.
It’s not fair, really.
“Hey, Karnstein,” someone greets them once they’ve settled in a window booth at a small restaurant a couple of stores down from Carmilla’s shop. “Karnstein’s friend.”
“Laura,” Carmilla supplies, and then turns to her. “This is LaFontaine. They own this restaurant with their girlfriend, Perry.”
LaFontaine smiles at her, “It’s nice to meet you. And, I gotta say, I already have mad respect for you for managing to get this one out on a date.”
Carmilla’s eyes widen and Laura is torn between being amused at the sight and correcting LaFontaine, which she’s sure it would have already been done for her if Carmilla wasn’t so surprised by the words.
Before she can say anything, Laura gives LaFontaine a bright smile, “Thank you. I gotta say, it wasn’t particularly easy. She can be quite stubborn.”
They scoff, “Tell me about it. That might as well be her last name.”
“You can stop talking about me as if I’m not here whenever you want,” Carmilla interrupts, after managing to get a hold of herself. Laura just shrugs, innocent smile playing on her lips as she stretches her leg and bumps her foot against hers.
Carmilla raises an eyebrow and Laura thinks she might have stepped way too far out of the line, but then she feels Carmilla’s foot hit hers back and she has to bite on her lip and look down to hide the grin that breaks on her lip.
She hasn’t felt this giddy over such a silly thing as playing footsie with someone ever since high school.
“So,” LaFontaine looks between them, “What are you gonna get?”
“I’ll have my usual,” Carmilla says. Laura sends her a questioning look and she explains, “ Fried Mahi Mahi, macaroni salad and rice.”
“Oh,” she nods to LaFontaine. “I’ll have that too. And a glass of passion fruit juice.”
They write down the order and then point their pen to Carmilla, “Grape soda?”
“You know it.”
“Gotcha,” they nod. “Be right back, holla if you need anything.”
Laura laughs as she leans back against her chair, watching as LaFontaine disappears into the back of the restaurant. She lets her foot bump Carmilla’s again, and this time she doesn’t look away from her, instead holding her gaze and all but daring her to make the next move.
“Why did you let them think this is a date?” Carmilla asks, as she shifts in her seat and lets her other foot touch Laura’s.
It’s not a question that catches her by surprise, but it’s one she can’t really answer. She just liked the idea of this being a date, so she didn’t say anything when LaFontaine jumped to that particular conclusion. Meeting someone like Carmilla hadn’t been in Laura’s plans when she decided to spend her summer in Hawaii, but she can’t really say that she’s disappointed with how things have turned out so far.
“I guess I like the idea of this being a date, actually,” she tells Carmilla, because she’s nothing if not honest, even at the most inopportune times.
Carmilla hums in thought, “Do you usually have to nearly die to get your dates?”
She flicks a toothpick at her, rolling her eyes, “You’re such a jerk.”
“Careful, cupcake, I might not agree on a second date if you keep this up.”
Laura's eyes snap to her, but she manages to keep the surprise from her face and, instead, she gives what she hopes is a nonchalant shrug.
"I think I'd like to take back that offer now. You're kinda rude."
Much to her annoyance, her plan completely backfires and Carmilla doesn't seem fazed at all by Laura's words.
But her foot is still resting against Laura's and there's a small smirk on her lips and this thing has been such a roller coaster ride from the very start that it feels like they're nearing the big drop, so the only thing Laura can really do is hold on tight and hope that she'll make it out of this alive.
(Considering yesterday's events, she thinks maybe keeping Carmilla around is a good idea.)
In some weird plot that she is sure was taken straight from a goddamn Nicholas Spark novel, they start to hang out.
Or rather, Laura starts to show up at the shop, with her adorable smile and her endless supply of questions and before Carmilla knows it, she's fallen into a routine, adjusting her schedules to make time for Laura, looking for things they can do together whenever she's not at work and, really, it's disgusting.
She feels like a fifteen year old again and she doesn't really like to remember that particular time of her life, nor the way things ended up back then.
Carmilla looks up, using her hand to cover her eyes from the sun, "Isn't it a little early for you, cupcake?"
It's a honest question; they've been doing this - whatever this is - for over three weeks now and not once has she seen Laura out of bed earlier than 10am.
Considering it is now just close to 8am, she feels she's justified in her surprise.
"I thought I'd come see you do your thing in the water," Laura explains, dropping on the sand next to her. She looks at Carmilla for a moment and then sighs, "I totally missed it, didn't I?"
Carmilla leans back on her hands, closing her eyes as she enjoys the sun against her skin, "I'm afraid you're gonna need to wake up a couple hours earlier to see that," she tilts her head towards the water, "Kirsch and Danny are still there, though."
She doesn't see it, but she assumes Laura follows the direction she's pointed because a couple minutes later she hears a huff and feels a poke against her thigh.
"Kirsch and Danny are fine," Laura tells her once she's opened her eyes - with the sole purpose of glaring at her, of course. "But I wanted to see you."
Carmilla smirks, raising an eyebrow at Laura and reveling in the way a blush rises from her neck to her cheek and her ears.
Laura pushes against her shoulder, "You know what I meant."
But the thing is, Carmilla really doesn't. Ever since they had that date-that-wasn't-really-a-date-but-maybe-it-was, it's like a line has been blurred. They're not really friends - there's too much shameless flirting, moments filled with sexual innuendos and less-than-innocent looks for them to be that, but they're also not - well, more than friends.
And maybe Carmilla wants them to be. But Laura is going to school in Austria and Carmilla has no intention of leaving Hawaii so why start something that she knows has no hope of ever ending well?
If there's one thing in her life Carmilla absolutely hates, are summer loves. She doesn't call them flings - can't, really. They happen too fast and burn too bright, but they're also real. And in the end, they leave a wound in your heart that never really heals, never really stops hurting. She's been through it once and she swore she was never gonna let it happen again.
