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Banter and Bloodstains

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Laura looked around for the fourth time. There was no one else in the laundromat. There was no one about to walk in the door. It was the middle of the night. Probably nobody else was GOING to come in. She’d waited half an hour so far and nobody had come in or out. Only one person had walked by in the street. Normally she wouldn’t even consider this, but desperate times called for desperate measures and she’d been wearing these clothes for three days now and the pants had a Cheetos stain and the top had hot chocolate spilled down the front, and all the rest of her clothes were in the washer already with the detergent added.

She closed her eyes, said a silent prayer to whatever deity might be so kind as to take pity on her, and slipped out of her clothes, feeling extremely exposed in her bra and underwear. She tossed her clothes into the washer, put her money in and started it, then turned around again quickly to make sure nobody had entered (which logically she knew was stupid because the door hadn’t chimed) and that nobody was suddenly leering at her through the window.

The coast was clear. She was alone. Very exposed, and whoever reviewed the security footage later was going to get quite the eyeful, but at least she’d hopefully never have to look that person in the eye.

She sank to the floor behind a row of washers so that she was mostly hidden from view, but could still see if anyone entered the laundromat and started to read the book she’d brought along.

The rush of water and the hum of the machine were a comforting sound backdrop, and as the minutes ticked by, Laura started to relax. It would be fine. She’d do her laundry, through some actual CLEAN clothes on, and she’d be gone before anyone could catch her in her underwear in a laundromat.

Laura was just about to start a new chapter when the chiming of the door being opened made her stiffen.

She placed the book in her lap and crossed her arms awkwardly across the chest, which would have been fine if it hadn’t pushed her boobs up, so then she uncrossed her arms and slung one arm across the top of one boob with her hand holding on to the opposite shoulder, and stuck her other arm kind of blocking her other boob and part of her stomach. It was not a remotely comfortable position to sit in.

She leaned a little to peer down the row of washing machines and almost fell over, having to break her attempt at modesty to catch herself. She repositioned and peered again.

A thin girl, probably about her own age, with dark hair and dark eyes, dressed in a loose black tank top and black leather pants was carrying a large, army green canvas bag over her shoulder and headed directly for her.

Laura felt herself begin to panic. Why couldn’t this…okay, if she was honest…remarkably attractive stranger have used one of the machines at the far end, near the door.

The girl noticed Laura as she approached and raised a curious eyebrow, but said nothing. She stopped at the washing machine next to the one with Laura’s whites in it. Laura couldn’t help admiring the girl’s muscles flex as she dropped the bag.

Not a good time to find someone attractive, Laura reminded herself.

Without a word, the girl opened up the bag, then started dumping the contents into the washing machine.

Laura stared at her aghast. They weren’t her clothes, but STILL! “You can’t do that!”

The girl paused and scowled at her. “Is there a nudity requirement for using the machines here?”

Oh, god. Her voice sent chills down Laura’s spine. Her tone managed to somehow be sultry and sarcastic at the same time.

Laura blushed. “No, I…Emergency laundry night, right?”

The girl stared blankly at her.

“Anyway, you really need to sort your clothes. Darks and lights?”

The girl continued to meet her gaze unblinkingly and expressionless. Laura could feel her cheeks getting hotter by the second.

Finally, the girl smirked and said, “Are you the laundry police? Will you arrest me if I throw everything in one load? Is there a pair of handcuffs hidden on your person? Because you seem to be lacking in pockets.”

Laura had possibly never felt more self-conscious in her life and was really regretting her decision to say anything at all. What did she care if this stranger’s clothes all came out grey and faded? “Well, no, of course not. It’s your laundry.”

The girl resumed dumping laundry into the machine. 

“I just…the colors might bleed,” Laura made one last attempt, though she wasn’t really sure why.

The girl ignored her, overfilled the machine, put her detergent in and started it, then moved to the one next to it and began to dump more of her laundry in it.

That’s when Laura noticed it: the dark stains on some of the clothes. Dark brown stains. Almost like…

Oh great, I’m stuck almost naked in a laundromat with a really hot axe murderer, she thought to herself, wishing she’d thought to bring some of the bear spray her father insisted she stay supplied with along to the laundromat.

Laura began to glance around for potential makeshift weapons, but unless she’d gained superstrength so she could lift the washing machines and was just unaware of it, her only option was her paperback book, and that wasn’t really going to do anything beyond maybe give the girl a paper cut.

The girl finished loading the second washing machine and started it, then hopped up onto it and eyed Laura curiously.

Laura felt very exposed, and not just because she was just in her underwear. The girl’s gaze was almost predatory.

Like she’s contemplating making you her next victim, Laura thought, then she instantly wished that she hadn’t.

“Do you always do your laundry practically naked in public places in the middle of the night?” the girl finally asked.

“NO! No. I…I had finals this week and I’ve been so busy studying for them for the past few weeks I didn’t have a chance to do laundry and literally everything I owned has been worn multiple times, and I didn’t want to pay to do extra loads of laundry, and I was literally down to my last pair of clean underwear, and…” And I’m blabbering away to someone who is very probably a serial killer. Go ahead and give her your name and address and tell her nobody knows you’re here, while you’re at it. “No. I don’t usually do this.”

The girl looked vaguely amused by Laura’s ramble, and her unwavering gaze was really starting to make Laura uncomfortable.

“And the unsolicited laundry advice?”

“That was…I was just trying to be helpful,” Laura replied, trying not to sound too defensive and failing miserably. “Could have told you to soak your clothes in cold water to help get the blood stains out, but kept that to myself,” she muttered under her breath.

“What?” the girl asked with a smirk.

Laura was instantly a little alarmed that maybe she hadn’t muttered that quite as quietly as she had thought. “Nothing,” she replied with a fake smile.

The girl raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow and continued to look at Laura.

Laura squirmed uncomfortably. Plus her leg itched and she couldn’t scratch it without uncovering herself. Why couldn’t this weird, probably murderous, though admittedly really attractive girl look away?

“You all right there, cupcake?”

Laura didn’t meet her gaze and did her best not to blush. “Hmm?”

“You don’t look very comfortable. Are you going to stay like that the whole night? Because you realize that at some point, you’re going to have to get your clothes out of the washing machine, right?”

Laura, for some reason, had not actually considered that point. Until now. Now she could very definitely see the flaw in her plan. Even if she could somehow keep herself kind of covered as she stood and moved to the washing machine, she was very definitely going to need her hands to transfer her wet clothes to the dryer. Laura relaxed her arms, defeated.

“So much for modesty.”

The girl hopped off the washing machine and, without warning, pulled her tank top off and held it out to her.

Laura’s jaw dropped open as she took in the girl’s frame, very definitely including her really very nice cleavage as displayed by her black, lacy bra. Okay, maybe that was the majority of what Laura took in. She swallowed hard.

The girl managed to look simultaneously amused and impatient. “Are you gonna take it? Or continue to stare at my tits?”

“Huh?” Laura asked, her gaze guiltily snapping up to the girl’s face.

“The shirt? I mean, I can put it back on, but you seem to mind your lack of clothes, and it doesn’t really bother me, so…”

“Oh,” Laura replied. “Thanks.”

Laura stood awkwardly, forgetting to grab her book from her lap before it fell to the floor and took the shirt from the girl. The girl looked Laura up and down as Laura plucked the shirt from her hand, and Laura couldn’t help but blush.

Laura slipped the tank top on and instantly felt more comfortable, until she remembered that she was now hanging out with a half-naked someone who had likely, at the very least, committed fairly grizzly crimes, and she was now wearing their shirt. She wondered if that made her an accessory. Maybe the girl was looking to get another set of DNA on her clothes to cast doubt on them belonging to her.

Laura surreptitiously began checking the shirt for blood stains, but she couldn’t see any.

“Something wrong?”

Laura looked up at the girl and shook her head quickly. “No, I was just…” A handy lie evaded her in her time of need.

“Yes?”

“Trying to tell if it was black or navy,” she finished lamely, internally berating herself for such an obvious lie.

The girl didn’t look convinced, but she still looked mildly amused. “It’s black.”

“Oh. Well, thanks.”

The girl nodded and hopped back onto the washing machine, leaning back on her hands and surveying the rest of the laundromat.

Laura bit her lower lip as she noticed the flex of muscles in the girl’s arms. The girl’s jawline was to die for (though hopefully not literally). Her breasts were…

Laura swallowed hard and became suddenly acutely aware that she was staring at this girl that she didn’t even know the name of and who had an awfully suspicious amount of blood on her clothes. Really, she should be making better life choices.

“Like what you see?” the girl asked, and Laura’s eyes flicked back up to meet hers.

“I wasn’t…I…”

The girl smirked.

“I mean, you’re the one that just walked in here and stripped off your shirt.”

“Yeah, I’m the only one that’s done THAT in here tonight.”

Laura really wished that the girl didn’t have a point.

Another thought occurred to her about her current situation with a potential killer: the girl was between her and the door.

Laura contemplated how to remedy that. She could move down the row of washing machines, but that would take her initially closer to the girl. She could move to another row, but that might alert the girl to her suspicions and expedite any potential murder plans. Option three was to stay where she was and hope for the best.

Laura opted for option one. She could probably get one good strike in if the girl suddenly attacked. She’d never been more appreciative of her dad enrolling her in krav maga at age eight.

As subtly as she could, Laura sidled along the row of washing machines, pressing against the machines opposite from where the girl was perched.

The girl watched her with far more interest than Laura would have liked.

“Going somewhere?” the girl asked when Laura was almost past her.

Laura jumped. “Oh, um, no…Where would I be going in my underwear and a stranger’s shirt?” she asked, closing the lid of a washing machine opposite the girl and hopping up onto it.

The girl shrugged. “You tell me, sweetheart.”

Laura offered her what she hoped was an innocent smile. “So,” she began in as conversational a tone as she could muster. “What’s your name?” Not like I’m taking mental notes to give to the cops later, she added in her head.

The girl studied her for a moment longer than was necessary, then replied, “Carmilla,” in a voice that could seduce an angel to sin.

“I’m Laura,” Laura replied, then immediately wondered why she’d given a potential serial killer her name. Yep, that’s me! Laura “good at poor decision-making” Hollis! “Nice to meet you.”

Carmilla gave a slight nod, but didn’t return the insincere sentiment.

Laura sat there awkwardly for a few minutes, unsure of where to look. She would glance at Carmilla’s face, trying to take note of details in case she was questioned by police later, but then she’d realize she was staring and look away self-consciously before attempting it again.

“Is there something I can help you with?” Carmilla finally asked, a hint of annoyance in her voice.

“No. I…Sorry.”

Why did this potentially violent criminal have to be so damn attractive? Laura wondered as her gaze drifted back to Carmilla and her oh-so-alluring cleavage.

“Sooo,” Laura began in an attempt to break the awkward silence, “what brings you to the laundromat at almost two in the morning?”

Carmilla gave her a look that clearly suggested Laura might not be the sharpest tool in the shed. “…Laundry.”

“Right, no, of course,” Laura said, feeling absolutely ridiculous. Conversations should not be this difficult. Besides, weren’t serial killers supposed to be charming and charismatic so they could lure victims to their deaths? “I just meant, like this specific laundromat.”

“Convenience.”

“And so late?”

“I’m not the only one here. Why are you here this late?”

“I wasn’t about to strip down in the middle of the day surrounded by people.”

“Well, lucky me that I get the show,” Carmilla replied dryly, a smirk once again playing across her lips.

Laura blushed. Is that flirting? Is Carmilla hitting on me? No, of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.

“I’m a bit of a night owl,” Carmilla added after a moment.

Laura nodded. “Convenience, you said. Does that mean you live in the area?”

“I’m staying with family, at the moment.”

Oh. Family. Well, that was harmless enough, right? Unless it was THEIR blood on Carmilla’s clothes. Oh, God, what kind of a monster slaughtered their own family?

“Lots of family?” Laura asked.

“My mother and brother,” Carmilla replied.

“And they don’t have laundry at their house?”

“My mother’s a bit old fashioned. She has a service that does her laundry for her. I stay in the guest quarters and don’t really have access to it. Besides, I prefer to be self-reliant.”

Or you don’t want the cleaning service to see all of the blood stains from your murder spree.

“Oh.”

“Any more questions in this interrogation of yours?”

“I’m not…It’s not an interrogation! Why would you think this is an interrogation? I’m just making conversation with the girl who gave me her shirt. No interrogations happening here.” Yet.

Carmilla raised an eyebrow and smirked. “If you say so, creampuff.”

Creampuff? Is that some code word she uses for “next victim”?

“I do,” Laura replied stubbornly. 

The buzzer on the washing machine made Laura jump.

Carmilla smirked, then looked at her expectantly.

Laura squirmed self-consciously. Going to move her clothes meant moving back past Carmilla and further away from the door. She really had not thought any of this through.

“You gonna do something about those? Or you good in a stranger’s shirt and your underwear for the rest of the night?”

Laura slid off the washing machine and, doing her best to stay on the far side of the aisle until she was past Carmilla, then moved to the washing machine and started transferring her lights to a dryer against the wall. She was aware of Carmilla’s eyes on her as she moved.

Sizing up her prey, Laura thought.

She hated that her feet practically came off the ground when she had to reach all the way to the bottom of the washer to grab the last few items, and when she stood up, Carmilla was smirking, her eyes raising slowly to Laura’s face.

“Like what you see?” Laura grumbled self-consciously, before she could think better about antagonizing the girl with suspicious blood stains all over her clothes.

“Yeah, actually. Not bad.”

Laura blushed and bustled towards the dryer, shoving the last of her clothes in. She inserted her money and started the machine, flinching as the zip from her grey sweater clanged loudly against the inside of the machine.

Even though she was anticipating it, she jumped when the buzzer on the second washing machine went off.

“Jumpy,” Carmilla noted.

Laura glared. Why did Carmilla have to be sitting right next to that washing machine? Why couldn’t she have sat further away?

Laura tried not to envision Carmilla slamming her head down into the washer, or stabbing her in the back as she leaned over to grab her clothes. Her dad would never forgive her if she got murdered. He’d never forgive himself, really.

Laura sighed as she began to transfer her clothes, glancing sidelong at Carmilla from time to time.

Carmilla was watching her in amusement, and Laura was not a fan.

“You take the sorting thing seriously, huh?” Carmilla commented as Laura started the second dryer.

Laura eyed her suspiciously. “It’s better for your clothes.”

“I’ve never had any issues.”

But apparently YOU don’t care if there are blood stains on your clothes.

Laura shrugged.

She eyed the seat she’d taken before and weighed the pros and cons of walking past Carmilla yet again. When the dryers went off, she’d have to move past her again. Or she could stay over here and be further away from the door. Neither option seemed enticing.

“You all right there, cupcake?”

“Hmm?”

“You look like you’re making life or death decisions.”

“Funny you should phrase it like that,” Laura muttered under her breath.

“Oh? Why?”

Crap. Laura hadn’t realized that Carmilla would be able to hear that, especially over the dryer.

“What?”

“Why is it funny that I phrased it like that?”

Carmilla didn’t look offended, merely mildly entertained.

“No reason?”

Carmilla raised a skeptical eyebrow.

“You always say strange things without reason?”

“Is this my interrogation?” Laura challenged.

Carmilla smirked. “Maybe. There are more interesting things I could ask, though. Why don’t you come back and take a seat.”

Laura eyed the washing machine again. She swallowed hard. “Okay.”

Carmilla hopped down as she walked past, and stepped toward her. Laura instinctively moved back against the washing machine, and Carmilla leaned forward and put her arms on either side of her, trapping her in place.

Oh, God! This is it! This is when she kills me! Act quick!

“What do you –“

Laura cut off Carmilla’s question mid-sentence with a swift hand to the throat. Carmilla doubled over, choking as Laura made a dash for the exit, completely forgetting her current attire, or lack thereof. Then again, her life was more important than her modesty anyway.

Laura caught a blur out of the corner of her eye, and then found herself pinned to the nearby washing machine, by an annoyed looking Carmilla.

Carmilla’s hands covered her own, and, though she struggled against her, her hands didn’t budge. Carmilla was crazy strong.

…And crazy fast.

…And she’d recovered awfully fast from that blow to the throat that should have cut off her air supply at least temporarily.

Uh-oh.

“WHAT. WAS. THAT.” Carmilla demanded through grit teeth.

“I was…It was…Sorry?”

Carmilla glared. “You’re SORRY you tried to kill me?”

“Well, see…It’s just…It was self-defense?”

“From what, exactly?”

Carmilla’s eyes were daring her to answer. Laura gulped nervously.

“Umm…I thought…Maybe…”

“Yes?” Carmilla’s tone suggested that she was quickly losing patience.

“Look, in my defense you had blood all over your clothes. It really was a logical assumption to think this…”

“Think what?” Carmilla growled.

Laura contemplated her options. None of them were enticing. There was also, she was starting to contemplate, the slightest possibility that she might have read the situation wrong. “You weren’t attacking me to kill me?”

Carmilla rolled her eyes. “Not exactly.”

“But the blood on your clothes! I saw it! And…You’re really fast. Like REALLY fast. And strong.”

Carmilla let go of Laura and stood back, surveying her with a sigh. She licked the corner of her lips, then sighed again. Then she bared her teeth.

Laura jumped back.

Or, at least, she tried to. It would have worked better if there wasn’t a washing machine just behind her. Instead, lurched her lower back into the machine and winced in pain.

“Ow! Fuck! Also, why do you have fangs?!?”

“You catch on quick, don’t you, sweetheart,” Carmilla responded dryly.

Laura glared as she rubbed her back.

“Those are really good fake ones, right? What, you just put them in to scare unsuspecting girls in laundromats?”

Carmilla ran her tongue along her fangs. “Not fake, and mostly they only come out when I want a snack.”

Laura straightened nervously. She was joking, right? She had to be joking.

“Snack as in…cookies?”

Carmilla locked eyes with her and shook her head. A smirk formed on her lips. She took a step towards Laura, who glanced hopelessly at the exit.

“Snack as in…people?”

“I don’t drain them dry, if that puts you at ease.”

“Not especially! It’s not every day I do laundry with a vampire!”

Carmilla let out a low chuckle.

“Don’t suppose you only eat creepy old guys?”

Carmilla shook her head again. “My tastes lie elsewhere, when I have a choice.”

Laura gulped nervously.

“If it helps, I ate earlier. Hence the blood. Every once in a while, it can get a little messy.”

“You should have soaked it in cold water first if you expect it to come out.”

Carmilla raised an eyebrow. “Okay.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“No, what?” Laura demanded, curiosity winning out over better judgment.

“That’s just not the usual response to finding out someone’s a vampire.”

“Oh.” Laura considered this for a moment. “Should I be cowering in fear?”

Carmilla smirked. “No. I like this.”

Laura nodded, not entirely sure why that response had brought a blush to her cheeks.

“So if you weren’t trying to kill me, or, you know, eat me, what were you trying to do?”

Carmilla looked down at her hands and examined her fingernails for a second, then glanced up at Laura. “Really?”

Laura frowned in confusion. What else could she have been doing? She examined the evidence: first there was the half-naked vampire standing before her, then there was the way she’d offered Laura her shirt, then there was the way she kept watching her like she was prey…or…

“Oh!” Laura’s blush deepened. “Really? You were…”

Carmilla rolled her eyes and hopped back onto the washing machine.

“What is wrong with me tonight?” she mumbled, seemingly to herself.

So the sexy, non-serial killer (hopefully, at least) vampire had been hitting on her? That was…unexpected. Surprisingly, Laura realized, not unwelcome, though.

Oh. Well, that was probably not a good thing. Or not an intelligent response, at least.

Laura brought her eyes back up to meet Carmilla’s. Carmilla was eyeing her with reserved interest.

“Let me guess, this is your first year away from home?”

Laura nodded.

“And home is some small town where nothing ever really happens?”

Laura didn’t answer, but she felt an embarrassed flush creeping up her neck.

Carmilla sighed again. “Isn’t that always the way…”

“What?”

Carmilla shook her head. “Nothing.”

Laura frowned. “It’s not like I’ve never left home before. My dad took me on trips. We visited museums and took tours. And I’ve been to…summer camp,” she finished lamely, aware of Carmilla’s increased amusement as she spoke.

“Naïve, provincial girl…I shouldn’t, and yet I’m curious…”

“I’m not naïve. And…curious?”

“Never mind, cupcake.”

Laura hated that response. It only ever served to pique her curiosity. “Curious about what?”

“Curious about things I should know better about. I’m far too old to have even a passing interest in you, and yet…”

Laura blushed. “How old are you?”

“Old enough to know better,” came the reply as Carmilla’s eyes dragged over her body.

Laura swallowed hard. She felt suddenly extremely exposed. She glanced down. Of course, she WAS extremely exposed. Oh, great.

Laura hopped back onto the washing machine across from Carmilla and crossed her legs, trying once again for a modicum of decency, though she wasn’t entirely sure why. She studied Carmilla, who looked back at her unflinchingly.

“Just to be clear, you’re not actually planning on killing me?”

Carmilla smirked. “No, I’m not.”

“How do I know you’re telling the truth?”

“Guess that’s just a risk you’re gonna have to take, sweetheart. At least until your clothes are dry.”

Carmilla had a point. Unless she wanted to go parading around outside with who knows who or what around, wearing almost nothing, Laura wasn’t going anywhere, potentially murderous vampire or not.

The silence between them was tense until Carmilla leaned back on her hands and looked up at the ceiling, then closed her eyes. When her eyes didn’t open again quickly, Laura began to wonder if it was possible for a vampire (or anyone, really) to actually fall asleep in that position. As attractive as Carmilla was to look at, and, God, did she really need to stop staring at Carmilla’s chest, looking at her potentially sleeping was not the most exciting way to pass the time. Laura eyed the spot on the floor where her book had been carelessly discarded earlier. It probably wasn’t wise to wake a vampire, but she still wasn’t convinced Carmilla was actually asleep, and her book would certainly make the time pass faster. It wasn’t like she was being rude. There was hardly any scintillating conversation happening.

Laura slid off the washing machine and tiptoed towards her book.

“Get tired of checking me out?”

Laura didn’t have to turn to know that Carmilla was smirking again.

“I just…I thought you were…I wasn’t...” Laura turned defensively back towards Carmilla, who was once again watching her in amusement.

Carmilla shrugged. “It’s okay. I didn’t mind.”

Laura felt her cheeks flushing with color. “I thought you were asleep.”

“No. Just…thinking. Remembering.”

“Remembering what?” Laura asked.

Carmilla eyed her for a moment, and then it seemed as if Carmilla were looking through her, at a different person in a different time, perhaps. A flash of sadness passed across her face, and then Carmilla smiled grimly.

“Past mistakes.”

Wait, does that mean I’m a mistake? How can I be a mistake? I’m not…We haven’t… Laura wished that her mind hadn’t instantly gone to possible mistakes that she could make with Carmilla. Well, really, she wished that all of the potential mistakes her brain had conjured up weren’t sexual in nature. She swallowed hard, and when she glanced at Carmilla’s face she found the smirk firmly settled across her lips once again.

Maybe not killing me is the mistake?

Laura grabbed her book and made her way back to the washing machine she’d been using as a seat. She climbed back up, not so gracefully, and then looked expectantly at Carmilla.

“Don’t let me stop you, princess,” Carmilla said, nodding to the book.

Laura frowned. She opened her mouth to protest the latest nickname, but Carmilla’s attention had already shifted. Laura sighed and opened her book.

It took her a little while to find her place, and even longer to stop needing to reread lines because she hadn’t been paying enough attention. Finally, the story started to pull her back in and she was almost able to forget about the extremely silent, ridiculously sexy vampire sitting across from her.

When the buzzer for Carmilla’s washing went off, Laura jumped and dropped her book.

“Still jumpy, huh?” Carmilla asked in amusement as she somehow managed to make sliding off a washing machine look sexy.

Laura glowered at her over her book, but Carmilla was already opening the washing machine and leaning over to fish out her clothes.

Don’t look at her ass. Her eyes immediately disobeyed. Goddamn, she was sexy. Those leather pants clung to Carmilla’s figure so attractively. Laura bit her lower lip and told herself she’d only look for a few more second, and then she’d behave herself. It was a good bargain, but when Carmilla stood and turned, her arms full of wet clothes, Laura was still staring.

“Enjoying the view?”

Laura cleared her throat and did her best to appear innocent, but it was clear Carmilla didn’t buy the act for a second.

That’s when Laura’s eyes fell on the clothes that Carmilla was putting into the dryer. Laura shook her head. She couldn’t just let her ruin them.

“Wait! You can’t put them in the dryer!”

Carmilla eyed her with one eyebrow raised. “Because?” she demanded, a hint of annoyance in her voice.

“Do you want the blood stains to set in, or would you actually like to be able to wear those clothes in public again sometime?” Laura shot back. Laura put her book down and jumped down off the washing machine. She marched over to Carmilla before she could think better of it, and began taking the wet clothes out of her hands.

“Look, see? There’s still blood. Did you run these on hot? You need cold water.”

Laura led Carmilla to the lone slop sink in the corner and started to lay out the stained clothing over the side. She sighed.

“Hang on. I’ve got some stain remover.” Laura went back to where her laundry bag sat on the floor and fished out her stain remover spray, then went back to the sink, only to find a vaguely amused Carmilla watching her every move.

The buzzer on the second washing machine went off, but this time, Laura didn’t flinch. She was too busy being aware of Carmilla blatantly checking her out.

“YOU enjoying the view?” Laura challenged, self-consciously.

“Very much so,” came the unabashed reply.

Laura did her best to ignore it, though she knew that the blush on her cheeks gave her away. “Right, well, anyway, here.” Laura began to spray the splotches of blood, rubbed the stain remover in a little, then put the articles of clothing into the sink, making sure it was plugged first. She began to run cold water into it. “Next?” she demanded, holding out her hand.

She swallowed hard when a lacy purple bra was placed in her hand. “Really?”

Carmilla shrugged. “Not all the feeding happens fully clothed.”

Laura tried not to imagine those circumstances, and failed miserably. She was decently sure that Carmilla had given her the bra in expectation of a reaction and she didn’t want to give her the satisfaction. She applied the same treatment to the bra, then turned back to the clothes still in Carmilla’s arms.

She picked through a variety of mostly tops, and a few pairs of pants, and put them all in to soak. Then Carmilla held up a pair of lacy underwear. Laura swallowed hard. “Okay, really?”

“Relax. Not feeding related, although feeding on the inner thigh can be quite –“

“Okay, you know what? I think you can soak take care of those yourself.”

Carmilla smirked as Laura stepped back and handed over the stain remover.

“Wait, so are you implying that vampires get their periods?” she asked after a moment.

“The joys of living forever,” Carmilla responded dryly, dropping the underwear into the cold water.

“Okay, you should let those soak for a while, and you should probably get whatever is stained in the other load and add put it in to soak too.”

“Doesn’t leave much to go in the dryer.”

“Well, maybe you should have thought of that before you put the clothes in the washing machine covered in blood to begin with.”

“Please. It’s not that much blood.”

Laura fished a long-sleeved top out of the sink. “Really? What did you do here? Wipe your mouth on your sleeve?”

Carmilla shrugged. “It was handy.”

Laura dropped the shirt back into the sink and rolled her eyes. “Classy. Aren’t vampires supposed to be sophisticated or something?”

“Sophistication can be draining. Every once in a while, wiping your mouth on your sleeve is convenient. Besides, have you seen current media representation of vampires? I don’t know that ‘sophisticated’ is really the right word.”

Laura considered Spike from Buffy and, shudder, Edward from Twilight and had to concede the point.  “Fine.”

Carmilla moved back to the dryers with the unstained clothes still cradled in one arm, and shoved them into the one next to one Laura was using. Laura followed her, then froze as Carmilla rounded on her with a smirk.

“Why? Is sophistication something you go for?”

Laura swallowed hard. “It…I-“

“Expensive wine in ornately decorated rooms with high ceilings and elaborate chandeliers? Dinner parties catered by high-paid chefs where the dress-code is formal? Waltzing across ballrooms clad in fancy clothes?”

With each question, Carmilla moved closer and Laura inched backwards until her back was pressed against the wall of dryers and Carmilla was close enough she could feel her breath on her face.

“Is that your idea of romance, sweetheart? Were you hoping for someone to whisk you away to exotic palaces and drafty castles where maids would wait on you hand and foot and you could lead an elegant life of sophistication?”

Carmilla’s mouth was mere inches from her ear now, and Laura couldn’t stop the shiver that ran down her spine.

Laura’s mouth was dry as she opened and closed it, trying desperately to come up with a response, but all she could think was that Carmilla’s bra was ghosting against her crossed arms and Carmilla’s exquisite body was so close.

Do NOT think about kissing her.

Her eyes darted to Carmilla’s lips.

“I –“

“Sorry to disappoint,” Carmilla said, pushing off of the dryers and moving away from Laura. “I’ve spent my time in sophistication, and while waltzing can indeed be…” Carmilla’s gaze clouded over for a moment as she let the sentence trailed off, and Laura was once again struck by the idea that Carmilla was lost in a different time. “Anyway, don’t go looking for sophistication in a laundromat at two in the morning.”

Laura had to admit that that was probably sound advice. She didn’t move. Part of her was still recovering from the proximity to Carmilla. She would never had admitted it aloud, but the brief moment of closeness had gotten her kinda hot and bothered. Which was stupid. Definitely stupid. Definitely not something she should try to make happen again. Or want to happen again. Definitely not. At all.

Carmilla had resumed picking through her remaining wet clothes in the two washing machines and Laura was just a little pleased to see her setting aside the clothes that still had blood stains on them.

“So if something’s already been through the dryer with blood on it…?”

“Good luck getting it out,” Laura replied, and watched, vaguely appalled, as Carmilla tossed a blood-stained shirt into the ‘go ahead and put in the dryer’ pile. “Did no one ever teach you to do laundry?”

Carmilla grimaced. “I had servants growing up, and I don’t think Maman has lifted a finger towards housework in centuries. Why would she, when there are so many people that are so easy to control?”

“So your mother is a –“

“She’s not my birth mother, but I suppose you could call her my ‘rebirth’ mother,” Carmilla sighed, and Laura didn’t have to be super perceptive to pick up on some tension there. 

“You two don’t get along?”

Carmilla let out a bark of laughter and then smiled ruefully. “You could say that. Maman is…she’s the type of vampire that would gladly, and does, have other vampires cowering in fear.”

Oh. Well, that didn’t sound good. Laura thanked her lucky stars that it was Carmilla, not her vampiric mother, that was here at the laundromat with her. Still, it was probably wise to put as much space between herself and this family of vampires as possible as soon as her laundry was done. 

Laura frowned at the ease with which she was accepting this whole vampire thing. Maybe she was losing it. Maybe this whole thing was some vivid hallucination brought on by extreme self-consciousness at doing laundry in her underwear in public. She pinched herself and blinked hard a few times, but Carmilla was still standing there before her. If it was a hallucination, it was an awfully vivid and persistent one.

“So where do you come from? Who were you before you were…a vampire? How did your mother turn you into one? Is it just like a biting thing? Is there some blood exchanged?”

“Back to the interrogation, then?”

“I’m not interrogating,” Laura replied defensively.

“No?”

“I’m making conversation.”

“Ah.”

Carmilla finished sorting through her clothes and shoved the ones she’d deemed not in need of soaking into a dryer and started it.

Laura waited expectantly for some answers. She waited as Carmilla carried the rest of her clothes to the sink and began to treat them with stain remover. By the time Carmilla had returned, Laura was standing next to the dryers, arms crossed across her chest, foot tapping impatiently.

“Well??”

“Well, what?”

“Are you going to answer any of my questions?”

Carmilla smirked. “Got to keep some air of mystery, don’t I, cupcake?”

Laura glowered. She didn’t like when questions went unanswered. It probably wasn’t wise to pester a vampire who didn’t feel like sharing, though. She bit her tongue.

Carmilla settled back on a washing machine and examined her nails, then looked up to find Laura still standing by the dryers.

Carmilla sighed. “Oh, come on, princess. Don’t sulk.”

“I’m not sulking,” Laura replied, vaguely aware that she sounded just a touch too much like a petulant child.

“Okay, fine, I’ll answer one more of your invasive questions. Will that make you happy?”

No. Laura knew from experience that would only make her more curious. If she was willing to answer one, maybe Laura could get her to answer more.

“Well?” Carmilla prompted. “Which question do you want an answer to?”

“All of them.”

Carmilla gave her a grin that wasn’t entirely kind, but there was a gleam in her eyes that almost made her look impressed.

Laura puffed out her chest and stood a little taller, not that the effect was anything near as imposing as she’d have liked. It was hard to be imposing at 5’2”.

“All right, since you look so cute standing there trying to intimidate me, I’ll be nice and give you two answers. Choose wisely, Lois Lane.”

Lois Lane…Well, that was probably the most accurate nickname yet. Laura could live with that one. She was a journalism major, after all.

“Okay, how did you become a vampire?”

Carmilla chuckled, a low, sexy, vaguely melodic sound that Laura couldn’t help finding enticing.  She stepped closer to Carmilla, in anticipation of the answer, she told herself.

“I thought I said to choose wisely. You’re not going to be very satisfied by my answer to that one.”

“Why not?”

“Because I really don’t know the details. I’ve never asked. Maman isn’t big on the sharing, especially when it comes to power. I was murdered, and then Maman pried apart the jaws of death to save me.”

“You were murdered?”

“Is that your second question?” Carmilla questioned with a glint in her eye that said she knew it wasn’t.

“No.” Laura scowled. How could she not elaborate on that? It sounded like a kind of important moment in personal history. It was not a good use of a second question, though, and Carmilla had been right: Laura wasn’t happy with the answer to the first.

“You really never asked how she saved you from literally death itself?”

“Is THAT your second question?”

“You know it’s not!” Laura huffed.

“Well, are you going to get around to your second question at some point? Or shall I sit here in suspense.”

Laura glared. She wasn’t an idiot. She could tell she was being mocked. She wanted her second question to wipe the smirk off of Carmilla’s face. “Give me a minute. I’m thinking.”

“Don’t break anything, cupcake,” Carmilla replied before idly examining her nails.

Laura glared harder. Right, then. Second question. What should it be?

“Tell me about your human life.” She blurted it before she really had a chance to think it through, but the smirk does indeed fade from Carmilla’s face.

“That’s not exactly a question, poptart.”

Poptart? What is it with her and sweet foods? Laura wondered. Aloud she asked, “Does that mean I get another question?”

Carmilla shot her a quick grin. “Nice try.”

“Well?” Laura prompted a moment later.

Carmilla looked at her and sighed heavily, then she seemed to look past her, and she began to speak. “I was a countess once. Countess Mircalla Karnstein of Styria in Austria.”

“Countess? Mircalla?”

“Are you going to listen? Or do you not really want to know?”

Laura mocked locking her lips and throwing away the key, then she moved closer as Carmilla continued.

“Even though Austria was involved in war with the Ottoman Empire at the time –“

“The Ottoman Empire? Didn’t that dissolve in, like, the 1920s?”

“I thought you weren’t going to interrupt.”

“I know, but, really, how old are you?”

Carmilla rolled her eyes. “As I was saying, despite war, I led a privileged, sheltered life. There were lavish meals, plenty of servants, elegant balls…And then I was murdered and Mircalla died.”

“And Carmilla rose from the dead.”

Carmilla nodded. “It’s a jolly little tale, don’t you think?”

Laura frowned.

“So, is your curiosity satisfied, Lauronica Mars?”

Lauronica Mars? Laura had to concede that that was pretty clever. She liked the comparison too. Veronica would NOT drop the subject. Not with this many unanswered questions swarming in her head. “Not even close.”

Carmilla sighed. “Of course, it’s not. Guess I’m just fascinating.”

“It’s not like I meet vampires every day.”

“That you’re aware of.”

Laura hadn’t considered that. How many other vampires were wondering around? How many of them had she passed on the street and had no idea as to their true identities?

“Are they all such messy eaters?”

“Well, some of them don’t care if their dinner lives or dies.”

Laura swallowed hard. That had NOT been a subtle reminder that the person she was with could probably kill her at any moment, should she chose to do so. It had been a neon sign flashing that fact in her face. “Right. Well…Lucky for me, you care?”

“I’m not a fan of the angry mobs that form when you’re too obvious. Pitchforks and torches are overused and overrated.”

“So, you’ve been chased off by angry mobs?”

“I’m fairly certain that I’ve let you get away with more than two questions, here.”

“Exactly, so what’s a few more?” Laura suggested hopefully.

“You are…intriguing.”

Laura wasn’t sure why the word sent a shiver down her spine. Maybe it was the way that Carmilla ran her tongue across her lips just before she said it. Maybe it was the way her eyes were boring into her like they could see into her brain and read her thoughts. Maybe it was the way her chest seemed to push out just ever so slightly afterwards as if reminding Laura that Carmilla still wasn’t wearing a shirt.

“I am?”

“Vaguely annoying, like a mosquito that won’t let up, but…You’re not what I expected to find in a laundromat at two in the morning.”

“Well, that goes for both of us.”

Laura moved back to her seat on the washing machine across from Carmilla. “You really aren’t anything like I’d have imagined a vampire.”

“I can suck your blood, if that would help.”

Laura’s eyes bulged and she brought her hands protectively to her neck. “That wasn’t an invitation!”

“There are plenty of other places I could bite you besides your neck, you know,” Carmilla informed her, her eyes dragging over Laura’s legs as she ran her tongue over her teeth. “Some of them, you might even find pleasurable.”

Laura blushed and tried to pull the shirt down to cover more of her legs. Unfortunately that only served to expose more of her chest. God, she couldn’t wait for her clothes to be dry. “I highly doubt it,” she replied, her voice an octave higher than normal.

“Oh, cupcake,” Carmilla said, shaking her head, her smirk firmly back in place. “Wound a little tight, are we? Let me guess…virgin?”

“Not that it’s ANY of your business, but I’m not.”

Carmilla’s smirk widened, then she bit her lower lip and gave Laura a sultry look. She slid off of her washing machine and took a purposeful step towards Laura.

Please, don’t bite me. Please, don’t bite me.

“Really?” Carmilla asked, leaning forward and placing one hand uncomfortably close to Laura’s bare thigh. “Thanks for sharing.”

Carmilla’s eyes were locked on hers and her lips were far too temptingly close. Carmilla leaned her body against Laura’s legs and began to reach with her other hand…

…and she reached right past Laura and picked up her book.

“What’re you reading, creampuff? Anything good?”

Laura cleared her throat and tried to regain her composure as Carmilla moved away, flipping idly through the book.

Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. One of my favorites, actually. It’s a hilarious story about the apocalypse, or, well, everything that goes wrong with the apocalypse…”

Carmilla paused mid-step and looked up skeptically at Laura. “Sounds like a laugh.”

“No, it is. See there’s this demon, Crowley, and he’s supposed to play this pivotal role in bringing about the apocalypse, but he doesn’t really want it to happen because he’s grown attached to life on earth, and so he goes to his angel friend, Aziraphale –“

“Ha, like demons and angels would, what, socialize over coffee?”

“Tea. They’re English. Anyway, the Satanist Nuns –“

“Satanist Nuns? Really?”

Laura kept going like she hadn’t been interrupted. “They screw up switching out the antichrist as a baby, so he goes home to the wrong family and is raised like a normal kid, and –“

“A series of unfortunate events sort of thing?”

“More fortunate, assuming you don’t actually want the world to end.”

Carmilla eyed her for a second, but didn’t respond. “Hmm,” she hummed eventually and opened to the first page of the book.

“Feel free to check it out,” Laura mumbled as Carmilla turned the page.

Carmilla didn’t respond. Instead, she leaned against a washing machine and kept reading.

“Well, then…” Laura muttered. How am I supposed to pass the time now?

.

It turned out that watching Carmilla read was actually kind of entertaining.

“Ha, I like this Ligur, guy. ‘’I imagine Ligur here would give his right arm for a chance like this.’ ‘That’s right,’ said Ligur. Someone’s right arm, anyway, he thought. There were plenty of right arms around; no sense in wasting a good one.’” Carmilla read aloud.

Laura smiled, and then realized that Carmilla might very well share that sentiment here in real life and her expression turned to unsettled. Still, it was rewarding when Carmilla chuckled softly as she continued to read and shared the occasional line.

Carmilla eventually grew quiet as she became more absorbed in the book and  Laura began to wonder. It wasn’t her fault, really. She was a curious person. It was what had driven her to journalism in the first place. She tried to occupy her thoughts by checking on her clothes to see if they were dry enough to put on yet. They weren’t. She lingered by the dryers and her gaze returned to Carmilla.

God, she was sexy. Was that a vampire thing? Or a Carmilla thing? She looked effortlessly cool and confident, leaning back against a washing machine, reading a book, her pink lip teased between her teeth, the corner of her mouth turned up in a grin, her dark eyes moving quickly down the page, her pale skin smooth and inviting.

Laura swallowed hard.

“Why me?” she blurted before she could think better of it.

Carmilla looked up in surprise and blinked at Laura, almost as if she’d forgotten she was there.

Flattering, Laura thought.

“Why you what, cupcake?” Carmilla asked, closing the book and placing it on the washing machine before striding towards her with an enticing sway to her hips.

“You weren’t going to kill me, you were going to flirt with me…Why me?”

“Are there lots of other people here that I’m unaware of?” Carmilla asked coming to a stop just in front of her, bordering on invading her personal space.

Laura tried to step back, but only succeeded in pressing her back up against the wall of dryers.

“No, obviously. Did you have to flirt with me just because I’m here?”

Carmilla smirked. “No.”

“Well, then…Why me?”

Carmilla tilted her head to the side and studied Laura’s face for a second. “Because you’re cute…” she began, inching closer, “…and bold…” Carmilla took another minute step closer. “…and a little surprising…” Carmilla put a hand on the dryer next to Laura and leaned in close so that her skin was barely brushing against Laura. “…and you’re attracted to me,” she finished, the look on her face saying, “Checkmate.”

“What?” Laura squeaked. She cleared her throat in an attempt to lower her voice back down to a normal range. “I’m not…You couldn’t possibly know that!”

Carmilla smirked. She placed her free hand on Laura’s chest, just above her left breast, her fingertips just hitting bare skin. Laura felt heat radiate from the touch and flush through her body.

“Your heartbeat sped up the moment you saw me,” Carmilla said.

“Yeah, well, I was nervous because I was almost naked in a laundromat and someone had just walked in. You could have been anyone. That doesn’t prove attraction,” Laura defended herself. It was a half-truth, at least.

Apparently vampires have super hearing. Good to know, Laura noted.

“And every time you walked past me to sit on the washing machine?”

“I thought you were a serial killer and I was your likely next victim. My heart sped up out of fear, not attraction.” Another half-truth.

“Okay, creampuff,” Carmilla said, her voice low and sultry, prompting an involuntary shiver to run through Laura’s body. She leaned in even closer, trapping her hand between their bodies as the subtle pressure of Carmilla’s body against hers made Laura’s body respond in ways that she’d rather not admit.

Carmilla licked her lips and Laura’s eyes shifted there without her permission and lingered as a broad smirk spread across Carmilla’s face.

Maybe it will go away if I kiss it off, she thought, and instantly regretted it. Now all she could think about was doing just that, and wearing hardly any clothes with an extremely sexy vampire leaning into her was really not the best time to be doing that. She was going to have to change her underwear as soon as she got home as it was. She just hoped that a vampire’s sense of smell wasn’t as heightened as their hearing apparently was, or she’d be able to smell her arousal and any attempts at a defense would go flying out the window.

