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baby, be my ghoul-friend?

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Carmilla typically wasn't the dating type, much less the blind date type. She preferred the relative anonymity of picking girls up at bars and parties, following them back to their place for a night they wouldn't soon forget, and slipping out before dawn.

 

All previous attempts to set Carmilla up had been met with snark and glares, so her siblings and many of her friends had long since given up. That's why it was such a miracle that she found herself at her younger brother's lame Halloween party, a red cup filled with beer in one hand, waiting for her date to arrive. 

 

Her brother's roommate was persistent, she had to give them that. They were convinced they knew the perfect girl, and even after weeks of being told to stop trying because 'I'm not that kind of girl, munchkin,' LaFontaine refused to give up, so Carmilla finally agreed. 

 

She knew a few things about her mystery girl. First, her name was Elle, or Ell. Maybe just L? LaFontaine said they knew her from school, that they'd taken some pre-requisite lit courses together as undergrads and bonded for life, and finally that she was 'perfect' for her. 

 

So, fine, maybe the main reason Carmilla wasn't the dating type was because she just didn't see herself as being good for anything more than a great lay for any of these poor girls. She knew she had a lot of rough edges, and she had a pretty terrible dating record as a teen, so she'd given up looking for relationships. A little surprised she was actually excited for what tonight might bring, Carmilla hid a shy grin by taking a long sip of her beer. If LaF felt they could trust their good friend with her, if they were sure this wouldn't end with poor Ell (Elle?) in tears, then she would try. 

 

She spied her brother's other roommate, Perry, leading a costumed group down the basement stairs. They had turned the upper two floors of their home into a haunted house for the night, beginning at the front door, winding through the dining room and up the old servant stairs, through the second story bedrooms, down the main stairs into the living room and kitchen, and finally down to the basement. She hadn't bothered showing up early to help set it up like her brother had wanted her to, so she'd had to go through the haunted house like any other guest when she arrived, but she was impressed with how he had rigged some of the more intricate electrical spots. Since it was JP and not his twin, she might even tell him she was impressed. 

 

(Carmilla refused, however, to give him the satisfaction that the illusion of the walls closing in had actually really scared her.)

 

She eyed the new group as they spread out around the decorated basement. No one matched the description of her date, so Carmilla turned her attention back to her older sister, Mattie, who was congratulating LaFontaine on the huge turnout. They were all in the corner by the makeshift bar, where LaFontaine, dressed as Einstein, was mixing drinks and adding certain ingredients to make them fizz and smoke. 

 

"Now whose idea was the haunted house?" Mattie played with the end of her Ravenclaw tie and looked around the room appreciatively. "This doesn't seem like Lola's usual cup of tea."

 

LaFontaine nodded as they finished making a boo-tini and passed it to a blonde girl dressed as Zorro. "You're right; Perr wanted to pass out candy at the door and maybe have a sit down dinner with our close friends, but Jeep said ---"

 

"That since we have this large house now, we ought to put it to good use," JP finished, popping up at Carmilla's elbow, who promptly started laughing because her brother was speaking in a British accent. 

 

"What is with that ridiculous accent?"

 

JP took a step back and straightened the jacket of his brown suit. "I'm the Doctor!" he replied with a huge grin. He then held up a toy that began making a sonic sound when he pressed a button. "Allons-y!"

 

"Why aren't you the one with the fez? You know, the one who you actually look like?" Carmilla's eyes widened when she realized she'd let on that she knew the difference between the tenth and eleventh incarnations of the time-traveling alien. (Only because he'd talked so much about the show in the past, definitely not because she once watched an episode or two on Netflix out of curiosity and boredom.) Before he could badger her about it, she turned to look at the large group that had just entered the party.