She can't let Laura get to her like this.
"I know," she reassures her, bumping their shoulders against each other. "Six am, cupcake. I'll be out in the water already."
Laura groans, "That's ridiculous. I'm on summer break, I'm sure waking up at the crack of dawn isn't allowed."
Carmilla shrugs, watching as Kirsch and Danny run out of the water, clearly teasing each other about something, "You can sleep if you want," she says, turning to Laura. "Like you said, it's your summer break. You should rest, or whatever."
"No," Laura shakes her head. "I want to be here."
They meet each other's eyes again and Carmilla tries to make sense of what is going on in Laura's head, but in the end she just lets out a soft sigh, throwing her hands up in surrender, "Suit yourself."
Kirsch and Danny reach them and Kirsch immediately begins to shake himself like a wet puppy, throwing water all over Laura and Carmilla.
She wants to be mad at him - he knows she hates when he does that - but Laura is making these cute sounds and she's curling herself up against Carmilla and she can't really bring herself to be angry at Kirsch when she just feels so happy. Happy in a way she's never felt before, not even during that summer she thought had been the best of her life.
"Kirsch!" Laura squeals, giggling like a five year old. "Stop it!"
"Come on, Hollis, don't be such a wimp," Danny joins in, squeezing her hair over Laura and dropping even more water on her.
Laura is now almost on top of Carmilla and she can't really say she's terribly bothered by this development, which just makes things worse because she should be stopping this while she can, and not encouraging it.
Danny finally stops her attack and drops on the sand, sitting herself between Kirsch's legs, pulling on the sleeves of her neoprene suit and letting it fall to her waist.
"Watcha doing here?" she asks Laura, pulling her hair back as Kirsch takes Carmilla's sunscreen and starts applying it on her shoulders.
"I wanted to see Carm out in the water," Laura explains and Carmilla is glad that Kirsch and Danny are long past the point of teasing her for the nickname Laura has taken to calling her.
(Not that they weren't little bitches about it at first, because it just wouldn't be like themselves if they hadn't.)
"Apparently I was too late."
Kirsch laughs, pressing a kiss to Danny's cheek as he finishes applying the sunscreen, "Yeah, next time you try getting up with the freaking sun and you might get something."
"Maybe I like getting the best waves without having to worry about dying from a heatstroke, asshole."
No one seems fazed by the reply; Kirsch and Danny have been around long enough to know how Carmilla works - she's known the two of them ever since they were scrawny kids fighting over who the best superhero was, Batman or Superman.
(She thinks Batman, but she values Kirsch's friendship too much to say that.)
And Laura, it's funny because Laura is new to their lives, but at the same time it feels as if she's always been a part of it. She fits like a puzzle piece they didn't know was missing. Carmilla has always felt like the odd one out with Danny and Kirsch and, especially, Perry and LaFontaine, but with Laura there it just doesn't feel like that anymore.
It's like she has them and she has Laura and she really doesn't want to think about what it all means because she's pretty sure she's not gonna like the answer.
(Either way she's screwed and she knows it.)
They're watching a movie together.
It's not the first time it's happened. A couple of weeks after her accident, Laura showed up at Carmilla's shop just as she was about to close with four movies under her arms and take out from Perry and LaFontaine's restaurant and since then it had become sort of their thing.
She would come over with food and her movie choice for the night and they would curl up in the insanely comfortable couch of Carmilla's ridiculously cozy house and spend the night watching silly romantic comedies that made Carmilla roll her eyes and Laura's heart swell.
She is 97.6% sure she is on the brink of falling in love with Carmilla.
Which is ridiculous, she knows, but the heart wants what it wants, right?
(Stupid goddamn song.)
And it doesn't help that movie nights usually mean cuddling. And it's hard to believe from her standoffish personality and levels of sarcasm that Laura has never found in anyone else in her entire life, but Carmilla is an amazing cuddler.
Their bodies just fit and everything just feels right and Laura is so in over her head in this that she just doesn't know what to do, because even though sometimes she thinks Carmilla is right there with her, other times she gets the feeling that maybe it's all in her mind and why would anyone even care about her like that, really?
Especially someone like Carmilla, who is gorgeous, has her own business and a really awesome house in freaking Hawaii.
The answer is, she wouldn't.
"Hey," Carmilla boops her forehead against Laura's, effectively pulling her from her thoughts. "Where did you go?"
Laura spits out the first thing that comes to her mind, "I was just thinking that you have a really nice house for someone who's only nineteen."
Carmilla goes quiet for a moment, and of course Laura managed to screw this up, but then she takes a deep breath and shrugs, trying to pull that air of aloofness that Laura just doesn't buy anymore.
"Inheritance perks, I suppose."
Oh. "Oh. Well, uh, that makes sense, I guess."
"What does?" she raises an eyebrow and Laura is embarrassed by what she's about to admit, but she does anyway.
"Your parents aren't around," she explains. "There are no pictures of anyone other than Kirsch, Danny, LaFontaine and Perry around your house and you don't really talk about anyone else in your life. I'm a journalism major and with a focus in investigative journalism, it wasn't hard to put two and two together."
To her surprise, Carmilla doesn't seem mad. Instead, she pauses the movie and turns to fully face Laura, "If you were so curious, you could've asked."
"I didn't think I had any right to, actually," Laura tells her, biting on her bottom lip.
"Cupcake," Carmilla chuckles, shaking her head. "You came into my life like a freaking hurricane, and not once have you stopped to wonder if you had any right to do anything, you just did them. I don't see why this should be any different."
