It was supposed to be Jennifer.
But Roman overhears them talking, and laughs at them, saying Jennifer is about as far from a virgin as they can get.
So they don’t take Jennifer.
They take her dorky friend instead.
Jennifer’s throat is sore, and her head hurts, she can’t figure out what the fuck is going on, and she can’t find Needy.
They got out, Needy got her out, but she couldn’t fucking think, and then Needy said that she was going to get some help, and not to move, so she listened. She doesn’t listen to anyone, ever, but sometimes she listens to Needy. So she waits.
Only now the fog over her is starting to dissipate, and everyone is screaming and crying, and people are burning, the stench of it thick in the air and filling her nose, clinging to her clothes and her skin and her hair, and she can’t find Needy.
She’s not one of the bodies, she can’t be, she wouldn’t have run back into the fire and risked her life for any of those townies, so Jennifer doesn’t even bother looking there. People are yelling at her, grabbing at her, and she’s so fucking sick of people touching her, of people’s hands on her. She shakes them all off, and she’s not burned or bleeding so they let her go, they wouldn’t have tried to stop her at all if they hadn’t wanted a reason to touch her and she fucking hates being touched.
Needy isn’t here.
She gets in her car, not sure where she’s going, exactly, only knowing that Needy isn’t here so there’s no reason for her to be here either.
Would she have gone through the woods, tried to cut through them to go get help? What the fuck was she even thinking anyway, the stupid bitch, they have cell phones, she didn’t have to fucking do that, and now Jennifer is stuck driving stupid slow against all the ambulances and fire trucks and police, searching the sides of the road, trying to find stupid fucking Needy in the edges of the trees.
She’s so focused on looking all around her that she’s not paying attention to right in front of her, which has to be why one second the road is clear and dark, and the next moment there’s someone standing right in front her, in the middle of the goddamn road, and she has to slam on the breaks, her seatbelt cutting into her tits and bile rising in her throat.
She jerks the car into park, unbuckling herself and throwing the door open. “Where the fuck were you? What did you do? Are you fucking crazy, I could have killed you!”
She doesn’t say anything, and as Jennifer gets closer, something low and cold goes up her spine.
Needy’s covered in blood, her big blue eyes blown wide, her hair wild and snarled around her.
“Are you hurt?” she demands, grabbing Needy’s upper arm and jerking her closer. She’s fucking freezing. She runs her hand over her stomach, her arms, and her skin feels whole, there’s no warm gush of blood. It can’t be hers, it really can’t be hers, she’s like, flunking biology because Mr. Frankel makes her want to throw up whenever he looks at her, and whatever, she’s not going to be a biologist anyway, so. But even still, she knows that’s too much blood, that if that had all really come from Needy, then - then. So it can’t be. But she’s so cold. “You dumb bitch, come on.” She takes off her jacket, wrapping it around Needy’s shoulders, because she’s so fucking cold, and who cares about the blood, the jacket was so last season anyway. She puts her arm around Needy’s back and pushes her into the car, barely remembering to grab her head to keep from smashing her head into the side of the car, which she doesn’t think would help much, but might knock some sense into her. What the fuck is her problem?
Jennifer gets back in the driver’s seat, and she can’t take Needy back to Mrs. Lesnicki like this, she’ll freak the fuck out. Her mom’s probably knocked out by her pills by now, so they can go to her place and like, burn Needy’s clothes and shit. She’s about to put her keys in the ignition when Needy screeches, something high pitched and primal and fucking animal about it, and Jennifer drops her keys, can feel them hit the top of her foot. “Shit! Needy, what the hell?”
She turns to her, ready to snap and curse some more, but Needy grabs her wrist and slams it back, pinning her in place and crawling on top of her, her teeth bloody and bared and right in her face, her grip too tight and too strong, and what the hell, she’s the one in color guard, she’s supposed to be the strong one.
This isn’t the first time someone’s pinned her in place, isn’t the first time she’s had someone with sharp teeth and violence in their eyes holding her down, and maybe someone else would freak out, would thrash and fight, but she knows better.
