Actions

Work Header

Good Cause

Work Text:

“Augh,” Lizzie moaned, dropping her head back against the couch. “Augh.”

“What’s up, drama queen,” Lydia asked, not looking up from her textbook.

“It’s already starting,” Lizzie said. “Halloween is barely over and Mom is dropping hints of holiday engagements.”

“Well, sis, it’s your fault for getting her hopes up with the whole living in sin thing,” Lydia said, smirking at her.

“She’s been so almost normal,” Lizzie said mournfully. “We’re all out of the house, she loves the new condo and they don’t have to stress about money as much. She even has the grandkitties. Wasn’t that supposed to solve all the problems? Permanently?”

“Sucks to be you, Lizzie B,” Lydia said.

“It does,” Lizzie agreed. “How much longer do you need with that chapter? I need our movie night distraction.”

“Ten minutes,” Lydia guessed. “Get everything set up, hopefully dinner will show up when I’m done.”

Bi-monthly takeout and movie night had begun shortly after Lydia and Mary moved to San Francisco. Mary showed up at least once a month and Jane tried to time her visits to coincide with one, but they were mostly Lydia and Lizzie.

And sometimes Gigi. Almost two years on, and Lydia still wasn’t sure what to make of her. She was nice, and friendly, but there was always a little bit of tension. After all, they had the same bad taste in men. Lydia counted herself lucky that she didn’t come in from Sanditon too often. She knew she should dig a little at that, but then, they were always told not to try to psychoanalyze themselves, right? So no digging.

This week, they were at Lydia and Mary’s. Lydia loved when they kicked Darcy out of his house - Lizzie had finally agreed to move in that spring, and he had the best TV room - and had a sisters sleepover, but she’d had too much work to do this weekend. Speaking of - she slammed her book shut for the night, just in time for the doorbell to ring.

“Got it,” she called to Lizzie. “Get the plates!”

She opened the door and Gigi stood there with her arms filled with takeout bags.

“Ethiopian?” Gigi said sheepishly.

Lydia blinked at her. “Uh, yeah. Is that ours?”

“I got here just as the guy was going to buzz,” Gigi said. “I took care of it.”

“Oh,” Lydia said. “Well, we’ll pay you back. Why are you standing there? This is your place.”

And there was that other bit of tension - Gigi was the landlady who made her life possible. Nothing in their price range had been in a safe neighborhood, and Gigi had been only too happy to rent her place out while she was in Sanditon. No matter how much Lydia whined about it, Mary refused to decline her offer. (“Am I sure this is our only option? No, my degree is totally worthless, I have no idea about money at all.”) Lydia and Mary paid utilities and a nominal rent for a great place. It was great. No digging.

“Gigi!” Lizzie exclaimed. “I wasn’t expecting you!” She hugged her and took the bags of food. “Good thing, too, we have plenty.”

“Sure do,” Lydia said, closing the door behind them. Yay.

It wasn’t that Gigi wasn’t nice, Lydia mused later that night, watching Gigi and Lizzie talk. She was. She was genuinely kind and friendly, with an open smile and she never tried to make Lydia feel like a third wheel. Even now, she’d look over to make sure Lydia was included in the conversation, despite the fact that Lydia was focused on her ice cream and hadn’t said a word since the movie ended. So why did Lydia want to kick her? Okay, no, that was too far. She just always felt weird around her. Uncomfortable. Nervous. Weird things in her stomach.

“I need some of that ice cream, please,” Gigi said. She leaned over and opened her mouth.

Lydia hesitated but fed her a spoonful.

“Thanks,” Gigi said, swallowing. “I know it’s barely November, but you guys, I just can’t deal with another holiday season with Aunt Catherine. Not when she’s already starting up about dates to her multitude of events. If only stupid Sidney hadn’t gone back on our deal.”

“Mom’s already started on me, too,” Lizzie said. “Not just the cow and milk thing, but is Darcy coming to Christmas at the condo this year? Should she have something ready to put in Christmas cards, or if we should send New Years or Twelfth Night cards instead. Why on earth would we send Twelfth Night cards?”

