"I believe we've run out of time today. I'll continue next lecture with 'mongrelization' in Salman Rushdie's The Prophet's Hair." The professor gathered his lecture notes, organizing them with a faint click on the podium. He let out an exhausted sigh, slightly blushing as the microphone picked up the noise and broadcasted it throughout the room. Some students showed amusement, but most echoed the relief to be finished for the week. The prof quickly turned off the mic before turning to the first student who had questions or comments about the lecture.
Kerry sat up from an uncomfortable slouch, staring at her watch. She figured the professor had nothing to complain about. If he wanted to get out of the room, he should stop finishing his lectures five minutes late. Snapping her laptop closed on her lap, she slightly stretched and reached for the bag on her left.
Lugging around her computer was heavy, but her bookbag hardly ever got as back-breakingly burdensome as it did in high school. Quickly, she swung the straps over her shoulders in a familiar move she had perfected back in grade one, climbing the stairs out of the lecture hall. Some of her fellow students were discussing class notes, but most were chatting happily about their weekend plans. The classroom had been darkened for overhead notes and naps, and the moment Kerry stepped out of the exit she had to squint against the harsh sun. Carefully, she covered her sensitive eyes with sunglasses and sauntered down the stairs and onto the sidewalk.
"Ker!" A male voice called from behind her. She didn't bother stopping, nor turning around. Within seconds Nathaniel caught up with her, easily matching his pace with hers. "It's almost as if you don't care, Ker." His lips curled slightly at his own bad pun.
Kerry glanced over, making sure her face looked as blankly as she could make it. She was about to reply with her own sarcastic remark, when she noticed his blue hair. Last night's styling gel still kept the front spikes in place, but the back of his head was flat from sleeping and a few woeful points were bent at awkward angles. She couldn't help but grin. "Hard night?"
"Sometimes hard, sometimes soft, but mostly in between." He leered mockingly at her, patting one of the dark blue spears poking out of his scalp. "The hair is my new 'do."
Kerry snorted, turning a corner towards her apartment. She usually didn't make friends with characters like him, but he lived next door and occasionally boinked her roommate. "More like a don't," she murmured.
"Come on. Don't be such a square." One thing about Nathaniel, he loved using slang from any decade. He practically skipped along the sidewalk, his jeans almost falling from where they were belted around his knees. He casually looked over at her. "Nellicious and I are going to that new vampire club tonight. Wanna come?"
Kerry glanced at him sharply. "You shouldn't encourage her!" It was a standing feud between Kerry and her best friend. When Kerry had gone missing a few years back and it had been reported as an attack from vampire hunters gone astray, Nelle had immediately jumped on the vampire-wannabe bandwagon. "If she keeps going to these places and offering herself up on a silver platter, she could get hurt."
"Come on, chica," Nathaniel hitched his pants up. "We both know vampires aren't real. You're the one who keeps saying so. Me," he shrugged, "I don't care either way."
"This… club is just a blatant con for people like her. Vampires would never be déclassé enough to set foot inside such a tourist trap." Kerry paused for a second. "If they weren't a myth." She turned, looking up at him sharply. "One of these times, she'll go and find someone who plays the game better than she does, who would love to take her home and make her another notch on their wall. Do you realize the danger she's in?" Kerry practically screamed the last part at the man across from her. Last month, Nelle had come closer than she realized to being coffinbait. Since then, Kerry had been terrified for her friend.
Nathaniel lost the constant amused gleam in his eye, solemnly staring at her. Suddenly, he sharply grabbed her arm, angrily pulling her towards him. "Better than you do. Why do you think I asked you to come? To be pretty?" He let go of her, fury dissipating from his body language as he attempted to run his hands through his hair. Mildly cursing the hair gel, he settled for stroking one of the spikes in a suggestive motion. "Truthfully, I'm having trouble keeping an eye on her now."
Kerry sighed. She hated going into busy clubs and mingling in the sweaty, overheated air. She turned away and continued walking. When they reached the entrance to the apartment building, she finally gave her answer. "Yeah. I'll come."
