“That’s a sandwich,” Saz says.
“No, you’re a person,” Amber says supportively. “You shouldn’t call yourself ‘that,’ Saz. Or a sandwich. You’re a girl! Who likes eating –”
“Bacon!” Saz says. “Lettuce! Tomato! That’s what it stands for. It’s a really well known sandwich.”
Viva rolls her eyes. “The B is for bisexual, Amber. It’s L-G-B-T. She’s saying she’s bisexual.”
“Well then,” Amber pauses to consider. She opens the sandwich and peers inside, lifting one depressing-looking slice of tomato and letting it drop. “But are the legs the bread?”
“B is for Bummer,” Holli says, pointing at Saz with a chip. “B is for Bender. B is for Bitch.”
“B is for Bellend,” Saz says. She hasn’t got anything to throw at Holli so she just glares. “I’m not going to be bumming anyone, am I, you moron? That’s for boys. Gay ones.”
“You could bum a boy!” Holli says defensively. “I don’t know what you do.”
“B is for Badges,” Viva says, like the rest of them aren’t even there.
“B is for Brandon,” Amber sighs, and that’s the end of that conversation.
What had happened was that Saz made the mistake of telling her terrible friends that the whole Morgan incident (to recap: your classic secret-admirer-crossed-wires-wrong-locker scenario, massively humiliating yet ultimately illuminating; Saz has come to terms with it) had maybe. Awakened some things, was how Saz had decided to put it. She’d gone into some detail about the exciting new feelings in her changing body and her terrible friends had taken it with a lack of surprise which was perhaps not entirely gratifying.
Saz wishes they hadn’t frightened off the most handsome guidance counsellor in the world, because all that’s available to her now, guidance-wise, is Mr Jeffries (only qualified to offer advice about crap jumpers), the world’s worst PE teacher (Saz can’t think of anyone she’d like to talk about this with less), and, tragically, her terrible friends.
To be fair, they’ve rallied round in a show of competitive support. Or rather, Holli’s being a dick (so, normal), Amber’s being supportive, and Viva’s being competitive about it.
As far as Saz can tell, Viva had been making noise about how the school should really make more provision for not-straight students, and Amber had got sidetracked attempting to google local LGBT support groups, somehow ending up at BBC Food. Hence, sandwiches, and the noble BLT. Still, it’s the thought that counts.
“We should find you some nice girls to kiss,” Amber says, practising keepy-uppys.
Saz would prefer to be having this discussion somewhere other than the football pitch with half the boys’ team looking on and sniggering, which she makes known. Loudly and with force.
Amber just giggles at her, letting the ball fall to the ground. “Keep your knickers on!” she says, and then she grabs Saz round the waist, dips her backwards, and kisses her, a real Hollywood-style smooch. Amber is weirdly strong, it takes Saz by surprise every time, and she smells nice, and Saz is kissing a girl, in daylight and everything.
It’s not bad.
“There you go!” Amber says brightly, over the chorus of catcalls from the other side of the fence. “Now you’ve kissed a girl.”
“I’ve already kissed a girl,” Saz points out. “I’ve kissed you!”
“But it’s different, innit. Now that you’ve come out.” Amber’s eyes go ridiculously wide at the words, but Saz finds it kind of sweet, that she’s thought about it.
“You know what, Amber,” she says. “I do think you are my most supportive friend.”
“Er, no she isn’t,” says Viva, while Amber cheers.
“No, I think she is,” says Saz. “She did googling and everything.”
“She googled sandwiches!” Viva cries.
“At least she made an effort,” Saz says generously, before she narrows her eyes. “Not like you two dickheads.”
“Holli beat up three Year Nines for calling you a lezzer,” Amber says.
“What? No I never,” Holli says.
“I’m a very supportive friend!” Viva insists.
“You did though,” says Amber.
“Look,” says Viva, and kisses Saz full on the mouth. Neither of them closes their eyes, so it’s very weird and squashy. Saz has never seen Viva’s face so close up, and honestly, it’s a very nice face but she was fine not knowing.
“You see!” Viva says when they detach. “Supportive!”
“For fuck’s sake, girls!” shouts Bitchcock. “Can you at least try to cross your legs and hold it until you get off the pitch? I’ve spent years of my life trying to prove that football’s not just for lesbians!” She blows her whistle at them, quite angrily.
“Football is just for lesbians!” Holli yells at her, somewhat nonsensically, and follows it up by lobbing one of the balls at the coach’s retreating back (which is fair game now that she’s not pregnant anymore, they’ve agreed).
Viva seems torn between high-fiving Holli and giving her a prefect lecture on violence in the school environment, and settles on calling, “Not that there’s anything wrong with being a lesbian!” She gives Saz a pointedly supportive look.
“I’m not even a full lesbian,” Saz says, “oh my god!”
“Why don’t you just go back to Jesus Club,” Amber says reasonably. “They’ve probably got sandwiches there.”
The next day Viva’s all swoony because Rocky doesn’t want her to think she has to kiss girls to get his attention, which is almost exactly the opposite of something Saz once heard Brandon say to Amber.
“Are you not going to kiss Saz, then?” Amber says to Holli. “Is it because you hate gays?”
“Shut up,” Holli says, “I am gonna kiss her. Gonna have sex and all, you fucking watch.”
It’s really surprising, and not surprising at all, the way that makes Saz feel.
“Is this actually happening?” says Viva. “Have I missed something?”
“Yep,” says Saz. She doesn’t look at Holli. “Definitely going to shag.” She turns to Amber, clarifying, “You don’t have to watch, though. I’d prefer if you didn’t.”
“You don’t have to have sex with Saz just to prove you’re not homophobic, Holli,” Viva says. “Like, you definitely don’t have to do that.”
