Title: Carmen the Vampire Slayer – Senior Year
Pairing: Brooke / Carmen
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: This story takes place following the ‘Carmen the Vampire Slayer – Summer Series’ at the beginning of the senior year.
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
“Can you believe it?” Brooke McQueen commented as she turned towards her girlfriend “We made it to senior year.”
Carmen Ferrera smiled indulgently at how happy Brooke was, thinking how good it was that she had something to feel happy about. The events of the last school year had taken their toll on everyone and thankfully the summer had been fairly quiet. And that was all good, thought Carmen, a quiet life meant a longer one as far as a vampire slayer was concerned. And now here they were, about to enter Kennedy High School, about to go public, well more public, with their relationship.
“Come on, Carmen, are you going to stand there daydreaming all day?” Lily Esposito gently nudged her friend who was standing apparently lost in thought on the school steps “I think Brooke may already be sitting in home room.”
Carmen looked around in surprise to see that Brooke had seemingly vanished. Lily laughed at the look on Carmen’s face:
“So much for those slayer reflexes Carmen!”
“I was just…” Carmen began when a very familiar voice barked:
”Say it a little louder, Esposito, I don’t think those stoners over by the drinking fountain heard!”
The two girls turned and realised that their least favourite teacher, who was also Carmen’s watcher, was standing right behind them. Bobbie Glass set her face into its familiar scowl and continued:
“We haven’t even got inside yet and already you’re blurting out everything. Dial it back a notch or three.”
Lily opened her mouth to respond but before she could say anything Ms Glass continued in a lower tone:
“And I thought we agreed that the breakfast dishes would be done before school, Carmen.”
“I um it took me a while…had to iron my blouse…” Carmen trailed off, realising that there was little point in trying to explain that she wanted to look nice for Brooke.
“School isn’t a fashion parade” Ms Glass went on, pointedly ignoring the students around her, some of whom looked to Carmen as if they had just stepped off the pages of Vogue, “McGirlfriend already knows what your clothes look like.”
Carmen and Lily watched her stride off using her briefcase as a battering ram to create a path through the throng of students.
“At least she’s cool about you and Brooke.” Lily commiserated her friend.
“So what do you think about letting Poppy back on the squad?” Brooke asked as they took their seats in the cafeteria.
“After what she pulled last year I’m not sure that you should.” Lily took a bite of her homemade salad “I mean she tried to raise a demon to kill you guys.”
“It didn’t go that far, I mean she might have chickened out at the last minute.” Brooke said knowing that she sounded like she was going easy on her erstwhile friend “What do you think, oh captain my co-captain?”
“Well,” Carmen paused as she took a bite of her fries “Are there really no other choices?”
“Hello Brooke McQueen!” boomed a cheerful voice.
The three girls looked up to see April Tuna clutching her lunch tray which appeared to be covered in carrots.
“Uh, hi April.” Brooke replied “Did you have a good summer?”
April took this as a sign that she was welcome to join them and dumped her tray on the table before pulling out the empty chair beside Lily and sprawling in it.
“I’m trying a new diet.” April announced, gesturing at her tray and reaching for a carrot that she began to crunch noisily.
“A low carb one?” Carmen hazarded.
“You should really try it!” April enthused, suddenly looking intently at Carmen “It’s good for your night-vision.”
Carmen stared back at her suddenly remembering April’s weird behaviour last year, April pushing her against the door and hissing at her ‘I know what you do at night, Carmen Ferrera!’. Oh crap, she knows about the slaying Carmen realised.
“So how many carrots do you get through a day?” Lily asked, wondering what all the staring was about.
“A dozen or so.” April replied still not looking away from Carmen who had dropped her gaze to her fries.
Brooke reached her hand under the table and touched Carmen’s knee realising that her girlfriend was upset about something.
“Is it true that you and Brooke McQueen are together?” April abruptly changed subjects.
“Um yeah, it’s true.” Carmen answered looking up from her plate at April, thinking at least I can deal with this.
“Alternative lifestyles are becoming more and more accepted.” April commented through a mouthful of carrot “I support you.”
“Thanks, April.” Brooke smiled at her.
April grinned at her and turned to Lily:
“Anytime you decide that you want some girl-on girl action Lily Esposito remember that I offered first.”
“So when are you and April going on your first date?” Brooke teased her friend as they took turns firing their crossbows at the target.
It was after school and the three girls had joined Bio Glass in the training room in the basement of the school. Although Ms Glass was adamant that only during emergencies could Lily and Brooke join in patrol she was equally determined that they be able to defend themselves if attacked. The two girls had learned basic hand-to-hand techniques for defending themselves and now were moving onto weapons. While Carmen and her watcher sparred with a couple of swords Lily and Brooke were sharpening their targeting skills. Most of their bolts were landing on the target, just no where near the bulls-eye.
“I can’t believe she said that!” Lily paused and adjusted her aim before firing “I mean yay for the hot girl-on-girl action but I don’t think that April would be my first choice. If I was interested. Which I’m not.”
Lily felt herself blush as she stepped back to let Brooke stand in front the target. She watched as Brooke fired and managed to hit quite close to the bulls-eye.
“Yay me!” Brooke bounced up and down a little.
“Good shot.” Lily repositioned herself “I mean she isn’t even my type.”
“I didn’t realise you had a girl type?”
Lily saw the target wobble out of her vision and was not surprised as her bolt hit the board about a foot away from the target.
“I have to go by myself sooner or later.” Carmen tried to reason with her watcher “I mean I’ve managed to survive all summer.”
Bobbie Glass looked up from the Science Today magazine that she was pretending to read:
“We’ve been over this before, Carmen, until I say so no solo patrols.”
Bobbie glared back down at her magazine. For many reasons, the main one being that her slayer had hit the danger period. After getting over the shock of realising that she actually was the slayer, learning to adjust to the advantages that brought - and in Carmen’s case having to learn how to fight and handle weapons – then managing to survive for a few months Carmen was actually turning into a reasonable slayer. Hence the danger period. Typically a slayer was most exposed at 3 stages: in the first few weeks of being called; at around 18 months into their calling when they got cocky and died because of a little mistake; and exactly where Carmen was now: the 4-6 month window. The time when a slayer had some experience but not enough to really judge properly what to do in many situations. If a slayer was lucky enough to make it to the 2 year mark unscathed then they usually didn’t last another year. The Council had done extensive studies on the life spans of slayers, which Bobbie had once read with scientific interest wondering why slayers weren’t more careful or better trained by their watchers. Now with a slayer of her own she was beginning to understand why. The slayer being a teenage girl might once have meant that the watcher had a reasonable amount of control but not anymore. And I don’t want anything to happen to Carmen, Bobbie thought to herself, so much for watcher detachment.
“Fine! Whatever you want!”
Bobbie jerked out of her revelry to see Carmen marching towards the door of the room before roughly jerking it open.
“You break it, you buy it!” Bobbie found herself saying automatically.
Carmen turned and shot a death glare over her shoulder and shut the door behind her with exaggerated care. She went across the hallway and down the stairs to the basement. Carmen actually enjoyed living with Bio Glass more than she had thought she would. Unable to deal any longer with her mother’s alcohol-fuelled abuse Carmen had first fled to Brooke’s house where she had been welcomed into the McQueen/McPherson household. Once the school year had ended Ms McPherson had concocted a scheme with Bio Glass, of all people, for Carmen to live with her. Carmen suspected that this was largely due to the fact that Mike McQueen suspected about Brooke’s and her relationship and didn’t want the two girls sharing a room any longer. And there was Sam who hadn’t properly spoken to Carmen since Harrison’s death other than to accuse her of it. Brooke insisted that they still spend time together there, her logic being that Sam just needed time to get back to normal and seeing Carmen would help this. At first Carmen had hoped that Brooke was right but after an incident when Carmen and Brooke had broken into Sam’s room in order to comfort her Sam had taken ignoring Carmen to a whole new level. Lying across her bed Carmen tried to put the Sam-problem out of her mind and reached for the phone.
“Is Brooke there, please?”
A silence on the other end followed by a thump indicated to Carmen that Sam had answered the phone. After simply hanging up on Carmen a few times Brooke had, to use her phrase, ‘had words’ to Sam and now Sam would at least tell Brooke there was a phone call for her. As she waited Carmen reflected that her slaying had certainly not helped the cohesion of their little social group. Sam maintained a wary friendship with Brooke and Lily but refused to do anything if Carmen was with them. Carmen supposed that Sam would spend her free periods and lunch times in the Zapruder office, using the newspaper as an excuse to avoid her now that school had started. And of course they had all lost friends: Harrison and Josh. Carmen even found herself missing Nicole and Mary Cherry at times. But not too much. They hadn’t seen the two vampires who so resembled Brooke’s two friends all summer. Carmen hoped that they were dead or had at least left town.
Carmen felt herself smiling in response to Brooke’s voice.
“I should have guessed it was you. You know maybe you should consider changing your name to ‘Phone’.” Brooke joked.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that, make a joke out of it.”
“Sam’ll come round, Carm. It’s just taking her a little longer to adjust.”
“When you say that is it me or yourself you’re trying to convince?”
“Do you want to fight, or did you call for another reason?”
Carmen could hear annoyance creeping into Brooke’s voice.
“Sorry Brooke. I just had a fight with Bio Glass and …”
“And I seemed like a convenient target?” Brooke asked sarcastically.
“No I…I’m sorry ok? Look can we start over? I just want someone to vent too.” Carmen apologised.
“So still no go on the solo thing?”
“I just don’t get why? I mean must have killed like 50 vampires since I’ve been called, about 15 demons. I train practically every day!”
“You don’t have to convince me!” Brooke laughed.
“And you haven’t been helping much. You and Lily totally caved on the group-patrols.”
“We haven’t caved. We’re just strategically withdrawing to regroup for another attack. Anyway I thought you wanted to patrol all by yourself, Ms Independence?” Brooke teased her girlfriend.
“Yes but…are you laughing at me?”
“No. Well, maybe a little.”
“Look, Carm, I know you want to leave the nest or whatever but it’s nice to know that you aren’t out there facing the forces of darkness all by yourself.”
“Aw, Brooke, you say the sweetest things! Listen, I have to go, I can hear Bio clumping around which means it’s time to patrol.”
“Call me when you get back.” Brooke tried not to let the twinge of fear she always felt when Carmen left for patrol, into her voice “Love you.”
“Love you too.”
Carmen put the phone down and rolled across the bed.
“I still don’t understand why we have to do this!” Mary Cherry whined loudly, swatting at the bushes surrounding them.
Nicole Julian ground her teeth together in frustration and reminded herself that Mary Cherry was a better minion than some.
“There are a lot of things you don’t understand Mary Cherry.”
“You are so right Nic! I have never understood why they allow ugly people to act in movies, or how they get those itty bitty pieces of pimento inside olives or why…”
“Shut up!” Nicole hissed as she grabbed Mary Cherry’s lapels and dragged her down until they were face to face “Do you want the slayer to hear us?”
Nicole shoved Mary Cherry none too gently away from herself and turned her attention to the gap in the bushes. Over the past few nights she had dragged several victims here and left the bodies. Hopefully the slayer would get the message and patrol at this park tonight. Over the past month or so she had been gathering as much information on Carmen’s slaying technique as possible and had been following the slayer and her friends around when ever she could. She had been working on a plan which, hopefully, would truly screw with the slayer and her groupies and wanted to put it into effect soon. Tonight she had given into Mary Cherry’s complaining and had brought her along.
“Nic, I’m hungry.”
Nicole rolled her eyes and ignored her friend, listening to the noises of the night. She loved many things about being a vampire and the supernatural hearing was one of them. Sure enough through the darkness she could hear the tread of two people approaching.
“I think it was somewhere over here.”
“Do you think the vamp will come back tonight?”
“Really Carmen, that’s why we’re here after all.”
Nicole could hear the exasperation in her former teacher’s voice.
“Nic, did you know that they were going to be here?”
Mary Cherry at least managed to keep her voice down.
“That’s why we’re here, Mary Cherry! Now shut up or they’ll hear us.”
“Did you hear that?”
Damn slayer hearing, Nicole thought.
“Stay alert, Carmen.”
As Nicole and Mary Cherry watched Carmen and Glass did a sweep of the area, checking carefully although not widening their search enough as the two vampires remained undiscovered. Eventually they moved on and Nicole decided that it was time to put her plan into action.
“So the vamp was a no show?” Lily asked her friend as she waited for her to pay for lunch the next day.
“Unfortunately, yes. But at least there were no new victims either.”