“Oh, that might be my fault,” Gigi said. “I’m sorry, Lizzie, but she asked me about when William’s and my parents got engaged. It was on New Years Day. They always celebrated it, it was kind of a big deal. I guess Twelfth Night is the nearest holiday?”

“Ohhhh,” Lizzie said, looking resigned. “Yeah, that’s probably going to be her thing. Especially since Darcy was going to come to Christmas this year. At least part of it.”

“I have to go to Aunt Catherine’s,” Gigi said glumly. “And hear all about the non-dates and the non-career.”

Lydia frowned as they kept venting, tapping her fingers on her spoon. She had to get over whatever this was with Gigi. Maybe the best way wasn’t to keep avoiding her and hoping she’d forget everything that happened before by the next visit. Maybe they needed to spend a lot of time together. Then she could sit with her feelings and deal, once and for all.

“I’ve got an idea,” she said.

“An idea for what?” Lizzie asked.

“Lizzie, you need something that will distract Mom from the New Years proposal that you won’t let happen,” she said. “And Gigi,” she continued over Lizzie’s protests, “you need something that will distract your aunt from the non-career, and maybe even get you out of Christmas with her.”

“No, wait. Hold on. It’s not that I won’t let it happen,” Lizzie objected. “We both like how things are now, and we’re young. We have plenty of time for marriage and everything later.”

“Whatever, I know you nerds are happy, but you know that Darcy would propose tomorrow if you said the word,” Lydia said, and Gigi nodded.

“It’s true. I know William doesn’t mind waiting, but he’s definitely ready whenever you are,” Gigi agreed. “But what does that have to do with me?”

“Yeah, I’m not seeing the connection either,” Lizzie said, narrowing her eyes.

“Do you trust me?” Lydia asked. She meant it to sound lighthearted, but didn’t quite get there.

“I do,” Lizzie said immediately. She looked wary, but nodded. “I do, Lyd. Really.”

“Good.” Lydia smiled. “Because I totes have this under control.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Ten minute warning,” Gigi called out, knocking on Lydia’s door frame.

Lydia looked up and met Gigi’s eye in the mirror. “Almost done,” she said.

“Wow,” Gigi said, stepping inside. “Lydia, you look fantastic.”

“Of course,” Lydia said brightly, posing briefly. She had found a great gold sheath with sequined swirls at the consignment store that fit perfectly. She took in Gigi’s tailored black dress and inwardly sighed. She was going to stick out so far in this.

“I’m serious, you’re gorgeous,” Gigi said, coming up behind her and tucking her tag in. “I want to go to that store next time you go. I’d love to shake up my style for these things a little.”

“Sure thing,” Lydia said, a little stiffly. She added, reluctantly, “They had a cute tulle skirt dress that would probably be great on you.”

“I’d like to try that,” Gigi said, stepping back. “Are you okay? You can back out of this, you know. It’s all sort of above and beyond for me and Lizzie.”

Lydia shrugged. She was sort of tempted, but she also really wanted to stop feeling uncomfortable every time she saw Gigi. “Whatevs. I get to go to fancy parties and eat fancy things, be the center of attention and help you guys all at once. It’s for a good cause.”

“There’s fancy drinks, too,” Gigi said. “The fancy drinks are very important.”

“Well, then,” Lydia said, standing and offering Gigi her arm. “Let’s go get our fancy date on.”

Gigi was right - fancy drinks were very important in the face of Aunt Catherine’s displeasure. Despite that, though, Lydia found herself having a good time. The food was great, the decor head and shoulders above their old country club’s, and she had to admit, the company was pretty good, too. After awhile, she wasn’t faking her smiles, they were real. She and Gigi made a good team, chatting up and charming Catherine’s investors.

When they got home hours later, Lydia was still feeling good. “I can’t believe you and Lizzie didn’t tell Darce-face about the plan,” she said, cackling at the thought of his face when he saw Gigi’s arm around her waist.

“I assumed Lizzie would!” Gigi said, kicking her shoes off. “I mean, he’s part of this, too, sort of. You’re saving him from Mrs. Bennet on two holidays. I don’t know how it didn’t come up.”