Holli ignores her. “Let’s be very clear that this is a pity fuck, yeah? Because I am a fucking excellent friend.”
“Oh, you’re a fucking marvellous friend,” Saz says, bristling because ‘pity fuck’ stings a bit. “Really kind and sensitive, yeah?”
Holli squares up to her. “Well, I guess you’ll find out how sensitive I am!”
“Guess I will!” Saz says, and then they stare at each other, nostrils flaring.
“Great!” says Amber.
Once they’ve decided on this totally reasonable course of action, they have to sort out the logistics.
“We definitely can’t do it at mine,” says Saz.
“Well, we’re not doing it at mine,” Holli says. “Not unless you want an audience.”
They’ve established that Saz doesn’t want an audience.
“Rocky’s having a party on Friday,” says Viva. “I mean, that’s what I heard.”
“I heard it was at your flat, Viva,” Amber says helpfully.
“Three days,” says Holli. “It’s on. Should be just enough time for you to shave your legs.”
“Oh, I’m going to wax them,” Saz says heatedly. “I’m going to wax them all the way up my thighs!”
“Aww, that’s dead romantic,” says Amber.
As it turns out, it’s not even really a party, but Viva’s dad’s let Rocky use the flat as part of one of their bizarre father-substitute bonding rituals while he and Bitchcock take the baby away visiting for the weekend. Saz really doesn’t care enough to find out the details. She would have thought maybe Viva’s dad and Bitchcock would have learned a lesson about giving them the run of the place, but she’s not complaining; she’s got a lot of fond and sweaty romantic memories of this flat.
So it’s the four of them, and Rocky, and the tube of Pringles Rocky bought, and some cans, and some blue WKD, and Amber texting Brandon. A quiet one, and Saz doesn’t want to drink too much anyway, because if she throws up on Holli while they’re shagging she’ll never hear the end of it.
All told, she lasts about ten minutes of awkwardly charged sofa-sitting before she tugs Holli into Bitchcock’s bedroom, Bitchcock’s bedroom that she shares with Viva’s dad, door clicking firmly shut behind them.
They stare at each other.
“So, are you into any weird stuff? I’m just asking because you’re such a freak,” Holli clarifies.
“Fair enough,” Saz says. She can see the edge of Holli’s bra over her vest top. “Um, no. I don’t know. I haven’t done anything with girls, have I? What counts as weird?”
Holli shrugs. “I was going to bring some vegetables, just in case, but we didn’t have any vegetables.”
“Probably for the best.”
They move towards each other, have been moving towards each other. There’s a second where they could probably back down if they wanted to, jump up and down on the bed making sex noises and let the others think what they like, but Saz doesn’t want to, is the thing. Now that they’re here, she wants to do this with Holli, wants to fucking have sex with her, and judging by the way Holli’s curling her hand around the back of Saz’s neck, pulling her in, she feels the same way.
They kiss, and Amber was right: it is different.
Holli’s mouth is wet inside, and her lipgloss is tacky, and it’s so good, and when it ends Saz bites gently at the stud above Holli’s lip, licking around it before she pulls back.
“Weird,” Holli says into the space between their mouths.
“Well yeah, but do you like it?”
“Yeah,” Holli says, and pulls her top over her head. In just her bra, her tits are what an impartial observer might call ‘generous,’ and what Saz would call ‘fucking lovely.’
They kiss again, the best snogging Saz has done for ages, getting so into it that they fall sideways onto the bed.
Saz swings her leg over so she can straddle Holli’s hips, rediscovers that friction is a truly beautiful thing. They keep kissing and kissing, and the longer Saz spends with Holli underneath her, the more she has this pressing urge to get Holli’s leggings off.
Right, Saz thinks. Fingering.
When she slips her fingers under Holli’s waistband she doesn’t say, You feel so good, she says, “Oh, you’re wearing knickers.” It’s probably her tone of surprise that makes Holli whack her in the arm and say, “You calling me a slag?”
“I don’t know, probably?” Saz says. Her arm’s likely going to bruise but she doesn’t really give a fuck at the moment. She can feel how wet Holli is, her fingers sliding in it. “Did you really beat up three Year Nines for calling me a lezzer?”
“Can you not ask me that right now?”
She’s never seen Holli like this, the way she closes her eyes, the way she rolls her hips up. Holli grabs Saz’s wrist when Saz does something she likes, and Saz goes with it even though her hand is starting to ache, keeps going until Holli comes with the familiar shuddering breaths of a girl who’s grown up with too many siblings.
Holli’s afterglow lasts about thirty seconds before she’s pushing Saz onto her back, helping her kick out of her jeans.
Saz had made it most of the way up her thighs before she ran out of wax, a bit higher on the right than the left, but for once Holli doesn’t even mention it, just runs her hands up Saz’s legs, all the way up. She rubs over the damp patch on her knickers where Saz is wet from fingering her. “Dirty,” she says, smirking up at Saz from between her legs.
And then Holli goes down on her and Saz can’t keep quiet, not even a little bit.
Afterwards, when they’re both lying on their backs staring up at the ceiling, Holli says, “Sorry I sort of said we were going to shag without asking you first. And that I called you a bummer. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
“I can sort of understand why Morgan would send you those letters,” Saz says. “Like, hypothetically.”
“Whatever,” Holli says, and they roll over and go again.
(When Saz pulls down the cup of Holli’s bra and gets her mouth on her nipple, she does find out where Holli’s sensitive.)
In the morning, Holli uses up all the bacon out of Viva’s fridge making them sandwiches. She kisses Saz tasting like brown sauce, which is objectively disgusting, but Saz finds that the feelings in her changing body are surprisingly okay with it.