 

Three witches, a playboy bunny - or maybe a regular bunny, but who could honestly tell the difference these days thanks to costume stores needing to make everything 'sexy' - and a queen of hearts, and a bunch of superheroes. She scanned over the last bunch, because Just L/Ell was supposed to be... and there she was. Short, honey-brown hair, and dressed as Batman, just like LaF described. She was flanked by a tall, ginger Wonder Woman and a hulking guy that seemed made for his Superman outfit, but the ginger Amazon seemed to recognize someone over on a couch at the far end of the room and quickly walked over, followed closely by Superman and leaving Ell/L by herself.

 

Carmilla tapped LaFontaine on the arm and pointed to the newcomer. "Wish me luck. If this doesn't work out, I won't hesitate to remind you why I don't do this." LaF just pressed a 'ghoul and tonic' into her free hand and gave her two thumbs up.

 

"I guess I'd better be on my best behavior now, huh cutie?" Carmilla joked as she came up beside her date. The other girl jumped a little in surprise, but smiled when she looked Carmilla over. As soon as LaF had told her Ell would be coming as Batman, she'd decided to come dressed as Catwoman, complete with a full-body leather outfit, ears on a headband, and a whip that she'd borrowed from Mattie tucked into a yellow belt.

 

"If one of those drinks is for me, I might overlook anything bad you do tonight, Miss Kyle," came the flirtatious reply.

 

Carmilla grinned. "Indeed it is, Batman. Or, should I say," she leaned in closer, and L/Ell mimicked her movement so that their faces were only a few inches apart, and whispered conspiratorially. "Mister Wayne?"

 

Ell/L straightened up, feigning shock and horror. "That's my secret identity! Oh no, if the evil Catwoman knows my name, Gotham's other villains surely know and we're all doomed!"

 

"Don't worry, cutie, your secret is safe with me." Carmilla winked, and then saw a blush spread under the Dark Knight's mask from where it stopped along her nose and cheeks. 

 

"Hey Carmilla, just because we call you 'Kitty' doesn't mean you're forced to be that for Halloween."

 

She groaned and rolled her eyes before turning to face her other brother. "William, there you are. And here I was hoping you'd gotten eaten by one of Jeep's giant mecha-spiders."

 

He grinned, knowing that Carmilla's sass was (mostly) friendly. "They tried to eat me, but I'm much too fast for them." Will pointed at his silver helmet, which had wings on the sides, and his red t-shirt with a lightning bolt running across the middle. At Carmilla's blank expression, he sighed. "Because I'm the Flash, get it?"

 

"I thought that guy was in a red body-suit with a mask or something."

 

"More people need to learn to appreciate the classic heroes," he muttered. Louder he said, "Hey, Laura, have you seen Kirsch?"

 

Ell/Laura pointed over to Wonder Woman and Superman, who had been joined by a gladiator. "He's over there with Danny and Theo."

 

"Thanks, Laura. Kitty," Will tipped his hat forward before he dashed over to join his friends. He slid into the empty space next to Superman, who turned to greet him with a kiss.

 

So that's who her brother was dating. Well done, William.

 

Her attention was brought back to the girl standing beside her. "So you're Carmilla. LaF talks about you all the time."

 

That made nerves stir up in the pit of Carmilla's stomach. She hoped that LaFontaine had only ever said good things, but then she probably wouldn't have agreed to this date if they hadn't, right? She took a sip of her beer to quiet the pesky nerves. "LaF has talked about you, too, but for some reason they've never said your full name."

 

The tiny Batman laughed, and Carmilla wanted to blame the beer for the sudden warmth that spread through her body, but she was only halfway through her first cup. "They called me 'L' once when we were freshmen at Silas and I guess it just stuck, but yeah, Laura is my name."

 

Carmilla grinned and looked at Laura through her eyelashes. "Well if you're fine with nicknames, I might keep calling you them, cupcake."

 

Laura mirrored her grin. "Only if I can call you one too, Carm."

 

Usually that would have been a deal breaker, as past dates ending horribly had proven, but Carmilla was surprised with how much she liked the sound of her name shortened this time. LaFontaine may have actually been right in setting them up together, and if this worked out, she thought she should buy them whatever nerdy thing they had their eye on.

