Title: Carmen the Vampire Slayer – How It All Began
Pairing: Brooke / Carmen (eventually)
Rating: PG 13
Disclaimers: Everything good belongs to someone else. Popular characters belong to Ryan Murray etc and the Buffyverse belongs to Joss Whedon etc. The song ‘Supermodels’ belongs to Kendall Payne and her record company. I own nothing and I make no profit from playing with the characters and ideas.
Author’s notes: We’ve all wondered who the new slayer was after Buffy sacrificed herself to save Dawn, well this is my answer to that question. This story takes place near the end of Junior year for the Popular kids and after Buffy’s death. Yes, I am aware that the time lines don’t match but suspend disbelief already. It contains no real spoilers but immediately leaps off canon.
Think it over once or twice
What lasts the longest in this life
Character or rock hard thighs
And in the end do you believe that beauty lies in what you see
Because if you do then baby
You've been deceived
Well me and B, we ain't supermodels
It's just that I'm tired of being compared
The entire population of Kennedy High was once again talking about the Glamazons, a not unusual occurrence, but today it was a little different.
“I heard that the bodies just got up and walked out of the morgue!” Emory Dick whispered to April Tuna.
“Who would have thought that Nicole and Mary Cherry would both be attacked by a mad dog at Cheer Camp?” Poppy Fresh exclaimed to Sugar Daddy, wondering at the same time if Brooke needed a new co-captain.
“I hear you, girl. Someone should put down those mutts. Seems like everyone in this town dies in some freak-show way.”
“I mean it’s too weird” Lily shivered “It isn’t like I actually wanted them dead…”
“You only wished for it like a few hundred times.” Sam commented dryly.
“I know what you mean, Lil” Harrison added “I mean now they are actually gone…and Emory heard that the reason there were closed caskets is that the bodies got up and walked out!”
Josh Ford put his arm around his little girl friend to comfort her and frowned at Harrison.
“Come on, Harrison, you’re not going to listen to that old rumour are you?” he said, attempting to lighten the mood “I mean if that were true then half the graves in town would be empty.”
Part 1 (One month later)
Carmen Ferrera paused outside the door of the biology lab, wondered why she had been summoned to Bio Glass’s classroom. Bio Glass had given no explanation, merely ordering her to return there at the start of the lunch period. As if things weren’t weird enough at the moment, what with the unexpected demise of two of her fellow Glamazons and Brooke stressing about having to audition replacements, and then, after a night of bad dreams, waking up this morning feeling strangely alive, energised, even. Suddenly the door flew open in front of her.
“Ferrera!” a familiar voice barked “Get in here!”
“Yes, Ms Glass, sir.” Carmen said as she stepped smartly into the lab.
“So, Ferr…Carmen” Bobbi Glass tried to soften her tone “Feeling alright?”
“Feeling alright? Sleeping well?”
“Um…” Carmen didn’t really know how to respond to these sudden enquires about her health. “I guess…um…alright?”
“Just ‘alright’?” Ms Glass stared at her student wondering if the Council had gotten it wrong. Now if it had been Brooke McQueen…
“Well, now that you mention it I had some nightmares last night that were kinda freaky…but I guess that is just because we’re all so wigged by their deaths. ..”
“Freaky how?” Glass interrupted, now they were getting somewhere “Freaky like vampires?”
Carmen stared at Bio Glass
“How did you know…” she started to ask.
“Listen up, Ferrera. Vampires are real. It’s your job to fight them and any other assorted evils that turn up in our fair city. And I, unfortunately, am here to guide you.”
“What?” Carmen was thoroughly confused “Vampires? And me, fight them? But I’m…I’m gonna go now.”
Bio Glass slid between Carmen and the door, blocking her from any escape.
“Vampires real” she repeated “You’re the Slayer and I’m your Watcher.”
Bobbi Glass grimaced.
“I know this is tough Ferr…Carmen. But you need to believe me. It’s for you own good.”
Carmen felt trapped.
“Really, ‘mam, sir…I have to go to a Glamazon meeting. Brooke is expecting me.”
“Good. You need to check out the deaths of Julian and Cherry. I’m hearing rumours that are worrying. Now take this” Glass said, thrusting a huge leather bound tome into Carmen’s hands “Read this, it will help. Report to me at 0800 tomorrow and we’ll go over a few things.”
Carmen found herself being pushed out the door. She turned the book over and read the title ‘Vampyr’.
“Remember, they can’t come in unless you invite them.” were Bio Glass’s parting words as she shut the door.
Carmen paused at her locker deciding that keeping the book with the disturbing title as far away as possible was the best plan, for the moment. In the morning she would give it back to Bio Glass and explain that whatever twisted reality she had concocted around Carmen, she – Carmen that is – wanted no part of it. If Bio Glass wanted to go out slaying vampires, then she - Bio Glass that is – could go right ahead.
“Is that leather?” came a familiar voice at her elbow.
“Um. No. oh course not” Carmen lied “Why would I have a leather book?”
“You used to wear leather shoes” Lily accused “Maybe you think it’s less cruel when it’s on your possessions rather than your person.”
Carmen recognised a full rant was about to be forthcoming from her activist chum and was about to protest when she spotted her fellow Glamazon approaching.
“Brooke” Carmen said loudly to attract her attention.
“Hey, Carm.” Brooke smiled as she headed towards the two young women.
“Brooke” Lily greeted the tall blonde coolly.
“Lily” Brooke returned with equal warmth.
Carmen mentally sighed. She wished that Lily, Sam and Harrison could accept that she loved being part of the Glamazons and that being friends with Brooke wasn’t betraying them. Brooke was nice, funny, caring, beautiful…quit it Ferrera, she chastised herself.
“Carmen?” Brooke asked “Practice after school?”
“Yeah, of course” Carmen smiled at her friend, trying to cover her zone-out. As Brooke left to go to her next class, with Lily glaring after her, Carmen reminded herself that she had enough on her plate without crushing on Brooke McQueen.
Carmen felt like she was high. Practice had never gone this well. It was like she had suddenly developed extra coordination and skill. She had always considered herself a good cheerleader but today she felt like she was super cheerleader.
“What’s gotten into her?” Poppy asked in shock as Carmen executed an unexpected back-flip at the end of the routine.
“I don’t know” Brooke admitted as she watched Carmen practically fly through the air in a series of cartwheels “But I gotta get me some.”
“Hey, Brooke, Poppy!” Carmen grinned as she jogged over to them.
She’s not even out of breathe Brooke noticed. And she looks really happy.
“Damn, girl!” Poppy said, trying not to sound too envious “You’re on fire today.”
Carmen felt herself blushing. She’s so cute when she blushes, Brooke thought.
Carmen noticed that Brooke was quiet. Of course, she thought, she’s missing Nicole and Mary Cherry. Although there had been no love lost between herself and the two blonds they had been Brooke’s best friends. Carmen patted Brooke on the shoulder in what she hoped was a comforting gesture.
“I know you miss them, Brooke. We all do.” Carmen glared at Poppy who added
“Yes, of course we all do.”
Brooke tried to shake herself out of the Carmen-induced revelry that she had fallen into.
“Nicole and Mary Cherry.”
Brooke wretched her mind away from thoughts of Carmen cheering and onto the more mundane matter of the delayed tryouts.
“And then April Tuna tried to convince us she was a, and I quote ‘frickin’ teen Paula Abdul’.”
Sam rolled around on the floor of her bedroom, laughing so hard that she could hardly breathe. Carmen’s retelling of the Glamazon tryouts was hysterical.
“Are you sure that I can’t put this in the paper?” Sam asked when she could breathe again.
“No Sam. For the fourth and final time no!” Carmen mock glared at her friend. “I have to get home now. It’s getting late.”
“Ok.” Sam tried to get up off the floor.
“No stay, I can make my own way out.”
Sam waved to her friend as she left.
Brooke was standing in the kitchen staring moodily in the fridge trying to decide between milk and orange juice when she heard someone coming down stairs. She turned in time to see Carmen.
“Thanks for inviting me to dinner Brooke” Carmen paused awkwardly “Sorry that Sam dragged me off after.”
“It’s ok” Brooke gave a small smile “I don’t think she’s ready for conversation a trios yet.”
