By seventh period Christine Hitchcock was desperately in need of a cigarette, well beyond the point where she’d kill someone for the nicotine under their fingernails. It was lucky for her that Sister Athena was getting a bit senile. Not only did she forget that she excused Christine to the bathroom every single day, but she never noticed that Christine didn’t come back either. That was the good thing about having nuns for teachers. Generally speaking, they were so old they were deaf, blind, or as crazy as Father Thorulf after he’d tipped back the sacramental wine. This was why Christine was happily inhaling carbon monoxide and contemplating the day she could smoke without the threat of eternal damnation when Jalila Sherman walked in.
Jalila was a genius. Not just the brain of the school, but probably the biggest brain in five states. She also probably shouldn’t have been at a Catholic school, since Jalil was a complete science nerd, and science and religion tended not to walk hand in hand. She seemed fine with leaving the status quo alone and not making the nuns twitch – which was a favorite pastime of Christine’s. In essence, Jalila was square, but she wasn’t a rat. Which was definitely a good thing, because damn if Christine was going to put out her cigarette.
Jalila shook her head, dark bangs swinging. “Unlike some people, I came here to use the bathroom for legitimate reasons.” She walked over to the sink and started washing her hands.
Christine smirked. Jalila had a bit of an attitude to her too. Christine liked that.
They couldn’t have been in the bathroom together more than two minutes before somebody else walked in. Pretty unusual. Christine had found that most people going to Catholic schools were disappointingly tight-laced. You think there would be a little more rebellion going around, what with the kitschy uniforms, the strict rules, and the nuns. Nuns were just creepy.
Christine only had to see the short, brown pageboy before she knew exactly who it was – Daveigh Levin.
Now there was a rebel. Christine’s thinks that she might be friends with her if, you know, Christine did the friends thing. Cattiness and backstabbing don’t leave much room for friends. Mostly she just hung out with the other cheerleaders and macked on the football players, where that sort of behavior was de rigueur. Anyway, Christine had heard that Daveigh’s father was in the military or something, which probably explained her violent tendencies and masculine edge.
Daveigh had a split lip. Big surprise there. She was always getting into trouble, mostly with Sender. Sender used to be Daveigh's boyfriend but the break-up had been nasty and the L-word had been tossed around more than once.
When Daveigh saw Christine lounging underneath the window she sneered. It was pretty frightening, actually, with her bloody lip. Christine just smiled. It was nearly reflex after cheerleading.
“Who were you fighting with this time?”
Daveigh shrugged and walked over to the other sink. “Sender. He called me a lesbian again.”
Christine picked at her nail polish. “Aren’t you?”
Daveigh growled. Jalila took a step towards the door.
“If you’re going to fight, let me leave first. I didn’t go through four years of Catholic purgatory to get a black mark on my record now.”
They both ignored her.
“So you didn’t get in trouble?”
“Of course not. Sender hit a girl.”
“Ooh, gotcha. Canon status quo.”
“It was Adriel’s fault,” Daveigh grumbled. “He wanted to take me to Homecoming.”
“What?” Adriel was one of the hottest guys in school. Christine would go with Adriel to Homecoming. Hell, Christine would go with Adriel anywhere he wanted.
“Just to piss Sender off. We’re just going as friends. Because if there’s anyone gay around here, it’s Adriel.”
Well, he was in the drama club.
“You sure you’re not a lesbian?”
Jalila, who had been watching with horrified fascination, took another step towards the door.
“Oh, calm down,” Christine said blithely. “We’re not going to fight. I need Daveigh’s car to get downtown.”
“You want to borrow my car?”
“Of course not. I want you to drive us.”
“Jalila, you’re coming too, of course. We’re bonding. It’s obligatory.
“But – ”
“Last period is with Sister Helen. Fire and brimstone, blah blah blah. Eternal Damnation, blah blah blah. You’re going to Hell, blah blah blah. C’mon. I want a caramel coolata, and there’s a sale on Jimmy Choos downtown.”
Daveigh bared her teeth in the mirror and delicately wiped her lip, “I still hate you. And I’m not a lesbian. Just so we’re clear.”
Christine smiled smugly. “Bitch, no one can withstand the siren call of sugar, coffee, and leather footwear.”
“As the sole voice of reason, can I just say I don’t think this is a good idea?”
Christine pivoted on her heel and leveled Jalila with her very best glare. It was the one thing she’d picked up from the nuns.
“Come on, ‘Lila. It’ll be fun.”
“Famous last words.”
“Oh, shake it up a little. You can’t go through you Senior Year without skipping at least once.”
“I can’t, huh.”
“Nope. You can’t. It’s a rule.”
“An unspoken rule. Like… like other things we do not speak of!”
Okay, the glare wasn’t working. Time to change tactics. Christine pouted. “Please?”
After another lengthy pause Jalila shrugged. “All right. But if you ever call me ‘Lila again I won’t be help responsible for my actions.”