Carmilla ducked her head and long, dark hair brushed Laura’s cheek as she murmured, “What’s your excuse right now?”

Laura opened and closed her mouth a few times, but an excuse eluded her. Instead she was focused on Carmilla’s hot breath on her ear and the sensation of her body pressed against her and the intoxicating sweet scent of her shampoo. “I, uh, I…” she stammered as Carmilla pulled back just enough to look at her with that infuriating smirk once more.

The buzzer for one of her dryers went off just by her head and she jumped, Carmilla moving with her easily, taking hold of her shoulder to steady her. Carmilla pulled her in close and murmured, “Saved by the bell,” in her ear, before releasing her and sauntering away to lean on a nearby washing machine.

Laura felt a little faint and breathless and her mouth was dry. She licked her lips and swallowed in an attempt to get some feeling of moisture back in her mouth.

“You gonna get those? I’d think you’d be eager to get your clothes back on,” Carmilla commented.

“Right, yeah,” Laura mumbled, still trying to regain some semblance of composure.

She braced herself for the next buzzer that she knew was coming, and, for once, managed not to jump when it went off a moment later. She opened the first dryer and reached in to feel her clothes. Mercifully, they were actually dry. She fetched her bag from the floor and began to load her clothes into it. Normally, she’d have folded them there, but, honestly, they always got wrinkled on the trip back to her apartment anyway, and she deemed it prudent to get out of there and away from Carmilla as fast as possible. It was probably best for both her physical and mental health.

She almost jumped for joy when she found a pair of jeans on her second handful of clothes. She pulled them out, slipped out of her flip flops, and tugged the jeans on quickly, feeling instantly more at ease. After that, she rummaged around and grabbed the first shirt she could find. It was a tight, army-green tank top, and a bit more revealing than she’d have ideally wanted, but it had the distinct advantages of being hers and in her hand. Laura glanced over her shoulder at Carmilla to find her eyes focused on her, one eyebrow raised, and that annoyingly attractive smirk firmly in place. Laura swallowed hard, then peeled off the top that Carmilla had given her, careful to stay angled away from her, and she clumsily pulled her own top on.

“My, my, aren’t we feeling modest all of a sudden,” Carmilla commented, and her voice made Laura jump because it came from right by her ear.

She wheeled around to find that Carmilla had moved up behind her. Carmilla gave her a coy grin and moved around her, eyes trailing up and down her body.

“Hardly seems fair, when you’ve been getting such a show, but I did appreciate those shoulder muscles you’ve got going on…” Carmilla placed a hand between Laura’s shoulder blades, then slid it along, painfully slowly, up over her shoulder and down her arm.

A shiver shot down Laura’s spine, and she swallowed self-consciously. “Yeah, well, you can thank krav maga for that.”

“Ah,” Carmilla said with a nod. “That explains the little stunt you pulled earlier. For the record,” Carmilla murmured low in her ear, and, God, Laura could feel her breath hot against her neck, and it was far too enticing a feeling, “it would take much more than that to stop a vampire.”

“Oh, yeah? Like what? Any recommendations?” Laura inquired, trying to take control of herself and the conversation. The high pitch to her voice betrayed her unease.

Carmilla’s eyes glinted in amusement as she tut-tutted. “Now, now, cupcake…Here I thought we were getting along so well. I even leant you my shirt and everything,” Carmilla said, her hand sliding down over Laura’s, then claiming her shirt back. Carmilla stepped away and slid it on, though unlike Laura, there was no hurry to her actions.

Laura bit her lower lip as the porcelain skin of Carmilla’s stomach disappeared beneath the black fabric of her shirt. When she dragged her eyes back up to Carmilla’s face, Carmilla was eying her seductively.

Laura flushed and looked shyly away. She pressed her hands down over her shirt, trying simultaneously to calm her body and to distract herself from the sudden urge to rush forward and kiss Carmilla. Just to see what it would be like, not because you’re actually attracted to a vampire, she told herself. It didn’t work. Lying to herself never did very well. She turned hurriedly back to the dryers without glancing back at Carmilla, and resumed shoving her clothes into her bag with a renewed sense of urgency. What she needed, very definitely, was to get out of here. Once she was away, her head would clear and she’d be able to retrieve some sense of normalcy (although the knowledge that vampires DID in fact EXIST in her world meant that she’d probably never get back to the exact state she deemed normal before tonight).

She moved to the second dryer, and, just as quickly, emptied it into her bag. She zipped it up, only having it catch on her once, threw the strap over her shoulder and headed to the exit, throwing a quick, “Well, it was nice meeting you. Goodnight!” in Carmilla’s direction without actually looking at her.

“As adorable as you are in your rush to leave,” Carmilla’s sultry voice halted Laura in her tracks a few meters from the door, “aren’t you forgetting something?”

Laura frowned. Clothes? Mercifully, check. Flip flops? Check. Bag which contained clean laundry, her cell phone, and her apartment keys? Check. Brain? Mostly check. Willpower? Fading fast, but she doubted that Carmilla was hanging on to it for her. Reluctantly she looked around and saw Carmilla holding up her copy of Good Omens. She debated going back for it for a moment. Pros: it was her favorite book and she was in the middle of re-reading it (though it wasn’t like she didn’t know how it ended), she’d probably miss it if she didn’t have it sitting on the shelf in her room, and she’d seem less rude if she didn’t just rush off. Cons: she’d have to move in close to Carmilla to get it and she might lose her head and do something more stupid than the long list of things she’d already acquired that evening. Besides, she might be depriving someone else who could love the book of the joys of reading it if she went back for it.

Laura’s eyes darted to Carmilla’s face and saw that she was biting her lower lip invitingly as one eyebrow raised questioningly at her. “Well?” Carmilla inquired, holding the book out.

Laura hesitated another split second before making up her mind. “Keep it. I’ve read it and you haven’t.”

Carmilla eyed her curiously, then pulled the book in to her chest. “I shall treasure it always,” she said with mock emotion. “My memento of time spent with the adorable, but strange girl who found me more terrifying when she thought I was a serial killer than once she found out I was a literal monster.”

“You’re…I…” Laura closed her mouth, heeding the warning in her head for once tonight. “Enjoy. Bye.”

She ducked her head, turned and hurried out of the laundromat before she could change her mind.

When she was a block away, she paused, looked around and took a deep breath. The slight chill in the early autumn night air had a calming effect on her. She shook her head. Maybe she’d just hallucinated that whole thing, her brain suggested. Maybe she’d fallen asleep and dreamed it all up, only waking up properly once she was outside. Doing laundry in her sleep was about as reasonable an idea as getting hit on by a vampire, right? MORE reasonable, really.

And yet…

Laura could still feel the ghost of Carmilla’s touch on her arm.

Laura took another deep breath. It didn’t matter. It was over. She was probably never going to see Carmilla again. And now she had clean clothes. If she was responsible and washed them BEFORE they were all dirty next time, she wouldn’t need to strip down to do laundry, which would mean she wouldn’t have any reason to go back to the laundromat in the middle of the night. She could do her laundry between classes in the middle of the afternoon when other people were apt to be around. It’d be fine. She’d forget all about Carmilla and vampires and those damn seduction eyes, and that sexy little smirk, and the way she’d run her hand through her dark hair and it had fallen back around her face, and the way her fingers had felt against her skin, and…

Laura coughed, shook her head, adjusted the strap of her bag on her shoulder and kept walking.

.

A block from home she had the sudden thought that if vampires DID have a heightened sense of smell, then Carmilla might be capable of tracking her back to her apartment like a bloodhound. Maybe she hadn’t killed her in the laundromat because she was hoping that Laura would lead her back to more potential prey. Laura took a wrong turn on purpose, walked around the block, then doubled back before heading to her building, just in case. Besides, she’d probably have had to be invited in, right? Even if she could track her? That’s what all the myths suggested.

Take that, devious vampire fiend!

Laura glanced around before sticking her key in the lock, but the streets were still and empty.

Adventure over.

Some small part of her couldn’t help feeling just a little disappointed as she dumped her clothes on her bed and began to fold them. She felt silly, now that she was in the safety of her room with the light on her bedside table casting a warm glow over her room and the soft, almost comforting sound of her roommate’s faint snores floating in from across the hall.

She should have at least gone back and gotten her book.

Chapter Text

She was not hoping to run into her again. That was not why she was there at one in the morning (again, third week in a row). It was just a really convenient time to do laundry. That was all. There was no competition for the good machines. It was peaceful.

There was no way that she was hoping to catch a glimpse of dark, wavy hair and seductive eyes and a coy smirk. Not at all. It was the furthest thing from her mind as she pushed her clothes into the dryer.

She definitely had not peered hopefully towards the door a dozen times since her arrival. She hadn’t last week either.

It WOULD be nice to have her book back, though. She missed having it on her shelf. It was the copy she’d had since she was thirteen and it had already made three moves with her before it got swiped by the incredibly sexy vampire.

That was obviously the only reason she’d want to see Carmilla again. Although, odds are, she wouldn’t even have the book on her, of course, so definitely better not having her night interrupted by someone who might NOT have just fed this time and who might decide she was a little peckish and that Laura’s neck looked rather appetizing.

There are plenty of other places I could bite you besides your neck, you know, Carmilla’s voice (not for the first time) came unbidden to her mind. 

Laura ignored the excited shiver that shot through her body at the memory of the predatory look in Carmilla’s eyes as she’d said that.

Put her out of your mind, Laura!

She’d told herself that several times over the past two weeks, but it had not worked in the slightest. Maybe that was some special vampire power: getting in people’s heads and not leaving. It was annoying.

She focused on her laundry, noting with displeasure that the coffee stain on the collar of her light blue shirt hadn’t come out despite the stain remover. Dammit, she really should have soaked it when it first happened.

She set it aside and continued transferring the rest of the laundry into the dryer. She had just slammed it shut, put in her money and started the load, when a familiar sultry voice said, “Well, fancy meeting you here, cupcake.”

Laura jumped, then spun around. She hadn’t even heard the bells on the door chime, but there was Carmilla, bag of laundry at her feet, leaning in a far more attractive way than should really have been possible against a washing machine, watching her. 

“Um…hi…” Laura mumbled, hating the way she could already feel a blush creeping up her cheeks.

“Hello,” Carmilla replied in a tone that made it sound less like a greeting and more like an invitation to her bed.

Laura swallowed hard as Carmilla’s eyes dragged up and down her body.

“You’re disappointingly clothed this trip,” Carmilla commented after a minute.

Laura chose to ignore the word “disappointingly” and the way it made her body flush with heat. “Yeah, well, I’m trying this thing where I do my laundry BEFORE I run out of clean clothes.”

Carmilla shrugged. “I’m sure nobody would really mind if you did…besides you, that is.”

Laura glared. First of all, that was not true. The police, at the very least, were apt to care. Secondly, did Carmilla have to be so overtly sexual within the first few minutes of their second ever encounter? “Sorry I’m not meeting your nudity expectations for the evening.”

There was a blur of movement, and then Carmilla was behind her, fingers pulling back her hair, her voice low in her ear as she whispered, “I’m sure we could fix that, if you wanted to.”

Before Laura could react or respond, Carmilla was gone, back to her position of leaning against the washing machine. The whole thing was so quick that Laura might have thought she imagined it if it weren’t for the wicked gleam in Carmilla’s eyes and the way she could still feel the skin of her neck tingling where Carmilla’s fingertips had brushed against it.

It took her a second to compose herself enough to respond, but then she straightened, cleared her throat, and said, “No, thank you,” as primly as she could manage while her heart was racing.

Carmilla wiggled her eyebrows at her with a smirk, then shrugged. “Shame.”

She’s just toying with me, Laura told herself. She’s a vampire. She’s playing with her food before she eats it. DO NOT be turned on. STOP being attracted to her, dammit!

It didn’t work.

“So are you going to DO your laundry? Or did you just come here stalking me or something?”

“Says the girl who’s mysteriously here in the middle of the night for the third week in a row? No partial nudity to hide now, sweetheart. What gives?”

Crap. Called out. “No competition for machines. No obnoxious boys trying to check out your underwear as you transfer it – Wait…How did you know I was here last week in the middle of the night? You weren’t here.”

Carmilla grinned and shrugged nonchalantly. “Your sexy little behind was strolling away lugging your clean laundry when I got here.”

“Oh.”

Sexy little behind, a small voice in Laura’s head echoed. She tried to control the blush that flushed across her cheeks, but to no avail.

“I wasn’t here looking for you.”

Carmilla nodded, but the smirk on her face hinted at her disbelief, as did the vaguely mocking tone to her voice when she responded, “Of course not.”

“I had laundry to do. This IS a laundromat.”

“So it is.”

“Just because I like a little privacy when I’m washing clothes doesn’t mean I’m secretly hoping to run into sexy vampires here.”

Carmilla’s grin widened. “SEXY vampire, huh? So sweet of you to admit, creampuff.”

Laura slapped her hand over her mouth. Had she really said that? Fuck. “Or, you know, really annoying ones.”

Carmilla chuckled and the sounds sent a shiver through Laura’s body. “Good save. I’ll never suspect you’re attracted to me now.”

Laura groaned and buried her face in her hands. When she spread her fingers to peek through them at Carmilla, she found her watching her intently, an amused smirk on her face.

“What?” Laura demanded, slightly muffled from behind her hands.

“You’re cute when you’re embarrassed.” Carmilla stood and took a few steps towards her, one eyebrow raised, and Laura completely covered her face with her hands once more just so that she wouldn’t be able to notice just how attractive Carmilla looked like that.

She heard another step, and then another, and felt the air in front of her move, which could only mean that Carmilla was now uncomfortably close. The way the hair on her arms stood up and goosebumps spread across her skin seemed to confirm that.

She shuddered involuntarily as fingers brushed against her shoulder, then began to trail down her arm.

“I wonder just how red I could get your cheeks.”

Laura bit her lower lip at the husky quality to Carmilla’s voice. She took a deep breath, trying to steady herself.

“Don’t you have laundry to do?” she snapped a touch more vehemently than she’d intended.

Carmilla didn’t seem offended. Instead, she let out a low, inviting chuckle, that made Laura peek back between her fingers again, and, God, that was a bad idea because Carmilla was right there. Carmilla was licking those inviting lips and eyeing her in a way that made Laura feel naked, and…

Laura cut off her train of thought before it could go further places she really didn’t want it to go. “Like today? Or tonight, rather? Or is there a dead body in that bag you brought in?”

Carmilla shrugged and mercifully stepped back, and Laura regained enough self-control to take her hands away from her face (though that didn’t stop her from watching the sway of Carmilla’s hips as she moved to her bag on the floor, or the way the skin-tight jeans she was wearing clung to her ass as she bent over to pick it up).

“Don’t get your panties in a bunch, cupcake. No corpses, just clothes,” Carmilla replied, opening her bag and holding up a sheer, lacy pair of underwear that would leave little to the imagination if it were on her.

Laura hated that she immediately pictured Carmilla in them.

Carmilla let the underwear dangle from her finger for a few more moments than really necessary to make Laura blush, and then dropped them into a nearby washing machine.

Laura forced herself to turn away as Carmilla continued to unload her laundry into the washing machine one item at a time. Instead, she slumped down against the wall of dryers and pulled out her phone. To her surprise (and relief) she had a text message waiting for her.

LaFontaine (1:36 a.m.): Don’t laugh at Danny when you see her. She might kill me.

Laura furrowed her brows. What had she missed?

Laura (1:42 a.m.): ??? Why would I laugh at Danny? Why might she kill you?

LaFontaine (1:43 a.m.): It’s nothing, really. Experiment gone slightly wrong? Her eyebrows will grow back in no time.

Laura stifled a laugh at the image of her tall, redheaded roommate without eyebrows.

Laura (1:44 a.m.): OMG! That’s hilarious. You’re lucky she hasn’t killed you already.

LaFontaine (1:46 a.m.): It looks more hilarious than it sounds.

LaFontaine (1:46 a.m.): Don’t tell her I said that.

LaFontaine (1:47 a.m.): Please.

LaFontaine (1:48 a.m.): And why are you doing laundry at almost two in the morning?

Laura glanced up at Carmilla and she couldn’t help the slightly smug smile that tugged at her lips.

“You’re sorting.”

Carmilla glanced at her quickly, looking vaguely annoyed. “What?”

“Your clothes. You’re setting things aside to soak.”

Carmilla glared. “Don’t get a big head about it. Turns out your soaking and stain remover thing actually got some of the blood stains out. It is useful to not have to buy a new wardrobe just because things got a little messy.”

“You listened to me.” Laura knew she sounded smug, but she didn’t really care. Who would have guessed she’d actually have an influence over a who-knew-how-old vampire? Laura’s phone vibrated and she glanced at the new message on her screen.

LaFontaine (1:56 a.m.): ??

Laura contemplated how to formulate her response. She was about to type a similar excuse to the one she’d given Carmilla, when Carmilla derailed her train of thought by slamming the lid of the washing machine closed.

Laura jumped.

“What the hell?” she muttered in annoyance before she could stop herself.

Carmilla smirked at her. “Still jumpy, cupcake?”

“Is this whole, not using my name and calling me something edible something you do to all humans? Or are you just trying to annoy me?” Laura demanded, hating the little voice in her head that told her she actually quite liked the little nicknames.

“Well, you are cute when you’re flustered.”

Laura glared. “I just don’t want you confusing me with a late night snack.”

Carmilla ran her tongue over her lips, and let her eyes trail slowly down Laura’s body to her lap. “But I bet you’d taste absolutely delectable.”

Laura couldn’t tear her eyes away from Carmilla’s mouth as she enunciated each syllable of the last word. The innuendo sent a shiver down Laura’s spine and a flush of heat through her body.

“I’m quite sure –“ Laura began, and stopped, clearing her throat and hoping that the next time she spoke it wouldn’t come out quite so squeaky. “I’m quite sure,” she tried again, only marginally more pleased with the way she sounded, “that you will never get to find out.”

Carmilla chuckled low and soft, and the sound made Laura’s pulse quicken. “Suit yourself, sweetheart.”

With that, Carmilla shrugged and carried her bloody clothes to the sink to let them soak. Laura scrambled to her feet and followed.

“I mean it.”

Carmilla didn’t even look her way as she answered, “I’m sure you do.”

Laura frowned, watching Carmilla treat the stains one by one. She couldn’t help noticing that there seemed to be substantially fewer stained items than there had been the week before.

“What, lost your appetite?”

Carmilla turned and raised a curious eyebrow at her.

“Or did you just learn to not be so messy when you eat?” Laura asked, pointing at the clothes.

Carmilla narrowed her eyes, but still looked a little confused.

“You don’t have as many clothes with blood on them?” Laura tried again.

Carmilla shrugged. “I don’t need a warm body next to me to feed. It’s not as messy from a glass.”

Laura stared at her aghast. “What do you do, drain people dry and store there blood in the fridge?”

Carmilla shot her a withering look. “There are these things called hospitals and blood banks that tend to store blood from people who, I would like to point out, are still very much alive. I’ve got contacts. It’s good to keep blood on hand.”

Laura felt rather sheepish that her go-to suspicion had once again been murder when the real explanation had actually been surprisingly mundane. “Oh.” Her phone vibrating in her hand again reminded her that she still hadn’t texted LaFontaine back.

LaFontaine (2:08 a.m.): Hello? Did you get murdered? Laundromats can be sketchy in the middle of the night. Laundromats can be sketchy in the middle of the day.

“You have no idea,” Laura muttered under her breath as she began to type a response.

Laura (2:09 a.m.): No. Sorry. Got distracted by the other person doing laundry here. I’m fine. I didn’t feel like competing for machines. It’s quieter at night.

“I have no idea about what?” a sultry voice purred by her ear, and Laura almost jumped again as she looked up to find that Carmilla had finished with her clothes and was now standing unreasonably close to her.

Laura swallowed hard. “Not you I was just –“ Laura held up her phone by way of explanation.

“Talking to someone who can’t possibly hear you?”

“Mostly just to myself,” Laura admitted, feeling a blush creep across her cheeks.

LaFontaine (2:11 a.m.): Phew. Thought I was going to have to send out the eyebrowless cavalry. Who’s the other person?

Laura chuckled as she read the message, once again picturing her roommate without eyebrows. Carmilla attempted to peer over her shoulder and read the words on the screen.

Laura tilted it away slightly and began to type her response, made slightly more difficult by the distracting proximity of Carmilla.

Laura (2:12 a.m.): Just this girl. She was here a few weeks ago too.

“Just a girl? I think I might be mildly offended.”

Laura glared and held her phone to her chest, only to have it vibrate a moment later.

LaFontaine (2:12 a.m.): Oooooh, is she cute?

As Laura was finishing reading the text, her phone vibrated again.

Danny (2:13 a.m.): Wait, are you on a laundry date? Is this the hot girl you mentioned meeting one night?

Laura cringed as Carmilla let out a low laugh.

“Been talking about me, cutie?”

“No,” Laura lied. “That was a different girl. In a bar.”

Carmilla didn’t look remotely convinced if the smug smirk on her face was anything to go by.

Laura texted Danny back first, moving away from Carmilla and angling her phone.

Laura (2:14 a.m.): NOT a date. And she’s more annoying than hot.

“So it was me,” Carmilla commented right by her ear.

“Dammit!” Damn that super vampire speed. Laura had barely blinked, and there was Carmilla reading over her shoulder once again. “Have you heard of this thing called privacy? Was it not a thing when you were born? Or do vampires just not believe in it?”

“Well, you ARE talking about me.”

Laura glared. “Please, go away.”

Carmilla threw up a hand and wandered back towards her bag. “Don’t mind me, princess. I don’t stay where I’m not wanted.”

“For some reason I doubt that,” Laura muttered before texting LaFontaine back.

Laura (2:16 a.m.): No.

LaFontaine (2:16 a.m.): Danny says you’re lying. She says you’ve been talking about some girl you met there for two weeks. She says you said she’s hot. Is she hot?

Laura (2:17 a.m.): I hate you both.

LaFontaine (2:17 a.m.): So yes, then.

“Ugh.”

“Everything all right over there in the place that I am nowhere near?”

Laura glared up at Carmilla, only to find her watching her in amusement from atop a washing machine.

“Everything’s fine,” Laura replied through clenched teeth.

Laura (2:19 a.m.): I wouldn’t say I’ve been talking about her for two weeks. I might have complained that she stole my book a few times.

Laura switched back to her conversation with Danny.

Laura (2:20 a.m.): I didn’t talk about her THAT much! Anyway, she’s annoying. And is there no such thing as roommate confidentiality???

Danny (2:21 a.m.): Not with stuff like this! Who else is gonna help me tease you?

Laura let out a groan.

“You know, in some circles it would be considered rude to be glued to one’s phone while in the company of someone else.”

“Good thing you don’t count.”

Carmilla put a hand to her heart and looked hurt. “Well, you sure know how to make a girl feel good about herself.”

“I try,” Laura muttered, turning her attention back to her phone as it vibrated again.

LaFontaine (2:23 a.m.): Can we get a picture of hot girl? You know you’re getting questioned later, right?

Laura sighed and shook her head. No. No questioning. She would definitely need to get out of the questioning. And DEFINITELY no pictures.

“Still talking about me?”

Laura jumped when she looked up, and Carmilla was no longer on the washing machine. Instead, she was nearby, staring her down.

“Because I’m starting to get a bit of a complex.”

“Is conceit a vampire thing? Or…”

Carmilla’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t know. Is rudeness a human one?”

Laura stared at Carmilla. Really? “Clearly not,” she replied, gesturing at Carmilla.

Carmilla smirked, but there was no amusement to it this time.

“Anyway, you WERE human,” Laura pointed out as she reminded herself that actively pissing off a vampire was likely not the smartest thing she’d ever done.

Something that almost could have been sadness flashed across Carmilla’s face, but it was gone before Laura could properly register it.

“A long time ago.”

There it was again, that nagging curiosity urging her to pry. “How long ago?”

Carmilla’s smirk returned and this time the hint of amusement was back. “Too long.”

“Decades? Centuries?”

“Something like that.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“Well, don’t you catch on quick.”

“Why so secretive about your age?”

“Why do you want to know so badly?” Carmilla shot back, eyes meeting Laura’s in an unblinking challenge.

Laura shrugged. “I’m just curious.”

“About everything. I’ve noticed.”

“Will you at least tell me how old you were when you died the first time? I mean, you don’t look much older than me.”

Carmilla sighed heavily. “You’re not going to just drop this, are you?”

“Probably not,” Laura replied, feeling emboldened by the possibility of victory in sight.

“Eighteen.”

Laura’s mouth fell open. “You’re younger than me. I mean…Wow…You were so –“

“Young. Death can happen at any age. That’s part of life, cutie.”

Laura looked away. She knew that. She knew it too well. Still, to think of an eighteen year old Carmilla being killed…It made her sad. Before she could dwell, or her mind could turn to darker thoughts, Laura brought back the question that Carmilla had continued to dodge. “So how long have you been eighteen?”

“What is this? Are you trying to quote Twilight to me?”

Laura cringed. “No. Not intentionally. Wait, you’ve read Twilight?”

“Not very much of it. Then I set it on fire. I’m not normally big on destruction of books, but that one…I mean, sparkly vampires? Really?” Carmilla looked actively disgusted.

“What about Fifty Shades of Grey?” Laura asked. Perry had had a copy and she’d picked it up to flip through it one time when she was over, wondering what all the fuss was about. She had very quickly put it back down again, the embarrassed blush on her cheeks more from the quality of the writing than the content, but even still…

“If you want me to tie you up, sweetheart, all you have to do is ask.”

Carmilla had moved in close in a blink, and Laura felt the hair on her arms prick up as Carmilla smirked down at her.

“Not at ALL what I was asking.” Laura was glad to hear that her voice sounded normal despite the decidedly NC-17 images now flashing through her head and the racing of her heart. Then she remembered that Carmilla could hear her heart, and she groaned, moving away.

Carmilla let her, stepping back herself, and Laura felt her head clear a little bit. “No, I’ve never read that one. I don’t need poorly written fanfiction to get some excitement in life.”

Laura glanced to the blood-splattered clothes soaking in the slop sink. She imagined that that was very true.

“So what’s that? You putting in a new art installation here, or…?” Carmilla asked, moving back to her seat on a washing machine with a grace that Laura could only envy.

“Huh?”

Carmilla gestured towards the light blue, collared shirt that Laura had set aside to soak further earlier and promptly forgotten about upon Carmilla’s arrival.

“Oh. Crap.” Laura looked back at the sink. The ONLY sink. She sighed. “It’s just…I just need to try soaking it again before I put it in the dryer.”

“Well, go ahead.”

Laura frowned. There was something about the concept of soaking her shirt with Carmilla’s clothes (some of which she couldn’t help but notice had been undergarments) that felt too intimate. It was silly, really. There was no reason she couldn’t add her shirt to the clothes already soaking.

“I can just run it with my stuff, as long as you don’t get too huffy about it being in a machine with some darks.”

“Ummm…Thanks,” Laura mumbled, still unsure of the offer. She hesitantly moved to the sink and attempted to treat the stubborn coffee stain once again. After she’d rubbed the stain remover into it, she glanced into the sink, debated for one last second, then dumped it in, being sure to push it under the water so that it could properly soak. It would have been fine. Honestly, she would have probably stopped thinking about it in a few seconds. It was just that when she pulled her hand out, a bra strap from one of Carmilla’s lacy bras had managed to get tangled around her wrist, and suddenly she was standing there with one of Carmilla’s bras dangling from her hand.

She hurriedly shook it off, and turned to glance at Carmilla, hoping that maybe she hadn’t seen. Carmilla was watching her in amusement.

“Getting a little fresh with my laundry there, don’t you think, cupcake?”

Laura blushed. “I didn’t mean…I wasn’t trying to!”

Her response only served to amuse Carmilla further.

“I still don’t understand why quite so many of your bras seem to end up with blood on them, anyway,” Laura muttered as she made her way over to where Carmilla was sitting, closed the lid of a washing machine and hopped up across from her.

Carmilla raised an eyebrow. “Really? You can’t imagine why feeding on someone might be an intimate experience? Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t always, but it certainly can be. And if a little fun is had by all parties involved, is there really any harm?”

Laura swallowed hard and told herself that she wasn’t remotely curious about what it might be like to be bitten by Carmilla.

“Oh.”

Carmilla smirked. “Oh,” she echoed, and Laura glared.

They sat in silence for a while, and Laura really did her best to look anywhere but at Carmilla, but her eyes kept betraying her, drifting back to trace the cut of her jawline or the line of her collarbone or the curve of her breasts beneath the tight, black crop top, the –

Dammit, she’d been staring again. She glanced up at Carmilla’s face and caught the devilish gleam in her eye and knew that she’d been caught at it. Again.

“Not that I’m not enjoying being so thoroughly appreciated, but I’m a little surprised that you haven’t set in with another round of twenty questions tonight. I would have thought there would be oh-so-many questions burning away in your little brain since I last saw you.”

There were. Laura had practically been biting her tongue not to blurt them out. Laura wasn’t about to give Carmilla the satisfaction of knowing that. “Not really. I’ve barely thought about you, to be honest.”

“Honest, eh?”

Laura nodded.

Carmilla slid off of the washing machine and took the few steps needed to get to Laura. She stopped just short of touching her and leaned in with a wicked grin on her face.

“Is that why your heartrate just skyrocketed?”

Dammit.

Carmilla stepped back, looking smug, and Laura knew that her face or her heart (or both) had given her away. She sighed.

“Come on, cupcake, what question is burning the brightest in that busy little brain of yours? I’m feeling generous tonight. Maybe I’ll answer.”

Laura watched Carmilla warily as she jumped back on top of the washing machine and gave her a little grin.

“Well?” Carmilla prompted, a hint of impatience in her voice.

“Don’t suppose you’ve suddenly decided to tell me your age?”

“Is that really the most interesting question you have rattling around in your head?”

Laura shook her head. It was only the most persistent because Carmilla refused to answer it, and she had a sneaking suspicion that the only reason Carmilla wasn’t answering was because she knew that it was driving her crazy.

“Can you turn into a bat?”

Carmilla raised an eyebrow and an amused grin spread across her face. “Do I look like I have wings?”

Laura glared. “Not in your current form, but that’s the whole point of the question. Can you change your form?”

“That’s a different question from the first one. Which do you want the answer to?”

Laura hesitated. “The second one.”

Carmilla tilted her head from side to side as if debating whether or not to answer. Laura was on the verge of thinking she wasn’t going to, when Carmilla said, “Yes.”

Laura felt a rush of excitement, both at the information and at Carmilla giving her a straight answer. “Into a bat?”

Carmilla rolled her eyes.

“Next question.”

Laura pouted. “You didn’t really answer that one.”

“No?” Carmilla stared her dead in the eyes, her look challenging, and Laura felt her stomach twist in knots.

“Okay, I guess you answered the one I said I really wanted answered.”

“That’s what I thought.”

Laura contemplated her next question for a moment. It was probably stupid to ask. Still, if Carmilla DID happen to give her a straight answer, it might be useful information to have…just in case. “How do you kill a vampire?”

Rather than seeming offended, Carmilla looked amused. “Planning on getting rid of me later, cupcake?”

“No,” Laura answered just a touch too quickly.

Carmilla threw back her head and laughed, and the sound sent butterflies fluttering through Laura. Her laughter died down, and Laura found herself wishing she could make it come back, but the almost fond look of amusement that Carmilla was now giving her was making it difficult for her to think.

“Well?” Laura asked, when no answer was forthcoming.

Carmilla grinned wider, then turned serious. “Depends on the vampire, sweetheart. Some of us are easier to get rid of than others.”

Laura thought she caught a slightly bitter note to Carmilla’s voice when she said the word “others” and it made her frown.

“What?” Carmilla asked.

“Others like your mom?” Laura guessed when she placed when she’d heard Carmilla use that tone before.

Carmilla narrowed her eyes and tilted her head to one side. Laura squirmed over the intensity of the scrutiny.

“Something is actually ticking away behind that pretty little face of yours, isn’t it?”

Laura glared.

“Trust me, creampuff, my mother is not someone that you ever want to attempt to get rid of.”

“You say that like you’ve tried,” Laura blurted out before she could think better of it. The piercing stare that she was met with suggested that she’d struck a nerve.

“Oh,” she mumbled.

A thin, forced smile spread across Carmilla’s face. “Don’t begin to assume you know anything, cupcake. Life can just get complicated when you spend a few centuries walking the earth with people.”

“Centuries? As in multiple? So you’re over two hundred years old?”

Carmilla groaned and rolled her eyes. “Why am I even indulging this little...pathological need you have to know things?” She sighed heavily. “I was born in 1680. To save you a little math, that makes me –“

“335. Wow.” Laura breathed out heavily at the revelation.

“Or do your own math, sure, why not?” Carmilla muttered under her breath.

Laura tried to wrap her head around everything that Carmilla must have seen, everything that she might have had a chance to do, just because of how long she’d been around.

“Did you see the moon landing?”

Carmilla smiled, and for the first time it seemed genuine. “With my sister, yes.”

“And the world wars?”

The smile vanished from Carmilla’s face and her jaw clenched, but then she nodded. “Yes. Those, too.”

“The sinking of the Titanic?”

Carmilla looked at her for a long moment, then shook her head. “No. I missed that one.”

Laura frowned. How could she have missed it? It must have made headlines across Europe and the United States. “But how could you have –“

“I think I’ve indulged more than enough of this for tonight,” Carmilla cut her off, sliding off of the washing machine and going to the sink full of clothes.

Laura huffed, but Carmilla didn’t react as she began to examine a few of her tops.

“Wait, you have a sister? You never mentioned sister before. You mentioned a brother, but…Wait, is your brother a vampire too? Are they both vampires? Are either of them even related to you?”

Carmilla turned to face her with an eye roll. “Yes, I have a sister. Yes, she and Will are both vampires. No, neither of them are related to me in the way you mean. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to do my laundry now.”

Laura watched silently as Carmilla drained the sink and rung out the clothes a bit before carrying them over to a washing machine and shoving them in. Laura noted the trail of pale pink water that dripped from them as she did so.

“Okay, can I just ask one question, though?”

“No,” Carmilla replied, returning to the sink and continuing to ring out more clothes.

Laura squirmed in her seat, the question eating away at her.

“Just a little one?” she tried again when Carmilla dumped the next batch of clothes into the washing machine.

“Ask away, just don’t expect me to answer.”

Laura pouted out her lower lip. There was no point in asking if she wasn’t going to get an answer. She glowered at Carmilla as she rang out clothes remaining in the sink, and winced slightly when she saw the wrinkles forming in her pale blue shirt, but she stayed sullen and silent.

Carmilla dumped the rest of the clothes unceremoniously in the washing machine, put in the detergent and her money and started the load. She looked up, took one look at Laura’s face, and sighed heavily.

“Go ahead. What amazing reporter question are you itching to dazzle me with this time?”

Laura brightened a little. “Really?”

“Really.”

“And you’ll answer?”

“It’s a possibility.”

“Okay, didn’t you say you live with your mother? If you tried to kill her, why would she –“

“I’ve changed my mind,” Carmilla cut her off.

“But –“

Carmilla sighed again. “I said I’m in the guest house. I never said we spent lots of time together or had a good relationship.”

“Oh.” Laura felt a little silly, now that Carmilla had pointed that out to her. Besides, they were centuries old vampires. Maybe attempting to kill each other was a normal part of life.

“Yeah,” Carmilla replied, and there was a definite edge to her voice.

Another silence stretched out between them, and Laura was beginning to really question the merits of her journalistic instinct urging her to pry further.

“So who were you texting about me earlier?”

“I wasn’t –“ Laura stopped herself mid-lie when she saw the skeptical expression on Carmilla’s face. She sighed. “A friend.”

“Do you interrogate them regularly too? Or do you reserve that for potentially dangerous people you meet in laundromats at 2 a.m.?” Carmilla asked, taking a step towards Laura with a wicked gleam in her eyes.

“I haven’t been – “ Laura cut herself off and huffed. “Well, excuse me for being curious.”

“You’re excused,” Carmilla replied so casually that Laura couldn’t help let it ruffle her feathers.

“You’re kind of insufferable, do you know that?”

Carmilla grinned and leaned against the washing machine beside Laura, offering up a sultry look. “I just meant that clearly I’m intriguing and mysterious and sexy, so why wouldn’t you be curious?”

Laura narrowed her eyes at Carmilla. “And you’re kinda full of yourself, too.”

Carmilla let out a low chuckle. She reached out her hand and began to trail a finger slowly down Laura’s leg. “Which part of that do you disagree with, cupcake?”

Laura resisted the urge to move her leg, sure that Carmilla was only looking for a reaction. (She told herself she didn’t want Carmilla’s hand trailing up her leg instead. That would be crazy….right?) “Has anyone ever fallen for this borderline sexual harassment thing you pull?”

Laura tried not to feel a touch of disappointment when Carmilla snapped her hand away and stepped back.

“Didn’t realize my proximity was so unwelcome, princess.” The words were said with enough bite that Laura felt a little sting.

Carmilla moved quickly away, and instead of hopping up and taking a seat on the washing machine across from Laura like Laura expected, Carmilla moved down the aisle towards the window and began to peer out into the night.

Laura opened her mouth to say something to make the sudden awkwardness dissipate, and closed it a moment later when she realized she wasn’t quite sure what to say. “Hey, no, it’s not at all unwelcome and that’s kinda the problem” seemed a bit too telling. “Please come back over here and continue touching me” was DEFINITELY not an option. “No, just kidding” sounded far too insincere and wasn’t apt to win Carmilla over. Then again, not saying anything at all, definitely wasn’t going to help the situation.

Laura slid off the washing machine and approached Carmilla tentatively. She reached the window and glanced sidelong at Carmilla, who didn’t acknowledge her presence, then she peered out as well. The street was empty save for someone stumbling along the sidewalk, likely on his way home from a bar after several-too-many drinks.

“Pretty dead around here at 2 a.m.,” Laura volunteered.

“Is that supposed to be clever?”

Laura frowned, confused as to how she’d misstepped with that one, and then it hit her. “Oh! No! I didn’t mean you! I just meant…generally…there aren’t a lot of people out and about. Out there.” Laura gestured to the window.

Carmilla didn’t look her way, but she nodded slightly.

Clearly Laura had failed to smooth things over, and being in a laundromat with a potentially annoyed vampire was probably not the best scenario ever.

“Look, I was kidding. Before. I didn’t mean that…You’re not really…I mean, you get a little closer than is comfortable from time to time, but it’s not like it’s unpleasant. You –“

“I’m not about making you do anything you don’t want to, princess. I really don’t need to.”

Oh. Well. Okay, then. Laura swallowed hard. So, obviously Carmilla had plenty of other options. Why wouldn’t she? She was gorgeous and sexy and had that effortlessly cool vibe combined with that air of mystery. Really, she probably wasn’t even properly hitting on Laura so much as trying to make the time pass more quickly while she did her laundry.

“Right. Yeah. Obviously. You’ve got your…feeding partners or whatever. I didn’t really think you’d want ME as one, obviously. I –“

Carmilla finally turned her head slightly and looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

“I mean, you’re clothes prove that you’re not lacking in, um…special friends because, obviously, you said that’s how you got blood on certain articles of clothing, and, well, you soaked several of those, and, obviously –“

“Can you use that word a few more times? Let’s see how many times you can squeeze it in to one really long run-on sentence, shall we?”

Laura glowered, but at least the tension seemed to be dissipating.

“I was just trying to –“

“I got it, cutie.”

Cutie. Okay. That was good. That had far less bite than princess somehow. “You could let me finish a sentence every once in a while,” Laura commented.

Carmilla smirked. “But then I’d never get a word in edgewise, creampuff,” she replied, bopping Laura on the nose with a finger before turning and walking back up the aisle and hopping up on a washing machine.

She turned back and looked at Laura expectantly.

Okay, then. Laura followed her and took up her perch opposite Carmilla. The silence that stretched between them this time wasn’t awkward, but it wasn’t exactly comfortable, either, and Laura found herself itching to fill it up with words.

She caught herself on the verge of asking another probing question when she remembered Carmilla’s recent accusation of her tendency to interrogate. It occurred to Laura that Carmilla hadn’t really asked her many questions at all. None of the probing variety really. Maybe if she offered up some information about herself Carmilla would see that this was really more of a dialogue than an interview.

“Anything you want to know about me?”

“Hmm?” Carmilla turned her full attention to Laura, and Laura had the sudden urge to squirm under the intensity of her gaze.

“I just…I’ve been asking you questions. Is there anything you want to know about me?”

Before Carmilla could respond the buzzer on one of the dryers with Laura’s clothes in it went off. Laura jumped, and felt her heart begin to race at the sudden noise.

“Shit,” she muttered, putting a hand to her chest to try to calm herself.

Carmilla chuckled, the sound low and throaty. It did nothing to calm the erratic beating of Laura’s heart.

Laura closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then opened them and hopped down to go get her laundry out of the dryer. Halfway to the machine her other dryer buzzed, but she was expecting it this time.

“Running away before I actually get a chance to ask you any of my burning questions, cupcake?”

Laura turned around from the open dryer quickly, to find Carmilla leaning against the end of the row of washing machines nearby. Close, Laura noted, but not as close as she had been the other times she’d snuck up on her. Laura furrowed her brows at the thought, but pushed her disappointment at it to the back of her mind. It was stupid. She should want any vampire to stay far away from her.  But she doesn’t. That could really become a problem if she’s going to keep running into her at the laundromat in the middle of the night.

“You have burning questions?” Laura asked, her heart skipping a beat at the idea that maybe Carmilla had actually thought about her and wanted to know things about her.

Carmilla smirked. “Do you want me to have burning questions?”

Laura forced herself to turn back to her laundry so that Carmilla couldn’t watch her reactions. She shrugged as nonchalantly as she could and resumed taking her clean clothes out of the dryer and putting them in her bag.

“How old are you, cutie?”

Laura shot a surprised look over her shoulder. “Really?”

“Well, you seemed to have an obsession with my age, so I thought maybe you’d tell me yours.”

Laura rolled her eyes, but muttered, “Nineteen,” as she turned back to the dryer.

“So young. So innocent in the ways of the world yet.”

Laura rolled her eyes again. She wasn’t half as innocent as she was sure Carmilla thought she was. “Yeah, because you have to have lived at least a century to have experienced anything real in this world, right? It’s not like there are children who have seen atrocities or people forced to grow up before their time. I couldn’t have possibly experienced pain or…or loss in only nineteen years, right?”

Laura closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She’d heard the break in her voice as she’d said her last words, and she knew Carmilla must have as well. She slepped her hand to her face and sighed. She hadn’t meant to sound so bitter. She hadn’t meant to…She didn’t WANT to be thinking about that right now.

She felt a small tug on her elbow, and she peered through her fingers to find Carmilla, eyebrows furrowed, eyes dark and unreadable, at her side.

“You’re right,” Carmilla murmured.

Laura lowered her hand and sighed. “Sorry. You just…You keep assuming I’m this naïve little girl, and –“

Carmilla’s eyes bore into hers and Laura’s words caught in her throat. Her hand was still lightly touching her arm, and her fingers were warm and soft. She was so close, Laura realized, and it wasn’t in the predatory or intentionally challenging way she’d done before. There was no smirk on Carmilla’s face for the moment, and suddenly Laura couldn’t handle that.

