It came down to the two of them, back to back, the darkness and the monsters all around them.
They hadn’t even really talked before this. They had three classes together, but Pramod had been trying to make friends with the closest to jocks that this school had, and Swanhild was trying to find the artsy sorts – easier to find than jocks, at least. Pramod had been on the top of the heap before coming to this place, and Swan had been used to being ignored by guys like him.
Now she had her back against him literally, and the shadows were snarling at her, at them, and somewhere outside their pod someone was sing-songing “come out, come out, wherever you are,” which wasn’t creepy at all. But Swan had seen plenty of horror movies, and had come to school with four things that didn’t really look like weapons until she needed to swing them at someone – or to have Pramod swing them, since he was bigger. Swan had thought she was tall until she met Pramod, who was a full 8 inches taller than her and made it look surprisingly good.
So he had the baseball bat and she had the antenna from her dad’s old car – an in-joke that had already left two people swearing – and they had each other, back to back.
“I don’t even know you,” he whispered, in a moment between attacks.
“That’s all right. I don’t know you, either, and I already know I like you better than any of these assholes.”
He laughed at that, as he was meant to, and then they were under attack again.
When the lights came back on, both of them were panting, sweating – laughing. Both of them were aching, bruised, bleeding – smiling. Both of them were free.
“Friends?” Swan offered, holding out her hand for Pramod.
He grinned down at her. “Friends. Hey, that jerk with the whip. Wanna gather up a couple others and go after him? I bet we could take him down with enough of us.”
“How about we go get lunch, instead,” she countered. Jocks, she thought, but it was affectionate in a way she’d never felt before. “Then maybe we can smear his name so that he never gets laid again, how’s that?”
“Nerd.” He smiled down at her, and she felt warm at the label the way nobody had ever managed.