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roaring twenties

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They date.

Well, calling it dating is maybe a little socially pressured.

Carmilla drags him around to parties and villas and beaches and lets him live in her penthouse and parades him around for all of her fancy beautiful friends, and Hector is- he's there. He's there too.

It's not bad.

Not that bad.

She doesn't seem to mind animals, even in the large number that Hector accumulates them in, and she gives him the money for any supplies and vet trips he needs for them. So when she's done telling him that he's a stupid waste of space, he can just haul his four dogs into his lap and let his birds tug at his hair, and it's fine.

It's better than his parents, anyway.

He really doesn't know why she's dating him.

He bothers asking her one time when they're on vacation in Greece, beautiful white beaches and the prettiest blue water in the world. He sits with his legs in the pool, and she's in a bikini that costs more then the villa they're staying in on a pool lounger.

“You're cute.” She says. “And you photograph well.”

“That's it?”

“Mmhm.”

That's it.

Carmilla is pretty famous for- for modeling, he thinks. He can't really remember that well sometimes. They're at a rooftop party, and he's dressed in clothes she picked out for him. The view is nice. Some nice woman comes up to him halfway through and whispers in a tone that suggested that he should be rather scandalized, like she is, that Carmilla is making out with another girl.

Hector shrugs.

She has a lot of girlfriends- or women that she invites over to fuck and then kicks out just as fast.

They have dinner sometimes, him and the women she gets bored with. They always look so sad about it, and Hector wants to laugh because they get the luxury of leaving. He drinks red wine because its good for his circulation and listens to them ask question after question about what Carmilla didn't like.

“Everything, probably.” He says. Because he also doesn't know why Carmilla keeps him around.  

They've never slept together. Not really. She's jerked him off before, and he ate her out once but apparently, he was bad at it, or she wasn't interested in a repeat performance, and they just didn't. She might not even be into men.

He really has no idea why they're dating.

She used to tell him that he was funny before they really committed to anything and he didn't live with her. She still tells him he's funny sometimes and laughs at his jokes when no one else does. He doesn't make a lot of them, but at least she likes hearing them, he thinks.

When he was still in college, she called him smart, but she doesn't do that anymore.

She hits him when she's frustrated with work.

She breaks his nose and gives him a black eye. He doesn't know what she does for work but she buys him a cat to apologize, and that feels right, maybe.

They sleep in the same bed sometimes. Mostly when Hector falls asleep, he sometimes wakes up to Carmilla in next to him, tugging him close or just an arm around his waist. She takes pictures of them in bed together and posts them on Instagram.

He's popular, apparently.

Hector wouldn't know, he's not really interested about it.

“That's cute.” She tells him and takes another picture of him across their white counter.

“Okay.”

She smiles at him.

She's gorgeous, really. She wears designer clothes and buys designer makeup and shoes that cost more than most of Hector's organs. She doesn't smoke and rarely drinks and only sometimes does anything harder. She's really out of his league.

People tell him that all the time.

She throws a party for something. Some work thing. She dresses him up in sleek black clothing and pulls some of his hair back. There are a lot of men who are dressed like him. She's in a red gown, floor length and all of them stare at her- at her thigh mostly. They nudge him in the ribs and tell him how lucky he is.

When he goes to check on his animals, she's fucking one of their wives. The other woman looks scared for a second, and Carmilla whispers something that makes the woman laugh before gasping when Carmilla rolls her hips into her.

His bunny needed more water, and by the time he comes back with it, there's another woman under her, head thrown back and begging.

They sleep in the same bed, and she traces patterns on his skin with her long nails.

They're in a cafe in somewhere out of the country when someone spills something on her. Hector stares at his feet when she drags the waiter into an alley and beats him bloody. She wipes her hands on Hector's back and kisses the side of his head before taking him back to their hotel room.

He doesn't know who that man was.

She fights too, professionally.

He watches her fight in a ring one night. She's a monster, beautiful, obviously, with hair tugged up and skin glistening in the lights, but she breaks four bones before the referee can call her off. She smiles at him, wide eyes and feral and he tries his best to smile back.

She brings two girls back to their apartment, and Hector wakes up surrounded by human blood in his bed.

“Maybe you should stay with your parents for a while.” She says when people in hazmat suits come and clean their ruined bedroom.

“I don't want to.”

“It wasn't a suggestion.”

“Okay.”

His parents are horrid people.

She makes him breakfast which is rare because usually she just eats a granola bar and leaves him to his own devices. It's pretty good, surprisingly. He feeds his animals and remembers mutely that he has no idea what he's going to do with them.

“Can you keep my pets?”

She shrugs.

It's not a no.

His parents are horrid people.

Carmilla only beat him once or twice, but her apartment was clean, and she liked his animals and called him funny and fed him and took him to beautiful places.

His new father is already drunk, and Hector steps in glass an hour into being home. His mother screams at him and calls him stupid and a waste and a freak and an embarrassment while his new father just watches from the doorway, uninterested but with nothing better to do.

His old room is torn up, and his belongings are scattered on the floor. Any clothes he left are in covered in moth holes. He lasts a month.

When the fire starts in earnest, and he hears his mother pound against the windows upstairs, Hector's already outside. He forgot to put shoes on, but that's just more kindling.

“Can you pick me up?” He calls his girlfriend. “I set my house on fire.”

“Oh.” She says and arrives just as the fire department does. He sits on the curb with a blanket over his shoulders. He's not sure where he got it. “Hey.”

“Hi.” He says.

She plays with his hair and explains that the fire department that obviously he's in shock and obviously he barely escaped the blazing inferno that they still haven't put out and what of his parents and really what are you people being paid for.

“You're so brave.” She says,  loud for everyone, even the neighbors peering over the police line to hear.

“Sorry for making you get me.” He whispers so no one else can.

She just shrugs and squeezes his shoulder.

“Proud of you.” She tells him when they're in her bathroom, and he's clean from the shower. “Didn't think you had it in you.”

“Me neither.” He says, and she pets his hair again.

“I'm going on a business trip for a few months.”

“Oh.” He says.

“You can stay here I guess, just cause you look like a kicked dog.”

“What about the police?”

“Who's going to miss them?”

Nobody.

He stands in the doorway and waves her off, and she laughs at him and calls him cute from the elevator. The apartment is weirdly quiet, even with all of his animals finally allowed to make as much noise as they want.

He lays in bed and watches the TV she had mounted on the wall while he was gone. His phone buzzes a few times before he bothers to look at it and see an unknown number and a few voicemails.

He plays them on speaker and frowns when he realizes he has to go down to a morgue to identify the bodies.

She sends him pictures of her kissing pretty women and asks about his day.

He tells her he has to go identify his parents and she sends him a sad emoji. Half an hour later she sends him a picture of one of his dogs, the pug she bought him on his birthday playing with a toy. He didn't have this picture.

It's maybe the most considerate thing she's ever done for him.