She looked away and cleared her throat, and instantly the hand on her arm was removed. When she glanced back at Carmilla, she had stepped back and was leaning against the wall of dryers a little ways away. She was still watching her with an intensity that made Laura flinch. She looked away a moment later, shaking her head.

“You’re going to be trouble.”

Laura frowned. “What?”

Carmilla just continued to shake her head. “Nothing, cupcake. Don’t forget about that laundry.”

Laura narrowed her eyes and briefly debated the pros and cons of pressing her for a proper answer. Already she was starting to know the look on Carmilla’s face, though, and she was fairly certain it was going to be a fruitless line of inquiry. She finished emptying the two dryers, zipped her bag, and heaved it onto her shoulder, taking a second to balance as the weight of the majority of her wardrobe threw her off.

When she turned around and her eyes searched out Carmilla, she was met with the familiar smirk.

“You gonna be able to carry that all the way home by yourself, creampuff?”

Laura huffed indignantly. “I managed just fine two weeks ago, and it had more in it then.”

Amusement danced in Carmilla’s eyes, and Laura found her mood lightening.

She hesitated to move to the door despite the strap digging to her shoulder. Despite the weirdness tonight, and the missteps (and the growing attraction that Laura told herself was not actually there despite her body’s attempts to convince her otherwise), Laura found herself not wanting to leave Carmilla’s company just yet.

“Did you need something? Or were you going to stare at me until my laundry is done, too?” Carmilla asked.

“I…” Laura fumbled for a moment for something to say. She felt a flush creep up her cheeks. Why had she just been staring like that? Why hadn’t she just left? A thought flitted through Laura’s mind and she grabbed onto it. “Did you read the book?”

“Hmm?”

Good Omens. Did you read it?”

Carmilla studied her for a second, then straightened. “I did.”

“What’d you think?”

Carmilla grinned. “Did you miss it? I’d be happy to return it.”

Laura hesitated for a split second, then nodded. “Please.”

“Okay, then. Same bad time, same bad place next week?” Carmilla suggested.

That meant that she’d definitely get to see Carmilla again. Laura told herself she wasn’t excited at the prospect. “Yeah, sure,” she replied, hoping that the nonchalance she was aiming for actually materialized in her voice. The tug at the corner of Carmilla’s lips suggested that it hadn’t.

Laura had no further excuses to stay, and, honestly, she shouldn’t want to. “Right, well, I’ll see you next week, then.”

Laura headed to the door, shifting the strap of her bag on her shoulder to try to relieve some of the pressure that was already starting to wear on her. She paused, almost at the door. “Wait…Does your willingness to give it back mean that you didn’t like it?” She whirled around, and found Carmilla far closer than she’d expected to find her.

Carmilla smirked. “Tell you what, cupcake, we can have our book club meeting next time I see you. I’ll tell you all my thoughts and feelings on it.”

Laura knew she was being mocked, but she fully intended on holding Carmilla to that. She desperately wanted Carmilla to have liked the book, though she wasn’t sure why it was suddenly so important to her. “You’d better,” Laura muttered, turning back towards the door.

Carmilla’s voice stopped her as she opened the door.

“I’ll bring your blue shirt, too.”

Oh yeah. Laura had forgotten about that. Why did it feel like Carmilla was slowly collecting her belongings? Well, she guessed that wasn’t really the case if Carmilla was giving them both back in a week. “Right. Yeah. Thanks. See you next week.”

“It’s a date.” Carmilla’s words trailed out just before the door swung closed behind Laura.

Laura turned to protest, but Carmilla had already turned and wandered away, back towards the dryers. “It’s not a date,” Laura muttered. “It’s laundry.”

 

Chapter Text

It wasn’t like it was really a date. It clearly wasn’t. Laura was taking her laundry, after all. Besides, Laura wouldn’t WANT it to be a date. A date with a vampire? How stupid would she have to be?

(Okay, maybe she hadn’t been making the absolute best decisions of late, but hoping to see Carmilla at the laundromat was different than scheduling a date with her.)

Still, she was really not so thrilled with the idea of LaFontaine accompanying her to the laundromat. She didn’t really have a good excuse, though, when LaF had invited themself along, so what could she have said?

She should want LaF there, she told herself for what felt like the hundredth time on their short walk to the laundromat. Or was she endangering LaF’s safety by letting them come along? It wasn’t like she’d informed them about Carmilla’s vampire status. They probably wouldn’t have believed her. Who would? It sounded ridiculous. Laura wasn’t entirely sure she one hundred percent believed it until she was actively in Carmilla’s presence, and then it seemed the most likely of explanations.

Laura sighed heavily and shifted the weight of the bag on her shoulder.

“Did you notice Danny’s eyebrows are already starting to come back? You know, I don’t think she looked half bad without them. She’s so tall that you could hardly tell they weren’t there when you craned your head up to look, don’t you think?” LaFontaine broke the silence.

“Hmm?” Laura hummed, breaking herself out of her own thoughts. It took her brain a second to process what had just been said to her, and then she grinned. “Oh. Yeah. No, she made it look surprisingly attractive.”

“Good bone structure,” LaFontaine mused.

Laura nodded along, but a nagging voice at the back of her mind said that Danny’s bone structure had nothing on the cut of Carmilla’s jaw. Laura felt her anticipation grow as the laundromat came in to sight. How would Carmilla react to LaFontaine’s presence? Would she be disappointed that Laura didn’t come alone? Did Laura WANT her to be disappointed? No. Surely not.

Laura rubbed her hands together and frowned when she realized just how clammy they were. She wiped them down her shirt and took a deep breath to steady herself.

It didn’t work.

Maybe Carmilla wouldn’t even show. It was possible. Technically they hadn’t set an exact time. Maybe they’d miss each other.

As soon as Laura could see through the big plate glass window of the laundromat her eyes scanned the interior and she felt her heart sink at the blatant emptiness of the well-lit space. Rows of machines stood unattended. The back wall of dryers was unattended. No Carmilla. Right, well, that was fine. She was there to do laundry. With her friend.

“Wow, you were right, Laura. No competition at this time of night. Good deal,” LaFontaine said as they stepped through the door.

Laura trailed just behind them and headed straight to her normal washing machines at the back. LaFontaine, who had stopped at a machine near the entrance, raised an eyebrow but followed her.

“Okay, all this choice and we head to the back.”

“Less far to lug the wet clothes to the dryers,” Laura mumbled. She frowned as LaF opened one of the washing machines that Laura had come to think of as Carmilla’s. It was a stupid thought. They were public machines. Who knew how many people had used that very one since she and Carmilla were last here? She shook her head and began sorting out her laundry into the two machines she’d claimed.

“So where’s this mysterious hottie of yours?” LaFontaine asked as they sorted their own laundry into washing machines.

Laura felt a slight hint of a blush creeping up her cheeks. “She’s not mine and she’s not…She’s just a girl.”

“A hot girl,” LaFontaine said with a slight nudge to Laura’s side.

“A reasonably attractive girl,” Laura admitted, knowing the words were a lie as they left her lips. Carmilla was easily the most attractive person she’d ever laid eyes on. That was the only reason she had such an effect on her, Laura told herself over and over in the week since she’d last seen her. It was just a superficial attraction to her looks.

“You so have a crush. Anyway, where is she?”

“I do not! And I don’t know. I’m not her keeper. I don’t even have her phone number.”

“Oh, we’ll be fixing that tonight,” LaFontaine assured her.

Laura made a face. What exactly did LaF had planned for her? She should have recognized that sly look as they were heading out. She should have read more into the quiet conversation that LaF and Danny had exchanged while throwing glances her way. Crap.

“No need to fix it. Honest.”

“If you say so, Laura. Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t promise that because first things first I’m to determine that she is not in fact an axe murderer.”

Laura held her breath for a moment before responding, remembering her first impressions of Carmilla. “If she was an axe murderer, don’t you think she’d have killed me by now?”

LaFontaine shrugged. “Maybe.”

“Wait, ‘you’re to determine’? Did Danny put you up to this?”

“You know what she’s like,” LaFontaine replied with another shrug.

“Yes. She’s an overbearing worrier.” Okay, maybe that was a bit harsh, but honestly, sometimes, it felt like she’d brought her dad along to college with her in the form of her roommate.

“She cares about you,” LaFontaine reminded her.

Laura relented slightly, but she still wasn’t thrilled at the idea that LaFontaine and Danny had been conspiring behind her back. Of course, there would be no point in their plotting if Carmilla never showed up.

Laura glanced towards the door, but still no sign of Carmilla. Maybe she’d seen them and decided not to come in because Laura wasn’t alone.

“Okay, so tell me about this mystery hottie. Why won’t you tell us about her? Really. Danny’s not here to judge. Perry’s not here to mother. You can tell me,” LaFontaine coaxed.

“There’s nothing to tell! She’s just someone I met while doing laundry!”

“More than once.”

“It was a coincidence. Maybe we both just like the quiet of doing laundry in the middle of the night.”

“Or maybe you were both hoping to run into each other again after you felt that initial love connection.” LaFontaine wiggled their eyebrows at her and Laura groaned.

“Really, no.”

“Okay, well, how hot is she? Scale of one to ten.”

“I dunno. Maybe like an eight?”

“Really, cupcake? Only an eight? I think I’m mildly offended.”

Laura jumped. Carmilla was moving down the aisle towards them, laundry bag slung easily over her shoulder, curious eyes narrowed at LaFontaine.

How had Carmilla gotten in without making the door chime? Laura glared at the door, and realized that the chimes had apparently disappeared at some point in the past week. Great. Now vampires could show up completely unannounced. That was super comforting.

“Carmilla!”

“Oh! So you DO know her name,” LaFontaine commented.

Laura shot them a glare, but she was met with an amused grin.

“Didn’t realize we were bringing friends tonight,” Carmilla said, coming to a stop beside Laura.

Laura resisted the urge to apologize. “LaFontaine has laundry, too,” she replied defensively.

“You’re a LaFontaine?” Carmilla asked.

“That would be me. You’re a Carmilla?”

Laura watched the corner of Carmilla’s mouth twitch up ever so slightly.

“That I am.”

LaFontaine turned to Laura. “Really, Laura? An eight? You knew I was going to see her. You could have just said ten.”

Carmilla smirked.

“I like that one. She can stay.”

“They,” LaFontaine corrected quickly.

“Hmm?”

“Preferred pronouns are they/them.”

“Okay, they can stay,” Carmilla corrected.

Well, the good news was that Carmilla hadn’t decided to eat LaFontaine on the spot. The bad news was that LaFontaine was probably still planning on attempting to set her up with Carmilla, who they had no idea was a vampire. That could potentially be problematic.

(Laura didn’t want to think about the hint of disappointment on Carmilla’s face when she’d arrived to find that Laura had brought someone else. She didn’t want to consider that she might have felt just the slightest bit disappointed at Carmilla saying LaFontaine could stay.)

“So, Carmilla, what’s the deal with these middle of the night laundry dates? Laura, here, has refused to tell us.”

“Dates, huh? Is that what these are, cupcake?” Carmilla asked, brushing past Laura. “Funny, I thought you said it was just laundry,” Carmilla murmured low in her ear, but before Laura could react, Carmilla was moving away towards the sink, bag of laundry slung over her shoulder.

Laura swallowed hard and tried to get her suddenly racing heart back under control.

“I told you they’re not dates,” Laura said, glaring at LaFontaine, who was looking far too amused with themself for Laura’s liking.

“Sorry, ‘private laundry outings’,” LaFontaine corrected in a mocking tone of voice.

Laura sighed. She finished filling the machines, added her detergent, and started her loads. She turned and leaned back against the washing machine and her eyes drifted to where Carmilla was spraying her clothes with stain remover and putting them in the sink to soak. She glanced sideways at LaFontaine, who was still putting their laundry in machines. They probably wouldn’t even notice if she just popped over to talk to Carmilla for a second.

Before she could think better of it, Laura found herself sidling up to Carmilla and standing awkwardly beside her.

“Hey,” Laura mumbled.

Carmilla glanced at her, a bored expression on her face, before returning her attention to a blue v-neck shirt with blood stains at the neck. “Hey.”

Laura glanced back to confirm that LaFontaine was still at their machine and wasn’t close enough to overhear. “You don’t mind that I brought LaF, do you? They kind of insisted, and I-“

“Save your breath, sweetheart. We’re just doing laundry, isn’t that right?”

Laura couldn’t deny the disappointment she felt then. She looked at her feet, swallowed hard and nodded. “Yeah, right, of course.” When she glanced up, Carmilla was watching her with a raised eyebrow and a smirk.

“What’s on your mind, cutie?” she asked, her arm brushing against Laura’s, though Laura was sure the touch was accidental.

“Nothing,” Laura lied, forcing a smile.

Carmilla’s smirk grew. “Did you want me to mind?”

“What? No!” Laura lied, her response coming out tellingly quickly. “No,” she tried again in a normal voice. “Why would I want that?”

Carmilla raised an eyebrow and bit her lip, which did nothing to dampen her smirk and somehow managed to make her even more attractive. Laura didn’t think that was fair, but she didn’t have much time to ponder the injustice of genetics because Carmilla was leaning in close with a wicked gleam in her eyes.

“If you wanted a date, I could take you to much more interesting places, sweetheart.”

Laura swallowed hard and did her best not to react, but Carmilla’s breath on her cheek and her arm brushing against her body as well as the tantalizing promise in Carmilla’s words all served to set Laura’s heart racing and send an involuntary shiver through her.

Carmilla leaned back, looking smug. “But, of course, since you don’t…”

Laura knew from the cheeky smirk on Carmilla’s face that she had not missed any of Laura’s body’s responses to her proximity.

Damn vampires.

Laura opened and closed her mouth as she attempted to formulate a response, but before she could manage what she was sure would have been a witty retort, LaFontaine interrupted them.

“Holy bloodstains, Batman! Laura, you might have mentioned that your laundry crush is a vampire. Danny is not going to approve.”

“I don’t have a crush on her!” Laura protested before the rest of LaFontaine’s comment caught up with her. “Wait, how did you know she’s a vampire?!?”

“Well, she’s that or an axe murderer and she’s got that sultry vampire vibe going. Plus you already made the case for her not being an axe murderer.”

“Really?” Carmilla asked, looking surprised.

Laura glowered at both of them.

“Although, just to clarify on the murder front…?” LaFontaine turned questioningly to Carmilla.

Carmilla shrugged. “I am a vampire.

The thought made Laura a little uneasy, but the real problem, she mused, was that it didn’t actually make her want to run as far and as fast in the opposite direction as she could.

“But we’re not in any imminent danger?” LaFontaine inquired.

“Danger of what?” Carmilla asked, running her tongue slowly over her teeth. Her gaze traveled to Laura and lingered there hungrily.

“Well, Laura admittedly might be in danger of spontaneously combusting –“

“LaFontaine!” Laura protested, smacking them on the arm, her eyes wide and her cheeks flushing in embarrassment.

LaFontaine ignored her and continued. “-but I believe you know I was referring to us being in imminent danger of being murdered by you.”

Carmilla grinned and gave LaFontaine an approving look. “Laura never mentioned that she had amusing friends.”

“I don’t,” Laura interjected, shooting LaFontaine a glare.

“I’m not in a murderous mood,” Carmilla assured them, though Laura wasn’t sure she found it all that reassuring. “Besides,” Carmilla added, “I’ve learned that it’s nice when meals can walk themselves back to you another day.”

Laura’s eyes fell to the bloodstained bra that Carmilla was in the process of spraying with stain remover, and Laura felt a slight flare of something that felt an awful lot like jealousy. That couldn’t be the case, though. That would be ridiculous.

“That’s a good point,” LaFontaine mused. “So, do you have any interest in making Laura here a returning meal?”

“LaFontaine!!”

Carmilla turned curious eyes to Laura, and Laura could feel her cheeks flushing with the telltale heat of a blush. Dammit, why did she have to have such an active blush response? She wasn’t interested in getting bitten by Carmilla. Not in any way shape or form. Even non-feeding biting. Even fun biting. She especially wasn’t interested in getting bitten in a fun way by Carmilla. She wasn’t even the slightest bit curious what it might feel like, and she sure as hell wasn’t remotely aroused by the idea.

A smirk spread across Carmilla’s face as she studied Laura. “No. I don’t think that that would be up Laura’s alley,” she said slowly, her eyes never leaving Laura.

Laura frowned, and then caught herself frowning, and immediately put on a neutral expression. There was no logical reason to frown. It wasn’t like Carmilla had rejected her. Not from anything she’d have wanted, anyway. She swallowed hard and looked back to the laundry in Carmilla’s hands.

“Are you going to finish putting those in to soak, or are we going to hang out at the sink all night?” she asked, resenting the bite in her voice.

“I didn’t realize I was keeping you at my side, sweetheart. Feel free to wander if your little heart desires.”

Maybe it was her imagination, but it seemed like there was a challenge in Carmilla’s eyes when she looked up, though what exactly she was being challenged about, she wasn’t sure. “Well, maybe we will,” Laura replied defiantly, staring Carmilla down, but fully aware that a blush had settled firmly onto her cheeks and didn’t seem to be leaving any time soon.

Carmilla’s eyes twinkled in amusement. “Very well. Go on.”

“I’m going!” Laura said, making no move to do any such thing.

LaFontaine cleared their throat. “So, I’ll just…Should I go? I should…You two have fun here.” LaFontaine started to walk away and added, “Just try not to have sex on any of the machines while I’m actually in here doing laundry, please.”

Laura’s eyes went wide and her blush deepened and she choked on her own swallow of saliva with a spluttered, “LaFontaine!!” She had to pause her protests to cough, and was aware of Carmilla chuckling low, just beside her.

“We’ll try to refrain, but I make no promises,” Carmilla called to LaFontaine before placing a warm hand on Laura’s back and patting softly.

It was stupid, really, how Carmilla’s touch felt like it set her body on fire, and how it only served to make her cough harder. Carmilla made no promises not to have sex with her on the machines? No. No that couldn’t have been what she meant. She just meant in general with someone. Not with Laura in particular.

“Do you need some water?” Carmilla asked after a moment when Laura was still coughing.

Laura shook her head. No, what she needed was to regain her sanity and stay away from vampires. Or at the very least she needed Carmilla to stop touching her because the touch was far too distracting and she needed to focus on breathing properly. She took a few gasping breaths, and immediately dissolved into another coughing fit. Well, if she died right here, she supposed at least she’d make a good meal for Carmilla. Wait, could vampires suck someone’s blood if they were dead? Or did that not work? Or was it just undesirable? Would it make a difference if she was just dead so her body and her blood were still warm?

“What’s put those wrinkles in your forehead, cupcake? Stop thinking so hard. It’ll make breathing easier.”

Laura glared, but she was able to stop coughing long enough to take a few deep breaths. She coughed a few more times, then straightened, and Carmilla’s hand fell from her back. She shivered at the loss of contact and immediately pretended that it had been for any other reason.

Carmilla grinned slyly at her. “Okay?” she inquired in a low, sultry voice that somehow made an innocuous question drip with suggestiveness.

“Fine,” Laura replied, her cheeks flushing in embarrassment.

“I was worried you might start turning blue,” Carmilla commented, not looking like she’d been the remotest bit concerned for Laura’s well-being.

“I’m fine,” Laura reiterated, only to cough a second later. If she could have glared at the cough, she would have.

“I could see the wheels turning in your head while you were choking. What were you thinking about?”

“Nothing,” Laura grumbled, still feeling exceptionally embarrassed. Why had LaFontaine had to go and reference sex? Specifically sex with Carmilla. Specifically while she was frickin’ standing right next to the incredibly sexy vampire. Ugh.

“Try again,” Carmilla replied.

Laura glowered at her. “I was wondering how feeding from dead people worked for vampires.”

Carmilla raised an eyebrow in surprise, and Laura couldn’t help feeling just the tiniest bit pleased with herself for being able to catch her off-guard.

“Always the inquisitive one, even while trying not to die, I see,” Carmilla commented dryly.

“Well? Are you going to fill me in?” Laura demanded.

Carmilla grinned. “The blood in a dead body isn’t really all that appealing.”

“Oh.” Laura considered asking some follow-up questions, but the truth was that she wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answers.

“Wait, were you thinking that I’d feed from you if you died?” Carmilla asked, amusement evident in her voice.

“No,” Laura lied.

The smirk on Carmilla’s face told her that she’d once again been caught in the lie. She wondered if it was her racing heart or some other tell-tale sign that had betrayed her.

Carmilla leaned in close, her lips brushing the outside of Laura’s ears as she spoke. “Don’t worry, cutie. I wouldn’t have let you die. There’d have been no fun in that.”

Laura swallowed hard and tried not to breathe too deeply, but she couldn’t help inhaling the distinct scent of copper mixed with chocolate that she’d come to associate with Carmilla. This close Laura could smell a hint of damp earth, too, but it wasn’t unappealing. Somehow it all mixed together to smell…enticing.

“Although,” Carmilla added, turning her head to look down into Laura’s eyes as she reached up a finger to trail down Laura’s cheek, “I’d imagine your blood is incredibly sweet.”

Laura hated the way her eyes darted to Carmilla’s lips as she ran a tongue slowly across them before curving them up into a satisfied smile. She really hated the way that she shuddered (though if it was in excitement or fear, she couldn’t be sure). More than anything, she hated the way she turned into Carmilla’s touch. That was not okay. Her brain knew, flat out, that she should not want Carmilla to touch her MORE, so why did her body not understand that message?

“You’ve thought about what my blood would taste like? I’m pretty sure that’s crossing a few lines there,” Laura replied, attempting to sound offended, but her voice came out too husky.

“Just a fleeting thought. Won’t happen again,” Carmilla said with a smile, her gaze holding Laura’s for a long moment before she stepped away and turned back to her laundry as if the whole exchange had never happened.

Laura took a few deep breaths, finding it suddenly easier to do so. She stepped back to put even more distance between them, and her eyes darted over to where LaFontaine was pretending to stare out the window. The grin on their face told Laura that they’d been watching the exchange, though. Great, well, she’d definitely be in for some teasing later.

Laura glared back at Carmilla. How could she look so perfect and unflustered when Laura so easily turned into a mess in her presence? It wasn’t fair.

“Good. See that it doesn’t,” Laura said, realizing as she said it that she’d waited far too long to do so and now it would just serve as a reminder that Laura was still thinking about Carmilla tasting her blood.  

Carmilla raised an eyebrow at her, but didn’t respond, keeping her attention on her laundry.

Laura took another deep breath. Tonight was not going how she’d planned. Not that she’d planned, obviously. Planning happened for things like dates and this wasn’t a date. Clearly. LaFontaine was here, for starters. Laura definitely didn’t bring chaperones on her dates. (Although when she’d thought about tonight, which she hated to admit that she had, LaFontaine had definitely not been here.) She glanced at LaFontaine again and decided that maybe she should attempt to do some damage control.

“I’m gonna…I’ll just…” Laura began, but Carmilla didn’t look up or acknowledge her in any way, so in the end she wandered away without bothering to finish the sentence.

She marched up to LaFontaine with purpose.

“I could kill you right now,” she growled.

“I think you mean you could kiss her right now,” LaFontaine replied through a giggle.

“You’re wrong.”

“No, I’m not,” LaFontaine argued, still looking far too amused.

“I hate you,” Laura pouted, crossing her arms over her chest.

“No, you don’t.”

Laura rolled her eyes and sighed. She put her hands on her hips and fixed LaFontaine with a hard stare. “She’s a vampire, LaF. I shouldn’t…I can’t…” Laura lifted her hands and waved them in the air in front of her as she grasped for words.

“Why not?” LaFontaine asked.

Laura stared at them agape, expecting to see a smirk or some amusement on their face, but instead she was met with genuine curiosity.

“Did you miss the vampire part of the sentence?”

“No. Did you miss the part where she’s drop-dead-gorgeous and totally in to you?”

“She’s not –“ Laura started to protest, ignoring the surge of butterflies wreaking havoc in her gut.

“She is. I mean, I’m not saying she wants a long-term relationship, but she wants you. And I don’t think just as a late-night snack.”

Laura glanced at Carmilla, fully aware that with her vampire hearing she might be listening in on their conversation, but Carmilla seemed completely involved in her laundry. She studied her for a minute, trying to imagine that what LaFontaine was saying was true. Sure, there was the flirting and the pushing of her comfort zone, but that was all just…Carmilla was just having a perverse bit of fun. That was all.

Laura shook her head. Anyway, it didn’t matter because she was so very not interested.

“Do you think she’d let me take a blood sample?”

Laura gave LaFontaine another hard stare. “Really?”

“Maybe if you asked her…There are a few tests I’d like to run, too, if she’s willing.”

“LaFontaine, I’m not going to ask a vampire if she wants to become my crazy friend’s science project!”

“Why not? Think of all the things we could learn! Does she have any special powers besides that sexual magnetism?”

Laura hesitated. She wasn’t sure why, but she was reluctant to share what little she’d learned about Carmilla, even if it was just with LaFontaine. She was being silly, though. “Super speed. Super hearing. Apparently she changes shape, but not into a bat,” Laura relayed the little she’d learned, feeling a little guilty for doing so, like she was betraying some sacred trust.

LaFontaine nodded along, but their eyebrows arched up in surprise at the last tidbit. “Really? Interesting. What does she change into?”

Laura shrugged. “She wouldn’t say.”

“Oooooh,” LaFontaine grinned like they knew something she didn’t.

“What?” Laura asked with a scowl.

“I know you. You asked. You WANT to know more about her. You DO like her.”

“I don’t,” Laura pouted.

“Aaand,” LaFontaine continued, holding up a hand. “She wants you to keep coming back. That’s why she’s not telling you everything right away.”

Laura narrowed her eyes at LaFontaine. “I doubt that,” she muttered after a long moment.

LaFontaine rolled their eyes.

“Anyway, why do you think I like her?” Laura demanded stubbornly.

“Because you always get that super inquisitive streak when you’re interested in someone. You just want to know everything about them.”

“I do not.”

Okay, maybe she did, but she wasn’t about to admit that LaFontaine was right about this. That might mean that she was right about her having a crush on Carmilla, and she couldn’t be right. Laura couldn’t have a crush on a vampire.

Laura’s gaze drifted back over to Carmilla who was rinsing her hands under the tap and still, apparently, not paying them any attention.

“I’ve just never met a vampire before.”

“I’m sure that’s not true. Rumor on campus is that there are a lot more around than we think.”

“We’re actually not as populous in this area as the rumors would have you believe,” Carmilla interjected, walking towards them.

So she had been listening? But how long? How much of what had been said had she paid attention to? Oh, God. Would she think that LaFontaine was right? Would she think that Laura was interested in her?

“Don’t suppose you’d care to share your actual numbers with me?”

Carmilla grinned a toothy grin that hinted at danger by way of reply.

“Didn’t think so,” LaFontaine grumbled, seemingly unbothered by the vague threat in Carmilla’s smile. “What about a blood sample?”

Carmilla’s grin disappeared and her eyes narrowed.

“Hair sample?” LaFontaine suggested.

Laura clamped a hand over their mouth before they could continue.

“You’ll have to excuse them. They occasionally forget they’re not really a mad scientist.”

Carmilla raised an eyebrow. “Curiosity can be dangerous in humans.”

Laura felt like that was as much a warning to her as it was to LaFontaine and she swallowed nervously. That was silly, though, right? She hadn’t even asked Carmilla any probing questions tonight.

“I thought it was bad for cats,” Laura attempted a joke, her voice falling flat.

Carmilla looked genuinely amused at that. “Depends on the cat,” she purred before walking down the aisle of washing machines to the end by the dryers and hopping up on one.

Laura didn’t watch her go. Nope. Not at all. She definitely didn’t notice the sexy sway to her hips as she watched her go. She didn’t catch how Carmilla’s black leather pants clung to her body like a second skin, either. (And, God, who wore fucking leather pants to do laundry?)

Fuck.

LaFontaine licked Laura’s hand and Laura pulled it away in disgust, wiping it on her shirt as she glowered at LaFontaine.

“She might have killed you.”

LaFontaine shrugged. “I don’t think so. Then you’d have been mad at her.”

Laura rolled her eyes. “Will you drop the whole ‘we like each other’ thing? It’s not remotely true.”

“Keep telling yourself that, Hollis,” LaFontaine replied. They looked far too smug as they set off following after Carmilla.

Laura groaned. It was going to be a long night.

--

“So where are the burning questions tonight, cupcake?” Carmilla asked, setting her phone aside.

(So she did have a phone. Laura had half hoped that she didn’t. Then LaFontaine wouldn’t have been able to get her number for her.)

“Sorry, I was too busy thinking how you chastised me for being rude for being on my phone last week,” Laura replied sullenly.

The corners of Carmilla’s lips turned up ever-so-slightly. “Touché. Didn’t mean to make you feel ignored, cutie.”

Laura could feel a blush traveling up her cheeks. Again. Seriously, she needed to work on getting that blush reflex under control. Especially around Carmilla.

It wasn’t like she’d been bored. She and LaFontaine had been talking about school and Perry and Danny (and Danny’s eyebrows and Danny’s not-so-subtle thing for Kirsch) and it had been pretty fun. LaFontaine was usually fun. It was one of the things she loved about them. They’d both moved their laundry from the washers into the dryers and Laura couldn’t help that she was sneaking glances at Carmilla during her conversations with LaFontaine. Unfortunately, she couldn’t help that LaFontaine had noticed, either.

Carmilla slid off of the washing machine and moved towards Laura, veering to the side just before she’d have brushed against Laura’s knees. She made a show of stretching, and Laura’s eyes followed the hem of her shirt as it slid up exposing a strip of invitingly smooth skin. Her mind flashed back to Carmilla in her bra the very first night and she swallowed hard, trying to push the memory from her brain. It didn’t work. When Laura was able to drag her eyes back up to Carmilla’s face, there was a smirk and a raised eyebrow waiting for her.

Carmilla didn’t have to ask it, for Laura to know that she was thinking, “Like what you see?”

Laura could feel the blush on her cheeks getting hotter.

“Well, sweetheart, now that you have my undivided attention, where’s my barrage of questions?”

“Cupcake, cutie, sweetheart? Really? Yeah, she’s totally uninterested.” LaFontaine muttered, and gave Laura a pointed look.

Laura ignored them. Carmilla’s eyes flicked their way with a twinkle, but settled expectantly back on Laura.

It wasn’t as if Laura suddenly had no questions. She’d had questions burning away since last week. It was just that with LaFontaine here, it was somehow different. Besides, if Carmilla barely shared with Laura, she certainly wasn’t going to be overly forthcoming in LaFontaine’s presence.

“What did you think of Good Omens?” Laura blurted out the first question that came to her mind and didn’t strike her as incredibly personal.

Carmilla eyed her curiously. “Not quite the probing question I was expecting, but I suppose I promised you an answer to that one last week.”

Laura nodded in confirmation and Carmilla leaned lazily against the wall of dryers.

“I enjoyed it. There was a dry wit that I appreciated. War seemed pretty hot. I’d do her –“

“What?” Laura demanded. “She’s literally the anthropomorphic representation of war!”

“With long red hair, the ability to handle people, and she’s good with weapons…Hot,” Carmilla replied. “Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about her, cupcake.”

Laura decided not to dignify that with an answer, but that didn’t stop both Carmilla and LaFontaine from smirking at her. Laura rolled her eyes. “Is that all you thought?”

“It surprised me. Scenes often ended up in a place I hadn’t anticipated, or lines went off in a way I didn’t expect. Do you know how refreshing that is to someone who’s been around as long as I have?”

“How long is that exactly?” LaFontaine interjected.

It was Carmilla’s turn to roll her eyes. “Why are you humans obsessed with my age?”

“Do you know?” LaFontaine turned to Laura.

Laura nodded, but glanced to Carmilla before answering.

“Oh, go ahead.”

“I’ll tell you later,” Laura muttered. “So you really liked it?”

“Yes, creampuff, I did. Does that ease your mind?”

Laura grinned. “Maybe a little,” she admitted, before realizing that that sort of implied that she wanted Carmilla to like it which implied that she cared what Carmilla thought, and that was probably not a wise decision.

“That Pratchett guy is good with words. I checked out a few of his other things.”

“Oh! He’s my favourite!” Laura exclaimed excitedly, sliding down off of the washing machine and waving her hands enthusiastically in the air as she talked. “Which book did you start with? I read them all in the order they were published, but I found this chart that showed the best way to read them based on the groups of characters focused on, so I’ve been considering doing a reread. Have you met Susan Sto Helit yet? You’ll like her, I think. And the Librarian! The Librarian’s the best. And Sergeant Angua. Although she’s a werewolf, so maybe you’ll have issues with her because of that. I don’t know. Are you speciesist? Oh, and Granny Weatherwax! You’ll DEFINITELY like her.”

Carmilla pushed off the dryers and took a step towards Laura. She reached up a hand to Laura’s face, the backs of her fingertips just barely brushing her cheek, but it was enough to still her movement and make her voice falter. She swallowed hard as Carmilla’s fingers traced down over her jawline and a small smile formed on her luscious red lips, and, gosh, when had her lips gotten so incredibly close?

“Breathe, cupcake.”

Laura found herself taking a much needed deep breath, and then couldn’t quite decide if it was because Carmilla had told her to or if she would have done so anyway. Carmilla’s fingers were still gently tracing her jawline and stroking back up her cheek and they left Laura’s skin tingling in their wake.

“I’m not so thrilled with the werewolves I’ve met in person, but that’s largely because they have a tendency to try to kill me.”

“Do you know any around here? There are a few experiments I’d like to run and –“

Carmilla dropped her hand from Laura’s face and her eyes flicked to LaFontaine. They quieted immediately. Carmilla’s eyes came back to rest on Laura’s and Laura found that she could not tear her gaze away from the enticing dark brown that spoke of mystery and excitement.

“But your Sergeant Angua isn’t bad so far. You do know he’s written things outside of the Discworld, right?”

“Oh, yes, but I’ve never had much of a chance to read them apart from Good Omens.”

“He wrote one about cats once. I liked his views in that.”

“He did?”

The Unadulterated Cat. The man understands them, I’ll give him that.”

Laura’s face fell. “Understood.”

Carmilla’s brows furrowed.

“He died.”

“Oh.” Carmilla’s voice was softer than Laura had ever heard it, and when she searched Carmilla’s face, she saw a flash of genuine emotion there. “That’s a shame. He’s a human I think I’d have liked.”

Laura nodded. “Yeah, me too.”

The small smile that Carmilla shot her way made butterflies flutter in the pit of her stomach. There was no hint of smugness, no trace of a smirk. It was genuine and it was the most beautiful thing that Laura had ever seen, and then it was gone, and Carmilla was stepping back and leaning easily against the wall of dryers again.

Laura took a deep breath, her mind instantly trying to calm her nerves. She told herself she hadn’t just been very obviously attracted to the most beautiful girl…vampire, she corrected herself, in the world. She took another deep breath and focused back on books. Books were good. Books were a safe subject.

“So did you bring my copy of Good Omens back?”

Carmilla grinned, mischief dancing on her lips. “It’s in my bag, cutie.” She made no movement to go get it, and Laura frowned.

“Feel free to go rummaging, if you don’t feel you can wait until later, but I’m fairly comfy where I am, right now.”

Laura contemplated the idea, but who knew what she might find in a vampire’s bag. Much as she wanted her favorite book back, she thought waiting until Carmilla deigned get it for her was the prudent option.

“That’s fine. I’ll wait.”

“I could get it,” LaFontaine volunteered, sliding off of the washing machine they were sitting on.

“The invitation wasn’t extended to you,” Carmilla replied.

LaFontaine stopped, shrugged, and climbed back up.

Laura frowned at Carmilla’s rudeness and did her best not to wonder why Carmilla would extend the invitation to her and not LaFontaine. Was there something in there that she didn’t want LaFontaine to find but she did want Laura to see? Or was it simply a level of trust because it wasn’t their first meeting? Or was there some other reason behind it. Laura didn’t want to know.

Okay, maybe she wanted to know a little, but she sure as hell wasn’t going to ask.

“So, now that you know what I thought of the book, what’s next? More interrogations on how to kill me? Or are we going more for personal and intrusive this week?”

Laura glared. She might have asked a few personal questions, but she’d hardly deem them intrusive. (Not that she didn’t have a few that might be considered that banging around in her head, but she’d had the sense not to ask them.) And the question about how to kill a vampire had hardly been an interrogation and it wasn’t like she’d been intending to use the information. Especially not on Carmilla. She resented the implication. Laura wasn’t about killing.

“I’m pretty sure I’m not the murderer in the room,” she pointed out with a stubborn set to her jaw.

Carmilla flashed her a toothy grin. “No, true, but then again, I’m not the one who randomly attacked upon our first meeting.”

“What?” LaFontaine asked, bursting out laughing. “Laura, you attacked a VAMPIRE? Oh, man, I’m sorry I missed that.”

“Karate chop right to the throat. Would’ve probably collapsed my windpipe if I was human,” Carmilla informed them, clearly amused.

“It was a krav maga strike, not a karate chop,” Laura grumbled, feeling the heat rise in her cheeks as eh blushed yet again.

LaFontaine laughed harder. “Little Laura using krav maga on a vampire! Oh my God, that is priceless! Wait ‘til I tell Danny!”

“I didn’t know she was a vampire at the time. I thought she was just your run-of-the-mill serial killer!” Laura protested. “And don’t tell Danny. You know what she’s like. She’ll freak out.”

“Okay, but I’m telling Perry at the very least.”

Laura turned her glare on LaFontaine.

“There is nothing run-of-the-mill about me, sweetheart,” Carmilla’s voice said right by her ear, the low, husky quality to it sending an unexpected shiver down Laura’s spine.

Laura turned her head to find that Carmilla had moved silently up behind her when she’d turned to face LaFontaine, and her whole body was mere inches from her back. Laura shuddered again, the hairs on the back of her neck standing up at Carmilla’s proximity. She cleared her throat and took a step forward to give herself a little space, and Carmilla chuckled.

Carmilla leaned against the washing machine in the space that Laura had just vacated, and Laura found herself awkwardly standing next to one across the aisle from Carmilla and LaFontaine, the latter of whom was still laughing at her expense.

“Oh, come on! It’s not that funny!” Laura glowered.

“It’s pretty funny,” LaFontaine countered.

“I’m with the ginger, here,” Carmilla added her vote.

Laura rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. “You both suck,” she grumbled, vaguely aware that she sounded like a petulant child, but that only seemed to add to LaFontaine and Carmilla’s amusement. “So glad I can be so entertaining,” she added, sarcasm dripping from every word.

“Relax, cupcake. You were incredibly cute when you attacked.”

“I wasn’t cute! If you were human, my body would have been a deadly weapon.”

“Mmm, your body is something all right,” Carmilla said, biting her lower lip as she raked her eyes over Laura’s body.

Laura ignored the innuendo, but her body did not, and she squirmed uncomfortably at the heat that built up inside her.

“So what DID prompt you to try to attack Carmilla?” LaFontaine asked.

“Apparently your friend doesn’t know the difference between flirting and attempting to murder someone.”

LaFontaine devolved into another fit of laughter and Laura groaned. It wasn’t her fault she’d misread the situation. Honestly, Carmilla was good at sending mixed messages.

“So there was flirting on night one and you neglected to tell us about it?” LaFontaine asked once they’d composed themself. “And I’m supposed to believe that I’m not intruding on an actual date?”

“There is no date! And she flirts with everyone!”

“How do you know, cupcake? Have you been stalking me?”

“No, I’m just assuming based on the blood on your undergarments. I just am not as susceptible to it as others, clearly.”

Carmilla smirked. “Clearly,” she echoed, her tone implying that she didn’t believe her in the slightest.

“She hasn’t flirted with me,” LaFontaine pointed out.

It was true. She hadn’t. There had been none of the sultry gazes aimed in LaFontaine’s direction. There had been no invasion of LaFontaine’s personal space. There had been no suggestive comments to LaFontaine. Laura had noticed, but she hadn’t wanted to. She didn’t want to think about what that meant.

“Yet,” Laura replied, but the way Carmilla raised her eyebrow at her told Laura that that wasn’t going to change.

Carmilla’s washing machine buzzed, and Laura couldn’t help feeling a little smug when LaFontaine jumped at the sound and she didn’t. But then Carmilla was invading her space again, and her body still felt on edge from the last time that happened. Carmilla’s elbow nudged her in the side to better access the machine and Laura couldn’t help the sharp intake of air at the touch. She moved quickly back to LaFontaine’s side.

“So this flirting,” LaFontaine began with a mischievous grin at Laura as Carmilla began to transfer her clothes to the dryer. “Is it a one way thing? Or has Laura been flirting, too?”

Laura groaned, her head sinking in her chest.

“Oh, I believe there’s been flirting back,” Carmilla replied, and Laura opened her mouth to protest because she’d damn well know if she’d been flirting, but Carmilla continued before she had a chance. “It’s just taken the form of awkwardly blurting things, a tendency to blush at the drop of a hat, and a nonstop barrage of questions.”

LaFontaine chuckled. “Yep, that’s Laura for flirting all right.”

Laura glared. “Don’t make me kill you, LaF!”

“Here I thought I was the murderer in the room,” Carmilla said, moving back to the washer to grab another armful of clothes.

Laura groaned again, leaned over the washing machine next to the one LaFontaine was perched on, and whacked her head against it…maybe a touch to hard. “Ow,” she grumbled, lifting her head and rubbing it gently.

LaFontaine snickered and Carmilla smirked in amusement.

“You both suck.”

“I’m pretty sure that just the varmpire in the room sucks,” LaFontaine argued.

That was it. Laura was going to leave. She didn’t have to hang out and take this abuse. She could come back for her clothes first thing in the morning. Except…Well, leaving LaFontaine and Carmilla alone together really didn’t sound like a good idea. What if LaFontaine got too eager with their desire to experiment on Carmilla and Carmilla decided it was best just to eat them? What if LaFontaine decided it would be funny to share every embarrassing story of Laura they had?

What if Carmilla shared more with LaFontaine than she had with her?

Laura didn’t like the swell of jealousy that settled in her chest at that last option.

“So, I’m guessing,” Carmilla said as she slammed the dryer door shut, put her money in and started the machine, “that since Laura never mentioned the flirting, she also failed to mention the nudity on the night we met.”

Laura felt her face flush, and knew, without having to check a mirror, that she was now bright red.

LaFontaine’s eyes went wide. “WHAT? Nudity? Yeah, that DEFINITELY got left out of the story.”

“It wasn’t complete nudity,” Laura grumbled defensively.

“Your little friend, here, was wearing nothing but a bra and some adorable cotton panties when I met her,” Carmilla informed LaFontaine with a wink at Laura as she settled in leaning against the washing machine across from the two of them. “It was a lot sexier than I expected my laundry night to be.”

“Laura, why were you in your underwear?”

“I needed to wash my clothes! Anyway, it was the middle of the night! I didn’t think other people were going to be coming to do laundry, did I?”

“Apparently not,” LaFontaine laughed. “Couldn’t you have just saved the clothes you were wearing for the next week’s loads?”

Laura hesitated. “Well, I hadn’t thought of that,” she admitted sheepishly, which only caused LaFontaine to laugh harder.

“I didn’t mind the view,” Carmilla said, her eyes dragging up and down Laura’s body as if she was remembering exactly what she looked like underneath her clothes.