“I should have tried harder” Carmen felt guilty “I mean I’m your friend too.”
“I really don’t mind, just as long as I get some one-on-one time with you too.” Brooke said quickly.
“Oh course” Carmen could feel a huge grin spreading over her face.
After Carmen had left Brooke spread out on the couch, resting her juice on the floor, preparing to watch some TV. After flicking through several channels a film about cheerleaders caught her eye. Eyes glued to the dance routine she groped blindly for her juice and accidentally knocked it over.
“Crap” Brooke swore as she rolled off the couch and went in search of a cloth. Kneeling down she realised that the juice had spilt over a gym bag that had somehow gotten pushed under the couch. Brooke saw that it was Carmen’s bag. She must have left it here, Brooke thought, I should check and see if the juice got inside. Brooke wiped off the outside of the bag and slowly unzipped it, feeling slightly guilty that she was snooping through Carmen’s stuff. I need to check if anything inside is wet, she rationalised to herself. Under Carmen’s thankfully unstained practice outfit was a large book. Weird, thought Brook as she curiously pulled it out and read the title ‘Vampyr’, very weird indeed.
She wants to spend time with me! Carmen thought as she made her way along the darkened streets towards her home. Brooke likes me! Carmen felt the surprising urge to do something physical, to jump or run maybe, to express her happiness. Suddenly she realised that she could hear footsteps behind her. Swinging round she saw that the street was empty. Her exuberance evaporated into fear. Just walk quickly home she told herself its nothing. The bushes behind her rustled and Carmen backed towards the curb. A noise and a cat ran out in front of her. Idiot, Carmen almost laughed in relief and started back towards her home still walking a little faster than necessary. She didn’t turn back and so didn’t see the two figures which emerged onto the sidewalk.
“But I wanted a snack, Nic.” whined one of the voices in a familiar Texan drawl.
“Shut up, Mary Cherry!” responded her shorter companion irritably.
Carmen sighed with relief as she turned into her block. Nearly there now thought Carmen and then I can… suddenly a figure jumped the fence of the house in front of her and landed on the sidewalk. Carmen backed away from the man who seemed to have a curiously distorted face with glowing yellow eyes.
“Good thing I’m very hungry” he grinned, advancing towards her.
“Hey, bbback off” Carmen moved towards the street trying to give herself room to get around her attacker.
The man ignored her and seemed to move too quickly because suddenly he was right in front of her. Carmen could smell his breathe which reeked and see that his teeth seemed oddly pointy. Oh my God, Bio Glass was right, randomly flashed into Carmen’s head. I’m being attacked by a vampire! Without thinking Carmen swung her backpack in an arch which connected with the creatures head and at the same time tried to run past him. The vampire staggered a little and pushed the bag away reaching for Carmen with one hand. Acting on an unknown instinct Carmen grabbed the arm and twisted mightily. The vampire yelled in pain and Carmen rushed past towards her house. Through a burst of speed she reached it and began hammering on the door with one hand as she scrabbled in her pocket for her keys. An arm roughly grabbed her and tried to pull her backwards. Carmen jerked her head back and felt it connect with something just as the door was opened.
“Forget your…” Mrs Ferrera started to say before gaping at the sight of her daughter struggling with a mugger on her doorstep.
“Mom” Carmen managed to gasp.
Mrs Ferrera grabbed her daughter’s shirt and jerked her in the doorway. The unexpected help threw Carmen off balance and she fell into the house. Carmen rolled over in time to see the vampire appear to bounce off the empty doorway. Glass’s words from earlier in the day came back to her ‘Remember, they can’t come in unless you invite them.’
“Mom, shut the door!”
Carmen rattled the main door of the high school in frustration. Yes, she was nearly 45 minutes early but she hadn’t gotten much sleep last night. After she had calmed herself down, calmed her mother down, talked to the cops her mother had insisted on calling to report Carmen’s attack she had locked herself in her bedroom to think. I’m not hurt, she thought. My head feels fine and I definitely whacked him, it, whatever, pretty hard but my head is fine. I wasn’t tired after it, excited yes, adrenaline filled yes, tired no. Plus how did I manage to hurt him? That arm thing, how did I know how to do that? And the running away, he was right behind me but I ran faster than I ever have before. Surely it was just the fear, right? But you weren’t scared at cheerleading today when you did all those flips, a little voice said. Shut up, Carmen told herself. What about the book? said inner Carmen. Carmen realised that she didn’t have it. The cops had brought in her back pack after she had pointed to the place where she had been jumped but she had hidden the book in her gym bag. I must have dropped it or, crap, maybe I left it at Brooke’s. Frustrated she had gone to bed and spent most of the night trying to remember every vampire film she had ever seen. So having gotten no further the night before Carmen was ready to confront Glass this morning and get some answers to her many many questions.
After an exasperating 10 minutes spent pacing Carmen heard a familiar voice say:
“Well, my little vampire slayer, if you had wanted in so badly you just had to break it down.”
“Finally” Carmen said crossly “What do you mean ‘break it down’? Do you mean I could…” she gestured at the door.
“Well if you wanted to…” began her watcher, only to be interrupted by the crunching of a lock “…but I guess I could get you a key.”
“Hey” Carmen grinned “I can break doors! Cool!”
“Or not. I can see that you are going to be trouble. I’m going to have to report that, you know.”
”Report me?” Carmen asked in alarm, suddenly realising that she had damaged school property in front of a teacher, a teacher who delighted in punishing students.
Bobbi Glass sighed. It was going to be a long morning.
“Did you bring me back my book?” she asked as she led them towards the lab.
“Umm” Carmen stalled “Ms Glass, sir, I got attacked on the way home last night.”
Carmen hadn’t known that behind the bio lab was a substantial office, which was where Bio Glass led her.
“Hey, I always thought that door was a closet.” Carmen commented, looking around the room.
Ms Glass hadn’t said anything but seemed to be thinking over Carmen’s description of the attack. The room had a several locked cabinets, and one wall was covered with books, many of which seemed similar to the one that Carmen had misplaced.
“Did the vampire call you anything?” she finally asked.
“Uhh, apart from dinner, no.”
“Hmm, well maybe there were some other things I should have told you yesterday.”
Carmen’s mouth dropped open – did Bobbi Glass just apologise to her?
“You see, we weren’t sure and…sometimes its better to let the first shock wear off before you get the details. Let me explain.”
Carmen settled in a chair as Ms Glass began to pace around the room.
“So, unlike most people who are too blind to notice what is going on around them, people like me know that there are two realities, the natural world and also the supernatural world. All the things that we are afraid of: magic, monsters, demons, whatever you want to call it…all the things that go bump in the night, well they are real. And some of them are good and some of them are evil. The Powers That Be try to keep everything in balance. One of the forces of good is the slayer. And now that slayer is you, Ferrera. One girl whose job it is to stand against the darkness. You have the slayer powers: agility, strength, skill, healing ability. I saw your little display at pom pom practice yesterday. Stupid, really, drawing attention to yourself like that.”
Carmen blushed but remembered how great she had felt, her body actually doing what she wanted it to. Powers huh, she thought, well that’s pretty good.
“So how do you know about all this stuff?”
“I belong to the group that exists to combat the forces of evil be aiding the Slayer. We’re known as the Watcher’s Council. And before you ask we do more than watch. The Council is based in England there we are given the training to aid the slayer. Then we get posted around the world, some with potential slayers, others just wherever. When a new slayer is called then one of us is posted to help her, usually the one who has been training her. But there seems to be something about this part of the country, for some reason our tracking spell doesn’t work, so no one had identified you as a potential slayer.”
Ms Glass stopped pacing and looked enquiringly at Carmen.
“I don’t suppose that you have had any training, martial arts, archery, fencing anything like that?”
Carmen shook her head.
“No self defence classes?”
“Not into the magic, perhaps? I knew it was too much to hope for. Anyway you are the new slayer so we need to start your training straight away.”
“You said ‘the new slayer’. Why now? What happened to the others?”
“Try and pay attention, Carmen, this is slightly more important than anything else you will ever here from me. There is only one slayer at a time. When one dies another one is called. This time it was you.”
