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Of Carburetors and Creampuffs

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      With nothing to worry about, the two women settled into a much needed and well deserved vacation routine which consisted of sleeping until they physically couldn’t anymore, cooking whatever they had in the fridge, reading or writing for a while, and taking a long swim or walk before they headed to bed again. They were likely the laziest days they’d had in, well, ever. And they weren’t going to feel guilty over it either. Laf was handling the shop, and Kirsch was handling the pub, so nothing was required of them. It felt pretty good.

 

      “Granger, come on girl.” Laura patted her thigh as she walked towards the woods, Granger readily following her, keeping pace. They’d been at the cabin for over a week, and the border collie had made even more brilliant strides with the women. Anderson and Shivers helping immensely as well by leading through example.

 

      Walking further, Laura and Granger passed through the tree line and made for the clearing they’d found the second day into their self imposed exile. Today though Laura woke up to find Carmilla had disappeared, and it was a fair bet that the woman had found her way to the clearing, as it had become her favourite spot other than the cabin and surrounding area itself. She often disappeared with her dogs when Laura was busy with one thing or another.

 

      Granger huffed happily as she leaped over every small obstacle as though it were a feat of heroism and grandeur, chocolate brown eyes glinting charmingly at Laura’s praise each time. The border collie was up to a healthy weight now, fur shining due to her raw food diet, and eyes alert and sparkling with life. Honestly the canine was so unbelievably endearing that Laura couldn’t imagine her life without her at this point. She came to realize that the adage ‘man’s best friend’ held some truth.

 

      It didn’t take long for the two to reach the clearing, only about 15 minutes of a leisurely stroll through the thick trunked trees. And sure as the sun was shining that day, Laura spotted Carmilla perched in her favourite tree with a book in her hand, a particularly convenient sunbeam spilling onto the open pages. She was a good 6 feet above ground, being a surprisingly accomplished climber and Laura had been slightly baffled the first time she watched the raven haired woman climb the tree. There was a perfect natural perch in the tree, allowing for Carmilla to sit with her back to the trunk and her legs resting on a very thick offshoot. Laura couldn’t blame her for taking the spot as her own, and in fact it worked out well as Laura herself was a fan of the soft, mossy ground beneath the tree canopy. It was perfect for napping in. Of which both Anderson and Shivers were doing at that moment. The two were curled up into donuts below the pub owner’s tree, in deep sleeps. Shivers’ paws were twitching, and Laura could only imagine what he was dreaming about that incited such a physical reaction. She hoped they were happy dreams.

 

      Laura quietly slipped off her flip flops, eager to feel the soft moss between her toes. She padded slowly toward Carmilla’s tree, reaching a hand out to grasp a dangling ankle gently and eliciting a pleased hum from her girlfriend in doing so. Letting herself drop to sit between the two great beasts with her own back leaning against the strong tree trunk behind her, Laura settled in for a nap. Granger opted to curl up at her feet with her head resting on the brunette’s crossed ankles. She’d be happy to relax and stay there for as long as she and Carmilla were comfortable doing so.

 

      She knew they couldn’t stay all day unfortunately, as they were down to their last box of cookies and had been surviving on whatever was left of the dry cereal from their grocery run on day one. So they would definitely have to make a trip before the day was out as they were surely not ready to return home just yet.

 

      But for now they weren’t really concerned with it. They were having a moment and both knew it. One of those rare moments that will forever be ingrained on your memory as a perfect slice of time. Although, they’d been having a fair number of those kinds of moments since they’d been a constant presence in each others lives, and they were starting to think they were spoiled for them. And they probably were, but they most certainly weren’t going to complain or tempt fate by doubting them. They would happily take what they were given. Or what they engineered to happen themselves, as the whole concept of being ‘given’ anything by any power other than themselves was one neither found held merit. Not to mention they’d worked too damn hard to give the credit to anyone(thing) else.

 

      The point stood however. They felt they deserved to revel a little, so they were going to.

 

***

 

      It couldn’t have been more than an hour later when Laura found herself awoken by a soft thump not far to her right where Carmilla had jumped from the tree.

 

      Honestly, how the hell does she do that?! She must be part cat to make that height of a jump and to land so effortlessly. Cat. Carmilla. Catmilla. HAH!

 

      Laura’s internal monologue and pun caused her to snicker as Carmilla was stretching her arms above her head, twisting her torso this way and that to release the kinks caused by sitting in a tree for a prolonged period of time. Upon hearing her tiny girlfriend snickering she looked over her shoulder and arched a brow at the other woman, begging a question without words.

 

      “Don’t worry about it Carm. Just making up puns in my head again.” Laura did tend to do that on a fairly regular basis. She blamed it on Laf’s influence.

 

      The raven haired woman just chuckled and reached her hand back to beckon Laura to follow her, to which she readily did. She’d follow Carmilla anywhere.

 

      All three dogs raised to their feet, Shivers slightly slower than the other two due to his age. He wasn’t a pup anymore and the women were noticing it more and more. He still had a lot of life left in him yet though, so they weren’t yet to the worrying stage. Just the vigilant stage. He took up the end of the column they formed on their short trip back to the cabin, ever the protector.

 

      Upon their arrival, the two women let the dogs into the house and made sure they had full water bowls before they made their way out of the cabin. They walked to the back of the building where the small lean to was located which served as a barrier for any garbage they amassed so no wildlife could make a mess of it. They only had the one medium sized bag of trash from the week but they threw it into the back of the truck none the less, prepared to drop it in the dumpster outside of the grocery store where they were headed to pick up provisions. 

