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ennui of 10s

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Laura was working again. Pushing her 8th hour of straight research, in fact; and Carmilla hated it.

Well, she conceded- hate may be too strong of a word. She had grown accustomed to Laura’s late nights and distracted movements - even grown to respect her fierce determination - but Carmilla couldn’t help but crave a bit of the spotlight too. Becoming human had filled her with newfound vigour, a lust for life and everything about it- and she did not want to be spending all this time in their new apartment with gorgeous scenery and the shining sun in a corner of the couch with the curtains drawn tight.

Carmilla let loose a fierce, overdramatic sigh, draping herself across the back of the couch and onto Laura’s shoulders. She voiced these concerns absentmindedly, fiddling with a strand of hair that had fallen from Laura's twist-tie. “Come now, cupcake. I understand your devotion to reporting, but think of all the other things we could be out doing… being cooped up in here is really quite droll.”

“Mmm.” The noise was just a distracted affirmation blown out from between Laura’s lips. She reached her hand up, patting around until she found Carmilla’s cheek, the other remaining scrolling through news sources and references. “Isn’t there some unpacking or decorating you can do?”

“Already done.” Carmilla buried her nose into Laura’s hair.

“What about picking something up from that bakery you told me about the other day?”

“I went there a week ago. The baker had talons.” She dropped her forehead to Laura’s shoulder.

Laura mumbled something unintelligible, her attention finally drawn back by some article on Orc Activism. Her hand fell from Carmilla’s cheek and back to her keyboard, joining the other in furious typing.

Carmilla frowned and lifted her head up, dropping her chin onto her girlfriend’s shoulder. Though she did have to admit (reluctantly) that Laura’s nose scrunched up in the cutest way when she focused, and she would read back what she just wrote as a whisper on her lips, all this time spent indoors could not be good for her- and that was coming from the vampire who spent her first hundred years hiding in dark corners and shadows.

She sighed loudly through her nose, making Laura flinch slightly from the sudden rush of air on her collarbone. Carmilla’s eyes lazily drifted from there and up along the curve of her neck, burning a hole with every slight movement she saw. She tilted her head up slightly, her breath catching as she outlined the sharp angle of Laura’s jaw. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to the place between her ear and jaw. Laura’s breath hitched slightly, but her focus didn't waver. The corner of Carmilla’s mouth twitched as she kissed her again, this time with more conviction.

She traced along the edge of Laura's jawline with lazy kisses, often pausing to sigh against her cheek in a moment of pure bliss. She pressed on harder, losing herself in the feeling, almost entirely forgetting about her initial plan of distraction. She pressed her lips against Laura's cheek, snaking her hand around to stroke the other side of her face. She let desire overtake her and traced her lips along Laura’s cheekbone, her jaw, her neck… She let her hand weave itself into her girlfriend's hair and sank into her scent, her aura…

Carmilla flinched slightly when she felt a hand grasp at her face. She peeked out from under heavy lashes to see Laura shoving aside her laptop, then swivel to face Carmilla. “Stupid, sexy, ...not-vampire,” was all she could gasp out before throwing her arms around Carmilla’s neck and pulling her over the back of the couch.

They fell into a messy kiss, one on top of the other. For a long moment hands found places, breaths were caught, and a bubble of warmth swelled between the two- suddenly broken by soft laughter. Carmilla shook her head, a smile dancing across her lips, and buried her nose into the crook of Laura’s neck. She buried her fingers into the back of Carmilla’s hair, pulling her in close.

“You know,” Laura began after a breathy pause. Carmilla propped herself on her elbow, staring down into Laura’s wide brown eyes, mischief dancing through them. She jolted up, giving Carmilla a small peck. “Maybe I could put my work down for a while.”

Chapter Text

Laura was staring ruefully at her own heart sitting on the desk in front of her. Funnily enough, it usually manifested as Carmilla’s old leather jacket these days. The longer she gazed the more it filled her with memories, hope, nostalgia, despair…

...she reached out a tentative hand and grasped its hem. Laura drew the jacket into her and hugged it tightly.

It still smelled like Carmilla. Or, Laura guessed, the memory of Carm. The mysterious and sexy roommate, the girl in a corset with eyes only for her, filled with old knowledge and long-perfected emotion. The Carmilla she gazed at the sky with, thinking of her future - their future; from whose bed they would sleep in to their list of dream vacation spots. The growing and changing Carmilla. Not this new- or old, she guessed -Carmilla, whose disaster-area remnants she could see in her periphery. Laura blew a drawn-out sigh and dropped her face into the jacket’s collar. Not this dubious, party animal, trashy, not-giving-a-single-shit Carmilla.

