"This," Jenny says, four weeks after they have met, looking over at Regina on her sofa, Regina with her pale feet tucked under Jenny’s thighs because it’s winter and her heat has gone out again, "this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
Regina just smiles, ducking her head so her hair falls down the sides of her neck. Jenny sort of really wants to touch it. But she doesn’t, which is score one for her recently developed self control. She hasn’t sat on Regina or forcibly braided her hair or inappropriately touched her, all things that she would have done within the first few hours of meeting her, if she were anyone else.
It’s a little disconcerting, but then Regina wriggles her toes, and Jenny rests an arm around her knees and sighs, slightly, happily.
They have known each other for five weeks when Jenny gets a righteous cold, and Regina shows up at apartment with pizza and medication and romantic comedies. This is the day that Jenny decides that is completely, undyingly in love with Regina Spektor. It is also the day that she falls asleep curled into Regina Spektor, fingers gripping her t-shirt.
It’s probably because Regina is the sort of girl that Jenny’s mother expected to have as a daughter, delicate and well-mannered and a little quiet when she’s uncomfortable. If she weren’t so sure of herself, she would probably hate her a little, but Jenny has grown into herself over the years and is inexplicably proud . Her limbs are still clumsy, and her hair is never in place, and she never really learned the concept of personal space, but people love her and she loves them.
(Maybe not as much as Regina, but it’s impossibly to love as much as Regina does. To be loved as much as her.
And, apparently, Jenny should know.)
Jenny doesn’t sing for Regina, not when they’re alone, but she does write embarrassing amounts of songs for her. They’re not love songs, mostly because Jenny’s love songs tend to have a general fuck you message (and not in the good way). She’s a little afraid that if she wrote love songs to Regina that they would sound vaguely like Air Supply, and she’s not willing to risk that, so.
She writes vague lyrics and has every message that Regina has ever left on her answering machine in a box under her bed.
"I don’t think we would. . .collaborate very well," Regina murmurs, one day, blinking up at Jenny from across her kitchen table. They have been writing songs and drinking hot cocoa spiked with cheap vodka, and Regina has a streak of something that is either ink or chocolate on her cheek, and Jenny is this close to removing it. With her tongue.
"Oh?" she murmurs, lacing her hands in her lap. Regina smiles, a flash of white teeth.
"We would never be able to concentrate," she says, warmly. "You would go off in some completely different direction, and I would be lost, and then, then we would end up eating tacos and watching reruns of Buffy or something."
"That’s. . .probably true," Jenny concedes, amiably. "We could make beautiful music together if it weren’t for my having the attention span of a hyperactive ten-year-old."
"A lovable hyperactive ten-year-old," Regina replies, and their bare feet brush under the table, and Jenny bites her lip and blushes and murmurs something intelligible before she runs for the bathroom to learn how to breathe again.
When Jenny gets drunk, she pretty much behaves exactly how she does sober, just with even more emotive performances on bar tables. When Regina gets drunk, she, impossibly, becomes even more adorable.
They have come home from a concert by a band they have already forgotten the name of, and they have both had a few too many drinks after a few too many men bought them, probably in order to loosen Regina’s inhibitions and steal away her maidenly virtue, which did not amuse Jenny. It’s working out more to her benefit now, though, because Regina has lost most of the use of her limbs and is clinging to Jenny’s neck, softly singing into her collarbone. She thinks it might be the Beatles, but the words get muffled between her skin and Regina’s lips, so she’s sort of distracted by that whole thing, as well as walking successfully and remembering where her apartment is at the same time.
A vague, random voice in the back of her head tells her that her bag is not on her shoulder, which points to a very stealthy mugging or her having left it back at the bar, but she can’t make herself care.
"Jenny," Regina whispers, and Jenny recognizes these steps so she stops and nods. Regina giggles. "Jeeeeenny."
"That is my name," Jenny says, considering how to get into her apartment building without a key, and she then realizes that Regina is no longer hanging on her. She looks down. "Oh, fuck, what. . ."
"Jeeeeenny," Regina croons. "Come sit with me."
