There are two women standing together on a bridge. Passersby travel behind them, both on foot and in cars. The dark-haired woman turns. “I used to be like them,” she says. “What?” scoffs the blonde. “Badly dressed?”
Nandor can only assume these women on Guillermo’s intelligent computer machine are vampires, and that they are making fun of the simple human mortals. He feels guilty for spying on his familiar, but he was curious to know what television program had so completely arrested Guillermo’s attention. Guillermo was “bingeing.” Nandor didn’t understand the point of “bingeing” anything unless there was a blood feast involved...a virgin blood feast, at that.
The program, he learned, was called Killing Eve . Well, this “Eve” must be a vampire, because how could you fill hours of a show (and there were hours, judging on how long Guillermo had spent watching this program the previous day) with the murder of a single person, unless this person was immortal and therefore extraordinarily difficult to kill? Nandor had met a Russian like that, once...a man notoriously difficult to kill. Rustin...Rastin...something like that. It had been a long time ago.
Guillermo sits at the end of the bed, laptop perched on his tiny desk. Tacked on the wall is the glitter portrait, Nandor notes with satisfaction. Guillermo’s profile is awash in the bluish light from his screen, and he is smiling. He must enjoy these vampires, Nandor thinks. Guillermo must be very obsessed with vampires, he decides. Nandor counts the evidence on his fingers. Guillermo serves a vampire. Guillermo lives with vampires. Guillermo draws vampires in his little sketchy-book. Guillermo watches vampire programs on the television and computer machine.
Nandor rests his hand on the edge of the curtain separating Guillermo’s room from the rest of the house. Guillermo’s smile is fading, and one of the women has started to cry. They are real tears, not blood. Maybe they are not vampires, after all. Guillermo’s heartbeat quickens.
The women stand together, peering intently in each other’s eyes. “Now, turn around and face the other way,” the blonde woman says. Her smile is...sad. Nandor was expecting them to kiss, or at least, to embrace. He can only imagine they are in love. This is the end of Guillermo’s “binge.” It would be a shame if the “binge” ended without a fulfillment of some kind. Why is she telling the other woman to turn around?
“What?” the dark-haired woman asks. She is still crying.
They rest together, back-to-back. Soft music starts to play. Nandor thought these women were alone on the bridge; where are the musicians? Guillermo bites his lip.
“Now we walk, and we never look back.”
At this, Guillermo gives a quiet gasp. He grips the edge of the desk.
“Don’t turn. Just walk.”
Nandor is confused. Are these women dueling? Are they going to step ten paces and then turn back? But — no. The blonde woman said they can never look back. Never? Never again? Are they leaving each other forever?
“ No ,” Guillermo whispers, and at that exact moment, Nandor detects the salt in the air. The scent of tears.
Sad, Nandor thinks. These women are sad but resolute. Maybe they have to leave each other? Maybe they have no other choice? Leave and never look back? But why so sudden?
Tell me I’m your baby
A voice, singing.
Tell me I’m yours forever
Guillermo is crying harder, now. He takes off his glasses, wipes at his eyes. He only has five minutes left on his break but neither familiar nor master are thinking about that now. Nandor clenches his free hand into a tight fist. “Gui —” Nandor cuts himself off.
Tell me I’m your baby
He doesn’t hear him. The women on-screen stop walking; the dark-haired woman turns, her hair dancing in the night breeze.
And you’ll never leave me
The blonde woman turns.
Tell me that you’ll kiss me
Guillermo sobs, his breath catching. The program ends on that moment— Tell me you’ll kiss me forever —and the women didn’t run back; no, they didn’t kiss, no, they didn’t embrace, but there are still words to be said, there is an unspoken promise in the air. They walked away but couldn’t leave each other.
Nandor draws back from the curtain as Guillermo shuts the laptop, slowly, and tries to calm himself. He is breathing erratically, his heart still skipping beats. Sniffling, hiccuping, he pulls down the cuffs of his sweater to the heels of his hands and wipes his face. “Break’s over,” he murmurs. He replaces his glasses and reaches to grip his knees through the fabric of his brown slacks, taking deep breaths. That was a lot, he thinks. This whole season, building up to a finale certain to deliver at least a hug , right?—but all they get is an angsty bridge scene? Turning and walking away, never to look back? But they looked back. And the music! He struggles to gather his thoughts, wishing he weren’t alone, wishing he had someone to discuss this with….
