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Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Joss Whedon and Katherine Applegate
Dedication: To Sarah, who has wanted me to write Making Out fic for years now.
Author’s Note: Written for the femgenficathon III, though it is extraordinarily late. assignment: 116. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than the person to be loved. -- Barbara Johnson.
I. Claire

The same two strands of hair fell out of Claire’s ponytail for the third time in an hour.

They were a long, lustrous black and framed her face perfectly, of course; in any other situation, she would have let them fall and used them as a tool. She would have waited to catch someone’s eye and then carefully tucked one behind her ear, her fingers lingering along her throat, trailing down to her collar bone.

Unfortunately, they just got in the way in the middle of a sparring session, and she shoved them out of the way as quick as she could. The problem was the ponytail, her hair refused to be tamed by such a simple style. She would have never worn it that way on her own, but her Watcher insister.

Her Watcher. As if Claire Geiger was a child who needed a baby-sitter.

“You’re not even trying, are you?” Dawn tapped her foot and frowned. Claire met the expression with her infamous icy stare, but she wasn’t on the island anymore, and it didn’t phase Dawn.

“I am too,” she said, and immediately regretted it. She sounded like a petulant child. She hated any imperfection in her life, such things were really the realm of her younger sister, but she just wasn’t good at this.

She wasn’t bad, either. Dawn said she was sloppy. Maybe she was. It wasn’t her fault she had honed mental and not physical fighting skills. She was in good shape, for a regular teenager.

Not for a Slayer, though.

Dawn had given her the hard sell, and it had sounded like she had already said it three dozen times or more. Once there had been only one Slayer, and she was usually, but not always, trained from a young age to fight. Now there were many Slayers, and they were all getting trained, all at the same time, those who chose to fight.

They needed her, Dawn said.

That wasn’t what had convinced her join them. To be perfectly honest, Claire wasn’t sure what had been the selling point. She didn’t particularly like most people, and she had no interest in saving their lives. All she wanted was to study the weather and be left alone.

Now, though, college was on hold. She had little time to watch storms roll through, though when she did, she was able to climb onto higher roofs and really feel the wind whip around her.

There were always too many people around. She had to share a room with two other Slayers. She often smelled like sweat and vampire dust (a bitter, metallic thing) instead of perfume and lotion.

No, Claire still wasn’t sure why she had agreed to join the fight, or why she didn’t up and walk away.

~~*

At Christmas, there were vampires on Chatham Island.

Claire spent her entire life there, up until she graduated from high school, and she had never, not once, seen one. The minute she stepped off the ferry, she saw two.

She tucked her hand into her pocket and wrapped her fingers around the stake. They weren’t watching her, they were walking, arm in arm, along the beach. They could have been tourists, except it wasn’t tourist season. Except for their pale skin and outdated fashions and that extra sense which made her spine tingle. She could almost always tell.

Dawn always complained Claire made too much noise when they patrolled. She was doing better, though, because when she sneaked up on the pair of vampires, they didn’t hear her coming. Or maybe they did, and they let her get close because she was dinner, walking straight into their hands. Or maybe they were just too wrapped up in each other to care.

Supposedly vampires could love. Claire wasn’t certain she believed it. Then again, she wasn’t certain she believed in love. The thing most people called love was only the need to be wanted, to be important to someone else, all wrapped up in lust.

She leapt forward and slammed the stake into the male vampire. Her aim was a little off, but she twisted her wrist and put all her weight into the move; the stake slide home, through his back and into his heart. He exploded and the cloud of dust blinded her and choked off her air.

The other vampire gave a shriek more animal than human. Claire felt the air move and tried to dodge the attack she knew was coming, but wasn’t fast enough. The vampire shoved her to the ground and pinned her in place, one cold hand wrapped around her throat. She was fury incarnate, all fangs and ridged skin and hair flying around her face, whipped into a frenzy by the wind.

Claire tried to throw her off, struggled to get her legs under her so she could flip them, but the vampire was too heavy, too well-balanced. She shifted her weight, pinned Claire’s arms with her knees, and bent in for the kill.

There was no warning before she dusted and rained down on Claire. She closed her eyes and mouth until the wind blew it all away.