“But you said there were others, right? Why can’t one of these others, someone with whatever fighting stuff you guys teach, why can’t she do it? I don’t want this, except maybe for cheerleading. You’re like ‘now it’s up to you to save the world from those things’” Carmen sounded and felt a little hysterical “But how? Last night it nearly killed me. I barely got away, I had no idea what to do.”
“But you’re here, aren’t you?” Bio Glass snapped “Why do you think you escaped? If you hadn’t been the slayer I doubt you would have. You fought back, your instincts took over. This just is. You got the slayer zap, Carmen, I know this is a shock, but it is just the way it is. Sooner or later word will get around that there is a slayer here and you will be a target. You have to prepare, to be ready.”
“And if I don’t do anything?” Carmen tried for defiance “If I just say no and walk away?”
“I can. I quit” Carmen folded her arms and glared.
“Ferrera, you can’t walk away.” Ms Glass sounded, Carmen realised, more resigned than anything “This being the slayer isn’t something you can ignore. It won’t go away. It will be with you until you die. Carmen, I’m sorry that this happened to you, I really am and I know it is a lot to take in. I’m here to help you, as much as I can.”
Carmen realised with a kind of sickening certainty that Bio Glass was probably right. It wasn’t fair but it just was.
“How did she die?”
Bobbi Glass looked away.
“She dived into a dimensional gate that was opening. Her blood was the only way to shut it. She saved the world.”
20, Carmen thought, I’m 17 and she was 20.
“Look, I need some time, ok. To think.”
“Hmm. Don’t take too long.” Glass frowned and went over to one of the cabinets and rummaged inside.
“You need to take these.”
“What, I didn’t say I…” Carmen looked at the objects being pressed into her hands.
“For protection.” Bio Glass cut her off “Throw the holy water at a vampire or hold the cross up. They’ll burn it. And this through the heart, and try not to miss. Anything else just run.”
Brooke noticed almost immediately that something was up with Carmen. She seemed to be distracted, unaware of what was going on around her. Brooke gave her back her gym bag, apologising for the juice stain, then suggested that they meet at lunch to discuss the cheerleader tryouts but Carmen seemed barely to hear her.
“Carmen, are you alright?” Brooke finally asked her friend outright “You seem kinda, well not actually here.”
Carmen blinked at Brooke, as if only just noticing that she was there.
“Thanks for my gym bag” Carmen said, looking down and noticing that she was holding it. Gym bag, gym bag, oh my god the book!
“Brooke, I’m sorry, I um…” Carmen hesitated wanting more than anything to spill the whole slayer thing to Brooke “I um got mugged on the way home and I’m kinda spooked.”
“Oh God, Carmen. Why didn’t you say something?” Brooke hugged her friend “Are you ok?”
“Um a few bruises but nothing major. It’s the shock, you know, finding out what lurks out there after dark.”
“I should have driven you home!” Brooke looked totally guilt stricken. “I’m sorry, Carm.”
“Brooke, no, it isn’t your fault!” Carmen felt guilty for making Brooke feel guilty “I’m just a little wigged and you know, think we all need to be more careful after dark, especially now.”
“Especially now why?” Sam interrupted, coming up behind them.
“Carmen was mugged last night!” Brooke blurted out, missing Carmen’s slight frown.
“Oh God, Carmen. Why didn’t you say something?” Sam echoed Brooke’s earlier words.
“I um didn’t want anyone to worry. It was nothing really. Just got me thinking we all need to be more careful.”
Carmen really didn’t need the hassle of this and wished that Brooke hadn’t said anything even though her obvious concern had been nice. Brooke is my friend, of course she is concerned, Carmen thought. Sam is my friend and look, she is concerned too. But why does Brooke’s concern leave me feeling all happy?
Carmen spent the rest of the day being ‘looked after’ by Sam and Lily, although exactly what they thought might happen to her at school she wasn’t sure. Bio Glass had ignored her throughout biology appearing to take seriously Carmen’s request for time to think. Carmen didn’t really want time to think, what she wanted was to wake up from whatever bizarro-world she had stumbled into. She wasn’t able to escape from her friends until after they had escorted her home and then Carmen had had to reassure her mother that she was still alive before she was able to have some time to herself. Extracting Bio Glass’s book from her gym bag she settled down to learn more about being a vampire slayer.
Brooke sat in her room late that night trying to finish her homework but her mind kept wandering back to that book she had found in Carmen’s gym bag. It must be some kind of folk lore book she told herself again. But after spending half the previous night flicking through it Brooke wasn’t really believing herself anymore. It had seemed so serious and factual. Frightening too. God, what if that stuff was real? Demons somehow taking over people’s bodies and walking around killing people. It was horrible. And there had been more stuff than vampires in the book, albeit brief mentions of all kinds of freaky stuff. The stuff about the girl, the vampire slayer, who had to go out and kill them, but who usually lasted about 5 seconds as best as Brooke could understand then another one was expected to just go on with the fight. What if Carmen had somehow decided all that stuff was real? That would explain her weirdness all day. But the mugging accounted for that. It can’t possibly be real, Brooke told herself again. Feeling thirsty she went down to the kitchen for some water. Stretching out on the sofa she leaned back sipping her drink. It was too weird. There was real stuff to think about like Carmen’s new cheerleading moves. She had looked amazing. Closing her eyes Brooke remembered their last practice.
“Brooke, Brookie” she heard a familiar voice calling her as she watched Carmen throwing Popita high in the air.
Brooke turned and saw Mary Cherry coming across the football pitch towards her.
“Mary Cherry, why are you late for practice?” Brooke asked exasperatedly, she was sick of Mary Cherry’s tardiness.
“Brooke, I didn’t mean to be late” Mary Cherry smiled at her in what Brooke assumed she thought was a winning way “I couldn’t come in until you invited me.”
Brooke frowned but was used to Mary Cherry not making sense so ignored her.
“Well, now you are here…”she began.
“Brookie, please” Mary Cherry whined “Nic didn’t want me to come.”
Just then there was a crash as Poppy hit the ground.
The crash made Brooke sit up suddenly. Looking round she realised that she wasn’t in bed but downstairs on the couch. Rubbing her eyes sleepily she remembered Mary Cherry invading her Carmen dream. She turned out the lamp and was about to head up to bed when suddenly there was a knocking at the patio door. Turning Brooke could see someone standing on the other side of it.
“Come on, Brookie, I miss you.” Mary Cherry whined.
‘I’m still asleep” she said out loud “I’m asleep and dreaming that Mary Cherry is at my door.”
Just then there was a wail from outside as Mary Cherry was dragged backwards by her hair.
“Ow Nic, what are you doing?” Brooke heard her complain as she disappeared into the bushes “It takes me ages to achieve my perfect coiffure now that I …”
Brooke stared at the door wanting to go closer but afraid to in case Mary Cherry popped up again.
“Brooke, honey, what…”
Brooke jumped a foot and nearly screamed at the words.
“God, daddy, don’t do that!” Brooke felt her heart hammering in her chest.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” Mike McQueen patted his daughter’s shoulder.
Brooke woke up determined to find out what Carmen thought about all the stuff in the book. She didn’t know if she should ask her outright or try to be sneaky. If Carmen thought all that stuff was real then she needed help. Confronting Carmen after their early morning Glamazon practice was the perfect time, before Sam or any of the others were around.
“So, Carm, I had the weirdest dream last night.” Brooke began once they were alone, already having decided to not mention the fact that Carmen was in it, “Mary Cherry showed up at my house asking to be let in. I was in the lounge and she was whining that I needed to invite her over.”
Carmen stared at Brooke, her eyes drifting down Brooke’s neck.
“You didn’t invite her in, did you?”
‘What, no! Mary Cherry’s dead, Carmen. I don’t want her wandering round my house.” Brooke attempted to laugh.
“Good, don’t. Look, sorry Brooke, I have to motor.”
And without further explanation Carmen rushed off.
“Did you know Mary Cherry was a vampire?” Carmen announced bursting into Bio Glass’s office.
“Well, good morning to you too!” Bobbi Glass spluttered, wiping coffee off her customary lab coat.
“Well?” Carmen demanded.
