“Dude, come take a look at this.” Sullie waves Ash over from his spot on the floor. Holding up a finger, Ash finishes jotting down a note before heading across the room to Sullivan’s desk. On the computer screen in front of her, he sees a diagram of an old building.
“Is that The Castle?”
“Yup. These rooms here are all supposed to have had hidden sub rooms under the floor where Holmes would trap people and then pump in gas. He would either let them suffocate or light the gas on fire. Then down here…” she scrolls down the page to another diagram. “there were vats of acid and…” she refers to her notes “something called quicklime, which basically eats people. There were these chutes running from the upper floors where he could just dump people and they would fall down into the vats.”
“I was just reading about how he had this surgical suite set up and after he killed these women, he would skin them and sell their skeletons to medical schools.” Ash reaches forward and fingers a stack of papers with colourful rows of flags. “You’ve put together a lot of material. Do you want me to take some of this?”
“That’s for the teacher profile article. Nothing you need to worry about.” Sullie smiles, moving her open textbook on top of the pile as she leans closer to her monitor. “This guy was seriously messed up. God, this is such a great project.”
“It kind of burns my ass that Staal is such a cool teacher, but such a giant jackass outside school.” Ash kicks at the floor. “How is your research coming? It looks like you’ve found a lot of stuff.”
“I’m still working on it. There’s a ton of information about people online if you know where to look.”
“I know that voice. You’ve found something funky.”
“Hey, we’re thinking about serial killers here, not teachers. Go to your happy place.” She turns in her chair, taking his hands in hers.
“Right. Okay. Happy place. Crime. Serial killers. Secret killing chambers. Right. Okay, better.” He smiles down at her. “Thanks. Now back to work.” He squeezes her hands in his before heading back to his piles of papers on the other side of the room. They quickly fall back into the comfortable rhythm of work.
“You ready for a break?” Sullie asks half an hour later.
“I think I’m pretty much done for the day.” He runs his hands over his forehead, wincing as he touches the cut.
“What!?” Sullie feigns shock “You don’t want to spend the rest of our Saturday doing homework?”
“What can I say? You know I’m a bad ass.” He chuckles from the bed.
“Yes, yes you are.” Sullie laughs as she pushes herself away from her desk. “I’ll be right back. Don’t do anything too exciting while I’m gone.”
He waits until the door closes before flopping over onto the bed. The throbbing hangover finally catching up with him. Rubbing the heels of his hands into his eyes, he tries to make the thumping in his head go away. With a slow exhale, he lets his mind drift and settles back onto Sullie’s pillow.
Opening his eyes a few seconds later, he jumps when he sees Sullie lying beside him, eyes closed, breathing steady. He watches her for a moment; her face is so peaceful. The thoughts that always seem to be running on fast forward just beneath the surface are gone. He reaches out and pushes away the strand of hair that’s fallen over her face. Her eyelids flicker.
“What’re you doing?” Her voice is soft.
“When did you get here?” He ignores her question.
“I came back with snacks, but you were asleep. You needed it. I figured I would read for a while.” She looks around for her book and finds it closed near her knees. “I guess that didn’t pan out.” She smiles, tucking her hands under the side of her face.
“I guess not.” He mutters. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without your glasses.”
“That’s cause I generally need to see. I don’t wear them when I read in bed.” She smiles, rolling over to grab the black frames. “Jesus. It’s after 5.”
“For real?” Ash props himself up on his elbow. Pain shoots through the forgotten about gash. He falls down onto his back. “God damn. Mother…”
“That’ll teach you to fight with fences.” She teases, poking him in the side. He laughingly grabs her hand and pulls her closer. Wrapping his good arm around her, he pulls her face to his. His lips cut off her laughter. Her response is instantaneous.
Her hand work its way up his arm and around his neck. Her fingers weaving into his hair. Unlike their last kiss, neither of them tries to stop this one. Sullie lets her body mould against Ash’s. Her leg thrown over his, she pulls him closer. His fingers trace the designs in her tights. She giggles, pulling him into a sitting position, her arms draping over his shoulders.
