Carstella got a text message from Spitelout later that night containing instructions about how to get the bodies down without them being seen. He also told her he couldn’t make it, as it would look bad on his reputation.
Carstella understood and asked who was going to take his place. Spitelout’s reply for Carstella not to worry about and just continue like normal.
The brunette sighed at the words, but closed her phone and got ready. It was already seven.
Eleven forty came around and Carstella was double checking she had everything.
She heard her phone vibrate on the counter next to her. She looked at the number and her eyes widened.
She quickly flipped it open and the words ‘I’m here.’ were on her screen.
Carstella cringed as she shoved her phone into her pocket. Why would her uncle let him do this? She asked herself as she hauled one of the garbage bag to the window at the end of the hall. She pushed it out, careful not to make too much noise or have any rips. She repeated the process with the rest of them and then climbed out herself.
Carstella pushed them down to the fire escape to the empty flat bed beneath.
She jumped down herself and layed them all out flat so there weren’t any on top of one another. When she was done she jumped out and started pulling the tarp over them. The driver of the pick up got out and helped her.
“Why are you here?” She asked him.
“Because we all told Spitelout that we wanted to help you.” He told her, “And he couldn’t do it or his reputation as a chief would be compromised. Snotlout and Hiccup couldn’t come because then it would reflect back on their dads. Astrid could kiss her dreams of the fire department away, Ruff’s too weak to do this kind of stuff, and Fishlegs’ too chicken.”
“So he sent you?” Carstella almost snapped.
“No.” Tuff defended, “I volunteered.”
Carstella stared at the man with dread locks for a moment before sighing and continuing to fumble with the tarp. She couldn’t explain it, but when he said that she’d gotten a fluttering feeling in her chest.
When they were done and everything was secured they both climbed into the cab and Tuff started the ignition.
“Did Spitelout tell you what I have planned?” She asked as she pulled her seat belt on.
“Yeah don’t worry.” He assured her as he pulled out of the alley, “I got the map in the glove box, shovels and flash lights in the back.”
“You planned a route?” Carstella questioned as she pulled the map out.
“No.” Tuff scoffed, “Fishlegs did.”
Carstella smiled at that as turned her attention to the map in her hands.
“I know where I have to go to get out of the city,” He told her as he pulled to a red light, “After that I’ll need your help.”
Carstella nodded and pulled out a mini flashlight she had in her back pack to see where they were going.
“Right there.” Carstella said and pointed to a large rock in the middle of no where.
Tuff quickly went off road and parked a good distance from the rock where they would be shadowed from any lonely car in the middle of the night.
Just before the ignition was turned off, Carstella caught the time, 3:01 am.
Perfect time to hide a body, or four. She thought to herself.
They got out, Castella grabbed a shovel from the back seat and a flashlight. She turned the flashlight on and put it on the ground near the rock so her hands were free and she could see.
The she started making a square in the sand and dirt to indicate where they were going to dig. She pushed her sleeves up and stepped on the shovel sending it into the ground a little.
Tuff quickly put his flashlight down and started helping her.
In the silence, minus the sound of their shoveling, each of them found this time to think.
Tuff was thinking of what it was exactly that Carstella had done in her previous life, and if this was any different to her than a walk in a park. He also thought about why when Spitelout asked if any of them could help he practically jumped at that chance.
He knew he liked her. He knew that when he first saw her. He knew he was jealous when Dagur talked to her, and even more so when they went out. And he knew he was terrified something had happened to her when he heard the gunshots. And now he was wondering, because his feelings were much stronger this time, was this just another stupid crush he’s had a million of, or was it something more?
Carstella was wondering just how many other people knew how to find her, and if her friends would be safe the next time. She was also wondering about Tuff.
Why he volunteered at the opportunity to help her out when he had just as much to lose as the others did. Why he hugged her when he realized she was in distress. And what he was doing to her.
She didn’t even know that. She felt content just working beside him, happy when he was talking to her, and safe, so safe when he hugged her. She couldn’t pin point any of it, and that scared her.
Carstella paused a moment and looked at their hole they’d done. It was big enough and deep enough.
“This should be good.” Carstella told Tuff.
“You sure?” He asked trying not to show his fatigue from what they were just doing.
She nodded, “Besides, we need to get them in and this filled up before sunrise.”
Tuff nodded and headed towards the edge, “How do we get out?” He asked.
It was just now he realized how deep they actually made it.
“Here.” Carstella said and interlocked her fingers to give him a boost.
Tuff couldn’t complain as he stepped up and was hoisted easily. When he was at the top, he turned around layed on his stomach and reached a hand down for Carstella. She took it thankfully after throwing the shovels up.
Tuff was surprised by how light she was. He’d seen her move and carry fully grown men no problem, so he assumed she’d be kinda heavy. But he lifted her up easily.
Carstella checked her watch and allowed them a quick water break. After three minutes Carstella opened the tail gate and pulled the tarp back she started pulling them out and dragging the corpses to the pit and throwing them in.
Tuff put the bottles away when he heard the last one hit the bottom and walked over to help fill in the pit.
They were both still thinking the entire time about each other, about the situation they were in, about everything.