She goes limp, parting her lips as she looks into Needy’s bluer than blue eyes, pushing against her grip without actually fighting against it. This isn’t like those times. It can’t be. She bows her head forward until she’s pressing it against Needy’s chest, uncaring of the tacky blood smears against her cheek. There’s several long seconds, where they both just breathe, and Jennifer realizes that something is wrong, something besides the obvious.
She can’t hear Needy’s heartbeat.
“Needy,” she says softly, eyes wide, “Needy, what the fuck?”
Needy lowers herself, nosing Jennifer’s hair out of the way to scrape her teeth against Jennifer’s neck, and what the absolute shit is she doing. “Are you scared?” Needy asks, the first words she’s said since showing up and acting like a total freakshow.
Her first instinct is to lie. It’s always to lie. But Needy is covered in blood and they both still smell of fire and she can’t hear her heartbeat and Jennifer doesn’t have a fucking clue what’s going on, so she’s honest, for once. “Always.”
Needy’s still, so impossibly still, and then she’s leaning back and heaving, and her vomit is hot and smells terrible as it covers her lap and slides down her legs.
Jennifer’s first extinct is to hold Needy’s hair back, even as her vomit covers her, even as her own stomach rolls. “Shit! This is so fucking gross, you’re totally paying for my dry cleaning-”
It’s moving. The stuff that she threw up is moving. She can feel it against her skin and tickling the edges of her ankles, and she pulls Needy’s head back enough to see what came out of her, and it’s fucking black, not black like smoke or ash, but like ink, like oil slick.
Needy pushes Jennifer away and screams. Jennifer presses herself back against the car, and then Needy is opening her door and clambering over her and out of the car, taking off down the street. “Needy!” she shouts, stumbling out after her, “Needy, come back here!”
She looks around, but can’t find her, and that’s fucking impossible, even if she ran into the woods Jennifer would have seen her do it.
“Shit,” she says, hitting the side of the car hard enough that a dull pain shoots up her wrist. “Fuck!”
There’s no car wash open at this time of night, and she can’t fucking take her mom’s car back like this, how is she supposed to explain this? She spends ten minutes on her knees next to the car, scooping out the foul black vomit out of the car and onto the ground with her hands, until she can at least drive without it sloshing around beneath her.
She doesn’t know how to clean a fucking car, and it’s not like she can ask anyone, because then they’d ask her what the fuck happened, and how is she supposed to answer that? Besides, Needy is her only real friend anyway.
She grabs the dish soap from the kitchen sink and a towel and sits in her driveway, scrubbing away at the black gunk until its gone, until the she can run her hand across it and it comes up clean. It smells kind of mildewy, but that’s better than it was before, so she gives up. She’ll tell her mom she spilled a soda in it or something. It’s something like 3 am when she stumbles into her room, and into the shower, scrubbing herself raw, trying to get the scent of this night out of her skin and her hair, but no matter what she does she can’t get the all black gunk out from around her fingernails.
Most of what she has are reds and pinks, so no black, but at the back of her shelf there’s a navy one that she bought to match her color guard uniform, and she’s used it like, once. It’ll have to do.
The sun is just starting to peek over the horizon as she swipes the navy polish over her nails, hiding the black stains beneath it. She falls asleep like that, hunched over her desk and waiting for her nails to dry.
She throws out the clothes she was wearing. There’s not enough dry cleaning in the world that can fix that. Which sucks, because she felt really fucking cute in that skirt.
Needy is acting weird.
First of all, she’s not wearing her glasses. Jennifer loudly compliments her on her contacts, even though she knows she’s not wearing any, when she tried in middle school they made her eyes itch and water and turn all painful red.
Second of all, she doesn’t seem to remember any of her freaky behavior from last night, which is like, okay, whatever, but she looks withdrawn and tired with bags under her eyes. Ahmet talks about how she helped him, how she found him on the street and got him help, and Jennifer wonders how fucking out of it Ahmet must have been not to notice that Needy was clearly out of her mind.