Laura felt her blush deepen, and knew that if she looked down she’d see it spreading across what was visible of her chest above her v-neck t-shirt. “Is that why you gave me your shirt? Because you didn’t mind it so much you couldn’t look at it anymore?”

“Flirting, nudity, and clothes sharing? That’s one hell of a laundry night,” LaFontaine commented, clearly still finding the entire story hilarious.

Carmilla stepped towards Laura. “I couldn’t have you so awkward that I wouldn’t even get to talk to you all night,” Carmilla replied, ignoring LaFontaine’s interjection. “Where would have been the fun in that?”

“I don’t know, you seem to find quite a lot of fun in making me awkward,” Laura countered, taking an angry step towards Carmilla.

Carmilla stepped closer, too, and then Carmilla was in her space and Laura was having trouble breathing properly. Carmilla grinned seductively and tucked a strand of hair behind Laura’s ear. “Well, I can think of other ways to get your heartrate up, but your friend asked us not to do that while they’re here.”

Laura shuddered, finding her gaze trapped by dark, inviting eyes. No, said a little voice at the back of her head, but she barely heard it because her body was overwhelmingly screaming “yes”.

“And on THAT note…” LaFontaine commented, hopping off of the washing machine and walking around them towards the dryers.

LaFontaine’s voice broke through the spell that Carmilla had somehow managed to cast over her. The words “vampire sexual magnetism” flitted across her brain, and she decided that that was the most likely explanation for the heat that had pooled low in her stomach as she’d held Carmilla’s gaze. She took a deep breath and stepped back, her eyes traveling to LaFontaine.

“See? There you go again just trying to get a rise out of me.”

LaFontaine turned incredulously back to Laura. “You’re kidding right? That’s some of the most blatant flirting I’ve ever seen.”

“She’s not actually interested,” Laura tried to explain, but LaFontaine simply looked at her like she had sprouted another head or two.

LaFontaine looked past her to Carmilla.

Laura glanced over her shoulder and Carmilla smirked. “It’s just a game,” Laura attempted again.

Carmilla raised an eyebrow. “She’s sweet, isn’t she?”

“You know, I try to teach her about the world, but she just doesn’t listen.”

“Naïve, young thing.”

“I’m right here!” Laura declared, stomping her foot down. She resented Carmilla calling her naïve again. Just another way in which she was playing with her. Just another way to rile her up. Laura tried to talk herself down from her flash of anger. “I’m not some plaything, or some child. I’m an adult and I’d like a little damn respect!”

Carmilla raised her eyebrows and Laura couldn’t help feeling just the littlest bit satisfied at having managed to apparently surprise Carmilla.

“Sorry, cupcake. Didn’t mean to offend. All I meant was that you shouldn’t underestimate your own allure, sweetheart. In fact, I might be a little offended that you shake off my words so lightly.”

Laura frowned, her heart beginning to race in her chest. So Carmilla was implying that she…what? She liked her? Like actually liked her? That just seemed so improbable. Maybe she’d consider using her to scratch an itch, but that would be the extent of it, obviously. Or possibly she was just interested in having some fun before snacking on her. Laura shook her head. “You’re not really offended.”

“Can you read minds now?”

Laura rolled her eyes.

“So, since you’re all about the flirty flirt with my dense little friend here,” LaFontaine interjected and Laura glared. “Would you consider giving her your phone number? That way maybe you can set up a non-laundry date? And maybe she’ll stop pining away all week if she has contact with you.”

“I DO NOT PINE!” She was going to kill LaFontaine. Maybe she should leave them alone with a vampire and see if nature took its course.

Carmilla raised a curious eyebrow, her eyes flicking between Laura and LaFontaine, a smirk playing at her lips. “You miss me when I’m not around to interrogate, cupcake?”

“No,” Laura assured her. Okay, maybe it was a bit of a lie. She didn’t pine, certainly. She was not a piner. But thoughts of Carmilla had certainly seemed to permeate her brain with a regular frequency over the past few weeks. She wasn’t sure that she would call it “missing her” exactly, but there was a certain desire to see her again. Laura groaned at the look of disbelief on LaFontaine’s face.

Carmilla walked towards her and held out her hand. Laura eyed it warily. Was she expecting to hold her hand or something? That didn’t seem very Carmilla-y.

“Your phone, cutie,” Carmilla prompted.

Oh. Laura dug her phone out of her pocket and hesitated. What if Carmilla looked up her contacts and went to their houses to eat them? Okay, she only actually had like two addresses in her phone, but one was her grandma’s and it seemed wrong to potentially give a vampire her grandmother’s address. The sweater she gave her last Christmas wasn’t THAT bad. “What’s your number?” Laura asked.

Carmilla rolled her eyes and grabbed the phone. She wandered away holding it, her fingers darting across the screen, and then she turned around with a satisfied grin and handed it back to her.

“What’d you do?” Laura asked suspiciously, giving her phone a quick onceover.

“Put my number in,” Carmilla replied as if she was talking to someone who was a little slow on the uptake.

Laura narrowed her eyes. She was sure that Carmilla had typed more things on her phone than that would have required. Besides, who walked away from someone just to type their number into their phone? No, she didn’t believe Carmilla for a second.

“God, I really have to pee. Is there a bathroom somewhere in here?” LaFontaine asked before Laura could question Carmilla further.

Laura pocketed her phone, making a mental note to examine it more thoroughly later.

“Corner by the sink,” Carmilla replied, indicating over her shoulder with her thumb. Her hand brushed against Laura’s arm as it dropped back to her side and Laura noticed just how close they were standing.

She should put some space between them. She should step back or step away (or better yet, grab LaFontaine and leave laundry dates with vampires far behind her). Despite her thoughts, she made no move to leave.

“Thanks,” LaFontaine murmured before hurrying off to the bathroom.

“Okay, seriously, no ‘cutie’, no ‘cupcake’, no ‘poptart’ or whatever other edible things you choose to call me. What gives? Why don’t you flirt with them?”

“I have never used poptart.”

“You most certainly have. I remember it clearly because it just reinforced my suspicion that you want to eat me.”

Carmilla smirked and Laura realized a touch too late the other potential interpretation of her words. She blushed deeply as Carmilla tilted her head to the side and, trailing her eyes slowly down Laura’s body, said, “Well….” Laura had never heard one innocuous word sound so damn suggestive.

“You’re not answering my question!” Laura growled, trying to get the conversation back on track.

Carmilla chuckled and rolled her eyes. “Assuming I was otherwise interested, they smell of someone else.”

Laura frowned. LaFontaine smelled of someone else? Like she was wearing someone else’s perfume? Or…Oh. Weird. “You can smell when someone’s with someone else?”

Carmilla shrugged. “Not always. Depends on how completely they’re with that person.”

“So you knew I was single?”

“I knew you didn’t have any serious attachments.”

Laura contemplated that for a second. It wasn’t like she wasn’t attached to people. It just wasn’t romantically. Did that make that much of a difference? Shouldn’t she at least partially smell like Danny just because they lived together? And would her being attached to someone really have kept Carmilla from flirting? “Does that always stop you?”

“Are you asking me to delve into my philosophies on fidelity, cupcake?” Carmilla asked with a sly smile. “Or do you just want to know if you’re so irresistible that I’d be flirting with you anyway?” Carmilla trailed her fingers slowly up Laura’s arm, and Laura knew she should snatch her arm back, but there was just something so appealing in the way her skin tingled in the wake of Carmilla’s touch.

A small shudder ran down her spine and Carmilla’s smile grew. “Somehow I think it’s the latter,” Carmilla said. She leaned in close and Laura could feel Carmilla’s hot breath on her cheek as Carmilla’s fingers reached her shoulder and began an achingly slow journey back down her arm, the touch so light that it tickled. Laura knew that she was blushing yet again and that Carmilla would be able to hear the sudden racing of her heart, but she still couldn’t convince herself to step back. Maybe LaFontaine was on to something with that vampire sexual magnetism comment. Maybe she was just under some sort of spell cast by Carmilla’s vampire powers.

“Yes, is the answer.” Carmilla’s voice was low and husky in her ear, and Laura couldn’t stop the small whimper that escaped her lips.

She immediately clamped a hand over her mouth, or attempted to, at least, but Carmilla was still so close that she ended up brushing the back of her hand against Carmilla’s breasts and she froze instantly, her eyes wide.

Carmilla raised an eyebrow and glanced down, but didn’t try to move away. “If you were looking to cop a feel, sweetheart, you could have just asked.”

Laura dropped her hand to her side. She attempted to voice an explanation, but it felt like her brain was short-circuiting. It was entirely possible, she realized, that Laura was not in fact sucked in by vampire sexual magnetism, but that she was actually just completely overwhelmed with attraction for the most stunning individual she’d ever laid eyes on. Just her luck that she happened to be a vampire.

Carmilla must have taken pity on her then because she took a small step back. She was still far too close, and Laura could feel the goosebumps on her arms just from Carmilla’s proximity, but it was enough room for her to feel like she could breathe again. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, trying to regain some semblance of composure.

When she opened her eyes again a few deep breaths later, Carmilla was still far too close and watching her with an amused expression. “All right, there?”

“Fine,” Laura replied far too quickly and not nearly convincingly enough. “I am perfectly fine.”

Carmilla looked her over. “Mmm, no arguments here.”

“HOW DO YOU DO THAT?”

“What?” Carmilla asked, appearing the picture of innocence.

Laura glared. “How do you turn EVERYTHING sexual?”

Carmilla shrugged and grinned. “It’s a gift.”

“I feel like I have to double check everything I say for possible double-entendres around you.”

“Maybe I’m not the one doing it. Maybe your brain’s just focused on sex for some reason.”

“No. It’s not.” Okay, maybe she did seem to think about sex more often in Carmilla’s presence, but she was 90% sure that that was entirely Carmilla’s doing. At the very least, Carmilla was not innocent in this. Of that, she was sure. “You just said it was a gift.”

“Maybe my gift is making you think about sex. What do you think, eavesdropper?”

Laura looked past Carmilla and realized that LaFontaine had emerged from the bathroom and was lingering a little ways back. Carmilla’s eyes hadn’t left her, but somehow she’d been aware, while Laura had been aware of nothing but Carmilla. That probably was not a good thing.

LaFontaine looked momentarily embarrassed at being called out, but they stepped forward anyway. “Well, I didn’t want to interrupt the heavy flirting and the sex talk. Besides, I was trying to gauge how red Laura’s face could get before it exploded.”

“Redder. I’ve seen it,” Carmilla replied with a smirk.

Laura glared hard at both of them. “I hate you both.”

“That’s so not even remotely true,” LaFontaine countered, slinging an arm around Laura. “You love me, and you want her.”

Laura elbowed them in the side.

“Ow,” LaFontaine grumbled.

“Don’t mind them. They’re delusional,” Laura informed Carmilla with as innocent a smile as she could muster.

Carmilla smirked. “I see.”

Laura relaxed slightly. Maybe Carmilla was going to let her get away with that. The wicked glint that was dancing in Carmilla’s eyes when she brought up her own eyes, told her that wasn’t the case.

“Do you remember when I said that this one smells like someone else?” Carmilla asked with a nod at LaFontaine.

“Hey!” LaFontaine protested.

Laura shot her a curious look. She knew exactly who Carmilla was smelling on LaFontaine, and the idea that they would be surprised (or offended) was pretty laughable. Maybe the two of them hadn’t made things official yet, but everyone around them saw it coming from a mile away.

LaFontaine grumbled under their breath and Laura turned her attention back to Carmilla with a quick nod. “Yeah.”

“Can you smell the other person on them?”

Laura got a horrible sense of dread at where this conversation was headed. “No,” she admitted.

“So maybe one of those vampire powers that got left off the list you relayed to the mad scientist earlier is a super sense of smell?” Carmilla suggested, looking smug.

So she HAD been listening to that conversation. Laura knew it. And…Oh.

Carmilla’s smirk grew as realization dawned on Laura’s face. She might be pushing the limits of how much blood exactly could rush to her face in one go. “So you can…so you could…You smell if…” Laura couldn’t bring herself to finish a single sentence, but it didn’t matter because Carmilla nodded. Laura ducked out from under LaFontaine’s arm and walked away, burying her face in her hands.

Oh, God. Carmilla could tell that Laura at least sort of wanted her. That her body wanted her, at the very least. She KNEW that Laura had been aroused by her because she could SMELL her arousal and, oh, fuck, she was never going to be able to look Carmilla in the face again.

“Told you her face got redder,” Carmilla said smugly behind her.

“That is an exceptionally red face. Look at her ears. I’ve never seen ears blush like that,” LaFontaine agreed.

If the floor could just swallow her whole now, that would be great. It would certainly be preferable to standing there in the laundromat completely mortified for another second.

Laura felt the air right behind her move and then there was a warm hand on her shoulder, and Laura could tell just from the tingling in her skin that it was Carmilla touching her. Nobody else’s touch did that to her. God, this was so uncool. Why did her body have to be so damn attracted to someone she shouldn’t be? It wasn’t like she had a crush. If anything, Carmilla was infuriating. She didn’t like her as a person…vampire…whatever. Right? No. Definitely not.

“You okay there, cupcake?”

“No,” Laura growled, just barely resisting the temptation to run out of the laundromat and never look back. She’d miss her clothes, though, and she did not have the money to replace practically her entire wardrobe.

“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

Sure, easy for her to say. She was the only one in the room with a nose that good.

“It’s just a normal biological reaction. You can’t control it,” Carmilla added when Laura made no move to turn around or uncover her face.

She felt Carmilla move around her, and then warm fingers wrapped around her wrist and tugged her one hand gently away from her face. Laura kept her eyes firmly shut so that she still wouldn’t have to actually look at Carmilla, and attempted to cover her entire face with the hand that remained.

“Come on, cutie,” Carmilla coaxed, her other hand coming up to take Laura’s other wrist.

Laura still didn’t open her eyes, but she let Carmilla guide her other hand away from her face. It wasn’t like Carmilla couldn’t easily overpower her, Laura reasoned. It wasn’t that she was actually enjoying the feeling of Carmilla’s hands on her wrists.

“At the risk of making your friend uncomfortable again –“

“You LIKE making people uncomfortable.”

“It’s not unamusing,” Carmilla admitted. “Open up those pretty brown eyes, cupcake.”

“No.”

Laura could feel Carmilla’s breath falling hotly against her cheek and her hair tickled her skin. She must have been right in front of her, and fuck, even without looking at her, Laura could feel her body being affected.

“Please?” Carmilla’s lips ghosted against her skin as she spoke, and Laura shuddered involuntarily.

She shook her head ever-so-slightly, her nose gently brushing Carmilla’s. She swallowed hard.

“For me?” Carmilla’s breath fell on her lips and she didn’t have to open her eyes to know that if she leaned in just a little she’d be kissing her.

Oh, God. She could be kissing Carmilla right now. Her breath hitched and she felt her heart beating so hard in her chest she wasn’t sure it wasn’t going to pound its way right through her ribcage.

She tried to breathe, but there was that hint of copper and the smell before the rain comes and chocolate and just Carmilla. Laura wasn’t entirely sure she wasn’t about to spontaneously combust.

The buzzer on the dryers rang out loud and harsh, one immediately following the other with a little overlap. Laura jumped, her eyes flying open, but Carmilla was already gone from directly in front of her and now stood a few feet away with a small, satisfied smile.

Laura glanced over her shoulder towards LaFontaine and found that they were looking at the wall of dryer like they were the most interesting dryers to ever exist on the planet. She noticed a faint blush on their cheeks too.

“Laundry’s done,” Carmilla said, a hint of amusement creeping back into her voice.

“Finally,” Laura muttered, willing herself not to look back at Carmilla. She went straight to her bag and took it to the dryers and began tugging her clothes out as, a little slower, LaFontaine did the same beside her.

She just needed to get her laundry and leave. She just needed to put space between her and Carmilla and then, if at all possible, forget about her. She would NOT be coming back next week. No way. Not a chance in hell. Not at this hour, anyway. Who really needed clean clothes anyway? Clean clothes were overrated. Besides, they were just a pain to fold.

Laura hated the way that her heart was still racing and she could feel her blush lingering on her cheeks. She could feel the place where Carmilla’s lips had brushed her cheek burning even though the touch had barely happened.

“Ready?” Laura asked LaFontaine, still refusing to even so much as glance in Carmilla’s direction, though she could feel her eyes watching them.

“One sec,” LaFontaine mumbled, reaching into the dryer, their voice echoing back out at them.

Laura tapped her foot impatiently, eyes on the floor.

“Cool your jets, Hollis, we’ll leave in a minute. Besides, don’t you need to go say goodbye to your vampire girlfriend?”

“She’s NOT my girlfriend.”

“Well, clearly you didn’t see the moment I just saw, because…”

“LAFONTAINE!”

“Okay! Okay. I’m hurrying.”

LaFontaine grabbed the last handful of clothes from the dryer and shoved it in their bag. They slung their bag onto their back and Laura lifted her own, and together they headed to the door.

Laura was a little bit surprised (and maybe just a touch disappointed) that Carmilla didn’t try to stand in their path. In fact, Carmilla didn’t say a word until LaFontaine was pushing through the door, Laura close on their heels.

“Aren’t you forgetting something, cutie?”

Laura froze, wracking her brain for what Carmilla might mean. Did she want a kiss? Was she expecting a goodbye? Because, okay, yeah, she could at least say goodbye. Her father would be appalled at her lack of manners at trying to leave without one. Actually, he’d be appalled that she’d done laundry with a vampire three times now. He’d have been appalled that she had decided to do laundry at one in the morning in the first place, let alone scantily clad. He just really wouldn’t approve of any of this, if she was honest with herself. That should have been her first hint that it was a bad idea. “What?” Laura finally asked.

LaFontaine looked from Laura to Carmilla and back. “I’m just gonna wait outside. Nice to meet you, Fangs!”

“Be good, Dr. Frankenstein!” Carmilla called in reply.

Laura turned slowly, with a sigh. She settled her gaze somewhere to the right of Carmilla rather than look directly at her. “Well?”

“Your book? And your shirt? Or should I hang on to them for another week?”

“No, I’ll take them now,” Laura replied quickly. She didn’t need another excuse to see Carmilla. If there was no excuse then maybe she really wouldn’t come next week.

“Okay.”

Laura saw Carmilla approaching out of her peripheral vision, but she stopped just out of reach, holding up the book and the shirt.

“Are you going to give them to me?” Laura demanded a moment later when Carmilla made no move to do anything of the sort.

“Are you ever going to look at me again?”

“Doesn’t seem likely,” Laura replied.

In a blur, Carmilla was there before her, right in her line of sight, and Laura had no choice but to look up at her. “That’s better,” Carmilla said, her eyes dancing, but her tone softer than Laura had ever heard it.

Laura looked away, but Carmilla frowned and reached up to touch Laura’s chin, guiding her back to face her.

“Hey,” Carmilla said with a smile.

Laura took a deep breath and met her gaze. Carmilla dropped her hand and took the book from where it was cradled under her arm.

“Book.” She handed it over, and Laura took it, feeling a little better once it was in her hand. “Shirt.” Carmilla repeated her motions, giving Laura back her light blue shirt. It looked like it had emerged from Carmilla’s load of laundry unscathed.

“Thanks,” Laura muttered, feeling her cheeks flush.

“No problem.”

Laura tried to tell herself that she should go now. She had the two things that she had come back for. LaFontaine was waiting for her outside. She should leave. She should say goodbye to Carmilla and go and not come back. Except Carmilla was looking at her with a gleam in her eyes and an attractive smirk on her face, and Laura couldn’t turn away.

Carmilla reached up and tucked some hair behind Laura’s ear.

“Not that I minded meeting your friend, exactly, cupcake, but what do you say our next date is just you and me?” Carmilla traced a finger slowly along Laura’s jaw.

“Next date? These aren’t dates, they’re just –“

Carmilla’s lips pressing gently to her cheek cut her off. Words escaped her entirely and her face grew hot, and then Carmilla was stepping back with a smirk. “Next week? Same time and place?”

Laura nodded and turned towards the door, her head in a fog. It wasn’t until the cool air hit her face and LaFontaine was looking at her with an amused expression that she realized that she’d essentially just agreed to another date with Carmilla.

“Shut up,” Laura grumbled before LaFontaine could say anything, and she started off down the street, tucking her book and her shirt under her arm. She’d just have to come up with an excuse to break their non-date. It wasn’t a date. It didn’t matter what Carmilla said. It was laundry.

“So, I’m guessing I’m not invited on your next date.”

“They’re NOT dates!”

“Sure, all my laundry experiences involve sexual innuendos, heavy flirting, and kisses goodbye.”

Laura glared at LaFontaine and readjusted the strap of her bag on her shoulder. “It was just a kiss on the cheek, and I’m pretty sure it was mostly to distract me.”

“And the almost kiss earlier?”

“She’s just having fun.”

“You like her.”

“I do not.”

Laura sped up. Anything to get the walk home over quicker so that she could get away from LaFontaine and their erroneous impressions.

“You have to admit that she’s sexy.”

“I have eyes,” Laura grumbled, then sighed. She should not have said that.

“Aha!”

“Will you give it a rest?”

“Okay, okay.”

“Thank you!”

“If...”

“Oh no,” Laura moaned.

“You admit that you maybe have at least a bit of a thing for a vampire.”

“Not a chance.”

“You know your blush reflex is really strong.”

“Believe me, I’m painfully aware.”

They walked on in blissful silence for a few minutes, but, much to Laura’s dismay, it wasn’t to last.

“Danny’s so gonna hate this,” LaFontaine said.

“There’s nothing to hate. I’m going to find a new laundromat.”

“Oh, no, you’re not. You’re going back there next week,” LaFontaine assured her.

“I’m not,” Laura replied, not at all sure that her words were truth and hating herself a little for it.

“And Fangs is gonna be waiting there for you to resume her seduction.”

“There will be no seducing, even if I DO go back.”

“And Danny’s gonna freak.” LaFontaine sounded far too gleeful about this whole situation.

“There’s nothing for her to freak about!”

“This is gonna be so fun!”

“I hate you.”

--

Laura had just started to fold her laundry when she remembered that Carmilla had had her phone. She paused and sat down on the edge of her bed and began to look through it. She checked her phone’s basic settings to make sure nothing had changed. It was all what it should have been. She opened her contacts and scrolled down to C, looking for Carmilla.

There was no contact.

Laura frowned. She scrolled down to K, thinking that maybe she had spelled the name wrong in her head.

She began to search through all of her contacts, trying to think what else Carmilla might have put herself in as, and she rolled her eyes when she finally found it. She clicked to open a text message and saw that one had already been sent to that number. So that’s what she was doing.

Laura (3:35 a.m.): Sexy Laundry Date, huh? Full of yourself much?

She stared at her phone for a minute, anticipating a response. When none came, she couldn’t help feeling a little silly. She put her phone down and stood. She started folding her clothes again.

It wasn’t until she’d changed into her pajamas and brushed her teeth that the reply came.

Sexy Laundry Date (4:08 a.m.): Is there some inaccuracy there, cutie? Try not to dream about me tonight.

Laura caught sight of the ridiculous grin on her face in the mirror and groaned.

“Worst crush ever!” she declared before faceplanting onto her bed with a thud. Seriously, worst crush ever.

Chapter Text

“Juicy details. Now.” Danny sat down next to Laura, handing LaFontaine a bottle of beer. Laura had managed to avoid her all day, but when she’d come home from classes, she’d found LaFontaine and Perry approaching her door, LaFontaine looking smug.

Laura had known exactly why they were there and she wanted no part of it. Danny hadn’t given her an option, though.

“Come on! I want to know all about these mysterious laundry dates,” Danny urged.

“They’re not dates,” Laura groaned, hoping that LaFontaine wasn’t about to contradict her. It took only the quickest of glances for her to know that she was hoping in vain.

“They are so dates. I was the biggest third wheel in history.”

“You weren’t a third wheel! If last night was anything, it was ‘pick on Laura’ night. You two ganged up on me!”

“LaFontaine,” Perry murmured, shooting LaFontaine a disapproving look.

“It was all good-natured.”

“I don’t think seeing how red my face can turn is all that good-natured.”

Danny turned questioningly back to LaFontaine.

“So red. She gets so, so red. It’s great. Even her ears blush.”

“So, this mysterious laundry-doing lady –“

“Carmilla,” LaFontaine interjected.

“Ooooh, sexy name,” Danny commented.

“Right?” LaFontaine agreed.

Laura began to wonder exactly how necessary her presence was for this conversation to happen, since clearly nobody wanted to listen to what she had to say.

“So, Carmilla makes you blush, eh?”

“She could make anyone blush,” Laura muttered defensively.

“But it was a date?” Danny turned back to LaFontaine.

“Well, there was a lot of flirting –“

“LaF!” Laura warned, but she shouldn’t have bothered because LaFontaine was clearly undeterred.

“There were mentions of sex –“

“YOU WERE THE ONE WHO BROUGHT UP SEX IN THE FIRST PLACE!” LaFontaine grinned at her and Laura groaned, letting her head fall back onto the couch with a thump.

“And there were two almost kisses.”

“Wow!” Danny turned back to Laura looking mildly impressed. “Go, Hollis!”

Laura groaned again. Would it be too much to ask for the couch to swallow her up right now? She closed her eyes and willed it to happen, but apparently it was too much to ask for.

“Wait, Laura flirts? Really?” Perry asked.

“Hey!” Laura protested. She didn’t think Perry would join in, too. At least Perry was nice enough to shoot her a vaguely apologetic look.

“Well, Laura asks questions and gets embarrassed, but she was definitely receptive to the flirting.”

“Okay, so what does Carmilla look like? Come on, I want to know everything,” Danny urged.

“She’s hot. Like really stunningly gorgeous with smoldering eyes and a confidence that’s just really sexy –“

“Really, LaFontaine!” Perry declared, and Laura could tell that she was not enjoying LaFontaine’s description of Carmilla.

“Maybe you should date her,” Laura muttered.

“Oh, no. She was not interested in me. She only had eyes for you.”

“And what about you?” Perry asked. “Did you have eyes for her?”

LaFontaine seemed to realize their misstep and quickly shook their head. “No! I mean she was beautiful, but definitely not my type. I prefer a different type of beauty.”

Laura caught a faint blush on Perry’s face when she turned back to face her with a small smile. “She only had eyes for me because I was the only other person in the laundromat. It’s not like she was spoiled for choice.”

“Oh, I don’t think it would have made a difference if the place was packed,” LaFontaine contradicted her. “I don’t think YOU really think it would have either. I could practically SEE the sexual tension in the air between you both.”

“Wow. Really? You should maybe find somewhere to date besides the laundromat, then,” Danny advised, and Laura groaned.

“Like your bedroom,” LaFontaine suggested. “She was definitely looking at you like she wanted to…eat you.” LaFontaine said with a wiggle of their eyebrows.

Laura glared hard and opened her mouth to protest, but LaFontaine cut her off.

“And not in the vampire way. Don’t even try it. She might want to taste your blood, too, but I guarantee it’s only while she’s doing naughty things to the rest of your body, and not at all in an ‘I want to drain you and leave you for dead’ way.”

Images of what exactly Carmilla might do to her body flashed through her mind and Laura felt her face flush at the thought.

“EXCUSE ME, WHAT?” Danny exclaimed a moment later, her face going white and her jaw open in shock. “A VAMPIRE WAY?”

“Did I forget to mention that? Laura here has captured the attention of one of Austria’s very own vampires.”

“LaFontaine, there’s no such thing as vampires,” Perry said in a tired voice, which gave Laura the distinct impression that this was not the first time they’d had this conversation.

“Oh, yes there are, and Carmilla is definitely one of them. Right, Crushes-on-Vampires?”

“I don’t- Urgh. She’s definitely not human,” Laura muttered.

“Laura, you CANNOT seriously be thinking about dating a vampire,” Danny interjected, still looking aghast.

No, of course she wasn’t thinking about it. That would be ridiculous. So what, if she had a little crush. That was nothing. That was going to go away when she stopped going to meet Carmilla at the laundromat. Yep. Definitely. That was the plan.

“Danny, don’t tell me you believe in this…this nonsense,” Perry said, waving her hands vaguely in the air and sitting up a little straighter.

“She knows. She’s been around campus. She knows the rumors,” LaFontaine replied.

“A few of my sisters have had…encounters,” Danny admitted. “Which is why I know that this vampire is just going to set you up and toy with you until she can drain you dry!”

“She said she prefers meals that can walk themselves back, actually, which makes a decent amount of sense, when you think about it. Okay, so you don’t eat as much per meal, but then you don’t have to expend as much energy in search of food, either, so you burn less calories. It’s a solid strategy,” LaFontaine mused.

“LAURA SHOULD NOT BE A WALKING MEAL!” Danny exclaimed.

“I’m not going to be,” Laura attempted to assure her, though, really, she felt like Danny was overreacting, just a touch.

“You keep going on laundry dates with a VAMPIRE, Laura.”

“Yeah, but, like I said, she wasn’t about making Laura a meal. Not like that anyway.”

Laura couldn’t decide if she appreciated LaFontaine’s help in this argument or not. “She doesn’t seem like she wants to hurt me,” Laura added. “She’s never threatened me at all, really.”

“Have you heard of being lulled into a false sense of security?” Danny asked, eyes bugging out of her head a little.

“Don’t you think she could have taken advantage of that by now? She didn’t attack LaFontaine either. She wasn’t interested. They smell too much like Perry and she has morals.”

Okay, that last comment might have been a bit of a stretch, but she wasn’t going to admit that to Danny, who clearly didn’t believe her anyway.

“Oh, sure, the famous vampire with morals. I suppose she has a soul, too. Laura, this isn’t an episode of Buffy!”

“Wait, what do you mean LaFontaine smells too much like me?” Perry asked in a high-pitched voice.

“She means you two are fooling no one and need to sort out your whole situation,” Laura replied, not feeling the least bit bad about the blush that spread across LaFontaine’s face. “And, Danny, I KNOW it’s not Buffy, and I honestly have no idea about the state of actual vampire’s souls. It’s on my list of questions, actually, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet –“

“List of questions? Laura, this is not some journalism assignment. You’re not interviewing her.” Dannny sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose.

“No, she’s interrogating her because she has the hots for her,” LaFontaine said.

“Laura, you can’t actually go on another date with her. You know that, right? How long have you known she was a vampire?”

“Since night one,” Laura admitted a bit sheepishly. It did sound silly that she’d gone back at all, now that she thought about it. Carmilla’s face flashed through her mind and she felt heat flood through her. Then again…if Danny saw Carmilla, or just met her, maybe…

Laura could instantly imagine Danny barging in with a stake rather than attempting to make nice with a handshake. That would definitely be a BAD idea.

“Laura!”

Danny sounded so disappointed in her, that Laura couldn’t help shrink down in her seat a little.

“Danny, come on. Lay off her. Honestly, I’d have made the same decision as Laura if I was her. You should see Carmilla. I mean really.”

Laura offered LaFontaine a weak smile, but that only meant that she caught the frown on Perrys’ face.

“Then I would be having this conversation with you!” Danny replied. “You didn’t let her know where you live, right?”

Laura shook her head. “No. Honestly, Danny, she’s fine. She’s a vampire, but she’s not going to hurt me. If she was, she would have by now.”

“How do you know that? Are you suddenly a mind-reader?”

“No, but I’m not completely incompetent. I’m not some naïve little girl that you have to protect!” Laura could feel her annoyance bubbling up inside of her. Maybe it was partially just the sting of Carmilla calling her naïve yet again the night before when she still barely knew her, or maybe it was too many years of living with her overprotective father, but either way, she did not have to sit here and take this from Danny. Danny was supposed to be her friend and roommate, not a parental figure.

“Laura,” Danny said, clearly going on the defensive.

“No, I mean, really, Danny? Are YOU suddenly omniscient? Because you weren’t there. You haven’t met her. I’m not just blinded by her beauty. I’ve actually talked to her, too, and she wouldn’t hurt me. Maybe it’s because I don’t make snap judgments about her based on her species.”

“Okay,” Danny muttered, holding up her hands. “I just think you’re being reckless, that’s all. Why take the chance when you don’t have to? It’s not like the university is lacking in attractive, single, HUMAN females. What about Elsie?”

Laura frowned. Really? That’s who Danny thought she might go for? She was so not her type.

“SJ?” Danny suggested.

Laura tilted her head from side to side. “I’m pretty sure she’s straight. Anyway, she doesn’t really compare to-“

“Someone who might suck your blood and leave you for dead? Yeah, that’s tough to compare to.”

Laura rolled her eyes. “LaFontaine met her. Don’t you trust their judgment?”

“Depends on how interested they were in using her as a science experiment,” Danny replied.

“Hey!” LaFontaine protested, then considered it for a moment. “No, okay, that’s fair. I do think Laura’s right, though, for what it’s worth.”

“Thank you,” Laura said pointedly to LaFontaine.

“You really should have seen the sexual chemistry between them. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m half-tempted to get pheromone samples from the two of them and see how they compare.”

Laura glared. “Less helpful,” she muttered.

“Laura, I just worry about you.”

“I have a dad for that, Danny. Don’t you trust me to make my own decisions?”

“Well, I did, before those involved dates with vampires.”

“I still think that maybe we’re making a few too many leaps away from reality with this vampire talk…” Perry began, but she quieted down when Laura, Danny, and LaFontaine all gave her a look that said that they really weren’t.

“Danny –“

“No, Laura, just…Listen, okay? Just maybe take a week off and really think about this? That way if she’s somehow using vampire powers to try and get to you, maybe they’ll have worn off, or…Just…Please, promise me you won’t go this week?”

Half of Laura wanted to protest, but the other half of her thought that perhaps that sounded reasonable. Besides, there was no good that could come from arguing with her roommate. She did NOT need the apartment becoming all tense just because she couldn’t take a week off from seeing Carmilla. She wasn’t even planning on going back, right? Right. So, saying yes to this wouldn’t be a big deal at all. “Fine,” Laura conceded with a tight-lipped smile, but she watched as Danny visibly relaxed, and she felt like maybe she was making an intelligent decision.

--

Laura opened her text messages for the eighth time in a row, and then locked her phone again. She should tell Carmilla that she’s not going to show up. It would be rude not to, right?

She’d been debating the same thing over and over for three nights, now, and each time she’d eventually decided that Carmilla wasn’t really interested enough to actually want a text. She’d probably just shrug and go find a new meal, or someone else to hit on when she realized Laura wasn’t coming. It probably wouldn’t even faze her.

Laura definitely wasn’t remotely jealous at the idea that Carmilla would move on to someone else. Of course, she was probably hitting on girls all week. Hell, she was probably sucking the blood of someone far more attractive than Laura right now while they engaged in sexy times.

Laura told herself she didn’t feel nauseous at the thought.

She unlocked her phone again and opened the message exchange with Carmilla. The words ”Try not to dream about me tonight.” Stared back at her. She hadn’t dreamt of her, but that hadn’t stopped her brain from thinking about her more often than not while she was awake. It was a bit inconvenient, actually. She was supposed to be paying attention in class and taking notes and making sure she didn’t fail her upcoming exams. Instead, she was daydreaming about dark hair and sexy smirks and pale skin, and it was NOT good for her.

Laura (11:54 p.m.): 3 nights and 0 dreams. Guess you shouldn’t have worried.

Laura grinned proudly to herself. She’d managed to come up with a cool, collected text that gave nothing away. It wasn’t like Carmilla would be able to undermine her determination via text message. She wasn’t so alluring as letters on a screen. She couldn’t use that vampire sexual magnetism.

Sexy Laundry Date (11:57 p.m.): If you say so, sweetheart.

The reply had come quicker than she’d expected. She frowned at the screen. It seemed like Carmilla didn’t believe her.

Laura (11:58 p.m.): It’s true!

Sexy Laundry Date (12:01 a.m.): You answered awfully quickly, there, cupcake.

Damn. But it’s not like she’s lying. Laura waited for a few minutes to tick by (agonizingly slowly) before replying again.

Laura (12:04 a.m.): I happened to be holding my phone.

Laura set her phone down face down and willed herself not to listen for the sound of it vibrating. She definitely didn’t get impatient as she waited and check it three…no, four times.

Sexy Laundry Date (12:12 a.m.): Tell me, cutie, have you changed my name in your phone?

Damn, again.

Laura (12:14 a.m.): Yes. Obviously. Why wouldn’t I have?

Which raised the question why hadn’t she? She should just change her name to Carmilla, but for some reason she didn’t want to. It’s not like she was apt to confuse Carmilla with another Carmilla in her phone. Then again, she didn’t have an overwhelming number of Sexy Laundry Dates either.

Sexy Laundry Date (12:15 a.m.): I can hear your heart racing from here, cupcake.

Laura looked around her room in alarm, then peered out the window for good measure. No Carmilla. She was lying, right? She had to be lying.

Laura (12:17 a.m.): Where are you? Are you stalking me?

Sexy Laundry Date (12:18 a.m.): Don’t need to, sweetheart. Your reaction just told me that I was right that your heart is racing. Is that because you’re imagining me naked, or did I really catch you in a lie?

Laura (12:19 a.m.): Neither! I am not imagining you naked. You are very very clothed in my head.

Sexy Laundry Date (12:21 a.m.): So you ARE thinking about me. ;)

Crap. Yes, of course she was, now. Now she really was imagining what Carmilla might look like without any clothes on. It wasn’t a big stretch to imagine her topless after having seen her in her bra that first laundry night. Laura bit her lower lip as she imagined Carmilla wiggling out of those tight leather pants she’d been wearing the last time she saw her. Fuck. Laura felt her body flood with heat, and she knew that she was getting wet just at the thought. That’s reasonable, though, she decided. Carmilla was hands down the most beautiful woman she’d ever met. Anyone would get wet thinking about her naked. And the only reason she WAS thinking about her naked was because Carmilla had mentioned it.

Sexy Laundry Date (12:26 a.m.): Don’t worry, cutie. I understand that I’m irresistible.

Laura (12:27 a.m.): More like full of yourself.

Sexy Laundry Date (12:29 a.m.): Don’t you want to know if I’ve thought about you naked?

Fuuuck. No. No, she didn’t. She really, definitely did not. At all. Not even a little, tiny bit.

Laura (12:33 a.m.): Have you?

Well, that was stupid. Ugh, why did she type that? Laura put her head in her hands. Carmilla would be able to get so much from that little question. Why did she have to let her curiosity get the better of her?

Sexy Laundry Date (12:35 a.m.): Of course. You were practically naked when I met you.

Right. Of course.

Sexy Laundry Date (12:36 a.m.): I’ve also thought about all of the things I’d like to do with you while you’re naked.

OH! Oh. Okay, then. Laura was fine. She was completely, one-hundred percent fine. In no way was she suddenly incredibly turned on. She definitely did not at all wonder what exactly Carmilla had been imagining.

Sexy Laundry Date (12:38 a.m.): Would you like to know what exactly I’ve thought about?

Laura (12:39 a.m.): No!

Sexy Laundry Date (12:42 a.m.): Are you sure? There’s one scenario that involves that washing machine you’re always perched on that I quite enjoy playing through in my head.

Laura swallowed hard. Why did her brain immediately imagine Carmilla kneeling between her legs as she sat on the washing machine? That was not something her brain should be thinking about. That was NOT something we should want.

Laura (12:44 a.m.): I’m sure.

Sexy Laundry Date (12:45 a.m.): We could always work on making that one a reality on our next date.

Laura ignored the way her body seemed to say, “Hell, yes!”

Laura (12:46 a.m.): You’re just trying to get a rise out of me.

Sexy Laundry Date (12:47 a.m.): Funny, I was expecting further protests about this not being a date. Or have you gotten over that, now?

Crap. Right. She probably should have pointed out how they definitely weren’t dates. Again. Why did it feel like she believed that less and less the more she said it? “Ugh,” she groaned aloud, flopping her head down on her desk. It hit with a dull thud and she groaned again. “No,” she told herself. “Definitely not. Do not start considering these dates!”

Laura looked at the text message again and bit her lower lip.

Sexy Laundry Date (12:53 a.m.): Speaking of our dates, shall we actually set a time for a one this week? Say…1:30?

This date. No. Not a date. This week’s laundry trip. The laundry trip that Laura had promised Danny wasn’t going to happen. Laura sighed.

Laura (12:57 a.m.): I have to cancel this week.

The silence from her phone made her anxious. Minute after minute ticked by and she checked it half a dozen times. No response. She left her phone in her room while she went to brush her teeth, and checked it as soon as she returned. Nothing. She changed into her pajamas, plugged in her phone to charge, went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, came back, and climbed in bed before checking her phone again.

Still nothing.

There was a sinking feeling in her chest and her throat felt dry. Had Carmilla moved on already? Had she given up on texting her and was she now texting some other girl? A girl that might give in to her flirting? A girl that she might be able to have tonight?

Laura closed her eyes and rolled to face the wall, willing thoughts of Carmilla out of her mind.

It didn’t work. Instead thoughts of Carmilla making good on her suggestion kept trickling into her brain until she was hot and bothered and sliding a hand under the elastic of her boyshort underwear. Her fingers had just began to circle her clit when her phone vibrated. She pulled her hand back like she’d been stung. She took a few deep breaths, willing her heart to stop racing. It wasn’t like Carmilla had actually caught her. Carmilla wasn’t there. She couldn’t read minds (that Laura was aware of, at least). There was no way even if she had actually caught her touching herself that she’d have known what she was thinking about.

She wiped her hand off on her sheets and reached for her phone.

Sexy Laundry Date (1:18 a.m.): I’ll miss making you blush. Try not to think about me too much, cutie.

Laura swallowed hard. She couldn’t read minds, right? And Carmilla would miss her? Okay, miss making her blush, but still…

Laura groaned. Why was she even considering what she was currently considering? She shouldn’t. She couldn’t. It was a bad idea. She’d promised Danny.

No. She wouldn’t.

Laura (1:20 a.m.): I’ll try. *eyeroll*

Sexy Laundry Date (1:21 a.m.): ;) Goodnight, sexy lady.

“Leave it,” she muttered to herself. She locked her phone and set it back on her nightstand and closed her eyes. She was still turned on, but she refused to give in and touch herself again. “Goodbye, Carmilla,” she muttered to the empty room.

--

Laura (3:13 p.m.): What if we do laundry tomorrow night instead of the next night?

Sexy Laundry Date (3:18 p.m.): It’s a date. See you at 1:30.

--

Okay, so she the fact that she had to lie to Danny to come tonight was probably a bad sign. If she was lying to one of her best friends, then it was probably something she shouldn’t be doing, right? That didn’t make her turn around, though. She felt like she was back at home, sneaking out to go meet a girl. The difference now was that Danny wasn’t nearly as watchful as her father, so it was a lot easier not to get caught, and she wasn’t just sneaking out to meet a girl, she was sneaking out to meet a vampire. Yep, wiser decisions had certainly been made.

She could see the laundromat now, but she couldn’t tell if Carmilla was already inside. It felt weird having a set time to meet her. It felt…Well, it felt a lot more like an actual date despite the bag of dirty laundry slung over her shoulder.

She peered in through the window, and didn’t see anyone, so she pushed open the door and stepped inside. The door had just swung closed behind her when the bright lights went out, leaving just the eerie red glow from the exit sign and a little spattering of light from the streetlight down the block.