 

For the next hour, they continued learning about each other, sharing embarrassing or funny stories from childhood and discussing their passions and hobbies. They were surrounded by dozens of people, robots and knights and witches who were talking in groups or dancing to the music pounding from the sound system JP had set up, but the entire time, Laura and Carmilla only had eyes for each other.

 

They were laughing over Laura's dad giving her a full day-of-the-week set of bear spray the day she left for college when they noticed their cups were empty. Carmilla excused herself to walk over to the drinks table, where LaF and Mattie had been joined by Perry, who was finally done answering the front door and guiding new guests into the haunted section. Before, she had only been wearing a shiny black dress with billowing sleeves, and Carmilla wasn't sure what she was supposed to be, but now that Perry was able to sit back and enjoy the party, she was wearing a tall black witch hat, and had a broom propped up against the wall behind her.

 

"You seem to be enjoying yourself, Kittycat," Mattie mused. She cocked a perfectly manicured eyebrow, and the corner of her mouth turned upward. "Is that whip you borrowed going to come in handy tonight?"

 

Carmilla rolled her eyes. "Oh my god, Mattie, stop." She glanced over the drinks menu that LaFontaine had written on a whiteboard while Mattie cackled with glee.

 

"So how is it going with L?" LaF asked.

 

"She's great, we actually have a lot in common." Carmilla saw LaF and Perry exchange a high five in her peripheral vision, and chose to ignore it. "Give me... a 'morgue-a-rita' and a 'zombie cocktail'."

 

Waiting for the drinks to be made felt like an eternity, and Carmilla raced back to Laura as soon as they were ready. Her insides burned when Laura touched her arm in thanks for the drink, but that might have also been due to the kick of the brandy and rum in her own as the first swallow traveled down her throat.

 

Part of the way through a story involving the time she and Mattie had teamed up against the twins in a prank war, escalating to the point of disassembling and reassembling Will's car on the roof of their high school in the middle of the night, and almost being caught and arrested for trespassing, Carmilla noticed another couch in a far corner had opened up. She grabbed Laura by the hand and quickly dragged her over to it. This one was small, more of a love seat, but Laura didn't seem to mind how closely they had to sit. She even went as far as to drape her legs over Carmilla's, and cuddled closer when Carmilla rested her arm along the back of the couch. 

 

"So you were saying, the police were on their way up to the roof, and you and Mattie had no way down?"

 

They continued learning more about each other, and Carmilla couldn't believe how well this was going. Right as she was questioning whether she should close the gap and kiss Laura, she was surprised by a pair of lips pressing themselves against hers.

 

A second later, before she could really react, Laura pulled away. "I'm sorry, I should have asked first. Was that okay? I mean, I hope it was okay, because it looked like you were maybe about to do it first, but I couldn't wait anymore. Your lips just looked so..." She trailed off, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth and stared at Carmilla's apparently irresistible mouth.

 

Carmilla chuckled at Laura's rambling. "Cupcake, trust me, that was more than okay." She placed a finger under Laura's chin and tipped her face up to meet it with a kiss of her own.

 

This was a new experience.

 

Not the kissing, she had obviously kissed girls before. Not that it was happening on a first date, either, because that's basically how Carmilla did things.

 

No, it was the fact that she was perfectly content with just kissing. Or talking, if they decided they didn't want to kiss anymore. She had no desire to speed things up, or to see if Laura wanted to take things to her house.
She was grateful that the alcohol hadn't been enough to impair her senses. Laura kept making little sighs and sounds as their lips met again and again, and Carmilla thought she might cry at the tiny moan that she swallowed as their tongues slid across each other for the first time. 

 

Laura's hands were everywhere: on her face, linking behind her neck, around her shoulders to pull her impossibly closer, in her hair. Carmilla kept one of hers on the small of Laura's back and the other on one of the legs still laying across her own, absently stroking her knee with her thumb.