 

***

 

      “Carmilla.”

 

      “Yes cupcake.”

 

      “Can we get smores flavoured pop tarts?”

 

      “Why on earth would we do that?”

 

      “I want smores.”

 

      “Laura. We have a fire pit. Why don’t we just get real ingredients for real smores?”

 

      “Oh. Right.”

 

***

 

      It took the two all of a half hour to gather their supplies and pay and they deposited the bags in the back seat of the truck when Laura remembered that they hadn’t dropped off the garbage yet.

 

      “Carm, I forgot to turf the trash. Be right back, get the AC going would you?” The pub owner hummed absent mindedly as the brunette lifted a foot to the top of a rear tire, hefting herself up so she could reach into the bed and pull the trash bag out.

 

      She walked around the side of the building and easily spotted the dumpster so she trotted right up, lifted the lid and deposited the bag inside. The slam of the door reverberated as she started to walk back when a small noise stopped her. It sounded like- oh no.

 

      “Oh my god oh my god oh my god!” Laura frantically ran back and with impressive strength she flung the lid back so hard that it smacked into the side of the building and threatened to bounce back and hit her smack on the forehead. Thankfully her reflexes were enough that she caught it. Barely and with little grace, but she caught it and eased it back more slowly this time.

 

      The dumpster was still tall enough that she had to lift a foot up at the side and slot it into the space normally used for lifting it with the long mechanical arms on garbage trucks. With a push, she found herself hovering over the dumpster and she peered in with almost feverish intensity, searching desperately for the source of the sound.

 

      “Did the dumpster eat you Cutie, you’ve been gone a long- What the actual fuck are you doing right now.” Carmilla deadpanned with an exasperated tilt of her head backwards, searching the sky as if to ask if it held the answers that didn’t exist. Laura was an enigma. “I was joking about the dumpster eating you but it appears I was right, what-” The raven haired woman started with a slightly whiney inflection but she was cut off rather abruptly at Laura’s almost violent SHUSH.

 

      She peered at the tiny brunette who was still hovering over the open dumpster, eyes flicking back and forth with startling speed. The cupcake was outdoing herself with the weird right now.

 

      With nary a warning or sign that it was happening, Laura suddenly zeroed in to a corner of the dumpster and she dove in. Like, dove. Carmilla felt her eyes widen and she was mildly worried they might fall out, but never the less she sprinted up to the dumpster and peered over the edge only to be caught by a sight she most certainly wasn’t expecting. She felt equal parts amused, shocked, enraged, and resigned.

 

      Amused at the banana peel in her tiny girlfriends hair.

 

      Shocked at what Laura was cradling carefully in her arms.

 

      Enraged that what Laura held in her arms was even there in the first place.

 

      Resigned in that she knew what it meant.

 

      Cradled carefully in toned and tanned arms, was a puppy. Couldn’t have been more than 8 weeks old at most by the scrunched face and general roundness of him. He was dirty, and likely very hungry, and he didn’t seem to know what to do other than huddle further into the life that was suddenly surrounding him. The inside of the dumpster was unbearably hot, it was a foul smelling sauna and Carmilla immediately reached her arms in to accept the bundle while her girlfriend climbed out to join her.

 

      “Fuck, Laura how did you-?” She couldn’t finish a sentence to save her life that day it seemed.

 

      The brunette was anxiously wringing her hands as she watched Carmilla give him a cursory check over. “I heard him whimper after I let the lid shut before. Shit that must have been so loud for his tiny ears, I shouldn’t have done that. Dammit I probably made it worse, what if I caused damage? What if my garbage bag hit him when I threw it in?! What if-”

 

      “Laura. Laura!” It took a second try to get the mechanic’s attention. “You couldn’t have known.” She handed the pup back to Laura very carefully and the two turned tail and made for the truck, clambering in quickly. “You’re didn’t make it worse. You finding him is his best chance at better, okay?”

 

      Laura shivered but nodded, the movement of the truck towards the now familiar vet jostling her slightly in her seat as Carmilla drove at an almost frantic pace.

 

      She couldn’t believe the turn of events. What was with that grocery store, why did it attract neglected dogs? Or better yet, what was up with the people who lived in this small town? The pub owners blood was boiling, she could almost see red. However, she bottled it up. She couldn’t show Laura she was rattled, the brunette was barely holding it together as it was.

 

      They pulled up in front of the vet, gravel crunching under large tires marking their arrival.

 

      As the women burst through the door, once again Carmilla barely had to say anything before action was taken. “Found a puppy in a dumpster.”

 

      The little guy was whisked away in capable hands, and once again the two women found themselves sitting in the cheap plastic chairs, waiting with thoughts of all the worst case scenarios running amok in their heads.

 

      “Hey, he looked like he was in okay shape. We just have to trust that we did all we could, okay?” A strong hand grasped the tightly wound ones of the mechanic, offering support and reassurance.

 

      “Why does this keep happening to us?” A feeble laugh followed her question, although Laura wasn’t really expecting an answer. The only one she got in response was Carmilla’s other arm wrapping around her shoulder and pulling her as close as possible with the unbearably uncomfortable chair arms between them. But it was just close enough that she could place a soft kiss to a crinkled forehead.

 

***

 

      Not long later the vet came back out with the puppy in her arms, and a large smile on her face. Carmilla and Laura felt the relief flow through them at the sight. He was okay.