Laura heard movement behind her and tensed. This was it. She was going to die. Danny had been right. Carmilla had only been luring her into a false sense of security, and now she’d just walked herself straight to her death. Who needed to hunt when your prey came right to you?

Strong hands slid the bag off of her shoulder and set it aside, and then her hair was being swept away from her face and the side of her neck and she could feel hot breath there.

No, don’t tilt your head to the side to make it easier for her! What the hell is wrong with you? Laura asked herself. Her body didn’t listen as Carmilla’s hand settled on her shoulder, her fingers stroking soft patterns into her skin.

“Hey, there, cupcake. Glad you could make it,” Carmilla breathed against her skin, her lips brushing the exposed skin where her neck met her shoulder.

Laura shuddered. She should not be feeling hot because of this. She was likely about to become dinner. Why the hell was she pressing her body back into Carmilla’s? (How did it seem to fit so well?)

“So that you could have an easy meal?” Laura suggested.

She felt Carmilla’s chuckle through her whole body as Carmilla tucked her chin over Laura’s shoulder.

Laura jumped a little when a small flame appeared down the aisle of washing machines. It took her eyes a second to adjust, and then she realized it was a candle that had spontaneously lit itself. Three more flames popped into existence, casting a warm glow over the far end of the aisle, and Laura could just make out other candles placed around. Finally it clicked.

“You can set things on fire?” she asked as two more candles lit.

 “I think your body already knew that, cutie.” Carmilla replied, her lips ghosting against Laura’s throat and her fingers trailing down her arm.

Laura couldn’t stop the small whimper that escaped her lips, but she could at the very least protest. She turned around, ready to suggest that Carmilla couldn’t possibly know that, but all words immediately escaped her as Carmilla’s hands settled on her hips and she realized just how close Carmilla was.

It was different facing her, her dark eyes reflecting the glow of the candles, her lips, just a breath away, quirked up in a smirk. Carmilla moved forward and Laura answered with a step back. Carmilla bit her lip and Laura swallowed hard as they repeated the process, but Laura had nowhere really to go, and it was clear that Carmilla knew that as Laura’s back hit a washer and Carmilla leaned her hands on either side of her on the washer.

“You see,” Carmilla murmured, her nose brushing gently against Laura’s cheek as she leaned in, “I didn’t want there to be any confusion about the date part of the invitation anymore.”

“Oh,” Laura squeaked. How was it possible for lips to look so enticing?

As if reading her thoughts, Carmilla’s tongue darted out to wet her lips, and the corner of her lips curled up into a smirk.

Wait, so this was a date. This was definitely a date. Carmilla had gotten here early and set up candles and now they were…

Laura took a shaky breath to calm herself, but heat was pooling low in her stomach and her heart was racing in her chest. Carmilla wasn’t wrong that she set Laura’s body on fire, much as Laura hated to admit it.

She bit her lower lip to keep from leaning forward and closing the very limited space between them. She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t really go for a vampire. She couldn’t give in to this attraction. The crush was silly. It would fade. It would…

“Why are you smiling like that?” Laura asked suspiciously.

“No reason,” Carmilla replied, looking far too smug for Laura’s liking.

“Why do I feel like you’re laughing at me?”

“I promise I’m not, cupcake. I’m just happy to know that my seduction is being successful.”

“You…what?”

Carmilla leaned in, her cheek brushing against Laura’s, her lips practically touching Laura’s ear, and she breathed in deeply through her nose. “Have I mentioned how good you smell, cutie?”

Laura shuddered and then realization dawned and she felt her face flush a violent shade of red.

“I, uh, hey, so…Laundry,” Laura stammered, ducking under Carmilla’s arm and retrieving her bag of clothes before dragging it down the aisle. 

She started filling the machines, sorting as she went, made more difficult by the candlelight. She was aware of Carmilla following her down the aisle and leaning back against a washing machine, watching her work.

Laura willed her body to calm down, to not respond. It wouldn’t listen. Having Carmilla’s eyes trained so intently on her made her squirm, but it also turned her on more.  Oh, God, she really would never be able to look Carmilla in the eyes again.

She was almost to the bottom of the bag when she heard Carmilla moving behind her. She glanced over her shoulder to find Carmilla spreading out a cushy blanket at the end of the aisle.

“What’s that?”

“Something to make our stay a little more comfortable,” Carmilla replied easily, without looking up.

If Carmilla really thought that she was just going to settle down on a blanket next to her while she was busy being incredibly embarrassed, she was out of her mind.

“You enjoy that,” Laura muttered, reaching down the bottom of her bag and pulling out the last of her laundry.

She shoved the clothes into the washing machines, put in her money and started the machines, only to remember that she hadn’t added the detergent. It was Carmilla. Her presence was just so distracting.

Laura glanced over her shoulder and realized that Carmilla was now splayed enticingly on the blanket, once again watching her. She was laying on her side, head propped up on her elbow, one leg bent, the other straight, and the look on her face could only be described as seductive.

Laura turned her back to Carmilla and swallowed hard. She opened the washers back up and added the detergent and closed the lids, listening to the familiar metallic clang, willing it to clear her mind. It didn’t work.

Laura considered the idea of not turning around again for the rest of the evening. She could totally just lean against the washer and stare at…the other washing machines? She could pull out her phone and…not text Danny.

Okay, new plan.

Laura turned around, but pointedly did not look at Carmilla. She started to climb up onto the washing machine like she’d done every other time since Carmilla arrived, and then Carmilla’s texts from the other night popped into her mind. Carmilla wanted to have sex with her on a washing machine, or at least that was the implication.

Laura slid back down to the floor, feeling her cheeks flush. She risked a glance at Carmilla and was met with a smug smirk.

“All right there, cutie?”

“Fine!” Laura lied. She looked desperately towards the door, wondering if it was really too late to leave. She could come back for all of her clothes tomorrow morning. With Danny, maybe. …who would probably yell at her. That might not be worth it.

Maybe she could hide in the bathroom all night? Except it was a 24-hour laundromat’s bathroom. Laura didn’t have high expectations for its sanitation level. It didn’t really sound all that appealing.

“Would it help if I promise not to bite?” Carmilla asked, her voice husky.

Laura felt a shiver run through her at the sound. Maybe she was being a little ridiculous. She could sit on the blanket with Carmilla. She would just stay on the opposite side of the blanket, leaning against the dryers. It would be fine.

Laura sat down tentatively, feeling the dryers pressed firmly against her back. Carmilla wouldn’t be able to sneak up behind her, at least.

“Unless you ask me to, of course,” Carmilla added, and Laura hated the way that her mind instantly filled with images of Carmilla biting into her neck as her fingers slid in and out of her.

Fuck. Not helpful. Not helpful at all.

Carmilla’s smirk grew.

Laura knew that her face was once again bright red, and she squirmed uncomfortably in her seat. It did not help that she was now, definitely wet, and, of course, Carmilla would KNOW that.

Laura put her head in her hands.

She heard Carmilla sigh and then there was a whoosh of air moving, and then the clink of glass.

Laura frowned and lifted her head, peering through her fingers curiously. Carmilla was now sitting up, two champagne flutes dangling from one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other.

Laura spread her fingers a little wider to get a better view. Expensive champagne, Laura noted.

“What are you doing?” Laura asked, her voice muffled by her hands.

“I thought maybe we could enjoy a little bubbly. It would be better on a blanket under the stars, but surrounded by washing machines and candles isn’t that bad when you’re still the company.”

Laura’s jaw dropped and her hands fell away from her face. Was that…Was Carmilla really a sappy romantic? Because lines like that…

…would totally work on her.

Carmilla poured two glasses of champagne and offered one to Laura. Laura moved closer and took it.

She took a small sip, glancing nervously at Carmilla, who took a long, steady sip, eyes trained on Laura.

“So, cupcake, what burning questions do you have for me today?”

Why me? Laura’s brain screamed. There was no way she was going to ask that, though. She took another sip of her champagne and contemplated her options.

“Well?” Carmilla prompted a moment later.

“Who says I have more questions?” Laura challenged.

Carmilla grinned. “Oh, come on, sweetheart. You and I both know your curiosity is far from sated.”

Laura tried to look offended, but it was hard when Carmilla was one-hundred percent correct.

“First question. The one right on the tip of your tongue. What is it?” Carmilla coaxed in between sips of champagne, and inviting smile on her lips.

No. Laura still refused to ask that one. She thought quickly. “Do you have a soul?” she blurted.

Carmilla’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “Getting a little deep there, cutie.”

Carmilla took another sip of her champagne, and Laura wondered if that was as much of an answer as she was going to get for that question. She was thinking up another one, when Carmilla spoke again.

“I’m not sure.” She sounded almost wistful, and her gaze was staring down the aisle, focused on nothing. “There was a time when I thought I must have one, but then…Do you think me a monster?”

Laura looked at her sharply, surprised at the abrupt turn. “What?”

“You asked if I had a soul and people tend to equate the lack thereof with monstrosity. I have killed. I drink blood to survive. I have done monstrous things, yet here you sit beside me, and sometimes when you look my way…” Carmilla faded out, a small smile dancing across her lips only to slip away a moment later. “Do you think me a monster, Laura?”

The use of her name stilled the quick answer on her tongue. Carmilla deserved for her to think about this before she answered. She weighed her words carefully, letting the truth of what Carmilla had said wash over her. “No,” she finally said in a quiet voice. “I don’t.”

“So, what do you think, then? Do I have a soul?”

Laura’s brought her eyes up to meet Carmilla’s, swallowing hard at the intensity of the gaze that met hers. “I think you must,” she murmured.

Carmilla smiled, but there was sadness in her eyes. “And if I told you that I was, in fact, a monster?”

“We always see the worst in ourselves,” Laura replied, her mind flicking to darker times. She shook them off and offered Carmilla a small smile. “I think everyone is redeemable.”

Carmilla let out a low laugh. “You definitely haven’t met my mother.”

Laura frowned, but she didn’t want to argue the point. “What animal do you turn into?” she asked as a change of subject, not really expecting a straightforward response.

Carmilla studied her for a long moment. “Would you like to see?”

Laura’s eyes went wide. “Really?” she asked, excitement bubbling up inside her at the thought.

Carmilla shrugged. “Why not? With you I seem to break all my own rules.”

Laura frowned again. What did she mean by that? She opened her mouth to ask as much, but Carmilla was standing and moving behind the nearest row of washing machines.

“Try not to be too scared, cutie,” Carmilla teased, a smirk on her face, and then an expression that Laura couldn’t read flashed across her features. “What am I doing?” she muttered to herself with a small shake of her head. She sighed and then she disappeared behind the machines.

Laura peered into the darkness, but couldn’t make out any sign of Carmilla.

“Carmilla?” she asked as the seconds ticked by and there was no sight of her. She strained her ears, but couldn’t hear anything. She was about to stand and wander into the aisle that Carmilla had gone into, but then she saw a flash of black fur just beyond the light of the candle.

Her heart began to race, but she reminded herself that whatever it was, it was still Carmilla. “C-Carmilla?” she said again, her voice shaky.

A large, black panther slunk into the aisle. Laura held her breath and started to move back, but then she saw the glint in the eyes. It really was Carmilla. This was her animal form. She let her eyes trail over sleek fur and toned muscles. “Wow,” she breathed. “You’re beautiful.”

Carmilla paused in her step and quirked her head to the side. Laura felt a blush spread up her cheeks, and she was sure that if Carmilla had been in human form, she would have been smirking.

“I mean, you’re a beautiful cat. Panther. Black panther? You’re…You make a very pretty, large feline animal.”

Smooth and super helpful, Laura thought sarcastically to herself, feeling her cheeks flush a darker shade of red.

There was a low rumble like a cross between a purr and…

“Are you laughing at me?” Laura accused, narrowing her eyes at Carmilla.

Carmilla stepped forward slowly, and Laura swore that she could see amusement dancing in her eyes. Carmilla took another step and rubbed past Laura’s shoulder before walking on past her. Laura resisted the urge to reach out and pet her, reminding herself that anywhere she touched, she’d still be touching Carmilla.

Carmilla slunk down the aisle, pausing halfway down, just before leaving the light of the candles, to look over her shoulder with what Laura could only describe as a predatory grin, and then she glided into the shadows.

“Wait,” she said as a thought struck her. “Did you just mark me?”

Laura waited for a response, squinting into the darkness, and then she heard the very human chuckle, and Carmilla, back in vampire form, sauntered over.  Now that Laura knew what to look for, she could see a certain feline grace in every movement, even in this form.

“You DID mark me. Hey, I’m not yours. I’m just –“

“On a date with me?” Carmilla suggested with a sly smirk, taking a seat next to Laura and reaching for her champagne.

“No,” Laura lied.

Carmilla raised her eyebrow and Laura looked around at the candles and the champagne.

“Maybe. On a laundry date. Sort of,” she conceded.

“So, I make a pretty, large feline animal, eh?” Carmilla asked, her tone mocking.

Laura glared. “Shut up.”

“Does this mean you like me?”

“No. I mean, you’re a very…I like you as a fri- As a vampire….” Laura scrunched up her nose. That sentence was not going where she wanted it to.

Carmilla smirked. “Do go on. Feel free to elaborate.”

Laura glowered at her. “You’re evil.”

“I am a vampire.”

Rather than try to come up with a response, Laura downed the rest of her glass of champagne, letting the rich liquid wash over her tongue, the bubbles tickling the roof of her mouth.

“More?” Carmilla offered, holding up the bottle.

Laura debated. She wasn’t feeling the effects of the alcohol yet. Being in college (and being dragged to all those Summer Society parties by Danny and the Zeta parties by Kirsch) had upped her tolerance and right now she was appreciative of that. Still, did she want to risk getting tipsy around Carmilla? She studied Carmilla out of the corner of her eye. She didn’t know why, but she trusted her not to take advantage of her if she became incapacitated. Laura remembered the way that Carmilla had backed off when she’d accused her of sexual harassment, and her decision solidified. “Yes, please. Just a little.”

Carmilla’s fingers brushed against hers as she took the glass, and Laura felt a tingle of excitement rush through her. How was it that such a small touch could have such a big effect on her? Was it possible that the champagne was affecting her more than she thought?

Carmilla handed the glass back, and Laura purposefully let their fingers touch again, just to see if it would have the same effect. It did.

Carmilla left her hand on the glass and looked up at Laura. “Everything okay, cupcake?”

Laura swallowed hard and nodded. “Fine,” she replied, her voice higher pitched than she’d have liked.

Carmilla smirked, letting go of the glass. She poured herself some more and Laura watched the golden liquid flow out of the bottle rather than watching Carmilla herself.

Laura cast her eyes down at her own glass and followed the bubbles as they traveled up, only to burst at the surface. The glow from the candles made the sight all the more mesmerizing, so when the washing machine with Carmilla’s clothes in it buzzed moments later, Laura jumped, the champagne slopping over the side and coating her hand.

Laura wrinkled her nose, frowning at her hand as expensive champagne dripped off of it. It seemed a shame to waste it, she thought. She began to lick her hand clean, realizing halfway through that, rather than going to move along her laundry, Carmilla had frozen in the middle of getting up and was watching her with rapt attention.

Laura blushed deeply, and brought her hand away from her mouth.

“Don’t stop on my account, sexy.”

Laura felt her cheeks grow even hotter at the new nickname. She sheepishly wiped her hand on her jeans. “No, I’m good,” she mumbled. “It was just expensive, and…” she trailed off as Carmilla’s smirk grew.

“It was nice to see what you can do with your tongue,” Carmilla replied, finally standing and moving to the washing machine.

Laura could feel the blush creeping up her ears now. She brought the champagne flute to her lips and took a large gulp as if she could hide behind it.

“Of course,” Carmilla added, as she began to transfer her clothes to the dryer, “I’d rather feel what it can do.”

Laura choked on her gulp, the champagne burning as it sprayed from her nose, and she made a spluttering noise before devolving into a coughing fit.

Carmilla was at her side in an instant, patting her on the back with a firm hand. “Sorry, cupcake. Didn’t realize you were drinking.”

Laura attempted to glare as she gasped for air. “Because otherwise that would have been a perfectly okay thing to say?” she wanted to ask, but every breath in seemed to catch in her throat and make her cough.

“Breathe,” Carmilla said, her voice low and soothing.

Laura didn’t lessen her glare. “Trying,” she managed to gasp before another coughing fit hit. She turned her head into her shoulder and wiped at her nose and her mouth with the sleeve of her shirt, coughing against there so as to not cough at Carmilla, only to wonder if vampires had to worry about human things like germs.

The coughing slowed and Laura was able to get a few deep breaths in without immediately having to cough them out again, and then she became aware of the hand, hot on her back, rubbing slow circles there.

“All right, cutie?” Carmilla asked.

Laura looked up and realized that Carmilla was huddled against her. Her front practically pressed into her side as one hand rested on Laura’s leg and the other continued in a circular motion on her back. Suddenly she was not all right for an entirely different reason.

“No, I’m not all right,” Laura grumbled.

Carmilla smirked, and Laura knew that her body had given her away yet again. At least her face was already red from the coughing fit, she thought.

Carmilla’s eyes trailed over her face and came to rest on her lips. She sucked her lower lip into her mouth and nibbled it as her eyes traced along Laura’s lips, and Laura felt her annoyance become overwhelmed by something else altogether.

Laura took a deep, shaky breath and tried to force herself to look away, but instead she found her eyes watching the way that Carmilla nibbled her lip. She couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like for Carmilla to be nibbling on her lip instead. Anyone would have thought that sitting this close to Carmilla, though, she reasoned. It was practically a biological response. It was probably just part of Carmilla’s vampire sexual magnetism.

It wasn’t until Carmilla’s lower lip was released with a wet popping sound and the corners of her mouth curled up into a smirk that Laura realized she was leaning in. She pulled back immediately, her eyes darting up to Carmilla’s in alarm. Had she really been about to kiss her? No. Of course not. That would be silly. She definitely could NOT kiss Carmilla. Danny would tell her she was out of her mind.

Laura felt her phone vibrate in her pocket and frowned when she pulled it out. Danny’s name was on the screen. There was no way that Danny had put surveillance in here, had she.

Wait, there was surveillance. Laura had noticed it the first night, she remembered. She’d been nervous about how much whoever reviewed the footage was going to see of her, but now with Carmilla…How much had they seen? What, if anything had they done about it? It was probably stupid to be concerned with the safety of a vampire, but, nonetheless, Laura found that she was.

“Carmilla!”

“Mmm?” Carmilla asked, seduction eyes still firmly in place.

“The surveillance cameras!”

Carmilla frowned. “Surveillance cameras?”

“In the laundromat! They’ll have seen you use your super speed and change into a cat. What if they set up some sort of a vampire trap or tell the authorities?”

Carmilla started to laugh. “Relax, cupcake. It wasn’t a real system. It wasn’t really hooked up to anything. I checked it out the first night I came here.”

“Oh,” Laura mumbled, feeling suddenly silly.

“As for the authorities, they know better than to meddle with vampires,” Carmilla assured her. She stood and resumed moving her wet laundry into the dryer.

Laura frowned. That wasn’t horribly reassuring if she should ever encounter one besides Carmilla. Didn’t they have a responsibility to protect the public? Shouldn’t that include from things like vampires? Maybe she could write a scathing letter to the local department. They could at the very least set up some sort of “dealing with vampires” training course for the officers, right?

“Was that the ginger mad scientist?” Carmilla inquired, nodding towards Laura’s phone, still clutched in her hand.

Laura shook her head, remembering the text message waiting for her. She unlocked her phone and read it.

Danny (2:11 a.m.): Hey, where are you? Didn’t know you were going out tonight. Did I miss a party?

Laura contemplated replying, but any lie she told she’d have to maintain, and what if she forgot? It wasn’t worth the headache. She could explain to Danny tomorrow once she was home and safe, proving Danny’s concerns invalid. She locked her phone and tucked it back into her pocket.

She turned her attention back to Carmilla, who she was sure was swaying her hips with a little extra swagger, because nobody should look that sexy carrying a bundle of dripping laundry across a room. Her mouth went dry when Carmilla leaned over to reach down into the washing machine for the remaining items. The dark jeans she was wearing that night might not have been quite as much of a second-skin as the leather pants she’d been wearing last time, but they were tight and they accentuated her features nicely. Then again, it was entirely possible that Carmilla never looked bad in anything.

(There was a small, traitorous part of her mind that thought she’d look even better in nothing at all.)

“Like what you see, cupcake?” Carmilla asked, her voice echoing off the back of the open dryer as she placed the last of her clothes.

Laura blushed and looked away, but not before Carmilla glanced over her shoulder with a smirk firmly in place.

Laura was saved from having to respond by her phone vibrating again.

Danny (2:24 a.m.): Laura? Are you still mad at me for the other day? It’s just a week. You can survive a week without seeing A VAMPIRE!

Laura rolled her eyes and put her phone back in her pocket. She glanced up to find that Carmilla was seated near her on the blanket again, and eyeing her curiously. Of course, Danny was wrong, because apparently she COULDN’T survive a week without seeing a vampire. Or, at least, not THIS vampire.

Laura closed her eyes and resisted the urge to sigh at herself. “It’s just my roommate,” Laura mumbled, not wanting to get into the whole issue right now. She didn’t want to admit to Carmilla just how much she wanted to see her every week. She could only imagine the smugness of her smirk if she knew that.

“What’s going on in that head of yours?”

Laura shook her head. “Nothing,” she lied.

Carmilla raised an eyebrow, but didn’t press her. “So, tell me, cutie, what do you study at Silas?”

Laura frowned. How did Carmilla know that she went to Silas? Then again, she had mentioned finals and she and LaFontaine had been talking about school, and it wasn’t like there were a plethora of other universities around. In fact, there weren’t any. “Journalism,” she replied.

Carmilla grinned. “Well, that explains a lot.”

“Oh, come on, am I really that bad with the questions?”

“Don’t worry. On you it’s cute.”

“Really?” Laura questioned. She wasn’t sure she believed that given the resistance she’d been met with some of the time.

“Mostly.”

Laura’s phone vibrated again at the same time as her washing machines buzzed. She decided she’d deal with the laundry first. Danny was probably just getting mad at her.

She set her champagne flute carefully on the floor and stood, moving quickly to the washing machines, trying not to be aware of Carmilla’s eyes on her.

It didn’t work. Her gaze was heavy and Laura could feel it on her like a physical presence ghosting over her body. It shouldn’t have been possible for simple awareness of someone looking at her to make her this hot, but she could feel her cheeks flushing as she shoved an armful of wet laundry into a dryer.

Her phone vibrated again. She willed her roommate to give it a rest. Couldn’t she have just crashed at LaFontaine and Perry’s apartment? She should have just told Danny that she was. LaFontaine, at least, would have probably covered for her if she’d asked them to.

Laura finished transferring her laundry, put dryer sheets in, put in her money, and started the machines, then she turned back to Carmilla. Maybe it was the soft, flickering light from the candles, maybe it was the way she was splayed on her side, head propped up on her hand, dark eyes gleaming, or maybe it was just her natural beauty, but the sight took Laura’s breath away.

She bit her lower lip nervously. Was it her imagination, or had the air around them grown heavier. It had to be her imagination, right? She forced herself to take a deep breath and managed an awkward smile.

“Aren’t you going to check your phone? It sounds like someone is really trying to get ahold of you.”

Right. Danny. Laura pulled out her phone and sighed.

Danny (2:32 a.m.): LAURA WHERE ARE YOU??? LaF says they don’t know where you are, and Kirsch hasn’t either.

Danny (2:38 a.m.): Laura seriously I’m getting worried. Tell me you didn’t do something stupid like go off somewhere with the vampire!

Laura rolled her eyes. Of course Danny would go and wake up their friends just to try to track her down. Laura understood that she was concerned, but why couldn’t she just trust her decision-making? She wasn’t a child.

“Everything okay?” Carmilla inquired.

Laura turned her phone off and took a seat on the floor, close to Carmilla. She reached for her glass of champagne and took a sip, letting the liquid relax her. “Yeah. Just my roommate again.”

“Do you need to text them back?”

Laura shook her head. “No, she’s being annoying.”

“About what?”

Laura bit her lip, contemplating the wisdom in answering that question honestly.

“You,” Laura admitted.

Carmilla smirked and sat up, somehow making the transition in one smooth, graceful movement, rather than the awkward partial shifts that Laura knew she would have had to make.

“What about me?”

Laura hesitated, then shook her head. “Nothing.”

“Cupcake, you should have lied from the beginning if you were just going to devolve into ‘nothings’ so quickly.”

Laura narrowed her eyes. “Why bother? Wouldn’t you have just known I was lying anyway by cheating and using your vampire abilities?”

Carmilla grinned. “Is it really cheating if I’m just using biological advantages? It’s not like I can turn them off.”

Laura didn’t want to admit that Carmilla had a point. “Probably,” she mumbled defiantly. Laura stiffened as Carmilla reached towards her, and Carmilla’s hand stilled just beside her face. Laura told herself to move away, but she didn’t listen, and Carmilla’s fingers tucked a strand of hair behind her ear a moment later.

“Why is your roommate being annoying about me? Has she met me?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

Carmilla studied her face, and Laura told herself that she didn’t wish that Carmilla had held her hand there for a while longer.

Laura gulped down the rest of her champagne and held the glass out to Carmilla.

“More?” Carmilla offered.

Laura shook her head. She could feel the faint hints of a buzz pressing in on her, but she was still in full control of her faculties. Any more and that might not be the case. There was being reckless and coming out to meet a vampire in the middle of the night without telling anyone where you were going, and then there was getting drunk with that vampire.

Carmilla nodded and set both Laura’s and her own glass aside, then she moved closer.

Laura looked down at the disappeared space between them.

“So what’s the problem?” Carmilla asked.

Laura brought her eyes up to Carmilla’s face and swallowed hard. Was it possible that she’d grown even more beautiful in the last few minutes? Was that a vampire thing? Surely not.

The corners of Carmilla’s lips turned up in a smirk. “Laura?” she prompted.

“She doesn’t approve of you.”

Carmilla raised her eyebrows. “Oh? Why not?”

“You’re a vampire,” Laura admitted.

“Oh, that,” Carmilla replied with a small smile. “Well, didn’t you tell her that we’re just doing laundry together?” There was a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, and Laura found herself smiling in reply.

“I thought you were trying to convince me that this was a date,” Laura challenged.

Carmilla’s lips stretched into a smug grin. “I am. Are you convinced?”

Laura hesitated. It felt like if she said yes, she’d be giving in, admitting the existence of her attraction to Carmilla aloud. She didn’t want to have a crush on her. It was stupid to, right? How could things possibly end up in a good place? Surely someone who was centuries old would tire of her sooner rather than later. Then again, Laura didn’t understand Carmilla’s insistence on flirting with her to begin with.

Carmilla tilted her head to the side and bit her lower lip as she waited for an answer, and Laura felt something tug inside of her, pulling her towards Carmilla.

“Yes,” she murmured, voice barely above a whisper.

Carmilla’s grin widened.

“Danny thinks you’re just lulling me into a false sense of security. She thinks you’re going to drink my blood the first chance I give you.”

“Oh? And what do you think?” Carmilla asked, leaning forward a little. She reached out to Laura, her fingers tracing up the backs of Laura’s fingers and across her hand.

The touch tickled and tingled and felt like fire ghosting against her skin. Laura shuddered, her entire body feeling suddenly on edge.

“I think you wouldn’t bite me unless I asked you to,” Laura admitted, her voice rougher than she remembered it being a mere minute ago.

Laura’s eyes fell to Carmilla’s mouth as Carmilla’s tongue darted across her lips. Her breathing grew shallower as Carmilla leaned towards her with a toothy grin.

“And would you ever ask me to, cupcake?” Carmilla’s voice was lower, huskier, and it sent another shudder through Laura’s body.

Laura leaned back, putting her hands down behind her to support herself. Carmilla moved closer, placing one hand on the blanket just beside Laura’s leg, the other coming up to sweep more hair away from Laura’s face. This time Carmilla’s hand didn’t fall back to her lap, though. Instead, it traced lightly down Laura’s cheek, pausing just under her chin.

Laura’s mouth felt dry and her palms felt clammy, but she didn’t move away. Carmilla’s question hung heavily in the air between them. She didn’t know how to respond.

“I didn’t think so when I met you.” The reply was far too honest, and it had fallen from her lips without her express permission, but Laura was having trouble caring about anything besides the way Carmilla’s fingers felt on her skin and the way she could feel her breath on her face.

She let herself inch forward a little more as Carmilla leaned over her, eyes dark, hair falling forward to tickling Laura’s cheek.

“And now?”

Laura’s eyes darted down to Carmilla’s lips. They were so close, so inviting. It would barely take anything to close the space between them. There was no LaFontaine here to worry about making uncomfortable, and, well, it was a little late to try to make Carmilla believe that she didn’t want her.

“Now?” Laura whispered. She glanced back up to Carmilla’s eyes, only to find them intently focused on her lips.

Carmilla nodded ever so slightly, her nose barely brushing against Laura’s cheek.

Laura couldn’t stop herself. She didn’t want to stop herself. This was it. Maybe she had finally lost her sanity, but she didn’t care.

She pressed forward just a fraction of an inch, and her body was aflame in excitement as Carmilla moved with her, slightly parted lips just starting to ghost against slightly parted lips, breathing in each other’s breath.

A loud bang made Laura jump, and in an instant Carmilla had moved away and was on her feet. Laura immediately felt cold, disappointment wrapping icy fingers around her gut at Carmilla’s sudden absence from her side. A small groan of protest escaped her lips and her body ached at the loss of contact. Laura blinked hard against the sudden brightness as the lights flicked on, and her brain took a second to process the sight before her.

A familiar, tall figure with bright red hair stood in the doorway, but the most noticeable thing about her was the way she was brandishing an extremely pointy stake.

“DANNY???”

Chapter Text

Well, this was unexpected. It wasn’t every day she found adorable, yet sexy young women hanging out (or, perhaps more accurately: hiding out) in nothing but their underwear in the laundromat. In fact, she had yet to find anyone in the laundromat during the hours that she had visited. That was part of the appeal.

God, she could smell the girl’s nervousness from halfway down the aisle. Aww, she was actually trying to hide behind her own arms. How cute. How very pleasantly ineffective.

Carmilla raised her eyebrows in amusement, but said nothing.

She noted the dilating pupils as she dumped her bag intentionally just next to where the girl’s laundry was running. She may as well have a little bit of fun tonight, since the opportunity had presented itself. Besides, the girl was clearly attracted to her.

Carmilla started dumping her laundry into the washing machine, when a slightly squeaky voice protested, “You can’t do that!”

Carmilla scowled. What exactly was the almost naked girl trying to prevent her from doing? Wasn’t laundry in a laundromat sort of the done thing? “Is there a nudity requirement for using the machines here?”

Wow, look at that blush. This was definitely going to be fun. All of that blood rushing to her cheeks…Carmilla could practically taste it.

The girl spluttered some excuse about emergency laundry that Carmilla half listened to, more interested in the way that she’d partially uncovered herself in her haste to scold. It really was quite the enjoyable view.

The girl began to explain the idea of sorting laundry, which Carmilla had always found to be rather a waste of time. If her clothes faded, she could always acquire new ones. Besides, faded clothing was less noticeable in the dark of night.

Carmilla continued to stare the girl down.

God, that blush just got redder and redder. Carmilla briefly wondered just how red she could get it before responding in a way that she was sure was apt to incite more blushing. It was spreading attractively across the girl’s chest now.

Carmilla shrugged off the lecture and resumed putting her laundry in the machine. She started the first machine and moved on to the one next to it, and then she felt a slight change in the air. She started her second load of laundry and turned her attention fully back to the girl.

She noticed a tension in the girl’s shoulders that hadn’t been there before. She could practically hear the gears turning in the girl’s head. She was cute when she was thinking. Her blush was fading, though. Time to fix that.

“Do you always do your laundry practically naked in public places in the middle of the night?” Carmilla inquired.

Carmilla started off listening to the answer, but the girl rambled on and on. Awkwardness abounded with this one. It was…endearing. Carmilla felt a smirk tugging on the corners of her lips.

When the girl finally halted her rambling, an embarrassed flush once again gracing her cheeks, Carmilla inquired about the unsolicited laundry advice.

That led to the girl muttering something about blood. Well, she was observant, Carmilla had to give her that, but just how observant was she? Carmilla decided not to press just yet. Why show her hand before she knew just what conclusions the girl had jumped to?

Besides, she could probably distract her from the blood.

The girl was trying hard to cover herself again, but, oh, the skin that was left exposed…The things that Carmilla could DO with that skin. If the cupcake was blushing so frequently just under her gaze, how reactive would she be to her touch? It was an enticing prospect. Carmilla could run her fingers up those toned arms (or better yet, trace a path up those smooth legs with her tongue and her lips and her teeth). She could only imagine how delicious the girl might taste based on how good she smelled.

She was going to have to do something about her comfort level, though. It was awfully hard to seduce someone when their walls were up quite that high. Not that she couldn’t do it, but, well…an idea struck her that would kill two birds with one stone.

“You don’t look very comfortable. Are you going to stay like that the whole night? Because you realize that at some point, you’re going to have to get your clothes out of the washing machine, right?” she asked, aware of what the girl’s inevitable conclusion would be.

It struck her quickly, Carmilla was pleased to see, and she relaxed her death grip around her body with her arms with a muttered, “So much for modesty.”

And now, to pretend to even the score a little, while actually tilting the odds in her favor. Of course, she’d have to give up her view of that lovely freckled expanse of stomach, but it would be worth it, she was sure. She slid off of the washing machine that she’d taken a seat on, and she peeled off her tank top, being sure to stretch just that little extra bit so that she was sure that the cupcake would have no choice but to look.

She was rewarded with a faint blush and some gawking as she held out the top for the girl to take. And was that…? Oh, yes, it was…What a delicious little hint of a smell. Well, it was good to know that the girl liked what she saw.

Then again, the way her eyes had focused intently on her chest were also a good indication of that. Carmilla wasn’t just going to endlessly stand there offering her the shirt and be ogled, though, much as she appreciated the girl’s appreciation of her. “Are you gonna take it? Or continue to stare at my tits?”

The girl’s eyes snapped up to her face guiltily and her blush deepened. Damn, that was fun. Carmilla made a mental note to try to make this girl blush as often as possible.

The girl was a little slow to catch up to what Carmilla was offering, but finally she stood awkwardly, and Carmilla couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to rake her eyes over her body. She looked delectable. All pale skin and toned muscles and freckles. As the girl moved closer, Carmilla could see the pulsing of her blood through her veins just under the skin. She wondered briefly how much work she’d have to do to get to sink her teeth into her delicate flesh for a taste.

The girl seemed to relax a little once she had the top on, and Carmilla had to admit that the girl looked good in it. Maybe it covered a bit more skin, but definitely not too much.

A moment later the girl was tensing again. If she was acting just to try to get Carmilla out of her pants…Well, she was going to have to give a little something in return if she wanted that.

Except, no, she was studying her shirt like it might be laced with poison. She was definitely an odd little thing.

“Something wrong?” Carmilla inquired.

After some stammering and a little more prodding, the girl responded with an obvious lie. Even if Carmilla couldn’t hear the hammering of her heart, she wouldn’t have been fooled. Oh well, what did it matter why she had taken a brief issue with the shirt. There were more important matters at hand, like attending to Carmilla’s libido which felt suddenly insatiable. She hopped gracefully back onto the washing machine and looked around, keeping track of the girl out of the corner of her eye. There was no need to seem overly interested just yet. The night was still young.

The girl’s libido was definitely active as well, if the way her eyes were trailing hungrily over Carmilla was any indication. Carmilla smirked. “Like what you see?”

More stammering and blushing. Adorable. Aww, and a defensive accusation. How sweet. If only she actually had a footing to stand on, accusing Carmilla of being the one that had come in here and stripped down. Carmilla was clearly just following her lead. She smirked wider as the girl’s blush grew. It was fun to see her try to scramble to come up with another excuse.

And then the girl was inching towards her carefully, and then…around her?

“Going somewhere?” Carmilla inquired.

The girl was certainly jumpy. The blood, Carmilla remembered. It must be the bloodstains putting her on edge. But what could she be thinking? Surely someone as naïve as the cupcake seemed to be wouldn’t immediately jump to the vampire conclusion. People so rarely believed it outright. It was amazing what the human mind could deny out of pure stubbornness, even with substantial evidence laid out before them.

Then again, Carmilla thought as she listened to the girl’s racing heart and noticed further pupil dilation, maybe she was just jumpy because she was so attracted to her. Carmilla could certainly work with that.

The girl hopped awkwardly on the machine opposite her. “So, what’s your name?” Her heart raced a little faster, and Carmilla couldn’t help but wonder why exactly that was.

She studied the girl for a moment, taking in her nervousness, but also still detecting a hint of arousal. She was a curious little thing. “Carmilla,” she responded, sure to make her voice a little huskier. She was rewarded with the girl’s pulse picking up speed even more.

“I’m Laura.”

Ah, so the cupcake had a name. It seemed too plain for such beauty, Carmilla couldn’t help but think.

…And Laura was staring again. It wasn’t that Carmilla minded the attention, especially from someone so attractive, but it would be nicer if she could read that expression on her face. It was starting to wear on her nerves slightly. Well, she had the whole night to figure out what it meant.

--

WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. HELL.

Carmilla coughed and spluttered, feeling rage bubble up inside her. She’d let a silly little human get the drop on her because she’d let her attraction for the annoying little interrogator get the best of her, but that wouldn’t help Laura now.

In a dash of vampire speed, Carmilla had Laura pinned to a washing machine. It was bad enough that this virtual child had asked prying questions about her family and seemed to have an inability to be quiet or sit still, but now she had actually attacked her? And for what? Flirting with her? It seemed like a gross overreaction in Carmilla’s books. She could have killed her! If she was human, it likely would have done just that.

“WHAT. WAS. THAT.” Carmilla growled through clenched teeth. She was trying very hard not to make a bloody mess at the laundromat. It would make for such an unpleasant atmosphere to finish doing her laundry, and it did seem rather a waste for such an attractive body.

“I was…It was…Sorry?”

She didn’t sound very sorry. Carmilla glared.

A little more probing and now the cupcake was claiming self-defense? From what, exactly? It wasn’t like she knew of Carmilla’s plans to eventually sink her teeth into her skin and taste the sweet blood that flowed beneath. Besides, she had planned to make that a pleasurable experience for both of them.

Ah, and there she goes bringing up the blood under Carmilla’s cold stare. And…oh. Carmilla rolled her eyes. Laura thought that she’d been trying to kill her? Well, it was certainly entertaining just how wrong she’d managed to get it, or it would have been if not for the vague throbbing still present in her throat. Not to worry, though. She could already feel the bruise healing.

Carmilla could see the cogs turning in Laura’s mind, trying to sort out the new facts of super strength and super speed and add them to the pre-existing presence of blood on the clothes. Carmilla knew her type, though. She was going to be stubborn. May as well nudge her in the right direction. She stepped back and sighed, then extended her fangs.

The silly girl tried to jump backwards into the washing machine and immediately protested in pain before demanding to know why Carmilla had fangs.

Seriously, what was it about humans that made them so unwilling to believe what was staring them in the face?

“You catch on quick, don’t you, sweetheart.”

Carmilla held back the urge to growl in frustration as Laura began to natter on about fake fangs. She shut down that idea, but Laura was still in denial. Even the mention of snacking only brought out the suggestion of cookies.

Finally, eyes wild, heart racing in her chest, legs primed and ready to run, Laura asked, “Snack as in…people?”

“I don’t drain them dry, if that puts you at ease.” Normally, anyway, that was true. These days, at least.

“Not especially! It’s not every day I do laundry with a vampire!”

Carmilla chuckled. She was sure that the cupcake had encountered far more vampires than she knew. They’d learned how to blend extremely well over the centuries. It was imperative for long term survival.

Carmilla could smell the fear on Laura, but there was something else, too. Something…well, for starters, the arousal still seemed to be present, which was…interesting. Good, even. And then, there was…Carmilla couldn’t place it, but Laura wasn’t running. In fact, she was continuing to engage. Intriguing.

Was she…had she really just given Carmilla more laundry advice?

Carmilla raised an eyebrow. “Okay,” she said, not entirely sure what to make of Laura.

“What?”

There was that curiosity rearing its head again. Laura seemed to have it in spades.

“Nothing,” Carmilla lied.

“No, what?” Laura persisted. Pretty ballsy for someone who had just found out they were in the company of a vampire.

Perhaps Carmilla had underestimated her. “That’s just not the usual response to finding out someone’s a vampire.”

The surprise on Laura’s face and her half joking response made Carmilla smirk.

There was another pause in conversation and then Laura asked a question that Carmilla had kind of been hoping she wouldn’t come up with.

“So if you weren’t trying to kill me, or, you know, eat me, what were you trying to do?”

Had that really not been apparent? And since it had been interpreted quite so wrongly, Carmilla was a little loath to admit it out loud. She pretended to examine her fingernails before replying with, “Really?”

Carmilla watched as Laura first frowned in thought, and then her eyes went wide as realization dawned. Suddenly, Carmilla was not so thrilled to be in the laundromat in her company.

“Oh! Really? You were…”

Carmilla appreciated that Laura didn’t finish the sentence, but she rolled her eyes anyway as she hopped back onto a washing machine. At least Laura’s blush was back. That was something to take away from the awkward moment. Still…

Carmilla probably should have known better than to hit on someone so young and so clearly naïve. It hadn’t worked out well for her in the past. And she’d just freely admitted her true nature to the girl. This girl that had not been vetted in any way shape or form by any of the goons. This girl who had yet to provide a meal. What would Maman think? “What is wrong with me tonight?” she muttered to herself.

She let her eyes stray back to Laura, and despite the bad choices she was making, she found she had to repress a smile at the way Laura’s face seemed to express everything she was thinking without her express consent. It was rather adorable the way her eyebrows went from furrowed with concern to raised in interest and back. There was that little gleam in her eye, too, that Carmilla couldn’t help but find attractive.

But, no. She was young. Too young, Carmilla was sure. She had walked this earth for too many centuries to even consider getting attached to someone who was probably barely two decades old.

And yet…Carmilla shook her head. There was something about this one. She couldn’t help it. She was curious.

--

She had told her far too much. Maman would not be pleased if she knew. Who knew what had possessed her to open up as much as she had. Oh, she knew that Laura felt that she had been more than mysterious. She had caught all of the adorable little frustrated pouts whenever she had refused an answer or been intentionally vague.

(It was possible that Carmilla had begun refusing simple answers purely to see that pout again.)

Carmilla stared down at the book in her hand and smiled.

Laura had been too nervous to come back for it. Too nervous and too embarrassed. Carmilla had definitely gotten to her in ways she hadn’t anticipated. Carmilla’s smile turned into a smirk as she remembered getting into Laura’s space and feeling the effects that she’d had on her. The racing heart and the pupil dilation had only been the start. Carmilla could only imagine the blush on Laura’s face if she knew that Carmilla could smell exactly how excited she’d become at her proximity.

Someday, perhaps, she’d let her in on that particular vampire power. As long as her head didn’t explode from the redness, it would be worth it.

Of course, that was assuming that she was even going to see Laura again. It would be unwise on her part. Better to let herself become a faint memory. Better that Laura should question in a few years whether she had actually met a vampire doing laundry one night during college, or whether it was just a vivid dream.