Sam pretended not to know what they were talking about. Finding herself in line behind Lily she felt she couldn’t just leave. It wasn’t Lily’s fault Sam reminded herself. Lily had lost Josh too. Maybe that’s how she got over losing Harrison so fast Sam thought bitterly - practice.
“Sam?” Lily’s voice interrupted her thoughts “Do you want to sit with us?”
Reminding herself that even looking at Carmen was a way of acknowledging her presence Sam stared directly at Lily and shook her head.
“I’ve got stuff to do.” she said quietly and grabbed her tray.
“Sam!” Carmen tried to get her friend to at least look at her.
But Sam acted as if she hadn’t heard anything and walked towards a deserted table.
“She’ll come…” Lily started to say but was interrupted:
“Don’t say it, Lil, just don’t say it.” Carmen said quietly and picking up her own tray headed in the opposite direction to Sam.
That evening Sam sat in the den at the McQueen / McPherson residence and tried to watch the movie that was playing. Mike and Jane had gone out to dinner and Brooke was out, presumably with her girlfriend, so Sam had the house to herself. Her mother had had the therapy chat with her again today and Sam was feeling cornered. What she desperately wanted to say to Jane, when she had brought up the subject again was: ‘ok Mom, I’ll just tell the therapist that I blame my ex-friend who is some kind of superhero because it seems like ever since she started killing vampires my friends have been dying and it is all her fault’. The first time her mom had suggested it, about the time she had stayed in her room for a week, Mike had been with her. After her mom’s tentative suggestion Mike had even suggested that she talk to him using supportive step-parent speech number 3 the one that went ‘need someone outside the situation, can tell me anything’. As much as Sam wanted to talk to someone telling Mike or a therapist the truth would result in a one way ticket to the loony bin. Out of the people who would believe her Brooke was hardly going to side against her girlfriend and Lily although she tried to stay neutral was still part of the slaying posse. Sam had even considered Bio Glass for about 2 seconds before coming to her senses. Bio’s idea of advice would probably be along the lines of ‘suck it up McWhiny’.
The ringing of the phone interrupted her thoughts. Probably Lily wanting to see if I am ok, Sam thought, or mom checking to see I haven’t slit my wrists or something. Wearily Sam picked up the phone:
“Hi Spam.” replied Nicole perkily.
Sam pulled the receiver away from her ear and shook it.
“Satan, I have nothing to say to you.” Sam said shakily into the phone.
“That’s fine I really didn’t call to hear your voice.” Nicole responded without thinking.
“Why are you calling me then?” Sam couldn’t help asking.
“Listen Spam, er, Sam,” Nicole corrected herself “I just thought you should know that there are two sides to every story. Think about it”
But Sam was talking to a dead line.
“That was weird.” Sam said aloud.
“Well, what did little Spammy have to say for herself?” Mary Cherry asked her friend.
“She was her usual charm less self.” Nicole allowed herself a small smile “But I think the trap is well and truly baited. She won’t be able to stop her Lois Lane instincts from kicking in. Inquiring minds will want to know.”
“Whatever I decide to tell her.”
“That’s great, Hun, but it’s my turn now.”
Mary Cherry reached for the phone and dialed a number:
“Hello, Pizza-for you? Hi, could you rustle me up a couple of your delicious large meat Supremes with extra meat. How soon can you get here? Great.” Mary Cherry hit the end call button and tossed the phone on the table “I just love take-out!”
Sam sat in her small office, hearing the noise of the Zapruder staff as they worked on the next issue. She was supposed to be proofing a story on the new football team but instead was wondering about the disturbing phone call from Nicole. Obviously Nicole had some kind of agenda but exactly what it was would be the difficult thing to discover. Who knows what new kind of crazy Nicole is now, Sam thought. That was the whole issue, Sam suddenly realised, she didn’t know anything about vampires other than how to kill them and that was mainly from movies. What exactly had Nicole said – there were two sides to every story – well as a journalist I know that’s certainly true, Sam told herself. What if Carmen and co. were wrong with their running round and killing people? Sam stared at the computer screen and wondered what kind of filters the school system had on it and who would see the evidence of any searches she made. Probably Krupps that seemed like the kind of fascist thing he would be into Sam decided. For a second she let herself be sidetracked at the thought of a story on freedom of information but realised that now was not the time. Reaching for a fresh piece of paper Sam grabbed her red correcting pen and began to make a list: Dracula (Stoker not film), Interview With A Vampire (Rice), Nosferatu, Blade, The Masquerade. Sam paused and tapped her pen against her teeth. After thinking for a minute longer she added: slayer (Lily), Nicole and Mary Cherry, occult shop. Sam stared at the paper for a while before folding it and placing it in her pocket.
Lily stopped by her locker and gratefully let her bag drop to the floor. The history text-book that they were using this year felt like it weighed several tons and she was grateful for the chance to return it to her locker for a few hours before having to collect it again after school. Lily fiddled with the combination and had just opened the door when a voice in her ear made her jump:
“April!” Lily spun round to face her “You scared me half to death!”
“You’ll need better reflexes that that if you are to succeed in your quest against evil!”
April was right in her face and Lily found herself backing into her locker in an effort to create some distance between them. April began to do some kind of pseudo-ninja arm waving and her foot slipped on Lily’s bag. She slid forward and grabbed at Lily to regain her balance. Lily instinctively caught one of April’s arms and found herself with her arms full of the taller girl.
“What’s going on here? Tuna, what have I told you about public displays like this?”
Great, thought Lily as she felt April being dragged off her, of course the one teacher who just happened along would be her.
“Just giving Lily some pointers, Sir.” April addressed her biology teacher “You never know what will be lurking round the next corner!”
“Are you on drugs, Tuna?” Bobbie Glass glared hard at April “Wait, don’t answer that. The paper work alone for just asking you that isn’t worth it. Now, get to class!”
“Yes, Sir!” April actually saluted before heading off.
“And as for you…” Bio began, turning to Lily.
“It wasn’t what you think.” Lily said quickly “She just slipped and …”
“Don’t think I don’t see enough of that with the McLovebirds. Keep it behind closed preferably locked doors, Ms Esposito, this is a school not a Melissa Etheridge concert.”
“But we weren’t…” Lily tried again but Bio was already striding away.
“Must be something in the water.” Lily heard her mutter.
Glancing round to see who had witnessed her humiliation Lily noticed Sam leaning against the lockers nearby.
“A little help might have been in order.” Lily said before turning back to her locker.
“But it was too much fun watching April trying to put the moves on you.” Sam was grinning by now.
“But she wasn’t…” Lily began without turning round
“Relax, Lil, I saw the whole thing.” Sam crossed the hallway to lean on the locker next to Lily “What was with the mime act?”
Lily paused for a second before answering:
“I think she was showing me some of her cheerleading moves. She’s still determined to get into the Glamazons, you know. Probably thought I could influence Brooke or Car…something.”
If Sam noticed the hesitation or the reference to Carmen she didn’t show it.
“So, do you want to grab some ice-cream after school?” Sam asked casually “I’ve been kinda busy lately and we haven’t hung out much, and I sorta thought that maybe we could catch up?”
Lily turned from her locker clutching her literature book and smiled at her friend:
“Sure, Sam, that would be great.”
“Cool. So it’s a date then. I’ll meet you here after class.”
“Let’s go back to your place.” Brooke suggested as she threw her bags into the backseat of her car realising that she didn’t feel up to facing Sam’s antagonism at the moment.
“Sure, why not?” Carmen agreed with her girlfriend, secretly relieved that Brooke had suggested their destination first.
The two girls were leaving the school after their afternoon Glamazon practice. It had gone well and Carmen was looking forward to having a relaxing evening without leaving the house.
“You know, Bio is letting me have the night off. I told her I had to spend time on that history paper.”
“But that isn’t due until next week.” Brooke pulled out of the parking lot and headed in the direction of Carmen’s house.
“Well I don’t think that the other teachers share their deadline info with her.” Carmen grinned smugly “So I thought that maybe my favourite straight A student might give me a little study assistance. And then when we are done…”
“Well, I do have that extra credit biology assignment to work on.” Brooke kept her eyes on the road.
“What assignment?” Carmen asked in surprise “And can’t it wait?”
“It’s to do with physiological response in mammals.” Brooke replied, biting her lip to keep from smiling.
“You’re experimenting on poor helpless animals!”
Carmen couldn’t believe her girlfriend would do that.
“You know, you sounded exactly like Lily when you said that. And it isn’t animals. Just one animal.” Brooke replied “And she isn’t that helpless. I keep telling her she just has to say no and I’ll stop.”
“Oh.” Carmen suddenly realised what Brooke had been getting at and felt her face burst into flames.
“But if you don’t want to help me…” Brooke trailed off.
“No, I think that, in the interests of science, you need to continue your important work.”
“In the interests of science, of course.”
Brooke grinned broadly at Carmen for a second before turning back to the road. After a minute Carmen said in a small voice:
“You were joking about it being an assignment, right?”
Bobbie Glass sighed as she finished grading the final paper from the junior biology class. It was a lot more time consuming now that she actually had to read the papers and not just give the students the grades she knew they deserved. That idiot Vice Principal Krupps had put a stop to that after several students and their parents had threatened to sue the school. She had remained in her school office to do this work seeing as Carmen and her girlfriend were probably ‘studying’ together seeing as she had grudgingly given her slayer the night off. Glass knew that the paper Carmen claimed to be working on wasn’t due until next week but she couldn’t let Carmen think she would get the night off for no good reason. I am the watcher after all and I call the shots, Glass thought as she packed her brief case. There was time for a late dinner at Monsieur Croutons before heading home and doing a little slayer-crushing if Carmen and Brooke were flouting their curfew. Then a relaxing bath and the latest issue of Watchers Monthly with that article on demon cloning before bed. Glass locked her office and headed out of the darkened school towards the parking lot.
The parking lot was darker than usual, Glass noted, as she crossed it towards her car. She would make a note of the fact that the little vandals were still getting a kick out of breaking the overhead lights. Glass crunched on the broken glass as she approached the door of her car and reached for her keys. It was then that she heard a noise behind her, a noise which was all too familiar in her line of work. Angry footsteps approaching across the asphalt. Quickly shoving the keys in the lock and turning them Glass took a tighter grip on her briefcase and turned round. Despite the dim light Glass recognised the figure.
“What can I do for you, Mr Gong? Shouldn’t you be at home wasting your life in front of a computer screen chatting with your other cyber losers?”
Freddie Gong, a short Asian student stopped a few feet in front of her and glared at his teacher.
“Why did you give me a B in the last assignment?” he demanded “I deserved higher! You ruined my grade point average!”
Glass felt herself relax. This was the kind of confrontation that she enjoyed.
“If you don’t like your grade you know what you can do about it. Since I’ve been forced to grade on the curve someone has to get the B’s and this time it was you. If you put in the work then…”
“Then I would have still gotten a B!” Freddie yelled angrily “It’s too late now. I’ve seen who gets the good grades. It’s your little pet…”
“Are you accusing me of favouritism?” Glass roared in a voice that usually sent students running for cover “I despise all of you little worms equally!”
“…slayer!” Freddie finished triumphantly his face contorting into all too familiar ridges and fangs.
For a second they stared at each other before Glass briefcase contacted with Freddie between his legs. Freddie doubled over and Glass dropped the brief case and reached in the pocket of her lab coat for the stake she had placed there. Before she could draw it out a figure crashed into her, causing her to stagger back into the car.
“Don’t worry, Ms Glass sir!” a breathless voice said somewhere near her ear “I’ll save you from the vampire!”
Glass watched in horror as the figure launched itself again, this time in the direction of the still crouching vampire. Freddie looked up and easily knocked the figure aside so she fell over. Glass quickly grabbed at the stake and pulled it out.
“You bitch!” Freddie hissed at her “You’ll pay for that.”
Glass took a step forward and feigned a lunge with the stake. Freddie ducked to avoid it and wasn’t expecting the fist that connected with his jaw. Roaring angrily he flipped the brief case with his foot and kicked it hard at Glass’s legs where it slammed into her knee. She gasped as a sharp pain exploded in her knee-cap and swayed slightly. Grinning Freddie moved in closer trying to pin her against the car. Knowing that she would have little hope if he succeeded, Glass swung at his head again while lunging with the stake as well. This connected with his ear. The vampire screamed in pain as the stake penetrated his inner ear cavity and stuck fast. Glass shoved him hard away from her and reached down to open her brief case. Grabbing the cross inside it Glass advanced on the vampire as he pulled the bloody stake out of his ear. Freddie snarled in pain and fury and backed away. Glass reached the second figure still sprawled on the ground where she had fallen and pulled her upright.
“Grab my briefcase and get in the car.” she instructed still watching Freddie.