 

      “So this little guy is super resilient. He was only mildly dehydrated, barely at all actually. We gave him some fluids but he’s right as rain. He’s super healthy for a 6 week old pup, my guess is they ditched him because he’s old enough to try being a little independent now. Before now he would have just stayed at his mothers side, but he’s an adventurous puppy as even I’ve seen since you brought him in.” The vet grinned as the little guy squirmed in her arms as though to prove her point, tiny little grunts coming from the ball of wrinkles as he moved. “Also, very vocal.” The vet laughed and held him out in her arms, Laura almost running forward to accept him with a dazzling smile on her face.

 

      Carmilla sighed in relief. “Thanks doc, you’re the best.” She lifted a hand to rub at the back of her neck. “What breed do you figure he is?”

 

      “Says the woman who has now twice rescued animals in my town. I’d say you two are the best people here right now.” The vet chuckled and led them back to the counter. “I can’t be 100% certain, but my educated guess is Great Dane and Saint Bernard. Won’t know until he’s fully grown though or if you decide to get a DNA test done.” Laura’s eyes bugged comically at the news while Carmilla snickered, absolutely gleeful with the news and also unendingly amused at Laura’s expression. They rounded the counter at the front whereupon they settled a surprisingly small bill for the emergency services. Country vets were a very underrated gift to the world.

 

      The two tiny women thanked the vet and her assistants again before they went outside and hopped back inside the truck. Carmilla made no move to start the vehicle yet, they needed a moment to absorb the events first. They just looked at each other, unbelieving smiles adorning their beautiful faces.

 

      Chuckling under her breath, the pub owner finally started the truck. Once they were back on the road again, she spoke. “Well at least this time we didn’t leave our groceries in the middle of the parking lot. We’re getting better at this hero thing.” A crooked smirk followed her cheeky statement, one eyebrow twitching slightly. Laura laughed, trying desperately to keep the now super wriggly puppy from crawling out of her arms. “Jeez, this little guy has a lot of energy now that he isn’t dehydrated.” He was surprisingly strong for his size and age.

 

      “He’s a tiny puppy that will one day very soon be the size of my dogs, what did you expect?” Carmilla expelled on a chuckle.

 

      “I don’t know, I’ve never had a giant dog. But I guess we do now.” Laura suddenly burst out into riotous laughter, startling the little bundle in her lap. Carmilla only arched a wry brow in her direction.

 

      “Carmilla.”

 

      “Yes cutie.”

 

      “We just adopted a child together.”

 

      Carmilla choked on her own spit, amazingly managing at the same time to continue driving seamlessly while Laura guffawed in the passenger seat.

 

***

 

      This time they decided to stay at the cabin with the puppy rather than return home immediately. Laura went inside with the little guy while Carmilla carted in the two trips worth of groceries. She dropped a kiss on the mechanics head as she moved back to the truck, hopping in and leaving the cabin once again. They needed puppy supplies.

 

      Being that she was well educated in raising puppies of large breeds, it didn’t take her long to find all she needed once she’d found a walmart a little further towards the centre of town. A small to medium sized carrier, a few cheap towels to serve as bedding as he was too young to be house trained so no use buying a good quality one that would be voided on, some toys, food dishes, a collar and leash, treats, and the best brand dog food she could find. They had discussed who would go pick everything out on their drive back from the vet and Carmilla had insisted as she was sure Laura knew nothing about feeding a large breed puppy. And she had been proven right when she asked Laura what food she would have picked out and she had answered, “Uh, puppy food?” She had sighed in response and insisted that that was why she had to get everything.

 

      Contrary to popular belief, you don’t feed large breed puppies normal puppy food. There is far too much calcium and protein in it for them. Medium to small breeds are fine on it, but never large breeds. They grow much faster as it is than smaller breeds, so extra calcium and protein makes them grow at an alarming rate, causing joint issues, stress on their muscles, and general physical ailments once they attained full size. If they grew too fast, their joints would just fail. You have to limit their calcium and protein intake, carefully monitor how much they eat, and continue to adjust as you moved on. So in the interest of all that, Carmilla found the best large dog brand she could and dropped a 30 pound bag into her cart. Adult food was best for large breed puppies. All you had to do differently with it was double the feeding recommendation for puppies. So they eat more, but are limited in calcium and protein rather than eating smaller amounts and being overloaded with calcium and protein. It’s all about balance.

 

      So when she pulled back into the cabin driveway two hours after she left, she had a lot to haul inside. She started with the few bags, pushing the door open with her boot. She was met with an interesting sight.

 

      Granger lay on the ground, protectively curled around the puppy who was nestled into her soft belly fur as she licked and cleaned his head. Anderson and Shivers looked on from the couch in interest, Anderson with her head cocked to one side and Shivers with a few slow blinks.

 

      “Well, that certainly makes things easier on us.” She announced her presence as she deposited the bags on the kitchen counter. Laura smiled cheekily up at her from her place on the rug next to her dogs. “I just sat with him in my lap for a while, letting them sniff him cause I was nervous how they’d react, y’know? But imagine my surprise when Granger took to him right away, you think she had puppies at some point? Also, Andy and Shivers just sniffed him a few times, and walked away mostly uninterested. How the hell did you manage to raise two so well adjusted dogs? Teach me your secrets.” The brunettes eyes were intent and focused with laser intensity on Carmilla as she moved about and took things out of the bags for Laura to see.