"Great." Nathaniel was back to hopping along like an excited kangaroo. "I've got this awesome vest that would look amazing on you." He turned his head and grinned at her.
"Why not Nelle?" She wasn't sure what she thought of the notion of sharing clothing with a guy. Either she looked butch, or Nathaniel was very effeminate. Since she'd seen him in tighter clothes than his look today, she knew it was the latter. He was an incredibly pretty guy.
"Too thin. But you, man, you've got cuuurves." He leered at her. Nathaniel was the only male she would allow to get away with that. Male who was still breathing that is.
Kerry opened the front door to their building and waited for him to go in ahead of her. He barely even noticed the reversal in rolls, proving that chivalry really was dead. The moment he was through the door, she deliberately stepped on the back of his pants. He almost stumbled as the thick material of his jeans pooled around his ankles.
"Hey!" He grumbled, quickly pulling up his pants and flashing her a nice scene of his silky boxer-clad bottom.
"People may not have been to London or France, but they've already seen your underpants." As far as snark went, that wasn't on the top of her list of repartee.
He considered it for a moment. He usually had a habit of going to class in his boxers during the warmer months. In fact, she'd met him while he was walking down the apartment building hallway wearing a bright red pair and one sock. To this day he still hadn't explained where the other sock went. "True." They both piled into the elevator, exaggeratingly trying to elbow one another out of the way.
"Besides." She was smiling as she pressed the elevator button. "You called me fat."
The elevator dinged open. Nathaniel lost another spike as it crumbled against the side of the door. "No. You look normal…"
"Now you're accusing me of being ordinary!" She grinned teasingly as she pulled out the key to her apartment.
"Ordinary my ass." Nathaniel playfully tried to swat her bottom. Kerry dodged out of the way, unsure whether to be upset or amused.
The door swung open before Kerry could insert her key, and out bound Nelle. She already had her dark brown hair temporarily tinted black and painfully straightened so flat it look like she rolled it between a newspaper press. "Nate!" She exclaimed, pushing by Kerry and jumping at her sometimes-boyfriend.
Nate smiled down at her, not even bothering to correct the unwelcome shortening of his name. Usually, if anyone else called him by a nickname, he'd grumble and growl and insist on being called Nathaniel. Kerry had actually seen him punch someone who called him Nat. She had made a note to always make the effort to say the extra syllables, but Nelle always got away with Nate.
Kerry figured it must be love. "See ya, Nate." She called, closing the door on them before he could glare at her. Kicking off her shoes, she entered the small kitchen and frowned at the typical mess of dirty dishes on the counter. Ignoring them, as usual, she opened the fridge and grabbed an apple. If she was going to fit into tight, uncomfortable club-wear, she wouldn't be able to eat a huge supper tonight.
She balanced her bookbag on the edge of the kitchen table and hauled out her laptop. Dropping the bag, she carefully placed the computer on the table and opened it. As Windows was booting up, she grabbed her bag and threw it into her bedroom. Mentally rolling her eyes at herself, Kerry opened her closet and rummaged through her clothes thoughtfully. Generally, she tried to avoid clothes that appeared to belong to the local S and M society or the Goths. It wasn't a biasness against them, only a need to offset Nelle's regular gloomy look. Kerry liked her clothes to have a bit of color. The greens, blues and pinks were out staring back at her from their hangers were out, but she might be able to do something with the few red clothes she possessed.
She just might have to rely on Nathaniel's vest. It was a scary thought. She would borrow Nelle's clothes, but her best friend was almost anorexically thin. The last time she had tried to wear a dress of Nelle's, she had gotten stuck in it. Kerry prided herself on her weight, but she Nelle still managed to make her feel like going on a diet.
Kerry narrowed her eyes and turned from the closet. No, there really wasn't anything there. Why did Nelle have to be such a freak-lover. Who loves vampires anyway?
Yeah, she thought that was kind of like the zebra calling the cow white too.
