The thing is, Kat really thought she was straight. For years, because she didn't wear a lot of plaid and, really, Mandella was hot enough in a vaguely Goth way that if she wanted to, she would have at least thought about it, right? Plus, when she left for school, she had Patrick, who was enough that she wasn't really thinking beyond him for…awhile.
But phone calls and email just didn't cut it. They saw each other at Christmas break and broke up then. Kat was already in women's studies courses, was already talking to professors about grad school. Patrick told her he just couldn't follow her.
Then Kat started to notice that Sarah Lawrence had a lot of girls who, well, liked girls. Bisexual girls - women, she'd correct herself, though no one seemed that old - lesbians, people who refused to pick a label. Lots of them.
That was how she ended up making out with Jennifer Jacobs the day before the end of spring semester, desperately gasping and rolling around in Jennifer's bed. But they didn't go beyond that, and then Kat went home and realized what she'd done, which was something bigger than even Joey Donner, and something she had to hide from Dad and Bianca.
She managed it, though, and now it's the start of a new year, and she's moving into a new dorm. She thinks she'll find a guy to date, someone who doesn't mind the women's studies stuff and who doesn't feel threatened by Kat being smarter than he is. There have to be guys like that around, right?
She puts the bin she's moving down and fiddles with her keys, opening her dorm room. She barely gets inside before she's blinking at the middle of the room. It's not huge, but it's not tiny, either. That's good, because there's a girl with long, dark hair doing a handstand in the middle of it.
"Excuse me," Kat says, setting her bin down with a thump.
"Oh, hey." The girl does a complicated-looking turn before setting down upright. "Missy." She sticks out her hand.
She looks…aggressive, Kat thinks. And pretty young. "Are you a first year?" Kat says. She doesn't shake her hand. That's kind of a weird thing to offer.
"As God made me," Missy says. "Or the devil, whoever. How 'bout you?"
"Ooh." Missy smiles, long and slow. "You can corrupt me." She climbs up to her loft, easily and acrobatically.
Kat doesn't know what makes her add, "I like girls. By the way. And guys."
Missy's focused on a book now, and barely glances up at Kat. "You can eat as much pussy as you want, man, just hang a sock on the door or something," she says.
Kat makes a face, but - okay. Right. She shoves the bin over to her side of the room and goes back downstairs. She's not, technically, parked legally; student parking is across the street. She needs to unload, and not think about how student housing could've matched her with someone other than a first year who does handstands in their room.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, obviously. But generally - generally, Kat's learned in her year at school, it's nice to have low-key roommates. "Um, hello," she thinks of Bianca saying. "Because you are, like, more than enough drama for one person."
She misses Bianca, she thinks, putting two duffel bags crossed over her shoulders and tottering over to the service elevator.
But at least Missy knows about Kat's…thing. And it doesn't seem to bother her. So that's good.
Kat was never this nervous on the first day of high school. Then again, this isn't just school; this is her whole life. So it makes sense, she thinks, hitting the button for the fourth floor. It definitely makes sense.
"So where you from?" Missy says as Kat unpacks. Kat's nervousness has faded, mostly, but it spikes again when Missy throws out questions like they're small attacks.
"Seattle," Kat says.
"Woman of few words, huh?" Missy pauses. "I'm from LA."
"You don't sound like it," Kat says before she thinks better of it.
"Yeah, well, I moved around a lot." Great; now she sounds defensive. "Anyway, we had all kinds of freaks in LA. You can dyke it out all you want, don't worry about it."
"That's not exactly a good word to use if you're being welcoming," Kat points out. "The language of heterofascism -"
"Whoa, whoa." Missy laughs, holding her hands up. "Damn, they warned me this school might be like this."
"What are you trying to say?" Kat says, tilting her head.
Missy rolls to the side so she's looking at Kat straight on. "Calm down, Judith Butler. I'm not gonna be the master's house or whatever. I just don't go in for all that, you know, rhetoric."
"Right." So Kat's roommate assignment sucks. That's good to know. She pulls out her Discman and puts Cat Power in it, turning her way up. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Missy snort and lie back on her bed.
Kat gets busy putting posters up. She has friends at Sarah Lawrence. It's not like she needs another friend, she tells herself, especially not a freshman.
Missy goes out for freshman orientation that day, and Kat goes to band practice. It's their first back from summer break, and they're probably rusty. She brings her guitar to their practice space, a crappy little loft that they rent by the hour.
Carrie's already there, unloading her drums from her car. "Kat," she says. "Help me out?"
Kat nods and grabs one of the skins. "How was your summer?"
"I volunteered in Venezuela," Carrie says. "It was a great experience. I feel like I really reached some people, you know? I mean, I was building houses, but I was also imparting feminist ideology to those in need. I feel so fulfilled."
Kat tamps down jealousy. It's ridiculous. There's no reason to feel like that. "I'm happy for you," she says. She pulls her guitar out and plugs it in as Carrie starts setting her drums up.
"What did you do?"
"Stayed at home," Kat says. "Family, you know."
"Sure," Carrie says. "Especially with the absence of your mother, you're the oldest sister, so being a stand-in matriarch during the summer makes sense."
Kat's not even going to touch this. "Right," she says.
Jen gets there, and then Stevie, whose voice is as scratchy and riot-grrl appropriate as ever. Kat almost got into a fight with a girl at a bar who claimed riot-grrl was over. It's not, and even if it is, Purring Puss is going to punch through that.
They scream their songs for two hours, and then hang out and talk about their summers. Eventually the conversation turns to the beginning of the semester, though, which leads to Stevie saying, "So who's your roomie?"
Kat blinks. "Excuse me?"
"Come on," Stevie says. "We've all been dishing on our roommates. So what's the deal with yours?"
"Oh, nothing." Kat forces a laugh. "I mean, something. She's a complete gonna-wash-out, I have no idea how she even got in."
"Mrow," Carrie says.
"Cat fight jokes, not cool," Jen says.
"I'm right, though." Carrie rolls her eyes. "Kat is buying into the patriarchal hegemony so hard right now."
"I just don't like her." Kat raises her eyebrows. "And I don't like this conversation, so it's over."
She stews on it as she drives back to her dorm. It's not a big deal, really, she thinks. Missy's obnoxious, but Kat hardly even spent time in her dorm room last year, and she assumes this year will be more of the same. She doesn't have to pay any attention to her.