 

      Chuckling as she answered, Carmilla handed a few toys down to Laura. “Creampuff, I’ll teach you everything I know. Just gimme a minute, will you? I still have to grab the food and the crate from the truck.” She reached down and ruffled Laura’s hair playfully, earning a few haphazard swats for her efforts. The raven haired woman chuckled as she made her way back to the truck for the last of the things she’d picked up.

 

***

 

      Laura had decided to call the little guy Nicodemus, or Nico for short. Apparently she’d named him after some wise old rat from one of her favourite cartoons she’d watched as a kid. Carmilla didn’t know what she was talking about, but she had to admit the name fit.

 

      He was just full of loose skin, further proof that he had a lot of growing ahead of him. He was mostly grey in colour, with a white tip on his tail, white socks on his feet, a white belly, white nose, and white blaze up between his eyes. The rest of him was grey fur with hints of brown here and there but the most striking thing about him was that he had freckles. Kind of. Spattered all across just the grey parts of his fur were tiny little black spots. And amazingly (and hilariously) there were two large black spots directly over both his eyes. He looked like he had two black eyes, or like he was just perpetually tired.

 

      “Carmilla.”

 

      “Yes Laura.”

 

      “He has resting sad face.”

 

      Sigh.

 

***

 

      Later on in the evening they found out that little Nico loved the water as much as the other three dogs. He went absolutely ape shit in the best way when they let him step foot in the very edge of the river water, just wetting up to his wobbly little knees. He was all leg, the poor guy tripped over his own gigantic feet every time he tried to run, jump or just play in general. It was hysterical and Laura had a stitch in her side from all the laughing she’d done at the fur balls expense.

 

      Currently Carmilla was walking Nicodemus along the length of the shore, back and forth on their little beach as Laura sat back a little ways, Granger’s head in her lap napping contentedly. The brunette smiled happily, watching her little ragtag family that ended up being about 66% canine oddly enough, and chuckled to herself. Her movement jostled the border collie slightly, her eyes snapping open and her head lifting from her lap to cock sideways, curious eyes peering at her owner.

 

      “It’s okay girl, I’m just happy.” Laura lifted a hand and scratched behind a floppy ear, causing Granger’s eyes to slit in pleasure and her lips to pull back in her personal take on a smile. The mechanic grinned, her cheeks aching slightly from the effort. But in the best way.

 

      “Nico! No! Wait!

 

      Laura snapped her head up in alarm, terrified for what the exclamation could mean. She had barely managed to focus her eyes before she found herself with a lap full of wet dog and a face slathered in dog drool. She laughed uproariously, vigorously scratching at her puppy’s loose skin as he wrestled with her.

 

      “Sorry-” Huff puff. “Shit. Sorry Laura.” Hands on knees and head draped towards the ground, Carmilla was breathing heavily from trying to catch up to Nico before he trampled her girlfriend. For a dog that could barely control his own legs when he wanted to play, he could run. That could potentially be a problem in the future. But with a glance towards the brunette who was still laughing herself silly while her puppy climbed all over here and practically vibrated out of his skin in excitement, Carmilla decided that she would worry about that at a later date. For now, they would be with him all the time anyway, so they didn’t need to start training yet. A week or two though at most and they’d start in earnest. It was hard work so she’d let Laura have her time with him at the cabin. He was too young yet for much to sink in, they had to wait until he was a little older before he’d have a better grasp on permanence and rewards.

 

      Roughly 30 seconds later, he clumsily walked off Laura’s lap (more like fell) and plopped onto the ground, immediately falling into a deep sleep. Laura looked perplexed.

 

      Lips lifted in a light smirk, Carmilla sat down next to Laura and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Puppies do four things cupcake. Eat, sleep, play, and poop. That’s it. Don’t look so concerned that he lost interest and passed out so quickly. That’s just how puppies are.” She pecked the mechanic’s cheek and rested her forehead against the soft hair above Laura’s ear, just breathing her in.

 

      “Fiiiiiiine.” Laura did her best to sound put upon but was not very successful, instead releasing a breathy laugh with her statement.

 

      The two stayed there for a while, with Granger still laying calmly next to Laura while Anderson frolicked in the river and Shivers swam leisurely. He tended to get sore very easily lately and the water always made him feel better, the pressure was off his joints and the water did most of the work.

 

      When little Nico woke up and did his business, Laura hefted him up in her arms and they all made their way back into the cabin to prepare for bed. It had been a long day. A good day, but a long day.

 

***

 

      They stayed at the cabin for another week, or until their groceries ran out again. The drive back was surprisingly not that eventful as thankfully Nico wasn’t scared of the truck. He just happily chewed on his nylabone in the crate, completely content.

 

      Upon arriving at Laura’s house, Carmilla grabbed her stuff out of the backseat with the intention of loading her dogs and things into her own car so she could return home to shower and get some new clothes so she could come back. She’d have to stay there a little longer to help training after all. Before she could though, Laura stopped her with a gentle hand around her wrist and pulled her back around.

 

      “Hey.” Sparkling hazel eyes crinkled up at Carmilla.

 

      “Hey.” Carmilla’s mouth quirked up on one side, her eyes softening under the gaze of her girlfriend.

 

      “So, um I was thinking.” Laura glanced down nervously, her fingers fidgeting with Carmilla’s hand still in her grasp. The pub owner’s brows twitched in confusion, Laura wasn’t typically shy.

 

      “What is it Laura.” She rested a hand in a grounding gesture on Laura’s hip.

 

      The brunette took a deep breath and raised her now determined eyes. “Move in with me.”