She stared at her reflection in the mirror, pulling on the skin under her eyes. Her eyes looked tired. Kerry took a bite of her apple and smiled halfheartedly at her image. To her own eyes, her smile was more of a grimace. It took a lot more than it used to in order to get a genuine smile out of her these days. Was that Michel's fault? Was that the guilt she felt for taking a murder's life? Was it just a delayed reaction from missing her family? She turned and headed back to her computer. It was only around five, and the earliest they ever left to go out was nine. There was really no point turning up at a club before eight unless you worked there.
Kerry grinned as she accessed the email she received from her dad. Ian was fine and looking forward to his eighth birthday party. Dad was dating someone new, and the three of them had gone on a picnic the other day. It was good, Kerry thought, that dad had someone who didn't have a pesky sun allergy.
It seemed her life always revolved around the shadow of vampirism. She couldn't get away now that she knew the truth. She knew a dangerous secret about the world around her, and it opened her eyes, caused her to think differently, and made her a little less naïve about every occurrence in her life. Then there were her friends, who tended to remind her whether they knew it or not. Nelle wanted to be a vampire and Nathaniel said stuff like 'so, vampire hunters eh? If you were a vampire you woulda killed their ass. No wait, you did.' That wasn't so funny.
Kerry sent a quick email back, telling her dad that she was going out with friends tonight and would call tomorrow. Afterwards she checked her favorite sites and chatted with friends on MSN. She needed a few normal hours in her life if she was going to make it through even a second of the vampire scene.
"Kerry!" Nelle rushed in around seven, hair mussed and cheeks flushed. "I've got to do my hair again." She wailed, flinging a plastic bag towards her roommate and scurrying to her bedroom. "Natey sent you something."
"I'm surprised he remembered between all the sex." Kerry murmured, eyeing the bag as if it were contaminated with things she didn't even want to think of.
"What?" Nelle called. "I can't hear you. My ears must still be ringing."
Kerry smirked. She adored Nelle. Honestly. The girl could just be trying sometimes.
The bag sat on the floor, looking innocent. It didn't seem to scream 'I screwed your roommate and then touched this plastic', but you never knew with these things. Kerry tried to ignore the plastic bag, but her eyes kept shifting towards it. She was curious. With a show of sheer willpower, she turned back to her computer and continued chatting. Ok, she was really just avoiding the necessity of facing the contents. Did she really need to wear a costume in order to fit in with the patrons of the club?
Yep. Call it empowerment through being sexy, or call it Kerry hoping it was disguise enough so that if she met anyone she knew they wouldn't recognize her, but there was no way she was going to stand out by dressing in jeans.
Nelle dashed into the bathroom screaming something about shampoo.
Kerry nudged the bag out of her direct line of sight.
Nelle dove out of the bathroom, hair dripping down her back.
Kerry turned on Winamp, listening to the crappy pop music she had on the computer. Somehow, a Hanson song had worked its way into her playlist. That had to be scarier than anything she encountered tonight. Right?
Nathaniel sauntered in the door, not bothering to knock or remove his shoes. He was wearing clompy black boots that looked too unscuffed to be used often. "Hiking boots?" She queried, not really caring.
He looked disgusted at the thought. "I'm wearing this red thing and black leather pants and all you comment on is the boots?"
Kerry glanced at the 'red thing' and had to look away before she insulted him by laughing. He was painted into a sheer red tank top with belts strapped around it at intervals, emphasizing his narrow waist and broader shoulders. His blue hair was falling softly over his eyes. She wasn't sure whether he was adorable or stupid looking. Maybe both.
"Why aren't you dressed yet? We're going to Mickey D's before the club." Nathaniel raised one of his brown eyebrows, looking amused as if he knew the answer to his question.
Kerry looked at the time on the screen of her computer. It was almost eight. "Gimme a minute." She stood up and grabbed the bag from her feet.
"CareBear, it took me more than a minute to get ready. You can't possibly do it in less than ten."
Kerry ignored the CareBear comment, knowing he was getting her back for 'Nate.' Everyone had hated nicknames. "It'll take Belle more than that to get ready for the ball."
"You're mixing your Disney metaphors." He made shooing motions.