She keeps thinking that until she walks into SCI 204, The Science of Criminal Investigations, and Missy's sitting there, along with a bunch of other people Kat doesn't recognize. Even then, though, she tells herself it's not a big deal. Because it's not. It's only a big deal if Missy -
Makes it a big deal, by saying, "Hey, girl," and patting the stool next to her.
Kat very seriously thinks about dropping the class, before she reminds herself that a science class is a requirement and she can't just not do it. She forces a smile and goes to sit down at the lab table. "Hey," she says, dropping her messenger bag on the floor.
"Fancy seeing you here," Missy says with a wide smile.
It's not a welcoming smile. It's a smile that makes her look like a shark, albeit a very pretty, provocatively dressed one. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were trying to impress someone," Kat manages to say. "Most students don't take chem until their second year. Unless they're science students."
Missy raises her eyebrows and fakes shock. "You think I can't be a science student?"
"I never said that."
In retrospect, replying so quickly might have been a mistake. Missy snorts and says, "Well, no need to freak out. I just waited a little too long to register. And it's a required class. How hard can it be?"
"You'll learn not to ask that question," Kat says, before realizing she sounds like a complete asshole.
"Right. Because you're so old."
"I have a year of school -"
"Ooh." Missy flutters her eyelashes. "I'm so impressed. Teach me how to tango, Professor Kat."
It's so ridiculous Kat would laugh, if everything about Missy didn't drive her so crazy. "Very funny," she says, "Look, I -"
"Okay," Professor Long says. "I think we can get started."
"The person next to you will be your lab partner for the semester, so I suggest you introduce yourselves."
"Chemistry is a science with a rich and varied history. In medieval times…"
Kat pays attention after that. She does. But Missy's a fidgety type, and Kat keeps getting distracted by her doodles, which are in no way notes on the brief lecture about chemistry and the review of the syllabus. She should be nervous, Kat thinks with irritation. This is a Monday class at eleven AM - she probably hasn't had a class before this. When Kat walked into Intro to Feminism as a first year, she was so nervous she felt like she was going to shake her way out of her shoes. But Missy's just sitting there, looking so over it all - and at least one woman near them has checked her out.
That probably shouldn't irritate her, but it does. Missy's - God, she's annoying.
Kat leaves as soon as class lets out. If Missy tries to follow her, Kat doesn't know it; she makes a beeline for the lounge that tends to have older students in it, leaving Missy to fend for herself.
But of course, Missy doesn't just drop it. Kat gets dinner with Carrie, but walks back to her dorm alone. When she gets there, Missy's eating soup in her pajamas. She looks so comfortable that Kat kind of resents her for it.
"Hey, girl," Missy says.
"Please tell me you don't embrace misogynistic diminutives."
"Only when people hate it." Missy grins. "So, chem looks like it'll be pretty easy. And educational, if I ever have to whack someone."
Kat rolls her eyes. "They're teaching us how to investigate crimes. The bare bones of it. And you're getting the potentiality to get away with murder from it?"
"What, aren't you?"
"Not particularly." Kat sits down at her desk. "Are you going out tonight?"
"What's it to you?"
"I have to make a phone call."
"Phone sex with the boyfriend?"
"No!" Kat glares at her.
Missy holds up a hand. "Calm down," she says. She's smirking really unattractively. "I can clear out if you need me to, no big. Thirty minutes in the student lounge okay with you?"
"That's fine," Kat manages to say.
"See you, then." Missy grabs her computer and shoves her feet in some slippers. She looks ridiculous as she pads out of the room.
"Thank God," Kat mutters, and grabs her phone. She calls Bianca, tapping out her line's number so quickly she almost skips one or two digits.
"Hello, this is Bianca."
"Thank God," Kat says. "Do you even let Cameron answer your phone?"
"Um, hello, am I stupid? Of course not. And no, he's not here. So what's up?"
"I just…called to talk."
"Right, that's why you sound like you're being chased by a mountain lion. Come on, Kat. Spill. Did you try to get back together with Patrick again?"
"I did that one time."
"And believe me, once was more than enough."
Kat sighs. "It's not that. I just have a new roommate, and she's -"
"Okay, okay, misogynistic language, I know. But you sound like you're finally living with someone as impossible as you used to be."
"Used to be?"
"Only you would take that as an insult. You know what I mean."
Kat does, with the distance away from high school she has now. "Kind of, I guess. She wears leather and smirks all the time, and her slang is ridiculous. She says she's from LA, but she sounds like she's from Boston."
"So she's a mysterious badass?"
"An annoying one, maybe."
"Uh-huh." Bianca sighs. "God, you are so dense sometimes. You know you don't have to be friends with your roommate, right?"
"I know, I just -"
"So don't be. And don't tell me you haven't been talking to her, or glaring at her, because I know you and that is so your style."
"It is not." Except for how it is.
"Um, except for how it is."
Kat smiles in spite of herself. "Okay, fine. You got me. I know, and I'll try to leave her alone. Thanks."
There's a moment of silence, then Kat says, "And yes, you can babble about Cameron now."
The rest of the half hour is full of Bianca talking about Cameron taking her sailing and how they're going to see if they can get into college together. It's cute, even if Kat is a little worried she's going to be going to Bianca's wedding when she herself is still bitter and single. She thought maybe she and Patrick - but that's a thought she's not going to pursue.
"I have to go," Kat says when she sees Missy opening the door. "I'll talk to you soon, okay?"
"Totally. And again: ignore, ignore, ignore. I know it's hard for you, but practice is probably good."
"I know," Kat says. "Bye."
"Love you too, sis. Bye."
"How's the homestead?" Missy says.
Kat turns on her computer and turns away from Missy. "It's fine," she says, hoping her tone gets across how thoroughly she isn't interested in talking.
Apparently it's successful, because after that, Missy falls silent. They don't talk for the rest of the night, even though Missy's typing furiously.
Kat goes to bed early. She half expects Missy to deliberately keep her awake, but after maybe fifteen minutes of being on the computer, Missy closes it and goes to bed herself. Kat feels…she can't even really quantify how she feels, actually, except for "weird". She feels weird, and generally uncomfortable with everything.
She needs to sort it out. She's not going to be that person who causes a war between herself and her roommate. That level of drama has never been her style, and it's definitely not going to be now.