As the girl moved towards the car Freddie took a step towards them. Glass waved the cross closer and he backed off again.
“Looks like you better get lost Gong before I finish you off.” Glass threatened trying to look menacing.
Freddie suddenly hurled the stake at her causing Glass to duck out of the way. When she looked up again he was disappearing across the parking lot. Glass waited until he was out of sight and quickly got in the car.
“Good thing I was there to distract Freddie, sir. He hadn’t been to class for a couple of days and I wondered if he had been turned.”
Glass pulled out of the parking lot and headed out along then road. They drove in silence for a minute before she turned to her passenger and asked:
“What the hell were you thinking Tuna?”
Carmen tapped her pen against the desk as she watched Brooke read her assignment. Brooke really was extremely attractive, Carmen thought, admiring the way that Brooke’s legs seemed to go on forever. And she looks so cute when she gets that I’m-concentrating frown. And her hair is so shiny and …
“Will you stop it?”
“Looking at me like that!” Brooke tried to keep her voice stern.
She put the pages she was holding down on her chest and pulled herself up the bed slightly, noticing that Carmen had started to blush and was now staring hard at her desk top.
“It’s just kinda distracting, Carm. I’m trying to help you with your paper and you’re looking at me like…like you want to ravish me.”
Brooke grinned as she noticed that this comment made her girlfriend turn even redder.
“Sorry.” Carmen apologised “It’s just sometimes I still can’t believe that…”
Brooke waited for a second before getting up and walking over to stand beside Carmen, placing her hand gently under Carmen’s chin and lifting her head to make Carmen look at her.
“Well you had better believe it.” Brooke spoke quietly “’Cause I’m not gonna change my mind about being with you. I love you, Carmen Ferrera. I love the way you look and the things you say and how you act and way you blush when I tease you.”
Brooke slid her hand around Carmen’s head until it was buried in her hair. She bent down until she was face to face with her girlfriend before whispering:
“You know what else I love?”
Carmen managed to shake her head slightly, aware of how close Brooke was and how unsteady it made her feel.
“I love the way you look at me like you want to ravish me.”
Brooke closed the space between them and kissed Carmen gently. Carmen pulled Brooke on to her lap, managing not to break the contact of their lips, before moving them along her jaw-line in tiny jumps. After kissing for several minutes Carmen changed her grip on Brooke and stood up.
“Carm, what are you doing?” Brooke squealed as Carmen carried her across the room.
“Well, seeing as you liked my I-want-to-ravish-you look so much I thought we could see how much you like the real thing.”
As Carmen spoke she gently dropped Brooke on the bed and sat down beside her. Looking at Brooke lying on the bed Carmen realised that this was what love was. Being here with Brooke was the happiest she had ever felt.
“What is it?” Brooke asked softly.
“I…I just feel so much for you.” Carmen realised that she felt close to tears “And I don’t even know how to tell you.”
Brooke took Carmen’s hand and placed it on her breast.
“Show me.” she said again.
The familiar and angry sounding voice broke in on the two girls sometime later.
“I don’t believe it!” Carmen groaned burying her face in Brooke’s neck “She was supposed to be out for ages.”
“It’s ok.” Brooke kissed Carmen’s head “I guess we had better see what she wants.”
“Ferrera!” Glass called again, this time accompanying her summons with rattling the door handle vigorously.
“Coming.” Carmen called as she sat up looking for her discarded tee-shirt.
“Is McGirlfriend still there? Bring her too.” floated down the stairs.
“This had better be important.” Carmen whined as she regretfully watched Brooke buttoning her blouse “At least a demon attack.”
Brooke finished pulling on her shoes and smoothed down her hair:
“Come on slayer, world saveage awaits.”
Sam looked at the first page that her google search displayed: monstrous vampires, queer vampires, vampire films. And these were just the first out of over 11 million possible hits. Sam sighed and typed ‘slayer’ in the search engine instead. Most seemed in reference to the band Slayer including lyrics, chords and discography’s although there was also tax slayer a site about income tax software and planet slayer an environmental site. This seemed like a hopeless task. Pushing her chair back Sam reached for the pile of books that she stacked on her desk beside the key-board. Maybe the computer could wait until another night. Sam sorted through the stack and finally picked ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker. Might as well start at the beginning she thought as she put the other books back and opened to the first page.
“When will you learn to keep your overactive mouth shut!” Bio Glass raged as she paced around the living room “Do you actually understand the words ‘secret identity’?”
“Wow, just like Wonder Woman.” April interjected excitedly “Now I have even more reason to worship you!”
“Can it, Tuna.” Glass snapped.
“But we didn’t…” Brooke began.
“Listen McGirlfriend you, Esposito, and McSister are the only three who know about Ferrera being the slayer. I certainly didn’t tell anyone and I’m thinking that because it didn’t appear on the front page of McSister’s rag then she didn’t either, besides I am not unaware of her little feud with …” Glass paused and glared at April “…Wonder Woman over there. Then tonight I have that little freak Gong telling me he knows about the slayer and on the way home I get a detailed description of our secret activities from Mackerel and I’m wondering who is out there telling the world about you?”
Carmen sat on the arm of the couch and waited for her watcher to run out of steam. When it appeared that she had paused for breath she simply said:
“Poppy knows about me. If I remember you actually threatened her with the information.”
“Or Nicole.” Brooke chimed in.
“Or Mary Cherry.” Carmen added brightly.
“But how…” Glass asked.
“Look, Ms Glass, Nicole may be blond but she isn’t stupid. If she is still around then she will have found out about Carm by now. Knowledge is power with Nic.”
“Books.” Carmen contributed feeling pleased with herself “If Poppy can learn how to summon a demon from a book why can’t Nicole find out about slayers.”
“Or maybe she met someone who knew one once.” Brooke continued “I mean if there have been slayers forever then at least some of them must have had friends.”
“This is all well and good,” Carmen said looking at her flummoxed watcher “But what we really want to know is how April knows. So, April?”
April sat up straighter in her chair and took a deep breath:
“Well I knew that something weird was going on when Nicole Julian and Mary Cherry vanished. Emory Dick told me that their bodies had vanished and first I thought that it was the aliens and…”
“Uh, April I think the short version is all we need tonight.” Brooke broke in.
“Right, of course Brooke McQueen.” April smiled at her “I found out all about it by following Carmen Ferrera. I was newly inspired by her outstanding cheerleading abilities…”
“I told you to tone it down.” Glass muttered.
“…and I thought if I knew more about her life it would make it easier for her to like me, if I could be interested in the same things she is. But I didn’t know that you liked her too Brooke McQueen and I’m very happy for the two of you and…”
“I think we get the picture.” Glass spoke from the chair she had finally sunk down into “So the question is: what to do now?”
“I think you should get some ice for that knee.” April spoke quickly “It looked like it really hurt when Freddie got you there.”
“I don’t really understand, Hun. It all sounds kinda complicated to me.” Mary Cherry looked up from where she was painting her fingernails “Doesn’t this colour look divine on me?”
“You look stunning.” Nicole replied, without looking up from the magazine she was reading “The point of this little exercise is …look I’ve already told you the point. In fact I told you the whole of my plan. If we can get Spam on our side - which although difficult will not be impossible – then everything will fall into place.”
“And if it doesn’t work then we can just kill them all!” Mary Cherry added enthusiastically “I can’t wait for another taste of little Lily!”
“My way has more style.” Nicole argued.
“Yeah, sure Hun.” Mary Cherry agreed vaguely “But Nic, how are you going to get Spammy to come over to the good side. I mean I know she isn’t the smartest cookie in the jar but why will she believe you.”
“Because she wants to Mary Cherry. Spam wants with all her little heart to believe that Harrison wasn’t an evil soulless vampire. And if I tell her that enough times she’ll believe me. Besides there’s always plan B.”
“Plan B? My plan?”
“No. It’s more like Plan Me, actually.”
Lily had looked surprised when April had turned up the morning training session but on hearing the story had shrugged and muttered:
“The more the merrier I guess.”
April had shown great enthusiasm and little else in her efforts to grasp the basics. Eventually after both Brooke and Lily had attacked her several times the end result of which was April lying curled in a ball on the ground crying:
“Save me, Carmen Ferrera.”
Glass had suggested that April just watch for a while.
“You know, you might have some competition there.” Lily commented as she and Brooke watched April watching Carmen and Glass spar “April is all over the slayer worship.”
“Well as long as that is all she does I have no problem with her.” Brooke replied “Besides Carm would never…”
“Never be interested in her?” Lily finished the sentence “That’s very…very something of you.”
“I was going to say never cheat on me.” Brooke glanced down at Lily “What’s up with you this morning? You’re extra snarly.”
Lily continued to watch the action on the other side of the room. Brooke waited for a second and then went back to watching Carmen.
“I had ice-cream with Sam.” Lily said suddenly “And we were talking and laughing and she was, well, like the old Sammy. Like she was before everything happened. And it was fun and I realised how much I miss her and it should be Sam here, not April and I hate how messed up everything is at the moment.”
Brooke reached for Lily’s hand and gave it a squeeze.
“I know, Lil, everything’s so different from what I thought it would be like. But some of it has turned out ok. I mean we weren’t exactly friends before. And Carm and I …” Brooke trailed off, letting go of Lily’s hand.
Lily turned and looked at her:
“I know Brooke. But sometimes I wonder if the bad stuff doesn’t outweigh the good stuff.”
Sam sat at her desk in the Zapruder offices and closed the book. She had stayed up most of the night reading Dracula and now that she had finished the story although she had enjoyed it she wasn’t sure if she was ready to believe that it was real. And there were certainly no slayers in it even though the Van Helsing guy might be some kind of watcher. And Dracula seemed to be able to wander around at will, whatever the weather. And the shape shifting was kinda creepy if it were true. Well, one down, Sam thought and reached for the other book she had stuffed in her bag that morning Interview With The Vampire.
“Does this mean I can hang out with you now? And can I rejoin the Glamazons? And can I go and rid the world of the forces of darkness with you, risking life and limb for a better tomorrow?”
Brooke bit her lip to keep from laughing as she watched Carmen being backed into the corner of the cafeteria by April. Carmen looked afraid, very afraid. Brooke caught her eye and shrugged.
“Yeah, sure, why not?” Carmen said helplessly.
April backed up a little and Carmen quickly made her way to Brooke.
“Save me.” she moaned quietly.
“I think you just agreed to let her come on patrol with you.” Brooke said, faking a pout “You don’t let me come on patrol with you.”
“I um, it isn’t my fault.” Carmen said quickly “She’s just so, so excited by it all.”
“And I’m not? But I wrote that special cheer for you and everything!”
“Maybe if you’re a good little slayer I’ll show you sometime.” Brooke managed before she started laughing “God, Carm, sometimes you are too easy.”
“Bitch.” Carmen said good-naturedly, finally realising that her girlfriend had been teasing her.
It was pitch black in the cemetery now that they had moved away from the perimeter which was lit by the glow of street lights. Carmen suddenly wondered if she would ever stop finding going on patrol frightening. Even though she had been doing this slayer thing now for what felt like forever she still wasn’t used to loading herself down with weaponry and heading off to save the world on a nightly basis. Well not the whole world exactly but at least the little portion of it near where she lived. Thankfully April’s insistence that she too patrol had been firmly repressed by Glass and for once Carmen had been more than happy to go alone with her watcher. Having Brooke or Lily patrol with them would have been fun but April would have been annoying. Ever since the night in the school parking lot April had insisted on hanging out with them. And Lily, who seemed to be spending more time with Sam who still wasn’t talking to her, had become somewhat moody and withdrawn. And today Glass had been acting weird and kept looking at Carmen during training as if she expected her to mess up. And last night she had had a frightening dream about being buried alive and waking up in her coffin. Because of that she had gotten even less sleep than usual.
“Ferrera! Are you still with me?” came a sarcastic voice.
Without bothering to answer Carmen sped up so she was back in step with her watcher.
“Why do you keep asking me that?” Carmen asked in frustration “Felt a disturbance in the force?”
Glass glanced at her and replied:
“What force? What are you…”
But she was cut off by a growl from some bushes ahead of them. Carmen gestured with her hand at a large crypt off to her left that if Glass circled around would bring her out behind the bushes. Seeing that Glass clearly understood because she started to move off in that direction, Carmen silently unslung her cross bow and fitted a bolt. Banishing all thoughts of the rest of her life Carmen took a deep silent breath, waiting for Glass to have got around behind the hidden noise maker. Aiming at the bushes Carmen started slowly forward.