Kerry rolled her eyes and walked into her bedroom, firmly closing the door. She dumped the bag on her bed, pawing carefully through the cloth, fearing she'd poke herself with one of the metal spikes. God, she hadn't realized Nathaniel was this bizarre. Her eyes lit up when she found a shirt that matched one of her skirts. She grimaced when she realized it laced up in the front, but was feeling daring and mischievous enough to try. Wriggling into it, she promised herself that if she couldn't even fit into Nathaniel's clothes, she'd go on a diet. The laces tightened well enough until they reached her chest. Deliberately, she left it gape open. Eat your heart out Nelle and Britney Spears! After getting into the skirt and soaring high heels, she quickly applied eyeliner and a coat of lipstick. Popping her lips together, Kerry blew a kiss to herself and gathered her courage.
It was going to be a long night.
Opening the door, she tried to stalk out but her walking turned into the swaying saunter you can only get with heels. Nathaniel gaped, forgetting about the slice of cheese he had been eating. Bugger, raiding her fridge like that. Served him right if he choked. "Holy frig. You gave me a stiffy!"
Kerry blushed, trying to keep her eyes from wandering down to check. Nathaniel liked to make comments like that to embarrass her, but she never knew whether they were true or not. "I can't do this," she murmured, turning on her heel and almost tumbling.
"Nonsense. It's very Kerry. Bold. Beautiful. Contradictory." Nathaniel popped the last of his cheese chunk in his mouth and held it against his cheek as he talked.
Kerry felt her blush deepen. If this guy wasn't with Nelle, she might consider keeping him for herself. She was just managing to get a slightly flirty smile on her lips when a slight screech came from behind her. Kerry and Nathaniel both turned to stare at Nelle.
"You can't wear that." Nelle whispered frantically, brushing down the black satin of her completely gothic outfit. Kerry felt like rolling her eyes. Vampires did NOT dress like that, and she doubted many would be attracted to a girl who did. Except for an easy meal.
"What? These are new boots." Nathaniel replied, looking at his feet in confusion. Kerry was sure he was trying to hide a grin. He was deliberately pulling the attention to himself.
"Not you. You're perfect." The couple beamed at each other for a minute. "Kerry can't wear that outfit."
"Why not?" Kerry tried to look innocent. "Flouncy skirt. Slutty top. Hooker heels. If I'm not picked up for prostitution I'll be lucky."
"I'd pick her up." Nathaniel interjected helpfully.
Nelle glared at him before turning back to her friend. "But… it's white."
"Does it make me look fat?" Kerry continued to look innocent.
"White does that." Nathaniel, still playing the puzzled boyfriend, agreed. "But you pull it off wonderfully."
"Oh for… stop it you guys. I know I'm being silly." Nelle cut them off. "Kerry's going into a demon club looking like an angel, especially with that big cross necklace."
Kerry almost resented the term demon.
"No vampire is going to welcome her if she deliberately wears something to repel them."
Nathaniel slipped an arm around Nelle. "Kerry has always tried to ward off guys. Remember that time some drunk grabbed her ass and she knocked over his chair?"
"That was an accident!"
Nathaniel continued as if she hadn't interrupted him. "I think we should be thankful she's not dressed like a nun again." He clucked Nelle under the chin and quickly kissed her. "Besides. They might like her spunk."
Nelle visibly relaxed, turning in her boyfriend's arm to smile at her friend. "I'm sorry. I'm just nervous." She adjusted the skirt of her Morticia gown. "I've never been in a real vampire club before."
The club being 'real' was debatable. "Me neither." Kerry reached over and squeezed Nelle's other arm. "I'm sure it'll be a ton of fun."
Hey everyone. So this is the first chapter of Club Vampyr, my newest Companions of the Night story. I wrote this chapter, and only this chapter, exactly a year ago. I'm not completely pleased with it, but the rest of the story is shaping up to be ok. Now, tell me, did I make Nelle annoying? It is difficult to portray Kerry's annoyance and fear for her friend in a first chapter without Nelle coming across as a total witch. As for Nathaniel, yes he is an original character. The only people we learned aboutin CotN who are inKer's life were her family and Nelle, so it is reasonable that she would have/make other friends.
Tell me your thoughts. Continue? Scrap it? Get off my butt and update To Lure a Dragon?