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Third Position

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She likes tight leggings, because Bedelia’s worked hard for her strong thighs and perfect ass, and the whole world should know it. Black boots over top of crocheted socks, soft and gray and all of it complete overkill for mild fall weather. Oversize sweaters, the kind with the necklines that slip down over one shoulder—is she wearing a strapless bra? Is she wearing a bra, at all?

Bedelia pulls her hair back in a tight ponytail, sitting high, ready to pin up into a bun when she hits the barre. Big hot pink Coach tote; pearls on her neck and ears; all her psych books in one arm, highlighter still clipped to her notes.

The whole outfit is planned carefully. She has to leave one hand free for the most important accessory of all—her favorite, more than the boots or the bag or the baubles.

Pumpkin. Spice. Latte.

They give her such shit about it, Will and Hannibal. For the past two years, Bedelia’s thought about breaking up with both of them from mid-September through the start of the new semester. But the three of them just fit, have always clicked and rolled together, in their troupe and in class and at night, high as Hannibal can lift her, endorphins rushed from great sex and good drugs.

But right now, on campus, in the corporate hell of a capitalist coffeehouse, Bedelia steels herself for the onslaught.

“They have a horchata…thing,” Will tells her as Bedelia puts her arm around him, skinny and small.

(“Our wee little man,” Hannibal calls him at night before he kisses Will so hard that Bedelia can’t breathe, either.)

“What’s horchata?” Bedelia jumps as Hannibal sneaks up behind her, wrapping his hands around her waist, like they’re going to do a grande jeté right here in line at Starbucks. “What’s horchata?” she asks again, angling her head to look up at Hannibal.

“A rice-based beverage,” explains Hannibal, “here in North America, at least, where the Mexican recipe is most prominent. As for here here,” and his voice takes on the slightest tone of disgust, “it’s made from low-cost almond milk, second-rate caramel, intolerably sweet syrups, and sprinkles.”

“OooOooOoo,” says Will, wiggling his fingers in a poor approximation of being spooky. “Sprinkles.”

“No worse than a PSL, then.” Bedelia shrugs exaggeratedly, and her shoulder bumps Will’s chin.

“There is far less stigma associated with a horchata frappuccino than with a pumpkinless pie spiced latte.”

“You’re such a pretentious bastard, Hanni.”

Will snorts, drawing one fingertip over the glass case, leaving a smear as he eyes the pastries. “Says the stereotypical poster child for the basic white girl meme.”

It’s okay, though. They can poke as much fun as they want to. Bedelia came armed for battle today.

“You know,” she begins, turning in Hannibal’s arms, reaching out with her free hand to pluck the crochet hook from behind Will’s ear, “I find it interesting that the only people who have an issue with pumpkin spice girls are men. Specifically cis het men, with their ingrained patriarchal notions and knee-jerk response to police how women dress.”

Bedelia bops Will on the nose with the green metal hook, mostly because she can.

“Oh fuck,” Will says after a heavy breath of collective silence. “It’s Thursday.”

Bedelia would have been able to sense Hannibal’s frown from the other side of the quad. “It has been Thursday all day, Will, yes.”

“Beddie has gender studies on Thursdays.”

Hannibal makes a disgruntled noise in the back of his throat. “Fuck, indeed.”

“Only if you boys both behave.” Bedelia doesn’t even try to disguise her preening, simply smirks, and walks up to the open register, and orders exactly what she damn well pleases.