The bell above the door chimed tinnily, and Feferi looked up from the client's hair she was combing to say, "Vris, can you get that?"
"What? Feferi, can't you see I'm busy?" Vriska stuck the lollipop back in her mouth and swiped the polish brush across her next toenail perhaps a little more viciously than necessary.
"Well I'm busy too, and -"
Kanaya sighed a long-suffering sigh, and cut across their bickering. "I'll get it."
She heard the squabbling start up again behind her as she made her way towards the front of the shop. It was only half past eleven on Monday morning, and she could already feel an impending headache weighing on the back of her eyes. Coming up behind the desk, she cleared her throat softly and said, "Can I help you?"
The woman was standing with her back to the desk. In silhouette against the sunlit blinds of the door, she was a slender, willowy figure, tall and graceful. She had needle-straight blonde hair which fell to just below her shoulderblades. As she turned, perfectly poised like a dancer, or a martial artist, Kanaya caught her breath. Dark-outlined eyes regarded her coolly, a black-lacqueured mouth making a moue before crooking into a half-smile like a crochet hook and saying, "Yes, I think so."
She let the silence hang for a moment, two moments, too long, and then Kanaya pressed, "You would like your hair done, then?"
She raised one eyebrow. Kanaya mirrored the expression. The woman let out a soundless breath of laughter. "Yes. My hair. Of course."
"Of course," Kanaya said distractedly. Her skin was exactly the colour of birch bark. "Ah... right this way, please."
It was not exactly the colour of birch bark. Along the cheekbones and brow it took on the colder tint of polished bone, and below the cheekbones it had the faintest touch of pink, like apple blossom. Her jawline was gilded with a hint of warmer colour. The dimple below her lower lip was darker too, like it was dusted with cochineal. As Kanaya washed her hair, letting her fingers brush a little too firmly across her scalp and along her hairline, she kept her eyes mostly closed. Once or twice they flickered open, butterfly-wing motion, and she met Kanaya's gaze, a smile hooking her mouth again.
It was a good smile: confident, sardonic, touching the edges of her eyes just enough to look mischievous. Kanaya could feel herself blushing and the corners of her mouth moving upwards of their own accord. She felt an idiot. Her hands seemed too thick, clumsy, compared to the hand with which the woman held the towel closed at her bare throat, index finger stretching out absently to brush across the ridges. "You have beautiful hair," the woman said suddenly, making Kanaya start. "Um. Thank you." She moved a hand up to pat at the flicking ends self-consciously. "You have lovely hair yourself," she went on suddenly, too boldly, "but I think short hair would suit you too. You have a beautiful face." The woman breathed her soundless laugh again, and regarded Kanaya levelly for a long moment. In the low light of the back room, it was impossible to tell the colour of her liquid eyes - grey, maybe. Lustrous, certainly. "Perhaps I'll try it."
Silken snakes of hair coiled on the floor.
Kanaya held her breath as the woman examined herself in the mirror. She fluffed the ends of her hair - which now ended just below her earlobes - and declared, "I like it." And, catching Kanaya's eyes in the mirror, added no less firmly, "Thank you."
She couldn't resist cupping the woman's elbow lightly to lead her out into the front, and as she was about to go, said with her heart in her mouth, "If you ever want to - come back - I mean, if you want your hair done again - just ask for Kanaya."
"Kanaya," the woman murmured. To Kanaya's shock, she reached out, grasped her hand, and bent to delicately lay her lips to the back of it. Everything stood still. Kanaya felt her warm exhalation across the skin and then she looked up and Kanaya realised her eyes were not grey but a shade of blue so delicate it would almost better be called lavender. She said, "It was a delight to meet you, Kanaya. My name is Rose."
After the door had rattled shut behind her - behind Rose - Kanaya half-collapsed against the counter. She pressed the back of her hand to her own lips, and barely shaped the word in her mouth. "Rose."
(Behind the potted shrub, Vriska leaned to whisper to Feferi, "Someone's in loooooooove..."
Feferi pinched her arm to shut her up.)