“Cherry, a vampire? That must be difficult for her. I’m going to have to wash this.” Ms Glass gestured to her stained coat “I don’t have an unlimited supply of these, you know.”
“You don’t seem that surprised.” Carmen sank into a chair “And what do you mean ‘difficult for her’. Of course it is, all that blood, yuk.”
Carmen made a face.
“Blood doesn’t worry them. You would know this if you read my book. Where is it, by the way? Not lying around somewhere for anyone to stumble over?”
Carmen shook her head, guiltily trying not to think of Brooke.
“I was thinking more of the reflection issues.” Glass laughed “Imagine Cherry not being able to check if her make was too cakey.”
“You seem awfully blasé about this” Carmen accused, trying not to smile at the thought of Mary Cherry with bad makeup. “I mean it isn’t as if this happens a lot around here…is it?”
“Well, lets just say that Cherry is hardly the first. You need to get used to it. In your line of work it happens all the time.”
“But surely someone would notice?”
“Do you even read the papers, Ferrera?” Bio Glass asked “Just look at the obits sometime. Ever wonder why there are so many cremations? Or what about all the unusual deaths? How many ‘wild dogs’ do you see around the streets? Or those ‘drug related gang killings’ – PCP my foot.”
“But it’s not like there are hundred of vampires roaming around?” Carmen persisted.
“True. Most vamps don’t turn people, they just feed off ‘em. And there are a few people around who help keep the population down.”
“Who? Can I meet them?”
“Maybe, when you are ready.” Bio Glass sounded evasive “But back to Cherry. I thought I told you not to wander round at night?”
“I didn’t” Carmen protested “Brooke saw her. At least she said that she was dreaming, but it didn’t sound like a dream to me. Mary Cherry was trying to get Brooke to let her into her house.”
“Hmm. Anything else?”
“What can I do?”
Ms Glass looked at her.
“I take it this means you have decided to listen to me?”
“I don’t seem to have much choice, do I?” Carmen knew she sounded whiny “What can I do?”
“Well until you have some training, not a lot. Always carry protection with you, don’t go out at night, the usual.”
“But what if Mary Cherry goes after Brooke again?”
“Ferrera, as scary as Cherry is, there are worse vampires out there then her. She is the least of your worries.”
“What the hell were you thinking of?”
“Well, I um, Nic I miss our friends!” Mary Cherry complained “I just wanted to see how little Brookie was doing. And don’t you care about who the new co-captain of the Glamazons is?”
“I don’t care about that stuff any more!” Nicole ground out “There is much more at stake here.”
“Oh, good one!”
‘Your little gothic pun. Really, Nic you need to lighten up, hun. Who cares if we snack on Carmen? At least that way she won’t take your place. And why can’t we make Brooke a member of the family?”
Mary Cherry continued to ramble on in this vein, listing all the people she would like to snack on and why. Nicole ignored her. Truth be told she did miss her life at Kennedy, despite the new advantages that her transformation had wrought. But she would regain her place at the head of the popularity pole, she just needed to understand more about this whole undead thing and how to use it to her advantage. And figure out how on earth Carmen Ferrera had managed to avoid becoming the latest victim of a ‘mad dog’ attack.
Somehow Carmen had managed to avoid Brooke for the rest of the day and had mysteriously vanished as soon as the last bell had gone. Brooke watched Lily and Sam heading towards the newspaper office and hurried to catch up.
“Hey, Sam, Lily.” she greeted them.
“Brooke, what’s up?” Sam replied.
“I was wondering if you guys had seen Carmen?”
“What, important cheer business to discuss?” Lily rolled her eyes.
‘Actually, Lily, I’m worried about her.” Brooke answered “I’ve been trying to talk to her all day. I’m worried that this mugging thing has affected her. And I found …”
Brooke trailed off realising that she didn’t want to share about the book, not yet any way. Sam crooked her eyebrow quizzically but Brooke demurred.
“Any way…” she continued as Sam said:
“I just wondered if you knew if she was planning to do anything after school today.” Brooke ignored Sam’s question.
“No idea.” Lily didn’t sound worried “She probably just went home.”
Sam merely shrugged when Brooke looked at her.
“Well, if you see her, ask her to call me.”
Sam watched Brooke head off in the other direction.
“She’s hiding something.” Sam stated firmly “She knows or suspects something that’s going on with Carmen.”
“Well, they have been pretty tight since Nicole and Mary Cherry’s demise.”
Lily felt a surge of jealously that Carmen was spending time with Brooke instead of her old friends.
“Whatcha thinking, Lois Lane?”
‘Definitely time for some undercover work.”
Carmen lay on her bed, tired out after her training session with Bio Glass after school. They had gone through another closet-looking locked door in the basement under the gym that Carmen supposed was the boiler room or something. It turned out to be a training room with everything a slayer could need.
“Whoa, has this always been here?” Carmen wanted to know “Who else knows about it?”
“No one and this is our little secret, do you understand. Just like the office, just like who you really are. Loose lips sink ships. Get it?”
Carmen nodded thinking, I’m just like Wonder Women – mild mannered cheerleader by day Vampire Slayer by night – ooh I hope I don’t have to wear a skimpy outfit like hers. The next couple of hours had been devoted to basic techniques of hand to hand but including staking. Carmen was pretty impressed when she realised that Bio Glass despite looking anything but was some kind of karate-judo black belt or something. Carmen had been warned that they would need to do this every day and in a week or so they would test it ‘in the field’ so she had better be sharp.
“You mean like we’ll practice outside?” Carmen asked, wiping the sweat from her forehead.
Ms Glass snorted:
“No, Ferrera, you’ll go slay yourself a vampire.”
Now, back home it was easy to forget about the coolness of the training, the ease with which she had picked up the techniques, the way she had by accident – well kind of accidentally on purpose – thrown Bio Glass across the room, and realise that this had a purpose – to save her own life and thereby perform some greater service for the world. Right now Carmen was thinking that the big picture could go jump and the much more little picture – the one of the vampire’s face from the other night – was preoccupying her.
A knock at her bedroom door caused her to shove the ‘Vampyr’ book under her bed and make sure that all weapons were out of sight before calling:
“Who is it?”
“It’s me, um Brooke.”
Carmen gave a last look round and went to let Brooke in.
“Hey Brooke” Carmen smiled, pleased to see her friend.
Brooke had decided that to begin with at least she would play it cool. If Carmen proved reluctant to spill then she would have to push. You catch more flies with honey, Brooke reminded herself.
“Carmen I just wondered if you wanted to hang or something?”
Good opening, McQueen what’s wrong with you, one smile from her and your brain turns to mush.
Brooke wants to hang with me.
“So, this is your room.”
“Um, you have been here before.” Carmen sounded puzzled.
“Yeah, of course.”
Smooth Brooke, way to put her at ease, remind her of a time you were a bitch to her.
“So, where’d you get to today? I wanted to catch up on how you were but you almost seemed like you were avoiding me..um us.. everyone…”
As she spoke the last words Brooke made an inclusive gesture with her hand. So much for plan A.
“I um, was with Bio Glass.” Carmen regretted the words as soon as she said them.
Secret identity, remember it isn’t really lying, Carmen thought, noticing Brooke was staring at her looking shocked.
“I’m failing bio” Carmen rushed on “Yeah, I’m failing bio and I need to do some stuff to make up my grade and it’s near the end of year and all and I can’t wait any longer.”
“Bio Glass is letting you make up your grade?” Brooke asked in astonishment.
“I know, weird. I don’t know what’s with her. I just asked and when she was like yes. I didn’t want to look a gift horse so I agreed to keep it quiet and well, that’s what I was doing. And will be doing until the end of school. Every day.”
“Did you blackmail her?”
“No, it um must be her good deed for the century or something.”
“You must be really failing if you have to do this for the next six weeks until school lets out.”
After that it was easier. Brooke offered to tutor her if she needed it and agreed to move cheer practices to the morning. However by the time it was time for Brooke to leave she still hadn’t gotten up the nerve to ask about the book she had found in Carmen’s bag.
Carmen walked Brooke down to the door and it was only there that she realised that Brooke didn’t have her car.
“No, I walked.”
“But the mugging, I mean it isn’t safe. Why don’t you call someone or a cab?”