Suddenly out of the darkness to her right exploded a vampire that charged directly at her. Carmen managed to swing round and fired quickly. As the dust cleared another vampire materialised in his place. Realising that she didn’t have time to reload Carmen used the crossbow as a weapon and swung to at the second vampire. As it connected Carmen let go of the weapon and he staggered backwards. Carmen stepped forward and was about to follow up with a kick when the bushes rustled again. At the same time there was a yell from behind them.
“How do you feel about fast food?” she quipped as she swiveled and punched the vampire who had been approaching silently behind her. The second vampire regained his footing and Carmen found herself caught between two angry vampires.
“I have to say, Hun, that was the worst in the midst of battle banter that I have ever heard.” commented Mary Cherry emerging from the bushes followed by yet another flunky dragging Glass with her.
“I was going to follow it up with ‘you may find I disagree with you’.” Carmen said trying to keep calm.
A quick glance told her that Glass would not be any assistance, she seemed to be unconscious.
“You really shouldn’t have sent her walking into a trap.” Mary Cherry continued “Of course I was hoping that it would be you but I guess she will have to do. So there are, let see four of us and one of you.”
“I’m so pleased you remember how to count.” Carmen ground out, trying to decide what was the best order to attack the vampires in.
“And I just know Nicci will be so pleased when I tell her how I have cleared up our little slayer problem. And I owe you some payback,” Mary Cherry’s light tone suddenly changed to a much more ominous one “for depriving me of Mama Cherry’s money.”
“You seem to have survived.” Carmen tried to think of something that would annoy Mary Cherry “No, wait, is that dress last season’s?”
The vampire to Carmen’s right chuckled as Mary Cherry’s eyes went very wide then narrowed.
“You think you’re funny, Ferrera?” Mary Cherry let her face shift into the ridges of a vampire “Try this, it’s to die for.”
Grabbing Glass from the other vampire Mary Cherry began to feed.
It was as if she was paralysed. Carmen watched in horror as Mary Cherry lifted her face and smiled, the blood coating her mouth, then returned to feeding. Somehow Carmen was aware than there were now three vampires surrounding her and Glass’s life was draining away right in front of her. It was as if time had stopped and now decided to jump ahead on fast forward. Afterwards Carmen couldn’t remember exactly how the fight had gone or what had happened to any of the vampires, whether she had killed them or not. There was just her and Glass who was lying bleeding in her arms. Carmen tried to keep her fingers pressed against the puncture marks on her watchers neck as she struggled with her cell phone one handed.
“You’re reached the …”
“Please help me.” Carmen interrupted the voice “I’m in the cemetery and my friend has been attacked. She’s lost a lot of blood and …”
“Where is you exact location, honey. You need to tell me so we can send someone.”
“I’m near the entrance off Williams Street, about 300 metres inside. Hurry, I can’t stop the bleeding.”
“Are you applying pressure to the wound?”
“Please wake up.” Carmen sobbed to her unconscious watcher “I’m sorry I let this happen. You have to wake up, I can’t do this without you.”
“Is there anyone else with you?” the operator asked in her ear.
“No, please hurry!”
“How did this happen?”
“We were attacked by several …people.” Carmen hesitated “But they’re gone now. She’s won’t wake up. I can’t stay here.”
“You need to…” the voice began but Carmen clicked off her phone.
Picking up her watcher she began to walk towards the nearest entrance. There might be more vampires around and she couldn’t remember if she had even slain the ones that had ambushed them and hanging around here wasn’t safe. It might take the paramedics too long to find them.
“You have to hold on.” Carmen whispered to Glass “You have to.”
Carmen sat in the uncomfortable plastic chair of the hospital waiting area, remembering when she had last sat here. She had managed to call Brooke and hoped that her girlfriend would arrive soon. Frankly she didn’t know what to do. The hospital had asked all kinds of questions about how the attack had occurred and now apparently the police were on the way as was a social worker because she was under 18 and still a child. They had wanted to call her Mom and then Carmen had had to explain that Glass was her guardian and eventually she had refused to answer any more questions. All this didn’t even matter and they wouldn’t tell her anything useful like what was happening with Glass.
Carmen looked up in relief as Brooke’s voice carried down the corridor. Brooke ran down the hallway and grabbed her girlfriend and held her tight.
“I was so scared.”
“Me too.” Carmen mumbled into Brooke’s neck “I think she’s dead, Brooke. I killed her.”
The noise of a throat clearing caused the two girls to look up.
“Mr McQueen? What…”
“Brooke thought you could use some help.” Mike smiled down at his daughter’s girlfriend “Have they said anything?”
“They keep asking me how it happened. I um…” Carmen paused “Told them that we were doing a genealogy project and…”
Carmen inwardly cringed at how stupid her story sound.
“It’s ok, Carmen.” Mike said quickly “I know what really happened.”
“But how…?” Carmen turned to her girlfriend “Did you…?”
“That doesn’t matter now.” Mike cut in quickly “The main thing is that you’re ok. And Ms Glass, of course.”
“I don’t know, they won’t tell me anything. And the police are coming and a social worker and …”
“It’s ok.” Mike patted the distraught slayer on her shoulder “I’ll take care of everything. Brooke why don’t you and Carmen go and get something to eat in the cafeteria?”
“Maybe I should…”
“Come on, baby.” Brooke put her arm around her girlfriend and guided her along the corridor “Dad will take care of it.”
Brooke put the soda down on front of Carmen and pulled the plate of fires towards them. Grabbing her girlfriend’s hand Brooke felt helpless. Carmen seemed to have gone into some kind of shock and didn’t want to talk. Brooke used her free hand to pick up a fry and nibble it. The cafeteria had people scattered around it and Brooke wasn’t sure what to do. They had been sitting there for about 15 minutes in complete silence before Carmen spoke:
“I froze, Brooke.”
Brooke squeezed her hand and waited for Carmen to continue. After another couple of minutes Carmen said:
“It was Mary Cherry. She just …from behind the crypt I sent her there and then there were just so many of them…and right in front of me and I couldn’t do anything…she just fed off her…and I just stood there, Brooke. I just watched her and she …I didn’t know what to do.”
Carmen sounded appalled at herself.
Brooke wasn’t sure if she should say anything so she let go of Carmen’s hand and put her arm around her girlfriend’s shoulder surprised at how rigid she was. After a few more minute it seemed like Carmen wasn’t going to say anything more and Brooke realised she had to say something:
“It wasn’t your fault, Carm. I know you did your best.”
Carmen looked up from the table for the first time since she had sat down and met her girlfriend’s eyes:
“I stood there and watched Mary Cherry drink her blood.” she said slowly as if Brooke hadn’t understood her earlier “What part of ‘my best’ is that?”
Mike approached the two girls and realised that there was a definite atmosphere hanging over the table. Carmen was just staring at the table and Brooke was sitting beside her, leaning on her hands. Neither looked up as he moved between the tables towards them.
“Good news, ladies.” Mike slid in the booth opposite them “The doctor said that although Ms Glass had lost a lot of blood they have stabilised her and are replacing it now.”
Mike paused deciding that there was no need to burden them with the fact that it had been touch and go for a while and they had technically lost Glass several times.
“She’ll have to stay in for a few days but she will be fine. Carmen, the social worker says that if you want to stay with us then that is also fine. The police want to take a statement from you but I think they will accept your story of being attacked in the cemetery. I’ll take you down there tomorrow and stay with you. Do you want to stay until they have finished working on Ms Glass or…?”
“I’d like to stay.” Carmen said quietly.
“That’s fine, we’ll stay with you.” Mike glanced at his daughter “Brooke if you…”
“Of course I’m staying!” Brooke responded vehemently.
Sam sat at her desk and stared at the computer screen trying to concentrate on the paper she knew she had to finish that night. Thoughts of everything that she had been reading lately swirled around her head rather then the causes of the civil war. Certainly there seemed to be different ideas on how a vampire operated. Carmen seemed pretty clear that they were evil and that was that. And Harrison had tried to bite her but maybe he had done it because he wanted to turn her into one. There seemed to be some advantages apparent immortality for starters. Sure Sam couldn’t picture herself actually biting people but maybe you could get blood other ways. And the night thing would be inconvenient but being forever young and pretty could be that bad. And the evil thing, well none of her reading had been terribly clear on that one way or the other. Of course having fellow vampires like Mary Cherry and Satan around would suck but there must be other nicer vampires Sam reasoned.
“What are you thinking?” she suddenly asked herself aloud “Are you actually trying to talk yourself into thinking that being a vampire is ok?”
I must be tired, Sam rubbed her eyes, I’m actually letting myself be influenced by Nicole Julian! But am I, another part of her brain responded, I mean it isn’t as if I found any of this out for her - it’s all from other sources. What had she said exactly, two sides to every story. As a journalist Sam knew that this was true. Maybe I need to talk to her, Sam thought.
Mary Cherry took another calming breath even though she knew that she didn’t need to. She had to think of a good story to tell Nicole. And as all her minions were dead then they would hardly contradict her. But Nicole was bound to do that thing where after she had yelled she would just she stare and stare and not say anything and Mary Cherry knew that her mouth would just start talking all by itself. And she had a funky taste in her mouth from Bio Glass. She needed something to wash away the taste of gross old person, Mary Cherry decided and headed towards the down town. As she walked she began to replay the events of the evening in her mind, practicing telling Nicole: well I was out for some air and you wouldn’t believe who I ran into Nic, Hun. No need to let Nicole know that she had planned to go after Carmen and her watcher on purpose as Nicole was nursing a scheme that never seemed to go anywhere. And then she just attacked us with no provocation at all, I was keeping out of their way. Or maybe: and Tim just rushed out and there was nothing I could do, he was yelling about bagging a slayer and I tried to stop him but Carmen must have heard him and then she was on top of us. Yes, that sounded better putting the blame on Tim who after all wasn’t around to say otherwise.
Mary Cherry spotted the movie theatre and thought fondly of the many happy evening spent there worshipping Gwyneth and criticising the other actresses with Nicole and Brooke. She missed Brooke and frankly had been surprised that she wasn’t with Carmen tonight. Mary Cherry noticed happily that there were many of her fellow Kennedy High students out tonight. Pausing in a shop doorway Mary Cherry perused the crowd. And then, Nic, I knew that you wanted to finish her yourself so I grabbed Glass and said to her ‘back off and I’ll let her go’ but that Carmen she just freaked out and attacked everyone and in the confusion…Mary Cherry stopped herself. The question was would Nic be pleased that her former biology teacher was dead or not. If she was pleased then obviously she had to portray the whole thing as somehow fitting in with Nicole plan, whatever that was. If she wasn’t then the death needed to be blamed on a minion. And I barely managed to get away it was horrible Hun, I had to run for my life and here I am. Mary Cherry noticed a football player who had for some crazy reason not wanted to go out with her. He was coming out of the theatre and heading towards her. Mary Cherry stopped thinking about what she would tell Nicole and concentrated on her prey.
“Sam!” Sam heard her mother’s voice outside the door “Phone.”
She had ignored it when it rang because she didn’t get many phone calls and at this time of night it was often Carmen calling Brooke.
“Thanks, I got it.” Sam slowly picked up the phone.
“How’s the research coming?” came the unfortunately familiar voice.
“I was just thinking about you, Satan.” Sam responded.
“TMI, Spammy, I don’t want to know about what floats your boat!”
“As if. I mean I’ve been doing some reading and I was hoping that you would call. Maybe you should give me…”
“I don’t think so Nancy Clue. I’m running this little show. So, having any deep thoughts about the nature of existence?”
Sam glared at the phone:
“What exactly do you want, Nicole?”
“To crush your enemies under your Manolo Blahniks?”
“Apart from that. All I want, Spam, is a little love and understanding. Now I know that Carmen has been spreading lies about what being a vampire means. I just want a chance to set the record straight.”
“How do I know this isn’t a trick? You did kill Josh and …”
“Who told you that?” Nicole interrupted her.
“Brooke.” Sam said slowly.
“And who is Brooke dating?”
“Is that the same Carmen who murdered Harrison?”
Sam didn’t say anything.
“Listen, Sam, who do you think knows what being a vampire is actually like? Me or Carmen? I mean she killed both Josh and Harrison before they had a chance to explain for themselves. Despite being hunted mercilessly I have managed to survive and all I want is a chance to tell my side of the story. All this vamp phobia is propagated by people who have spent their lives hunting and killing my people. It’s like believing the Klan on why all the blacks should be shipped back to Africa.”
Nicole paused and waited for Sam to say something wondering if she had gone overboard with that last comment. When Sam still didn’t say anything Nicole went on:
“All I want to do is tell you my side of the story. I’ll even do it over the phone if you don’t trust me to meet in person. Think about it.”
