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Collateral Damage

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“I can’t believe I waited until I was 21 to come here!” Laura shouted as the group entered the club.

“We tried to get you to come to the 18 and up nights for 3 years, Laura” LaF announced getting in line. “You always complained because it was a ‘school night’ no matter how much we begged you.”

“Leave Laura alone, LaFontaine. She was just trying to be a good student. Besides, it makes tonight that much more special.” Perry shooed Laura’s hand away so she couldn’t pay, and handed the cashier in the booth enough money for three tickets.

“Thanks Perry!” Laura commented. “At least you understand what it means to be a good student”.

“Do I not get straight A’s? Have I not been on the Dean’s list three years counting? Am I not an excellent TA?” LaFontaine griped.

“Yes, but not all of us are natural geniuses LaF. Some of us actually have to study on a daily basis just to get by with acceptable grades. And besides, what better way to celebrate my 21st than with a new experience?” Laura wondered.

“OK L, you win. But only because it’s your birthday.” Lafontaine smiled.

“Are the three of you done yapping your traps, because we have been here for more than ten minutes and have yet to bust even a single move…” Danny grumbled. She was the first in line and already was halfway through the security check.

“Come on D Bear! I get the first dance with you!” Kirsch yelled as he grabbed Danny’s hand and all but dragged her to the dance floor.

“Damn it Kirsch, you’re going to rip my arm off!” Danny shouted. “And don’t call me D Bear!”

The three made it through the line and security with no issues. “This place is huge! How do you not get lost? How many dance rooms are there?” Laura remarked. She had never been to a club before tonight, not even when she went to Spain for a summer two years ago. “Can we dance in all the rooms?!”

“It’s your birthday kid, we can do whatever you want. And there are three rooms tonight. This one is techno and current music, there is a hip hop room, and the last room plays country, oldies, and rock. That room is the one all the way in back. We can start there and work our way back if you want. I would like to grab a drink first if that’s ok. How about you Per?” LaF asked.

“I would love a Shirley temple!” Perry exclaimed. “What’s that look for Laura? Someone needs to stay sober to make sure we all get home ok, and we all know it’s either you or me, and you have to drink on your 21st birthday. It’s tradition.”

“I would like to dance some before I start drinking. I want to remember my first time clubbing, especially at my first LBGTQ club.” Laura said. The club they were at was called Roadways (or the Ways as the locals called it). It is one of the few gay clubs in town, and by far the most popular. If you were queer in anyway and lived in Denver, you’d been there.

“Let me get Per and my drinks then we can get this party started!” LaF proclaimed.

The trio started in the back room, only staying for two songs before moving on. Laura was a fan of most music, but she just wasn’t feeling the country vibe tonight. People believed just because you were from Colorado, you are a hick and only like country music and rode a horse everywhere. Laura had only ridden a horse once at girl scout camp, and from what she recalled, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. She also was never a fan of country music. She was much more partial to pop and today’s hits.

The next room was hip hop music, and they danced for a solid thirty minutes before moving on (Perry oddly knew all the words to all the songs. Laura would ask her about that later.) “Are you enjoying yourself, Laura?” Perry had to all but scream over the noise and loud beating of the song.

“I’m loving it! Best birthday ever Perry! Thanks so much for bringing me here!” The volume of the club had increased exponentially since arriving around eight that night. Not that Laura minded. She can’t remember the last time she had this much fun on her birthday or any occasion for that matter. “You guys want to go back to the front room? We should probably find Danny and Kirsch before they murder each other!”