So the next morning, she more or less ignores Missy. She doesn't give her the silent treatment, but she also doesn't criticize her or glare at her, which she can admit she's been doing the past few days. It's made easier by Missy leaving early in workout clothes. She's that type of person, Kat guesses; Kat herself avoids the gym and just goes running outside sometimes.
Kat has class - Christianity in International Context - and band practice, so she's out pretty late. Band practice is good. Stevie's cousin might have a gig for them soon. Kat privately thinks it's a pity they can't play a real show, but she's not going to bring that up. It's not like they're really intent on getting that far off the ground. They're all focused on school as much as on shredding against the patriarchy.
When she gets back to her dorm, Missy's talking on the phone. Kat catches, "- plenty of people, I know, and it's not like they're going to be like in San Diego. I know, I know." She rolls to the side and sees Kat, then says, "I'll talk to you later, okay? Bye."
Kat tries to casually take off her coat and go over to her desk.
"You love that desk, huh?"
Kat presses her lips together. Politely ignoring Missy would be so much easier if Missy didn't constantly poke at her. "I can't really work anywhere else," she says. "I need a desk or a table of some sort."
"Cool," Missy says. "How was class?"
"Don't rush to tell me everything at once," Missy says. "Well, I signed up at a gymnastics school. Might see if I can get into martial arts. My brother Cliff says I don't need any other excuses to be deadly, but after a year of cheerleading -"
"You were a cheerleader?" Kat says in spite of herself. She just really can't see it.
"Shocking, right? But I was. Second nationally and everything."
Kat shakes her head.
"You can talk shit on the patriarchy if you want," Missy adds.
"Women's studies -"
"Doesn't just do that, I know, I know." Missy waves a hand. "You're not actually the only person I've talked to at this school, you know."
"I figured you'd be making friends."
"I am, thanks for your concern."
Missy sounds weirdly acerbic, but there's no way Kat's going to interrogate her for more details. "That's good, then," she says, and opens up Microsoft Word. She already has a paper due in a week, and she's determined to stay on top of things.
She goes out to their neighborhood Irish bar with Carrie the next night. Going out isn't really a problem, since Dad sends her so much money. She thinks it might be his way of making up for trying to keep her from going to school far away. Eventually she's going to have to get a job, but for now, her situation's pretty good.
Not that any of that really matters. It's just something to think about while she watches Carrie sidle up to a girl with a great ass and -
The girl turns and Kat hisses out a breath. That's Missy.
Before she even really registers what she's doing, she's walked over to them and said, "Missy! I didn't know you went to bars."
"We all have to have something to do," Missy says. "I'm here with some friends." She nods over to a group of kids. Just kids, Kat thinks disdainfully, even though she's only a year older than they are.
She pitches her voice a little lower. "You must have a convincing fake."
"Kat," Carrie says.
But Missy just grins, slow and wide. "As a matter of fact, I do," she says. "Oh, look." She grabs a pitcher of beer and drops a couple bills down on the bar. "Be seeing you," she says, and moves between them, going back to her table.
"Okay, did you cuntblock me for a reason?" Carrie says. She nods at the bartender. "Sam Adams, please."
"I didn't," Kat says. "I was just doing you a favor."
"Um, a favor involving not getting laid."
"That's my roommate," Kat says. "You know, the annoying one?"
"She seemed nice to me. And hot. You didn't say."
"I didn't notice."
Carrie's beer arrives. "Liar," she says. "Come on, someone's going to snipe our table. Order your beer and meet me back there. You obviously have dishing to do."
Kat doesn't think she has dishing to do at all, but when Carrie disagrees, she tends to dig her heels in. Kat sighs, orders her beer, and goes back to their little table.
"I just don't like her," she says as she sits down. "I mean, you can sleep with her all you want, but she's…annoying."
"Maybe I like annoying," Carrie says. "Anyway, you were pretty hostile back there. Has she done anything to earn your ire?"
"No," Kat says. "I mean, nothing specific. She just…bothers me."
"She just bothers you."
"Right." Carrie takes a sip of beer, looking at Kat consideringly. Kat frowns. "What?"
"Nothing," Carrie says. "I forget you're a year younger than me sometimes."
"That hardly matters."
"Sometimes it does." Carrie shrugs. "Anyway, you should go hit on some hot young thing. You clearly need to get laid."
"I don't," Kat says, but it's a weak protest. She still feels strange about hitting on girls in public, though - doubly so when one of her friends is around, because they don't quite get that if she met a decent guy, she'd probably date him, including having sex. But then, Patrick's a hard act to follow, and Kat's not sure what she really wants these days.
"Oh my God," Carrie says. "You sadsack. Go flirt with the bartender. Either bartender. Shoo."
Kat scowls. "Some other night."
"The next night we go out," Carrie says, stabbing her finger at Kat.
"Which hopefully won't be a Wednesday."
"Please." Carrie takes a drink. "We're in college. This is our job."
Kat's not so sure about that, but she knows if she protests Carrie will just give it to her for being a stick in the mud. So they drink beer and talk about Carrie's bell hooks readings - "The second time I've read it," Carrie explains, "but this time we're doing a deep reading, and the discussion is fascinating."
It's a good night, and Kat only glances over at Missy's table a few times. Missy isn't looking at all.
Kat is, unfortunately, still stuck with some gen ed classes. She's taking one on popular culture surrounding the millennium. The first class was fun, aside from the guy who argued that they couldn't study it since it happened less than a year ago. The first paper she has due for it, though, is crawling so much that she spends half of Friday on it.
Missy comes into their dorm mid-Friday afternoon. Kat glances over, and then wishes she hadn't. Missy's wearing tight gym clothes and is slick with sweat. When she sees Kat, she grins and does some move Kat assumes is a martial arts thing. "Kat, what's up?"
Kat returns her gaze to her computer. "Nothing," she says. "Well, essay-writing."
"That blows." Missy grabs her shower stuff and leaves without more comment.
When she comes back, though, she says, "So. You want some help?"
"I doubt you can help me with this."
So Kat explains the course. Missy looks vaguely unimpressed, but Kat privately thinks poli-sci majors shouldn't throw any stones. When she's done, Missy says, "Well, you could focus on the run on bread and booze and stuff. The shelves were cleaned out, man."
"Were you at a party?" Kat says before common sense stops her.
"Yeah. The 'rents were out doing who knows what, but me and Cliff and Torrance -" Missy stops and shakes her head. "Never mind. Anyway, yeah, it was fun."