“I’m ok, really. You know, reclaim the night and all that. Besides I have this.”
Brooke held up a can of pepper spray.
Somehow I don’t think that will cut it, Carmen thought, unless the vampire is allergic.
“Let me walk you.” Carmen finally begged in desperation when it became clear that Brooke was determined.
Carmen ignored the look that Brooke gave her and rushed up stairs to get her coat, along with one or two other things.
“I thought that you might not want to go out at night, you know with the mugging.” Brooke finally said as they walked along the dark street.
“Well, not really but…” Carmen racked her brain for a convincing reply “I um didn’t want you to walk home alone.”
Lame much, Carmen thought as they walked in silence.
“I think it sweet that you don’t want anything to happen to me.”
“I really, really don’t.” Carmen answered seriously.
Brooke smiled happily pleased that Carmen couldn’t see her face.
“You know, Carm…oomph” Brooke hit the ground with a thud.
“Brooke!” Carmen yelled as she spun round.
A fist thudded into her jaw and her head snapped back. Without thinking Carmen found that her leg had somehow kicked out and found a target, even as she fell. Carmen rolled and quickly got up, looking round to see a figure straddling Brooke who was struggling futilely against her attacker, who was already leaning towards her neck.
“Get the hell away from her!” Carmen screamed and charged at the pair.
Carmen’s momentum carried the vampire off Brooke and the two of them rolled a few yards along the sidewalk. Somehow Carmen managed to end up on top and instead of feeling scared she felt mad. She recognised the vampire from the night before and now he had tried to hurt Brooke. Carmen punched the vampire several times as she drew out the stake from her pocket. Without really aiming she plunged it into his chest. The vampire howled in pain but nothing happened. Damn I missed, she thought and tried again. This time she hit home and the vampire explode into a cloud of dust. Carmen coughed and spluttered, gross, Bio Glass hadn’t mentioned the getting-all-over-you aspect of dusting. Feeling triumphant Carmen got to her feet – go me I’m the slayer, she thought.
“Cccarmen, where did that guy go?” Brooke asked in a small voice staring at her friend.
“He, um he turned into a pile of dust and flew away?”
“He was all grr and then you…you stabbed him!”
“Look Brooke, we should get out of here.”
‘But you, he…it’s true, isn’t it?”
“I’ll explain, I promise, lets just go.”
Nicole watched as the two young women headed back in the direction of the Ferrera house. So Carmen was some kind of vampire hunter now, she thought, I wonder how long that’s been going on? And she so has a thing for Brooke. But possible more disturbing was the fact that Brooke seemed to like Carmen too. Nicole had watched the two of them walking along together and could practically taste the pheromones they were so strong. And now Brooke knew or at least she would soon. And that idiot Mary Cherry had probably given them away, Nicole had seen Brooke staring at Mary Cherry and doubted that she would pass it off as some kind of dream. What to do? Her first thought was to catch up with them and just kill Carmen and turn Brooke, but then it would be over too quickly. It would be better if Brooke wanted to become like them. And if Carmen was going to try and turn Brooke against her then Carmen needed to suffer. Suffer a lot.
“Did you not listen to a single thing I said? Until you are prepared you are in danger and the first thing you do is tell someone who you are!” Bio Glass had turned a redish-purple and looked ready to literally explode. “Why do I even bother with you, Ferrera?”
Carmen sat in the chair in front of Ms Glass’s desk and stared hard at the pile of papers on it. Brooke watched Bio Glass’s pacing with interest. She had never seen her biology teacher so upset.
“Um, sir, she didn’t exactly tell me, I sort of guessed.”
Brooke ignored the pleading look that Carmen shot at her, deciding that total honesty was the best policy.
“I found that book…”
“What! I told you not to leave that lying around!”
“Then with the vampire last night…”
“You took her out slaying!”
“Not exactly” Carmen squirmed in her chair, speaking for the first time since announcing Brooke knew.
“Ok, lets all calm down here” Ms Glass took a deep breathe and slowly let it out.
Returning to her desk she downed the rest of her coffee and finally sat down.
“From the beginning.”
“Well, Carmen left…”
“No, McChatty, I want to hear it from Ferrera.”
Bobbi Glass listened to the story without interrupting. When Carmen ran out of things to say Brooke opened her mouth only to be silenced with a look from her teacher.
“You understand how serious this is, McQueen, and I’m sorry that you had to find out at all. The slayer needs to work in total secrecy and I expect you to keep all this to yourself.”
“I want to help.” Brooke said quickly.
“No!” came simultaneously from both slayer and watcher.
“Please, I know I can be useful.” Brooke looked beseechingly at Carmen “I read about slayers in that book and you need all the help you can get.”
“But Brooke, it’s so dangerous! I can barely cope and I’m the one with the powers and stuff.”
“Out of the question, McQueen. Carmen’s right. She doesn’t need you distracting her.”
“But I can help with the training and the research. I’m good at research. Carmen told me how you have to keep track of calendars and demons and stuff and I’m good at that, I’m very organised.”
“Well, you do have the best bibliographies. What am I saying? No.”
Brooke could sense that they both were weakening. She decided to pull out the big guns and flashed her best pleading puppy-dog eyes at Carmen. Carmen thought she might melt into a pool on the floor when Brooke looked at her and said
“What’s up with Carmen and Brooke?” Josh asked the group in the cafeteria as he poked at the Tuna Surprise.
“Yeah, they seem to be hanging out a lot” Harrison commented.
“It’s almost like they’re avoiding us or something” Josh pushed his tray away “There is no way I’m going to eat that slop.”
Wordlessly Lily handed her boyfriend a sandwich from her paper bag.
“Where’s Sam, anyway?” Harrison asked, taking a tiny mouthful of the tuna surprise and chewing it gingerly.
“Probably chasing a story. How can you eat that, man? It looks like industrial waste!”
“What! Sam cheerleading!’ Harrison tried to shut down the picture in his head
“Since when does she…”
“Carmen and Brooke are probably talking cheer stuff” Lily explained “Sam, I don’t know., but probably the paper.”
Just then Sam appeared in the doorway of the cafeteria and signalled Lily who immediately grabbed her bag.
‘I gotta go” she said, giving Josh a peck on the cheek.
“Well what?” Sam responded as the two girls hurried into the Novak.
“Don’t do that” Lily scowled “You know what! Carmen and Brooke. Even Harrison and Josh are wondering what was up with them.”
Sam checked the stalls and once she confirmed they were alone leaned on the sink while Lily sunk onto the couch.
“I came in early today to finish up a story and saw them going into Bio Glass’s room. They were in there for ages and I tried to listen but nothing. So I peaked in the door but the lab was empty.”
“I didn’t know she had an office back there.”
“I know. Anyway I loitered for ages and eventually they came out and before they saw me Carmen said something like ‘you’ll see after school’ but after that just nothing unusual.”
“It could be something to do with the Glamazons.”
“That’s what I thought so I cornered Poppy at lunch, I told her I was doing background for a story, and found out that all the Glamazon practices have been changed to before school and that Poppy can’t believe that April Tuna is now part of the squad. Oh and that she wanted to be the new co-captain and is pissed that Carmen is.”
“They can’t have been talking cheerleading with Bio Glass, can they?” Lily was appalled.
‘Well, what else could it be?”
“It’s difficult to picture Bio Glass as a Glamazon groupie.”
“I thought that maybe you could follow them after school and see where they go.”
“No problem. Sam, this is pretty weird.”
“I couldn’t have put it better myself!”
Lily pretended to hunt for something in her locker as she furtively spied on Carmen and Brooke. It wasn’t too difficult, Brooke was propped against the lockers talking softly to Carmen who was putting her books that she didn’t need away. Lily couldn’t get close enough to hear because of the noise of the students of Kennedy High departing for the weekend. After what seemed like forever Carmen finally banged her locker shut and laughed at something Brooke said before hitching her bag over her shoulder. Lily wondered if she should draw attention to herself by bidding Carmen goodbye but had just decided that it was a bad idea when Brooke noticed her as the two young women walked past.
“Lily, have a good weekend.” Brooke offered, having decided that she needed to be nicer to Carmen’s friends.