Jenny sighs and lets herself be tugged down and leans heavily against her, breathing close to her check until Regina turns her head and smiles, and then Jenny’s brain short circuits as their lips touch once. She should pull away. She knows she should pull away. Her head is screaming very clearly for her to pull away, but her fingers are pressing into the skin of Regina’s thigh, and there are hands in her hair, and two minutes later Regina has fallen asleep against her shoulder, anyway.
Jenny wakes up with her face pressed into Regina’s throat and the worst headache, oh shit ever, and it takes her about six minutes to realize that they’re still outside her apartment building. She groans deep in her throat and pushes away from Regina, squinting up into the sunlight as the door behind them opens.
"Did you forget your key again?" a man asks, and he might be one of her neighbors, but she’s not sure she can really process names right now.
"Die," she murmurs, "die, die."
"You’re pleasant in the morning," he says, but he leaves the door opens, and Jenny makes a note to bake him cookies or not wish death upon him anymore or something.
She nudges Regina with her elbow until she hears her make a small noise and cracks her eyes open.
"Where am I?" she whispers, and Jenny laughs hoarsely.
"We were homeless for a night."
"Oh," Regina says, like she’s not really surprised, and she lets Jenny pull her to her feet and drag her up the stairs to her apartment to sleep for the rest of the morning. She leaves Regina in her bed and goes to sleep on her sofa, ignoring the pain in her lower back that tells her she’s getting too old to be sleeping outdoors.
After Regina leaves later that night, Jenny calls Bess and tells her to put her on suicide watch, then yells at her when she laughs into the phone.
"No, seriously! I’m going to, like, ritually impale myself on my guitar or something, you fucker."
"Right," Bess says. "Why, exactly?"
"Forbidden love," Jenny replies, forlornly, throwing herself backwards onto her sofa and makes a small, dead noise. "Things that will never be. Overdosing is overly. . . disgruntled rock star, too brilliant for this world, isn’t it?"
"Why don’t you just write a power ballad instead?" Bess suggests. "Ooh, or go the John Cusack route. Do you have a boombox? Will someone shank you for playing Peter Gabriel in the city at night?"
"You are the least helpful person I know," Jenny replies, then adds: "I don’t love you anymore."
"Go propose to Regina," Bess says and hangs up on her. Jenny drops the phone and stares at it in horror. Bess is beyond perceptive, she thinks. Bess can read minds.
When her phone rings a few days later, Jenny expects someone harassing her to get out of her apartment, or maybe someone asking her to do her job and sing to someone other than the stray cat who lives on her fire escape. Oddly, she doesn’t expect Regina, even though she’s been ignoring her for two weeks.
"I want food," Regina says, before Jenny can say hello. "Will you meet me somewhere?"
"I," Jenny says.
"Please?" Regina cuts her off, and Jenny can tell that she’s smiling into the phone, and she knows very well that, despite all her advances against it, Jenny’s parents raised her polite. She can’t resist a please.
"Chinese?" she suggests, after a long pause, and Regina makes a happy, affirmative noise.
Jenny is so, so screwed.
They are eating an awkward dinner in a tiny Chinese restaurant in the basement of an apartment building, with mood lighting and loud music. Jenny sits cross-legged in the booth and doesn’t say anything when Regina sits next to her, just moves over to lean against the wall. Her skin feels like it’s too tight, and she thinks she might burst if Regina touches her.
"Are you avoiding me," Regina asks, into her rice, "because we kissed?"
"I think I was avoiding you," Jenny replies, carefully, "because I didn’t want to answer that question."
"Oh," Regina murmurs, then looks around with wide eyes for a moment. When she seems satisfied with whatever she was looking for, she turns around on her knees and bends down to slide small fingers over Jenny’s jaw. "Tell me to stop?"
". . .no?" Jenny replies, and Regina fucking smiles while she kisses her, it’s ridiculous, her lips curving against the corner of Jenny’s mouth. Jenny sighs against her skin and pulls away. "We should go. Yeah, yeah. . .we should definitely go."
"You of all people discouraging public displays of affection," Regina says, but she pulls rumpled bills from her pocket and leaves way more than she needs to on the table, taking Jenny’s hand and pulling her towards the staircase. On the street, she doesn’t let go, and Jenny laces their fingers together and pulls so their shoulders are brushing and smiles at everyone, everyone.