“Sounds like a plan L!” LaF shouted. The trio headed back to the room that played techno.

 ~~~

Will looked up from the bar just in time to see his sister enter from across the room. As soon as she saw him looking, she came right over.

“What’s up Willy boy?” she casually asked, leaning over the bar. “How’s the night looking?”

“Easily the month’s best. Mattie said your one year is coming up pretty fast. Doing anything special for that momentous occasion?” Will asked as he uncapped a beer and handed it to her.

She took a long pull of the drink before answering him. “If you mean personally, then no. It’s just another day to me. Mattie may want to though; you should ask her.”

“Kitty, it’s not a sin to celebrate when things go well in your life. Not that you have much of one.” Will sighed. He looked her in the eyes. “I suggest changing that. There are a lot of pretty girls here tonight that I’m sure would be happy to help you out with some fun.” He smirked.

If looks could kill, Will would at best have been in the ICU with the glare his sister just gave him. “If I were you, I would stop making suggestions while I was ahead.” She coldly stated before taking a large gulp from her beer.

Will stepped back before he looked her dead in the eyes and saying, “I just want you to be happy. You deserve to be happy just as much as anyone else.” She looked mildly ashamed.

“Thanks for the sentiment Will, but I’m fine. You know that I don’t hook up anymore, besides…” Her sentence is cut off by some commotion at the other end of the bar. “What the fresh hell is it now?”

 ~~~

“Hey guys, I think I’m going to grab a drink” Laura told the two redheads as they reentered the first room.

“I need to use the restroom, what about you sweetie?” Perry remarked.

“I do actually. Here L, use this to get a drink. Per and I will meet you on the dance floor in a few minutes, yeah?” LaF handed Laura a twenty-dollar bill. “I see Danny and Kirsch dancing by the stage over there. Go grab them when you are done here?”

“Sounds like a good plan! And I can buy my own drink LaF.” Laura attempted to hand the money back.

“I’m buying birthday girl, no ifs, ands, or buts. We’ll be right back.” Perry dragged LaFontaine away before Laura could say anything.

Laura smiled at that and walked down to the end of the bar where there were less people. After waiting in line for the person ahead of her, she ended up ordering a cranberry and vodka from the male (and shirtless) blond bartender. While she was waiting, a young man walked up beside her. “Haven’t seen you here before sweetness, and believe me, I would remember.” Laura looked up at the him. He looked to be in his late twenties, dark brown hair that was cut short on the sides, long on the top and greased back. He was a good foot taller than her, chiseled face, dark eyes, and covered in tattoos. Not a bad looking guy overall, but that in itself turned her off. Laura can appreciate a good looking man, but she is 100% grade A gay, and had no interest.

“Um… thank you?” Laura nervously replied. The man had scooted much closer to her, and she could smell the overpowering scent of marijuana and whiskey. Great, she thought; a drunk straight dude. Doesn’t he realize he’s hitting on a girl in a gay bar?

The man darkly laughed and leaned in. “No need for nerves baby. I just came over here to grab you for a dance. So come on, let’s go dance.” He put his hand on Laura’s arm, and was not careful about the gesture. He started to pull on her arm. Laura tried hard to dislodge his grip, but it just tightened.

“I’m waiting on my drink, and my friends, so I’m just going to stay here until I have both.” Laura started to develop a sense of dread.

“I don’t see any friends around baby and I doubt that you came with someone. And I wasn’t asking for permission. Let’s go dance.” The man pulled on her arm aggressively this time. Laura was at a loss for what to do at this point. She gripped the bar as tight as she could, but the man was quite strong and fueled by alcohol.

“Let go of me!” Laura shouted. The man responded by grabbing her other arm and started to pull even harder. Laura tried to shove him back, but he had pinned both of her arms down to her sides.

“Do we have a problem here?” A smooth yet raspy voice broke the terror that was starting to build in Laura’s chest. She couldn’t see the source of it due to being blocked by the man in front of her.

The man smirked and while staring straight into Laura’s eyes, casually said, “No problem. Just asking the lady for a dance. She was having trouble making up her mind, but I’m sure it’s a resounding yes.”

“If I were you, I would let go.” The voice cut back in.

“And what if I don’t want to?” The man let go of one arm and turned around so that Laura could only see his back. “Although, I could be persuaded to do just that if you came home with me.” Laura could hear the unclean intentions in his voice. A young woman and man suddenly appeared on both sides of the creep.

“Mel, Theo, escort Mr. Suave here out the door. He is blacklisted. Make sure to get his info.” The voice stated.

Two bouncers grabbed each of the man’s arms. “Understood. Let’s go hot stuff.” The woman said.