“Guillermo.” Nandor speaks before he realizes he’s spoken. The word forms so easily on his tongue.
The familiar startles, his eyes wide and red-rimmed as he turns, stands. “M-Master?”
Nandor crosses his arms, blocking Guillermo’s path. “Your break is over.”
“Yes. I’m, I’m sorry.”
“You have had quite enough of that computing machine, Guillermo!”
“I just wanted to finish my episode—”
“You will make no excuses,” Nandor chides. “Those women.”
“Wh-What about them?” Guillermo realizes, with a feeling like a frozen hand wrapping its fingers around his heart, that Nandor has been watching him. Spying.
“They upset you.”
His master’s voice is wholly and unexpectedly soft, tender. “They—No. They didn’t.” He shakes his head resolutely. “I need to—I need to dust.” He tries to step past Nandor but Nandor will not move.
“Not now. I am extending your break. You will get fifteen more minutes.”
“Why?” Guillermo is genuinely baffled. He’s not afraid, not quite, but it’s disarming to be this close to him, especially when he isn’t perfectly put-together. The finale of this show, one of his favorites, will be a lot to process. His nerves, his emotions, are fully charged. He’s stopped crying but this is one of those times when he’s going to teeter on the verge of crying/not crying for at least an hour, and he needs to be alone, or at the very least, left alone in these moments. It’s not like he has a close friend he can turn to, vent to. It’s not as if he could reach for Nandor and sob into his shirt.
Although—is Nandor his closest friend? He is, admittedly, more of a friend to Nandor than Nandor will ever be a friend to him...but wouldn’t he run to Nandor, in a crisis, emotionally or otherwise, before literally anyone else in the world? Guillermo’s eyes flicker to Nandor’s chest then back to his Master’s round, dark eyes.
Nandor regards him gently. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Something unhinges in Guillermo’s chest. The ribs covering his heart are cracking loose. “No,” he snaps. A flare of anger rises in his throat. His cheeks flush with heat. “No, I don’t want to talk about it. Not with you.”
“Why?” It is Nandor’s turn to ask.
“Those women.” Guillermo parrots. “They’re not real.”
“They are in your moving-picture film.”
“Show,” he bites. “Yes.”
“But you watch them and you care about them anyway?” Nandor’s question ends with a curious lilt, an innocence. He feels Guillermo is on edge. He wants to pull him off that edge. Not a good idea to have a stressed vampire slayer for a familiar.
“I do. I do care about them. Sometimes they feel closer—” Guillermo ducks his head. He breathes, squeezing his eyes shut to keep the tears from spilling.
“Closer than what?”
“Than anyone. I’m so alone, Master. I don’t have anyone, and those women—they have each other. Or at least they could . I just want them to be happy. Is that so much to ask?”
“Happiness.” Nandor tastes the word in his mouth.
“Yes.” Guillermo’s eyes snap up to meet his Master’s, and with a sob he raises a hand, resting it against the cream-colored linen of Nandor’s shirt. “ Happiness .”
Nandor startles but doesn’t step away, doesn’t brush Guillermo off of him. “Aren’t you happy, Guillermo?” he asks, sounding genuinely concerned.
A tear spills from one of Guillermo’s eyes and down his cheek. “I don’t know.” He shakes his head, sniffles again. He removes his hand from Nandor and quickly swipes the tear away. “Fuck,” he says. “I need to—I need—”
This time, Nandor shifts to allow Guillermo a path out of the closet. He steps aside, the sleeve of his shirt brushing against the shorter man’s arm as he subconsciously tries to grab for Guillermo as he runs away, disappearing to another area of the house.
Nandor swallows thickly. He turns to stare at Guillermo’s computer.
Tell me , he hears the woman’s angelic voice singing in his head. Tell me I’m your baby. That you’ll kiss me. Forever.
Nandor knows what he wants to give Guillermo. He wants to give Guillermo forever. And he knows he’d better do it sooner rather than later.
Otherwise, they might be turning and walking away.
And never looking back.