“Sloppy,” Dawn said, and reloaded her crossbow. “You almost got yourself killed.”

Claire eased herself to her feet. Her back was bruised, but it would heal quickly. If only she could learn as fast.

“Thanks,” she said. It cost her, but it worked. Dawn cut off in the middle of her tirade, and gave her a tired smile.

“You’re welcome,” she said, and tapped the edge of the crossbow against her leg. “We’ll work on group attacks more when we get back. Let’s go get some rest.”

Claire nodded and led Dawn to her parents’ house. She didn’t put away her stake, though. Maybe the vampires had been tourists, just passing through, but she wasn’t going to risk it. Once she would have said Chatham Island was the last place she’d ever see a monster.

She had learned better than that long before she knew vampires were real.

II. Nina

Nina was good. She was really, really good at this Slaying thing, and it was a shock.

She would have expected, oh, Claire to be perfect at it, doing everything right on the very first try, because that was what Claire did, along with manipulating everyone she knew and aligning herself with Satan.

Come to think of it, that was actually likely now, wasn’t it, what with there really being demons. Maybe she shouldn’t joke about it anymore.

Maybe it was true.

Nina shrugged and tucked a spare stake into the specially-designed pocket of her cargo pants. They sure came in handy, both extra stakes and all the pockets. She kept snacks in them, too, along with whatever weapons would fit. Healthy things, like little bags of nuts or dried fruit. Things which gave her quick energy.

Plus the daily workouts were really getting rid of the little belly roll; anymore it only pushed over the edge of her tightest jeans. It wasn’t that she was obsessed with her weight or anything, but growing up around beautiful, curvy, perfect Claire had been – she usually said rough, but sometimes it had been like hell.

Dawn, her Watcher, the one who was training her about all these crazy new things like vampires actually existing and how she was supposed to fight them and the secret female cabal, had a big sister, too. A Slayer. Nina couldn’t even imagine; well, she could, her teachers always said she had an overly active imagination, but she didn’t want to. Growing up with that kind of secrecy and a big sister who, quite literally, the only girl in all the world.

Nina knew exactly how that felt.

~~*

During the summer, only the last ferry came across after dark. She and Dawn ran around the island, and always made sure to meet it, just in case. In all the months they trained together, she had never seen a vampire on the island. They had to go to the mainland and sometimes down the coast to find any.

Until, one night, as they ran past the docked ferry, something made her take another look.

If asked, she wouldn’t have been able to explain why she knew he was a vampire. Sure, his skin was pale and his clothes outdated, but that could have described any number of the tourists who passed through the island during the summer.

Nina surged forward, leaving Dawn behind. She knew her Watcher wouldn’t interfere unless she had real trouble. She shouldn’t have any trouble. One vampire, one Slayer. It was easy math.

He left the dock and cut across the beach, angling away from the most crowded areas of the island. She slowed to a walk and followed him, fingering her favorite stake. He was making it easy on her, headed for solitude. It wouldn’t do to let anyone see her slay him.

Once they were lost in the darkness of the beach, he suddenly turned to face her. She skidded to a stop, closed her hand around the stake, and rested her weight on the balls of her feet, her knees slightly bent, ready for action.

It was then she realized she knew that face.

“Hey, Nina. What are you doing, skulking around the ferry? Looking for anyone special?” Lucas Cabral grinned at her. His hair was long enough to fall over his eyes and his teeth were very white in the darkness.

Later, she would remember what it was like to talk to him, and exchange ideas with him, and kiss him. She would think about how much her best friend, Zoey, loved him, and how her sister, Claire, had ruined his life, and the way she, Nina, had once acted with him despite herself.

That was later, once she was safe. When he stepped toward her, she shifted to one side and pulled the stake free of her pocket. He lunged, and she knew exactly what she needed to do, combat boot to the stomach and then the head when he doubled over, knock him to the sand, and slam the stake home.

It all happened so fast she didn’t have time to think.

Dawn found her sitting on the beach, digging her stake into the sand. She didn’t say anything when she sat down. Together, they watched the moon rise and listened to the waves crash.

Faith was coming to visit, Nina knew. When she did, Nina was going to ask if it ever got any better, killing something with a human face.

End


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