Kat tries to filter through what she's saying. "So that kind of zeitgeist appeals to you."
"Sure," Missy says. "Who doesn't love the end of the world?"
"Plenty of people, I'm pretty sure," Kat says, but the wheels are spinning in her head. "Okay, yeah. That was helpful."
"Try not to sound so surprised."
"Thank you," Kat says pointedly.
"No prob." Missy pins her wet hair back, going into the closet and shutting the door. "Going out tonight?" she asks through it.
"I have to do this essay," Kat says. "Carrie and Stevie are hitting up a poetry reading, but…"
"Oh, well, that sounds fun." Missy's voice says it sounds anything but. "I figured I'd stay in."
Now Kat desperately wishes she could leave. "Cool," she says. It's an abysmal answer that's the epitome of the non-communicative nature of her generation, but it's also all she can really manage.
Missy comes back out dressed in tight sweatpants and a tank top. And no bra. Kat looks away. "I thought so," Missy says. "Anyway, let me know if you want me to turn the music down or whatever." She plops down in her sling chair and grabs her Discman, cranking the volume up.
Kat's not going to be that person. She's just not. She puts her own headphones on and goes back to working.
It doesn't even occur to her that she's forgotten to eat until Missy plops down a greasy carton of Chinese. "I ordered," she explains when Kat takes her headphones off and looks up at her questioningly.
That's great, Kat thinks. It's great that she's done the one thing that will make Kat feel even more uncomfortable. "Oh."
"Yeah." Missy goes back to her chair. She has her own Chinese and a Word document up on her laptop. Apparently they're both the kind of person who does homework on a Friday night. "Do you just not eat?"
"Hardly ever," Missy says. "Anyway, eat up. The tour guides told us that whole roommate dying, getting all As thing is just a myth."
"Unfortunately," Kat says. She doesn't realize how it sounds until she takes a huge bite of lo mein and Missy laughs.
"You're way more interesting than I gave you credit for."
"Thanks," Kat says.
She means to sound sarcastic, but it comes out surprisingly sincere. Missy grins at her and they fall back into silence.
In the end, she gets her essay done. That's good, because she wakes up at seven the next morning to see Missy getting dressed. "Yoga class at the gym," she says when Kat looks at her questioningly. "Want to come?"
"Nrgh," Kat says.
"Come on." Missy's expression turns mischievous. "I dare you."
Kat is too mature by miles to be fooled by that kind of thing. Dare or no dare, she doesn't really care. It's early, and there's no reason for her to -
"I'm getting up," Kat says, and rolls out of bed.
Missy's eyes slide over her before she looks away. That answers that question, Kat thinks. Not that it matters. Appreciation is one thing, but Kat knows they're too annoyed by each other to want anything else, even if sleeping with your roommate wasn't the worst idea a person could have at college, short of getting alcohol poisoning. So Kat ignores the look and goes to throw on some gym clothes.
It's a short walk from their building to the gym. Missy makes it in silence, but when they're going up to the floor where the classes are held, she says, "We can grab coffee after we're done."
"How long is the class?"
"An hour," Missy says. "But it'll clean your soul."
"I like yoga," Kat says. "I used to do it more."
"Huh. Not surprising, I guess. You're all limbs." With that weird comment, Missy ducks into the classroom.
She makes no effort to sit by Kat, which Kat's grateful for. Ridding her mind of distractions has never been easy for her, despite it being a central component of all the yoga she did in high school and during her first semester at Sarah Lawrence. She settles near the back, spreading out her mat and sitting cross-legged on it, waiting for class to start.
It's not like she's unfamiliar with yoga. She's very familiar with it. But it's been awhile, and the poses they do, and the inner peace they're apparently trying to find, are weirdly almost too difficult for her.
She hides that when the class ends and Missy finds her, though. "How do you feel?" Missy says with a grin. "Better?"
"Oh, yeah. Very peaceful."
Missy snorts. "And bendy, right?"
Her muscles do ache a little. "Well. That too."
"I figured. If you haven't done it in awhile, it can be hard." Missy claps her on the shoulder. "I need a shower, but do you want to get dinner later?"
Kat's pretty sure she should say no. There's nowhere really good that this can go, she thinks, and it's not like she actually wants to spend time with Missy. But when she hesitates, Missy says, "We can go over the first lab we're doing on Tuesday."
Kat can't really turn her down after that. "Sure," she says. "I'll need a shower too, though."
Missy's smile turns - weird. "Absolutely," she says, and they walk back to their dorm together.
It feels weird, Kat thinks. It's not like she's some kind of feral being who's never had a friend, but she's never had a friend like Missy, who - who -
Actually, she can't really think of what, specifically, makes this different. But it's definitely different, she thinks.
They both shower, and then hang out mostly wordlessly. Around six, Missy grabs her messenger bag and says, "Ready to go crunch some numbers?"
"It should be pretty simple," Kat says.
She doesn't realize she sounds like a complete asshole until Missy rolls her eyes. "Well, then, I'll defer to your extensive experience."
Kat feels, awkwardly, like she should apologize - but she's not exactly fond of giving in to her pride. "Right," she says. "Let's go."
Missy makes a beeline for the Mexican, so Kat follows. "Not that this Mexican is like back home," Missy says as they get in line. "But, you know, it's decent."
"Back home, as in LA?"
"Where I'm from," Missy says. Her tone makes it obvious that she'll be pissed if Kat argues, so Kat doesn't say anything. They get their crappy quesadillas and go to a table in the corner, staking out one that seats four so they'll have room to do homework.
Missy eats like she's competing against a hot dog eating champion. She's done when Kat is still on the first half of her quesadilla. "Wow," Missy says, leaning back. "You eat like a bird, Kat."
Kat frowns at her, but it's around the quesadilla, and judging by Missy's expression, she's not exactly intimidated. "We can start working," Kat says once she's swallowed.
They work on the lab report for a couple hours after that. By the time they're ready to type it all up, Kat's almost finished her quesadilla. Judging by Missy's snort, though, she doesn't exactly approve of Kat throwing the dry tortilla bits at the ends away.
"I don't like that part," Kat says before she can think better of it. She curses herself as soon as it comes out of her mouth: once again, she's on the defensive with Missy.
"No worries," Missy says, like she can read Kat's mind. "No judgment here."
"Maybe a little." Missy grins. "But hey, can you blame me?"