“That tickles.” She laughs, her lips still moving against his.
“Good.” He kisses her harder. Her arms tighten around him. She’s surprisingly strong. Without warning, she flips onto her back, pulling Ash with her. His breath catches as he falls against her, unable to catch his weight on his arms. “Sorry.”
“Stop talking.” She commands. He feels the smile breaking out across her face.
“Okay.” He relaxes into her, feeling more in sync with Sullivan than he ever had with Brooke. Images of his ex flood unwelcome into his thoughts. His movements become stiff, distracted.
Sullie notices. She shifts her weight just enough to slide out from under him. She props herself up into a sitting position. “Where did you just go?”
“What?” He leans against the head of the bed, his hand automatically reaching for hers.
“Sorry. My mind wandered for a second.”
“Obviously. To where?”
“It doesn’t matter.” He insists.
“It doesn’t? We were having fun, weren’t we?”
“Is that what this is?”
“I’m as confused as you are, Ash.” She slides herself along the mattress until she’s leaning against the headboard beside him.
“I’m not confused.”
“You’re not?” She glances at him.
“More like surprised.”
“That this happened?”
“At how normal it feels. You know what I mean?”
“Yeah, I think I do. Like it’s always been like this and we forgot to notice?”
“Right. And it’s about time I got my head out of my ass. You’re pretty damn attractive.” A giant grin breaks out across his face.
“You’re right. It is about time!” Her fingers intertwine with his. “So, what are we?”
“I don’t know. Dating? Is that something you might want to do?” Reaching across her, he grabs a cookie from the plate sitting on the nightstand.
“I’m not really okay with just fooling around from time to time. Another guy, yeah, sure. But not with you.” Her face is suddenly serious.
“I’m not good enough to fool around with!” He exclaims with mock surprise.
“Shut up, douche. You know what I mean.” Sullie slaps him on the chest. “I don’t want to ruin our friendship.”
“Yeah, I do. If we’re just fooling around, I can’t guarantee that I will be kept in cookies.” Ash laughs.
“You’re such a dumbass.” Sullie shakes her head and begins to slide towards the edge of the bed.
“Where do you think you’re going?” He pulls her back towards him.
“I have to pee.”
“Um, yeah, then go. Please. I like to experiment, but I’m not into that kind of kink…”
“Gross. Shut up.” She laughs as she heads across the room to her bathroom.
Ash watches the door close behind her before reaching into his pocket to pull out his phone. The message light flashes: a couple from Emmette and Frasier. He reads them quickly before dialling Emmette’s number.
“You’re alive!” The deep voice booms.
“A little damaged, but yes, alive. How about you?”
“Completely fine. A bit of a Brooke headache. She’s so much worse than alcohol. If she weren’t so completely hot, and kind of slutty, I wouldn’t understand why you ever dated her.” Emmette chuckles.
“Well, she’s out of the picture now.”
“Definitely. Last night ended… well, it didn’t end the way I expected it to.”
“How on earth did you find some tail on your walk home? Who?”
“It’s not really that simple.” He smiles as Sullie slides back onto the bed, resting her head in his lap as she opens her book again.
“It’s always that simple, dude. We’re laser tagging tonight. You in?”
“Laser tag? I haven’t played in forever. Hang on.” Covering the mouthpiece quickly, “You want to play laser tag tonight?”
“I kick ass at laser tag.” Sullie replies without looking up from her book.
“Excellent.” He brings the phone back to his ear. “We’re in.”
“You’ll find out tonight.” Ash laughs.
“Cool… I guess.” Emmette pauses for a moment, clearly unsure how he’s supposed to respond. “My house at eight.”
“See ya then.” Ending the call, Ash leans back against the headboard.
“So we’re going out with your friends tonight, ‘eh?” Sullie closes her book, her finger jammed between the pages.
“And how will you be explaining my presence there?”
“I’ll tell them that my girlfriend is unbelievably cool and they will just have to deal with her kicking their asses.” He smiles as he leans down to kiss her on the forehead. “Now, let’s go get some supper.”