Needy doesn’t say anything really, doesn’t eat her lunch, just fucking sits there. Chip keeps throwing Jennifer panicked looks, like that’s going to help anything, like that’s going to solve a single fucking thing, like Jennifer has a clue how to deal with this.
She gets up to get a serving of tater tots, Needy’s favorite, or at least the thing at this cafeteria she hates the least, because maybe if she eats something she’ll chill the fuck out, but when she comes back both her and Chip are gone.
She’s so not in the mood to get ditched, and she knows their spot, so she bangs open the janitor’s closet that everyone goes to, and says, “What the fuck, guys,” and then looks up and slams the door closed behind her, because the last thing they need is for anyone to see this.
What a lot of fucking teeth you have there, Needy.
Chip is passed out, and Needy is holding him up like he weighs nothing, her mouth and eyes and her whole face still so fucked up. “What are you doing?”
“Hungry,” she growls, the word coming out all weird because of her mouth.
Okay. “Tater tots?”
She growls again, lowering her head towards Chip’s throat.
“Stop!” It’s not like Jennifer cares about Chip, she kind of hates him actually, but she really doesn’t think that Needy will be happy about eating her boyfriend when she stops being a freak.
“Hungry,” she repeats, letting go of Chip so he slumps onto the floor and grabbing Jennifer and pressing her up against the door, her very many teeth still so very close.
“Needy,” she says, “Needy. That’s you, right? This is you.”
She doesn’t do anything.
“When did I lose my virginity?” she asks.
Needy makes a sound that might be a laugh if it wasn’t so horrifying. Her mouth shrinks back to almost normal. “Eighth grade. Josh King. You made him cry after.”
It’s not the truth, but it’s what Needy thinks is the truth, and that’s good enough for her.
She grabs her hand, intertwining their fingers together and being careful not to nick herself on her claws. “Come on. Put your face back, and we’ll get you something to eat.”
Needy listens, because Needy always listens to her, and she drags Needy out to the woods, tells her to just fucking wait the fuck there.
She unzips her hoodie and shakes out her hair. She goes to the practice field and finds Wallace, he always gropes her at parties and is rude to his mom. For someone who’s supposedly mourning his teammate, it’s stupid easy to get him to follow her into the woods. She lets him kiss her, lets him put his gross fucking hands on her, until she hears that growl. “Hungry.”
Jennifer breaks away, wiping his spit from her mouth, and stumbles back as Needy steps forward. “Threesome?” Wallace asks, grinning.
She sits on a nearby log, and doesn’t look away as Needy’s jaw goes wide and she bites him down. She eats his stomach first, then slurps the blood from his veins. Jennifer has the probably very fucked up thought that it would probably be easier if one of them had thought to bring a straw. When Needy finishes she’s got blood dripping down her chin, but her eyes are bright and there’s color in her skin again, her cheeks are rosy.
“Idiot,” she says, unzipping her hoodie. “You got blood all over your shirt, and we have biology in ten minutes.”
“You don’t go to biology,” Needy says, obligingly taking off her shirt when Jennifer starts tugging on the hem.
She takes it from Needy’s hands, and uses the non bloody part to wipe her face clean, then balls it up as tight as she can and stuffs it in her backpack. “Well. I don’t know if I should leave you alone right now. What the fuck Needy?”
Needy takes Jennifer’s hoodie and shrugs it on, zipping it all the way up. She looks at her for a long moment, and then reaches for her hand, and Jennifer can’t hide the thrill up her spine at having Needy’s hand in hers. She pulls it to her chest, and Jennifer presses into her skin, searching, but there’s nothing to find. Her heart isn’t beating.
She should be dead. She is dead.
“Let’s skip bio together,” she says, and Jennifer nods.
They sit next to Wallace’s corpse as the animal’s come to take Needy’s leftovers, and Needy tells her everything. About that night, about what they did to her, and how she was after, about her hunger, and how she couldn’t hurt Jennifer, about how she wanted to hurt Ahmed but could still taste Jennifer’s fear when she found him.