Carmilla sighed, letting the open book flop down onto her stomach. She really was enjoying it, but thoughts of Laura wouldn’t leave her alone.

It was silly. She was just a human. Humans led to trouble unless they were being snacks.

She was beautiful, though. And stubborn. And surprisingly brave.

Carmilla sighed again and she licked her lips as she remembered just how enticing Laura had smelled. Maybe she should have gone for a taste. Just a little one. Just enough to sate the hunger she’d felt as soon as she’d laid eyes on her.

But, no. For some reason she hadn’t wanted to do that with her. Her body had. Oh, how her body had, but her mind hadn’t.

That didn’t mean that her mind didn’t wonder, though. What might Laura taste like? Was it possible that she tasted as sweet as she smelled?  

If only she had gotten just a kiss…Laura’s lips had looked so soft and inviting. She could have pressed her against that wall of dryers, kissing her fiercely, licking and nipping her way down her throat, feeling the pulse beating just beneath, almost tasting the blood flowing therein. Carmilla’s eyes fluttered closed and she closed the book, tossing it to the side of the bed as she let her imagination run wild. There would be no harm, after all. It wasn’t like little miss uptight reporter wannabe would ever find out (and if she did, the blush it would cause would be well worth it).

Visions of golden brown hair, curious brown eyes, and adorably awkward smiles filled Carmilla’s mind. And skin. All that beautiful skin.

Carmilla’s fingers had itched to dance across it, tracing every contour. She just knew that Laura was the type to be incredibly responsive.

Carmilla trailed a hand up her own stomach, imagining that it was the skin of Laura’s arm. She was sure she would make goosebumps appear on Laura’s arm with just the slightest of touches, and she felt a shiver run through her own body as she imagined being able to feel one run through Laura’s.

Laura hadn’t been able to hide her excitement. Not completely. Carmilla had caught the little shudders and the lingering looks. Laura might have been an adorable little thing, but there had been a certain smolder to her gaze when she thought Carmilla wasn’t looking, a sexiness that Carmilla hadn’t expected.

Carmilla slipped her fingers under her bra and gently massaged one of her breasts, fingertips dancing lightly around the areola, teasing herself, imagining that it was Laura’s hand. She could imagine the bold determination that Laura applied to her interrogations would also come out in the bedroom with a much more pleasurable outcome.

A heavy breath escaped Carmilla’s lips as she pinched the nipple, wondering if Laura would gasp if she touched her like that. Would her beautiful blushes travel all the way down across her breasts, flushing the pale skin a dark pink?

Carmilla’s tongue trailed hungrily across her lips as she switched her attentions to her other breast. She could imagine placing slow kisses down Laura’s chest before sucking a nipple into her mouth, teasing it with her tongue until Laura was arching towards her, moaning her name, and aching for her to touch her lower.

Carmilla rocked her hips upwards, finding that she was already quite worked up and her clothes were not providing nearly enough friction. It had been a very long time since a single night in someone’s presence had done this to her. In fact, it was hard to remember now, with the bitter memories that clouded that particular someone, if she had ever had quite this effect on her. It was strange to think that she hadn’t, but this Laura had.

Carmilla’s hand left her breasts, tracing slow patterns against her skin as it traveled down. She imagined what it would be like to trace the path created by the dark freckles that she had caught sight of, placing sloppy kisses on each one, eliciting soft sighs from Laura’s lips. She imagined the sharp intakes of breath that might occur when she trailed her tongue between the freckles across sensitive, pale skin.

Carmilla unbuttoned her leather pants, wiggling a bit to slide them down far enough to give her good access, then she slid her fingers under the elastic of her underwear. She brushed her fingers slowly over her already swollen clit, gasping at the sensitivity of it. She slid her fingers lower, running them through wet folds, before bringing them back up to circle her clit.

She imagined the blush spreading down across Laura’s stomach as Carmilla undressed her. She coaxed her mind to believe that it was Laura’s arousal that her fingers were coated in rather than her own.

Would Laura tangle her fingers in her hair? Would she try to close her legs in shyness, or boldly spread them wide, guiding Carmilla to where she needed to be touched?

Carmilla reached lower and slipped first one, then two fingers inside herself, pressing her palm against her clit as she slid her fingers in and out. God, she was wet.

Her head tilted back and she strained against her hand as thoughts of tasting Laura flooded her mind. She would slide her tongue through dripping, velvety folds, Laura’s arousal coating her lips and her chin.

(Would she taste as exquisitely as she smelled? How could she not?)

She would lap her up until Laura was panting and moaning and crying out for more, her body shaking, her heavenly aroma flooding Carmilla’s senses.

Carmilla thrust inside herself harder, rocking her hips in time with her fingers. She imagined she was thrusting in to Laura instead. Would Laura’s head fall back, eyes closed, mouth open in breathless pants? Or would her gaze be focused downward, eyes full of lust staring back at Carmilla, lower lip tugged between teeth as grunts escaped her throat?

A whimper slipped from Carmilla’s lips as she ground her palm down on her clit and curled her fingers inside her. She felt herself beginning to contract around her fingers and she imagined it was Laura clenching down instead. Laura arching off the bed, body beginning to shake, heart pounding, crying out a moan of pleasure.

Carmilla’s fangs descended as heat pooled low in her stomach and the intensity of her arousal overwhelmed her. How might Laura react to Carmilla’s fangs scraping gently along her skin? Would it turn her on more? Would she gasp in excitement?

Carmilla imagined Laura’s fingers twisting in her hair, guiding Carmilla to her upper thigh. Carmilla would graze her teeth against the pale skin, letting her tongue dart out to taste her skin, sweat and arousal coating her sensitive flesh. All it would take was a little groan of consent, a strained “please” or a whimpered “do it” and Carmilla would gladly sink her teeth into her thigh, tasting the blood rushing beneath.

Carmilla bit her lip, feeling the prick of her fangs just barely digging into her skin. It didn’t matter, she would heal in a second, but Laura would be marked. Carmilla would make it pleasurable for both of them, though. The bite would only intensify the sensations, pushing her sensitivity if she did it right (and Carmilla always did it right these days).

Carmilla felt her legs begin to shake and her breathing hitched as orgasm washed over her, flooding her senses. She rode the wave, imagining Laura unraveling under her touch:  eyes squeezed shut, lips parted, skin shining under a thin sheen of sweat, body trembling. She would carry her through the orgasm and bring her down slowly, soothing her bite with her tongue, gently decreasing the intensity of her thrusts until Laura’s body stopped shaking and her eyes fluttered open, dark and lustful, but satisfied.

Carmilla pulled her fingers slowly out of herself, pausing to trace a few gentle circles around her clit before bringing them to her lips and licking them clean. She imagined it was Laura she was licking from them and her eyes fluttered closed.

She took a deep breath (not that she really needed to, but old habits were hard to break) and pulled her fingers from her mouth with a wet smack. She sighed, letting reality sink in around her.

Really, what were the odds that Laura would ever be back at the laundromat in the middle of the night? No, that fantasy would stay exactly that. She should just forget the girl. She was a night of entertainment. That was all.

Carmilla flopped her arm out across her bed and her hand brushed something hard. The book. Good Omens.

Carmilla’s lips curled up into a smirk. Then again, maybe Laura would be back for the book some time. She knew better than to do anything as foolish as hope, but perhaps she didn’t have to forget that adorable little face just yet.

--

Well, well, well…apparently the cupcake did want to see her again. Was she tempted by the danger of the vampire, or was it Carmilla in particular that she was hoping to spend more time with, Carmilla wondered. Carmilla watched her through the window. No nudity tonight.

Laura hadn’t noticed her. She wouldn’t notice her. Not unless Carmilla wanted her to, and it was wiser for her to keep her distance. Maman didn’t have any idea about broken rules yet, but Will was nosy and she was sure Maman was having him keep tabs on her. He was such a suck up, he would even if she didn’t ask, just to try to catch Carmilla out doing something else that might betray her.

Carmilla sighed and watched Laura removing her clothes from the dryer. Every once in a while Laura would look around, a hopeful expression on her face. Carmilla ignored the slight tug in her chest when that happened. Seducing a human was one thing, but actively crushing on her? Well, it could be a death sentence.

Laura finished shoving her clothes in her bag and Carmilla let herself dissolve into shadows as Laura made her way to the door.

Carmilla watched the slight sway in her hips as she walked away. She contemplated trailing her for a little ways, but what would that really accomplish anyway? Nothing.

Once Laura was out of eyesight, Carmilla made her way into the laundromat and started her load of laundry.

(She soaked a few items of clothing first.)

(She told herself the laundromat didn’t feel lonely.)

--

“Come on, Carmilla. What harm can it be to have a little fun? She already knows what you are.” It was a rhetorical question asked to cool, empty air. The reasons hadn’t changed, and Carmilla still knew them, but that hadn’t stopped her from showing up earlier this week in an attempt to catch Laura there. She could see her form moving around inside. She didn’t look around as often this week. She didn’t look as hopeful.

It probably said nothing good that that tempted Carmilla to go in even more, but she didn’t want to think about it.

Maman could disappear from her thoughts for tonight. One more night of fun. One more attempted seduction. Laura was just stubborn enough she might not give in.

If only she knew the things that Carmilla had imagined doing to her…

If only she knew the things that Carmilla had done while imagining…

She had Laura’s book buried in the bottom of her bag. That was her excuse. She was sure that Laura missed it. The pages were colored with age and dotted with stains and the binding had long ago been broken. A book that well-loved would have been missed.

Well, then, in I go.

Carmilla strode in confidently, eyes already raking up Laura’s body before she spoke. “Well, fancy meeting you here, cupcake.” Right when and where I expected to.

--

She lied about not having the book.

It would come back to bite her in the ass. Not with Laura. Laura would likely never know, but she could see things going downhill with the family.

Will would only get more curious, and Maman….eventually Maman knew everything.

And yet…

Well, now she had Laura’s shirt, too. She had to come back next week.

It was a date.

Chapter Text

“GET AWAY FROM HER!” Danny yelled, her eyes locked on Carmilla. She raised the stake, ready to strike if Carmilla should approach.

Laura rolled her eyes as she scrambled to her feet. “Danny!” Laura protested, stepping forward.

“Stay away from her, Laura! She’s a vampire!”

Carmilla looked over her shoulder at Laura, with a raised eyebrow and an unamused look.

Laura mouthed the word, “Sorry,” but Carmilla didn’t seem appeased.

“I mean it, get away from her, vampire!” Danny declared, the slight dip in her voice betraying her fear.

Completely unjustified fear, Laura thought sullenly.

Except, then Carmilla sighed, and there was a dark blur before the stake was knocked out of Danny’s hand, skidding along the tile floor. Carmilla’s hand was at Danny’s throat, and, despite Danny’s extreme height advantage, she was making small choking noises.

“How about you get out of here instead,” Carmilla suggested with a growl.

“Carmilla!” Laura protested. She could see the fear in Danny’s eyes. Carmilla didn’t move. She was too busy staring Danny down. “Carmilla, stop! Please!”

Carmilla’s grip loosened slightly, and she glanced back at Laura. “Friend of yours, sweetheart?”

“My roommate,” Laura replied, nervously eying the hand at Danny’s throat. Danny squirmed, but couldn’t get free. “Please let her go?”

Carmilla sighed.

“She won’t stake you. Right, Danny?” Laura asked, not entirely sure that she was telling the truth. Odds were that Carmilla knew that, and that was probably not good for Danny.

Danny nodded ever so slightly, a pained expression on her face.

“See?” Laura moved closer and she noticed Carmilla’s body relax slightly.

“Fine,” Carmilla grumbled, giving Danny a little shove away as she let go.

Danny’s hands moved to her throat and she rubbed at it, coughing slightly. She eyed Carmilla warily, and Laura worried for a moment that Danny was about to retrieve the stake and try again, despite her claim that she wouldn’t.

Laura moved to Danny’s side and rubbed her arm comfortingly. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, fine. It’s not like your girlfriend just tried to kill me or anything,” Danny shot back.

Laura was about to protest the use of the word ‘girlfriend’, but Carmilla’s sullen reply of, “You tried it first, Xena,” cut her off.

“You did barge in here with a stake,” Laura pointed out, not actively trying to take Carmilla’s side, but she did feel her reaction was maybe a little justified. Totally over the top, but, then again, she was a vampire, and Danny wasn’t suffering any loss of blood or puncture wounds, so Carmilla had probably been showing some restraint.

Danny glared at her. “I thought you were in danger!”

“Clearly she’s not,” Carmilla interjected. “You on the other hand…”

Laura frowned at Carmilla. Threats were not going to help the situation. “Carmilla don’t.”

Carmilla rolled her eyes.

“You were SUPPOSED to be taking the week off from her so you could clear your head,” Danny reminded her.

“I didn’t need to clear my head,” Laura replied defensively.

“Are you sure about that? Because YOU WERE ABOUT TO KISS HER!”

“Yeah, thanks for interrupting that, by the way,” Carmilla grumbled.

“Laura, you can’t honestly tell me that that would have been a good decision?”

Laura glanced nervously towards Carmilla, who raised an eyebrow at her and a small smirk tugged at the corners of her mouth for the first time since Danny’s arrival.

Laura nibbled nervously at her lower lip. Her body still hadn’t exactly caught up to the idea that she wasn’t about to be making out with Carmilla, and it might have been influencing her thinking. God, she had wanted her so badly in the moment.

No, actually, she still wanted her. A lot. Like, really badly.

Why did Danny have to have the absolute worst timing ever?

Laura’s lips still tingled from where Carmilla’s had barely brushed against them, and her whole body was still burning with excitement. Carmilla’s hand may have no longer been on her face, but if she closed her eyes, she could still feel it there.

“Well?” Danny demanded.

Laura opened her eyes and looked straight at Carmilla.

“Don’t leave us in suspense, cupcake,” Carmilla coaxed, but then Danny inched closer to the stake and shot Carmilla a glare. Carmilla tensed and glared back with a growled, “Don’t even think about it, Amazon.”

Laura sighed. “Actually, I don’t think there would have been anything wrong with kissing her.”

Carmilla smirked and Danny’s jaw fell open.

“Are you kidding me, Hollis? She’s a VAMPIRE!”

“You’re a giant, and you don’t seem overly concerned about her safety with you. What if you accidentally stepped on her?” Carmilla quipped.

“Carmilla,” Laura sighed, though a tiny part of her struggled to repress a smile.

Danny glared harder at Carmilla, and if looks could kill…Well, Carmilla would still probably be undead, but she’d be in pain, at the very least.

“Can you get rid of her? She’s wearing thin on my nerves, and I don’t think you’ll approve of how I’d like to get rid of her,” Carmilla said, turning back to Laura.

Laura sighed. She knew Danny. She knew the defensive gleam in her eye. She knew that there was not a chance in Hell that Danny would leave if even the smallest part of her thought that Laura might be in danger. She was about to open her mouth to tell Carmilla that she probably couldn’t but to please not bite her roommate, when Danny made a lunge for the stake.

In the blink of an eye, Carmilla beat her to it, picking it up with one hand while her other went back to Danny’s throat.

“Nice try, Lurch, but so inadvisable.”

Laura caught a glimpse of fangs and her heart started to race. “Carmilla, don’t!”

Carmilla looked at her, rolled her eyes and ran her tongue over her teeth, showing that she had put her fangs away.

“Try it, vampire! I’ll get away and I’ll come back, but I won’t do it alone. Maybe you can handle one person with a stake, but how about an entire sorority?”

Carmilla stilled and Laura could see her body tensing further. There was a sudden coldness to her that Laura hadn’t seen before. “Lovely,” Carmilla muttered. “Just what I need. A mob with their torches and pitchforks.”

Laura frowned. She didn’t like Danny’s threat either, but she knew she could talk her down. It wasn’t a REAL threat. Carmilla didn’t really need to worry.

“Maman will be so pleased with me,” Carmilla said, voice barely above a whisper, but sarcasm still dripping from every word. And…was it possible? Was there a hint of…dread? Did Carmilla really dread her mother that much? What would her mother really do just because one girl showed up with a stake?

“You know what?” Carmilla said, voice louder now. “I’m done.” With that she released Danny with a shove, knocking Danny backwards, where she stumbled over her own feet and fell to the floor, glaring up at Carmilla.

In a flash, Carmilla was at Laura’s side, and Laura felt heat flood through her once more just at her proximity. She bit her lower lip and looked up into Carmilla’s eyes. She saw a flicker of softness, and then Carmilla’s expression turned hard. “It’s been fun, cupcake.” She leaned in and pressed a firm kiss to the corner of Laura’s mouth.

The kiss lingered and Laura began to turn. Her lips ached to make this a proper kiss. Before she had the chance, Carmilla had pulled away.

“Goodbye, Laura,” Carmilla’s husky voice breathed in her ear, and then Carmilla was gone. She wasn’t walking out of the door or strutting away, she was just gone, and Laura felt cold.

“Good riddance,” Danny muttered, getting to her feet and rubbing her throat.

“Danny!” Laura growled, her chest aching for reasons she really didn’t want to contemplate. Carmilla had only meant goodbye for the night, right? She would be back next week. Next week Laura would convince Danny that Carmilla was really no threat to her so that she’d stay home and wouldn’t interrupt and inopportune times.

Laura didn’t want to think about the sadness in Carmilla’s voice when she’d said, “It’s been fun, cupcake.” She didn’t want to think of the finality that had rung through the “Goodbye.”

(She really, really, didn’t want to think about how Carmilla had actually used her name.)

“She could have killed me.”

“Dammit, Danny! I could kill you, right now! She’s a VAMPIRE! If she wanted you dead, you’d be dead. You were threatening her life!”

“She’s already dead. That’s part of being a vampire,” Danny replied sullenly.

Laura glared hard. Was Danny actually arguing semantics with her right now? “You were threatening her existence, Danny. You’re…You…Dammit, Danny!”

“Laura, she’s dangerous. Surely what just happened proves that!”

“No, what just happened proves that she listens to me! I think maybe…” Laura couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence. She couldn’t bring herself to admit it. Not out loud. Besides, what if she was wrong? It was crazy to think that a vampire might actually care about her, right? “Let’s just go,” Laura sighed. She started to blow out the candles that Carmilla had left burning.

“What about your laundry?”

Crap. She hadn’t thought that through. She didn’t want to stay in the laundromat, especially not with Danny right now. She didn’t want to be alone there either, though, because then she’d just feel Carmilla’s absence more acutely. She doubted she’d be able to convince Danny to leave right now, either.

As if reminding her of Carmilla’s absence, the dryers buzzed, and Laura realized that Carmilla had just left without all of her clothes. Surely she’d come back for them. Right? What if Laura just took the clothes home with her. For safe keeping, obviously. Carmilla could always come to her place to pick them up, right?

…Her place, where Danny also lived.

Well, that seemed unlikely.

Still, Laura could take them home and text Carmilla until Carmilla told her where she lived and then Laura could drop them off. Or they could meet somewhere. Maybe they could have a proper date somewhere that didn’t involve the laundromat even?

She pulled out her phone and sent a quick text.

Laura (3:12 a.m.): I’m holding your clothes hostage until I get a proper date. ;)

Well, that was…forward. Laura swallowed hard, crossed her fingers, and hoped for the best. There was nothing for it, now. She moved to the dryer and started putting Carmilla’s clothes into her bag.

“What’re you doing?”

“Taking laundry out of the dryer,” Laura replied.

“No shit. Laura, none of those clothes are yours! Laura…Those are Carmilla’s clothes!”

“You don’t say.” Laura couldn’t help wondering if Carmilla had rubbed off on her because her voice was dry and sarcastic. There was a slight pang in her chest at the thought, but she pushed both the pang and the thought away.

Danny sighed. “Why are you putting Carmilla’s clothes in your bag?”

Laura did not appreciate being spoken to as if she was a small child. “Well, she’s not here to put them in hers, is she?” she snapped.

Danny looked momentarily taken aback, and Laura turned back and continued what she was doing. There was a long stretch of silence as Laura finished emptying one dryer, and then Danny spoke again.

“Laura, what are you going to do with her clothes?”

“Hold on to them for her,” Laura replied.

“She’s not coming back.”

Laura turned on Danny. “You don’t know that!” she yelled, and Danny took a step back.

“She said goodbye, Laura,” Danny said, holding up her hands.

“She meant for the night,” Laura informed her, turning stubbornly back to the second dryer and pulling it open a little more violently than strictly necessary. The loud bang as it slammed open made her flinch, but she got a little satisfaction from seeing Danny jump out of the corner of her eye.

Laura was aware of Danny watching her, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other, as she emptied the second dryer. Her bag was more than half full of clothes by the time she was done.

She frowned when she was finished. The activity had kept her occupied and momentarily distracted her thoughts. She didn’t like the way that Carmilla had said goodbye. It made her chest tighten and her mouth go dry. Without Carmilla’s clothes to keep her busy, she had nothing to think about but Carmilla’s absence and Danny’s annoying, hovering presence.

Laura noticed the blanket still lying on the floor. The blanket where she and Carmilla had almost….Laura shut her eyes and licked her tingling lips, remembering the heat of Carmilla’s fingers on her skin, the feel of her breath on her cheek, the intensity of the moment. She started to pick the blanket up, tugging harshly when she found that Danny was standing on one corner. Danny moved off of it with a vaguely apologetic look, and Laura folded the blanket and stuffed it in her bag too.

Laura turned around, pulled out her phone again, and, without looking at Danny, slid down to the floor, leaning her back against the cold metal of the dryers. She tried not to think about the lack of a response from Carmilla yet. It was Carmilla. She wouldn’t respond too quickly. Especially not after she had almost been staked essentially because of Laura.

Laura sighed and checked twitter…which was pretty dead. She sighed again and put her phone away. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the dryer, pressing into it, the pressure bordering on uncomfortable.

“Laura?”

“Mm?” Laura acknowledged Danny without looking at her.

“I’m sorry, okay? I…Maybe I overreacted.”

Laura looked up sharply. “Maybe?” she demanded, not quite willing to forgive and forget yet.

“It was just it was the middle of the night and you were off with a vampire and –“

“This is sounding less like an apology and more like a justification for you wrecking my date,” Laura grumbled.

“Your…date?” Danny asked, her cheeks flushing slightly.

Laura squirmed uncomfortably. She hadn’t really thought through that admission. She may have denied it over and over, but the truth was that she’d wanted it to be a date, and the way that Carmilla had set everything up…Well, honestly, Carmilla’s intentions had been clear for a while, she had just had trouble believing them. Now that she had, she felt even worse about Carmilla’s absence. “Yes. My date. With Carmilla. It was a laundry date, but it was a date.”

“Laura –“ Danny started, her tone a strange mix of apologetic and disapproving.

Laura held up a hand to stop her. “No, Danny. I was…I was safe, okay? I know you have trouble believing that I could possibly make a good judgment about this –“

“Laura –“ Danny interrupted, trying again, but Laura plowed on.

“–but I KNOW I was safe with her. She didn’t want to hurt me. She didn’t just want to drain me dry. She actually wanted ME and then you barged in threatening violence.”

Danny hung her head, and Laura felt a little bit better seeing that she at least had the decency to look somewhat ashamed.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. I…I jumped to conclusions and I didn’t give her a chance.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“She IS still a vampire.”

“Speciesist,” Laura accused.

Danny sighed. “Maybe I am.” Danny moved next to her and slid down to sit beside her. “Okay, so how do I fix this?”

Laura shrugged. “Try not to stake her if I go on another date with her?”

“Unless she threatens you.”

Laura narrowed her eyes at Danny. “She won’t.”

“Unless she threatens me, then.”

“She probably will, but I don’t think she’d act.”

“You don’t ‘think’ she’d act? That’s super reassuring with my life potentially at stake,” Danny replied sarcastically.

“Well, she didn’t kill you tonight when you interrupted her plans and threatened her, so I think the odds are in my favor on this,” Laura pointed out.

Danny nodded, conceding the point, but Laura didn’t miss the way her hand came up to rub at her throat. There was not going to be an easy peace made between the two of them…assuming Carmilla eventually came back.

Laura sighed, closing her eyes and willing her laundry to hurry up and finish drying already. She just wanted this night to be over. Or Carmilla to be back and Danny to be gone. She wasn’t picky.

“I AM sorry that I ruined your date, but I’m not sorry for worrying about you,” Danny said.

Laura nodded. She’d take that. She understood worrying about friends. She’d grown up being worried about. It wasn’t like she wasn’t used to this. It was just…With Carmilla…maybe Carmilla was undead, but something about her made Laura feel alive in ways that she never had before and that scared her a little.

What scared her even more was the thought that she might not get to experience that again.

“But really? A vampire? You don’t date anyone for months and then you go and fall for a vampire?”

There was a hint of laughter in Danny’s voice, and Laura had to admit that there was an absurdity to the whole situation. She had met a vampire while practically naked in a laundromat in the middle of the night and then she had gotten a crush on that vampire. Honestly, it wasn’t her most intelligent string of decisions.

A small smile tugged at the corners of Laura’s lips and she shrugged. “Apparently.”

For a few minutes the only sound in the laundromat was the rumbling of the dryer and the telltale thwack of a zipper hitting as it spun around, and then Danny said, “Maybe she’ll come back.”

Laura felt a slight tugging in her chest at the thought, but she knew that the silence from her phone wasn’t promising.  “Yeah, maybe.”

--

The way that Carmilla had said her name, not “cupcake” or “sweetheart” or “creampuff” or some other edible…She’d said “Laura” and it lingered. It lingered in her mind, replaying over and over in that husky voice of Carmilla’s. It lingered against her ear, absent breath ghosting against skin that still tingled at the thought. It lingered in her chest in the form of a dull ache whenever she looked at her phone to see that Carmilla still hadn’t texted her back.

It was fine. Carmilla needed a break after the threat of potential death. Who wouldn’t? And maybe she’d given up on Laura ever giving in. Maybe she’d moved on. Maybe Laura had stubbornly held out too long. And why? Over what? She’d wanted Carmilla since the moment she met her.

Laura swallowed down the nausea in the pit of her stomach at the thought of Carmilla being with someone else. It was silly. Carmilla had obviously been feeding on other people since they met, and, based on the bloody bras, at least some of those feeding sessions had gotten intimate. So why did it suddenly bother her so much more?

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat and picked absently at the food on her plate.

“Still no word, eh?”

LaFontaine’s words broke through her reverie. She glanced up at them then back at her plate with a small shake of her head.

“Well, maybe she’s just hoping to surprise you at the laundry date tonight. You’re still going to go, right?” Perry inquired.

Laura nodded. “Yeah. I mean…I’ve still got laundry to do.”

“Good.” Perry offered a comforting smile and Laura gave a half-hearted one back. She wasn’t convinced it would be good. She wasn’t convinced Carmilla would be there.

(She wasn’t handling the ache in her chest at that thought well.)

“Have you heard from Danny?” LaFontaine asked, and Laura heard the slight edge to their voice.

Laura nodded. “She’s texted.”

“And have you replied?” LaFontaine coaxed.

Laura shrugged. “Some. She’s still just so…Why does she think I have to be over this already? Why is she so insistent that I need to be over not even getting a proper chance with someone I like just because she’s a vampire?”

Perry and LaFontaine exchanged an uncomfortable glance. Laura knew that it wasn’t fair to put them in the middle of this argument, but she was appreciative that they were letting her stay for a few days.

Danny was just still acting so righteous about the whole thing. Sure, she’d apologized, but Laura could tell with every disapproving glance in her direction that Danny still didn’t approve of her crush, and Laura wasn’t convinced that Danny felt that she’d actually done anything wrong. Just because Laura understood her motivations, didn’t mean she had moved past the incident, and every day that she didn’t hear back from Carmilla, she grew more upset about everything. Of course, every day that passed, Danny seemed to believe that Laura should just get over it. She didn’t understand the connection that Laura felt to Carmilla. She didn’t understand why Laura was still upset about losing touch with a vampire.

Okay, so maybe Carmilla was still a deadly creature of the night, but the way that she’d looked at Laura…It had made Laura’s hairs stand on end and goosebumps rise on her arms and it had made every single cell in her body feel alive. Nobody, living or undead, had ever made Laura feel like that before.

God, why had she been so stupid and stubborn and fought it for so long? Her lips longed to know what Carmilla’s would feel like against her own. Would they be soft and tender? Would they be greedy and demanding? Would Carmilla kiss her slowly, or would it be hard and needy?

“Laura?” LaFontaine prompted and Laura realized, not for the first time in the past few days, that she had been so caught up in her own thoughts that she hadn’t bothered to listen to those around her.

She blushed and offered an apologetic smile. “Sorry. What?”

LaFontaine sighed and shook their head. “Maybe we should try looking her up. If she doesn’t show tonight, I mean. We could do a little digging on the internet maybe, and see if we can’t find her. I mean, how many Carmillas could there really be around here? In this day and age, she’s bound to have left SOME sort of a digital trace, right?”

Laura perked up at the thought. Practically everyone had an online presence. Surely even the undead, right? She nodded. Maybe she could find out more about Carmilla. Maybe she could prove to Danny that way that Carmilla wasn’t a bad person…vampire…whatever. “Good idea! Thanks!” Laura replied, feeling as chipper as she sounded for the first time since Carmilla had walked out of the laundromat. “And, thanks, again, for letting me crash here for a few days.”

LaFontaine and Perry nodded. Laura knew she was lucky to have friends like them. Friends who had opened their apartment to her when she’d showed up after her third argument with Danny in two days. Friends who hadn’t tried to kick her out or suggest that she’d overstayed her welcome despite the lack of a usable couch while it served as her bed.

“Danny will come around. Once she gets over the whole vampire thing, she’ll see how smitten you are,” Perry offered encouragingly.

“I’m not that smitten!” Laura attempted to defend herself, though why, she wasn’t entirely sure. She was completely smitten and she couldn’t even tell herself she wasn’t at this point.

“You are a pining smitten kitten,” LaFontaine countered.

“Okay, maybe I’m smitten, but I’m not pining. There is no pining happening.”

“You are the piniest pine who ever pined,” LaFontaine argued with a smug grin.

Laura glared and LaFontaine shrugged. “Hey, if I had a super sexy vampire sweeping me off my feet in laundromats in the middle of the night and then they just disappeared, I might be pining too.”

Perry frowned and Laura groaned.           

“You’re trying to chase me back to my apartment, aren’t you,” Laura accused.

LaFontaine laughed. “Maybe. Mostly you’re just fun to torment.”

Laura glared again. “One day I’m going to get revenge on all of this teasing,” she threatened.

LaFontaine reached over and patted her on the head. “Sure you are, Hollis. Just keep telling yourself that.”

Laura sighed. Where was her sexy vampire to sweep her off her feet and out of this apartment? Laura thought about it for a second and then decided maybe that wouldn’t be the best option, after all. If Carmilla were there, she’d probably just join in with LaFontaine.

Still, at least she’d be there.

--

Laura (9:41 p.m.): I’m going to do laundry tonight. Are you going to be there? I’ll be there at 1:30.

Laura (11:13 p.m.): I hope I’ll see you there.

Laura (12:38 a.m.): I’m not bringing your clothes. You still have to take me on a real date to get those back.

--

Okay, so no Carmilla.

That was…that was fine. She hadn’t shown up before. Okay, so the last time was only after their first chance encounter and wasn’t exactly after being threatened with a stake or saying a goodbye that sounded awfully final, but that didn’t mean anything. Nothing definitive anyway.

Right?

Laura sighed heavily and glanced over her shoulder. The laundromat was barely visible behind her, now, but she thought maybe she could make out a slender figure lingering in the darkness near it.

Her heart pounded a little faster in her chest and her bag of laundry suddenly felt a little lighter on her shoulder. She stopped fully and turned around, peering into the darkness, hope soaring. She took one step, then another back towards the figure, hand poised to be raised in greeting.

“Please be Carmilla,” she muttered to herself.

After all, Carmilla hadn’t really not shown up the last time Laura hadn’t seen her at the laundromat. They’d just missed each other. And, okay, maybe Laura had stayed extra long at the laundromat tonight, folding her clothes there before stacking them carefully in her bag (well aware that she might have to refold them at home), just in case Carmilla was running late this week, but maybe Carmilla was running really, REALLY late.

A few mores steps and she could make out the figure a little better. It wasn’t facing her. It didn’t look right, either. The hair was too short and the shoulders were too broad.

It wasn’t Carmilla.

Laura’s cheeks flushed in embarrassment, her hand falling limply to her side as she turned around. Her heart fell as she stumbled forward towards her apartment. She felt anger at Danny and disappointment in herself welling up inside her again. She had been too stubborn. And Danny was being too stubborn now. She hated that she needed to go home to her own apartment to put away some of her clothes before heading back to LaFontaine and Perry’s apartment with a small supply to last her a day or two. Then again, she hated feeling like she didn’t want to go to her own home and be in her own room surrounded by her own things. She hated feeling like she was imposing on her friends’ lives.

Laura sighed and blinked back tears that threatened to spill from her eyes. She just hoped that Dannny was either asleep or out tonight.

(She really hoped that Carmilla was okay.)

(She really, really hoped that she’d get to see Carmilla again.)

--

Laura (4:15 p.m.): I miss you.

--

“Okay, so she doesn’t have Facebook,” Laura concluded.

“That does appear to be the case,” LaFontaine confirmed.

“And she hasn’t posted anything on twitter in weeks,” Laura mumbled.

“Also correct.”

“And the last thing she reblogged on Tumblr was something bleak involving a picture of a raven over a month ago.”

“It would seem so,” LaFontaine replied, offering Laura a sympathetic look.

“And she’s not following anybody? On either site?”

“Nope.”

“So she’s on there because…?”

LaFontaine shrugged. “Beats me.”

Laura sighed. “That’s not very helpful.”

“Not especially, no,” LaFontaine agreed.

They stared bleakly at the computer screen for a minute.

“Do you think maybe she’s a student?” LaFontaine asked. “I can try looking up student records.”

Laura shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, she’s centuries old, she might have been enrolled at Silas at some point, but who knows if she is now?”

“Well, it’s probably worth a check,” Perry said, setting a plate of brownies down on the desk beside them with a kind smile.

Laura quickly put a brownie in her mouth, taking a moment to let the chocolatey goodness melt onto her tongue. Perry moved away, settling back on the side of the couch that Laura had tidied up her sheets from with a book while LaFontaine typed quickly at the computer, Laura hovering just behind them.

Laura tried to follow what LaFontaine was doing, but she got a little lost as LaFontaine clicked and typed faster than she could absorb.

Laura picked up another brownie and leaned against the desk, contemplating her options if their research continued to turn up nothing. They seemed disappointingly limited. She could stake out the laundromat every night under the assumption that Carmilla had to do laundry at some point, but that wasn’t an especially practical option. Laura was kind of attached to her sleep, and there was no guarantee that Carmilla wouldn’t just go during the day or find somewhere else to do her laundry. Besides, who was to say that she had that much laundry, given that Laura still had what she was sure must be a sizeable portion of her wardrobe.

She could continue googling variations on “sexy vampire sightings” and “Carmilla” like she had been doing until LaFontaine had decided that she was a bit inept at this research thing and had mercifully taken over for her. That hadn’t exactly gotten her anywhere, though. (It had taken her to faaaar too many Twilight fansites, though. On the upside, it had also taken her to quite a few Buffy fansites and she had some new Fuffy fics bookmarked for later reading.)

She could prowl the streets of the city at night, hoping for a glimpse of flowing dark hair, sharp jawline, and mysterious brown eyes, but the odds were definitely not in her favor on that. Besides, she’d been seeing Carmilla practically everywhere the last few days in places where she very definitely wasn’t, so that probably wouldn’t be very helpful.

“Okay, so I’m not getting a Carmilla, exactly, but…Well, this looks a hell of a lot like your girl,” LaFontaine muttered. “Here. Mircalla von Karnstein. And here, again, Arcmilla Karnstein on the Silas board. And…basically it looks like she’s been at Silas at various points throughout the university’s history, either as a student or a professor or a board member and all she’s done is rearrange the letters of her first name. Some of them are near unpronounceable, to be honest.”

Laura peered eagerly over LaFontaine’s shoulder as they spoke, and there, in a faded, old photograph, was Carmilla.  Sure, her hair was different, and her clothes were a little dated, but it was definitely her.

Laura’s heart began to race as she stared at the familiar dark eyes and aloof smirk. “Okay, so is there any more information about her? Residences or, I dunno, usual hangouts?”

“I don’t think our social habits exactly make it into our files, Laura,” LaFontaine pointed out.

“Right,” Laura mumbled. “Okay, but addresses should be on file, right?”

“You think she’s staying in the same place she did…twenty years ago?” LaFontaine asked, searching through the dates on the screen.

Laura shrugged and LaFontaine scrolled down the page. “The residences listed here are all different. Half of them are different dorm rooms.”

“Really? I can’t imagine her living in a dorm.”

“Easy access to meals, I suppose,” LaFontaine mumbled.

Laura shot them a glare. She didn’t want to think about Carmilla living with and feeding off some pretty, young girl. She didn’t want to think about what else they might do during those feedings.

“Seriously with the names, though? She’s not going to be winning any creativity awards anytime soon, is she?” LaFontaine murmured, scrolling back up. “I mean, Camrilla? Seriously? And who bought all of these as actual names? Did nobody question it? Did she just go by ‘Cam’ and ‘Arc’?”

Laura frowned.

“If we ever do end up seeing her again, I’m so not letting her live some of these down.”

“LaF!” Laura muttered, her tone warning.

“Okay, okay, sorry.”

Laura stared at the information on the screen in front of her and a thought struck her. “Can you do just like a basic phone book search for her using Carmilla as her first name and then Karnstein as her last name? Maybe pull up a current address? Or like a reverse look up from her phone number”

LaFontaine frowned at the screen, fingers already flying over the keys. “Yeah, maybe. Give me a sec.”

A few minutes later, LaFontaine was shaking her head. “Sorry. No luck.”

Laura sighed, turning back around to lean against the desk.

“Has she ever mentioned anybody else? Friends? Roommates? Someone she might be living with,” Perry suggested, looking up from her book.

“A mother and a brother,” Laura replied absently. Why did it feel like someone was ripping a hole in her chest wider and wider with each passing day and each failure on their research?

“Really?” LaFontaine looked suddenly curious.

“Yeah,” Laura confirmed, shaking off her thoughts. “Not by birth, obviously, but like…her vampire mother and brother.”

“Oh, that makes more sense. But…okay, please don’t take this the wrong way, but even if we do manage to locate her, what exactly are you going to do? Walk into a house full of vampires?”

“She lives in the guest house,” Laura muttered defensively, but she had to admit that LaFontaine had a point. The way that Carmilla had talked about her vampire mother had made it clear that she was not a woman to be trifled with. If little human Laura showed up at her door asking after Carmilla it could go very badly for her. At best she could end up as a returning snack for a family of vampires. At worst she and maybe Carmilla too might end up dead. Either way, she wasn’t thrilled at the prospect. And even if Carmilla’s mother wasn’t there and she found Carmilla by herself, was there any guarantee that Carmilla would want to see her? If so, why hadn’t she reached out? Why hadn’t she texted back? Why hadn’t she answered when she’d called? Why hadn’t she made any effort to get back her clothes, even if it was just slipping into Laura’s room in the middle of the night using some her vampiric super speed?

Laura sighed again, but before she had a chance to contemplate issues further, a knock at the door made her jump.

For a brief, shining moment she had the irrational hope that maybe Carmilla had tracked her down at LaFontaine and Perry’s apartment, and then she heard Danny call out, “Hey, it’s me and Kirsch! Open up! We brought Chinese food!”

Laura clenched her jaw and glared towards the door as Perry stood and opened it with a warm greeting for their friends.                                                                                                                                                                                                                

LaFontaine offered Laura a sympathetic smile, then stood and crossed to the door.

Laura stayed where she was, offering a weak wave to Kirsch, who returned it enthusiastically. The boy was over six feet of goofy, loyal, slightly oblivious, bouncing energy. He was like an oversized puppy, and Laura found that she couldn’t help but smile as he bounded over to her and wrapped her in a tight hug, sweeping her clean off her feet and only setting her back down once she protested.

“Good to see you, little nerd hottie,” he said, ruffling her hair.

She rolled her eyes, but for once didn’t protest the nickname. “Hi, Kirsch.”

“I got scallion pancakes!” Danny said, holding up a white paper bag and shaking it gently.

Laura’s mouth began to water at the thought. She knew that this was Danny’s version of a peace offering. “Thanks,” Laura muttered. She was willing to accept the food, but if Danny didn’t respect that she was still upset, it wasn’t going to change anything.

Danny gave her a half-hopeful smile and Laura did her best to return it, but the disappointment about her search for Carmilla was still fresh in her mind. Laura moved to the couch and tidied up the rest of the bedding to free it up for sitting on. From the awkward way that Danny sat down on the chair beside the couch, Laura could tell that she knew it was mainly an excuse for Laura to busy herself rather than greet her properly.

Laura let conversation start up around her, sure that soon enough Danny would bring up Carmilla and the real reason for her visit would be revealed. She busied herself with filling her plate with food and beginning to eat, settling on the couch next to LaFontaine. She tried to pay attention to Kirsch talking about his new reading for class (which he didn’t seem to understand a word of) and LaFontaine’s recounting of an experiment gone horribly wrong, but her mind kept drifting back to Carmilla.

Where was she? What was she doing? WHO was she doing? Laura thought darkly as she chewed on a piece of broccoli, not really tasting it. Why hadn’t she answered Laura’s texts? Had she gotten them? Had she read them? Had she deleted them immediately? Had she decided that Laura was too much effort? Had she decided that Danny posed too great of a threat? Surely that wasn’t the case. Carmilla had easily overpowered her.

Had she just lost interest? She’d almost gotten a kiss, was that not good? Had she realized that she didn’t really want Laura in that moment? Maybe she’d realized that Laura was nothing special.

Laura sighed heavily as she scooped another forkful of food into her mouth.

“Is my story boring you, Laura?” Danny asked, looking mildly annoyed.

“Hmm? Oh. Sorry. You were saying about your sister…?”

“Elsie,” Danny repeated. “She’s been acting all mysterious. Summers always tell each other the important things in their lives, but she hasn’t shared with any of us. I just hope she’s okay. I want to make sure she knows she can turn to us if she needs help.” Danny gave Laura a pointed look.

“Yeah, because you never overreact about anything,” Laura muttered.

Danny’s fork clattered noisily onto her plate as she set it down on the coffee table. “And there it is. How long are you going to hold this grudge, Laura? I thought we were going to work past it and then you come and hide out here! I SAID I was sorry that I ruined your date, but honestly, you barely knew her!”

“Doesn’t mean I don’t like her!” Laura shot back.

“I get it, but I didn’t MAKE her leave!”

“You certainly didn’t encourage her to stay!”

“I didn’t see you running after her,” Danny replied.

“Yeah, well, excuse me for realistically thinking I couldn’t keep up with her super speed.”

“And why does she have super speed, again? Oh, right, because she’s a blood-sucking vampire!” Danny exclaimed, throwing down her trump card.

It always came back to the vampire thing. Why was it such a big deal to Danny? Laura didn’t get it. It’s not like Laura had been inviting Carmilla over to snack on her friends.

“Versus all of those vegetarian vampires,” LaFontaine muttered under their breath, earning them a withering look from Danny.

“If we could just, maybe, get back to some other, more suitable dinner-time conversation –“ Perry attempted, but Laura cut her off.