 

      Carmilla felt like she couldn’t breathe. Not like she had the wind knocked out of her, but like she literally forgot to breathe.

 

      “Uh, Carm?” Laura waved her hand in Carmilla’s face, mildly concerned she’d caused the woman to suffer a stroke.

 

      With a shake of her head (she really spent too much time with her dogs) to clear it, Carmilla felt a tentative smile crack her features. “Are... are you sure?” She firmly grasped the hand still holding her fingers, intertwining them. Her other hand snaked from the hip it had been resting on to instead find itself pushing into the firm small of Laura’s back.

 

      Laura smiled bemusedly. “Of course I’m sure. We love each other, our dogs all get along well, we rarely spend a night apart anymore, I mean it makes sense. And I mean, that isn’t even why I’m asking you. Yeah it makes sense, but I also want it. Like, really really want it. So, whaddaya say?” Her lower lip was pulled into her mouth, nerves making her jittery as she stepped from foot to foot.

 

      The pub owner thought for a moment, just letting her eyes roam the woman she loved. The woman who loved her. She could barely believe it. The smile that creased her face was wider than she could remember it ever being. “Okay.” Her eyes were blurring slightly and for once she didn’t feel embarrassed for the tears. If anyone deserved to see them, it was Laura. Her Laura.

 

      Laura squealed in excitement, hands fist pumping high into the air as she laughed happily. Carmilla slung her arms firmly around her waist to draw her back in, and the brunette moved forward to rest her forehead against her girlfriends. They kissed messily, both smiling too big for the kiss to really work. But it was perfect anyway.

 

***

 

      Groaning with the effort of carrying her things up the metal staircase behind the pub, Carmilla twisted her key in the lock and pushed the heavy fire door open before her. Her place wasn’t quite the way she’d left it, but this time she wasn’t upset or surprised by it. Will had been staying there while they were out of town rather than continuing on with Kirsch and Danny and he had apparently made himself rather at home. The place wasn’t messy by any stretch, but it looked more lived in. There were sweaters stretched across the backs of chairs, a few extra pairs of shoes at the door, a stack of books on the coffee table next to a few controllers from her consoles. Little things, but they felt right in the space.

 

      Carmilla and Will had been texting occasionally, trying to normalize their relationship now that they were free from the ghost of their past. Will had many amends to make, and Carmilla had a handful as well although the bulk still belonged to him. But he couldn’t very well get very far in his amends making if she blocked him at every turn. So she was trying, and he was learning how to deal with the new and improved Carmilla. They were learning to read each other and it would be far from an overnight process, but they felt like the potential outcome was worth the work.

 

      “HEY. ASSBUTT. I’M HOME.” They were working on it but it didn’t mean they would be fluffy and cute about it. They had years of sibling rivalry and teasing to make up for.

 

      “Was that a nerd reference?!” A disheveled head peeked out from over the railing of her loft, Will’s long hair askew and sticking out in every conceivable direction. “Damn, I knew you were whipped but using your girlfriends lines is a new level of whipped.” He grinned cheekily down at her as he popped up to his full height, wearing only a loose pair of sweat pants. His scraggly chest hairs were visible and Carmilla mimed gagging.

 

      “Put on a shirt you miserable cretin and come downstairs. I need to talk to you.” The pub owner toed off her boots and stepped to the kitchen, dropping her bag on one of her bar stools.

 

      Will clattered down the stairs, pulling on a t-shirt as he did so. “I think that’s known as the pot calling the kettle black. We both know the only reason you’re awake and dressed is your girlfriend. Again, whipped.” The man lifted his hand and made the whipping motion, attempting to match it with sound effects. All he managed to do was spray spit down his chin and sound like a dying toaster.

 

      The pub owner shook her head in amazement. “You’re so classy.”

 

      Her brother punched her in the arm. “Okay so what did you want to talk about?” He didn’t even let Carmilla start before he cut her off. “Wait, it’s cause you’re home isn’t it? Damn, I forgot I’d have to find a place to live. I can go back to the motel for a few weeks until I find a place, do you want me out tonight or-”

 

      Carmilla threw a conveniently placed roll of clean socks at his head to shut him up. “Shut up for a second numbnuts. It is about that yeah, but not what you think.” The quizzical expression on the man’s face was startling in it’s familiarity, it was an expression they shared evidently. Carmilla shook it off. “Laura asked me to move in with her and I said yes. So this place will be empty pretty soon. I own the whole building so I can rent it out to you. You can stay free of charge until you find a job, no back rent required once you do. How does that sound?”

 

      A dazed expression was all got in reply. The man was completely shocked to say the least and she couldn’t really blame him. Up until he had gotten the asshole kicked out of him, she hadn’t been the kindest person to him. She had good reason to of course, but this change of heart was rather surprising. To both of them actually. If you’d told Carmilla a year ago that she’d be offering her home for her big brother to live in, she’d have sucker punched you to the jaw and dropped you off at the gate to the nearest psychiatric hospital.

 

      “Wait, are you serious? You’re moving in with your girlfriend? The adorable little one with muscles bigger than she is?!” Well that certainly wasn’t the response she was expecting. The dark haired man’s face split into a wide grin. “That’s FANTASTIC news! Kitty I’m so happy for you!” He steppe forward with his arms outstretched as though he wanted to hug her, but she flinched backwards without even realizing it. A flash of hurt was visible in Will’s eyes for a split second but he understood, of course he did. He backed off and shoved his hands into the baggy pockets of his sweats. “So, when are you moving out?”