“They killed you,” Jennifer says, cupping her face, and she doesn’t cry. She doesn’t fucking cry.
“Yes,” Needy says, “but I’m right here. This is better, isn’t it? Better that I’m like this than that I’m gone?”
Yes. “Are you going to eat me?”
“You?” Needy asks, bright blue eyes suddenly so close, all of her so close. “Never.”
Jennifer’s not an idiot. She’s still getting a B in biology even though she never goes, and doing pretty good in everything else because her mom is a freak and says being captain of the color guard isn’t enough to get her into a good college.
Those musician assholes were idiots, and they figured out how to do a demonic ritual, so it can’t be that hard, right?
She finds the books in their fucking school library, and stuffs them up her shirt to smuggle them out, not looking back when the alarm goes off, and running to the bathroom and locking it shut behind her. She tears apart the pages, feeling savage about it, wishing she was like Needy and could unhinge her jaw in swallow them whole, but barring that she just rips them apart and flushes the pieces down the toilet.
“What’s wrong with you?”
She whirls around, but it’s just Needy, the door hanging at awkward angle behind her. He hair is falling in perfect curls around her, and her skin is soft and clear, her lips a plump pink.
“You’re a demon,” she says, “there’s a demon inside you.”
“And?” she asks.
Jennifer goes back to ripping the books, turning her back on her. “You have to make sure to eat a lot, okay? And you can’t get caught. You have to be smart. You can’t be hungry. If you’re hungry, you’re weak. If you’re weak, someone could hurt you.”
Needy kneels beside her. “What was in the books, Jennifer?”
“It’s keeping you alive,” she says, “it’s not – it doesn’t think. It doesn’t feel. It’s just hungry. Everything but the hunger is you. If you’re full, you’re you. If we kill the demon, it has to be with a knife through your heart, so you die. Even if we exorcise the demon, it’s not around to keep your body almost alive, and you die. Your body is dead, but the demon is making it not-dead, so – so you have to keep it.”
“Okay,” Needy says, and she’s so calm, so steady, even while Jennifer feels like she’s losing her mind. “How am I supposed to stay full?”
“I’ll help,” Jennifer says, and her body is finally good for something, her beauty finally has a purpose. “We’ll go where they don’t know us, to bars and clubs, and I’ll get guys to follow me out, or you can follow us, and then you can eat.”
“Okay,” Needy repeats, and Jennifer can breathe again, because it is okay, because Needy is going to listen to her and do what she wants, because Needy always listens to her.
Becoming a serial killer hadn’t been in her mom’s five year plan, but it’s better than being alone. Anything is better than being alone.
It’s nearly a six months and a dozen dead bodies since Needy become different, since she was murdered in the middle of the woods when Jennifer wasn’t fucking looking. Chip ended up transferring schools, and everyone said it was trauma. Well, they’re not wrong, exactly.
“Low Shoulder?” Needy asks, laying on her bed, so fucking beautiful. She’s always beautiful, but she’s always most beautiful after she’s eaten. No one makes comments about Needy being her dumpy friend anymore.
It would bother her before, make her worried that Needy would figure out how much better she is than Jennifer, how she’s better off without her. But she doesn’t have that worry now, Needy can be as blisteringly hot as she wants, but even as a literal demon she’s more girl next door beautiful than anything else, but that’s okay. Jennifer likes the girl next door, if that girl is Needy, and it’s all okay, because Needy needs her, and that’s all she’s ever wanted, to be needed.
“They’re doing a show near us,” she says. “You can get us into their dressing room, right? You’re like, super strong and can move really fast and fly.”
“Hover,” she corrects.
Jennifer rolls her eyes. “Whatever. You can do it, right?”
“If you want,” she says, “but it’s not very low profile, and you’re usually so neurotic about us not getting caught.”
“Do it for me,” she demands.