Whether her rose-tinted perception or this new Carmilla were the lie, she didn’t care. Whichever it happened to be, she was just sick of it. Of lies. Sometimes Laura wanted to break open Carmilla’s head just to finally figure out what the flaming hell she was thinking. It was painfully obvious this Carmilla was a wildly ferocious try-hard, but why? To make Laura jealous? Angry? Just for sociopathic kicks? Or was the first Carmilla she met the fake one? Equally trashy, just annoyingly good at playing the elusive seductress archetype? But maybe this was just a her problem. For all she knew, all this mess could just be because of Laura’s supposed tendency to fall head-over-heels for any hot girl that gives her a half-second more than a glance.

Laura buried her nose so deep in the leather’s lining that she had to sigh from her mouth.

A self-important crash sounded from behind her. Laura spun around, instinctively launching the jacket to the opposite corner of the room. Carmilla Karnstein, hair in a frenzy and leaning heavily against the now-exposed door frame, had followed the jacket with an outstretched finger to its current resting place. “Is that mine?”

In her mind, Laura was saying “yes,” but in a cool way. In a way that insinuated that Laura had stumbled upon it versus her just trying not to cry into its lining. Unfortunately, Laura had thrown out her ability to breathe along with the jacket, so all she could do was stumble for a long, painful moment. “I- wuh, well, uh...yes, but- you gave it to me! So technically, it’s mine. It was yours.”

“Alright, whatever you say.” Carmilla cocked an eyebrow and smirked. “It’s surprising, though. I figured you hated me enough to just throw that out.”

Laura’s breath returned with a strike of red to her face. She didn’t even know how to reply- how does one deal with such an unfortunately sexy age-old vampire? Now that she was thinking about it, if she focused, Laura thought she could see blood smears around Carmilla’s lips. That was bad, right? Carmilla just murdered someone. And ate them. But god if she didn’t look strangely… alluring. And well, Carmilla needed blood to survive. She wasn’t necessarily killing in cold blood. She was growing and maturing, Laura was...almost sure of that. She was beginning to think she didn’t even care whatever Carmilla did those late nights of hers.

“No,” Laura said, almost a little too forcefully. She cleared the anticipation from her throat, dropping her voice. “I don’t hate you.”

Carmilla now directed her full attention to Laura’s anywhere-but-here face. From behind sheets of eyelashes and hair, Laura could see Carmilla’s unreadable eyes piercing through her. Her chest tightened up, then fell into empty space. She picked up her chin and met Carm’s gaze. So what if Carmilla found out that she thought about her every second of every day? Worst case is that she would leave the apartment and finally give Laura some peace.

One still moment more, and Carmilla stalked out of their reverie. She yanked a chair and flung it down closer to the desk, facing Laura. Her nostrils stung when she got close enough. Her smell was too metallic and too earthy.

“You’re saying you don’t hate me?”

“Yeah.”

“Even after all this?” She gestured vaguely to her disheveled self, and then at the mirrored state of her portion of the room.

“Carmilla. I never really hated your bullshit, even when we first met. I wouldn’t have regressed out of nowhere, even now.”

Carmilla was laying lax in her faux self-importance. Annoying. “Mmm, look who’s matured so finely.” Irksome.

“Why are you doing all this now? It was all parties and late-night murders for what felt like way too long, so now what? I’m suddenly interesting again?”

“Well,” Carmilla drawled. Grating. She threw a painfully obvious look towards the discarded leather jacket. “It’s pretty clear you still have some attachment to me, despite what you may wish your abrasion to come across as. I’d be lying if I said it isn’t fun to toy with.”

And there was the snark to break the journalist’s back. “And you think you’re so high and mighty, above even emotions? Come on Carm, despite what you may wish, it’s still really-effing-obvious that you aren’t as tough as you chalk yourself up to be. If you had really hated me, you would have left and stayed gone.”

“I love this new fiery La-”

“Don’t you even start.” There was a bit more venom in her voice than she meant, but Laura brushed that thought to the side. “You need to get off your stupid morally dubious high. Yeah, whatever, you’re a vampire. But you’re also three-hundred-odd years old. Maybe you should act like it.”

Laura huffed to emphasise her point, and almost immediately felt a twinge of regret. Carmilla’s gaze had lost its edge, and she was just sitting there in almost mute shock. Her eyes were instead filled with curious, reaching...want. Want.