“Yeah, got anything planned?” Carmen asked.
“Nothing special.” Lily replied as she shut her locker. “See you later.”
Smooth exit, Esposito, she chastised herself as she quickly walked in the opposite direction to that which Carmen and Brooke seemed headed. As she rounded the corner she crashed into Bio Glass who was striding along.
“Move it some of us have better things to do than hang round this hellhole.” Glass growled as she practically shoved Lily away from her.
Lily regained her balance by clutching at the nearest person as Bio Glass powered around the corner.
“Stealthy, much.” Sam muttered as she steadied her shorter friend “Come on, we’ll lose them if we aren’t careful.”
Lily and Sam peered around the corner just in time to see Brooke disappearing around another corner. If only we had some idea where they were going, Sam thought as they walked as quickly as they could with out actually jogging. Annoyingly Bio Glass seemed to be head in the same direction. Another figure, oddly garbed in a trench coat with a fedora slung low, slowly crept after Sam and Lily.
Brooke was pretty excited by the time she had gotten Carmen back to her house. Thankfully no one else seemed to be around so Brooke felt she could freely express her admiration of Carmen.
“It was so cool, that kick punch thing you did!”
“Yeah, I really slayed that punching bag.” Carmen joked blushing “Although I have to say I was pleased when Bio Glass made you shut up.”
Carmen glanced at her friend, hoping she would realise that she was teasing before she continued:
“It’s gonna be kinda distracting having my own personal cheer squad when I’m trying to be all serious and kill things.”
“You totally deserve one.” Brooke continued throwing Carmen a bottle of water. ”You’re incredible. Um, I mean with the slaying and everything.”
Brooke quickly took a long drink of water mainly to prevent her mouth from continuing to announce her thoughts to the world at large, especially to the part of the world standing right beside her looking totally hot in her sweat pants and tee-shirt with tendrils of her hair escaping from her pony tail, god, Brooke, calm down, stop checking out Carmen.
‘It’s not even me, really” Carmen was saying modestly “It’s the whole slayer mojo. Who would have thought that being cool was part of the package? Now if only I could use my new powers to get the girl.”
Carmen turned bright red as her ears suddenly caught up with what her mouth was saying. Oh, no, did I just say…
Brooke’s brain kicked in, did she just say…Both girls stared at each other.
“Something you want to share, Carm?” Brooke managed to ask.
“Um I well, I hey, I’m a vampire slayer.”
Brooke waited, wondering if she should push. Tell her you like girls too, her inner voice prompted. Shut up, already.
“Well, thanks for the water Brooke” Carmen started to back out of the kitchen towards the door.
“Wait, Carmen. What girl?”
“What girl?” Carmen repeated “Well, the girl I would like to get.”
“As opposed to the boy you would like to get?”
Are we actually having this conversation, Carmen wondered, and why am I still here? And why isn’t Brooke freaking out. The two girls were silent for a minute.
“I understand” Brooke said realising it was her turn to say something.
“Yeah, I um, I have one too.”
She can’t mean what I think she means, Carmen thought. She must mean that she likes some guy who doesn’t know it.’
“Some guy you are crushing on?”
Huh, didn’t she get it? What the heck.
“No, a girl I would like to get, too.”
Just then a noise on the stairs interrupted and Sam breezed into the kitchen.
Carmen nervously looked around the darkened cemetery. In the last week her skills had improved in leaps and bounds but this was the real test. Her first official patrol. Seemingly impervious to the danger Bobbie Glass strolled along slightly ahead of her tossing a stake up in to the air and catching it.
“How can you be so calm?” Carmen finally burst out “We’re out here looking, actually hoping, for a vampire to attack us.”
Ms Glass turned round and scowled at her slayer.
“Well, it makes things easier if they come to us. I mean do you want to go over to Sunset Grove and personally checkout those crypts ‘cause that was what I was thinking we could do tomorrow. Newbie’s here or experienced vamps there, your call.”
“Now that you put it like that” Carmen swallowed.
“I’m only trying to make it easy for you.” Bio Glass started walking again.
Truth be told she was nervous. This was really it. Now the inevitable countdown had begun. The many watcher journals she had been reading made her realise how truly short the life span of most slayers was. Many only lasted a few months, the last incumbent had been a true exception. Try as she might to cultivate the whole ‘part of a machine’ thing in relation to Carmen being the slayer actually having the slayer - her slayer - expecting her to help, looking to her for explanations, made it all too real.
A noise from behind startled her and she turned to see Carmen grappling with someone. A very familiar figure. They broke apart and breathless faced each other.
“Hiya, hun! Fancy meeting you here!” Mary Cherry gave a big grin “I didn’t recognise you there for a minute. And Ms Glass, sir.”
“Cherry, what the hell?” Bio Glass was startled.
This was the last thing Carmen needed being faced with the prospect of having to slay one of her classmates, even if it was Mary Cherry. Carmen was just staring at Cherry as if she was paralysed. This was bad. Ms Glass suddenly lunged at Mary Cherry hoping to take her by surprise.
“Hey, rude much!” Bio Glass heard as she was suddenly airborne.
“God, Mary Cherry, am I going to have to chain you up again?” Nicole demanded.
“Sorry, Nic.” Mary Cherry hung her head in shame “But look who I found, it’s our fellow Glamazon.”
Carmen finally found her voice:
“Mary Cherry. And Nicole.”
“Carmen” Nicole used her most bored voice “Now what on earth could you be doing, out in the big bad world? And all alone.”
Carmen glanced at Bio Glass who seemed to be out for the count. Nicole meanwhile smiled wickedly and shifted into vamp face.
“Oh,oh. I know” Mary Cherry was practically jumping up and down “Ask me, Nic!”
Nicole raised an eyebrow at Mary Cherry.
“She thinks she is some kind of vampire hunter” Mary Cherry continued “With a cute little stake and all.”
“Well, I am” Carmen tried to sound defiant “And I’m gonna kick your Gucci-clad ass.”
“Honey, this is Versace” Nicole said kindly.
Carmen realised that this wasn’t going very well. Nicole was mocking her and, as usual, managing to reduce her to a wreak. Mary Cherry seemed to be enjoying herself and Carmen’s eyes widened as she casually picked the still dazed Bio Glass up with one hand, and sniffed at her neck.
“Ew, she smells all funky”
Bio Glass crashed back to the ground as Mary Cherry dropped her.
“And I’m hungry, Nic! Can we eat Carmen now? I really don’t feel full after that skinny little thing we had earlier.”
Hearing Mary Cherry discussing killing someone so indifferently somehow galvanised Carmen into action. Quickly she reached into her pocket and threw the vial at Mary Cherry who screamed as it hit her. Without pausing she threw her stake at Nicole who instinctively stepped aside to avoid it.
“Oh my Lord! I’m melting!” Mary Cherry shrieked as she began to run in circles, pawing at her face and neck where the holy water was burning “Help me Nic. She’s gone and ruined me with some acid!”
Carmen rushed over to Bio Glass and dragged her to her feet. Brandishing a cross in front of her Carmen backed slowly away from the snarling Nicole.
“You think you can take me?” Carmen asked as she tried to shake Bio Glass into some kind of active state.
“I know I can.” Nicole continued to advance.
“Nic, Nic!” Mary Cherry moaned, suddenly clutching at Nicole.
Seeing her opportunity Carmen punched Nicole as hard as she could, who flew backwards dragging Mary Cherry with her. Carmen sprinted off in the other direction pulling her recovering watcher with her.
By the time they reached Bio Glass’s car she had recovered enough to complain at the speed Carmen was propelling her along at.
“Keys, keys” Carmen gestured at the car door while looking over her shoulder.
Once inside Bio Glass clicked the locks and closed her eyes panting loudly.
“Not all of us have the speed thing” she managed to gasp out.
“What!” Carmen turned on her incredulously “I just saved your life and you’re complaining that I did it too quickly! Next time I’ll go at a more leisurely pace so we can die but it will be ok ‘cause at least we will do it with air in our lungs.”
Carmen folded her arms and stared fixedly out the window. Bio Glass ignored her and once she had her breathe back started the car. Teenagers, Bio Glass inwardly groaned, why do the slayers have to be teenagers?