"Plenty," Kat says, pretty much just because she can.
To her surprise, Missy actually laughs. "Rock on with your bad self, then," she says, and claps Kat on the shoulder as they leave the building.
Kat has to have the lab report typed up in the next couple days, but she's inexplicably exhausted that night. She ends up canceling on Carrie and Stevie and going straight to bed, calling herself lame for wasting a Saturday night but not really caring that much.
When she wakes up at eight the next morning, Missy's gone. She seems addicted to her gym, or whatever it is she does, but Kat's not going to criticize her. Missy might buy into the myth that women have to be as physically fit as men want them to be, but that's not really Kat's business. And it's not like Kat, with her super-skinny build, doesn't fit into the patriarchal expectations for women's bodies.
She ends up grabbing lunch with Jen. Jen takes one look at her and says, "So. How's the new roommate thing going?"
"It's…going," Kat says.
Jen raises her eyebrows.
"I don't see why everyone's so interested," Kat says, taking a bite of sushi.
"It's a mystery, really," Jen says. "Because your interpersonal relationships always go so smoothly."
"I know, I know, the Patrick thing was just a fluke." Jen sighs. "Mostly? We're worried about you. Having a stable living situation is a crucial part of leading a happy life in college."
"I'm fine," Kat says. The way Jen's talking, Missy sounds like some kind of horrible monster. "We went to yoga yesterday," she adds, in hope that that gets Jen off her back.
Jen blinks. "Is that why you were too tired to come out?"
Kat really, really hopes the heat she feels in her cheeks is coincidental, or something. "Kind of, I guess."
"Nothing." Jen smirks at her. "Sure you don't want to, you know?"
Kat really doesn't know.
It must show in her expression, though, because Jen says, "Oh my God, you are still so repressed. Take her out, Kat. Do the horizontal tangle. Rug -"
"I get it," Kat says quickly. Though - she hasn't really considered it, she supposes. She's been too busy finding reasons to be uncomfortable around Missy. Which, put that way, sounds pretty distasteful. "And no. I don't think so."
"If you say so," Jen says. Thankfully, she then changes the topic.
But Kat doesn't stop thinking about it. At first, she tells herself she's doing it because it's a weird thought. And that's true, kind of; it is a weird thought. She feels kind of weird at Sarah Lawrence for being someone who hadn't thought she might not be straight until she hit college. It really probably should've occurred to her at some point, but she always had other stuff going on. And then there was Patrick, who she really thought…whatever. That doesn't even really bother her anymore.
Sex with Missy, though. Kat thinks about it idly as she types up the lab report. Missy's hot, she guesses. Well, that's not true. She's hot, definitely. And inasmuch as Kat has a type, Missy's it: athletic, dark hair. The snappishness she could do without, but her lizard brain reminds her they don't necessarily have to talk when they sleep together.
Her mind focuses on kissing Missy and sliding a hand into her pants, feeling her, before she forces her thoughts back to covalent bonds. She knows she's blushing for real this time, because apparently her brain is a pervert today. She doesn't need to think about Missy like that. Sleeping with your roommates is a recipe for disaster, and one that Kat definitely doesn't want.
But she does think, as she prints the lab report out: maybe. It certainly wouldn't be boring.
She thinks about bringing it up to someone, but - there's nothing to really talk about, is there? Missy's far from the only person she'd have sex with, if given the chance. And it's not like she's going to; Missy's her roommate, and Kat's not an idiot.
She mostly manages not to think about it. September turns into October, and Missy barges into their room one day and says, "Halloween."
"Yes?" Kat says. She's writing a paper on feminist themes in The Crucible, which is enough of a challenge that she's cranky in spite of her organic fair trade lemon ginger tea.
"Come on, you dig it, right?"
"I don't 'dig' a holiday that marginalizes women and minorities for the sake of getting totally hammered, no." She waves a hand, imitating the slack-jawed idiocy of her fellow young adults.
Missy takes it about as seriously as Bianca used to. "Yeah, whatever."
"Why do you ask?" Kat says in spite of herself. Curiosity killed the - okay, that's too bad a joke to make even to herself.
"This kid I know from krav maga is having a party," Missy says. "Jake Brampton. It's going to be a rager. You down?"
"I don't go to ragers," Kat says, turning back to her work.
"Come on." Missy walks up to her and leans against her desk. She's entirely in Kat's way, and her hips are right there, which is more frustrating than it probably should be. "What've you got against cutting loose?"
"Absolutely nothing," Kat says, "when it's fun. Playing in my band is fun. Debating the merits of Foucault is fun. Raging? Not particularly fun, if you're not a materialistic, youth-obsessed -"
Missy laughs. "I get it, I get it," she says. "So you'll stay home on Halloween. Legit." She reaches out and tugs a strand of hair that's escaped from Kat's bun before saying, "Guess I'd better do my Philosophy 101 homework, huh."
"Probably," Kat says acerbically. She shoves away the weird feeling in the pit of her stomach - which, fine, it's arousal. She's enough of a self-actualized feminist to admit that. But whatever it is, she shoves it away and goes back to her essay and her tea. And absolutely does not think about Missy's taut stomach, or her hips, or her ass when she saunters back to her side of the room.
Her life is made somewhat more difficult the next day, when Missy says, "Oh, hey, I'm supposed to be recruiting people for a martial arts exhibition. Want to bring your band?"
"Jen's a pacifist," Kat says.
"Right, but the others are violent. Right?"
Kat shrugs. "Not that I'm aware of."
"But you're in a riot grrl band!"
"You know, guitar bashing. Men killing. Isn't that the point of the feminist revolution?"
"Not to me," Kat says. She's officially annoyed with this line of questioning.
"Fine," Missy says, "but you should come."
"I'll ask them," Kat says. Missy's staring at her all intently, and Kat's…okay, Kat's kind of interested in spite of herself.
God, she needs to get over herself.
The exhibition is right after midterms. Kat handles her shit well - that's pretty much her whole job. Dad's okay with her being at Sarah Lawrence now, really, but she doesn't need to give him an excuse to second-guess her choice. Or his funding.
She's expecting Missy to get crushed, given that she's decided not to take all her gen ed courses at once, the way first years usually do. She's anticipating it, actually - she can be honest with herself. Watching Missy, with all her "I'm from the city" swagger, being brought down by exams - that's something Kat can admit she wouldn't mind seeing.