“You think I’m going to just leave because some bitch told me to? Nah uh. I came here to take a girl home, and that’s what I’m going to do.” The man twisted in the grips of the two bouncers. Little did he know, they were both ex-military and didn’t take shit from drunk idiots. In a split second, the man was kneeling and wheezing. “What the actual fuck?! This is bullshit. I want to talk to the manager!” the man coughed out as he was being lifted, then dragged from of the club.

“You already did jackass. Now let’s go.” The bouncers lead him out without further incident.

With the man gone, Laura could now clearly see the person who just saved her, and she was a little shocked to say the least. The woman standing in front of her was strikingly beautiful. Dark brown hair, curled in long loops around her back and shoulders with deep dark eyes, flawless porcelain skin, a sharp jawline with full red lips. She was an inch or two taller than Laura, and was and dressed head to toe in black with tight leather pants and a red flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Laura was speechless.

“You alright Cupcake? Did he hurt you?” Laura forgot to mention her voice was made out of honey and pure sex.

“Um, y-yeah. I-I’m ok. T-thank you for saving me.” Laura barely got out.

“Don’t mention it Cutie. Enjoy the rest of your night.” The woman slightly smirked at the girl before turning to leave.

Laura didn’t know what to say, but she knew she couldn’t just let the woman leave without at least knowing her name. And the panic the man caused her was starting to return. “Wait!”

“Yes?” the woman drawled as she turned around.

“You just saved me, and I don’t even know your name! And at least let me buy you a drink for putting your neck out for someone you’ve never met.” Laura didn’t want to be alone until she could find one of her friends.

“You don’t need to buy me a drink Cutie, I was just helping out a beautiful stranger. And as for the name, I think you are ok with not knowing that one.” The woman winked.

Did she just flirt with Laura? No way, she thought, but that doesn’t mean Laura can’t flirt with her. “Please? Think of it as repaying a beautiful stranger.” Laura sheepishly smiled.

“You don’t give up, do you Creampuff? Alright, I’ll sit with you for a drink. No promises on the name though.” The woman conceded.

Laura returned to the bar to get her drink. When she tried to pay for it, the woman turned to the bar and said “It’s on me JP. Grab me a beer too?” The bartender widely smiled while uncapping a beer and handing it to her.

“I was supposed to be buying the drinks!” Laura pouted.

“That scrunched up face you make when you are mad is hilarious Buttercup.” The woman commented before taking a swig of her beer. She looked Laura up and down before walking over to a small table about ten feet from the bar and taking a seat.

Laura followed and joined her. They sat in silence for a few minutes before Laura tried to get her name again. “I’m still waiting, by the way.” Laura took a sip from her drink.

“For what exactly, Cupcake?” The woman asked.

“It’s Laura, and I’m waiting for your name.” Laura stopped drinking and stared at the woman.

“Laura, huh? You are like a dog with a bone, aren’t you? If I tell you, will you stop asking questions?” The woman sounded almost bored.

“Maybe, but I’m not promising anything.” Laura smiled warmly. She knew now that she wanted to know anything and everything about the woman in front of her. She also forgot about the man and the panic she’d felt only moments earlier.

“Fine” the woman sighed “It’s Carmilla.” She took another long drink from her beer.

“Thank you.” Laura continued to nurse her drink.

“What?” Carmilla asked looking stunned. No one had ever thanked her for something so small, yet so personal as her name.

“Thank you for telling me your name. I was actually about to give up. And now I know you answer questions.” Laura openly smiled, feeling embolden with the way things were going or maybe from the alcohol she just rapidly downed. “Will you dance with me?”

“I don’t dance Cupcake. And I won’t answer any more questions.” Carmilla had recovered and finished her beer off.

“Pleeeease? You wouldn’t turn a girl down on her 21st birthday, would you Carmilla?” Laura gave the best puppy dog eyes she could muster in the darkened environment.

“It’s your birthday? Did you come here alone?” Carmilla was hoping the girl wasn’t alone on her birthday. Wait, why did she even care? She never cared about girls or their situations. Damn it Carmilla, get it together, she told herself. What is so special about this one girl?