“We need to work on your aim.”
“You should have been able to easily stake Julian at that distance. And your speed.”
“But I…it was Nicole! And Mary Cherry!”
Ms Glass frowned at the road ahead of her and there was silence for the rest of the drive. They pulled up to Carmen’s house and Carmen reached for the lock but it was centrally locked.
“Could you?” Carmen gestured at the lock.
“No. Listen Carmen, we need to talk.”
Carmen scowled and twisted the lock handle.
“I’m gonna make you pay for that if you break it!” Bio Glass said sharply.
Carmen let go of the lock but refused to look at her watcher, glaring out the window.
“I know tonight was a shock, but you need to prepare yourself. This happened, and it could happen again.”
Bio Glass paused but Carmen remained silent so she continued:
“Next time it could be anyone of your friends, McPherson or even McQueen. It could be your mother, it could be me. Carmen, this is hard but you need to believe when I say it isn’t them. “
Ms Glass looked at Carmen‘s reflection and realised that she was crying silently.
“When people are turned into vampires they die. The demon takes over and it isn’t them anymore.”
“But I used to cheer with them!” Carmen said fiercely “I’ve known them all my life and now they’re gone. Only they’re not ‘cause they’re running around trying to kill me. I mean actually trying now, not just threatening to.”
Bobbie Glass realised that here was nothing she could say to help. Carmen would have to work it out to her own satisfaction. She waited until Carmen stopped crying and unlocked the door. Carmen got out and started for her door before turning back to the car:
“What time tomorrow?”
“Um, it’s Saturday.” Bio Glass had planned to give Carmen the weekend off.
“I know. But I need to be ready and I’m not.”
“Ok, say 10?”
Bio Glass had decreed that there was no way that Brooke was going to accompany Carmen on a patrol and no amount of begging and pleading would persuade her to change her mind. Surprisingly, at least from Brooke’s point of view, Carmen had agreed.
“Brooke, until I can protect you, no.” Carmen had stayed firm on the day they had argued about it.
“But I could …”
It was a week after that first patrol and although Brooke knew what had happened on it she realised that seeing their friends, well her friends, as vampires had shaken Carmen. So every night that Carmen went out with Bio Glass Brooke sat at home and worried. And to make matters worse Sam seemed to be on some kind of mission – for yet another of her stories Brooke presumed - and was bugging her and Carmen, all the cheerleaders actually. It had been hard to understand exactly what Sam wanted to know from her vague questions and Brooke was sick of it. Brooke looked up from the book she was studying in Bio Glass’s office, a place where both her and Carmen were spending an increasing amount of time. Obviously Bio Glass was unhappy about this which pleased Brooke. Ms Glass had bitched and moaned about it but the day that she had simply tried to lock them out had ended the power struggle when Carmen had threatened to break the door down. Sure Glass still let them know how much they annoyed her but she seemed resigned to their presence. And it was the best place to study because for some reason whoever published all those occult books Bio Glass owned hadn’t joined the 20th century yet and they were a little conspicuous.
“I can’t believe all the different types of demons.” Carmen stretched “I mean this one shoots paralysing mucus out of its nose. Gross.”
Brooke smiled at the cute face Carmen made as she said this. Since their mutual admittance to liking girls they hadn’t actually talked about it again. And this suited Brooke because she decided that she really didn’t want to know which of Sam or Lily Carmen was lusting over.
“I’m about ready to go.” Brooke admitted “We don’t want to be late.”
“Yeah, I need my beauty sleep and all this patrolling is tiring for some of us.” Bio Glass commented.
So that’s the problem Brooke thought and inwardly smirked.
Carmen had been waiting for this, dreading this, but determined to go through with it. She was the slayer after all, it wasn’t like Bio Glass was a demon or anything. At least she didn’t think so.
“We’re going out to the movies.” Carmen said.
“Well, as long as you are ready by 9.”
Bio Glass didn’t seem to be grasping the point.
“And then we are going to have ice cream.”
“Look, I don’t need a play by play of your little date, Ferrera. Just be on time.” Glass didn’t look up so missed that fact that both girls were blushing.
“Brooke and I are going out, then going to her place for a sleep over.” Carmen ploughed on.
“Too much information” her watcher muttered, then frowned “I don’t here the magic p word in that plan.”
“Carmen’s having the night off” Brooke tried to help. “She’s been working so hard since this thing started and she deserves a break. I mean she’s gone out every night this week and …”
“Do you suppose that evil takes a night off?” Bio Glass asked “Shall I ring Miss Julian and ask her to stay in tonight?”
Carmen scowled at her teacher.
“Look we’ll be down town and if I see anything I’ll take care of it.” Carmen said stubbornly. “I’ll come by for training tomorrow.”
“Well, it’s up to you.”
Carmen tried hard to suppress the guilt she felt about blowing off patrol to spend time with Brooke. Time apart from cheerleading, learning about slayer stuff, doing homework…do I really spend that much time with Brooke? It doesn’t seem like I do. Maybe that is why Sam and co. are being so weird lately. Carmen decided that she should make more of an effort to spend time with her other friends.
“Carmen?” Brooke’s voice interrupted her thoughts “This is supposed to be a fun evening. Stop worrying about whatever and relax. Now where do you want to go for ice-cream?”
Carmen concentrated on Brooke shoving all other thoughts out of her mind.
“I didn’t know Lily was into Gwyneth.” Brooke commented “I thought she would only be into foreign stuff with subtitles.”
“Lily was at the new Gwyneth flick?”
“Yeah, with Josh. Didn’t you see her? They were sitting at the back and Lily tried to hide when she saw me. She did that whole ducking-in-her-seat-and-thereby-spilling-her-popcorn-and-drawing-attention-to-herself thing. Or maybe it was her soda. Now that would have been funny.”
“You don’t think she knows, do you?” Carmen immediately felt nervous “I mean maybe that’s why she’s helping Sam with that cheerleading story. I wish they would stop bugging us about that. You would think April Tuna had told Sam everything she could wish to know about the squad.”
”Paranoid much?” Brooke chuckled “Come on Carm, lets get that ice-cream.”
A yell interrupted them.
Brooke rang after her friend who suddenly seemed to be able to run a lot faster. The noise had come from a nearby alley which Carmen rushed into without hesitation. Boy, Carmen was really getting into this slayer thing, Brooke thought as she struggled to catch up with her friend. Mental note – need to take up running. When she reached the entrance way Brooke paused to catch her breathe and wished she hadn’t as the smell of garbage assaulted her nostrils. In the dim light Brooke could see several figures and remembered Carmen’s warnings in regard to vampires – get out your cross and run away. Brooke heard a jumble of voices and picked out a familiar Texan drawl. The last time Carmen had encountered Mary Cherry she had been badly freaked. Brooke decided it was time to get in on the action and charged towards the figures brandishing her cross.
Carmen threw the vampire against the wall of the alley thinking that he looked vaguely familiar. Maybe from school…crunch her fist connected with the side of Nicole’s head who suddenly popped up trying to take her by surprise. As Nicole reeled backwards Josh picked himself up, shaking his head groggily, only to see Lily pinned to the wall by Mary Cherry.
“Hey, get off her!” he demanded.
“Oh, little Lily” Mary Cherry was crooning “You don’t know how long I’ve waited for this.”
Lily screamed as Mary Cherry shifted into her game face and bent her head. The other vamp seemed to almost bounce off the wall at Carmen attacking her again immediately. Josh tried to grab at Mary Cherry’s hair in an effort to dislodge her, only to find himself hauled sideways towards a dumpster by an angry Nicole muttering:
“That’s the second time that bitch has punched me.”
Brooke ran down the alley and seeing Mary Cherry biting Lily slammed the cross into her face. Mary Cherry screamed, jumped and dropped Lily who slid to the ground.
“Brooke! Why does everyone keep trying to disfigure my flawless visage? I know ya’ll are jealous of me but…” as she spoke her fist crashed into Brooke’s stomach “there is no need for violence.”
Brooke felt the air rush out of her as she hit the ground dropping the cross which Mary Cherry kicked away.
“Now Brookie, there was no need to barge in like that” she admonished “I know you are as pleased to see me as I am to see you…”
“Leave them alone, Cherry!” a voice boomed above Brooke.