“How would you feel if I nit-picked someone that you liked?”

“Pointing out that they’ve murdered people is hardly nit-picking,” Danny shot back.

Okay. Danny might have had a point, there, but Carmilla was more than the things she’d done. Laura had meant it when she’d told Carmilla that she thought she had a soul and that she wasn’t a monster. Maybe some of what she’d done had been monstrous, but Laura didn’t have any idea what it was like to be a vampire, to try to control a thirst for blood, to know that she could potentially be hunted just for being what she is. Who was she to judge that? She wasn’t condoning the murder. That didn’t sit easily on her mind, but Carmilla…the Carmilla that she knew, the one that she’d talked to and flirted with and taught how to sort her laundry, that Carmilla was no monster. “You didn’t even give her a chance or try to get to know her. You just assumed the worst because of what she is. You don’t care about WHO she is!” Laura insisted, ignoring Danny’s point.

Danny hesitated. It was clear that she knew that Laura had a point.

“She’s pretty funny, actually,” LaFontaine volunteered. “If you give her a chance, she might surprise you.”

“Are you saying Laura’s never going to be in danger dating a vampire?” Danny demanded.

LaFontaine held up their hands. “Whoa! I’m not taking sides here. I’m just stating an observation from having met her.”

“And talked to her rather than attacking her,” Laura pointed out.

Danny sighed in exasperation and turned to Kirsch, who looked like a deer caught in the headlights under her gaze. Lo mein noodles stuck out of his mouth at odd angles as he froze, unsure of what exactly was expected of him. “Come on, Kirsch, don’t you think Laura’s being a little ridiculous, here? I was just worried about her safety. I didn’t mean to interrupt a date, but presumably if Carmilla was really that interested, she wouldn’t have run off so quickly, right?”

“Ouch,” Laura murmured, feeling Danny’s words like a knife to the chest.

“I’m sorry, but we’re all thinking it,” Danny said.

“I wasn’t!” LaFontaine exclaimed quickly.

Perry shook her head. “You can be pretty intimidating. I might have run.”

Danny glared at them. “You’re not a vampire.”

“I dunno, Laura’s pretty likeable,” Kirsch interjected, his mouth still half-full.

“What?” Danny turned to him.

“Laura. She’s crush-worthy.”

Danny shifted uncomfortably. “Well, yeah, obviously, I just meant, it’s not my fault Carmilla hasn’t texted her back or made contact since. And Laura needs to accept that maybe her crush was a little misplaced in her.”

Kirsch shrugged. “Laura’s smart. She’s the reason I passed English Lit last semester. I trust her judgment.”

Danny’s jaw fell open. “Kirsch, are you missing the part about Carmilla being a vampire?”

“Yeah, but she’s like a good vampire, right? I mean, the three of you met her and none of you got bitten right? Even though you went in threatening her.”

Danny stared at Kirsch, betrayal evident on her face. It was clear that she’d brought him along expecting him to side with her. He squirmed in his seat when he saw the look she was giving him.

“Sorry,” he mumbled sheepishly before shoveling more food in his mouth.

“THANK you, Kirsch,” Laura replied.

Danny threw her hands up in the air in surrender. “Fine. Have a crush on a vampire! I’ll…support it, I guess. I, just…Can you move back home? Can we be friends again?”

Laura sighed. “Danny, we were never not friends. I just need you to understand that I really like her and I miss her, and, yeah, maybe I’m still kind of annoyed that the reason she’s not actively in my life right now is because of you, and maybe…her. Or me…I don’t know, but I…” Laura trailed off and sighed again. The hole in her chest felt a little bit bigger.

LaFontaine patted her on the back. “Awww, come on, Danny. How can you not be a little bit supportive of pathetic little Miss Crushes on Vampires? Especially after she got stood up last night.”

Laura glared. “Feel free to stop helping, now,” she muttered.

“Wait, last night? You went back to the laundromat last night?” Danny demanded, alarm evident in her voice. A pointed look from Laura had her deflating a little bit. “Okay. Yeah, that’s reasonable. I guess I would have, too. You could have told me. I would have gone with you.”

“I don’t think that would have really encouraged Carmilla to show up, do you?” Laura pointed out.

Danny hesitated then nodded. “True.” She reached out and put a hand on Laura’s arm. “Laura, I’m sorry, okay? Really. I guess…I’m struggling a little bit understanding how you can like a vampire so much –“

Laura opened her mouth to argue Carmilla’s good traits again, her body tensing for a revisiting of the fight, but Danny kept going.

“– but I’ll work on it, okay? If you and LaF think she’s not so bad, maybe she’s not. I…We…There was a sister, my freshman year, who…Well, nobody ever saw her again and there was a rumor that she’d gotten involved with the vampires on campus. I just…I didn’t want something to happen to you, okay? I shouldn’t have done what I did, and I shouldn’t have suggested she doesn’t like you. She…I’m sure she does. Maybe she just missed the date because something came up.”

Laura felt herself relaxing a little. She hadn’t known about Danny’s sorority sister. No wonder Danny had been instantly distrustful of Carmilla. “Danny, I’m…I didn’t know. I’m sorry about your sister.”

“I’m sorry about your date.”

“Are there more dumplings?” Kirsch asked around a mouthful of food.

“Kirsch, don’t talk with your mouth full,” Perry scolded, handing him the remaining dumplings.

Laura laughed, feeling some of her tension drain away. She offered Danny the first genuine smile she’d sent her way in days. They were going to work it out, she knew.

Now if only she could get in touch with Carmilla and sort everything out with her, then everything would be okay.

Chapter Text

Laura (12:55 a.m.): Heading to the laundromat again shortly. I really hope you’ll come.

Laura (1:49 a.m.): If you’re trying to be fashionably late, being over a week late is probably overdoing it.

Laura (3:51 a.m.): I guess you’re not coming. L

--

Fine. If Carmilla didn’t want to see her, that was just fine. She’d get over it. She could take a hint.

(But why did her chest still ache at the thought of moving on?)

Laura attempted to focus on the textbook in front of her, but her gaze kept drifting to the window every few sentences. Carmilla was too firmly ingrained in her thoughts. She was too distracting, even if she wasn’t there and wasn’t interested.

Laura sighed and rested her cheek on her hand as she gazed out the window. A hint of movement from just beyond the circle of light cast by the streetlamp caught her eye and she squinted at it.

Again, there was a shadow of movement and then there was stillness. Too much stillness.

Laura turned off her desk lamp and let her eyes adjust to the dark and her breath caught at the figure she made out.

“Carmilla?” she murmured.

She reached towards the window as if, if she touched it, she’d be touching her.

She blinked and the figure was gone. Maybe she was never there. Maybe it was just her mind playing tricks on her. She slumped back in her chair with a heavy sigh.

“Hey, you okay?” Danny asked from her doorway.

Laura glanced up, only half having heard the question. “Hmm?”

“Are you okay? You’re sitting in the dark.”

“You– yeah. I just…” Laura shook her head. I was just hallucinating the vampire who has totally rejected me probably wouldn’t go over so well.

Danny offered a sympathetic smile. “You thinking about Carmilla?”

Laura glanced back out the window and saw nothing but the empty street. She reached out and turned her desk lamp back on. “Yeah,” she admitted with a sigh.

Danny had been overly apologetic since Laura had moved back in a week ago, but that didn’t mean that Laura had entirely forgiven her.

Danny gestured into the room and Laura nodded, inviting her in.

Danny sat down on Laura’s bed and gave her a supportive look. “You really like her.”

It wasn’t a question, but Laura nodded anyway.

“I…I’m not trying to make excuses, but I didn’t…I didn’t understand…I didn’t realize how much you…I thought it was a crush. Just a little crush. Like remember the one I had on Mel at the start of last year?”

“The one that practically wasn’t because you flirted for like two weeks, kissed, and there was less than no chemistry when you did? You were dating Natalie like two days later.”

“That’s the one,” Danny nods. “I didn’t realize that it wasn’t just like that. Fun flirtation that wasn’t, well…real, I guess. I haven’t really felt for someone the way you do for Carmilla in a long time, and I didn’t get it.”

“So if I hadn’t been seriously crushing on her, it would’ve been perfectly okay for you to barge in and threaten her with death?”

Danny blushed and looked away. “No. I’m an ass. A complete and utter ass.”

“Yes, you are.”

Danny nodded. “I know. I heard ‘vampire’ and all I could think about was you disappearing just like my sister had, and…It doesn’t excuse my actions, I know–“

“I know,” Laura cut her off with a sigh. “You were acting out of concern. I just wish you’d gone about it differently.”

“Me, too,” Danny agreed.

“You should have trusted my judgment. Carmilla’s not just…She’s not just any vampire. She’s…”

“Special,” Danny finished for her and Laura nodded. “I get it now. I didn’t, but I do now.”

“You remember my freshman year, you were going to lose it at that Zeta who wouldn’t take a hint?”

Danny grinned. “And I was about to kick his ass, when you pulled out that bear spray and got him right in the face,” she recalled with a small chuckle.

“You were worried about me, but I handled myself,” Laura said pointedly.

“Yeah. You did,” Danny admitted. “Sometimes, I forget that just because you’re younger than me and smaller than me doesn’t mean that I have to take care of you.”

“Think maybe you can just trust me to handle myself in general?”

“Yeah. I can do that.” Danny nodded emphatically. “I’m really, really sorry, Laura.”

Laura nodded. She could tell that Danny wasn’t just saying that to try to get on her good side: she meant it. She’d screwed up and Laura knew she knew it.

Laura noticed some pieces of paper in Danny’s hand.

“What’s that?”

Danny looked suddenly bashful and attempted to move it further behind her back.

“Nothing.”

Laura narrowed her eyes and moved to the bed, sitting down next to Danny and trying to peer around her.

“Come on, what is it?” she demanded suspiciously.

Danny looked suddenly like she’d rather be anywhere else. “It’s stupid.”

“Tell me anyway?” Laura coaxed, still trying to peer around Danny.

Danny sighed and held up two pieces of paper. In big bold letters the word “SORRY” was written on one and “CARMILLA” was written on the other.

Laura frowned and looked expectantly at Danny.

Danny blushed deeply and sighed again. “I’ve been putting it in the window late at night. I figured that if she followed you home or she just happened past…I know it was stupid, but I just wanted to make it right. I didn’t like seeing you so sad, and knowing that it’s all my fault, and, well…You’re right. She could have killed me in an instant and she didn’t, so…I just wanted to apologize to her, too, so…”

Laura let out a small laugh. “You’re rambling.”

Danny paused and looked embarrassed. “Yeah…anyway….”

“Thanks,” Laura mumbled. “I think it’s pretty clear she’s not as interested as I thought, but —“

“Don’t say that! Give her another week.”

Laura glanced at Danny. She really was trying to be supportive. “She hasn’t even answered a text,” Laura argued, biting back the tears that suddenly sprang to her eyes at the thought.

“How many have you sent?”

It was Laura’s turn to blush. “Not that many?”

“More than twenty?”

Laura’s blush deepened. “Maybe,” she admitted.

“You’ve got it bad, huh?”

Laura groaned and flopped back on her bed.

Danny lay back beside her. “She’ll text back. I know she will.”

“How?” Laura demanded, knowing full well that Danny was merely offering empty platitudes.

“’Cause you’re far too doggedly persistent. You won’t let her not respond.”

Laura rolled her eyes.

“If she doesn’t show up or get in contact soon, you’ll find her. I know you will,” Danny declared. She sounded so genuine that Laura almost believed that she would see Carmilla again.

--

Laura (11:20 p.m.): I’m heading to the laundromat again tonight. I…don’t really expect to see you, but…I hope you’ll be there.

Laura (12:45 a.m.): Heading to the laundromat now. I might try to find a new place after tonight if you’re not there.

--

Of course there was no Carmilla. Laura glared around the empty laundromat, mad at herself for having actually expected her to make an appearance. Why would she? She’d made her feelings completely clear.

Laura was too mad to jump when the machines buzzed, signaling that she should move her wet clothes into the dryer. She had just slammed the second dryer shut, when a familiar voice said, “Did that dryer do something to personally offend you, cutie? Or have you just gotten more violent in your laundry-doing since I left?”

Laura turned slowly, not really believing her ears. It wouldn’t be the first time in the past few weeks that she’d thought she’d heard Carmilla’s voice, though it had never been full sentences before.

Carmilla stood there, hands on her hips, duffel bag of laundry on the floor beside her, even more stunning than Laura’s memory had made her out to be. Laura hadn’t thought that was possible. Maybe it was the lacy crop top that left an inviting stretch of pale skin across her stomach. Maybe it was the incredibly short black shorts that hugged her hips and showed off her legs. Either way, Laura felt suddenly weak at the knees, and her heart began to race.

A small smirk played on Carmilla’s face, and Laura felt her skin begin to tingle in excitement.

Carmilla was there. She was really there. In the laundromat. Standing in front of her.

Without express permission from Laura’s brain, her feet quickly crossed the distance between her and Carmilla and she threw her arms around Carmilla’s neck, holding her close.

“Carmilla! You’re here!”

Her entire body felt alive as she pressed into Carmilla, heat flooding through her.

It was just like it had been before… Before the weeks of no contact. Before the unanswered texts. Before the threat to Carmilla’s life that they hadn’t talked about because Carmilla had gone AWOL.

Laura felt her anger bubbling up inside of her and she shoved Carmilla away, or she tried to, at least. The vampire barely moved, so Laura gave her another shove for good measure. Carmilla took a step back and raised an eyebrow, a slightly perplexed look on her face.

“You’re sending some mixed messages here, cutie.”

Laura glared and pointed an accusing finger at Carmilla. “No. Don’t you ‘cutie’ me! You disappeared!”

“Well, I was getting death threats. I felt it best not to press my luck,” Carmilla retorted, leaning easily against a washing machine.

“Danny’s sorry about that, and that doesn’t explain why you stood me up the next week!”

Carmilla shrugged, but there was a slight sag to her shoulders that tugged at something inside Laura to pay closer attention. Laura ignored it in favor of holding her grudge.

“Thought there might be more unwelcome company,” Carmilla replied.

Okay, well, Laura couldn’t exactly hold that against her, but…

“You could have texted! Or called! Or given any indication that you were, you know, alive!” Laura accused, waving her hands wildly in the air as her words got away from her.

“I haven’t been alive for a very long time, sweetheart,” Carmilla pointed out, a smirk once again gracing her features.

Laura glared harder. “You know exactly what I meant! I was worried about you! And then I thought– I thought that– I thought maybe you didn’t—”

Carmilla raised an eyebrow and waited expectantly.

Laura wasn’t at all sure about voicing her insecurities, though and the words sputtered out and died on her tongue.

“Thought I didn’t, what?”

Laura turned away and crossed her arms. “Nothing. Never mind.”

She felt warmth behind her and then Carmilla’s fingers were trailing up her arm and sending a shiver down her spine.

“What did you think?” Carmilla coaxed, her voice quiet and husky.

Laura started to lean back into Carmilla, but stopped herself, her doubt in their relationship far too fresh a wound in her mind. “Nothing,” she mumbled, stepping out of Carmilla’s touch.

Carmilla stepped with her, moving around to Laura’s front. Laura kept her eyes cast downward, but Carmilla brought a finger up to her chin and tilted her face up, forcing their gazes to meet.

Carmilla’s voice was soft and soothing when she said, “I didn’t mean to worry you, cupcake. I was…busy.”

“Oh, well, as long as it was a good reason,” Laura grumbled, trying to break the contact, but finding herself unable to look away. There was an inviting softness in Carmilla’s dark eyes that Laura just wanted to melt into.

“I had some family things to take care of,” Carmilla informed her, letting her fingers fall from Laura’s chin and graze down her arm.

Laura got the distinct sense that Carmilla was choosing her words carefully, but it was so hard to focus on that when Carmilla’s fingers were setting her skin on fire. God, she’d missed that touch. She’d missed the effects it had on her. She’d missed the way it felt like electricity was surging through her veins, and she found herself wanting to lean into it, to give in, to let Carmilla hold her.

She couldn’t shake the nagging doubt at the back of her mind, though, and that was what finally prompted her to move away.

“And you couldn’t spare a few minutes just to text some random girl you sometimes do laundry with,” Laura mumbled.

Carmilla frowned. “Laura…”

The use of her actual name made her look up. She waited expectantly as Carmilla’s gaze wandered over her face, making a small blush creep slowly up her neck.

Carmilla hesitated and bit her lower lip, then she sighed. “I should’ve texted.”

“It would’ve been nice,” Laura said sullenly.

Carmilla stepped closer, her hand reaching up towards Laura’s face, but pulling back before it made contact. “You really think that’s what you are?”

Laura shrugged, finally managing to look away. “Maybe.”

“I don’t really put effort into proper dates for just anyone, you know.”

Laura scoffed, but she felt a little flutter in her stomach at Carmilla’s words. “I mean it was still laundry, even with candles and —”

Carmilla’s hand trailed through her hair, and she cut herself off at the sensations that sparked, a sharp intake of breath marking the words that would remain unsaid.

“Don’t start that again, cupcake,” Carmilla said, her hand moving to cup Laura’s cheek, and Laura turned into the touch subconsciously. “It took me so long to convince you they were actual dates.”

Laura lingered in the moment, feeling the heat from Carmilla’s touch, letting the tingles it sparked flow through her body and settle low in her stomach. Carmilla had been absent and her absence had hurt, but her actual, physical presence affected Laura stronger than ever. She wanted more, her body was craving it. Her lips longed for the kiss that they’d been so rudely interrupted from weeks before. Could she turn and pull Carmilla into a kiss? Could she give in so easily to someone who she was so sure mere minutes ago would never come back into her life?

“And then you vanished without a trace,” Laura whispered, turning her head so that her lips brushed Carmilla’s palm as she spoke.

She felt a chill run through Carmilla. “It was very important family stuff, if it helps,” Carmilla murmured.

God, when had she gotten so close? Laura could feel her breath on her cheek, but she didn’t dare look up into Carmilla’s eyes. She didn’t trust herself to control her actions if she did that when Carmilla was in her space, breathing the same air as her.

“Life or death?”

“In all likelihood those were the stakes, yes,” Carmilla confirmed, her voice barely above a whisper, but still echoing through Laura’s mind.

Your life?” Laura asked, her voice squeaking.

Laura could feel Carmilla’s hesitation through her entire body. “My life ended a long time ago.”

Laura frowned. “Don’t say that!” she declared, more forcefully than she meant to. She looked up sharply at Carmilla, forgetting her resolution not to. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw the way that Carmilla was looking at her. There was an openness and an honesty to her gaze that Laura had never seen there before, not like this, and it made her feel like she might explode under the weight of it.

Carmilla offered her a sad smile and stepped back, and suddenly Laura felt like she could breathe just a little bit better. “You know, cutie, I hate to point this out, but my laundry isn’t going to start itself. These may be dates, but, as you’re ever so fond of pointing out, they are laundry dates.”

Laura felt her heart pounding far too rapidly in her chest and she took a few steps back to give herself even more space to breathe, ignoring the ache that spread through her at the loss of contact.

“You never answered. Not properly,” Laura pointed out, as she watched Carmilla dump her clothes into the washing machine.

“Answered what, creampuff?” Carmilla asked, setting down her empty bag at her feet.

There was a full load of clothes in the machine, Laura noted, despite that she still held a substantial amount of Carmilla’s clothes hostage in her bedroom.

“Whose life was in the balance?”

Carmilla glanced at her, then turned back to the machine and started it. She shrugged. “I’d rather not dwell. I’m here now…” In a flash, Carmilla was at her side again. “Let me make my absence up to you.”

How was it possible for someone to turn her on so much without even touching her? It shouldn’t be possible, and yet, before Carmilla even began to trail her fingers slowly up her arm, Laura could feel a rush of arousal flooding through her.

“You know…” Carmilla purred as she walked her fingers across Laura’s shoulder, “I believe that we were rudely interrupted in the middle of something important the last time I was here.”

Laura barely dared to breathe as Carmilla’s hand swept her hair to the side. She felt Carmilla’s breath ghosting against her neck, then Carmilla’s nose grazed ever-so-slightly against the sensitive skin there.

“Oh?” Laura squeaked, attempting to resist the urge to press back fully into Carmilla.

“Mmhmm,” Carmilla hummed against the skin of her throat, fingers splayed possessively across her collarbone. Her lips brushed Laura’s skin, a whisper of a touch, as she did so.

Laura tried to remember to breathe. Breathing was important, she was sure. Was it more important than trying to get Carmilla’s lips to meet hers, though? Sure, oxygen was technically necessary to survive, but at the moment it kind of felt like maybe having Carmilla’s lips on hers was as well.

Carmilla’s lips pressed a little more firmly against her throat and a small moan of approval slipped from Laura’s mouth.

“What sort of a something was that?” Laura managed to ask, knowing full well that the ragged quality to her voice betrayed just the effect that Carmilla was having on her.

She felt Carmilla smirk against her throat before the path of kisses she was burning up it continued. Laura’s knees felt weak and her whole body leaned back into Carmilla’s supportive embrace.

“The kind,” Carmilla murmured, her breath hitting Laura’s cheek just by her ear hotly, “that involves a far better use of your mouth than talking.”

Laura felt a hot tongue flick over her earlobe, and she couldn’t stop the shiver that ran through her. She was finding it incredibly difficult to think, but she was fairly certain she was mildly offended at the implication that her talking wasn’t good use of her mouth. She should be offended by that, right? That was…Oh…

Carmilla’s fingers of her free hand trailed lightly down her side before splaying across her stomach, settling just above her hip, pulling her flush against her. There was no space between their bodies now, and suddenly all thoughts of being offended were pushed from her mind, and the only thought she could manage was that she really needed to be facing Carmilla. Preferably, like, yesterday.

“Carm,” she said, her voice halfway between breathless and a whine.

“Mm?” Carmilla responded, and Laura could feel the sound vibrate through her back.

“I need– I want–” Laura attempted to form any sort of a coherent thought, but it just wasn’t working. She brought a hand up to cover the one on her stomach and intertwined their fingers. “I just —”

Laura turned in Carmilla’s arms, and there she was, pressed in close, lips slightly parted, lids heavy, eyes dark. Laura swallowed hard and tried to remember to breathe.

Carmilla leaned in, her face hovering just above Laura’s. “Yes?” she breathed against her lips.

Laura inhaled the word, her lips tingling at contact that had yet to be made. “I–” Laura started again, but no words followed it. Her eyes fell to Carmilla’s lips, tantalizingly close and oh-so-inviting. All she had to do was press up onto the balls of her feet ever-so-slightly, and she’d be kissing those soft, smooth lips.

But…

Laura felt the niggling doubt that had plagued her for weeks sneaking into her mind and demanding her attention. Her lower lip quivered at the thought that Carmilla would happily replace her with any other girl. She was some fun. A potential returning meal. That was likely all. What long-term interest could she possibly hold for such exquisite, timeless beauty that had seen and done so much and lived for so long?

Carmilla pulled back, clearly sensing the change in her.

“What?” she coaxed, and Laura turned her head away.

“Nothing,” she mumbled. Why had her brain had to think of those things now? Why couldn’t she have just closed the distance between them and kissed her? Why did she have to remember her anxieties of the past weeks? Why did she have to dredge up the hurt that she’d felt at the radio silence?

Radio silence that Carmilla could have easily fixed, she reminded herself, preferring the bubbling of anger to the nervousness of her doubts.

Carmilla leaned in and nudged Laura’s temple with her nose. “Talk to me,” she urged, her voice raspy.

“I thought you felt that wasn’t a good use for my mouth,” Laura replied, moving away from the touch and stepping out of Carmilla’s arms.

Carmilla frowned. “Laura—”

“No! Just–” Laura took a deep breath and tried to control her thoughts. “Just give me a sec.”

Carmilla hesitated, but didn’t move closer. There was a long silence while thoughts pounded through Laura’s mind. She knew she could overthink things, but the timing on this particular bout of overthinking really sucked. Why couldn’t she have just given in to the kiss? Except, no. Because Carmilla didn’t deserve the kiss. Not after not even bothering to text her back for weeks. She’d said she missed her! She’d put herself out there!

God, she could be so stupid sometimes.

“I didn’t mean that you shouldn’t talk.” Carmilla’s voice broke the silence and Laura’s train of thoughts. “You talking is one of the first things I noticed about you, after the relative nudity.”

There was a gentle teasing to her words, but Laura didn’t let it bring a smile to her face.

“I seem to remember you finding me annoying,” Laura retorted.

Carmilla sighed. “Cupcake…”

Laura shook her head. “No. It’s fine, I just…Are you sure you really want to be flirting with me? I mean, you didn’t even want to text me for the past few weeks, so really, why would you be here wasting your time with me? You clearly have other places to do laundry, or you’ve just been coming here when you were sure I wouldn’t be here.”

“Well, someone’s holding most of my wardrobe hostage, so it’s been easy just to do the odd load of clothes at home,” Carmilla replied, the hint of teasing still present.

Laura looked up at her, eyes narrowed. She wasn’t in the mood for teasing. Not right now. If Carmilla had needed or wanted her clothes, it would have been incredibly easy for her to get them back. “A simple text and you could’ve had your wardrobe back.”

Carmilla’s face grew serious and in a blur of movement she was in front of Laura, a hand firmly on her cheek, holding their eye contact. “Maybe I liked knowing there was something to come back for.”

“Because I wasn’t enough,” Laura surmised, feeling her gut twist unpleasantly. She wished that the dryer would buzz so that she could just gather her clothes and leave, but she knew there was more time on it.

“No! Because I knew that if you had my clothes, I’d have to see you again. It was my excuse to make sure I came back.”

“And I couldn’t be that excuse?”

Carmilla growled and shook her head. “That’s not what I mean.”

“Then what do you mean?” Laura asked, looking up into Carmilla’s eyes, searching them for understanding.

Carmilla gazed back at her and took a deep breath. Her eyes dropped briefly to her lips and she sucked her lower lip into her mouth, biting it as her eyes flitted back to Laura’s. Laura took it all in, her body flushing with heat from their proximity, but her mind unwilling to give into the sensation. The hurt was too fresh.

Carmilla ran her fingers through Laura’s hair, pushing it out of her face. She let them trail down over Laura’s cheek and along her jawbone before letting her hand fall to her side. Laura resisted the urge to turn into the touch. Carmilla shook her head and rolled her eyes.

“I’m far too old for this, to be taken in by…by you, and yet…” Carmilla looked Laura in the eye again. “And yet,” she repeated more firmly, not finishing the sentence, but Laura felt the flutter in her heart anyway. “My family is stubborn and obnoxious and…and dangerous, cupcake. I needed to handle other matters, but trust me when I say I thought of you. I wanted…”

“What?” Laura asked, feeling like each word out of Carmilla’s mouth was leading her somewhere, and she could feel the anticipation rising in her, her heart pounding far too quickly in her chest, as she waited to find out where.

A small smile played across Carmilla’s features, and grew into a smirk. Her eyes flicked away, and when she looked back, it was a predatory gaze that once again fell on Laura. “I wanted you. I want you,” Carmilla replied, her gaze dangerous.

Her husky tone sent a shiver down Laura’s spine.

Carmilla brought her hand up once again to Laura’s face, hesitating for only a moment before brushing the backs of her fingers against Laura’s cheek. “I’ll text next time.”

Laura’s eyes went wide in alarm at the mere concept of a next time. “Next time? No. There will be no more disappearing into thin air. You can NOT do that to me again!” she declared, stepping out of Carmilla’s touch to pace the floor. The mere idea of it made her chest feel uncomfortably tight.

“Relax, cupcake, I just meant —”

“No! No, no, no, no. God, I cannot…I can’t fall for someone who is just going to run off and leave me wondering if they’re okay, or alive, or if they even ever cared about me at all because it— I mean the last few weeks have sucked. Do you know that? My best friend barged in and threatened the life of the girl I’ve got this massive crush on, like with an actual weapon and everything, and then the girl I like disappears without a trace, or a word, and I’m left wondering if I imagined it all, if the flirting was all in my head after all, and I just—” Laura stopped mid-sentence when she stopped her pacing and looked up to find Carmilla leaning against a washing machine and smirking at her. “What?!” she demanded, not at all appreciating the smirk at the moment.

“Massive crush, huh?”

Laura felt her cheeks blush what she was sure was a bright red. Of COURSE that was what Carmilla had picked up on. “NOT the important part of that.”

“Sounded pretty important to me,” Carmilla replied, looking far too smug for Laura’s liking.

Laura’s cheeks grew even hotter. “I moved out of my apartment for a week. Do you know that? No. Of course, you don’t. You never bothered to text or call and find out.” Laura glowered, squirming under the intensity of Carmilla’s gaze.

Carmilla’s smirk faltered for a second. “You shouldn’t have had to…She couldn’t have taken me. I was safe. She, on the other hand…She was lucky she had you,” Carmilla muttered. “But I really don’t want to talk about your hot-headed roommate now that I know that you’ve totally fallen for me.” Her smirk settled firmly back on her face.

Damn.

Laura blushed even deeper. “I don’t remember saying that.”

“You might not have used those exact words, but I’m pretty sure that’s what you said, cupcake,” Carmilla replied smugly.

“I think you’re hearing things,” Laura mumbled, her embarrassment level climbing even higher.

Carmilla grinned and stepped closer. “I don’t.”

“My POINT was that YOU are NOT allowed to just DISAPPEAR again!”

“Because you’ve fallen for me.”

“Because it’s mean,” Laura glowered, aware that her face was probably a ridiculous shade of crimson at this point.

“Since you’ve fallen for me,” Carmilla concluded, her smirk only growing.

Laura groaned in frustration. How could she get Carmilla off of this track of thinking? “Danny really is sorry. I know that doesn’t mean much after a death threat, but… She WON’T be threatening you again. She’s accepted that you’re not like some super evil vampire bent set on sucking me dry, or something.”

Carmilla’s smirk faltered, and Laura mentally thanked her roommate for being a wet-blanket of a subject.

“She had a sister from the Summer Society go missing her freshman year,” Laura attempted to explain.

Carmilla studied her for a second before shrugging. “That happens.”

Laura frowned. That was it? That was her response? “It happens?”

“Vampires on campus, sweetheart. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that things can go wrong.”

Laura’s frown deepened.

Carmilla rolled her eyes.

“How can you be so callous? What if it was me that disappeared?”

Carmilla’s jaw clenched tight and she moved directly in front of Laura in a flash. “You’re hardly wandering off to become a vampire’s regular meal,” Carmilla pointed out, her tone almost playful, but her expression anything but. “I assume this girl was, or else your roommate wouldn’t have such a grudge against vampires.”

Laura swallowed hard, her heart pounding a little more rapidly in her chest. “Some might argue that coming to meet you regularly isn’t the best way to keep that from happening,” she murmured, regretting the words even as they left her mouth.

Carmilla’s entire body stiffened, and her eyes gleamed with a fire that Laura had never seen in them before. “You won’t be disappearing, Laura,” Carmilla said with such conviction that Laura had no choice but to believe it. The corners of Carmilla’s lips turned up slightly and her body relaxed a fraction, but the look in her eyes still spoke of danger. “If I’m not allowed to disappear, there’s no way I’d let you get away with it,” she added.

Laura felt her heart skip a beat. Did that mean Carmilla really did care? Could she possibly feel as much as Laura did? (How had Laura fallen so hard so fast? She still didn’t understand it. Carmilla might have now had an inkling of her feelings, but she had no idea of the depths of them. Laura was still working them out herself.)

“Would you really care?” Laura asked, unable to stop herself from thinking that Carmilla had seemed to have no issue with not seeing her for the past few weeks.

Carmilla stepped forward, closing the distance between them, the fingers of one hand coming up to trail through Laura’s hair, her other hand cupping Laura’s cheek firmly. The intensity of the gaze with which Carmilla fixed her now made Laura feel like her entire body might erupt into flames at any moment. Laura leaned in unconsciously, incredibly aware that her lips were barely more than a hair-width away from Carmilla’s. She needed an answer, though. Much as she hated that fact, there was a knot in the pit of her stomach that wouldn’t go away without verbal confirmation from Carmilla.

“What do you think?” Carmilla whispered, her breath feeling like a warm caress on Laura’s lips. 

Laura swallowed hard, the words, “I don’t know,” falling from her mouth in a gravelly voice she barely recognized.

Carmilla’s brows furrowed slightly and a heated silence lingered between them. Laura barely dared to breathe, her entire body swaying with the subtle rise and fall of her chest, and all it would take was one breath that was a little too big to send Laura’s lips colliding into Carmilla’s. Laura wasn’t sure that was something she could ever come back from fully.

“Well?” Laura asked, her voice a whisper that somehow managed to sound far too loud to her ears. How it managed to momentarily drown out the rapid pounding of her heart, she’d never know.

Laura practically felt the corners of Carmilla’s lips quirk up into a smirk and her eyes gleamed. “Yes,” Carmilla breathed against her lips, the smooth surface of them barely ghosting against Laura’s.

Laura jumped backwards and out of Carmilla’s arms, her heart practically leaping out of her chest, when the buzzer on the dryer went off. She leaned heavily against a washing machine, gulping down oxygen, trying to regain her composure. The second dryer buzzed and she jumped again, but not quite as much.

“All right there, cutie?” Carmilla asked, voice full of mirth.

Laura glared. “Fine. I was just startled,” Laura muttered.

“By laundry in a laundromat,” Carmilla said, and Laura didn’t have to look at her to know that a smirk was very firmly in place on those enticing lips of hers.

“I was distracted,” Laura grumbled pointedly, wondering if perhaps Carmilla could hear some change in the machine before it buzzed so that she wasn’t caught off-guard by the sudden loud noise.

“Hmm…” Carmilla murmured. “By what, exactly?” she asked with a cheeky grin as Laura made her way over to the dryer.

Laura narrowed her eyes at Carmilla then opened the dryer and looked in at her clothes. If she shoved them all in her bag, what was her excuse to stay? She wasn’t ready to leave Carmilla’s company yet, but she didn’t want her thinking that she would endlessly hang out in a laundromat with bad fluorescent lighting and ugly linoleum tiles for her. She was an independent woman, thank you very much. She didn’t need to linger for some girl.

Except she really, really wanted to.

She made a decision, knowing that it was a silly one because her clothes would inevitably just become wrinkled on the trip home and she’d have to fold them again later, but it gave her something to do to keep her in the laundromat and it kept her hands busy so they couldn’t get all grabby-grabby with Carmilla and do things that would make her blush.

She pulled a shirt out of the dryer and began to fold it on the nearest washing machine.

“That’s new,” Carmilla commented, sauntering closer.

“What?”

“You folding clothes.”

Laura furrowed her brows. “I DO fold my clothes, you know.”

“Not normally here, though,” Carmilla pointed out.

Laura hated that she’d picked up on her abnormal behavior so quickly. She shrugged and did her best to look nonchalant. “It’ll save me time once I get home. That way I can go straight to bed.”

“Especially tired, are you?”

There was no doubt in Laura’s mind that Carmilla was having far too much fun teasing her right now.

“I just want to get these folded here. Is that a crime?”

Carmilla smirked and moved closer, her front almost touching Laura’s back but not quite. It made the hair on the back of Laura’s neck stand on end.

“Missed you too, cutie,” Carmilla murmured in her ear, and then there was merely the sensation of empty space behind her.

A shiver ran down Laura’s spine, and when she looked around, Carmilla was perched on a washing machine, watching her with a smirk that Laura had half a mind to kiss right off of her. She took a deep breath and turned back to her folding.

--

Laura had finished folding the clothes out of one dryer and was starting on the clothes from the second when she finally felt like she might internally combust if Carmilla didn’t stop watching her with those sultry eyes and that interested smirk.

“Can you stop?!?” she demanded, rounding on Carmilla. She was quite the sight, leaning on one hand, legs crossed, head tilted to the side, tongue sliding slowly along her lips. Laura swallowed hard, feeling her face flush as arousal washed through her.

“Stop what?” Carmilla asked, her smirk growing.

“Looking at me like that!”

“Like what?” Carmilla’s face was the picture of innocence, but there was a glint of amusement in her eyes that only served to rile Laura up more.

“Like you want to eat me,” Laura retorted, her blush deepening at the lecherous grin that spread across Carmilla’s face.

Carmilla trailed her tongue slowly over her lips again, and a shiver ran down Laura’s spine. “Is that so?”

Oh god, she did. She wanted to eat her. And not in the vampire way.

…Probably not in the vampire way.

…Maybe, possibly in the vampire way, but ALSO not in the vampire way.

Laura’s whole body flushed with heat and she was sure that the blush that had been gracing her cheeks was now stretched well down her throat and across her chest.

Carmilla tilted her head back and sniffed. “Seems like you’d be okay with that, though.”

Oh, Jesus!

Laura swallowed hard and turned hastily back to her laundry, trying to settle herself. She was not aroused by the very sexy vampire. She was not aroused by the image that had popped unbidden to her mind of Carmilla on her knees right there in the laundromat, head between Laura’s legs. Nope. Not aroused. The opposite of aroused.

Fuck.

It was not helping. She was aroused. Screw the laundry. The laundry could wait. Kissing could not. Kissing needed to happen right fucking now or Laura was going to combust.

Laura turned again, and was about to grin when she saw Carmilla sliding off the washing machine and make some clever comment about how Carmilla was clearly just as eager as she was, when she noticed the tension in Carmilla’s body and the absence of the smirk that had been so large just moments before from her face.

“Laur—” Carmilla began to say, but before she could get out the last syllable, suddenly they were no longer alone.

To say that the woman striding down the aisle towards them had a commanding presence would’ve been an understatement. The woman oozed confidence from every pore, her hips jutting from side to side with a swagger that said in no indefinite terms that she was exactly aware of how attractive she was and nobody had better forget just how attractive that was. She held herself with an elegance and poise that Laura could only dream of, and yet…

Laura froze, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. A voice at the back of her mind was shouting “DANGER! DANGER!” Laura listened. She did her best to appear smaller than normal as Carmilla stepped between her and the stranger.

“Kitty cat!” the woman declared, spreading her arms wide and pulling Carmilla into a hug, spinning her around, and moving deftly past her, striding on towards Laura.

“So this is your little pet that has Mother so concerned,” the woman declared, coming to a stop directly in front of Laura, who had to resist the urge to run. (She was no coward, after all. Besides, Carmilla would save her… Right?)

Laura couldn’t help but admire the perfectly coifed black hair, flawless dark skin, and luscious lips of the stranger who now stood before her, even as she tried to keep her legs from shaking beneath her. The woman was stunning, if more than a little intimidating.

The woman’s hand came up and gripped her chin, turning her head from side to side. Her grip was firm to the verge of painful, and Laura’s eyes sought out Carmilla, who looked smaller than she’d ever seen her. Every muscle in Carmilla’s body seemed tense.

“Well, she is a pretty little thing, isn’t she? Just your taste.” The woman let go of Laura’s face, and Laura brought up her hand to rub her chin, shooting the woman a reproachful look.

“Mattie,” Carmilla said, stepping forward, half reaching towards Laura, but not actually touching her. Maybe it was just Laura’s imagination, but Carmilla almost seemed a touch embarrassed, though clearly she was still on edge. “So lovely to see you. When did you get into town?”

“Earlier today,” Mattie replied, shooting Carmilla a smirk that Laura found incredibly familiar. Mattie’s eyes darted from Laura to Carmilla and back and the sly smirk on her face stretched wider. “Does she know that you’ve been parked outside her window for weeks attempting to keep Maman and Will at bay?”

Laura’s eyes went wide and her heart raced faster. Will…wait, as in the brother that Carmilla had mentioned? So Carmilla’s mother and brother had wanted to get at her and Carmilla had spent the past few weeks protecting her? So it HAD been Carmilla that she’d caught a glimpse of outside her window! And Carmilla…Carmilla really cared. She hadn’t abandoned Laura at all! She’d been looking out for her the whole time. Laura was torn between fear at what Carmilla’s mother and Will might want with her and being thrilled at the idea that Carmilla cared so much that she’d go against her family for her.

“Well, she does now,” Carmilla muttered, looking flustered.

“Wait, you called her Maman…as in, she’s your mother, too?” Laura interjected, her brain catching up to her ears and her surprise overwhelming her fear. “So you’re Carmilla’s sister?”

“Guilty as charged,” Mattie replied, eying her appraisingly. Laura wasn’t sure she approved of what she saw.

“Mattie, Laura. Laura, my sister, Mattie,” Carmilla supplied the introduction, gesturing from one to the other and back.

“You know,” Mattie said, turning back to Carmilla, “protecting this little…human and her friends is going to cost you.”

How Mattie had managed to make ‘human’ sound like a dirty word, Laura didn’t know, but she definitely didn’t appreciate it. She crossed her arms and glared at Mattie.

“Maman has gone to great lengths to assure us a certain status and privacy here. She doesn’t appreciate the potential…inconvenience that these impetuous and unvetted walking hors d’oeuvres pose. You remember the days of angry mobs, don’t you, darling?”

“I remember you having fun making mincemeat of them, yes,” Carmilla replied, and Laura couldn’t help feeling just a little appalled at both the implication, and the almost fond smirk that now played at Carmilla’s lips.

Mattie grinned, and gave a small nod. “Yes, well, Maman is not going to stand for this, no matter how sweet that one tastes.”

Laura opened her mouth to declare that Carmilla wouldn’t know what she tasted like, thank you very much, but Carmilla spoke before she had the chance. (Laura didn’t miss the way Carmilla had managed to position herself more firmly between Mattie and herself.)

“You’ve never really cared about Mother’s wishes. You could always tell her I’ve…” Carmilla waved her hands in the air vaguely, clearly searching for an idea. “Tell her I’ve abandoned any ideas of being with her and am back to free-feeding,” Carmilla suggested.

Laura froze as realization dawned on her. Carmilla hadn’t had to soak any clothes today. She hadn’t been feeding in a way that would result in a mess. Did that mean she hadn’t been feeding off of living, breathing people? Had she been feeding exclusively from blood from blood banks? The thought made Laura’s heart thump a little harder, and she glanced Carmilla’s way. Had Carmilla done that for her? The idea made her swoon, just a little.

“Mmm,” Mattie mused, “I could. Perhaps I will… For a taste.”

In a blur, Mattie was around Carmilla and behind Laura, one hand gripping her arm, the other brushing hair away from Laura’s neck and tilting her head to the side.

Carmilla’s eyes went wide and she reached out, her body tense. “Mattie!” Carmilla cried, her tone warning.

Laura felt like her heart was going to pound out of her chest, and she didn’t dare move a muscle as Mattie’s lips brushed the exposed skin of her throat. She could feel Mattie’s smile there, and knew, without needing to see it, that it wasn’t a kind one. Laura couldn’t stop the frightened gasp as teeth pricked at her skin.

“MATTIE, NO!” Carmilla yelled, in a voice so commanding, Laura didn’t know how anyone could ever resist it.

She felt Mattie hesitate at her neck, and then there was a rush of warm air as Mattie sighed against her skin, the pinpoints of pain disappearing from her throat.

Mattie stepped around Laura towards Carmilla and trailed a hand affectionately through Carmilla’s hair. “My, my. You do have it bad for this one, don’t you? Very well. I’ve got a meeting in Paris tomorrow, and I was planning a bit of fun afterwards.” Mattie pulled her hand back and stood up taller, straightening her long, expensive-looking, black coat. “I’ll be back in a month. Do try to have worked her out of your system by then.”