But it doesn't happen. Missy's as casual and easy as ever, and at the end of midterms, she says, "Huh, I was expecting that to be harder."
Kat snorts. "It will be next time," she promises.
"Right," Missy says. "Anyway, the exhibition's tonight. You told your band?"
Kat nods. "They're coming. All but Stevie."
"Her grandmother, actually."
Missy nods. "Cool." She hesitates, then adds, "I should leave early, though."
"Okay." Kat looks away, hating herself for her incredibly obvious blush. "See you there, I guess."
"See you," Missy says, and leaves.
Kat's not sure what she's expecting, which isn't helpful when Carrie gets into her car and says, "So what's going to happen, do you think?"
Kat shrugs. "A bunch of punching boards, I guess."
Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Carrie look at her dubiously as they pull out onto the street. "I'm just saying, it's a little weird. I mean, we support you and all, but do you even know if she's, you know, queer? Falling for a straight girl is not a good idea for a baby dyke."
"I'm not a dyke," Kat snaps. "Or a baby."
Carrie laughs. "Uh-huh," she says. "Well. We support you."
"So you said," Kat says tensely.
Carrie, thank God, lets it drop.
They file into the dojo together, sitting in chairs near the front. Kat's unaccountably nervous, like there's an actual reason to worry about what's going to happen, and not her just being weirdly paranoid that someone's going to…
Call her a lesbian for supporting Missy? That doesn't even make sense. Kat grew up in Seattle. She's as actualized as it's possible to be. It's not an actual problem or a worry or anything, and she's not here for that reason anyway, but as the little kids in karate outfits file out, Kat can't quite relax.
It actually is a lot of board breaking, but it's more theatrical than Kat guesses the usual meets or whatever they're called are. It's fun, in a way. They all cheer and get pretty into it, and if Jen has a flask, well, no one seems to notice.
Missy's one of the older people there. She guides kids through their stuff, and then ends up doing an exhibition round at the end. Kat watches her, of course; she's watching everyone. It would be rude not to. But, well. It's not everyone that she watches and thinks, what if?
"You're going to have to do something about that," Carrie says quietly when Missy does a flying kick and Kat follows the line of her body maybe a little too closely.
"I'm not that transparent," she replies, just as quietly.
"You are a bit," Carrie says. Thankfully, after that, she drops it.
When the exhibition's over, Carrie and Jen stand up. "I've got my car," Jen says. "We can clear out."
"Oh, I don't need you to," Kat says.
Carrie raises her eyebrows. "Really."
"So you're not going to wait around for her?"
"I never said that."
Carrie sighs. "We're going," she says, so gently that Kat almost objects to the tone. "Tell her we said hi."
Jen smirks a little, and they leave. Kat realizes about a full minute after they've gone that her mouth is still hanging open like she's some kind of escaped village yokel. She closes it with a snap, right before Missy's, "Hey!" makes her turn around.
Missy's showered in record time, apparently. Her hair is pulled back and she's wearing loose sweats and a black tank top. Somehow Kat's mind gets unhooked from her mouth and she says, "Hey, want to go to dinner?"
Missy raises her eyebrows but says, "Sure. Your friends around?"
"They had to go," Kat says. "But I figured, there are some places around here, right? Unless you're going out with your, um. Dojo."
Missy laughs. "Nah, half of 'em are getting dinner with their kids, and the other half, it's past their bedtimes." She lifts the bag Kat didn't even realize she was holding and puts it over one shoulder. "Where to?"
"I have my car," Kat says.
"There's a bar & grill down the street," Missy says. "It's not exactly stuffed with Gertrude Stein types, but their beer's good."
"Lead the way," Kat says as non-awkwardly as she can.
It's not very non-awkward, she thinks bitterly. But Missy just grins and says, "Follow me."
Kat really should have anticipated the bar being dark and smoky. It fits with Missy's personality perfectly, as does sliding into a tiny, two-person booth in the far corner. "Well," Kat says, looking around.
"I know, I know, it's not the West Coast aesthetic at all," Missy says. "But I went to school in New York for a reason, you know?"
"Sure," Kat says, and consciously tries to relax.
From the way Missy smirks, she's not doing very well. "It's a nice place," Kat tries.
"Nah," Missy says. "But I appreciate the effort. Anyway, what'd you think of the exhibition?"
"I liked it," Kat says. Missy keeps staring at her, like she expects Kat to reveal all her secrets, and somehow Kat finds herself adding, "You were good."
"Do you even know what bad would look like?"
"Not like you," Kat offers.
She realizes a little late what she's saying. Or maybe a lot late, because Missy smiles all slowly and slyly and says, "You're right about that, anyway."
Kat doesn't subscribe to patriarchal, oppressive models of religion, but all she can think is, Oh my God, we're flirting.
"Hi, guys," the waitress says, all but making Kat jump a mile in the air. "What can I get you?"
"I'll have a PBR," Missy says.
"Guinness, please," Kat says. "And food menus?"
"Coming right up," the waitress says, and leaves.
As soon as she's gone, Missy says, "Whoa, relax. I wasn't trying to insult your martial arts knowledge, or anything."
Kat forces her expression into a smile and says, "That would be hard. I really don't know much."
"Oh God, no," Kat says. "No, really not. It's just not my thing, I guess."
"Huh." Missy leans back into the booth. "What is your thing?"
"Feminism," Kat says immediately, and then bites her lip, feeling like an idiot. "I feel very strongly that studying gender and sex and how they relate to oppressive structures is important."
That probably makes her sound even worse, actually.
But Missy doesn't laugh or even look that sarcastic. She just says, "Yeah, all right, I can understand that."
"It's not all bullshit," Kat feels compelled to add. "Some of it is, but not all of it."
"Sure," Missy says. "So are you a lesbian, like, politically?"
Kat chokes on nothing right as the waitress says, "Here you go," and plops down their beers and menus.
"Thank you," Kat manages to say.
"I'll be back to take your order in a few," the waitress says.
"Sorry," Missy says as soon as she's gone. "That was rude."
"I like girls," Kat says. "But I had a boyfriend. He was…"
"Ah, shit," Missy says. "You loved him. Sorry."
"No, I mean, I really do like both," Kat says. "And bisexuality is a valid orientation, you know."
"Sure," Missy says. "I need a burger. Ten burgers. And maybe a vat of beer."