“No, I didn’t. You see those two trees dancing by the stage over there? That’s Danny and Kirsch. And LaFontaine and Perry went to the bathroom. They are probably stuck in there making out or something gross.” Laura stated after finishing her drink. “I need another drink, and a dance…” Laura was hoping if she asked enough Carmilla would cave in and dance with her.

“I’ll get another round. And no, you are not paying, I drink for free, and so do you.” Carmilla replied walking off to far end of the bar.

“Hey Kitty, did you make a new friend?” Will asked hopefully as she walked up.

“Get me a beer and a cran and vodka.” The woman stated, not asked.

“Not until I get an answer Kitty.” Will replied before folding his arms across his chest.

 “I have no qualms about firing my own brother.” Carmilla shot back. Will just stood there until she caved in. “Her name is Laura; she was the one getting roughed up by that douchebag I told you to call security for.”

“You mean to tell me you ran off to save a girl? That’s a too little damsel in distress for your taste isn’t it?” Will asked as the girl didn’t sound like Carmilla’s usual type.

“Shut up Will. You know why I did it. And she was holding her own before I got there. Just get the drinks without any more questions.” Carmilla snarkily replied.

Will smiled and turned around to make the drinks. “At least point her out to me?” Will really wanted to know what this girl looked like. His sister could have just walked off without explanation after helping the woman, but the fact that she was grabbing her a drink and talking with her was telling to Will. Carmilla didn’t do people; she didn’t date or do relationships (at least not for a few years), she didn’t have friends, and she barely tolerated having siblings and a mother (more so the fore mentioned than the latter). He was letting hope cloud his judgement by asking to see the girl. Surprisingly, she showed him without any push back.

“The woman sitting at the table talking to those two gingers. I assume those are the friends she was talking about that she came with.” Carmilla could only see red hair from this far away in the dark club.

“She is really cute, Kitty. You should at least try to be friends. You need one of those in your life.” Will set the finished drinks down.

“Ugh, I can barely handle you, why do I need someone else cramping my life up, aren’t you and Mattie enough?”

“Because I have friends besides you, and Mattie has her own friends and life; you should too. Please just try to nice to her. You never know what will happen. Enjoy yourself for once, ok? Go get ‘em tiger” Will sent her off with the drinks.

Carmilla walked back to the table wondering why she let Will stay her brother after he said shit like that. “Here you go Cupcake.” She gently placed Laura’s drink down in front of her. The gingers were gone.

“Thanks Carm!” Laura smiled. She didn’t even realize she had just used a nick name for the woman she had only known for twenty minutes.

Carmilla did realize however. She hated nicknames, and this one was the worst. But when Laura said it, it didn’t bother her. At all. She almost liked it and how it seemed to roll off Laura’s tongue. That didn’t sit well. She really didn’t want to like this girl, but it was as if she had no choice. Fuck, she thought to herself. “Who are the ginger twins?” Carmilla wondered out loud.

“Oh, that’s Lafontaine and Perry. They are the ones that brought me here tonight. I’ve never been to a club before, and they have been coming here for three years, and thought since all of us are queer in one way or another, this would be a good place to come” Laura remarked while sipping on her drink.

“Tonight is just a set of firsts for you isn’t?” Carmilla said after taking a sip of beer.

“I guess so” Laura chuckled. “First club, first assault, first public drinking, and hopefully the first time a pretty lady dances with me…” Laura looked at Carmilla pointedly.

“Cupcake, I told you before, I don’t dance. It’s just not my thing.” Carmilla didn’t want to hurt the girl’s feelings, but she felt like she was getting in over her head already. Wait, did Laura call her pretty?

“You realize that you are in a club, right? Where the whole point of coming is dancing. Are you a closet dancer? Or are you just really bad at it?” Laura was genuinely curious.

“I can dance just fine Creampuff.” Shit, I just trapped myself, didn’t I? Carmilla thought.

“Prove it then.” Laura stated.