Nicole hung up the phone and grinned to herself. If Spammy fell for that then she’s dumber than I thought. Nicole heard a door slam in a room downstairs and a voice yell:
“Honey, I’m home!”
“So Dad is going to drop Carm off after she’s talked to the police,” Brooke told Lily and April “But I thought I should let you know what was going on.”
“Why didn’t you call me last night?” Lily demanded “Carmen’s my friend too.”
“Sorry, Lily.” Brooke apologised automatically “There was so much going on.”
Lily glared at her friend for a second before realising there was no point.
“And what about Glass?” April asked “Is she going to be ok?”
“Dad said he will try to get an update today but by the time we left last night she was over the worst.” Brooke paused, then plunged on “It was pretty bad. They nearly lost her, she had lost so much blood. Carmen was pretty shaken up by it.”
“So what are we going to do?” April asked.
The other two girls turned to look at her.
“What do you mean, do? There’s nothing we can do!” Lily replied
“So once again Mary Cherry gets away with murder, only this time nearly literally, and we just let her?” April continued “Once again the forces of darkness…”
“April this isn’t a TV programme! There’s nothing we can do!” Lily realised she was getting a little loud but didn’t care “Carmen’s the one with the superpowers, we’re just the flunkies. What do you want to do? Go after two vampires one of whom nearly killed someone, someone who has spent years training to fight them. What chance would we have? What chance have we ever had? First Josh, then Harrison – who’s turn is it next? Yours, April? You’re so keen to do something why don’t you go and just sacrifice yourself for the greater good or whatever it is we’re doing. Maybe Sam has the right idea.”
“Lily, wait…” Brooke tried to interject.
“What Brooke? Are you going to give me a pep talk about how it will all be alright in the morning. It’s too much, ok Brooke. It’s just too much right now.”
Lily turned to go but April grabbed her arm.
“Let go of me!”
“No!” April tightened her grip “Listen to me.”
Lily struggled trying to pull away but April just held on. Brooke watched in surprise as the two girls struggled.
“Stop it, you two!”
“Listen, I know you’re scared Lily Esposito. We all are. But that isn’t the point. Do you want them to win? Do you want the Nicole Julian’s of this world to be in charge of it?” April glared at the smaller girl who glared back “Well?”
“No” Lily grated out “But…”
“No buts.” April said firmly “Well we’re it. You and me and Brooke McQueen and Carmen Ferrera and Bio Glass. Right now we are the forces of good whether you want to be or not. And if you walk away then you are turning your back on the right thing to do.”
April let go of Lily’s arm and stepped away from her.
“I know you think I’m crazy,” April said quietly “But I’m not being crazy about this.”
Lily took a deep breathe and looked at Brooke.
“I think April’s right, Lil. I mean I know it’s tough but…we can’t just give up.” Brooke smiled at her friend.
Lily turned to April:
“I’m sorry, April. I shouldn’t take my insecurities out on you.”
“That’s ok, Lily Esposito. I’m sorry about your arm.”
Lily turned to Brooke:
“You’re the brains of this outfit, any suggestions?”
Carmen sat silently in the car as Mike McQueen drove her back from the police station. The police had accepted her story about being attacked by muggers and Carmen had seen no harm in actually describing the vampires to the police. They had wanted to know if she knew any of them and Carmen had thought it safer to lie about this. After telling her to be more careful in future they had let her go. Now, driving back to school, Carmen was trying to decide what she needed to do. Clearly she was failing as a slayer if she let people nearly get killed in front of her.
“Are you alright?” Mike interrupted her silence.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Listen, Carmen, if you ever want to talk about anything then you can talk to me.”
Mike had had a speech all prepared but in the end he had found himself blurting out his offer. Carmen glanced at him briefly and bit her lip trying to think of a polite way to turn down his offer.
“No offence, Mr McQueen, but just because Brooke told you about me being the slayer doesn’t mean you really understand anything about it. Besides I can talk to Glass about it.”
“But what about if something happens to her? You’re just a teenager, Carmen you need…”
“I don’t need anything!” Carmen felt herself getting angry and tried to calm down “What I mean is, if I need anything I’ll ask, ok?”
“Carmen, I’m just concerned. About you, about Brooke…” Mike trailed off as he concentrated on the road, changing lanes.
“I’m concerned too.” Carmen said before he could keep going “I’ll make sure nothing happens to her.”
Mike stared at the road ahead, wanting to say ‘just like you protected Glass’ but knowing there was nothing to be gained from picking a fight with his daughter’s girlfriend. Unbidden a fragment of poetry swum to the forefront of his memory:
“From my window
blooms remind me
you. What could still
or never be.”
That poem! Mike remembered another conversation like this, from a long time ago, and hoped that this one wouldn’t ultimately end the same way that one had with several funerals. Mike feared that it would and realised that short of sending Brooke away there was probably nothing he could do. It suddenly hit him that there was one person in this situation who would listen to him and wondered when visiting hours at the hospital were.
Sam sat in history class and let the droning voice of her teacher talking about reconstruction wash over her. Carmen hadn’t arrived. Something had gone on last night and Sam hadn’t managed to get Brooke alone to find out what had really happened. Her mother had looked horrified at first but then resigned when Mike had let Carmen and Brooke share a room, something that hadn’t happened since they had officially come out as a couple. Sam had sneaked down the stairs to the kitchen and overheard Mike telling her mom that Ms Glass had been ‘attacked by muggers’. Her Mom had started to ask why they had been out at 11pm at night but Mike had cleverly diverted her by mentioning blood transfusions, police, social workers and several days in hospital. So now Carmen was staying with them. Lily had been sticking together with Brooke and April Tuna all day and Sam felt annoyed that she didn’t know what was going on. Plus she had to decide what to do about Nicole. Was she involved in this at all? Sam hated not being able to contact her when she wanted to. Being at the mercy of Nicole Julian was irritating. Sam hoped that Nicole would ring her soon, maybe even that evening and then they could talk some more. Sam didn’t completely trust Nicole but part of her wanted to believe what Nicole was telling her. Sam waited impatiently for class to be over so she could corner Lily and get the truth out of her in regards to what had gone on last night.
Brooke practically ran out the door as soon as the bell rang, looking for her girlfriend. Wondering if Carmen would just go to the cafeteria for their lunch period she spotted Carmen heading around the corner in the opposite direction to that which she should be going in.
“Carm, wait up.” Brooke sped up as she hurried after Carmen.
April watched the two of them disappear down the corridor and turned to Lily:
“Do you think we should go after them?”
“I think they need to talk this one out alone, April.” Lily had to restrain her self from rolling her eyes “I mean there is stuff and then there is girlfriend stuff, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh you mean that we can talk about what to do about Mary Cherry later?” April carried on obliviously.
“What about Mary Cherry?” Sam interrupted, catching up to the two girls.
“Nothing.” Lily said automatically, shooting April a look.
“Sorry.” April apologised.
“Listen, Lily can I talk to you?” Sam asked “Alone.”
“It’s ok I know about …” April began but Sam cut her off:
“It’s personal, April.”
“I’ll see you later.” Lily addressed April “We can catch up in study hall.”
Lily followed Sam to her office at the Zapruder and waited until they were safely inside before asking her friend:
“So, what’s up Sam?”
“Listen, I was wondering what is going on? Did something bad happen last night?”
Lily gave her friend a long look before answering:
“I thought you didn’t want anything to do with slaying?”
Sam hesitated and began to fiddle with the pens on her desk:
“Well, I don’t but…”
“Then it’s probably best if you go back to burying your head in the sand!” Lily snapped “God knows there are times when I wish I didn’t know.”
“Look, I just want…” Sam tried to keep her voice level “There’s no need to …”
“Sam, none of us are having a good day.” Lily pushed herself off from the wall where she was leaning “Glass is in hospital, it’s pretty bad. According to Brooke Carmen’s not doing so well. I think all of this is beginning to take its toll on her and she doesn’t need any more pressure. We’re trying to think up some way to help her but…”
“But you think she won’t be very receptive.” Sam finished the sentence remembering how stubborn Carmen could be once she took an idea into her head.
“Something like that.” Lily looked at her friend “But what do you care Sam? You act like you hate Carmen and you’re hardly spoken two words to her since Harrison died.”
“I don’t…” Sam began but then stopped wondering what she could say.
“I thought so.” Lily could feel herself getting angry again “Listen Sam, I don’t know exactly what you want but you made it pretty clear last year that you didn’t want anything to do with all this. What Carmen needs is people who believe in her and support her, not people who are riding along on the blame wagon egging her on.”
“And you think I …” Sam started to say but Lily cut her off in full rant mode:
“Don’t be a hypocrite Sam! You’ve made it abundantly clear where you stand with Carmen being the slayer! The vampires that Carm slays are not the people they once were, Sam. She didn’t kill Josh and she didn’t kill Harrison. She’s saved my life, your life, Brooke’s life, Glass’s life. She didn’t ask for this and she can’t walk away. But we have the choice and every day I make it again. And I guess you do the same.”
Lily hurriedly pushed her way out of Sam’s office and through the rest of the Zapruder office. Heading for the nearest place of safety she made it to the Novak and locked herself in a stall. Once she was there Lily put her head in her hands and let the tears trickle down her face. She wondered who she had been trying the hardest to convince Sam or herself.
Brooke hastily pushed through the students whose sole purpose at the moment seemed to be to come between her and Carmen. Carmen, who should have been heading for English Lit, instead went in the direction of the gym. Brooke realised that her girlfriend was trying to get away from her but she wasn’t deterred. Luckily for Carmen the gym was empty so there was no one there to witness her entry to the training room. She had barely shut the door when Brooke burst through after her.
“Carmen, hi.” Brooke tried to sound casual “I…”
“Brooke now really isn’t the time.” Carmen spoke without turning round.
“Well, when will be?” Brooke approached her girlfriend “Carm, sweetheart, you haven’t said anything to me since the hospital last night. Tell me how it went this morning, how you feel, or anything really. Please, say something.”
Brooke reached out her hand and gently touched Carmen’s shoulder. It was rigid. This isn’t good, Brooke thought.
“Carm?” she said tentatively.
“Brooke, you need to back off!”
Even to her own ears Carmen thought her voice sounded odd. She could feel Brooke’s tension.
“I talked to Lil and April and we…” Brooke started again removing her hand.
Carmen made herself walk further away from Brooke before she turned round slowly.
“Brooke, this isn’t going to work anymore.” Carmen heard the words as if someone else was saying them.
Brooke, who had still been rambling about her chat with Lily and April trailed off. Carmen had more planned out to say but found that her mouth had stopped working. The silence lengthened between the two girls.
“But we can work something out, with the slaying.” Brooke said finally “I mean I know…”
“I’m not talking about the slaying, Brooke.” Carmen could feel the tears pricking behind her eyes but ignored them and made her voice firmer “Not just the slaying. I don’t need the distraction…”
“Distraction?” Brooke repeated “I’m not…I don’t understand?”
Carmen could see tears sliding down Brooke’s cheeks and part of her wanted to take the other girl in her arms and tell her that she was sorry. But she knew that she couldn’t.
“Don’t make it harder than it is, Brooke.”
Not being able to look at Brooke any longer Carmen turned and went towards the weapons case her heart breaking.
“You’re breaking up with me?” Brooke choked out somehow.
Carmen picked up a sword and pretended to study it.
“I think you should go.” she managed to say, amazed that her voice sounded so controlled.
Swinging the sword and practicing thrusts and parries Carmen watched Brooke out of the corner of her eye. For the longest time the other girl stood there watching her still crying. Go, go, just leave, Carmen silently urged. She didn’t know how much longer she could keep this up. Eventually Brooke made her way back to the door and opened it.
“This isn’t over.” Carmen heard faintly and then the click of the door shutting. Dropping the sword Carmen finally let the tears come. Brooke didn’t know how over it was.
April scanned the lunch-room for any of her friends. Not seeing them she turned back to the queue and saw Sam. Marching over to her April smiled in greeting before asking:
“How’s it going Sam McPherson?”
“Uh, fine, I guess.” Sam wondered what April wanted and wished she would go away.
“Have you seen Lily Esposito or…”
“I haven’t seem them since history.” Sam cut off the expected flow.
“But you and Lily…”
“I haven’t seen her since we talked.” Sam quickly added and heard the familiar sound of her ring tone.
“Sorry April, I have to …” Sam shifted her tray to one hand and maneuvered her phone out of her pocket with the other.
April nodded as Sam walked off talking into her phone. If they were still at school then there were only a couple of places the others were likely to be.