She has a point. Laura has been adamant in her efforts to get to know Carmilla and befriend her and she hasn't taken 'no' for an answer ever since that day she showed up at the surf shop to take Carmilla out for lunch. She's been slowly but surely breaking all the walls that she's been met with and Carmilla has never once shut her out, surprising as that was for both of them.
So she might as well go for it.
"What happened to them?" she asks, shifting in her seat until she's pressed against Carmilla, taking her hand and tangling their fingers together.
"They died when I was 8," Carmilla tells her, gazing down at their fingers. "I got in the system and then ended up in a foster home with an awful woman. I had no family left but my parents had rules about my trust fund and my inheritance. I got an allowance every month and then I was to receive full control of it once I turned 18."
She goes quiet for a moment and Laura looks up at her, only to notice that Carmilla's eyes have glazed over and she seems to have lost herself in her memories. After a few minutes, she shakes herself out of it and squeezes Laura's hand, giving her a reassuring smile.
"I used to come here every summer," she continues. "My foster mother hated it, but the family lawyer made sure I got everything my parents wished for me, so there wasn't much she could do about it. Once I came of age, I left for good and never looked back. Kirsch and I had always talked about opening the surf shop, so once I had the money, we did." she lets out an exaggerated sigh, "And that's my sob story."
Laura has a feeling Carmilla is making light of some events, but she doesn't push her. It's not the time for it, she's already gotten more than she expected, to be quite honest.
She presses a kiss to Carmilla's cheek, lingering for a moment before she pulls back and rests her forehead against the side of her head, "Thank you."
Carmilla has turned her head and their lips are so close that if Laura were to move a few inches she's sure they would touch. She can feel warm breath against her skin and it's making her slightly dizzy, but she's frozen in place, her heart hammering against her chest.
"For sharing that with me," she says, and her voice is no more than a breathy whisper.
She watches as Carmilla takes a deep breath, chocolate eyes flickering to her lips and then back up, and Laura wants to just close that distance between them, but before she can force her body to move, Carmilla pulls back, letting out a heavy sigh as she does so.
Instead, she pulls Laura impossibly closer and presses a kiss to her forehead, "I should be the one thanking you, Cupcake."
And Laura couldn't disagree more, but she doesn't say anything, instead choosing to focus on their closeness and the way every nerve-ending in her body seems to come alive at the feel of Carmilla's skin against hers.
She inhales deeply and, as the scent of sunscreen mixed with salt water surrounds her, Laura tries to think of something in her life that ever felt this good and this right, but only comes up blank.
It's as if, before Carmilla, there was nothing. And after her, there will be nothing as well.
She hasn't shared this with the girl in her arms, but she came to Hawaii for a reason. She had to make an important decision in her life - one she wasn't sure she had the courage to make - and now, with their bodies pressed together and the waves crashing outside, she thinks she has.
She thinks she's brave enough to go after her dreams now.
The sun is barely out in the sky when she gets up from her bed.
She never really needed an alarm; her biological clock just seemed to work in sync with the time in Hawaii, which turned out to be quite inconvenient when she was back in Europe and on a whole different time zone, because it often meant that she was wide awake when she should be sleeping.
For over a month after summer, when she went back, her sleeping pattern would be terribly messed up. Maman sometimes took other foster kids and they would often bully Carmilla, calling her a vampire because she’d be up all night and then sleep most of the day. When she was little, she tried to explain that her body was used to a different time zone, but kids were ruthless in their teasing and eventually she stopped saying anything at all, instead keeping to herself and cutting off any interaction whatsoever.
Eventually, they all left her alone.
But that never really bothered her; uncreative insults and petty arguments flew right past her head when she focused on the one thing that really mattered, the only thing that made sense in her mind after her parents died and took with them everything she knew except one thing.
It didn’t matter what life threw at her, because Carmilla knew she’d always have the ocean.
It’s why she likes waking up early. She leads a good life now, she can’t deny that, but nothing really makes sense if she doesn’t start her day with her surfboard, cutting through waves as the sun washes her skin.
(It’s a small blessing that North Shore’s best waves happen during winter.)
She’s pulling off her wetsuit when her eyes focus on a small figure sitting on the sand, waving excitedly at her.
Try as she might, Carmilla can’t keep the smile that breaks on her face. It’s a new feeling, to smile so freely and so easily, but she can’t say that it’s one that bothers her terribly. In truth, Laura reminds her of happier, easier times. Times filled with love and laughter, when the only thing she had to worry about was her parents saying it was time to get out of the water and do something else.
Carmilla never thought she’d ever feel like that again, but maybe she’s been wrong.
“Cupcake,” she greets, and she can’t decide if she wants to smirk or grin at the sight in front of her, so her lips just twist in a stranger mixture of both, “That’s early for you, isn’t it?”
There’s something about Laura that just draws her in. She’s always a ball of sunshine, Carmilla has come to expect that from her, but today there’s something about her that just shines brighter than usual, as if all this time Carmilla has known Laura, something has been blocking her light, but now, whatever that something was, it’s completely gone.
Laura’s lips split in a grin so bright that Carmilla is surprised it doesn’t blind her, “I told you I’d be here.”
“Yeah,” Carmilla agrees and she takes a sit in front of her, letting her sand-covered feet touch Laura’s, “But that was over two weeks ago and I honestly didn’t think you had it in you. No offense, cutie.”
“None taken,” she says, leaning forward and booping her forehead against Carmilla’s. “You were amazing out there.”
Carmilla isn’t shy by any means, and usually a compliment from someone would have her reassuring them that - yes, she’s that good. That doesn’t happen with Laura, though. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, really, because the person she is with Laura is a person she didn’t think she was capable of being anymore, but it seems the other girl is intent on proving her wrong.
“That was nothing,” she waves her hand, trying to brush off the compliment.