That makes Kat smile, at least. And then there's the menu, which she can stare at even though she's probably just going to get the sample platter anyway.
She does, in fact, order the sample platter when their waitress comes back, after an uncomfortably long amount of time with both her and Missy being completely silent. Missy gets a burger and orders another beer - she's finished her first one. Kat wishes she could do the same, but she has to drive and is, sadly, not exactly a heavyweight drinker. So she sips hers before saying, "What about you?"
"Huh?" Missy says.
It suddenly feels like there's a lump the size of a tennis ball in Kat's throat, but she forces herself to say, "Do you, you know. Like girls?"
"Sure," Missy says.
She doesn't say it in a way that tells Kat anything, and Kat's about to snap and do something stupid when Missy adds, "I guess I'm a big old dyke, in a way."
Kat means to say something sensitive, but what comes out is, "In a way, huh?"
Missy smirks. It doesn't exactly look genuine, but hey: Kat's not going to call her on it. "In the way where I like having sex with girls."
It sounds, Kat thinks, a little too much like lying to be completely true. But she's not exactly going to police Missy and ask her about her experience. For starters, it would embarrass the hell out of both of them. Instead she says, "Is that our food?"
"Way too early," Missy says without turning around. "So why feminism? You're a woman's studies major, right? What are you going to do with that?"
"Academia," Kat says immediately.
"No, really?" Missy raises her eyebrows. "You want to be a professor?"
"What's wrong with that?" Kat says, bristling.
Missy holds up her hands. "Nothing, nothing, calm down. I'm just surprised, is all. I figured maybe you'd be, I don't know, a community organizer or something."
"I've thought about that," Kat admits. "But academia seems, I don't know. Safer."
"Huh," Missy says. "Well, I'm thinking maybe I'll go into chemistry instead of polisci."
"After our labs?"
"Sure, why not? It's fun."
"You hate the labs!"
"Yeah, but only because it's beginner stuff." Missy leans forward. "I've been doing some studying on my own, and there's so much out there."
She launches into an explanation, and Kat is hopelessly, helplessly attracted in spite of herself. It doesn't get better when they're brought their food, either. Missy tears into her burger like it's the last thing she'll ever eat, and all Kat wants to do is drag her to the bathroom and finger her. Which is ridiculous, because Kat is not a fan of public sex.
They don't talk much until they're mostly finished, but then Missy starts telling Kat about her cheerleading year, and what it meant to her. Kat honestly thinks it's kind of nuts, but in a good way, she guesses; Missy's certainly into it. Though Kat has a weird feeling that Missy isn't telling her everything.
After they pay, Missy says, "Guess we should head back."
Kat feels like everything she wants to say is stuck in her throat. She settles for saying, "Yeah," and leading the way back out to the car.
The drive back is all but silent. Kat could turn on music - she has a 50-CD holder, it's not like they don't have options - but somehow, she doesn't want to. There's something weird between her and Missy, strange and fragile, and Kat doesn't want to fuck it up.
When they get back to the dorm, Missy breezes past Kat and up the stairs, not bothering to hold any doors open for Kat. She makes it to their room first, unlocking it, but Kat's right behind her. She pushes the door closed and turns to see Missy standing there, suddenly looking incredibly young and uncertain, and Kat -
Kat has one of those moments where she just doesn't think, where she's an idiot and it just doesn't occur to her to stop and consider her actions. One second she and Missy are staring at each other, and the next, Kat's pulling Missy in, disarranging her ponytail as she kisses her.
She pulls away as abruptly as she moved forward and stares at Missy. She can tell her eyes are wide, and Missy's are too. Her lipstick's a little smeared, fuck, Kat doesn't know what to do with this.
But apparently Missy does. Her expression shifts into determination and she says, "Hell fucking yeah," pulling Kat in and kissing her hard.
Kat's still not used to this, kissing women, but it doesn't really matter. Missy backs her against the wall and holds her there, kissing her hard, sucking her tongue, breaking the kiss to kiss Kat's neck. Kat is suddenly, dizzyingly turned on, in spite of knowing what a completely awful idea this is.
"Please, please tell me you want to fuck," Missy says, sliding a hand up Kat's shirt so it rests on her bare lower back.
Kat feels like an idiot, but she nods jaggedly, kissing Missy again. Missy leads them over to Kat's bed and takes the initiative to lie down, pulling Kat on top of her.
Kat feels ridiculously clumsy, like she's never done this before - and she has, she thinks scornfully. She's kissed a girl, and she's fucked a guy. This can't be that different. But it's weird, with Missy smirking up at her in between kisses, to get her bearings. Especially not when Missy slips a hand into Kat's pants, finding her clit unerringly and letting Kat grind against her hand.
"You're easy," Missy says. Kat would take offense, but it sounds like Missy likes it, so she just pulls Missy's shirt off and cups her breasts.
Missy's got a ton of muscle, but that's not what Kat's focused on right now. She's been trying not to look at Missy's rack for what feels like forever, and now she gets to kiss her breasts, flicking Missy's nipples with her tongue, sucking when Missy curses above her. Missy's pulled her hand away from Kat's pussy in favor of tugging her hair, and Kat likes that, with a visceral feeling she's not used to and wants more of.
"Come on, Kat," Missy says, pulling her own pants down. She makes it sound like a dare, one which Kat's not even close to mature enough to resist; she gets her own pants off, taking her underwear with it, and moves back between Missy's legs.
Fingering a girl, as it turns out, is relatively easy. It's made easier by how responsive Missy is, how much she seems to love this. She demands two fingers and then three, and when she come with Kat's thumb pressing into her clit, she immediately returns the favor.
They lie together for a minute after Kat comes, both of them breathing hard. Then Missy laughs - not just a giggle or something, but a full-on, curling up a little belly laugh.
"What?" Kat says, a little nettled.
"Nothing," Missy says. "Just, damn. I didn't know you had it in you."
"Well, maybe I didn't know you had it in you."
"Sure," Missy says. "You're pretty fucking hot, you know."
Kat wants to say something smooth, or even something sane like "so are you". She ends up just blushing and saying, "Thanks."
Missy nudges her. "I'm not taking wall side. No offense, but I like my own bed."
"Oh! Right." Kat rolls out of bed and stands, watching Missy go back to her own bed. She doesn't bother getting dressed aside from pulling the boxer briefs she'd been wearing before back on.
"Goodnight," Kat says, feeling supremely awkward and cursing herself for it more than a little.