Lily decided that she couldn’t face the cafeteria and wasn’t in the mood for weapons so decided to eat her lunch in Glass’s office. Luckily the substitute teacher wasn’t hanging around the lab and Lily felt sure that apart from herself Brooke and, grudgingly, April Glass wasn’t handing out keys to her office. Unlocking the door Lily was surprised to see that Brooke was already there.
“Brooke, hey,” Lily greeted her friend “Mind if I join you?”
“Why not?” Brooke responded finally looking at her friend.
“Brooke, what’s wrong?”
“I…it’s Carm. She…”
“She what?” Lily interrupted “Are the police going to arrest her? Or is she hurt? Or…”
“She broke up with me.” Brooke cut off the tirade and felt her eyes getting wet again.
“She what?” Lily felt relief radiate through herself “That’s good. That’s…”
“How is it good ?” Brooke asked in a quiet voice.
“You’re right, it’s terrible.” Lily responded quickly “I meant ‘good’ in the sense of not in hospital or the morgue ‘good’. Not ‘good’ as having any intrinsic goodness.”
Lily lapsed into silence for a moment as Brooke blew her nose and wiped her eyes.
‘’But I’m over it now.”
“That’s…good?” Lily felt confused.
“Over with the crying and being hurt, I mean.” Brooke smiled in a way that Lily could only think of as ‘the smile of the brave little toaster’ ”Now I’m all about the why and the what the hell is wrong with her and the anger and the worry.”
Brooke looked like she was going to cry again but pulled herself together:
“I was coming to find you because it seemed like we should talk to her. I mean when I thought about it, she seemed kinda out of it and un-Carmen like. I’m kinda worried about her.”
“You’re right.” Lily smiled at Brooke “There must be some other reason why she did it. Did she say anything else?”
”That’s just it, she didn’t give any good reason. She mentioned distraction but I figured that she is still feeling worried about Glass and feeling responsible and …”
“Oh my god!” Lily gasped “That’s it. She’s going to do something stupid. She’s…”
“…going after Mary Cherry!” Brooke finished the sentence “We have to stop her.”
“You invited Spam here?” Mary Cherry looked in astonishment at her friend “But why, Hun? You don’t invite your arch nemesis into your lair.”
Nicole rolled her eyes:
“Little Spam is hardly my arch nemesis! Anyway I’ve only told you about a million times, Mary Cherry. It’s time to reel Spam in. Your little escapade last night has forced me to move a little faster than I wanted to. So this afternoon we’re going to do the interview with a vampire thing. Spammy can sit in the sunlight all safe and I can sit in the dark and talk to her all about how misunderstood we are and it’s all just part of the eco-system blah blah and how we all wanted to become vampires and…”
“But I didn’t want to,” Mary Cherry interrupted her “And neither did you! I remember you screaming ‘no no’ and…”
“And I’ll keep her talking and then it will get dark but by then there will be trust and…”
“And then we’ll eat her?”
“Maybe, I’m not sure.” Nicole scowled “But I want it known that no one is to do anything today without my say so. And that includes you!”
Nicole reached out and lifted the larger vampire off her feet by the throat:
“Am I making myself clear?”
“Crystal” Mary Cherry choked out.
April hesitated at the door and steeled herself. She didn’t know Carmen nearly as well as Brooke or Lily but she was still her friend. And if Brooke’s story of the night before was anything to go by then Carmen needed friends whether or not she realised it. And I am part of this, April reminded herself, still feeling the thrill that this sent through her. A lot of people thought that she was just odd freaky April Tuna but discovering about the existence of vampires had vindicated all April’s strange beliefs. This whole slayer thing was concrete proof that there was weirdness out there and it was real. April wasn’t sure what other parts of her belief system such as UFOs might yet also turn out to be true but the existence of vampires proved that the truth was out there, whatever it was. And now she was no longer on the sidelines but part of the action. April tried the door and was not surprised to find it locked. Drawing out her keys – further proof of her insider status – April unlocked the heavy door and pushed it open.
“Hello?” she said loudly, having learnt early on that you should make noise when approaching a slayer.
Sure enough Carmen was in the room glancing into a bag she had placed on a table.
“April.” Carmen looked round, her voice sounding flat to April’s ears “What are you doing here?”
“I um just wanted to see how you were, Carmen Fererra. You know, check on you, and see if you wanted some company.” April knew that she was rambling but Carmen was sending off a vibe that was making her nervous “You weren’t in class this morning and everyone is worried about you and…and what are you doing with all that stuff?”
As she had moved across the room and arrived at Carmen’s side she had glanced in the bag and seen that it was full of weapons, stakes and holy water and a couple of crosses on the top. Carmen was already wearing what April had privately nick-named ‘combat attire’. Around her waist was a belt with loops in it, stake sized loops. In Carmen’s hand was a small crossbow. Carmen ignored the question and sighted down the crossbow before placing it on the top of the bag.
“Look, April, I’m kinda busy.” Carmen said in the same flat tone “So if you don’t mind…”
“I most certainly do mind!” April spoke firmly, having put two and two together “You can’t just…”
Carmen rolled her eyes as she realised that April had probably figured out what she was about to do.
“…go off like a crazy person all by yourself after Mary Cherry. Carmen you need to…”
Carmen appreciated that April meant well but she didn’t have the time to explain herself. And she was pretty sure that no one except herself would believe the logic that she was following. As April continued on in the vein that she needed to hold on and take five and talk to them all at great length Carmen turned to her friend:
“Listen, April I’m really sorry but…”
Carmen hated the sort of groan April gave as Carmen’s fist connected with the side of April’s head. Catching her friend as she slid to the ground Carmen hoped that she hadn’t hit her too hard. Propping her against the table and relieving her of her keys Carmen picked up her bag and headed for the door. She needed to get out of here before anyone else decided to come and check on her. Locking the door Carmen hoped that Brooke or Lily would come looking for her there before the end of the day and find April.
Sam hesitated as she stood in the sunlight outside the door of the Julian Mansion. So this was where the undead lived, or unlived or whatever. Sure enough the gates had opened in response to her ringing the bell and now she was here. It was all very Interview with a Vampire Sam thought except for the bright sunlight and the fact that this was really happening rather than being in a book and that the undead used to take math with her. Sam felt a strange sense of unreality and wondered if this was all some really weird dream and she would wake up and there would be Nicole at school calling her Spam and being the bitch cheerleader and everything would be back to normal. Normal, Sam realised was what she craved, normal where all her friends were alive and there was no supernatural world lurking just around the corner and Carmen was still her friend and not, not … different. Sam knocked on the door and waited. There was no reply so she hesitatingly pushed it open. Just then her phone rang. Sam paused in the doorway and checked the caller id.
“Nicole, I’m just at the door.”
Sam listened to the directions and cautious followed them trying to remember the turns. After a minute or so she found herself in a room that had a chair sitting beside a window with sunlight streaming onto it. The rest of the windows were covered with thick curtains and there was a screen cutting off a corner of the room over the top of which Sam could see a door. Sam sat in the chair and waited. This was too weird. The door opened and a familiar voice greeted her:
“Hi Spammy!” Mary Cherry drawled poking her head cautiously around the edge of the screen and waving furiously “Long time no see, Hon!”
Although Sam was aware that Mary Cherry was a vampire, had even talked to her on the phone last year, it was still a shock to see her dead classmate looking remarkably unchanged from the last time Sam had seen her alive.
“Uh, hi Mary Cherry.” Sam managed.
“Nicci will be down in a minute.” Mary Cherry reported “And I thought that we could catch up. So, how’s Brookie doing?”
“She’s fine, I guess.”
“And the Glamazons? How are they faring without the star of the show? I know it was close to impossible for them to recover from our unexpected departure from the team last year. I wanted to keep going, you know just change the time of practices, I mean we would be even more of an asset to the team now, you should see what we can do! But Nic said no and got kinda angry about it when I kept asking so I just had to settle for sneaking to games to keep an eye on them. I think Brooke is doing her best and it has certainly helped that Carmen has gotten all wonder woman in regards to them having a chance at going to the regionals without us…”
Sam listened to Mary Cherry’s tirade in amazement. It was so … so Mary-Cherrylike. Listening to Mary Cherry ramble on about ideas for cheers and routines made it seem quite unlikely that she was some kind of undead monster. She seemed exactly the same as she always had, vain and stupid certainly, but not evil.
Brooke and Lily hurried towards the basement training room.
“I told you we should have come here first.” Brooke pointed out.
“Yeah, well sorry.” Lily shook her head “Last year the cafeteria would have been the first place Carmen went if she was upset or stressed.”
“Now she’s graduated from snacks to kicking ass for comfort food.” Brooke entered the gym and crossed the room pleased it was empty “Let’s hope we’re in time.”
The door was locked when they reached it and Lily fumbled in her pocket for her key.
“Hurry up.” Brooke mumbled as Lily finally found the keys.
“You aren’t really helping.” Lily responded sharply as she twisted the key in the lock.
“Carm!” Brooke called as she pushed the door open “We just want to talk…”
Brooke trailed off as she spotted the figure leaning against the table leg.
Lily pushed past Brook who had stopped just in front of the door. Reaching April she knelt down and saw that there was the beginning of a large bruise on the side of April’s face.
“April.” Lily gently shook her friend’s shoulder “April, can you hear me?”
Brooke came out of her revelry and slammed the door behind her. She paused beside the two girls and pulled out her phone
“Not yet!” Lily said quickly “I think she’s waking up. Get some ice.”
As Brooke went over to the small fridge-freezer where they kept drinks and ice packs April gave a groan and opened her eyes.
“April, its ok.” Lily tried to orientate her “I’m here and so is Brooke.”
“I think…” April muttered “I think I’m gonna hurl.”
Lily pressed the icepack gently against the bruise and rubbed April’s back with her other hand.
“Just take deep breathes, its ok.” Lily glanced at Brooke and frowned.
After a minute or two April seemed to be more herself and cautious opened her eyes. Brooke, who had crouched beside her, bite her lip and tried to be patient.
“Do you remember what happened?” she asked quietly.
“Carmen happened!” April said indignantly, remembering the assault “I was trying to persuade her to stay here when bam!”
“Carmen did this?” Lily asked slightly skeptically “Are you sure?”
April looked at the two girls and shifted the position of her ice, wincing slightly.
“I came to check on her and she had a big bag of weapons and I tried to talk her out of whatever she was off to do but I guess she didn’t want to be persuaded.”
“This is very bad.” Brooke bit down on her lip and chewed it nervously.
“We have to stop her.” Lily agreed.
April tried to push herself up form the floor and succeeded only in pulling Lily down with her.
“But not you.” Brooke said firmly “You need to get your head checked.”
“People are always telling me that.” April commented.
“We need to get some stuff.” Lily waved at the walls.
Five minutes later Brooke and Lily helped April out of the room and locked the door. Positioning April as far away from the training room door as possible Brooke called 911 and summoned the paramedics.
“Keep my phone.” Brooke handed April the phone “And keep in touch.”
“Remember to keep it vague,” Lily reminded her “Act like you don’t remember what happened or who gave you the ice pack.”
“I’m fine.” April waved them off “Now go save the day.”
“You don’t mind if I tape us?” Sam asked, placing the tape recorder on the table and feeling that she had to be more assertive.
“Whatever.” Nicole shrugged and re-crossed her legs.
Sam wondered why she felt so discomforted by the situation. Talking to Nicole on the phone had been one thing but this was quite different. Whereas Mary Cherry had seemed exactly the same Nicole was exuding a palpable air of menace. When she had smiled Sam had covertly studied her mouth searching for signs of fangs. Nicole had noticed and smiled coolly at her:
“Don’t worry, Sammy, you’re quite safe.”
Sam felt herself grinning nervously and immediately tried to cover herself by clearing her throat and looking official:
“Ok, Nicole, just speak normally and clearly and the tape will pick it up. So, tell me a little about yourself, maybe what you were like before and after the er change in your circumstances.”
“Well, my name is Nicole Julian and until recently I was the queen bee at Kennedy High. I was the co-captain of the cheer leaders…”
Sam sat back and let Nicole’s litany of her achievements wash over her. This wasn’t strictly speaking necessary she knew that she could have filled in Nicole’s background herself. Once she got used to being here and being with Nicole she could start on the hard questions.
Carmen quashed the feelings of guilt that had started to rise. Brooke wouldn’t have given me a spare set of keys if she didn’t mean for me to use them, Carmen firmly reminded herself. Reasoning that it was faster than on foot Carmen figured that she would drive to a couple of likely hideouts and surely one of them would be where Mary Cherry was and if Nicole was there too, well so much the better. It was time to act like a slayer not just letting people get attacked in front of her and not be able to stop it. And if she didn’t come back from this, well maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing for everyone. Carmen gritted her teeth and headed towards the neighborhood where the Cherry mansion had been.