“He was awfully nice about it, once he could speak,” Lydia said. She collapsed on the couch and Gigi followed.

“He was,” Gigi said. “He defended us to Aunt Catherine at least twice.”

“Think you’ll get dis-invited to the rest of the parties?”

Gigi frowned. “I don’t know. She just told me that she’d speak to me this week. Are you up for more?”

“Sure,” Lydia said. “Outside of the glares, it wasn’t bad at all, really.” She’d stood out in her dress, but everyone had been nice.

“It was definitely more fun with you there,” Gigi said. “I never had a date for these before. William and I always went together and he was never really much help. Well, the next one is her annual charity gala, that’s a dressy one. The one after that is Pemberley’s annual holiday party. Lizzie will be there for that one, too.”

“Then comes Thanksgiving at the Bennet condo,” Lydia said. “Third daughter landing a third rich match? It’s gonna blow Mom’s mind. She won’t even be able to think about Lizzie and Darcy.”

“I wish you all would call him William,” Gigi said. “I know a lot of people call him Darcy, but you guys are pretty much family at this point.”

“But he’s such a Darcy,” Lydia protested. “I don’t know. Can I call him Will? Would that drive him nuts? Wills? Willy?”

 

Gigi laughed. “You should probably stick with Darcy, in that case.” She looked at the clock and sighed. “I gotta get sleep. I need to leave for Sanditon early for an afternoon class.” She rolled over and kissed Lydia on the cheek. “Thanks for being a great fake girlfriend.”

Lydia couldn’t hear her leave the room over the rushing in her ears.

Shit. Oh, shit shit shit. She touched her cheek, hand shaking. It was warm. She was blushing. She could still feel Gigi’s lips on her skin and that wasn’t okay.

She mechanically got ready for bed, feeling not quite in control of her body, a little jerky. She stared at her face as she washed off all the makeup. Things were shifting in her brain, falling into place, and she didn’t really like it. Nervous? Weird feeling in her stomach? Awkward tension? Yeah, maybe she’d been hyper focused on school and friends and feeling comfortable in her life, but how had she forgotten how a crush felt?

 

Lydia tossed and turned for what felt like hours, unable to stop thinking about Gigi and putting all of their time together in this new context, until she finally fell asleep. When she woke up, Gigi was gone and Mary was on the couch.

“Good party?” she asked.

“Could’ve been worse,” Lydia said and refused to answer any further questions.

She threw herself into her schoolwork. Lizzie texted a few times, but she ignored them. Gigi called, and Lydia let it go to voicemail. As it turned out, while Aunt Catherine did not approve of another Darcy with another Bennet, she did approve of Lydia’s ability to charm investors. As such, she requested Lydia’s presence as Gigi’s plus one for all remaining parties - apparently she was trying to get backing for a new project and felt Lydia could be useful.

Fabulous.

Gigi tried to schedule a shopping day for the gala, but Lydia refused to commit. She worked ahead in all her classes, trying to avoid thoughts of the next event. It didn’t really work.

Lydia realized it was a lost cause when Gigi showed up to get ready for the party and it turned out that she’d gone on her own to pick up that second-hand dress Lydia had mentioned. Lydia looked at her, gorgeous in midnight blue velvet and tulle, and felt warm all over. Hell.

She drank a lot of fancy drinks that night - not too many, not like the old days at Carter’s - but enough to not second guess touching Gigi’s wrist, waist, hair. Enough to smile and flirt with investors and tip her head against Gigi’s shoulder during a third droning speech of thanks to someone or other. Enough to keep smiling when Gigi would take her hand to introduce her to someone new and not let go of it, or when Gigi would take a loose curl and push it back into place. Enough to get through the night.

When she woke up in the morning, Gigi was already on her way back to Sanditon. There was a sticky note on her door wishing her a good day and good luck on her latest project.

She kept avoiding most of Lizzie’s texts and all the phone calls because she didn’t know what to say. She even backed out of movie night, even though it was Darcy’s turn to get kicked out of his house, claiming a big paper due that Monday. There was, but she’d finished it days ago. She knew she wouldn’t be able to avoid Lizzie at the Pemberley thing, but at least there would be a great big distracting crowd there.