 

      Carmilla sighed in relief at the subject change. They have made remarkable progress, but they weren’t there yet. “Probably next weekend officially. I need to pack up what I’m taking with me. Most of my furniture will be staying, well except for my bookshelves. Laura doesn’t have enough bookshelves. So you can keep most of it, but the couch is only on loan. I’m going to try and convince Laura to let me replace her ikea couch with my amazing couch. Honestly that thing is a travesty and mine is worlds better.” Carmilla frowned slightly at the thought. “Anyway, I’ll still be sleeping over there though so you can keep staying here. You don’t have to leave at all.”

 

      A giant grin on his face, Will nodded his head. “Cool. If you get some boxes up here I can pack some for you in between job interviews. You have an actual job so you won’t have as much time. Would that be helpful?” He squinted his eyes slightly, the nerves in him were palpable.

 

      “Sure, that would be great actually. You can pack anything that isn’t my books, those I want to take care of myself. I don’t trust a lackwit like you to pack them properly.” She smirked at the outraged squawk  he emitted, a hand held to his chest in mock disbelief. He only held it a moment before he dropped his hand with an easy smile as he headed over to the couch and dropped down gracelessly to pick up a game controller.

 

      Hearing the TV power on and game menu music fill the loft, Carmilla shook her head with a faint grin on her lips as she headed upstairs to pack new clothes.

 

      They had a long way to go to get full trust back, but they were making good progress. And no matter how slow, it was still progress so she was going to continue being hopeful for once.

 

***

 

      The next Saturday when the shop was officially closed for the night, Laura went in and found herself elbow deep in Carmilla’s car, which of course had been named Bagheera. It had taken Laura literally months to get it out of her, Carmilla wasn’t one to readily admit (or ever admit) she also had the dorky tendency to name her cars. It had taken just as long to convince Carm to let her tinker with it.

 

      It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Laura, she knew very well that the brunette knew the workings of a classic piece of muscle as well as anyone conceivably could. It was just that if there was anything she might have wanted done to the car, well she’d already done it herself. The pub did very well considering how small the town was and she made a very respectable living there. And besides necessities and spoiling her dogs, she never spent money. She had a decent amount tucked away and the only things she ever used it for were upgrades for her car or books, new or old. And of course, most recently she’d spent some on Laura but they amazingly still hadn’t ever gifted each other with anything.

 

      And that was how Laura convinced her to let her work on Bagheera. Carmilla’s birthday had passed during all the hubbub (last week to be exact) and she hadn’t told Laura about it because it just wasn’t something she really cared about. When the cupcake insisted she do something on the car for her birthday, she folded and handed her keys over without anymore arguing. She was actually quite curious to see what she could come up with.

 

      So yes, Laura was elbow deep, installing a new alternator. It was quite literally the only thing she could find that wasn’t 100 percent in perfect condition. Given, it was a simple age argument as the brand was a good one. It simply had almost reached the end of it’s life and it wasn’t charging the battery at the rate it should have been. Most probably it would have lasted a few more months at least but Laura was determined that she would do SOMETHING to it before she handed it back. Besides the new rims she’d ordered that is. She had heard Carmilla mention something about how she needed new ones soonish as the others were pitted from all the gravel roads the small town had to offer.

 

      A new set of spoked rims were sitting at the back of the shop, next to the stack of brand new tires just waiting to be mounted and balanced when she was finished with the alternator. If all went according to plan, she’d have the car back to her girlfriend before the end of the night.

 

      “There!” Satisfied, Laura retreated from under the hood and set her hands on her hips. She had just finished tightening the last bolt to put tension back into the belt after installing the alternator, and she was ready to move on to the tires.

 

      “There what?” With a shriek, Laura jumped and turned, smacking her head on the underside of the hood in her haste. She hissed in pain, lifting her hand to her head to feel the tiny goose egg as it started to grow. The mechanic glowered at her girlfriend, snickering as she leaned against the doorway to the front of the shop, watching the brunette struggle.

 

      The mechanic rolled her eyes. “That was rude. Here I am doing something nice for you and you’re laughing at my pain.” She couldn’t keep the amusement from her voice regardless of her words.

 

      “Oh, I’m sorry. Here, I’ll make it better.” The raven haired woman pushed away from the door jamb, walking, no- strutting towards her now very flustered girlfriend. Her eyes were dark and she was wearing her leather pants again, just like the first day they met. She had made the ‘mistake’ of telling Carmilla what those particular pants had done for her that first day and had been anxiously awaiting the pub owners response ever since. Well, there it was.

 

      Carmilla reached Laura and stepped just in front of her, close but not quite touching. She reached behind the mechanic and removed the pry rod from the hood socket and placed it in it’s holder, letting the hood fall closed gently behind the flustered brunette. She leaned forward for a split second to push her weight against the hood, hearing the satisfying click as it latched firmly. Now fully in Laura’s space she observed the woman closely.

 

      Laura had grease across her forehead. Her hair was fluffing out of her ponytail in a few spots as though it had caught on something but she hadn’t bothered fixing it. Her hands were lined with dirt streaks, and her arms were speckled like mud had splashed across them. She was wearing coveralls but she’d pulled the top down and wrapped the arms around her waist, exposing her simple white (and very grease stained) tank top underneath. So she was a bit of a mess but despite all that, Carmilla found her to be completely, utterly enchanting.

 

      This was Laura, unfettered and pure.