“Thanks.” Lily handed the cab fare to the driver as Brooke scanned the street.
“Over here.” she called, leading the way towards Glass’s car.
As they stood on the street adjacent to cemetery Lily glanced around nervously:
“I’m not sure…”
“We’ve been over this, Lil. We need to find her and as Carm already borrowed my car then this seemed the best option.”
“Bio Glass is gonna kill us if she finds out.” Lily insisted.
“If something happens to Carm, then Bio Glass is the least of our worries.”
Brooke leant down and located the hide-a-key under the rear bumper. Retrieving it she opened the drivers door.
“I was hoping you knew how to hot wire a car.” Lily commented as she got in.
”This is quicker.”
Brooke started the car and they pulled away from the curb.
“So, I’m a pissed off slayer, what’s my plan?”
“I think a better question would be: I’m Nicole Julian where do I live?” Lily answered instead.
Brooke raised an interrogatory eyebrow at her friend.
“Well, Mary Cherry and Nicole? Who’s going to be calling the shots?”
“Good point.” Brooke replied as she pulled into the center lane and checking it was safe pulled a u turn. “Nic’s place is this way.”
“Why not the old Cherry homestead?”
“Let’s just say that tacky was the kindest descriptive phrase Nic used to use when talking about Cherry Cherry’s taste.”
It didn’t take Brooke and Lily long to reach their destination. Parking a little way away so as not to be immediately visible Lily immediately noticed two things: Brooke’s car wasn’t there but Sam’s was. Pointing this out to Brooke, Lily commented that they maybe needed a new plan.
“But Brooke, we have to see if Sam’s in there.” Lily insisted “And why? She wanted to know what was going on today, with Carm. Do you think…”
“How would she know that Carmen would come here?” Brooke interrupted “And besides, Carm is our first priority!”
“Yes but at least Carm’s the slayer. If Sam is in there with Nicole and Mary Cherry, what chance does she have? I bet she never even thought to take any kind of protection.”
Lily watched her friend, sensing
that Brooke was at least considering what she had said.
“And,” Lily pressed home her advantage “If this is where Nicole and Mary Cherry are I’m sure it won’t be long before Carm realizes that she should check here. Then we can help her.”
“So how do we find out if any of them are in there. I mean we can’t just knock on the door and ask.”
“Phone Sam.” Lily suggested immediately “Ask her if she’s seen Nicole or Mary Cherry.”
“Sam doesn’t really talk to me much anymore.” Brooke admitted.
“I’ll do it.”
Sam tried to decide how to ask her next question:
“So, do you have to kill people when you, um drink their blood? I mean is it necessary?”
Nicole successfully hid her smile.
“No, not at all.” Nicole smiled reassuringly at Sam.
“So why, um, I mean, Harrison, what happened with him?”
“Well, accidents can happen. You need to understand Sammy, it’s an intense thing to do. Remember the best sex you ever had?” Nicole paused “Well, maybe in your case Hon, the best you’ve ever read in a fan fic. Then multiple it by 10. That’s what feeding feels like. And sometimes, well you get carried away and don’t stop in time. But with Harrison, it really was an accident. We all had had a little and someone took just a little too much. I think it was Mary Cherry.”
Nicole casually put the blame on Mary Cherry not really caring what Spam thought. She couldn’t believe how easily Spam had accepted that drinking people’s blood was ok. That it was just what vampires did.
“So, what else?” Nicole buffed her nails on her expensive merino top.
Carmen tried to fight down her anger. She had rounded the corner, parking a little way away from the gates off the Julian mansion, and there was not only Glass’s car, but Sam’s as well. So Brooke, Lily and Sam were maybe all inside. This was going to make her plan harder. Why did they all have to interfere? Especially Brooke. She didn’t feel ready to face Brooke yet, not after breaking up with her.
“Damn it!” Carmen cursed aloud, not caring who heard her.
Why couldn’t everyone who wasn’t the slayer just stop acting like they were! And why was Sam here? What on earth had possessed Brooke and Lily to include Sam in whatever the hell it was they thought they were doing? And why two cars? Carmen tried to clear her mind of extraneous matters, like why they were here and decide how this was going to affect her plan. Going a little way along the tall metal railings Carmen vaulted into a clump of bushes. Making her way towards the large house, Carmen paused as she heard a familiar voice just ahead of her.
“Sam don’t say my name!” Lily quickly spoke into the phone before Sam had a chance to reply “Just listen. If you’re in the Julian place with Nicole or Mary Cherry just say yes.”
“Good. No, I mean bad but anyway we’re outside, Brooke and me. I know you don’t want to believe us, but Sam they’re evil. Whatever they’re telling you about vampires is a lie! You have to get out of there. Please Sam, they killed Josh and Harrison!”
Lily held the phone so Brooke could hear Sam’s response, which consisted of a murmured ‘hmmm’.
“Please Sam, come to the window, so we’ll see where you are.”
“We’ll come in and get you if you want.” Brooke added quickly.
Lily glared at her friend in frustration.
“Yeah, thanks for that.” Sam said into her phone “I’ll be home for dinner, Mom.”
Hanging up Sam stretched theatrically. Nicole was watching her intently. It flashed through Sam’s head that to Nicole she was probably dinner. This has gone far enough, Sam decided and slowly got to her feet.
“Everything fine?” Nicole asked, watching Sam oh-so-casually head over towards the window.
So, the wanna-slay brigade was outside. Thank somebody for vampire hearing, Nicole thought.
Mary Cherry scowled at the television. She was hungry and wanted to go out for dinner but Nicole had left instructions that they were all to say inside until she gave them permission to go out. Well, who died and made her the boss of me, Mary Cherry thought indignantly, its not as if I’m just another of her lackeys, I am a strong empowered woman without the excess body hair.
“Man, I feel like woman!” Mary Cherry declaimed as she rose to her feet.
As the sun had a while to go before it set it was time for the old standby – take out. Then, after a light snack, a night on the town could commence. With no idea how long Nic would keep Spammy here, or what even she exactly intended to do Mary Cherry didn’t want to waste the evening sitting around waiting to find out. With her plan in place Mary Cherry turned back to Martha Stewart excited to see what tips for fall floral arrangements were on offer as she reached for the phone.
“Not yet, give her a chance.” Lily continued to scan the windows.
“Maybe she’s on the other side of the house. Damn it!” Brooke suddenly burst out “What the hell was Sam thinking coming here?”
“Yeah, well I’m thinking ‘not ‘ covers it. But look on the bright side…”
“There’s a bright side to this?”
“At least when Carmen show up we can distract her from doing anything homicidal.”
“Thanks, Pollyanna.” Brooke sighed “By suggesting that instead of torching the house with the nasty vampires inside she can go into the house with the nasty vampires inside. Anyway, after all that Nicole and Mary Cherry are responsible for what’s so wrong with Carmen wanting a little payback?”
“Payback is fine,” Lily began “But if we could trust she would do something more low risk rather than up close and personal.”
“Yeah, I know you’re right but…”
“But if Nicole was standing right in front of us I’d probably reach for a stake too.” Lily admitted “But we need to keep looking for Sam, from the outside…”
“Shh! Did you here that?”
“It’s me.” Carmen hissed.
“Carm, thank God!” Lily turned slightly ‘’Did you know Sam’s here, we think.”
“Yeah, what is…”
“We don’t know.” Brooke didn’t turn round “I’m really pissed at you.”
Carmen resisted the impulse to actually squirm uncomfortably.
“Brooke, I’m sor…”
“I figured.” Brooke interrupted her “We need to do something about Sam being in there.”
“I’ll go look for her.” Carmen volunteered without even thinking.
“We’ll come too.” Lily offered quickly.
“It’s too dangerous! You guys have to stay out here!”
“I…” Brooke began
“This is not a discussion!” Carmen insisted “I can’t protect you all, and Sam too.”
“We don’t need…”
“Look!” Lily pointed “there’s Sam.”
Sam looked out into the late afternoon air. Trying to sort through what Nicole was telling her, wondering if it could be true. Glancing down at the grounds Sam wondered for a second what Nicole’s mother thought of all this and if she was still paying for the upkeep of the Julian estate for her vampire daughter. Sam tried to keep it casual as she scanned the grounds for her friends. If Lily and Brooke were here then Carmen probably was not to far away. Sam thought back to what Lily had told her earlier, that Bio Glass was in hospital and wondered if Nicole had had anything to do with it. It wouldn’t be the first time, if Lily were to be believed…if Lily were to be believed. Sam turned the phrase over in her mind… All her life her best friends had been Lily, Carmen and Harrison. They had been there through thick and thin for each other, always helping, always trusting, always telling the truth even when it had hurt because that was what friends did. And now what? Now she was sitting in a room with the girl who had made her high school years a living hell. Someone Sam herself had nicknamed Satan, who had certainly done enough in life to prove she could never, under any circumstances, be trusted. Now I’m sitting in a room believing Satan when she tells me that its ok for her to drink peoples blood and kill them because its part of the food chain, Sam thought. Surely this wasn’t a choice that Harrison would have ever willingly made. Not in a million years. Its all a lie and Carmen’s right, Sam finally admitted to herself. Sam put her head in her hands and groaned:
“She was telling me the truth all along!”
Lily continued “I guess she wants the Cavalry.”
They watched as Sam buried her head in her hands. After a moment she was suddenly jerked out of their view.
“That can’t be good!”
“You have to get up there.” Brooke turned to Carmen “That’s some kind of study, I think. Second floor, right at the top of the stairs in the main entrance-way. I can find it from the inside.”
“Brooke, no!” Carmen insisted urgently. “I’ll get her, you guys wait here.”
Not giving them any more chance to argue Carmen pushed away through the bushes. Brooke started to follow but found her arm grabbed by Lily.
“We can’t.” Lily tried to reason with Brooke.
“I’m not really feeling like I want to watch more of my friends die.” Brooke shook herself free “We have to help, whatever Carm says.”
The two friends glared at each other.
“So we rush in and get in the way, probably getting killed?” Lily asked “Good plan!”
“We have to do something!” Brooke sounded a little hysterical to Lily’s ears.
“I know, calm down.”
It suddenly hit Lily that while she was right, Brooke was right too. Doing something, being part of this was what mattered. That was why they were here, not because Carmen had gone off on a crazy rampage, well that too, but to help because ultimately what Carmen was doing was right, that what April had said today about not letting the Nicole’s of this world win was right too. Being part of this fight because evil had to be met and fought when ever it was encountered was what mattered. As these thoughts flashed through her head Lily realized that it wasn’t that she needed to make the choice to fight evil every day, but that she needed to make it once and for all. Now.
“We need a diversion.” Lily announced
“This is so not a good idea!” Brooke glared at Lily “I still think we should…”
“Carmen won’t have to worry about us being in there!” Lily spoke firmly “This is our best shot. If we can keep Mary Cherry occupied, then yay! And it has to be you, she won’t believe me.”
“She might.” Brooke disagreed “I think she has some kind of crush on you.”
“Is everyone we know gay?”
“No, just me, Carm, you, April, Mar..” Brooke began.
Lily ignored her friend and scrolled through the phone book on Brooke’s phone. Locating the correct number she selected ‘call’ and shoved the phone at Brooke.
Carmen paused at the front door, hoping that no one had seen her cross the lawn. Now that Sam was inside things were more complicated. While Carmen still wanted to punish Mary Cherry she could hardly set fire to the place until Sam was safely outside. Being set in the middle of extensive grounds – exactly how wealthy were the Julians anyway?- there was little danger of any other buildings catching fire. Insurance would cover it, Carmen thought guiltily of Nicole’s parents for a second, are they even alive? Would I have checked this out before I went all fire-starter, Carmen wondered. So much for planning. I wouldn’t have lit the match without actually confirming that there were only vamps in here, would I? And what about the police, and the fire investigators? I can’t slay much from a jail cell.
“Shut up!” Carmen said aloud, hoping to calm her racing thoughts. “Rescue Sam, then commit arson.”
Glancing at the sky she realized it was later than she had hoped. Daylight would lessen the chances of Nicole and Mary Cherry escaping unscathed. Taking a breath Carmen tried the door. It was locked. Bracing herself she twisted harder and broke the lock as quietly as she could. I’m the slayer, Carmen reminded herself, I can do this.
“Why, Brookie! I wasn’t expecting a call from ya’ll, Hon! Didn’t you try and stake me the last time we met when ya’ll ruined my prom night!”
Mary Cherry quickly muted the t.v and turned her full attention to the conversation at hand.
“What can I do for ya’ll?”