Laura isn’t having none of it, “Come on,” she pokes Carmilla’s neoprene-clad thigh. “Kirsch was right. And so was his mom.”
“You shouldn’t listen to Helen, though,” Carmilla tells her, because if anyone’s gonna be biased when it comes to her, it’s Helen Kirsch. “I’m like the daughter she’s never had, about 70% of her opinions of me are slightly exaggerated.”
“Oh? Seventy percent?”
She seems amused, and it makes Carmilla’s half-grin, half-smirk turn into a full blown grin.
“Yes, it’s solid math, trust me, cupcake.”
Laura throws her head back in a laugh, and when she looks back at Carmilla, there’s something in her eyes that looks a lot like something Carmilla isn’t sure she’s ready to name it yet.
(No, she’s fucking terrified, actually.)
“I wanted to ask you something,” Laura tells her, biting her lip in a way that probably shouldn’t be as sexy as she finds it to be.
(This girl is gonna be the death of her.)
Carmilla tilts her head to the side, “What is it?”
“Uh,” Laura points towards the water, and she finally notices what the other girl is wearing under her loose tank top: a bikini. “Will you go in with me?”
“Are you sure about that, cupcake?”
“Yeah,” she nods, and Carmilla can’t find a shred of doubt in her eyes. “I’ve been ready for a while, I think, but I wanted to be sure. And now that I am, I want you there with me. You know, just in case I drown again.”
It’s a terrible joke, really.
“Hey, don’t say that.”
“Sorry,” Laura mumbles, looking down at her lap. “That wasn’t really funny, was it?”
“No,” Carmilla agrees, because the mere thought of anything happening to Laura sends a sharp pain through her heart. She lifts Laura’s chin to meet her gaze, “But of course I’ll go in with you.”
It’s as if someone took all the stars in the sky and put them on Laura’s smile. Carmilla isn’t particularly sure she’s deserving of such beauty directed towards her, but she accepts it anyway; she’s always been a bit selfish.
She gets up and pulls off the rest of her wetsuit, leaving her body clad only in a small black two-piece. Once she’s done, she realizes that Laura has shed her own clothes and she can see that her white and blue striped top goes with red bottoms and Carmilla has to force her eyes to stay glued to Laura’s face because her body is ridiculously hot.
(Carmilla hates the idea of objectifying another woman, but she can’t help herself at that moment.)
“Shall we?” she offers a hand to Laura, who immediately accepts it, lacing their fingers together as they walk towards the sea.
Once they get to the edge of the water, Carmilla tugs on Laura’s hand, which consequentially makes the other girl tumble back into her, pressing bikini-clad bodies together and effectively short-circuiting Carmilla’s brain.
“You’re sure, right? she asks, trying not to make a big deal of how her hands are wrapped around Laura’s waist and how close they are.
Laura doesn’t seem to be nearly as concerned with their closeness, her gaze completely focused on the extension of water in front of them. She watches the waves and Carmilla watches her and, for the first time, she thinks she’s found something that rivals her love for the sea, the one love that’s never left her and never disappointed her.
It’s scary and exhilarating at the same time.
“I’m ready,” Laura says, with a confident nod.
Carmilla lets her make the first move. She’s there for support; this needs to be on Laura’s terms. She holds her hand and she gives soft squeezes, letting Laura know that she’s there and she’s not leaving her, that she can take all the time in the world to do this and if she doesn’t want to do it, then it’s fine as well.
But it seems that Laura is unflinching in her decision because, with a deep breath, she steps into the water, her hand squeezing Carmilla’s as the first wave crashes against her thighs.
She freezes for a moment and then her body starts to shake, which brings Carmilla to her side in a blink, before she realizes that Laura is laughing. She’s laughing in a way that’s glorious and infectious and it’s in that moment - water up to their waist and laughter bubbling from their lips that Carmilla realizes she can’t fight this anymore.
It was silly of her to ever think she could.
“Hey,” Laura calls once her laughter has subsided, though her lips are still turned in a grin.
Carmilla boops their foreheads against each other, “Hey.”
“Where did you go?”
“I just-” she tries to explain, but it’s like words have left her.
(Which is stupid, because she has a quite extensive vocabulary.)
But she looks at Laura, looks at the way the sun hits her hair, making her glow, and she’s helpless, really. She’s always thought of how beautiful the ocean is, all its different shades of blue and green, shifting colors as they day goes on, as the sun gives room to the moon and vice-versa and she doesn’t think it has ever looked so good as it does in this moment, with Laura in it.
The same way Laura has never looked as good as she does with the water around her, reflecting her image and just completely surrounding Carmilla with her.
Before she can convince herself that this is a bad idea - which she wouldn’t, because there’s no way this could be anything other than right - Carmilla lets her hands drop to Laura’s waist and pulls her closer, right before she closes the distance between them and presses their lips together.
Carmilla could use a lot of clichés to describe what kissing Laura feels like it, but in her mind, she feels as she did the first time she felt the ocean water touching her feet. She feels every cell in her body coming alive, bright colors sparking behind her closed eyelids and she’s sure that when she opens her eyes she’ll be seeing things in a much different way. Kissing Laura feels like finally feeling like she belongs, like she’s found a place where she can be herself, a place where she can be happy.
Kissing Laura feels like coming home.
They kiss for what feels like hours.
Carmilla tastes like salt water and the sun, which is dumb, because Laura has no idea what the sun could possibly taste like, and it’s not as if someone can taste like that, but Carmilla just does.
She’s not gonna claim to make any sense in that moment, because she’s sure her brain just went into overdrive and she’s not capable of rational thoughts anymore.