Which there was, but of course they kept running into each other. She was surprised how hard it was to be with Lizzie and not be talking to her. Not that she was ignoring her. But she wasn’t saying anything that mattered, either. Lizzie kept staring at her, and sometimes glaring at her, and it sucked. This was like rolling back the clock a few years and she didn’t like it.

The party, though, that was fun. Even Catherine was almost pleasant - no glares there, at least. They had hired a swing band, and Lydia had found a green lace dress with a super wide circle skirt and a white petticoat to peek out from under it. Every time Lizzie tried to talk to her, Lydia would grab Gigi and drag her to the dance floor. They spent a lot of time dancing and laughing, trying to one up each other with fancy moves that they could almost do.

Lydia wished they could spend the whole night just dancing.

“That’s a lot of drinks for a weeknight, isn’t it?” Lizzie asked, trying to be casual, when Lydia took another ginger beer cocktail from a waiter as they found their dinner table.

Lydia stiffened. “Thanksgiving break, sis,” she said. “Which you knew, ‘cause we’re driving home tomorrow and all.” She turned to Darcy. “Why are you having a work party on a Tuesday, anyway?”

“Thanksgiving break,” Darcy said, smiling at her. “We’re closed until Monday. It’s our tradition to kick off the holiday season before our employees get too busy with their own holiday plans in December.”

“That’s why Aunt Catherine does so many events in November, too,” Gigi added. “She says people donate more early on, before they get tapped out.”

“I hear that you’re Aunt Catherine’s new secret weapon,” Darcy said. “Apparently one of the donors from last week gave a bigger contribution after talking with you. She was very impressed.”

“Better watch out or she’s going to have you going to work for her,” Gigi said with a laugh, resting her hand on Lydia’s arm.

She let Darcy and Gigi drive the conversation, nibbling at her food and avoiding Lizzie’s gaze. She breathed a sigh of relief when dessert was served and dancers started returning to the floor. As if reading her mind, Gigi hopped up and offered Lydia her hand.

To Lydia’s gratitude, she didn’t ask any questions as they danced, just chattered on until Lydia was laughing with her again. Then she dragged her over to a photobooth.

“William promised that there would be better props this year,” Gigi said. “I think he lied.” She slid on a pair of Christmas tree glasses. “Yes?”

“No,” Lydia said, slipping them off. She picked up the pink sequin santa hat and a set of antlers. “Santa baby?”

“Perfect,” Gigi said, taking the hat and setting it at a jaunty angle. She grabbed at something else as Lydia arranged her antlers.

“What’s that?” Lydia asked.

“You’ll see!” She pulled Lydia into the booth and they got themselves in place, tucked in tightly against each other. After the second shot, Gigi hung something small and green from one of the antlers and pointed to it gleefully as the camera snapped. “Mistletoe,” she whispered into Lydia’s ear, and pressed a kiss right at the corner of her lips for the last shot.

Her stomach fluttered and her breath hitched. “Gigi,” she began.

“I know, I know,” Gigi said, barely pulling back. “But we need a record of the best fake holiday relationship ever. Right?”

Lydia didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Right. She tipped her head against Gigi’s before standing. “Of course we do.” She pulled Gigi to her feet and out of the booth to pick up their photos. There was no denying how adorable they were. Or the look on her own face in the last pic.

She quickly stuffed the strip into her purse and flashed a smile. “Looks like the dessert bar is open. Shall we?”

“We shall,” Gigi said, wrapping her arm around Lydia’s waist and leading her off.

The party was winding down when Lizzie and Darcy found them curled up in a corner, Gigi’s legs thrown over Lydia’s, watching a video on Gigi’s phone.

“Oh, good, we found you,” Lizzie said, so brightly it was clearly fake. “Lydia, I had a great idea. Let’s do our sleepover tonight since we missed it on Friday. Gigi can go home with Darcy.”

“But Lizzie,” Lydia said, matching her tone, “All of Gigi’s stuff is at our place.” She stumbled a bit over the last words, but smiled tightly at her sister.