Fuck. “Alright, one dance, no more.” Carmilla held her hand out for Laura. Laura willingly took it, almost dropping Carmilla’s hand instantly after feeling a shock from the touch. Carmilla noticed the jolt as well, but her grasp tightened unlike Laura’s. The two girls stared at each other for a few seconds before Carmilla gently pulled Laura on the dance floor.

The song that was playing had enough of a beat to dance comfortably without feeling the need to jump around or grind unceremoniously on your partner. Laura was unsure of what to do, so she just started swaying back and forth in front of Carmilla. Carmilla mirrored her for a couple choruses before deciding that if she was going to dance with Laura, she was going to dance the way she was used to; with contact. She gently grabbed Laura by the hips and pulled her closer. Laura jumped a little when Carmilla did this, but settled into the dance after realizing what was happening. She tentatively wrapped her arms around Carmilla’s neck, which caused Carmilla to lightly smile. The two girls swayed back and forth to the beat for a while, both content to let the dance take them where it may. After the song ended and a new one started, someone unexpectedly bumped into Carmilla’s back, forcing the girls close together. Laura could feel Carmilla’s breath on her lips, and vice versa. Carmilla looked down at Laura’s lips, then back up to her eyes and noticed that Laura had done the same thing. They both stood there frozen for a few moments. If either of them leaned a fraction of an inch forward, their lips would be touching. Just as Carmilla started leaning in, someone suddenly shouted, “Who’s this Laura?!”

The girls instantly broke apart, both reddening. “Oh, hey Kirsch. Carmilla, this is Kirsch, oh, and Danny is behind him, and that’s Perry, and last but not least Lafontaine. Everyone, this is Carmilla.” Laura babbled out in about two seconds. She was flustered after being so close to Carmilla’s lips. She leaned in to kiss Laura, didn’t she? It’s just the alcohol, Laura thought to herself.

“Hey” Carmilla said to the group with an awkward wave. She turned to Laura, and spoke softly in her ear, “I’m going to go so you can be with your friends Cupcake.”

“No! I don’t want you to leave.” Laura jumped back. “We don’t have to dance anymore. We could just talk?” Laura almost begged.

Just as Carmilla was about to respond, someone cut in. “It’s your birthday L. If you want to talk to a hot girl instead of dance with us, do it. We will all be here when you get back.” LaFontaine smiled at Carmilla, who glared back at them.

“Thanks LaF.” Laura hugged them. They were a great wing person.

“Come on, I want to finish my drink.” Laura pulled Carmilla off the dance floor.

Carmilla was still trying to recover from the almost kiss that had happened and then meeting Laura’s friends, and before she realized what was happening. She was holding hands with Laura and being pulled to the bar.

“I thought maybe I should just get a fresh drink since I left the other one unattended at the table.” Laura told Carmilla, letting go of her hand. Carmilla missed the warmth instantly. This time, a dark haired male bartender (with a shirt on) was the one who stepped up to Laura. “What can I get you fine ladies tonight?” He put an emphasis on the word fine.

“God Will, you don’t call women ‘fine ladies’ and you know what I want. Creampuff, another cran and vodka?” Carmilla looked at Laura.

“Yeah, that would be great.” Laura answered. “Do you know him Carm?” Laura asked as the bartender walked away to get the drinks. His dark looks and attitude reminded her of someone.

“Unfortunately. That’s my brother, Will.” Carmilla said while leaning back against the bar.

“Is that how you get all the free drinks?” Laura wondered. “I don’t want to drink for free just because I know you. That’s not what friends do, they don’t use each other.”

Carmilla was taken aback by this statement. This girl thought that they were friends? And she didn’t want handouts if they were? It had been so long since anyone hadn’t used Carmilla just to get what they wanted, that she had forgotten that some people weren’t like that. “Um, no Cupcake, that’s not why. Are we? Friends, I mean?” Carmilla almost whispered the last part.

“Of course we are friends, aren’t we? Unless you don’t want to be, then I understand.” Laura looked a little sad after saying the last part.

“I think I would like to be friends very much Cupcake.” Carmilla smiled. Genuinely smiled at Laura.

“Here are your drinks, women.” The bartender set them down with flare.