 

      Lastly, she turned her attention to the small bump on the mechanic’s head, on her right temple. It wasn’t large, she hadn’t hit her head all that hard. But Carmilla treated it as a grave wound just the same, turning Laura’s head so she could gently kiss it as she smoothed back her hair. Trailing kisses from there, she avoided the grease as she’d learned a little while ago when she accidentally got some in her mouth that it tasted vile and she most definitely did not need to give Laura any more ammunition for teasing. She reached the corner of Laura’s stuttering mouth, planting a quick peck at the crease.

 

      Pulling back, she smoothed the rest of Laura’s hair behind her ears. “You know, I think I like you best like this.”

 

      Laura looked confused, an adorable stitch between her brows. “What does that mean?” She chuckled breathily.

 

      “I just, I like seeing you like this.” Carmilla smiled, cupping Laura’s cheeks in her clean hands. “I like that you aren’t concerned with the dirt smudging your face. I like that you don’t shy away and feel embarrassed by something that is just a side effect of your job. I like that you are just as confident looking at me right now as you are when you’re squeaky clean and wearing nice clothes.” Laura’s eyes softened and she smiled that adorable little closed mouth smile she has when she’s content. “I like that you have no airs about you. You’re not wearing your polite, or professional, or non confrontational faces. You’re not filtered. You’re just you.” The raven haired woman’s lips piqued, and she rested her forehead against the brunette’s regardless of the grease that would stain her skin as well.

 

      The mechanic sighed. “Only you could romanticize engine grease and wax poetic about my disheveled appearance.” Her smile stretched and she leaned forward, capturing ruby lips with her slightly chapped ones.

 

      Carmilla smiled into the kiss, happy to indulge her girlfriend. They kissed languidly for a few moments, Laura leading it as she tended to do. When it increased in intensity it was Carmilla who was the instigator, as she grasped Laura’s hips firmly with hands sliding under the edge of a work worn tank top. She pushed backwards slightly and Laura moved to rest almost sitting on the front of the car.

 

      “Mmm-” Laura tried to speak. “Carmilla-” Carmilla wasn’t eager to shatter the moment. “Your car, we should move.” For all her words, Laura seemed perfectly content to go along with the pub owner. Her own hands grasped biceps with force but rather than pushing away, they pulled in and Carmilla’s front brushed against Laura’s. Dirt and grease entirely forgotten.

 

      “You know creampuff.” Carmilla adjusted to kiss just under Laura’s jaw. “I’ve always wanted to do this.” A gasp escaped Laura’s throat as Carmilla nipped at her neck once. “Do what?” Chuckling lowly, Carmilla responded with a sharp tightening of her fingers on Laura’s hip as she shoved her down to sit fully on the hood of the car. “Oh you’ll see.”

 

      Dark eyes greeted her as Carmilla stepped back and casually reached for one of the clean cloths Laura kept handy to clean herself up with. She then walked to the sink and rinsed it with warm water, stalking back over to Laura. “Take off your shirt cupcake.” Lips smirked.

 

      The brunette didn’t even bother with a witty retort, she was too excited for whatever Carmilla had planned. Without any hesitation, the raven haired woman strode forward and slowly ran the cloth over the mechanics collar bone, gathering the dirt and cleaning her of it. This continued all over Laura’s torso, until she was slightly red and almost glistening she had been taken care of so thoroughly.

 

      Carmilla peered over her handiwork with acute eyes, ascertaining that she hadn’t missed any spots. She turned and deposited the cloth back in the sink, slowly making her way back to stand between the spread legs of her girlfriend who was still perched on the front of her car. She ran her hands up toned thighs from coverall clad knees up to the edges of the ungainly garment where she tucked her fingers under the edge and pulled. Laura willingly lifted her hips to allow the rough cloth to trail down her tanned legs, her underwear right along with it. When she lowered her hips, the sensation of the cold metal of the hood on her bare skin was a shock, but not an unwelcome one.

 

      She never tired of the way Carmilla looked at her. Equal parts unrestrained desire and almost disbelieving adoration. Like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing in front of her was real. Laura knew she was attractive, she’d always known. She liked to think she was a pretty self aware person, but with Carmilla and those haunting in the absolute best way eyes of hers that spoke so much with one glance, she felt like so much more than objectively attractive. When the raven haired woman called her beautiful she didn’t feel like she said it to flatter her, she actually felt like the woman said it because she believed it. And that made her believe it. For the first time in her adult life, she felt like she was everything Carmilla said she was and more. If in her younger age she’d known that one single person had the capacity to show her the things Carmilla has and could make her feel so fully and unequivocally stunning and worthy, she might not have bothered with anyone else. She was enough for herself yes, but the woman who was now moving forward and capturing her cheeks in two soft hands so she could kiss her once again, and so passionately, reminded her that enough was great, but more was better. They made each other better. And she loved her so much for it. That and so much more.

 

      “Laura I can hear you thinking. You’re not where I want you to be if you can think so clearly.” Carmilla smiled against Laura’s lips, nosing into her cheek as she captured her bottom lip in a light bite.

 

      “Maybe you just need to step it up then.” Clumsily she bonked their noses together when she moved to press her lips to ruby ones at a different angle, allowing herself to take control again. But not for long, apparently Carmilla had plans for her. Laura had completely forgotten she was naked, however the raven haired woman did a superb job of reminding her when one hand trailed down from her straining neck to brush over her protruding collar bones. Then moved lower and barely caressed her straining breasts, teasing in a way that left Laura instantly wanting. That talented hand continued it’s journey and meandered to dance from left to right from hip to hip, momentarily pausing in it’s travels to stroke the tight abdomen beneath it. Fingers grasped and short nails raked the skin for a moment, inciting a twitch in restless hips.