Carmilla pursed her lips, and let them hang slightly slack. “I won’t say I’m exactly sorry,” she muttered. “But I will say that I want to be myself with you.”

“Which is this party-you?”

“No. But close.” Carmilla’s laugh was almost imperceptible.

“I don’t hate you,” Laura said.

They both leaned into one another at the same time. Laura could almost feel Carmilla’s aura of stolen blood and the depths of the forest enveloping her, but she didn’t care. It was almost home at this point. Carmilla grabbed Laura’s face and pulled her in closer, before letting her go and dropping her own forehead to Laura’s shoulder. They allowed themselves to be breathless and vulnerable with each other again, just this once.

“I wish I could escape problems and responsibilities.” Her whisper was muffled by Laura’s sweater. “Do what I really wanted. Even for a little while.”

“And what is it that you want?”

Carmilla buried her nose deeper into Laura’s sleeve. “I don’t know.”

“Really?”

“...Well.”

Laura felt a small tear drop onto her sleeve. She let her head drop onto Carmilla’s. “Here may be fine, for now.”

Chapter Text

Laura felt cold, even to Carmilla’s dead hands. Even through the blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

Carmilla had taken her into her arms almost on instinct. Laura was staring blankly at the computer screen in front of the two, leaning back limpy onto Carmilla’s front. No light had graced her eyes since she broke the Silas Charter. Even in the faulty light of the tunnel, Laura’s gaze was pervasively blank and glassy. She hadn’t even bothered to wipe the dirt and grime away from her wounds. Carmilla clenched her jaw and held on a little tighter.

“What?”

Carmilla started at Laura’s soft croakiness. “W-what?”

“You squeezed me tighter. And, well, you haven’t let go of me for a few hours. I don’t need your pity, you know.” But Laura made no attempt to move.

Carmilla opened and closed her mouth a few times before settling on “I’m not giving you pity. I’m offering you support. You… you went through a lot before we got into the tunnels.” She offered a weak smile to the back of Laura’s head. “You’re finally embracing ambiguity, cupcake.”

Laura scoffed and fell silent again.

A lengthy pause stretched between the two. Carmilla sighed as quietly as she could, and spent all her focus on still holding Laura without gripping her too hard.

“Why are you downplaying this?”

“What?”

Laura finally broke out of Carmilla’s arms. She scooted away about a foot before turning around. She stared Carmilla down with the glare of a cornered animal. Wild, fearful, full of earthy regret…

“I killed him. Vordenberg. I killed him, and undid everything we worked for after killing the Dean. Danny, your sister…” Laura’s eyes fell back away from confrontation. “It was all for nothing. I’m supposed to be better than this.”

“Okay, but- it does. Those sacrifices and the work we did still matters. We know a hell of a lot more than we did before, we’re stronger- and we’re together. No one is perfect, Laura. No one has to be one thing. People change, and are terrible sometimes, yes. But the balance between good intentions and less-than-favourable outcomes is what it means to be human.”

Laura’s head fell to her chest. Her eyelashes didn’t completely hide the tears that were forming.

“You can’t blame yourself for any of this. It was a split-second decision; you’re never expected to make the best, well-thought out move-”

“We’re together.”

Carmilla’s voice caught in her throat. She tilted her head down to meet Laura’s as best she could. Laura responded before she could question.

“That’s what you said, right? ‘We’re together.’”

“Well- uh, yeah. You LaF, and me-”

Laura’s voice quieted to a whisper. “And that’s it.”

“And that’s all.”

“You’re fine with that? Leaving so many people up there to just fend for themselves? To die?”

Carmilla bit her bottom lip. “I… have learned to pick my battles. Not everyone can be saved. Ever. You just have to find those few people you care about most, and hold on tight.”

Laura laughed under her breath. It was dead, sarcastic. Devoid of anything.

“I can’t convince you of my 300-year-old morals, especially not right now. But just… see if you can put that in the back of your mind for now.”

Silence kept its hold for a few more beats. Laura slowly tilted her head back up to look at Carmilla. Her eyes were red, but there were no tear tracks on her face. “We’re together,” she whispered.

Carmilla leaned forward. She pressed her lips to Laura’s chapped ones. They were cold, dead. She didn’t kiss back.

Carmilla leaned away. Laura’s gaze remained transfixed on the middle distance. Carmilla desperately searched her face for something, anything-

“I’m going to lie down,” Laura mumbled. She gingerly lowered herself onto her side, facing away from Carmilla. She didn’t turn back.