Daveigh’s car was an old convertible with a shitty AM radio. But it was a convertible, and the promise of coffee and designer shoes charged to her parent’s credit card made Christine very happy. She bounced out of the passenger’s side to the admiring gazes of many of the male persuasion.
Jalila and Daveigh were slightly more uncomfortable with the attention.
“Everyone’s staring at us.”
“We’re porn come to life. Of course they’re staring.”
“Thanks. That made me feel loads better.”
“Shut up and enjoy it.”
“Stupid fucking skirts. Why can’t we wear pants?”
“You’re too butch for pants, Daveigh. What’s next? Sister Athena finds you eating out Lakhi in the girls’ locker room after the next field hockey match?”
“Shut up, Chrissy. Not all of us like having boys look at our underwear!”
“Who says I’m wearing underwear?”
Jalila groaned. “Oh God. Don’t tell me these things. Ever. Stop talking, the both of you.”
Luckily, the barista in the coffee shop was more than enough to shut them both up. Even Jalila looked impressed.
“Whoa. He’s a ten.”
“He’s a twelve,” Christine hissed. “What’s his name tag say? Ganymede? How retro is that? Way romantic.”
To call him ‘cute’ wouldn’t even begin to cover it. The same went for ‘handsome,’ ‘hot,’ and even ‘beautiful.’ He was hotter than Adriel. Hotter than Sender – who, despite being an asshole, was pretty fucking hot. But this Ganymede? He made other men look like frogs.
“Can I help you?”
Oh, God. And sound like them too. Spontaneous. Orgasm. Christine sighed. This could only be enhanced by coffee.
Except he was only interested in flirting with Daveigh. Of course. The probable lesbian and definite tomboy. Although from the way she was blushing, the lesbian rumors were probably just that – rumors.
Damn. What a waste of a day. Christine had better be able to find some really expensive shoes to assuage her wounded vanity.
When Daveigh finally wandered back over to their table, looking a little dazed, Christine and Jalila couldn’t help but smile slyly.
“Face is a little red there, champ.”
Daveigh’s blush only deepened. “These ties are ridiculous,” she whispered hotly, pulling at the knot around her neck.
“Makes you look hot.”
“Like I care.”
Christine leaned forward earnestly, her eyes wide. “Judging by the looks the barista’s giving you, you should care. Deeply. Unless of course you really are a lesbian, in which case I promise to let him down gently.”
In a mood swing of epic proportions, Daveigh growled, slammed down her cappuccino, and stalked off, presumably to find Ganymede.
Jalila looked impressed. “Wow. You are good.”
“Piece of cake. Mm. Cake.” Christine looked longingly at the display case. Chocolate, sex, cigarettes, alcohol – she was destined for hell. “I don’t think my diet would stand for it though.”
Jalila half-smiled. “Live a little. What kind do you want?”
Huh. She was easily persuaded too. “Anything that’s pretty much guaranteed to send me into diabetic shock.”
Jalila came back with a piece of strawberry cheesecake, a piece of turtle cake, and something that looked like calories in chocolate form.
Christine picked up a fork with complete satisfaction. “You know, you’re pretty cool.” Jalila had a nice smile, she noticed.
“You’re not so bad yourself.”
“Though I should warn you, anyone who buys me chocolate pretty much automatically gets that label.”
“Do you think we should go look for Daveigh?”
“I’m thinking more along the lines of a new pair of heels and a manicure. Maybe a haircut too. Something a little less high-maintenance.” The long blonde hair was too much of a stereotype. Definitely time to ditch it.
Jalila stacked the plates one on top of the other and set the forks next to each other, just so. “The cheerleaders won’t mutiny?”
“I’ll just have Daveigh beat them up.”
“This was fun,” Jalila said suddenly. “I mean… I thought it was kind of crazy. And stupid. But…”
“Yeah. I have that effect on people.” Wherever Christine is, a party will follow. Or drinking games. Or sex. Or insanity. But it’s always a good time.
“We should do this again.”
“Yeah. Definitely. Seventh period Fridays?”
“As long as we can bribe David into ferrying us around.”
“Oh, I’m sure she’ll have a reason.” An extremely hot, interested, heterosexual reason. Damn it.
“So,” Jalila said casually, holding up one shoe in each hand. “The black ones or the red ones?”
Christine sighed. “Honey, do we have work to do. These? Are smoke stilettos. And these are crimson thongs.”
“Thongs? I thought – Christine…?”
“Oh yeah. Way more shopping to do.” Christine grinned. After a moment Jalila smiled in return.
“I should at least try them on, right?”
“Oh, definitely.” Christine grabbed a pair at random from the shelves. “I’ve got my parents' credit cards too. They have enough money to shell out tuition to St. Brigette’s, they can afford a couple pairs of shoes right?”
“Seems economically sound to me,” Jalila agreed. “Think they have these in brown?”
This was the beginning of something beautiful, Christine was sure.