“It’s okay, Lydia,” Gigi said, glancing at her brother. “I have clothes and everything at William’s. I can get my bags when we head to your parents.” She untangled herself from Lydia and stood.

“Great,” Lydia sighed. “Guess we have a plan.”

The siblings separated, Lydia and Lizzie to Darcy’s car and Gigi and Darcy to Gigi’s. The ride home was tense and Lydia stared out the window at the city. She knew she’d made things worse than they had to be by avoiding Lizzie, but she hadn’t known what else to do. She didn’t want Lizzie to comment on her and Gigi, to have to lie or laugh it off. She didn’t want a conversation about any of this, because she didn’t know how to explain it. How do you go from trying to pretend someone doesn’t exist to wanting to be with them all the time? Without letting them know? Tears pricked at her eyes and she blinked hard.

They’d barely gotten the door locked behind them when Lizzie started. “What is going on with you?” she demanded. “You’ve been avoiding me for weeks now.”

“I’ve been busy,” Lydia said defensively. “School, work, all these parties. It takes up a lot of time, okay?”

“No, not okay,” Lizzie said. “You won’t answer any of my calls and you barely text. And then tonight! What have you gotten yourself into?”

“Excuse me?” Lydia asked, stung. “What exactly do you mean by that?”

“You’re hiding something,” Lizzie said. “I don’t know what, but you are lying to me. What did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything!” Lydia cried. “My free time is going towards helping you out, dear sister. Remember? I’m doing all this so Mom will lay off you and Darcy?”

“No.” Lizzie shook her head. “Lydia, why won’t you tell me what’s going on here?"

Lydia pressed her lips together tightly and Lizzie threw her hands up. "Ugh! You can’t just do this.”

“Do what?” Lydia asked. “Try to help you out? Yeah, God forbid, right? I have to be screwing something up.”

“I don’t know!” Lizzie snapped. “What am I supposed to think? You can’t just be all, Oh, yay, sisters, when things are good and then hide away when things go bad. I don’t care what you did, I just want you to talk to me.”

“Because of course I had to have done something,” Lydia said, bitterly. “I can’t just be spending more time with someone else and less time with you, right?”

“With who? With Gigi?” Lizzie shook her head. “It’s been three nights out of three weeks, and one of those nights was with me. You’re not really dating her, it’s not that much time out of your busy life.”

“Oh my God, Lizzie, stop. Just stop,” Lydia said, putting her hands over her ears. “You don’t get it.”

“I don’t know what there is to get!” Lizzie said. “You’re not telling me anything!”

“It’s not fake!” Lydia said, her heart beating fast. “That’s the problem, okay? It’s not fake for me anymore. I want it to be real. I don’t even know how to explain that to myself, how am I supposed to explain it to you?”

“But she’s going to be my sister,” Lizzie said blankly.

Lydia looked at her, shocked silent.

“I mean, some day,” Lizzie amended, flushing. “And you’re my sister.” She frowned, as if she realized how dumb that sounded.

“But that doesn’t make her my sister,” Lydia said, and Lizzie nodded. “Don’t you have anything to say now?” She spread her arms wide, trembling. “You sure had a lot to say before.”

Lizzie opened her mouth a few times, clearly trying to figure out what to say. Lydia raised her eyebrows, waiting, ignoring the nerves in her stomach.

“We can double date?” she finally offered.

“What?” It came out smaller than Lydia intended, but she felt a little breathless. She stared at Lizzie.

“I don’t really understand this,” Lizzie said. “I didn’t think you even liked her, but then you had this plan. I don’t get it, but I don’t need to. That will come. I love both of you, and if you like her, then all I can do is offer double dates.”

Lydia flung her arms around her. And before she could stop herself, she burst into tears. Lizzie guided her down to the couch and squeezed her tightly, until she calmed down again. Once she’d gotten that out, she couldn’t stop the rest.

“I’m so scared, Lizzie,” she said, sniffling. “I like her, I like her so much, and I don’t know what to do with that. People don’t like me for relationships. They like me for fun or for their own purposes and I think I want this to be a relationship. Isn’t that crazy? Crazy Lydia.”