 

      When her hand finally continued on and found it’s destination, the warmth and wetness between the legs of her wanton girlfriend, the result was almost instantaneous. Laura gasped and canted her hips upwards, but to no avail. Carmilla seemed resolute in her desire to move slowly and draw the experience out. She had no shame in that when she and Laura started dating, one of the first fantasies to play out in her head, and then play out regularly was having her on the hood of her car. Laura got to enact hers with Carmilla on the bar of her pub, it was her turn now.

 

      “Patience cutie.” Laura was about to protest but she was granted a modicum of relief when the raven haired woman leaned her other hand on the hood next to her and leaned forward, taking a straining nipple in her mouth. She teased it with the tip of her tongue, then slowly laved it with broad strokes, her mouth suctioned around with warm pressure. The mechanic moaned, a hand raising to tangle in raven locks as the hot tongue switched to quick flicks while plump lips turned to suction with more intensity.

 

      “Mmmm, Carm.” Her hand tugged slightly on the curls held fast in her fist, prompting her girlfriend to release her nipple with a wet sound and to meet her halfway in a kiss that was all tongue and teeth. Her desire was at a fever pitch and she feared she may come to an unsatisfying end with little to no stimulation and leaving her with a disappointing orgasm. Carmilla’s hand had left her earlier but it didn’t stray far, instead holding tightly to her inner thigh with knuckles occasionally bumping ‘accidentally’. Laura was in a frenzy and she didn’t know how to communicate that and not also shatter Carmilla’s clearly perfectly architected plan.

 

      She needn’t have worried though as the pub owner knew how to read her very well by this time in their relationship and she showed mercy, her hand returning to it’s place where they had both wished it to be.

 

      Carmilla didn’t tease her this time, only pausing to run her fingers through slick heat and lightly graze her almost painfully throbbing clit before she plunged two fingers into Laura. She started a relentless pace, fingers curling to hit the spongy surface of the mechanic’s inner walls on each outward thrust. Laura was whimpering, barely holding herself together as Carmilla kept building her up higher, higher, higher. The addition of Carmilla’s hips, pushing with each thrust of her hand and allowing her to go deeper and harder finally pushed her over the edge she’d been teetering on for so long.

 

      Dextrous fingers continued their assault, drawing out the unbelievably intense orgasm that had the mechanic shaking and weak. The loud moan which accompanied the powerful orgasm was partially muffled into Carmilla’s neck as Laura found she needed to ground herself so she bit into the taught muscle. Effectively skyrocketing the pub owner’s own as of yet unfulfilled desire.

 

      Laura shuddered, spent from her exertions. “So, you always wanted to take me on top of your car huh?”

 

      Carmilla choked on a laugh as she withdrew her fingers. Sucking them into her mouth with one last chuckle, she saw Laura’s eyes darken and jaw go slack. It was only then that the mechanic noticed her girlfriend was still absolutely entirely clothed. Not a scrap had been removed.

 

      “You know, the scales are not even right now. Care to fix that?” She grinned crookedly up at the pub owner who rolled her eyes while lifting her top over her head. Laura fist pumped, inspiring another laugh from Carmilla as she pulled the now half clothed woman back into her so she could finish the disrobing herself.

 

      The car didn’t get finished that night.

 

***

 

      Heaving the last box up onto the kitchen counter, Laura looked around her house with absolute happiness. Her girlfriend was attempting to put her books on her sturdy dark oak bookshelves (which she’d insisted they move in before any of her other furniture) in the living room while Nico tried to eat her boot laces. Danny and Kirsch were in the process of maneuvering her giant brown leather couch through the narrow front door with Granger shadowing their every move like it was her job to do so. Perry was already cleaning, absolutely affronted at the amount of dust that was being stirred up. Lafontaine had their head in the TV stand, hooking up all Carmilla’s consoles while Anderson tried to help, only succeeding in drooling on their back. They were a really good sport about it though. And Will was momentarily paused after having deposited the last box of books next to his sister, and had his hands tangled in Shivers’ fur who had attached himself to the man.

 

      They had all moved passed the stresses of the last few months, it almost feeling like a dream it had all felt so surreal. But the bonds built between them were as real as each and every one of the flesh and blood people standing in the room.

 

      Laura couldn’t think of a time since buying this house where it felt so, well. Lived in. With just herself it had always been rather cold. She didn’t have any family photos out, she had few belongings, and she was barely there except to eat, shower and sleep. But now she couldn’t imagine her life any differently.

 

      She was now living with the woman she loved, she had not only two dogs of her own but now four dogs living in her house. Which maybe yes, was excessive but she and Carmilla loved them all to death and wouldn’t trade them for anything. And her friends who she had always respected and admired were now that much closer to her, as she let them in more than she had before. It was taking time but she was learning to trust fully and thankfully, they were all the most trustworthy of people. They made it easy to rely on them.

 

      “Cupcake, stop staring off into space with those goo goo eyes and come help me. Your nitwit of a puppy can’t seem to grasp the concept that my boots are not chew toys.” Carmilla mock glared at her, but her eyes gave her away. The mirth and happiness Laura felt herself was reflected back at her. Laura laughed and left her spot in the kitchen, joining her girlfriend with a hand on her back as they both knelt to play with Nicodemus.

 

      Yeah, this is how it should be.