Needy smiles, and pushes herself up on her elbows, and Jennifer can’t resist that smile. She walks over to the bed with her makeup half done. “Okay.”
“Okay,” Jennifer repeats.
At the show, in the dressing room, she doesn’t let Needy kill them.
She’s been keeping her hands clean this whole time, just being the bait and tidying up Needy after, wiping her mouth like she’s a toddler. But not this time.
“Was it worth it?” she screams, and it’s so good Low Shoulder asked for a soundproof room so they could practice, otherwise she wouldn’t be able to do this without being caught. “Was it fucking worth it?”
“Please, don’t,” Nikolai whimpers, and Needy is being so good, is holding him down for her like she did all the others, isn’t eating, is waiting for Jennifer to be done.
Jennifer takes the chef’s knife and slashes it across his stomach, deep enough to bleed, but not to kill him, not yet. “Is that what she said? Huh? When you killed her?” She slashes down his stomach again. “Did she plead?” Another slash. “Did she cry?” Another. “Did you make my best friend cry, you fucking asshole?”
Needy must have cried. She’s not like Jennifer. She cries.
This time when she digs the knife in, she knows she’s gone too far, that he’s going to bleed out and pass out, and that’s no fair. He made Needy suffer, made her die crying.
He should die crying too.
She slashes wildly, cuts off his fingers, carves out Needy’s initials out of the meat of his arms and then slices the skin off, does everything she can think of so he’s sobbing when he takes his last breath, so he’s nothing but pain and fear and regret as he takes his last breath, but she doesn’t stop even then, keeps slashing at him, keeps plunging the knife into any part she can reach, until her arms ache and stomach hurts and it’s not until she can’t catch her breath that she realizes her screams have turned into sobs.
She never cries.
“Hey,” Needy says, grabbing her wrists and squeezing, not enough to really hurt her but enough so that she lets go of the knife.
Jennifer throws herself at Needy, pressing her ear to her hollow chest and wrapping her arms around her neck, and her tears have to absolutely be ruining her mascara. Needy holds her gently, like she’s worried she’ll hurt her, like Jennifer will break if she puts any pressure on her.
“You’re dead and it’s my fault and I’m so fucking sorry,” she gasps, “If I hadn’t wanted to go, if I hadn’t made you go, this never would have happened. I did this to you. I killed you and I’m sorry, Needy. I miss you so much.”
Needy pets her hair, her nails scraping against her scalp, and Jennifer shouldn’t find it as comforting as she does. “I didn’t die, not really. I’m right here.”
“A part of you died,” she insists, because it’s true. Because even when she’s full, Needy isn’t exactly like she used to be, she’s different, dying made her different. What Low Shoulder did to her made her different. “A part of you that I’ve known and loved my whole life died and I’m so fucking sorry, and I have to mourn that, mourn her. The Needy I knew is gone, and I loved her.”
Needy pulls back, looking at Jennifer with her piercing, inhuman blue eyes. “Do you still love me?”
If she says no, she gets the idea that Needy might kill her. Or not kill her, because it’s Needy, but she’ll be mad, she might not listen to her anymore. Jennifer needs Needy to listen to her, needs Needy to need her.
She almost says no to test it, to see if Needy loves her enough not to hurt her, but that’s not fair of her, and pointless anyway. What is she trying to prove? She’s the one Needy couldn’t hurt, the one who’s fear can stop her, the one she listens to. Lying just hurts both of them.
So she doesn’t lie.
“Always,” she answers.
Needy pulls her towards her, opening her mouth, and even then Jennifer isn’t scared. If Needy doesn’t want her, what’s the point of her being alive anyway? It’s just a waste.
But Needy doesn’t eat her, instead her soft lips press against hers, and Jennifer opens her mouth, pressing closer, as close as she can, because she doesn’t mind Needy’s touch, loves Needy’s hands on her. It’s supremely fucked up that their first kiss is happening while they’re surrounded by the cooling bodies of Needy’s murderers, but she’s a demon and Jennifer’s a killer now, so like.