 

Eventually they both needed to stop to breathe. Laura lay her head against Carmilla's shoulder, who then rested her cheek against Laura's forehead.

 

"So... that was fun," Laura said, just loud enough to be heard over the music. Her voice didn't waver, but the way her hands began picking at the fabric of her leggings conveyed nerves. 

 

Carmilla moved her hand away from Laura's knee to trap both of Laura's hands, tangling her fingers with those on top. "Yes, it was. And can be again, if you want." 

 

It was at that moment that LaFontaine decided to appear, a drink in each hand. "Hey! I thought you guys might need refills, but didn't want you to have to stop doing... this... so here ya go!" They spoke quickly and set the fresh drinks down on the table next to Laura's side of the love seat. Flashing a grin and another thumbs up to Carmilla, they turned to leave.

 

"Thanks, LaF. Great party, by the way!" Laura called out to their retreating back, and LaFontaine stopped dead in their tracks.

 

They turned around so fast, Carmilla briefly worried they had given themselves whiplash. "Laura?!"

 

Carmilla and Laura exchanged a glance. "Uh, yeah, it's me?"

 

The Einstein wig made LaFontaine look ridiculous as their mouth dropped and they looked around the room. "If you're... then where... oh no!"

 

They separated so that they could both stand up and go over to their friend. "LaF? Are you okay?" Laura asked, hesitantly. 

 

LaF turned back to look at Carmilla, their palms held upward in an apologetic position. "I'm so sorry, I thought you were with L this whole time."

 

Eyebrows knit together in confusion, Carmilla let out a short laugh. "But I have been with 'L' all night. I thought it was weird that you would only say her nickname if you're setting me up on a blind date with her, but ---"

 

"Wait, blind date? Who said anything about a blind date?" Laura interjected.

 

"No, no, no. Carmilla, I didn't set you up with Laura, I set you up on a date with a girl named Ell. E-L-L." They pointed across the room to another girl dressed as Batman, who was also short with honey-brown hair peeking out from under her mask. She was busy talking to the Zorro from earlier, and obviously felt the presence of three pairs of eyes on her because she turned and looked right at them. Smiling, she and Zorro walked over to where the others stood.

 

"Hey, Ell, I am so sorry about this," LaFontaine began.

 

Carmilla looked between Ell and Laura. They were so similar looking that she understood why LaF hadn't known that she was with the wrong girl until Laura spoke. She realized that this was probably how other people felt when they saw Will and JP together for the first time without previously knowing they had a twin. She lifted her hand and waved her fingers. "I'm Carmilla. I guess you were supposed to be my date tonight, but there was a mixup and I've been with Laura all night instead." She shrugged, unsure if she was supposed to be sorry or not, because she really didn't feel sorry.

 

To her credit, Ell didn't act like she was angry, or even sad. Instead she just threw her head back and laughed, much like Carmilla had been wanting to, because this was kind of ridiculous, like something out of a sitcom. "No worries, Carmilla. At least now I know I wasn't stood up, and it allowed me to meet Elsie here."

 

Zorro raised her hand awkwardly. "Hi."

 

With everything clear and in the open, Ell and Elsie went back to where they'd been standing before, though maybe they were standing a little closer than before. LaFontaine apologized again, but then clapped Carmilla on the shoulder and congratulated her on finding an equally great person in Laura. With another, more discreet, thumbs up, LaF went to go join Kirsch, Will, and Theo in beer pong.

 

Carmilla turned back to the love seat and pulled Laura back down to their previous positions. Tangling the fingers of one hand with Laura's, she used the other one to pull Laura's mask off so she could really see her for the first time, and tossed the mask to the table beside their untouched drinks.

 

"Hey." Laura looked nervous again.

 

"Hey."

 

"I know that you thought you were on a date, so you didn't really do any of this for me. And I'll understand if you don't want anything to do with me now that you know I wasn't who you thought I was ---"

 

"Laura?"

 

"...Yeah?"

 

"Shut up and just let me kiss you, cupcake."

 

"Okay, Carm."