“Will, you are literally the worst. Stop being a pig for two seconds, can you? By the way, Laura, this is my twin brother, Will. Will, this is Laura.” Carmilla said.

“Nice to meet you Laura. Is Kitty playing nice? Or shall I have her declawed?” Will asked with a smirk.

“Kitty?” Laura asked with raised eyebrows.

“Dumb nick name Willy boy calls me. Let’s leave before I eviscerate him.” Carmilla said while glaring at Will. She steered Laura back towards the table they were sitting at earlier. “Let’s go outside where it’s not so loud.” She told Laura.

“Sounds good!” Laura smiled back.

Carmilla led her away from the dance floor, toward another bar, which they went past, down a short and narrow flight of stairs, through two sets of doors, and out to a concrete alley way. There were a few small tables, a beaten up couch, and some lawn chairs strewn about to the right. There was a small bar across from the door they had just exited. Carmilla led Laura past all of this and further down the alley way, close to a parking lot and the street, where no people were standing, and away from all the cigarette smoke. She guessed that Laura didn’t smoke, and wouldn’t appreciate standing in the middle of people who did. “That’s better. I hate crowds.” Carmilla said while she leaned up against the wall and took a long sip of her drink.

“Again, you are at a club, where there are literally crowds of people, but it’s not your thing. If you don’t like dancing, and don’t like people, then why are you here Carm?” Laura asked as she also leaned against the wall, close to Carmilla.

“Aren’t you the nosey one, Creampuff?” Carmilla asked, but with no malice.

“I’m going to school to be an investigative journalist, so, I’m kind of a nosey person by nature I guess. You didn’t answer my question, which I noticed you just tried to deflect by the way.” Laura commented before sipping on her drink. She was really starting to feel the vodka now.

Carmilla looked a little bit deflated, but answered anyway. “Fine, I’ll tell you. I come here because I have to.” Carmilla took two large swigs, finishing off the bottle. “I’m going to grab another beer.”

“Would you bring me a water, if you don’t mind? And, that wasn’t much of an answer. You better elaborate when you get back, or I’ll start asking more questions.” Laura stated as Carmilla wandered off to the bar right outside the door. She was on her fourth beer already, which was a lot for her lately. Back in her hay day, she could down a case with little to no effect, but now two was usually her limit. What was this small woman doing to her? She had already saved her from a potentially disastrous encounter, danced with her almost resulting in a kiss, and she introduced her to Will already for fuck’s sake! She never introduced anyone to Will. And now she was answering questions left and right, like they weren’t carefully guarded secrets. “Hey JP. Grab me another beer and a bottle of water?” JP usually stayed behind a bar inside the club, but had moved out here tonight after the amount of people congregating outside forced him to.

“Sure thing Carmilla. That was pretty cool how you stepped in and helped that girl out. I wish there were more people like you out there nowadays.” He handed her the two bottles.

“It was nothing. You know why I did it.” The dark haired woman said before turning to leave.

“I do know. But, do you Carmilla?” JP asked as she started walking back to Laura. Why had she done it? It’s not like it would have changed the outcome of her actions, would it? As she was talking to Will, she saw that douchebag grab Laura not so nicely, and she just reacted out of instinct, right? But she had noticed the girl approach the bar, and was stricken with how pretty she was before the whole thing started. No, she was just doing her duty, protecting the club. If that was true, then why was she still here talking to Laura? By now she had reached the girl, and handed her the bottle of water.

“Everything alright Carm? You look super worried.” Laura asked with a worried look on her own face.

“Everything is fine Cupcake. I was just thinking too hard.” Carmilla realized that she was starting to feel tipsy. “Can we share that water though?” The last thing she needed was a hangover tomorrow.

“Of course. You’ve done so much for me tonight, sharing water is the least that I can do.” Laura handed her the water which she had opened. “So, why don’t you pay for drinks and rescue defenseless girls? Are you a vigilante or something?” Laura asked while Carmilla was drinking.

She almost spat the water out, and after managing to swallow, chuckled lightly. “No Sweetheart, I’m not a vigilante. Although, I guess it would seem that way. I uh, I own the club.” She quickly took another drink of water.