Carmilla’s shoulders sagged in relief, but Laura wasn’t ready to relax until Mattie was out of the laundromat.

Mattie strode towards the door with as much confidence as she’d entered. She paused in the doorway, and looked darkly back at Carmilla. “And be careful, sis. You know there’s no lying to Maman. Not really. I’d hate to come back to find you buried again.”

With that she was gone, and Laura sagged, legs crumpling beneath her. She didn’t go far, though, because Carmilla’s strong arms were circled around her in a flash, holding her up. Laura sank gratefully into the embrace, tucking her face into the crook for Carmilla’s neck.

Laura breathed deeply, taking comfort from Carmilla, before the conversation began to replay in her head and questions began to sprout up like weeds. She pulled away as soon as she felt solid enough on her feet to do so, and looked awkwardly up at Carmilla.

Carmilla, for her part, seemed a touch uncomfortable as well.

“Look, about my sister —” Carmilla began at the same time that Laura said, “What did she mean it would cost you? And what did she mean by that last thing?!”

Carmilla sighed. “You should go, Laura. It’s not… I’m not… You should —”

“I’m not going anywhere without some answers! Carmilla… What did she mean? What will it cost you? What did she mean ‘buried again’?!”

Carmilla looked from Laura to the still unfolded laundry in the dryer and to the still running dryer with her clothes in it.

“Not here,” Carmilla said, glancing towards the door, and moving quickly to the machine with Laura’s clothes.

“Carmilla!” Laura tried to protest, but Carmilla was already shoving the rest of her clothes into her bag with no regard for the already folded clothes in it.

“It was stupid of me to come back. I knew they knew about the laundromat, but I thought they’d decided I was done, so I could risk it. If Maman called Mattie in, then we’re not safe here.”

“But your clothes aren’t done,” Laura protested, not really sure why she wasn’t completely panicked at Carmilla’s words.

“Good thing somebody’s been holding the rest of my wardrobe hostage, then,” Carmilla replied with a smirk, but the worry in her eyes betrayed the levity in her voice. Carmilla slung Laura’s bag over her shoulder and headed towards the door.

“Carmilla,” Laura said, stepping forward and putting a hand on Carmilla’s arm. There was one question that she needed an answer to now.

Carmilla turned to face her apprehensively.

“The life that was on the line… It was mine?”

Carmilla looked away and adjusted the bag on her shoulder, but it was all the answer that Laura needed.

Carmilla reached out and took Laura’s hand. “Come on. Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

“Where are we going?”

“Away from the laundromat,” Carmilla responded in a tone of voice that suggested that that should be obvious.

“To???” Laura demanded. She was getting a little breathless as Carmilla whisked her along. Along in the direction she normally took home. “WAIT! Are we going to my place??”

“Less questions, more walking,” Carmilla instructed, picking up her pace.

Laura was practically running to keep up. “We’re going to my house? Look, I should probably just text Danny. She’s sorry about what happened, but, I mean, showing up with you out of the blue –”

“We do not have time for you to warn the hothead,” Carmilla replied, not slowing at all.

“But why? Mattie made it sound like we had time. We’ve got at least a month. Why are we rushing?”

Carmilla continued on without responding, but Laura was losing her patience for the lack of replies. Laura snatched her hand from Carmilla’s firm grasp, aware that she’d probably only managed it because she’d caught her off guard.

Carmilla whirled around, brows furrowed and lips tight. Her eyes darted around before settling on Laura, and her foot began to tap impatiently.

“Carmilla! Why are we rushing to my apartment? Why did Mattie scare you so much? If the laundromat isn’t safe, is my apartment?”

Carmilla rolled her eyes. “You always have to ask the questions, don’t you? You always need to know the answers!”

“It’s good to know answers before you just blindly agree to things,” Laura replied defensively.

Carmilla sighed, glanced around once more, and dragged Laura down a dark side street.

“First of all,” Carmilla began in a hushed voice, speaking through clenched teeth, eyes focused towards the street, “just because Mattie gave us more time, doesn’t mean Maman didn’t send Will or one of her other minions after us as well, and they might not be so generous.” Carmilla leaned in closer, her breath falling hotly on Laura’s ear as she spoke, even as her focus remained elsewhere.

Despite the sense of danger, Laura felt her body react to Carmilla’s proximity. She couldn’t help it. It really wasn’t her fault. After how many times they’d been interrupted, or she’d interrupted them tonight, she was a little ball of sexual frustration.

“Your apartment is, I assume, where your belongings are, and I’m guessing you’re the type who’ll want to pack some of them before skipping town—”

“What? I’m not skipping town, I thought you—”

Carmilla snapped her focus to Laura, her eyes boring into Laura’s and cutting off her train of thought. Had her eyes always been so dark? Had they always been so…fucking gorgeous?

Laura flushed with heat as she stared into Carmilla’s eyes, the thought of danger slipping further and further from her mind.

“Mattie, didn’t scare me, but what Maman might do…” Carmilla trailed off and her eyes flitted to Laura’s lips. “Your apartment,” Carmilla continued, her voice huskier than it had been a moment before, “is safe enough for now.”

“For now?” Laura echoed, not properly processing the words at all. Her eyes dropped to Carmilla’s lips. They were so close, and they looked so soft…and inviting.

“Maybe not for long,” Carmilla replied, her breath falling on Laura’s lips, and Laura breathed her in.

A small voice at the back of Laura’s mind was jumping up and down trying to get her attention, yelling “Danger! Urgent danger! This is not the time for smooches!”

The rest of Laura’s mind ignored it in favor of urging her to press up onto the balls of her feet just a little.

“Guess we shouldn’t dawdle, then,” Laura murmured, her lips almost brushing against Carmilla’s as she spoke. She brought a hand up and let her finger curl a stray lock of hair around it. God, it was soft. Was hair allowed to be that soft?

She leaned in just the tiniest bit more, her lips ghosting against Carmilla’s, the barest hint of a kiss. Something in the back of her brain was still screaming that this wasn’t the time or the place, but the spark that she felt just at the faint touch overwhelmed all thoughts of common sense. Her lips were tingling with need and excitement, and it truly felt like she might die if she didn’t finally get a proper kiss.

“Fuck,” Carmilla growled, and then Laura forgot all about urgency or danger or even breathing because Carmilla’s lips were pressed firmly to hers.

The back of Laura’s head thudded against the brick of a building, but she barely noticed as she threw her arms around Carmilla’s neck, drawing her in closer. Carmilla’s body pressed in against hers until there was no more room for air between them. Laura felt lost in a sea of sensations as Carmilla’s hands fell to her hips, gripping her tightly, her lips moved smoothly against her own. Every place that Carmilla’s body pressed against her own danced with electricity, every nerve ending felt like it was on the verge of combustion.

Laura never wanted to let go, she never wanted to stop doing this.

She hummed into Carmilla’s mouth as she let her tongue swipe across Carmilla’s lower lip. She grinned into the kiss when she was instantly rewarded by Carmilla’s lips parting for her. There was a hint of copper amidst the surprising sweetness as their tongues danced together. Somehow Carmilla’s touch, her lips, her tongue, all managed to be forceful but soft, slow but intense. Laura couldn’t tell if her heart was still beating, but she didn’t really care as long as Carmilla’s lips never left hers.

As many times as she’d imagined this kiss (and it was far more than she’d ever admit aloud), it had never been as good as this. It had never been as MUCH as this. There was an intensity, a passion, that Laura could feel consuming her from the inside out as heat settled low in her stomach.

Carmilla’s fingers dug into her hips, on the verge of painful, holding her close, possessively claiming her. Laura’s hands tangled in Carmilla’s hair, pulling on the back of her neck, keeping her there, keeping her kissing her.

“Wait,” Carmilla gasped against her lips, before reclaiming them a split-second later.

A guttural noise escaped Laura’s mouth only to be swallowed by Carmilla’s that Laura could only hope conveyed that she had no intention of waiting or stopping at all, ever.

Carmilla shifted against her, hips locking against her own, fitting there as if they were made to, one piece of a puzzle fitting perfectly against another.

Laura let one hand fall to the small of Carmilla’s back, flattening it there, feeling the strip of cool exposed skin. Her fingers itched to travel more, to explore the smooth expanses of skin that lay just beneath that infernally seductive clothing that Carmilla always insisted on wearing. She trailed her fingers along the hem of Carmilla’s lacy top.

Carmilla’s tongue slid against her own, sending shivers of excitement straight down to her core.

She wanted more. More touching. More kissing. She wanted more of everything.  

“Mmm,” she hummed into Carmilla’s mouth in a vain attempt to convey her need for more without needing to remove Carmilla’s tongue from her mouth.

“Hmm?” Carmilla replied, and Laura felt the sound vibrate all the way down to her toes.

Laura’s hand pressed more firmly on Carmilla’s back, and Carmilla shifted again, pushing a leg between Laura’s.

Oh God. The pressure was light through her jeans, but it was something, and Laura wasn’t entirely sure that she wasn’t actually on fire at this point.

“No, wait!” Carmilla said, tearing her lips away from Laura’s and stepping out of her embrace.

Carmilla moved to the opposite side of the narrow street and leaned against the building, facing away from Laura.

Laura frowned even as she panted for breath, the sudden absence of Carmilla’s touch leaving her shivering in the cold night air despite the heat that was still coursing low in her gut. “Carm?” she asked, her voice coming out as small and confused as she felt. She had had Carmilla right there, kissing her. Why was she not doing that anymore? Why was so far away? That wasn’t right. Laura took a step towards Carmilla, and then dark eyes turned to look at her with more lust than she’d ever seen.

“Not here,” Carmilla growled, her voice low and husky. “Not safe.”

Laura barely had a second to catch her breath before Carmilla’s hand was firmly back in hers, and she was being dragged out of the side-street and on down the road towards her apartment. Now that she was no longer distracted by the feel of Carmilla’s lips on hers, she couldn’t help consider the possibility of their combustion once they were behind closed doors.

--

She shouldn’t have worried about combustion. Of course, she shouldn’t have. Of course, she should have known that her natural bumbling awkwardness around people she actually likes would take over the second Carmilla stepped into her apartment.

It was just…In the laundromat it was like a different world. It was their little bubble of space and time in the middle of the night. Even in the side-street on the way home it had only felt like an extension of that. Now, here, standing awkwardly in her apartment and giving a horrible tour of her apartment by waving vaguely in the general direction of what she mentioned, it felt suddenly real. Carmilla was here, really, in her real life. She wasn’t just some sexy figment of her imagination. She wasn’t just some unattainable fantasy. She was here, looking somewhat uncomfortable, yet still amused, biting her lower lip as her eyes stayed fixed on Laura.

Laura heard a faint snore from down the hall. “And that would be Danny’s room,” she muttered, a blush creeping up her cheeks.

“I know, I can smell her,” Carmilla replied, making a slightly disgusted face.

Laura wrinkled her nose. “Okay, that’s still a little weird.”

Carmilla smirked. “Vampire. Comes with the package,” she said, gesturing up and down her body.

Laura’s eyes trailed down Carmilla’s body slowly, and then snapped back up only to find that she’d been caught ogling her. Carmilla’s smirk widened and Laura blushed deeper. She cleared her throat. “Right, well, anyway, this is it. So…” She trailed off, unsure of what to do or say now. The manners that her father had drilled into her sprang to mind. “Oh! Can I get you anything? Do you want anything to eat or drink?”

Carmilla’s eyes trailed slowly over Laura. “What exactly are you offering?”

Laura remembered who she was talking to and felt her cheeks flush an even darker shade of red. “Um, you know, like, water? Hot chocolate? Can you eat or drink regular food? Have we talked about this? I can’t remember. Oh, well, you had champagne, so clearly you can drink things that aren’t blood, but —”

“Laura!” Carmilla cut her off. “As adorable as you are when you ramble, I think you’re forgetting why we’re here.”

“I don’t think you ever properly explained why we’re here. In fact,” Laura continued, realization of just how ignorant she was of this entire situation, “I don’t think you ever properly explained any of this.”

Carmilla looked slightly sheepish. “Pack first, I’ll explain later.”

“Ummm…No? I’m not packing anything. I’m not going to run away just because your sister threatened me. She’s gone for a month and you protected me.”

“Mattie isn’t the issue!”

“Okay, but there’s no guarantee your mother’s going to come after me.”

“Oh, trust me, there’s a guarantee,” Carmilla muttered.

“She told you she would?”

“She doesn’t have to,” Carmilla replied.

Laura sighed. She knew that Carmilla had a complicated relationship with her mother. That much had been made clear. Could the vampire possibly be as bad as Carmilla made her out to be, though?

Laura remembered the prick of Mattie’s teeth on her neck and shivered. She had been all power and confidence, and she hadn’t hesitated, but for Carmilla intervening. If that was the family member that Carmilla WASN’T scared of, then…

“Look, I definitely can’t just up and leave in the middle of the night without warning or explanation. You’ve seen Danny. She’ll send out a search party. And you haven’t met my dad, but he’s twice as bad as Danny in the overprotective department. Do you know how long it took me to convince him to let me go away to university? I can’t just disappear!”

“Your friends should go too.”

Laura let out a laugh, but there was nothing humorous about it. “You don’t really just expect me to wake up my friends in the middle of the night and get them to pack to leave to…to…God knows where without so much as an explanation, do you?”

It was Carmilla’s turn to sigh. “Laura, I’m trying to keep you safe. I don’t actually give a rat’s ass if the giant and the mad scientist get away or not, but I’m sure you do, so if you want to protect them, then yes, that’s exactly what I expect.”

Laura’s brows furrowed and she crossed her arms. “I’m not going anywhere until you explain some things.”

Carmilla studied her for a long minute. “You’re really not just going to accept, ‘because you’re in danger’ as a reason, are you?”

“Nope,” Laura replied, jutting out her chin defiantly. She couldn’t just run from danger. Especially when she knew virtually nothing about the danger. Carmilla might be blowing everything way out of proportion. (Okay, probably not, since it did involve vampires, but still…)

Carmilla nodded towards the couch and moved to sit on it. “Fine, but then you’re packing and leaving.”

“Get talking,” Laura replied, not willing to commit to fleeing. She followed Carmilla to the couch and sat down beside her, acutely aware of how easily Carmilla seemed to be making herself at home in her apartment. How did she manage to look effortlessly sexy no matter where she was? It really wasn’t fair. (Not to mention it was a little distracting.)

Carmilla sighed again. “What do you want to know?”

Laura contemplated that for a moment, then turned to Carmilla. “All of it. From Maman raising you on. Why does she scare you so much?”

“Buckle up, creampuff. It’s gonna be a long night.”

--

“It was a good life…death, I guess. Luxury, excess, decadence. Mattie and I would paint one town red after another, returning to Maman to help with one scheme or another. She settled here when she grew tired of the angry mobs and the hunters. Comfort and wealth were easy to accumulate if you knew how and she did. I have no confirmation, but I think someone got too close to her once.”

“Emotionally?”

“No one gets emotionally close to Maman. I think someone got too close for comfort in threatening her. I’m sure she squished them like a bug, but…it’s when she started the vetting system. You live here, you feed off of people approved. People with no connections. People who are enamored with vampires. People who won’t be missed or won’t complain. They know what they sign up for, and if someone gets overzealous, then it’s on them for getting involved with vampires in the first place. Away from here you can feed on who you choose. Here you feed on who Maman approves and no one else, or you risk the wrath of Maman. We don’t hide, but we don’t make ourselves known either. No need to risk those angry mobs, or so she reminds us. It was easy enough to enjoy myself abroad and only come when Mother beckoned. Usually she wanted me when recruits were running low. I’m good at…” Carmilla glanced at Laura, who felt her stomach twisting in anticipation of where this was headed. It was not a pleasant sensation.

Carmilla sighed, looked away, and continued. “I’m good at enticing those who are on the fence, and Maman always says that I have exquisite taste. I find the tastiest morsels for her to add to her collection of potential meals, or so she claims.”

“Oh,” Laura murmured. It was stupid, she knew, but she couldn’t help feeling a tad jealous. She had no doubt that enticing meant seducing and the thought for girl after girl falling into Carmilla’s bed before becoming part of her mother’s human cafeteria made Laura nauseous.

“Sometimes there would be girls that Mother had lined up for me to seduce, sometimes I’d find them on my own following Maman’s strict guidelines,” Carmilla continued, staring off into space. “Sometimes they were fun, sometimes they were tiresome, either way I didn’t spend much time with them, until…”

Laura felt the jealousy in her gut twisting tighter and she bit her lip to keep from interrupting.

Carmilla sighed and her demeanor changed, her face growing sad, her shoulders drooping. “Until Ell.”

Laura instantly hated the name, or at least the way it fell from Carmilla’s lips. Carmilla paused and the silence felt like it dragged on forever. There was no clock in the room, but Laura could practically hear the seconds ticking away, each one passing slower than the last.

“Ell?” she prompted when she couldn’t stand the silence a moment longer.

Carmilla lifted her head and looked at Laura as if she’d almost forgotten that she was there, and then she nodded. “Ell. Beautiful, funny, sweet…I fell for her. I didn’t want her to become just another easily discarded snack for Maman and her children. I wanted her to myself. I wanted her…” Carmilla took a deep breath before continuing, “I wanted her to be mine. I wanted her forever.”

Laura swallowed hard and tried not to let the way it was suddenly harder for her to breathe show.

“There was a problem, though. Maman didn’t trust her. She didn’t fit Maman’s guidelines. She wasn’t vetted. I didn’t have permission to tell her what we were, and I definitely wasn’t allowed to feed from her. It didn’t matter at first, because I didn’t want to let her see the monster that I was.”

Laura reached out and put her hand on Carmilla’s without thinking, and Carmilla’s eyes fell to it and a sad smile flicked across her face. “You’re no monster, Carm.”

Carmilla’s eyes didn’t raise to meet hers, but her sad smile grew slightly, flashing a pair of sharp fangs. A moment later the fangs and the smile were gone. “I thought…I thought maybe if I could make her fall in love with me, then it wouldn’t matter what I was because…it doesn’t matter. I was wrong and foolish, and I paid for my stupidity. There was a reason that Maman disapproved. She forbade me from seeing her, but I didn’t listen, and when she told me she loved me I told her what I was. She didn’t seem to care, and for the first time in my life after death I felt truly…I thought I was happy. But the truth was, when I told her, she already knew. She’d known from the start and her feelings for me…” Carmilla’s voice cracked and she swallowed hard. “She was a hunter’s daughter, who had been trying to flush us out, all of us, to kill us. She had been using me, and she’d never felt a thing for me. Maman ripped her throat out right in front of me, as soon as Ell told me the truth, and then she dealt with the rest of her family and the mob that they had been accumulating.”

Certain things began to click into place in Laura’s head, and she remembered Mattie’s parting words with a sinking feeling. “When Mattie said that she didn’t want you to be buried again. Did it have something to do with Ell?”

Carmilla nodded, her thumb tracing idly over the back of Laura’s hand. “I had disobeyed. I had decided on my own who to trust, and for that I had to pay.”

“So she buried you?” Laura asked in dismay.

“In a coffin full of blood to waste away the centuries and think about what I’d done. I could have destroyed her whole family for someone who didn’t even care for me. Maman told me it was for my own good. Because she loved me she had to do it.”

“Because she loved her cushy lifestyle, more like,” Laura muttered, her heart welling up imagining Carmilla submerged in darkness and blood. “But you got out.”

Carmilla nodded. “The great war came and tanks tore up the earth and I got set free. Not in Maman’s plans, but she found me more useful above ground than buried beneath it, so she didn’t rebury me. I stay gone as much as I can, but sometimes she calls me back. I’m as noncompliant as I can be. Some girls get scared home to their families. Some of them find enough sense to disappear on their own. Some of them become one in a chain of snacks.”

“So after all of that, after being buried and Ell’s betrayal…why tell me?”

“Hmm?” Carmilla’s eyes finally looked up to meet her own.

“Why did you tell me you were a vampire that first night? Why risk telling me and breaking your mother’s rules?”

Carmilla studied her for a long minute until Laura began to squirm under the intensity of her gaze. Carmilla pulled her hand from Laura’s and brought it up to brush some hair back from her face, and Laura turned into the touch without thinking.

“Because I’m foolish,” Carmilla murmured softly, “and you intrigued me.”

“And I thought you were an axe murderer.”

“Had to clarify that my weapon of choice was teeth, not an axe,” she replied, a small smirk tugging at her lips.

“So when LaFontaine worked it out and then we told Danny —”

“And the overbearing Amazon decided to come at me with a stake, it solidified Maman’s preaching that only those that are vetted can be told and fed off of.”

“But you didn’t leave me alone.”

Carmilla shook her head and leaned her forehead against Laura’s, and Laura felt her heart begin to race.

“Maman is constantly suspicious of me and she’s only grown more so since I’ve met you. She sent my brother to follow me one night and he saw you leave. Once they knew you existed, I knew they’d suspect that I’d told you, and if they knew I had for sure…Laura, you have to go. You and your friends.”

“I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving you. I’m not leaving school. I’m not just gonna run away.”

Carmilla pulled back and looked away. “Then you’ll die.”

Laura shuddered, though she couldn’t tell if it was from the matter-of-fact way Carmilla said that or the sudden absence of her touch.  “You’ll protect me.”

Carmilla looked her dead in the eyes, and for the first time Laura saw fear there. “I won’t be able to,” Carmilla replied.

Laura swallowed hard. “We can fight her.”

Carmilla let out a bitter laugh. “You are so incredibly stubborn!”

Laura couldn’t deny that, but she knew there had to be another way besides running. “You mother needs to be stopped. She’s…she’s just using people so she can live some comfortable extravagant life. That’s not right.”

“She’s a vampire. Right doesn’t really matter to her.”

“It matters to you.”

“Not really,” Carmilla contradicted.

Laura frowned. “I don’t believe that.”

“Believe what you want, cupcake,” Carmilla replied with a shrug.

Laura growled in frustration. “I’m not running away!” she declared.

“Laura—” Carmilla sighed.

“No! I’m not! I can’t! We don’t even know for sure how much your mother knows or if she knows where to find me or Danny or LaF. I’m not just going to ask my friends to uproot their lives. I’m not going to abandon my life!”

Carmilla was shaking her head, but Laura carried on.

“I’m not going to abandon you,” Laura said more softly.

Carmilla’s eyes met hers once more. She held the gaze, then nodded, ever-so-slightly. “Okay, so what’s your master plan, then?”

Laura hesitated. “Well, I don’t really have one.”

“Shocking,” Carmilla muttered sarcastically.

“Hey! We’ll…We’ll convene a council of war and we’ll come up with one.”

“I hope your friends have their wills drawn up.”

Laura glared, then she felt a yawn sneaking up on her. She tried to fight it, but it overtook her and suddenly she could feel fatigue sinking in, overwhelming her body.

“You should sleep. You’re going to need rest if you’re going to draw up some idiotic battle plan.”

Laura glared again. “Thanks for the vote of confidence,” she muttered through another yawn.

Carmilla shrugged. “I call them like a see them.” She stood and offered her hand to Laura.

Laura hesitated, then took it, feeling heat rush through her at the contact despite her exhaustion. She let Carmilla pull her to standing, but the tug was just a touch too hard, and Laura found herself stumbling into Carmilla’s arms.

“You’re staying, though, right?” Laura asked, hating the insecurity that laced every word.

Carmilla leaned down and placed a tender, chaste kiss to her lips that stood in such contrast to the ones they’d shared on the walk home. “You might be the death of me, but yes.”

Laura frowned. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

Carmilla chuckled and wrapped her arms around Laura’s waist, holding her closer. “Do you always worry about the wrong things, cupcake?”

“It’s not wrong to worry about someone I care about,” Laura muttered indignantly.

Carmilla pulled back enough to look Laura in the eyes, but before she could say anything, a thought struck Laura.

“How did you know I wasn’t a hunter’s daughter? How did you know that I wasn’t just like Ell?”

Carmilla glanced away, then brought her eyes back to meet Laura’s. Laura couldn’t read the look she saw there. “Hunters are rare these days,” Carmilla finally muttered. “Bed. Now.”

“Is that an order, or…?” Laura replied in the most suggestive tone of voice she could muster that was dampened somewhat by the yawn that interrupted her.

Carmilla raised an eyebrow at her and smirked. “Well, would you look at that. The creampuff isn’t as innocent as she let on, after all.”

Carmilla’s hands guided her to turn around and nudged her in the direction of her bedroom. “Sleep for you tonight. Idiotic planning tomorrow.”

Laura reached groggily for Carmilla’s hand, missing at first, but then finding it. “Okay, but you’re coming with me.”

“I’m not the snuggly type.”

“Tough,” Laura muttered, the last remains of her energy going in to her defiant tone. “I am.”

Chapter Text

Laura smiled before she even opened her eyes. She could feel the firm pressure of Carmilla’s arm wrapped around her waist, and the warmth of Carmilla’s body pressed against her back. She sighed contentedly and wrapped Carmilla’s arm tighter around her.

“Morning, sunshine,” Carmilla’s voice murmured in her ear with a husky quality that made heat pool low in Laura’s stomach. “Did you know you snore?”

Laura tensed and felt a blush creeping up her cheeks. “I do not!”

She felt Carmilla’s low chuckle vibrate through her body, sending tingles down her spine to the tips of her toes.

“You do,” Carmilla countered, and Laura could hear the amusement in her voice.

Laura turned around, maneuvering herself so that Carmilla’s arm stayed around her, but now they were face to face. She swallowed hard taking in Carmilla’s dark eyes, feeling her leg stretch and rub against her own.

Her protests about snoring dying on her tongue as the impossible beauty that was Carmilla with soft rays of sunlight playing across her features. She took a deep breath and managed a small, “Hi.”

“Hi,” Carmilla replied.

Laura could feel her breath ghosting against her cheek, and she barely dared breathe herself. Her eyes traced over every line and every curve of Carmilla’s face, committing it to memory as the most beautiful thing that she’d ever had the privilege to witness. God, she was so close, and they were already touching. She could just lean in a little bit more and…

Oh. She didn’t need to. Carmilla’s lips were soft as they pressed tenderly against hers, but they sent flames racing through Laura, just the same.

Carmilla broke the chaste kiss, her lips lingering so that they just barely brushed against Laura’s as she breathed, and then Laura was bringing their lips crashing back together.

Laura felt Carmilla’s hand splay across the curve of her back, pulling her in closer, and she slid her hand up into Carmilla’s hair, letting silky strands curl around her fingers as the kiss deepened.

A throat clearing brought her back to reality a moment later, and she froze, her lips still on Carmilla’s, their breath falling hotly into each other’s mouths, their chests rising and falling as one.

“Not that I mind you doing…that in your room, but you could have closed the door.” It was clear from her tone of voice that Danny was trying to choose her words carefully.

Laura pulled back from Carmilla and sat up, turning to face her roommate.

“I thought I had.”

“I opened it. I wanted to be able to see danger coming,” Carmilla said, sitting up behind Laura.

Danny looked suddenly guilty. “Oh, um, look, Carmilla, I’m really sorry, I just heard vampire and –“

“Not you, Xena. Relax. I saw your signs in the window.”

“Oh,” Danny mumbled, and Laura was happy to see that she wasn’t the only one in the house with an active blush reflex. “Wait, then what danger?”

Laura glanced over her shoulder and saw Carmilla running her fingers through her hair as she sighed.

“Yeaaaah, about that,” Laura began, turning back to Danny. “We should probably talk.”

--

“No way. We’re not leaving! We can’t just flee when we don’t even have any knowledge of an immediate threat,” Danny declared.

Laura nodded along. “That’s what I said.”

“Hang on, I mean, I’m not advocating for running away with our tails between our legs, but we are talking about vampires here,” LaFontaine interjected.

“How many…vampires…can there really be around here, though? I mean, most of the town is the university,” Perry said, pacing back and forth and wringing her hands. “We should be safe.”

“Besides, we have midterms coming up. We can’t just ditch. I refuse to flunk out of college my sophomore year,” Laura stated firmly. She was putting her foot down. They were not going anywhere. 

“I don’t think any of you are quite grasping this situation,” Carmilla said, standing up with a sigh.

“You really expect us to leave school in the middle of a semester with midterms fast approaching?” Laura demanded.

“Yes, and you know why? Because my mother runs the university.”

Laura, Danny, LaFontaine, and Perry all turned as one to stare at Carmilla.

“What?” Laura asked, her voice wavering.

“She’s the Dean. The university is essentially her never-ending buffet.”

Laura stood there aghast. The Dean? The Dean was Carmilla’s vampire mother that had her running scared? The words played on loop in her head and realization dawned. “We’re screwed.”

“Now you’re getting it,” Carmilla replied.

“Okay, so we go to the Board. We get them to get rid of her,” Danny declared.

“If you think she hasn’t handpicked the Board, and they don’t know exactly who and what she is, you’re more short-sighted than I thought,” Carmilla countered.

 “Hey, I’m just trying to come up with a plan here –“ Danny replied defensively.

“Then how about one that doesn’t suck?” Carmilla suggested.

“Pretty sure the only one that sucks around here is you,” Danny muttered and Laura shot her a glare.

“Can’t you just take care of her, or something? You’re a-a…vampire, supposedly, right?” Perry interjected before Carmilla had a chance to respond.

Carmilla raised an eyebrow at her. “Trust me, I’m all vampire, but I’m not a complete idiot and I don’t have a death wish.”

“You’re already dead,” LaFontaine pointed out.

“I enjoy being able to walk about and drink and kiss pretty girls in my death. I’d rather it not become the more permanent kind,” Carmilla replied, shooting Laura a wink that made her blush when she mentioned kissing pretty girls.

“Okay, so what do we do?” Danny asked.

“I told you: run. Pack your bags, leave, and don’t look back,” Carmilla replied.

“Not an option,” Laura said. She knew she was being stubborn, but it just wasn’t who she was to run away. And would Carmilla really come with them? With her? Would she stay? Could she stay? And for how long?

“Maybe it’s something we should consider,” Perry countered, her voice growing shriller by the second.

“No. I’m not just going to abandon my life. What Carmilla’s mother is doing is wrong, and somebody should stop her. She can’t just endlessly recruit vulnerable students to feed her and not care when something goes wrong!”

“Most of them know what they’re signing up for, cupcake. Some people think that the risk is worth it.”

“Who would willingly sign up to be someone else’s FOOD?” Danny asked, shaking her head.

Carmilla shrugged. “People who want a little danger or excitement in their lives? People who have nothing to lose? People who think a little biting is kinda nice? Depending on who’s doing the feeding, it can be a rather…pleasurable experience.”

Laura felt her cheeks flush and she didn’t dare raise her eyes to meet Carmilla’s, which she could feel boring into her.

“Well, that doesn’t make it right,” Danny muttered.

“Look, people can get bitten if they want, but the deaths have to stop. You can’t just NOT care about people’s lives. We’re not disposable. And we’re not running. I say we make a stand,” Laura declared.

Carmilla’s face fell. “Creampuff, there’s no chance. Best case scenario? We all die.”

Danny let out a harsh laugh. “How is that the ‘best’ case?”

“Well, I don’t have to spend any more time buried in a coffin of blood in that version, and none of you have to go on living with regrets and misery, thinking what could have been if you’d just listened to me and how your friends might still be alive. Sounded like a better option to me,” Carmilla replied.

“It can’t just be hopeless!” Laura argued.

“Yes, it can,” Carmilla said in such a matter-of-fact tone that Laura had trouble not just believing her.

She couldn’t believe it though. She had to have hope. There always had to be hope, otherwise what was the point of bothering with anything?

“You tried to kill her once!” Laura remembered. “You told me that. Or you implied it, at least.”

“Tried being the operative word there, cutie. As in, failed.”

“How exactly did you try? Maybe we can learn from your mistakes?” LaFontaine suggested.

Carmilla bared her fangs and snarled in LaFontaine’s direction and Laura was aware of Danny tensing beside her. “My mistake was thinking I had a chance to take her down.”

“Just…tell us what happened?” Laura suggested calmly, putting a hand on Carmilla’s arm.

Carmilla looked down at Laura’s hand and then her fangs retracted. She shook he head sadly. She took a deep breath in, held it for a second, then sighed. “Fine. Whatever. Before Ell –”

“Who’s Ell?” Perry interrupted.

The look that Carmilla shot her way silenced any further questions.

“Before I found out who Ell really was, we talked about going against my mother. We thought, maybe with the element of surprise and the right weapons – When my mother took Ell, I thought I could save her. I thought if I acted quickly, I might be able to take her out, but Maman saw everything coming and the sword was…It didn’t work, and I couldn’t save Ell. Maman won and she made sure I knew she would the next time, too.”

“Oh,” Laura mumbled. She understood, now, why Carmilla was so sure of failure, but maybe she had just had the wrong strategy. “But... But there are more of us. And we’ll…We’ll find a better plan!”

“It’s a death wish, Laura,” Carmilla said, turning and taking her hands. Carmilla pulled her towards her and looked into her eyes. “Please, please just pack a bag and leave. Just go and save yourself. Save your friends.”

“And leave others to become meals for your vampire family? Let your mother keep using people just so that she can live in comfort and wealth? I can’t do that,” Laura replied. God, she wanted to just give in and run away with Carmilla, but how could she live with herself if she did that? “I’m sorry,” she said as Carmilla dropped her hands and turned away from her with a sigh. “I just can’t.”

“Laura’s not wrong, you know,” LaFontaine interjected. “There ARE more of us, and we have different strengths. Maybe together we CAN come up with a better plan.”

Laura knew that tone of voice. LaFontaine had an idea. “What’re you thinking, LaF?”

“Well, it’s definitely not a sword,” LaFontaine replied.

“There’s nothing wrong with swords. Swords are useful,” Danny pointed out. “And stakes.”

“Stakes are useless against my mother,” Carmilla informed her.

“If we go after your mother, she’s not going to be the only vampire we face, is she?” Danny asked.

Carmilla shook her head in confirmation. “Not by a long shot. There are more than a few that wouldn’t mind seeing me gone, either.”

“And stakes will kill them?”

“Some of them,” Carmilla replied. “Cutting off the head is better.”

“So we’re back to swords,” Danny pointed out.

“BUT,” LaFontaine interrupted, and all attention in the room turned back to them, “I think perhaps, what we really need is some science on our side.”

Laura frowned. What did LaFontaine mean? What science? How could it help them?

Carmilla groaned and LaFontaine grinned.

“Fangs gets it.”

“You’re going to make me your vampire pin-cushion, aren’t you?”

LaFontaine pretended they were offended. “I’m not going to stab you that many times!”

“Wait, what? Stabbing? You can’t stab my girlfriend!” Laura said in alarm, moving between Lafontaine and Carmilla.

“Girlfriend, huh?” Carmilla asked, moving in close behind her and trailing a hand up Laura’s arm.

Laura felt her face flush in embarrassment as she realized just what she’d said.

“Yeah, I caught that, too,” LaFontaine said. “Didn’t know you two had had that talk yet.”

Laura glared at them.

“We haven’t,” Carmilla informed them, and Laura didn’t have to turn to look to know there was a smirk on her face.

She could feel the blush spreading down her neck and across her chest.

“Is this the reddest she’s gotten?” LaFontaine asked.

“Hmm,” Carmilla hummed against Laura’s neck. “I don’t know. It’s close.”

“Don’t we have more important issues at hand?” Laura demanded. “Like how you’re not stabbing Carmilla?”

“They means with a needle, sweetheart,” Carmilla informed her with a gentle kiss to her head before stepping away.

“In an ironic little twist, I want her blood,” LaFontaine explained. “Though, not for drinking, in case there was any concern.”

Danny and Perry both made faces that reflected how Laura felt at that mental image.

“They think they can use my blood to create a biological weapon that could kill my mother,” Carmilla elaborated.

“Something like that,” LaFontaine agreed. “First, though,” they continued, pulling some empty vials from their pocket, “I need some samples.”

“You keep those on you at all times?” Laura asked, taking a step back.

LaFontaine frowned. “You don’t?”

--

“Yeah, totally. My bros and I would love to help. We’re all about protecting the hotties!”

Laura couldn’t resist the urge to roll her eyes. She loved Kirsch, she really did, but sometimes he was just a little too much of, well…a bro. Unlike some of his frat brothers, he was harmless. Still, it would be good to have them on board. They might have been more muscle than brains, but they’d do what Kirsch asked, and Kirsch would do what she asked. Really, the muscle would be a welcome addition to their small, but growing army.

Of course, the army wasn’t exactly lacking in muscle to begin with. They had some good woman-power from Danny’s Summer Society Sisters. Several of them had been friends with the sister that had disappeared when Danny was a freshman, Danny said, so recruiting them had been easy.

Still, they were only human and they were going up against vampires.

Laura and LaFontaine had spent most of the last day asking Carmilla as many questions as they could think of about vampire nature and vampire powers while Laura assisted LaFontaine in the ever-more-complicated experiments they were running on Carmilla’s blood.

Danny and Perry had gone off to the library in favor of doing some research in the surprisingly extensive rare archives section sometime around noon, and Laura hadn’t heard anything since.

“If you take much more blood, I’m going to need a snack,” Carmilla muttered, glaring at LaFontaine as they approached her with yet another empty vial.

“Well, fortunately, I considered that,” LaFontaine replied. “No biting necessary.”

“Well, that doesn’t sound like fun at all,” Carmilla said, shooting a smirk in Laura’s direction that made her flush with heat.

LaFontaine laughed and shook their head, then retrieved a bag of blood from the small fridge in the corner of the lab. “From the hospital’s blood bank,” they said when Laura shot them a questioning look.

“It’s cold,” Carmilla grumbled, taking the blood bag.

“It’s blood,” LaFontaine argued. “I think you’re fine.”

Carmilla glared, but poured some of the blood into her mouth anyway. She made a face as she swallowed.

“No good?” Laura asked.

Carmilla grinned. “Yours would be sweeter, cupcake.”

“How about you forgo the foreplay while I’m actively in the room,” LaFontaine suggested.

“It’s not – We weren’t –“ Laura spluttered, her cheeks turning red. It wasn’t foreplay. Now was hardly the time for something like foreplay.

Okay, maybe, just maybe, some inappropriate images had flooded her mind. Like one…

Or ten.

That wasn’t the point.

(Okay, maybe her body was still tingling at the thought of Carmilla grazing her fangs gently down her stomach while her fingers caressed her inner thigh, but that REALLY wasn’t the point.)

“You were, and it’s interesting, but not something I necessarily want to witness,” LaFontaine replied. “I didn’t know you had a bite kink, Hollis,” they added with a smirk.

Carmilla chuckled as Laura felt her blush intensify and spread down her neck.

“I don’t – I –“ Laura turned away and took a deep breath, trying to compose herself. “Have you made any progress at all?” she demanded when she turned back.

“Relax, Hollis. Gotta let the equipment run. It takes time. This isn’t CSI. It doesn’t just magically ding done when someone asks if we’ve got anything.”

 “How long is this going to take? We don’t know how much time we have,” Laura pointed out.

“Fangs doesn’t seem to think they’ve worked out where we live yet, and they definitely don’t know where the lab is. I’m not going to be done tonight. Science takes time,” LaFontaine replied.

“You should try to work faster,” Carmilla advised. “Some of my mother’s minions don’t have two brain cells to rub together, but some of them are cleverer than I’d ever admit to them.”

LaFontaine shrugged. “Unless you’ve been keeping the secret to time travel from us, my hands are tied.”

“If I had that, I would not be here to suffer through being poked over and over.”

“Please, you barely feel it,” LaFontaine replied, holding up the empty vial once more. “Ready?”

Carmilla nodded. LaFontaine grinned, stepping forward and brandishing the needle.

Laura turned away.

“If you’re going to take on my mother, you’d better get over being squeamish, sweetheart,” Carmilla said.

“I’m not squeamish,” Laura protested, forcing herself to look back. “I just don’t like watching my g– watching you getting stabbed with needles.”

“Your girlfriend?” LaFontaine asked with a grin.

“I didn’t say that.”

“Well, actually, you did once earlier,” Carmilla pointed out.

“And you almost did again,” LaFontaine added.

Laura felt her cheeks flushing once again. Would it kill her blush reflex to be a little less active? She sighed. “Don’t we have more important matters to discuss?”

“Probably,” Carmilla agreed. “Not as fun, but I’m sure you have more questions rattling around in that busy brain of yours, cupcake. They haven’t stopped since I met you, after all.”

Well, Carmilla wasn’t wrong there, though Laura couldn’t help but long for the lighter, if vaguely more frustrating time when Carmilla’s answers were much more evasive and the need for them was far less pressing.

“Is anything really more important than love?” LaFontaine asked.

Laura’s face turned a darker shade of red. Love? Nobody said anything about love. She’d never used the L word. It was way too soon for anything even resembling love. It was infatuation. Extreme attraction. Okay, she wasn’t denying that she really liked Carmilla. The more she found out about her, the more she liked her, but love…?

“Don’t make me stab you with one of those needles,” Laura grumbled.

“Well, that’s violent,” LaFontaine remarked, not sounding the least bit concerned about Laura’s threat, much to her annoyance.

“Good. Hold on to that feeling. That will come in handy,” Carmilla advised.

--

 Laura gaped as Danny walked in with her third armful of weapons.

“I thought you were going to the library!”

“We did,” Perry replied over a stack of books. “Danny wanted to stop for some provisions on the way back.”

“And you just happened to have easy access to armfuls of…Is that a mace?” Laura asked, pointing at a weapon near the bottom of the pile that Danny had been adding to.

“Yeah, though I don’t know what good it’ll be. The crossbows should come in handy though. I’ve got some of the sisters working on carving some wooden bolts,” Danny informed her as she dropped a small collection of double-headed axes onto the pile.

“And these were just…what? Lying around the Summer Society house? Tucked away under people’s beds?” Laura questioned, hoisting up an axe and giving it an experimental swing that quickly got a little out of hand. She put it down quickly and tried not to be offended at the way that everyone had taken more than one step away from her.

“No, of course not. Don’t be silly. We don’t need these on a daily basis. We keep them in the basement.”

Laura gaped at her roommate, who didn’t seem to notice. “Oh, of course. Silly me,” Laura mumbled under her breath.

She heard a soft snort and when she looked around, Carmilla had a small smile playing on her face.

“Hey, did you know that Perry’s all into Wicca?”

Was. I was into Wicca,” Perry corrected, setting down a few more intimidating and rather dusty-looking volumes.

“Oh yeah! I remember that phase!” LaFontaine called from the kitchen where they were peering through a microscope they’d “borrowed” from the lab at various slides of Carmilla’s blood with different additives that they’d declined to elaborate on for the time being. They’d left a friend of theirs, JP, watching over a titration and the centrifuge at the lab for the night once they’d determined they’d taken enough samples of Carmilla’s blood.

“Yes, well, it was not my proudest moment,” Perry murmured, smoothing out her shirt. “Anyway, I remembered a few of the more…obscure volumes of spells that I found freshman year, and, well, I think they might be able to help!”

“Don’t put too much faith in magic. It’s best not to meddle in things you don’t understand,” Carmilla warned.

“While I don’t disagree, I am not exactly inexperienced. I had…well, a few, sort of…I’ve done a little magic,” Perry replied, standing up a little straighter.

“Magic, what seems to be an entire arsenal, and a possible biological weapon? Holy Hufflepuff! I think we’ve got the makings of a plan!” Laura declared.