“Um, hi Mary Cherry, I just thought that I would check in and see what’s new with you.” Brooke cringed at how dumb this sounded.
Lily rolled her eyes and tried not to laugh.
“Not much. I saw the new Gwennie movie last week, caught up with some old friends, you know. Toby, Josh’s little buddy from the team, ’member? I thought I would just die when he refused to go to homecoming with me, I just don’t know why? So I paid him back in kind. He broke my heart, I broke his neck.”
As Brooke listened to Mary Cherry ramble on it struck her how exactly the same the former cheerleader was, only the frequent references to violence were literal.
“Listen, Mary Cherry, I really need your help.”
Well, finally! Mary Cherry thought to herself, Mama Cherry didn’t raise no fool! I knew there was a real reason that Brookie was calling. Maybe she has finally realized what is missing from the Glamazons and she is begging me to return.
“You know that I will do anything and everything that it is in my power to do.” Mary Cherry began “I will….”
“Mary Cherry, I want to become a
vampire, like you.”
Mary Cherry was so surprised by this unexpected announcement that she actually stopped talking. What on earth is Brookie up to, she asked herself in amazement.
“What on earth are you up to, hon?”
“Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about it” Brooke invented wildly, having not thought of the idea until the words were actually coming out of her mouth “And I miss you guys a lot and …”
“What about Carmen?” Mary Cherry asked, unexpectedly shrewdly “We are not unaware of the unnatural nature of your little relationship. While I am the first to understand that you would turn to your real friends in your time of crisis, I am surprised that you have the strength to free your mind from the lies that Carmen must have been filling your head with.”
As she was speaking Mary Cherry was trying to think how this situation could be turned to her advantage. Nic had some kind of plan that maybe involved turning Spam into a vampire and frankly Mary Cherry didn’t feel up to spending eternity with Spam. On the other hand Brookie would make a much better person to spend eternity with, especially if Nic continued to be all brooding and shocking neglecting such important issues as what the new fall lines were. If she, Mary Cherry, could be the one who delivered Brooke to the family it would a) please Nic and b) cement her own place as second in their little hierarchy.
Brooke listened to the silence on the line that had followed Mary Cherry’s surprisingly astute comment. Obviously she was plotting something, but what? Mary Cherry’s mouth and brain seldom worked in tandem, Brooke knew. Beside her Lily raised her eye -brows in a questioning manner.
“Maybe we should all meet and discuss this a little more.” Mary Cherry suddenly broke the silence “I would be happy to…”
“I think just you and I need to meet,” Brooke interrupted her “you know you, as a surprise for Nicole. I’m not really doing anything now, we could meet up and you know, do it.”
“Aren’t you being a little forward, Hon?” Mary Cherry asked “I know you must be dying to come back to the popular side, where you belong, but a couple more hours won’t make that much difference.”
Carmen leaned on the door listening to Mary Cherry talking to Brooke, it seemed. What on earth were they up to? Deciding that as long as Mary Cheery was otherwise occupied she should use this opportunity to try and find Sam Carmen left the door and headed up the stairs. She needed to find Sam quickly, who knew what Nicole was doing to her. Pausing at the top the stairs Carmen strained to hear anything. There seemed to be talking from a nearby room. Creeping close to the door Carmen listened again.
Sam stared at the door from the chair that Nicole had thrust her into after dragging her away from the window. She didn’t think that Nicole could have possibly seen Brooke hiding in the bushes, or have read her mind and realized what she was thinking. The thought of Nicole with mind reading powers freaked her out somewhat. Surely not, but then who knew anything when it came to vampires?
“You’re gone all quiet Sammy? What’s on your mind? What burning question are you just dying to ask?”
Nicole leaned on the back of the chair she had previously occupied enjoying the fact that Sam was so uncomfortable. Clearly Sammy’s little brain was tick tick ticking away, filling her with uncertainties, making her doubt herself. It was amazing how easily Spam had let herself be manipulated. The whole thing had almost been too easy. Now all that remained was to decide how much longer to spin out this little game.
“Think you can make to the door? I’m not stopping you from leaving.” Nicole taunted “You can leave any time you want. I just hoped that you would….”
“Would what?” Sam couldn’t help asking after Nicole trailed off “Tell your side of being a vampire? Understand things from your point of view?”
Suddenly the door of the room burst open dramatically.
“Hon, I have the best news ever! Oh, hey Spam, you still alive?”
“Mary Cherry!” Nicole growled in exasperation “What part of not to be disturbed do you not understand?”
Grabbing her friend Nicole dragged her from the room. Sam waited for a second and jumped up and grabbed her equipment. Shoving it into her bag she approached the door, knowing that the window was too far to jump. She couldn’t run away from Nicole and Mary Cherry with a broken ankle. Praying that the two vampires weren’t immediately outside the door Sam grasped the handle, which turned by itself as her hand closed around. Letting go, she stepped back in anticipation of facing down Nicole.
Carmen had long planned a speech for the moment when she had to persuade Sam to believe her about vampires, but now was not the time to deliver it. She was stronger than Sam and would simply drag her out of there if necessary. Stepping quickly into the room as soon as Nicole and Mary Cherry who had headed back towards the stairs were out of earshot, Carmen found her advance stopped by a cross.
“Oh my God, Carm! Thank God you’re here!”
Carmen found herself grabbed by Sam and engulfed in a huge hug.
“I’m so sorry.”
Carmen made out the muffled words.
“You were right all along. I’ve been so dumb.”
“It’s ok Sam.” Carmen tried to extract herself from her friend “Make up later, stealth escape now.”
“No, I should have listened to you.” Sam finally let go “I was just so upset about everything and you were a convenient target. I only just realized that I’m sitting here believing Satan, when I should have been believing you and Lily and Brooke. You’ve all been trying to tell me for ages but I was so wrapped up in my own head that I wasn’t listening. I can’t believe that Satan, of all people, had me convinced that you were a murderer. What was I thinking?”
The sound of clapping filled the room. The two friends turned to the doorway where Mary Cherry was applauding them and Nicole was smiling.
“How touching. The big reconciliation scene we’re all been waiting for. Pity that it won’t have a happy ending”
Still smiling Nicole shifted into vamp face.
“We can’t just sit here and wait for Mary Cherry to get back to us!” Brooke fumed. “Who knows what is happening in there?”
“I agree we’re not going to get our ‘diversion’ badges any time soon. I …”
“If you say that we have to stay out here one more time think I might have to scream.” Brooke interjected.
“If you’d let me finish,” Lily said with dignity “I was going to suggest that maybe its time for something stupid.’
“I mean.” Lily said resignedly.
“Well, heigh ho Silver, away!”
“Get the hell away from me!” Sam bellowed, thrusting her cross at the two vampires.
“Little late in the game to grow a backbone, Spam.” Nicole snarled.
Beside her Mary Cherry nodded vigorously. Carmen desperately tried to think of a plan. While she could easily escape out of the window the fall would probably injure Sam. Realizing that the simplest option was the best she charged the two erstwhile Glamazons. Sam backed away from the melee that ensued. Carmen seemed to be doing her best to engage both the vampires as well as moving the fight out into the hallway. Probably to give her the opportunity to sneak out past them, Sam recognized, which gave her more of a chance to escape. Carmen grabbed Mary Cherry and shoved her hard towards the door opposite their own. Nicole, who seemed to be a better fighter, grabbed one of Carmen’s outstretched arms and tried to pull her off balance. She half succeed, but Carmen held on and dragged Nicole down on top of herself. Sam dodged forward and leapt over the two figures on the ground, straight into Mary Cherry who clutched at her. Sam’s cross became trapped between their bodies, causing Mary Cherry to scream piercingly in Sam’s ear as the holy object seared her exposed skin. Struggling free Sam made a break for the stairs.
Brooke nodded in response and held out her jar for Lily to ignite. As soon as it caught she flung the Molotov cocktail at the door. The flame spread to cover the petrol that bathed the door.
“Come on!” Lily urged as she headed around the house, feeling slightly sick at what they had just done.
Brooke threw another missile, this time into downstairs room and the two girls found a door that Brooke thought was the closest to the stairs that led to the second floor. Lily cocked her crossbow and aimed it at the door.
“I think I’m going to be sick.” Brooke muttered, grasping a cross in her left hand as she prepared to open the door.
“Let’s go!” Lily commanded.
Brooke opened the door and peered into the dim interior.
The two girls rushed into the entrance-way towards the stairs.
Sam made it to the top of the stairs only to be met by a vaguely familiar looking guy in full vamp face. Grinning he easily pinned her to the balustrade. Carmen heard Sam scream but her attention was riveted to the two vampires who had her blocked in the room.
“You’re going to pay for this!” Mary Cherry indicated the livid burn mark on her chest “You and your little dog too!!!”
Snarling she rushed at Carmen who tried to side step to avoid her. Nicole lunged at the other side and suddenly Carmen found herself pinned to the wall by two vampires.
So this is it, Carmen thought, I’m going to die at the hands of Nicole Julian and Mary Cherry. One slayer dies and the next one is called.
“You know,” Nicole said in a conversational tone of voice “I really thought you’d be harder to kill. But then I should have known. In your heart you’re just that fat loser Carmen Ferrera. You’re not the slayer.”
Carmen looked into Nicole’s yellow soulless eyes. And thought of Brooke. If I die, Carmen thought, I won’t see Brooke again. Or Lily, or Sam, or even April. And Glass will be totally vindicated that I was the wrong choice for slayer.
“You know what, Nic?” Carmen smiled at her “You…’’
Crunch! Carmen head-butted Nicole as hard as she could then twisted away from Mary Cherry. Nicole bellowed but Carmen drove her fist hard under her jaw so she sailed backwards through the air hitting the opposite wall with a heavy thump. Carmen’s elbow slammed into Mary Cherry’s throat with enough force to send her staggering backwards.
“…talk too much!” Carmen tossed over her shoulder as she headed towards the stairs.
Through the black spots beginning to swirl in front of her eyes Sam thought she saw familiar figures coming towards her. Lily, seeing Sam pinned, to the fired her crossbow at the tall vampire. It hit him in the shoulder. As he turned round Brooke charged with her cross. The vampire stepped back and turned to face them holding Sam like a shield in front of himself. Lily and Brooke stopped, unsure what to do next. Smiling the vampire lifted Sam to his mouth. And crumbled to dust as Carmen thrust the crossbow bolt into him, dropping Sam to the stairs.
“Let’s go!” Lily urged.
Picking Sam up Carmen half dragged, half carried her down the stairs. The girls hit the bottom of the stairs and ran towards the front door. Another vaguely familiar figure, this time in a Kennedy High letterman jacket confronted them. Brandishing her cross Brooke stepped forward. Draping Sam around Lily Carmen stepped up to her girlfriend.
“Let me, Brooke.” Carmen said easily, taking the cross.
“Get out of the way!” Carmen recognized the vampire as a former member of the basket ball team.
“You don’t scare…” he began.
Turning her arm Carmen used the top of the cross as a stake and dusted him before he had a chance to finish his sentence.
“Good, ‘cause I don’t like to think of myself as a scary person.” Carmen commented.
“I think we should leave.” Lily coughed.
Carmen didn’t let them stop until they were out by the three cars. Pausing for breath Lily looked back at the house.
“Hey, our plan worked!”
“We need to get out of here!” Carmen pointed to the cars “’Cause arson although a cunning plan, also a crime. Plus, vampires.”
“You didn’t?” Sam asked raggedly.
“No time to. Up to driving?”
“I think so.” Sam nodded
“Back to Glass’s?” Lily inquired.
“Here, Lily.” Brooke tossed her friend Glass’s keys “I’m with Carm.”
The four separated into the three cars.
“Glass leant you her car?” Carmen asked as they pulled away.
“Leant is one way to put it.” Brooke replied “It was kinda an emergency. You see our friend had gone all crazy and it was intervention time.”
“Yeah, sorry about that.” Carmen muttered.
“Hmmm, which part? The attacking April part, or the suicidal mission part, or the breaking up with me part?”
“Um, d-all of the above? I screwed up, I get that.”
“You screwed up big time, Carm. But that’s ok, ‘cause, hey also not perfect here.” Brooke paused, thinking what to say next.
“Brooke, I’m really sorry.”
“Carm, I know but you really need to hear this. You think you can protect us from this, from the danger, from the pain, but you can’t. We’re in this together, all of us and the only way through this is together.”
“Carmen, just listen to me! I don’t mean going out on every patrol, I mean the emotional stuff. You need to let us in. Let me in. When you can’t deal let me know and we’ll deal together. If you do that, then we’ll be ok.”
Carmen leaned back in the seat. Maybe Brooke was right.