“Hmm. I guess that is why you get free drinks without question. And why you saved me. And the bouncers coming out of nowhere to escort that creep out. Did Will work here before you took over?” Laura asked, still wanting to know more about the mysterious woman and her family.

Carmilla had just told Laura that she owned a club and girl accepted it without question. She didn’t even seem impressed. Like, not the slightest bit impressed. This had never happened to Carmilla. Once girls knew, they immediately wanted something from her; free drinks, VIP treatment, a night with her so they could brag that they slept with the club’s owner. Laura didn’t want any of that? She just wanted to know more about her and Will and be friends. Carmilla almost forgot that Laura was waiting for an answer. “No, I hired him on about six months ago, when he moved back to Colorado.”

“That’s so nice of you Carm. I wish I had a brother.” Laura replied.

“Don’t. He is mostly a pain in the ass. Want the water back?” Carmilla asked, handing Laura the bottle.

Laura had already finished her third drink, and was getting noticeably unsteady on her feet. She took the water and chugged the rest of the bottle down. She pushed off the wall, going to throw the bottle away, but tripped on her own foot. Carmilla caught her at the last moment possible. “Whoa there Cupcake. I think you are done drinking for the night, I don’t care if it is your 21st birthday. Are you ok to walk?” Carmilla realized that she was still holding Laura up, and wanted to let go considering the burning her skin was doing wherever her and the blond touched, but she wasn’t sure Laura wouldn’t fall over if she did.

“I’m okay Carm.” Laura started to fall immediately after taking her first step. Carmilla gently put her arm around Laura’s waist as she led her back towards the door to the club. Laura let out a slight giggle, but tried to walk on her own as much as she could. After some difficult moves, Carmilla got her up the steps, and back to the tables where they sat at earlier. She slid Laura onto a chair without much effort. “I’m going to go grab one of your friends Cutie. Don’t leave the table.”

“Ok Carm. Whatever you want!” Laura happily chimed.

Carmilla walked over to the bar before looking for Laura’s friends. “Hey Will, can you throw me a bottle of water?” She asked the dark haired man.

“Here you go Kitty. Where’s Laura? You didn’t let her go, did you?!” Will almost seemed panicked by the end.

“No Will, she is at the table over there. I’m just grabbing her a water. Why do you care anyways?” Carmilla said with a bit of bite.

“Like I told you earlier, you deserve happiness. Tonight is the first time in what seems like years that I’ve seen you smile, Kitty. Truly smile, not just smirk. I want that for you every day. It seems like maybe Laura could be that for you.” Will stated. He really did love his sister. She had done so much for him, and he wanted to pay her back in any way that he could.

“Thank you for the water Will. I’ll come back in a while, ok?” Carmilla said.

Carmilla never told Will that she loved him, but in her own way, she just did. He was beyond happy with that. “Ok. I’m not going anywhere, not anytime soon anyways.” He smiled at her. She smiled back, and turned around, walking back to Laura.

“You still holding on there Cutie? Here, drink this water.” Carmilla uncapped the bottle and handed it to the girl at the table. “You stay here, I think I see your friends, I’ll be right back.” Carmilla saw one of the trees crossing the dance floor to the bar. She pushed her way through the crowd, and cut him off right before he got to the bar. “Hey, Neanderthal!”

“What can I do for you Carm hottie?” the big puppy in human form asked. She could smell all the beer he had drank.

“Never call me that again. Ever, or I’ll castrate you. Laura has gotten a little tipsy, and I wanted you and your friends to know. She is sitting over there at the tables.” Carmilla pointed in Laura’s direction.

“Oh, ok, I’ll let the others know. We’ll be over to grab her soon. Sorry about the nick name hot- um, I mean Carmilla.” Kirsch apologized. He seemed genuinely sorry, which surprised Carmilla.

“Whatever. I’ll sit with her until you come back.” She turned around, and walked back to Laura, who had shockingly stayed put. “You didn’t leave.”