Laura has been thinking of this moment ever since LaFontaine said she was on a date with Carmilla. She often caught herself wondering what Carmilla would do if she just leaned in and kissed her, imagined what felt like hundreds of different scenarios for this happening, and yet nothing her brain could come up with came close to the actual thing.
It felt like a terrible cliché to say that, but Laura didn’t mind.
(She’d be a cliché a thousand times over if it meant she got to keep kissing Carmilla like that.)
A strong wave crashes against her and she loses her balance, forcing her to break the kiss. Laura laughs, clutching Carmilla’s arms as she lets her forehead fall against her shoulder, pressing her lips to the salty skin under them.
“Hey,” Carmilla says once she looks up, and Laura can’t help but to lean in and kiss her again. It’s messier this time; they’re both smiling and it’s more of a bump of their mouths than a proper kiss, but she doesn’t mind.
It’s still amazing.
They kiss again.
She lets her arms move around Carmilla’s neck, “Is that the extent of your vocabulary now, Miss Karnstein?”
“Laura,” she says, and Laura is shocked because that’s the first time she can recall Carmilla using her name and it sends a shockwave down her spine, which doesn’t really make things better for the current state of her bikini bottoms. “I don’t think I want to talk right now.”
At that particular moment, not-talking seems like a good idea to her. She’s always been an advocate for communication and speaking her mind, but she doesn’t think it’s the time to do that now. They’ve just kissed and she wants to keep doing that for as long as she can, lest she opens her mouth and spits out all the feelings she has and how she doesn’t think she can let go of whatever this is that they have, everything else in the world be damned.
“Kiss me, then.” she says, because kissing. She needs to focus on kissing.
And Carmilla is only too happy to oblige.
Kissing becomes a thing.
And it’s not like it changes much of their routine, really, it just makes it better, in Carmilla’s opinion.
Now when she wakes up, Laura is waiting for her - all but hugging her cup of coffee - to greet her with a good morning kiss.
They go to the beach together and Carmilla does her usual hours of surfing while Laura watches her. Sometimes Danny and Kirsch join them, whenever they manage to drag themselves out of bed, and then the four of them get breakfast together at LaFontaine’s. After that, Carmilla has to open the shop and actually take care of things, so Laura leaves her for a couple of hours, until she comes back with lunch and just hangs out around the shop for the rest of the afternoon, until it’s time for Carmilla to go home, which lately has meant Laura going home too.
Only home now, meant Carmilla’s.
They cook dinner together and cuddle to watch a movie, which quickly turns into kissing and touching and frustration when, inevitably, Laura says she needs to go back to the hotel - at which point, Carmilla dutifully gets up and walks her back, like the perfect gentlewoman that her parents taught her to be.
It’s a perfectly constructed routine, really, only a certain night - around three weeks after the kissing has started - Carmilla doesn’t want Laura to leave. Summer is gonna be over soon and that means Laura is gonna be gone, and when that time comes, Carmilla doesn’t want to be thinking of all the opportunities she’s missed to spend more time together, to be closer to her.
She decided to do this, so she might as well go all out.
“Stay,” she says, reaching for Laura’s hand as she’s sitting on the side of the bed, fixing the shirt that Carmilla can proudly say she’s managed to pop open.
(Laura’s breasts looked glorious in her pink lacy bra.)
“What?” Laura asks, whipping her head around so fast that Carmilla is slightly surprised by the fact that her neck is still in place.
Laura points to the bed, “You mean stay here?”
“Well,” she chuckles. “I don’t mean the bed, exactly, but that doesn’t seem like a bad idea now that you’ve suggested it.”
“Carmilla,” Laura huffs. “I’m being serious.”
She knows Laura is serious, but she has a terrible habit of making fun of things when she’s nervous, so she pauses for a moment, trying to gather herself before she manages to screw this up completely.
“I mean it, cupcake,” she says, shifting in bed until she’s facing Laura’s side, one of her legs dropping from the bed and the other crossed in front of her. “You’re going to be here first thing in the morning, I don’t see why you can’t just spend the night.”
“I don’t have a change of clothes,” Laura protests.
“I’m sure I have something you can borrow.”
“I don’t have a toothbrush either.”
“I have a spare.”
“I don’t want to-”
“Cupcake,” Carmilla interrupts, booping her forehead against Laura’s shoulder. “Stay, stay, stay.”
Laura laughs and then presses a kiss to Carmilla’s nose, “Did you just- was that Taylor Swift?”
She shakes her head, keeping a stoic expression on her face, “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”
“I’ll stay,” Laura says, an evil glint in her eyes. “If you admit that you just quoted a Taylor Swift song to me.”
Carmilla groans, closing her eyes as she lets her body fall back against her bed. When she opens them, Laura is right there, their breaths mingling and their noses bumping together.
She narrows her eyes, “Never.”
Laura, creature of the devil that she is, presses a lingering kiss to her chin, and then, “Come on, baby.”
The nickname catches her attention, making one of her eyebrows disappear into her hair, “Baby?”
“Mhmm,” Laura nods, kissing her cheeks and her nose. “Tell me that you quoted Taylor.”
Carmilla feels warm all over by the combination of Laura’s kisses and the nickname, but she holds her ground.
She shakes her head and Laura kisses her eyelids. She presses her lips tighter against one another and Laura delivers a kiss to the spot on Carmilla’s neck she knows drives her crazy. It sort of becomes a game then. Everytime she denies quoting the song, Laura’s kisses grow more daring. They go from the side of her lips to her collarbone, her shoulders, her arms, her thighs and her shins.
When Laura runs out of places that aren’t covered by her clothes to kiss, Carmilla thinks she’s gonna give up.
(She should know better by now.)
Instead, Laura slips her hands under her shirt and slowly pulls it off, her gaze never leaving Carmilla’s and this has escalated much quicker than she expected because now her body is hot all over and she just really needs Laura’s mouth to keep touching her, otherwise she’s gonna explode.