When they were done the sky was just starting to break with light. Carstella kicked around the dirt over the grave as Tuff fixed the tarps and put the shovels away.
“Alright.” Carstella said when she got back into the cabin and pulled out the map, “Fishlegs marked a rest stop here. We should go there, change our cloths, and get something to eat. I’ll take over driving from there if you want.”
“We’ll see how I’m feeling when I get there.” Tuff told her as he turned on the engine.
Carstella shoved her hoodie into her back back as she exited the stall. She looked at herself in the mirror and pulled her hair out of the pony tail. She finger brushed it and started braiding it. She was happy with how she looked.
She was wearing black high top all star sneakers, denim shorts that came about half way down her thigh, a white band t-shirt, a denim vest over top of that, and her hair was now in a braid going over her left shoulder like Astrid.
Carstella smiled at herself and left the bathroom. The bathroom was separate from the diner area. She crossed the parking lot and entered the eatery. She scanned the tables and saw Tuff at the far booth, his back to the door.
Carstella strode across the checkered floor over to him and slid in across from him.
“Hey.” She said with a smile. Tuff had already changed his cloths. He was in cargo shorts and a Godzilla movie t-shirt, his dread locks were out of the pony tail they were in last night and as wild as they were before.
“Hey.” He mimicked back, “You look good.”
“So do you.” She said shyly.
Carstella looked at the menu to see what she wanted and decided on the breakfast burrito combo.
There was a pregnant silence between them, neither knowing what to say to the other.
“And what can I get you two love birds today?” The waitress asked when she came over.
“I’ll take the short stack, side of bacon and a coffee.” Tuff said.
“I’ll have a breakfast burrito combo and orange juice.” Carstella said.
“Coming right up.” The waitress said with a smile.
Carstella and Tuff turned their attention back to each other when she left.
“Do we really look like a couple?” Carstella asked.
Tuff shrugged, “Maybe that could be our alias for right now.”
Carstella nodded and just looked at her hands in her lap.
There was a silence again.
“I’m sorry for dragging you into this.” Carstella said.
“I dragged myself into this.” Tuff argued.
“And you’re probably only doing it because you pity me.” She said.
“Hold on.” Tuff said, “I don’t pity you. I like you. I wouldn’t be putting my neck on the line like this if I didn’t.”
“You do?” She asked not believing the words she just heard.
“Yeah.” Tuff said finally being brave, “I volunteered for this in part because I knew the others had too much on the line to risk, but because I wanted to make sure myself you were going to be alright.”
Carstella smiled at her fingers.
“Thank you, Tuff.” She almost whispered, “I like you too. And I’m glad you’re with me through this.”
“I always will be.” He told her. Tuff wanted badly to reach over and grab her hand and let her know she’ll never be alone from now on if he had anything to say about it.
“Your orange juice, and your coffee.” The waitress said and placed a tall glass of orange liquid in front of Carstella and a white mug on a white saucer in front of Tuff, “You’re orders’ll be out as soon as they’re done.”
“Thank you.” Carstella said to the woman, she smiled and left.
Carstella wrapped both hands around the glass and put it up to her lips for several seconds before lowering it. Her hands still around the cup.
Tuff watched her every move, almost like he was in a trance. He couldn’t help but reach out a hand to hers across the table and hold it.
Carstella was startled by the contact but relaxed when her red eyes met Tuff’s blue ones.
“You don’t ever have to go though anything like this alone again.” He told her, “I’ll be here.”
“Promise?” Carstella asked, she always needed to be double sure of things like this. So many people have left her and took advantage of her, non of them had ever promised her things. Her father told her it was because nothing can be for certain in their lives.
“I promise you wont go through anything alone as long as I’m alive.” He told her and then brought his right hand up from the table, left hand still holding her, and made an x like mark on the left side of his chest.
That gesture was foreign to Carstella as well, but she took it as a good sign. She knew Tuff wouldn’t hurt, or leave, or take advantage of her in a vulnerable state.
“This place is pretty amazing.” Tuff said in awe.
Carstella nodded in agreement, “I just wish there was a little more fun and a little shopping to be had.”
“I know!” Tuff exasperated.
“Maybe we could go see Alcatraz tomorrow.” Carstella offered.
“You mean the famous prison where only three people where rumored to escape in its entire time running, where the mafia boss Al Capone spent his final days?” Tuff asked unable to comprehend what she was suggesting.
“You’re right,” Carstella said in a bored tone, “No fun, we can spend tomorrow walking up a down the many shopping streets trying on things we’ll never buy, while drinking extravagant things from Starbucks.”
They stared at each other seriously for a moment before Tuff busted out laughing, with Carstella smiling wide.
“Yeah right you’d pass that up for shopping!” Tuff snorted.
“Exactly.” She told him.
“Ruff is going to be so jealous when she finds out we went without her.” Tuff laughed.
Carstella kept smiling as she leaned onto him, their hands had been interlocked since they got out of the car.
“I like your laugh.” She told him.
Tuff chuckled as he released her hand and wrapped his arm around her shoulders bringing her closer, “Then I’ll laugh more!”
Carstella bit her lip and nuzzled further into Tuff, she really did feel safe.