“Of course not. You told me to stay, so I did. I can follow instructions.” Laura slightly slurred. The three drinks in a little over an hour were starting to take a large effect on the tiny girl.

Carmilla laughed. “You don’t seem like the type who usually follows instructions Cupcake.” Laura stuck her tongue out at her. Carmilla laughed again. She was so taken by this girl already. She hadn’t laughed this much in years. “I found your friend Kirsch. He said he’ll come over after he finds your other friends.”

“Good, I get more time with you all to myself. Give me your phone?” Laura asked. The alcohol had taken some of her inhibitions away, and she was going to take advantage of that.

“Um, ok, but don’t you have a phone? Do you need to call your friends?” Carmilla questioned while handing the other girl her phone.

“No, but I wanted to give you my number before I forget, which seems likely considering how much I drank tonight. And I wanted an excuse to get yours. Am I still talking out loud? You weren’t supposed to hear that last part.” Laura looked down for a second, blushing a little bit. Carmilla doubted that it was from the alcohol. “There, I sent myself a text from your number. Now you have no reason not to talk to me tomorrow. Hey guys!”

The ginger trio, as Carmilla was going to call them from now on, walked up to the table, with Kirsch coming up from behind.

“Hey L! Enjoying your night?” LaF asked, clearly drunk themselves. “Kirsch said we had to come get you because you drank too much. Is that true?”

“Well, I’m not black out drunk yet and I’m feeling quite good at the moment. I probably shouldn’t drink anymore though. I don’t think I can dance either. What about you guys?” Laura asked the group as she handed Carmilla her phone back.

“I think I’m danced out” Danny declared. She then noticed Carmilla sitting very close to Laura, which she gave her the stink eye for. “You guys ok with leaving?”

Everyone nodded yes. They all started walking to the door. Laura stood up shakily, which Perry immediately noticed. “Laura dear, let me walk you out.”

“I’m ok Per. You have to walk LaF out anyways.” Laura noted.

“I’ll walk her out.” Carmilla immediately stated. Did she really just offer to walk this girl out to her car? She hadn’t walked a girl to her car since… well, she knew when, but pushed the thought aside. Since she had already gone against all the other rules she set for herself over a year ago, why not one more. “Come on Cutie.” Carmilla softly wrapped her arm around the smaller girl’s waist for support. Laura casually slung her arm over Carmilla’s shoulder. They walked into the cool night air like this, getting looks from all the staff as they went. Carmilla just glared at each one they passed by, causing them all to look away instantly. They walked past the line of people still waiting to get into the club; it was only around 10:30, and for most, the night hadn’t even begun. The group had gotten here around 8 because they went to dinner first, which didn’t take nearly as long as they had planned for. They all made it to Kirsch’s SUV relatively easy, with LaF the only one to stumble. Perry started loading everyone in, starting with LaF in the front passenger seat. At this point Laura turned to face Carmilla.

“Thanks for everything you did for me tonight. I had a great time with you, well, after the awkward reason we met of course. And thanks for the drinks, and the water, and dancing with me, and walking me out here, even though you didn’t need to. Oh, I tipped Will a twenty before we left, I think he deserved it, don’t you? Yeah, thanks for all that, and thanks- “

“Cupcake, take a breath before you pass out. Tonight was my pleasure, ok?” Carmilla smiled. “Happy birthday Sweetheart. Have a good night. I’ll talk with you soon.” Laura took Carmilla by surprise, yet again, by throwing her arms around her, giving her a tight hug. Carmilla was tense at first, but returned the hug after a few moments. Laura then let go, leaned up and kissed Carmilla on the cheek. Carmilla just stood there, stunned.

“Goodnight Carm.” Laura got in the back seat and shut the door. Danny and Kirsch were already sitting in the back, Perry behind the wheel. Perry backed out of the space, careful to not hit Carmilla, who had yet to move. The group took off with a honk from Perry, which snapped Carmilla out of her trance. She moved her hand to the spot where Laura had kissed her. It still tingled and was warm to the touch. Carmilla couldn’t believe that an innocent kiss on the cheek had turned her into such a pile of mush. She walked back to the club in a haze of mixed feelings.