“Are you gonna admit it now?” Laura asks, once the shirt is lying on the floor behind them and Carmilla is cursing herself because what she has on is a goddamn sports bra and that’s about the least sexy thing she could possibly be wearing in this moment.
But she’ll be damned if she lets this get in the way of whatever it is that is happening between them right now.
Laura presses a kiss between her breasts, and Carmilla let’s out a shuddery breath, “I have nothing to admit, cutie.”
Once her shirt is gone, it doesn’t take a lot for her shorts to follow suit, and by the time Carmilla is clad only in her black cotton panties, her body is burning up so much that she’s convinced she’s going to spontaneously combust sometime in the near future if Laura doesn’t do something.
But Laura is a wolf clad in sheep’s clothing and she merely keeps toying with the hem of her panties, taking her time as she presses kiss after kiss to every inch of Carmilla’s body, and never in her life has she known such a sweet kind of torture. She doesn’t want Laura to stop, but she needs more, because they’ve been at this for too long and she probably won’t last much longer without something embarrassing happening - and honestly, that’s the last thing Carmilla wants.
”Laura,” she whines - actually fucking whines - and she’d feel bad about it if she didn’t have more pressing concerns at the moment. “Please.”
It feels as if hours go by as Laura slowly pulls down her panties, the tip of her fingers dragging against Carmilla’s skin, leaving a burning path in their wake. Her girlfriend (is Laura even her girlfriend, really? Did they talk about this at all? Not that it matters in this particular moment, anyway) seems to be revelling in making Carmilla squirm, and she wonders where is the girl that gave a twenty-minute long speech to ask for her number and never did actually use it until Carmilla texted her first, despite the fact that Carmilla giving her number at all should indicate that she was free to use it whenever she felt like it.
(She should just give up trying to understand Laura Hollis.)
“I think,” Laura says, once she has Carmilla naked under her. Her eyes are tracing every single curve in Carmilla’s anatomy and, had she been someone less confident in her body, Carmilla would be feeling squirmish under her gaze. Her fingers are grazing the spot where Carmillareally needs her, just enough to be torturous but not enough to grant her any actual release, and she licks her lips before she continues, "that you should just admit it that you quoted the song and we can get this over with."
And Carmilla wants to deny it, because she actuallydidn't quote a Taylor Swift song. She knows maybe two of them and one is something about shaking it off while the other is about knowing someone was trouble, but none of them actually say anything about staying, as far as she can recall. She wants to explain all of this to Laura but she's naked and all hot and bothered and Laura's fingers are right there so maybe she does something she's not terribly proud of in that moment.
"I quoted Taylor Swift."
The sun is rising and they're both trying to catch their breath when Carmilla pushes a strand of wet hair from her face and presses a lingering kiss to her lips, smiling as she pulls back and rests their foreheads together.
"I actually have no idea that Taylor Swift had song lyrics that went like that."
And Laura can't do anything but laugh, because she doesn't think it would've made any difference in the grand scheme of things. She just liked to think she made the best of her opportunities, and that seemed like a good one.
"Do you honestly think I would've stopped?" she asks, and she can't help the way her hands run across Carmilla's body, watching with satisfaction as goosebumps break out in her arms.
"I like to think you wouldn't be so devious."
"I wouldn't," Laura confirms, shifting so that she's on top of Carmilla, slipping her hand between them and grinning as her fingers come in contact with a warm and wet bundle of nerves, "And, in any case, it's not as if I actually cared about the song. I just wanted to make you beg."
Carmilla inhales sharply as Laura pushes two fingers into her, "I take it back," she moans. "You are devious."
Laura smirks as she slowly starts to move her fingers, letting her lips brush against Carmilla's ears, "You love it," she whispers, biting on her earlobe.
When she pulls back, Carmilla is staring intently at her, "I do. Fuck, I really do."
That morning, Carmilla doesn't go out in the water.
(It's for the best, anyway. She doesn't think her legs are gonna be of much use for a while.)
"Hey!" Kirsch greets them as they walk into the restaurant later that morning. He turns to Carmilla, "You weren't out in the water today."
They glance at each other and Danny seems to follow the exchange, because her lips split in a smug grin and she extends her hand to Kirsh - palms up - as she says, "Pay up, idiot."
Kirsch's eyes snap to them, "No way, man."
"Come on," Danny waves her fingers. “I’m telling you, pay up."
Her boyfriend lets out a defeated groan and Danny’s grin grows wider, only to have it completely wiped off her face as LaFontaine swoops in and takes the money from Kirsch’s hand.
“Actually, you have to pay up too, Lawrence,” they say. “I got this one.”
Danny narrows her eyes, “No you didn’t.”
“Uh, did too.”
“Excuse me,” Carmilla interrupts, leaning forward in her seat, “What exactly did you get, if I may inquire?”
Laura watches as the three of them go white as a sheet, glancing at each other as they try to come up with an excuse, but Perry is the one to throws them under the bus - metaphorically speaking, of course.
“They bet on how much time it would take for the two of you to have sex,” she explains, setting their usual orders in front of them. “Kirsch thought you’d last too little, Danny thought you’d last too much. LaFontaine got the time frame right,” she sends a pointed look towards her partner,” “but they’re not getting any money because they know I don’t condone this, right?”
LaFontaine is quick to slip Kirsch’s money back to him, “Right, babe. It was all for science.”
She can feel her cheeks burning, but Laura focuses on her food, unlike Carmilla, who glares at their friends and flickers toothpicks at them, “You’re a bunch of assholes.”
“Come on,” Kirsch says, leaning back on his seat and pulling Danny closer to him. “We were betting on your happiness, really.”
