"Annie, there's been a wardrobe emergency," Britta says seriously.
Annie looks up from her lab bench and gasps. "I'll say," she says, a moment later.
Britta scowls at her. First Dr. Kane insists that everyone - even those with moral objections – has to cut up a dead animal, and then Troy and Pierce get rowdy with their fetal pig guts (and there's no way those guts just happened to hit the one vegetarian in the group squarely on the brand-new thrift store plaid button-up she was wearing), and now Annie is going to slut-shame and body-police her for her own misfortune. She glances down at her breasts, which are kind of jutting out of her tank top.
"It's an underneath-the-shirt-only tank top! It's not meant to be worn alone!" Britta objects. "Also, maybe you should consider not being so threatened by female sexuality, Annie."
Annie makes an outraged sound, then regroups. "And no bra? I suppose you burned it on the way here?"
Britta sighs and does everything she can not to point out to Annie the insidious manner in which contemporary, powerful young women have been taught to scorn and revile feminism, womanism, and the symbols thereof in order to further misogynist political backlash. She has bigger fish to fry.
"Look," Britta says, grabbing Annie by the elbow and drawing her to the edge of the classroom, behind the equipment cabinet. They're starting to attract stares. Or possibly Britta's breasts are. Britta has pretty rockin' breasts, if she does say so herself, but she's not into letting Starburns ogle them in bio class. "Look," she continues, quieter now, "I really need a favour."
Annie gives her a look of pure disbelief. Britta misses the time when she was innocent and naive. If she ever was; Britta can't really remember.
"Please? Look, I don't have anything else to wear, I have two other classes after this one, and I can't go around like . . . like this!" She grabs her breasts and thrusts them toward Annie to punctuate her point, and Annie first flinches away, then glances down again, as if compelled against her will by the power of boobs.
"So . . . you . . . want to borrow a shirt?" Annie asks, still not able to tear her gaze away from Britta's rack.
"Yes!" Britta cries. She drops her breasts and grabs Annie by her shoulders. She leans in and speaks slowly, intensely, two inches from Annie's face. "Do you have a spare shirt in your bag?"
"I have a sweater," Annie says slowly.
"Okay! Go! Go go go!" Britta releases her, and Annie skitters away. Britta peeks out from behind the equipment cupboard, and Starburns, still staring in her direction, gives her a thumbs up. Ulch.
Annie returns a moment later, breathing a little hard even though it's only forty feet to her backpack and back. She's holding a purple cardigan with little embroidered pink roses running up the side.
"Ulch," Britta says. Annie's eyes narrow, and she draws the cardigan back out of Britta's grip.
"Pardon?" she asks.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Britta says. "I meant, thank you, Annie, for helping me with my wardrobe emergency."
"Uh huh," Annie drawls. "Maybe I should make you promise to do something for me before I give you this. Back massages, chauffeur duty, painting my toenails, filing my corns . . . "
"You have corns?"
"Ew!" Annie says. "No!"
"Anniiiiiiiiiieeeee," Britta whines, bouncing up and down on her heels in desperation. Again Annie's gaze swivels downwards, but this time she manages to yank it back up.
"Oh fine," Annie says, handing it over. "But you owe me one."
"Yes yes yes," Britta hisses, pulling the cardigan on over her head.
"Use the buttons! You're stretching it."
"You sound like Jeff," Britta says, muffled, from within the cardigan.
"There!" Britta says, smiling, when her head pokes out the head hole. "Decent?"
"Um," Annie says, "You might want to hunch your shoulders forward a little."
Britta glances down. "Woah. Okay." She hunches.
"Perfect," Annie says, and smiles brightly. "You look cute," she adds, sort of shyly.
Maybe it's the knowledge that Annie is insufficiently in touch with her own sexual power, maybe it's Britta's own deep inner comfort with her body and desires, maybe it's the intimacy of wearing Annie's clothes (the cardigan smells like Annie and bubblegum lipgloss and pencils). Maybe it's just the way Annie smiles.
It's probably the deep inner comfort thing.
Anyway, Britta leans in really fast and kisses Annie's smile where it blooms for her, and she tastes like bubblegum lipgloss and pencils, too.
"You chew on your pencils," Britta says, kind of breathless, when she pulls back.
"I . . . uh," Annie says. Britta cocks her head.
Annie considers, then nods slowly. "Yeah," she says.
"Not feeling any residual culturally instilled homophobia?"
"Not really," Annie says. She smiles again, and this time Britta smiles back.
"Okay," Britta says. She raises her eyebrows and nods her respect. "Good to know." She punches Annie in the shoulder.
When Britta emerges from behind the equipment cupboard, half the class offers wolf whistles and whooooos. Britta raises her hands.
"Calm down, calm down," she says, grinning.
"Hunch," Annie mutters, as she passes by. Britta puts her hands back down immediately and shrugs her shoulders forward.
"All right, get a good look, because barring further pig gut situations I will never wear this schoolgirl cutesy stuff again," Britta announces.
As she takes her seat, Annie sticks out her tongue at Britta.
Britta sticks her tongue out at Annie.
She'll have to think of something to do for Annie to pay her back after all. The toenail thing sounded interesting.