“Ms Glass, sir!” Mary Cherry backed away from the large cross thrust towards her.
Brooke managed to get to her knees and crawled behind Bio Glass gladly allowing the watcher to get between herself and Mary Cherry.
“Well, I’ll just …”
“Ferrera, just slay him already.” Bio Glass yelled at Carmen who was still fighting with the third vampire “McQueen, can you walk?”
Mary Cherry had been sidling back towards Lily, who was still lying unconscious on the ground.
“Forget it, Cherry” the watcher stepped forward thrusting the vampire back.
Mary Cherry scowled but backed off, glancing over at Carmen to check that she was still occupied behind her just in time to see Carmen reduce the vampire to dust. Mary Cherry realised she was trapped. Brooke had crawled over to Lily and was trying to staunch the blood flowing from her neck.
“Oh my god! We need to get her to hospital!”
“You’re going to pay for that Mary Cherry.” Carmen ground out as she advanced on the nervous Texan.
“Come on, ya’ll.” Mary Cherry pleaded “It’s not like I did it on purpose.”
“What? You tripped and fell on her?” Glass suggested.
Mary Cherry decided to take her chances with her old teacher and charged at her in full vampire fury. Surprising her Ms Glass stayed firm and Mary Cherry howled in pain as the cross burned her. Carmen raised the stake and prepared to plunge it in the vampire’s unprotected back just as Nicole flew onto Bio Glass’s neck and sunk her fangs in.
What occurred next happened so fast that Brooke couldn’t describe the order of events. There was Mary Cherry screaming in glee, Bio Glass staggering against the wall, Carmen rushing forward, Nicole laughing and then it was her and Lily in the alley with Bio Glass and an ambulance.
“There’s another one over here” said a paramedic, crouching by the dumpster.
Not Josh, thought Brooke, not having realised that he was even in the alley, no, god, no. The crouching paramedic shock his head at the other one who was adjusting an iv drip over Lily who was still unconscious. Bio Glass, who had a bandage around her neck was talking to a cop:
“Well, I was walking home and heard Ms McQueen call for help” Bio Glass gestured at Brooke.
“And you know these kids?” the cop asked
“They are all students of mine at Kennedy High. Anyway I went to see what the problem was and found her here with Ms Esposito there, but I didn’t realise that Mr Ford was here too.” Ms Glass paused “So I called 911.”
“And you saw nothing else? You don’t know how this happened?”
Bio Glass shrugged and glanced at Brooke:
“I guess you should ask Ms McQueen.”
As the cop turned away from her Glass frowned at Brooke and shook her head, hoping that Brooke understood this meant don’t mention Carmen.
The worse part of this was the fact that she hadn’t been able to catch Nicole and Mary Cherry. They had managed to get away in the crowd that had conveniently come swarming out of the movie theatre. Carmen had tried to find them but they seemed to have vanished. She had returned to the alley in time to see ambulances and paramedics and cops and Bio Glass had given her a death ray look and waved her away. So Carmen had loitered around until she realised that they would all probably end up at the hospital and so had gone there. As soon as she walked into the ER Brooke had grabbed her and started crying. Bio Glass had muttered something about not being connected and had left as quickly as possible. Carmen had managed to get all the right people called and then they had waited for Mike to come and collect Brooke and her. Carmen didn’t know what to say to Lily’s parents but Brooke and the police had told them that Lily and Josh had been mugged. Then the police had noticed her and she had quickly made up some lame story about going back to use the bathroom in the movie theatre and thus missing the whole thing. This sucked. For all her special slayer powers she couldn’t save two of her friends, one of whom was now in the morgue. Carmen didn’t want to be the slayer anymore. She would tell Bio Glass that this was it and she was retiring or whatever. Now, lying on the floor of Brooke’s room, Carmen wished that none of this had ever happened. She sighed quietly and rolled onto her back.
“It isn’t your fault. You did your best.”
“My best? I could barely finish off the one vampire, you and Glass saved Lily and meanwhile Nicole killed Josh. Then they got away. Brooke, I’m a terrible slayer. I totally suck.” Carmen could feel the tears pricking behind her eyes “I’m going to tell Bio Glass that I quit. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“Carmen, come here.”
Carmen sat up and saw that Brooke was holding open her blankets. Carmen realised that she wanted to get into bed with Brooke. It wasn’t a night for feeling alone.
“You need to check the body.”
It was the next morning and the girls and Bio Glass were in the training room. Carmen had her retirement speech all worked out but her watcher hadn’t even given her a chance.
Brooke noticed that Carmen hadn’t asked why and realised with a start that they were talking about Josh turning into a vampire.
“You don’t think Nicole…” Brooke couldn’t say it.
“Try thinking like Julian” Bio Glass suggested “Yes, I know, disturbing but even so. All you have is Cherry whining all the time. Imagine that prospect for eternity. So what do you do? Obviously you want to stake her but then you’d have no sycophants, which is what Ms Julian thrives on. So you get yourself some more. And who better than the lemmings that you surrounded yourself with in life?”
“Sorry McQueen.” she added noticing Brooke’s face “But it’s true. I’m surprised she hasn’t come after you yet.”
“Will he still be at the morgue?” Carmen asked.
“There or a funeral parlour. You could go check on Esposito, find out what she thinks happened, feed her a line, then go see if his body is still there.”
“I’ll go with you.” Brooke offered.
“Brooke, are you sure?” Carmen didn’t really want to expose her friend to all this.
“Carmen. I’m a part of this now. I can’t pretend that it isn’t real. Half my friends are vampires and now another one might be about to become one. And you, ..well you face death every night and I don’t even know if there is a point to this speech but I’m not running away from this, away from you and if it means going to morgues then I guess that is how I will spend my Saturday.”
Carmen felt like she was going to cry again, but this time from feeling happy. She wanted to hug Brooke but instead took her hand and squeezed it.
Bio Glass rolled her eyes and walked to the other side of the room.
“Are you sure that this is a good idea?” Brooke asked looking around anxiously.
“They said he had been moved here, and we need to check.”
“Couldn’t we wait until day-light. I mean he’ll still be here tomorrow.”
“He might not, that’s the whole point.” Carmen replied exasperatedly.
Brooke couldn’t think of anything to say to this so kept quiet. Despite the undeniable logic of Carmen’s comment she still didn’t want to be wandering round a funeral parlour in the middle of the night checking to see if one of her friend was a vampire. It was creepy. She reached for Carmen’s hand.
Carmen swallowed as she felt Brooke’s fingers lace with her own. Well, this is an unexpected bonus she thought happily. Stop it, Ferrera, focus on the task at hand. Hand, Brooke’s fingers…
“Did you hear that?”
“I thought I heard a noise.”
“It was probably Josh.”
“Carmen, that isn’t funny!”
But it probably was Josh, Carmen thought as they kept walking along the corridor reading the titles on the doors.
“Here.” Carmen stopped outside a door labelled ‘Cold storage’.
Brooke regretfully let go of Carmen’s hand and pulled out a stake to go with the cross she had in her other hand. Carmen reached for the door and was about to push it open when a figure showed through the frosted glass of the door.
“Who’s out there?”
Carmen and Brooke both stepped away from the door as it opened towards them. Standing in the doorway was the well-known form of Josh Ford.
“Brooke, Carmen what are you guys doing here? And where is here, anyway? The last thing I remember is Nicole dragging me off in that alley.”
“Uh, hi Josh” Carmen managed taking a step back “Brooke, why don’t you stay out here while I explain things to Josh?”
Carmen noticed that Josh was staring at Brooke’s neck.
“Why doesn’t Brooke explain things to me?” Josh suggested, smiling.
Brooke seemed to be in shock at seeing Josh in the flesh until his face shifted into the ridges and furrows of a hungry vampire, then she gasped. Enough of this, thought Carmen. Stepping forward she pushed Josh hard, forcing him back into the room.
“This won’t take long” Carmen stepped forward after Josh and pulled the door shut behind her.
About 30 seconds passed with various crashing sounds before Carmen opened the door again.
“Lets get out of here.” Carmen said slipping the stake back into the waistband of her trousers.