“Yeah,” Danny agrees, settling her back against her boyfriend’s chest, “We just hoped that Laura would be the one to pull that Ell-shaped stick out of your-”
At first, Laura doesn’t really understands what happens. Sure, she’s not happy with the thought of their friends betting on their sex life, but something about Danny’s comment seems to spark something in Carmilla that has her fork immediately dropping against her plate with a loud clang and fury burning in her eyes in a way that Laura has never seen before.
“Do not,” Carmilla seethes, “Bring that up right now.”
And then she’s out of her seat like a flash and Laura doesn’t know if she should be following her or not, but there’s really no other option in her mind, so she throws her napkin on the table and rushes out of the restaurant, hoping that Carmilla hasn’t managed to get very far in the time it took for her brain to kick into action.
It seems that faer side, because she finds Carmilla a few feet away, standing in front of the ocean, arms wrapped around herself in a way that makes her look smaller than Laura ever thought possible.
It’s like she can feel her heart breaking at that sight.
When she gets close to her, she boops her forehead against Carmilla’s shoulder, “Hey.”
Carmilla lets out a soft breath, turning her face and pressing a kiss to Laura’s forehead before she takes her hand, tangling their fingers together and pulling Laura closer to her, “Hey.”
“Are you okay?” Laura asks, even though it’s clear that she isn’t.
She falls back on the sand, spreads her legs and tugs on Carmilla’s hand, wrapping her arms around her waist when she sits down, letting her chin rest on her shoulder as they both watch the movements of the waves.
“Sorry for running like that,” Carmilla sighs. “They just took me by surprise, I guess.”
Laura doesn’t want to push it, but she remembers Carmilla’s words in a moment that feels like a long time ago, telling her that if she wanted to know something, she should just ask. She has never kept anything from her and Laura has no reason to believe she’s gonna start now, so she lets the words out of her lips.
Carmilla tenses in her arms and she thinks maybe she should’ve kept her lips shut, but that thought is quickly tossed aside when she feels Carmilla pushing herself further into her embrace, taking one of Laura’s hand that’s resting on her stomach and lacing their fingers together.
“Ell was my first love,” she says, and her voice is barely audible over the sound of waves breaking against the sea, “We met when I was 15. She was spending the summer here with her parents and one day she saw Kirsch and I out in the water and she just started talking to us. Back then Kirsch was already obsessed with Danny,” she chuckles at this, “so he didn’t really pay much attention to Ell. But I did. And we got closer and closer until one day she kissed me and I kissed her back.” she pauses for a moment and Laura presses a kiss against her shoulder, reassuring Carmilla that she can take her time with this. After a moment, she continues, “We spent all of our time together and when the summer came to an end, I told Ell that I didn’t want things to be over between us. She didn’t outright laugh at me, but she might as well have had, really. She told me that summer flings didn’t work like that, and that was all that we had had. It had been nice and exciting, but it wasn’t meant to last. And then she left and I never heard from her again.” she shrugs, tilting her head to meet Laura’s gaze. “That was the moment I promised I would never allow myself to fall for people who were gonna leave me eventually.”
It hits Laura like a thousand bricks what this is really about. It brings all of their interactions to the forefront of her mind, and she can make sense of all the times Carmilla’s kept her at arm’s length or just felt somewhat distant whenever they were sharing a moment that had Laura falling harder and harder for her.
“Hey,” she says, nudging on Camilla’s leg for her to turn around and look at her. When Carmilla does, she boops their foreheads together, before she presses a quick kiss to her lips. “I’m not leaving you.”
Carmilla looks away from her, clenching her teeth together, “Except that you are. And we have barely three weeks left together before you have to go back to Austria and get ready for your new school year.”
In theory, it’s true. Time zones are a bitch and she should be heading back a couple of weeks earlier to make sure that she would be ready to start her sophomore year at Silas, but it’s not gonna work like that, really, because she has no intention of going back at all.
“Do you know why I came here?” Laura asks her, lifting Carmilla’s chin to meet her gaze.
Carmilla shrugs, “Summer seemed more exciting in Hawaii?”
She laughs because, although that’s not exactly a lie, it’s not her reason for changing time zones so drastically.
“My mother visited once,” she explains, absentmindedly playing with Carmilla’s fingers. “She told me it was the most beautiful place she’s ever been in her life, and that one day she would bring me here so that I could understand why.” she bites on her lip, trying to fight the tears that threaten to fall with the memory, “She died before she could do that, though, and my dad couldn’t really bring himself to do things that reminded him of her because the pain was just too much.”
A tear falls from her eye and Carmilla is quick to wipe it, pressing a soft kiss to her cheek. When she pulls back, she squeezes Laura’s hand for her to go on.
“I applied to Silas because I wanted to make Daddy happy, really,” she continues. “I like the idea of being an investigative journalist, but my passion, really, is telling stories. I want to go after things that get my attention and I don’t really have the patience to sit in a classroom, doing school work and talking about things that hold little interest to me. So I finished my freshman year and then I told my Dad that I was gonna put it all on hold and come here, because I needed to find myself. If I did, I’d stay and see where things took me. If not, I’d come back and get my diploma, but he had to let me try this.”
“Did you?” Carmilla asks, pushing a strand of hair behind Laura’s ear.
“Did I what?”
She smiles, and it’s filled with both longing and amusement at the same time, “Find yourself.”
At that moment, Laura lets herself think of everything that’s happened ever since she got to Hawaii. She thinks of drowning, of Carmilla saving her, of becoming friends with her and meeting new people like Kirsch, Danny, LaFontaine, Perry and even Dr. Helen, really, who’s been nothing but extremely sweet in the few times that Laura has met her. She thinks of getting to know Carmilla and falling in love with her, sharing kisses in the sea, and against the sand, in her hotel room, Carmilla’s bed and even in the shop. She thinks of silly conversations and deep ones, of sharing things she’s never shared with anyone else, because she knows that she can trust Carmilla.
