Dedication: To Sarah, who always wants me to write more LB fic.
Setting: Pre-movie, mostly
Author's Note: Originally started for the smallfandomfest prompt "Maria, flirting with danger" last summer.
The thing about being a witch is, eventually, you stop being afraid.
Maria is absolutely certain – safe under the weight of her spells, invisible and intangible except that she knows they exist, can feel them stir the air around her and test everyone who comes too close – that no one, no human, can hurt her.
They can try, but she’s woven so much protection into every thread of every outfit she’s ever worn the clothes are saturated in it, dripping safety with each step, each slight movement sending the memory of the scent of the spells wafting around her like smoke.
The thing about being a witch is, eventually, you fall in love.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to her when she learns that vampires exist. After all, if witches are real, if there is magic in the world – and she is absolutely certain they are and there is – then why not vampires, and werewolves, and demons and anything else from the stories.
At first she doesn’t think twice about the guys who come in to bug Max. They’re all cute in different ways, and they flirt so well. She thinks they’re nothing more than local guys attracted to the pretty girls who flock to the Boardwalk. What else would they be?
Sometimes they even have their own pretty girl with them. She’s very shy, and never says anything, just hangs back and keeps her little brother close to her. Maria learns her name indirectly, from the guys calling to her, teasing her.
It’s a beautiful name for a beautiful girl and Maria saves her best smile for when she comes in.
She waits weeks, months, but Star never says anything, hardly ever looks at her. One night the guys are in the store over an hour before Max comes in for the night, and Star is with them.
Maria walks right up to her and holds out her hand. “Hi,” she says. “I’m Maria.”
Star looks up at her, her mouth open, her eyes wide. Then she glances across the room at the guys, who are crowded around a group of giggling teenage girls who must be tourists because Maria has never seen them before. Maria looks, too, but none of the guys are watching.
“I know.” Maria smiles at her, the special smile, the one she holds back for times like this. “I’ve been wanting to meet you.”
“Why?” Star’s voice is pitched too high, and she sucks in a quick breath.
“Because you’re very pretty,” Maria says, and puts her hand on Star’s arm, “and I think you look like a nice girl to meet.”
Star looks down at where they touch, and then laughs a little. It’s not a funny laugh, but when she lifts her head, she smiles back at Maria.
“I’m not very nice,” she says, and flips back her hair. “I’m really rather dangerous.”
Maria’s smile widens and she feels a tingle shoot through her. Oh, she does like this girl.
“That’s okay,” she says, and gives Star a little squeeze. “I like danger.”
The thing about being a witch is, eventually, you learn there are monsters under the bed.
Star starts to come in more often, but less often with the guys. They still come in, once every few weeks or so, but Star is there almost every night, and sometimes in the late afternoon.
Star has a secret. Maria figures it out pretty quick – there is a lot going on under the surface, and there are more things Star doesn’t say than she does. She would rather listen to Maria talk, and always changes the subject when Maria asks her about her family. That’s not too unusual, lots of people in Santa Carla don’t want to talk about their past. It’s kind of a mecca for people like that.
She refuses to talk about the guys, too, and that’s a little unusual. Most of the girls Maria knows love to gossip about cute boys, and there aren’t many cuter than those four. Yeah, okay, they try just a little too hard to cultivate that bad-boy biker thing, but it’s a good look on them.
Maria isn’t sure what tips her off. One night, she’s still in the dark, waiting for Star to visit. The next, she finds herself watching one of the biker guys, their leader, David she’s heard him called, watch one of the customers and she knows. She knows.
He’s a predator, and nothing is what she believed.
The thing about being a witch is, eventually, you play with fire.
Maria is brave. She hasn’t known fear in such a long time. She walks amongst the humans, in dark alleys at night, through crowds of Surf Nazis, and she has no fear. She is thick with magic, and it fills the air around her. She is safe wherever she goes, because no one can get close unless she allows it.
The problem is, she’s already let Star get too close, right up next to her – all the way beneath her skin.
In the back of her mind, she knows the truth. She just doesn’t let herself see it for a few days. She goes out for lunches with Star, and greets her with hugs every time she sees her in the video store, but eventually she can’t protect herself from the truth.
She doesn’t mean to say anything. That’s what she tells herself, at least, except she doesn’t try all that hard to stay silent. They’re on the carousel one night, sitting on the bench – it’s Star’s favorite ride, and she says that’s the best place to sit, because the world can only move so much, you know, and she doesn’t like around in circles and up and down at the same time – when she opens her mouth.
“So am I supposed to be your first kill?”
If she was going to say anything, and Maria wants to believe she wasn’t, it should have been something about being a vampire, or some little tease about how she never sees the boys except at night, or pretty much anything but what she says.
The thing is, as soon as she says it, she knows she’s right. Maria doesn’t even have to look over at Star, doesn’t have to see the fear flit across her face, doesn’t need to feel the way her shoulders go tense and her hands clench into fists.
“I’m sorry,” Star says. Maria doesn’t need to hear that, either.
It’s already too late.
The thing about being a witch is, eventually, you get burned.
Maria sees Star, for the first time in weeks, at one of the summer beach concerts. They’re usually fun, free and loud and everyone in town, all the tourists and locals and just about every single person, shows up for them.
Even Star and Laddie, on their own, no stupid vampires on stupid motorcycles around.
She thinks about approaching her, slipping through the crowd until she can put her arms around Star’s waist and breathe in the scent at her throat, jasmine and salt water and something dark, probably vampire rot. She hates to admit it, but she misses her, blood stains and all.
Star catches her watching, even though she’s half-hidden behind some tall teenage boy. Maria starts to smile, tentative and gentle, but it fades fast, drops right away when Star clutches Laddie and turns away. Runs away.
Maria thought about saving her once.
Some girls just don’t want to be saved.