“Lydia,” Lizzie said helplessly, but she didn’t let her continue.

“My therapist said it’s okay to not date if you just don’t want to, but it’s not okay if you’re avoiding it. I told her that I just didn’t want to, but I lied. I’ve been avoiding it. And now I don’t know what to do.”

“I don’t understand,” Lizzie said, frowning. “You said you were choosing to focus on school and friends. You were excited about it.”

“I was,” Lydia said, wiping at her eyes. “I am. But I didn’t turn people down because I wanted good grades. I turned them down because I was afraid of what they wanted and who they’d turn out to be. It’s been two years and he’s still controlling me.” Her voice scaled up in frustration and she hit the couch with her fist.

“Oh, Lydia.” Lizzie scooted closer and rested her hand on Lydia’s arm gently. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“What do I do now?” Lydia asked, feeling exhausted but lighter than she had in a long time. “I feel like I backed myself into a corner and I don’t know how to get out.”

“Well, I don’t know, but my first thought is, Lydia, geez, be honest with your therapist,” Lizzie said, shaking her head.

Lydia rolled her eyes. “Okay, but right now, I’m asking my big sister for advice.”

”Okay.” Lizzie shifted so she was facing Lydia. “You’re worried that you’re going to meet someone new and it will turn out that they aren’t trustworthy. I get that, it’s valid. You’re also afraid of relationships, but what you’re forgetting is that you are good at them and people do love you enough to have one with you.”

Lydia opened her mouth to protest but Lizzie shook her head. “I know it’s not what you mean, but look at the relationship you have with Mary. You really worked on that, after a lifetime of basically just being acquaintances. And look at us. Lydia, I love you. I’m sorry I got mad tonight. I was hurt that you were avoiding me and I didn’t handle it well. And that’s because we’ve both worked hard at our relationship. We’re not just sisters anymore, we’re friends. We’re close friends. You are a wonderful person, loving and kind and we’re all lucky to have you.”

Lydia wiped at her eyes again. “I love you, too, sis,” she said.

“So, Gigi,” Lizzie said, slowly. ”We’ve known her a long time and even if you haven’t been friends, I think you know her well enough to know that she’s not a bad person. There’s never a guarantee that someone won’t hurt you, but I saw you guys tonight, and I know what Darcy has seen. Lydia, you already trust her. I think right now that you need to trust yourself and your judgement. Everything else is already there.”

“Okay,” Lydia said, considering that. “I-okay. So I talk to her? And hope that she doesn’t laugh in my face.” She sat up and frowned. “What if this goes back to being awkward but even worse? Oh, my God, Christmas would suck so bad. We would have to dis-invite her. From everything. Or me.”

“She’s not going to laugh at you!” Lizzie protested, laughing. “I don’t know what she’s going to say, but she’s not mean enough to laugh."

"Unlike you," Lydia interjected.

Lizzie pushed at her. "And you guys were all over each other tonight, I never would have thought you were faking it if I hadn’t known.”

“She’s kissed me twice so far,” Lydia said, settling back. “Not real ones, but not even in front of her aunt. Just for us.”

Lizzie’s mouth dropped open. “She...Lydia. And you’re worried?” She shook Lydia gently. “Where is my confident baby sister? You guys need to talk about this. I think you both might be idiots right now.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Lydia said. “I will. I’m sorry I avoided you. I missed you.”

“I missed you, too,” Lizzie said, hugging her. “Never again.”

“Agreed,” Lydia said. She looked at her phone. “It’s too late for a movie, but can we do an episode of something? Almost like a movie night.”

“I’ll make the popcorn,” Lizzie said, jumping up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lydia spent most of the night considering what Lizzie said and debating when to talk to Gigi. Get as much out of the fake dating as she could? Or see if maybe the rest of the events could be real dates? Her last thought as she fell asleep was that Gigi had always been incredibly kind.

When the Darcys came mid-morning, Lydia was ready.

“I was thinking, how about Gigi and I drive up together?” she suggested. “There’s a consignment store on the way I think she’d like, but Lizzie hates it and I’m sure you would, too, Darce.”

“It’s organized wrong,” Lizzie said, shrugging.