But besides that, she thinks of all the moments she spent by herself whenever Carmilla was busy with work. She thinks of all the people she’s met in this close-knit community, the stories she’s heard and the places she got to visit, places she was sure her mother would’ve taken her had she been alive to do so. She’s learned more about herself in the couple months she’s spent in Hawaii than she did during her entire life in Austria, and so, when she gives Carmilla her answer, she knows it’s the absolute truth, and not just something she’s saying in a misguided attempt to spare her feelings.
“I have,” she smiles, pulling Carmilla closer to her. “And I also found you, so I’d say that I got a pretty good deal out of this.”
Carmilla rolls her eyes, but grabs Laura’s backside and pulls her into her lap, “Well, aren’t you a hopeless romantic.”
Laura squeals as Carmilla pulls her, but she lets their foreheads boop against each other right before she brings her into a languid kiss, taking her time to savor this now that they both know they’re not going anywhere.
With the sand scratching their legs and the sound of the waves crashing behind them, they’re both home.
“Okay, no,” Carmilla shakes her head, pulling on Laura’s feet until they’re in the position she wants them. “You need to keep them like that otherwise you’re gonna lose your balance and end up with your board hitting you on your head or something equally as painful.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Relax,” she reassures her, pressing a quick peck to her lips. “Just do as I showed you and you’ll be fine, okay?”
Laura seems dubious, but she lies down against the board again, looking up as she waits for Carmilla’s instructions.
“So you go paddle, paddle, paddle,” she explains, using her arms to illustrate the movement, “And then up. But this gotta be fast, otherwise you’ll lose momentum, got it?”
It doesn’t seem like Laura’s really got anything, but she nods anyway, repeating Carmilla’s movements another three times before she gets up, taking the board that Carmilla let her borrow and bringing it under her arm.
“Let’s do this.”
They get in the water and Carmilla watches as Laura seems to glare at every wave as if they’re her enemies, which means she has to bite on her lip to keep herself from laughing because this is Laura’s first time doing this and she needs to be supportive. She can’t be an asshole and she can’t make fun of Laura, because Carmilla knows that she actually wants to be good at this, so that they can share it and she doesn’t have to feel like she’s ignoring Laura whenever she’s out in the water.
(Laura’s words, not Carmilla’s.)
It seems like at least half an hour goes by before Laura finally finds a wave that she deems appropriated for her, only to lose it as she starts paddling too late and isn’t there when the wave breaks mid-way to the shore. She looks back at Carmilla with a pout and she wants nothing more than to swim over there and kiss Laura senseless, but she settles for giving her a thumbs up.
“You’ll get the next one, cutie!”
And get the next one Laura does.
At first, Carmilla doesn’t think she’s gonna make it. Her paddling is too slow and her figure is kind of wrong, but she manages to push herself up and ride the wave for a good few seconds before she loses her balance and falls in the ocean.
Once she resurfaces, she has an impossibly wide grin on her lips and she motions for Carmilla to come to her as she pushes her board towards the sand.
They aren’t even out when Laura comes jumping at her, and Carmilla thanks her stars that they’re in the water and don’t really hurt themselves when her girlfriend’s - and they are officially dating now - surprise attack sends them both tumbling down.
“Did you see it?” Laura asks, her arms wrapped around Carmilla’s neck. “I did it! I actually did it. I’m a badass surfer now too!”
She laughs - she would hardly call Laura a surfer after barely managing to ride one small wave, but she’s not gonna be the one to make light of her girlfriend’s accomplishments, so she simply nods and brings their lips together, giving Laura a congratulatory kiss.
“I did see it, cupcake. For a first timer, that was quite impressive.”
Laura boops their foreheads together and presses another kiss to her lips, her grin so infatuating that Carmilla just can’t help but to return it.
“Hey,” her girlfriend says when she pulls back. Her dirty blonde hair is a few shades lighter due to the constant exposure to salt water and the sun, and her skin is tanned, unlike Carmilla’s who just grows ridiculously red whenever she forgets to use the appropriate amount of sunscreen.
Laura often complains that her hair is always dry and her lips are chapped all the time now, but to Carmilla, she’s never been more beautiful.
“Hey,” she says, realizing she got lost in her daydreams and forgot that Laura had even said anything.
“I have something to tell you.”
She raises an eyebrow, pulling on Laura’s wetsuit (it looks weirdly similar to the ones people use in that hunger games movie and she has no idea how Laura even got a hold of it) to bring her closer, “Oh?”
“Yeah,” Laura nods, right before she brings her lips to Carmilla’s ear, and whispers three words that nearly make her knees crumble. “I love you.”
Carmilla picks her up then, twirling Laura in a circle and basking in her giggles before she settles her down, cupping Laura’s cheek and bringing their foreheads together, trying to put into words just how happy she is at that moment.
In the end, though, there’s nothing more appropriate for her to say than the words she knows Laura wants to hear, and words she would never be able to deny her, not in a million years and not in a thousand different lifetimes.
“I love you too, cupcake.”
Carmilla has no words to describe how much she loves the ocean.
It’s always been the place where she could go, the one constant in a life that hadn’t been so great in some aspects. She’d always been thankful for her moments in the water; the moments she could lose herself in her mind, thinking of anything that her brain came up with, without having to justify herself or ask for permission. Everything she is today, she owes it to the ocean. She owes it for the lessons that could be applied to every aspect of her life, no matter if they were important or not. For always accepting her, no matter what.
And now, for Laura.
The ocean always did give her the most important things in her life.
It wouldn’t make sense for this to be any different.