“That sounds fine, thank you for sparing me your shopping adventure,” he said, smiling. “I’ve got your bags in the car, Lizzie, if you’re ready.”

“All set,” she agreed. She hugged Lydia and whispered, “Whatever happens, I’m proud of you for trying.” Lydia squeezed back.

The apartment was quiet when they left.

“Are you ready to go?” Gigi asked, looking uncertain.

“Almost,” Lydia said. She took a deep breath and then shook her head. “Do you want some tea? I need some tea.”

Gigi followed her into the kitchen. “Is something wrong? You and Lizzie seem to have made up.”

“We did,” Lydia said, putting a travel cup under the Keurig dispenser. “We talked a ton last night and we’re cool now.”

“I’m glad,” Gigi said. “Do you want to talk about it? Things were weird last night.”

“Yeah,” Lydia said, offering the first cup to Gigi and starting her own. “I’d been avoiding her for awhile. Ever since we started going to your aunt’s parties, actually.”

“Oh,” Gigi said, playing with her drink. “Was something wrong?”

“Not exactly,” Lydia said. “I was confused, I guess.” She shook her head. “I don’t know what I expected when I suggested the plan, but it wasn’t anything like what this turned out to be.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand,” Gigi said. “Do you want to stop? I mean, Aunt Catherine will miss you, but you already helped me there, and I know it’s going to be a lot harder to shake your mom after this visit. It’s okay if-”

“I don’t want to stop,” Lydia interrupted. “I’ve had way more fun than I thought I would.”

“Oh,” Gigi said, sitting up straighter. “Oh, that’s good. I’ve had fun, too.”

“I like spending time with you,” Lydia said. “I just - I wasn’t expecting for it to seem so real, you know?”

Gigi nodded. “Yeah. I do know. I think we make a good team.”

“We really do,” Lydia said. “But it got confusing, because it seemed like it wasn’t just for show sometimes.” She traced the rim of her cup. “I just wanted to, I don’t know, talk about that. About things like the kiss last night.”

“Oh, Lydia, I’m sorry,” Gigi said, looking distressed. “I never wanted - I thought you were having fun playing, too.”

“See, that’s the thing. I was having fun, but I wasn’t playing,” Lydia said. She felt like a coward with her eyes down, so she looked up at Gigi. Who didn’t look like she was going to laugh or get mad or anything bad, and Lydia tried not to hope too hard.

“I didn’t know, when we started this,” she said. “I was surprised, and I didn’t know what to think or what you were thinking about it. So I’m asking. What do you think about us?”

“I didn’t want to be playing,” Gigi admitted. “God, Lydia, I’ve liked you forever. I wanted to meet you when I saw her videos and I wanted to be your friend after they were done and I wanted to be spending these parties with you, as your girlfriend.”

The words came tumbling out and Lydia could barely believe what she heard.

“I know I shouldn’t have, but I used them as an excuse to touch you like I wished I could before.” Gigi shook her head. “When you played along, I figured you were getting into the spirit of things.”

Lydia brushed a finger gently along Gigi’s hand. “I thought you were trying to trying to sell your aunt on us. Like, I don’t know, Method acting.”

“Well, we were both wrong,” Gigi said, taking Lydia’s hand. “Where does that leave us?”

“I think it maybe leaves us with real dates for Thanksgiving?” Lydia asked, biting her lip. “I don’t know. There’s a lot to talk about. But I would very much like for you to be my for-real date to dinner tomorrow.”

“I would very much like to be,” Gigi said, smiling. She lifted Lydia’s hand and kissed it. “I like the way you think.”

“I am full of good ideas,” Lydia said, leaning in for a real kiss.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Text from Lydia to Lizzie: Leaving now. With my girlfriend. Mom is going to love me best of all now.

Text from Lizzie to Lydia: Had a conversation of my own. I mean, what was holding me back? Can’t let my baby sister be braver than me, after all. Mom may love you best for Thanksgiving, but I’m going to have the New Year sewn up. Sucker.

Text from Lizzie to Lydia: Unless Jane has some news for her? Better make sure she doesn't steal our thunder. See you soon. xx