"Night," Missy says, and pulls the blankets over her head, the way she always does.
Kat would like to sleep. She really, truly would. But unfortunately, she's never been that good at not overthinking things. And right now, she really has something to think about.
It could, of course, be a lot worse. Kat doesn't have feelings for Missy, or anything. She's quiet content with the relationship they have now; being friends with Missy is enough of an adventure for anyone, and Kat really doesn't want to complicate things with anything romantic. But she thinks back to Missy's hands on her, Missy's fingers in her, and she has to admit to herself: she wants that again.
In the end, though, there's nothing she can do but resolve to deal with it tomorrow. Missy's sleeping, made obvious by the wheezing not-quite-snores Kat has reluctantly gotten used to. Kat closes her eyes and rolls over on her side, resolving to get some rest. She can deal with this whole strange thing with Missy in the morning.
In the morning, though, Missy's not there. Kat would've guessed that she'd take the day after an exhibition off, but apparently not. They don't have chemistry together, or anything, which means Kat doesn't see Missy until she comes back to their room, Chinese takeout in hand.
"Hey," Missy says, not looking up from her notebook.
"Hey," Kat says. "I have extra, if you want."
"You always buy enough for ten people." Missy looks up. She's smiling a little, hesitantly, like she's not sure if Kat's going to morph into a demanding, UHaul-driving lesbimonster. Kat sets the Chinese down on their side table and says, "Help yourself. There's lo mein and some orange beef."
"Awesome," Kat says. Missy grabs a paper plate and a fork from their stash and tears into it, passing Kat the lo mein - Kat almost exclusively buys that for herself.
They eat in silence, but when Kat's chasing the last bits of noodle around on her plate, Missy says, "Hey, so."
"So," Kat says.
"We weren't drunk or anything last night."
"I drove us home, so I'd hope not."
"Yeah. I know. My point is - full possession of our facilities, and we still, you know. Did it."
Kat bites back something acerbic about the value of using adult words for adult activities, opting instead to say, "We did."
"I was just thinking." Missy shrugs. She's sitting backwards in her hair, one leg drawn up to under her chin. It highlights how flexible she is and makes Kat itch to touch her. She wonders if it's strategic. "We could do it again."
Kat forces herself not to respond right away. She doesn't want to look desperate. "We could," she says after long enough that she's pretty sure it seems like she was thinking about it. "I think I'd like that."
"Good," Missy says. "Cool. Nothing heavy, I mean, I'm not looking for a girlfriend. I've got a lot on my plate."
"Who wants to date their first couple years of college?" Kat shakes her head. "I agree. We'll keep it light."
"Sounds good," Missy says. "Just kind of let things happen."
They sit in silence for a minute. Then Missy says, "So, want to fuck?"
Garlicky chinese food isn't the best prelude to kissing, but when Kat walks over to Missy's side of the room and pulls her up to kiss her, she finds she doesn't really care.
When they're finished, Missy says, "I could go again, only I have a paper to finish."
Kat glances over at her notebook. It's wide open and covered in intricate pen doodles.
"Okay, okay, I have a paper to start," Missy says. She shoves at Kat jokingly. "Now go back to your side of the room. I know you've got shit to do, too."
Kat really does, so she gets out of Missy's bed and gets dressed. Without kissing Missy or anything, because it's not like Kat has had a lot of casual sex, but she's pretty sure coupley stuff like that isn't a good idea.
She has an essay to write on feminist culture in early 20th century America, so she works on that while denying to herself that she's keeping an eye on Missy out of the corner of her eye. Missy doesn't appear bothered or even really like she realizes Kat's watching her, which is probably a good thing; it's not like Kat isn't aware that she's being kind of creepy.
Luckily for Kat, Sarah Lawrence isn't exactly known for going easy on its students immediately after midterms. Kat has three papers to write almost right away, and while she sees Missy in chemistry, Missy's incredibly friendly and not a bit more there. It almost weirds Kat out; she's not used to someone who compartmentalizes as much as Missy. But in the end it doesn't really matter. They just don't sleep together, or even talk that much, until Thursday night, five days after they slept together the first time.
"Hey," Missy says. "Your band plays gigs, right?"
It's not the greeting Kat was expecting, and she's pretty sure she doesn't hide her surprise very well. "Sure," she says. "Why?"
"I might have a gig for you," Missy says. "I hang out with some chamber music types, they want a band that can crush it at a party they're having this weekend."
"We haven't rehearsed a lot," Kat says. She wants to kick herself as soon as she says it. Damn it, why does she always have to shoot herself in the foot?
But Missy just says, "Who cares? You'll be all rough and, you know, primal." She grabs her phone and dials. "Hey, Trish? They're in. Okay, awesome. Thanks." She puts the phone down. "Saturday night, nine o'clock, there's thirty bucks in it for each of you. Sound good?"
That's more than they've ever been paid before. "Um, yeah. Awesome."
Missy grins. "Cool," she says. "You can tell your band later." She saunters over to Kat - actually saunters, like she thinks she's in an old black-and-white movie or something, and then kisses Kat, slow and dirty.
They end up fucking in Kat's bed, Missy sliding down Kat's body to eat her out with the kind of nervy determination Kat already associates with Missy. It's ridiculously hot, and afterwards, Kat returns the favor, closing her eyes so she's surrounded by Missy in every way.
After, Missy says, "No class tomorrow. I thought I'd go out dancing."
Kat blinks. "Wait, really?"
"I know a girl who can get me into a club," Missy says. "Won't even need to risk my fake being taken."
Kat shoves down completely inappropriate jealousy and says, "Oh, well. Have fun."
"You could come."
Missy says it so casually that Kat turns and blinks at her, more confused than she really wants to admit to being. "Yeah?"
"Sure," Missy says. "Getting our dance on with hot girls, you know, it could be fun."
Because this isn't a date at all. Not, Kat reminds herself, that she wants it to be. "Sure," she says, and sits up. "I should get ready, then."
"I call first shower," Missy says, and all but leaps off the bed, grabbing her shower kit before Kat can even formulate a protest.
She feels like she should call Bianca, try and figure out what the hell is going on with her. Instead she calls Stevie. "Hey, can you tell everyone else we've got a gig?"
"Yeah, Missy -"
"Can it," Kat snaps. "Some chamber music kids she knows wants to pay us thirty bucks each to perform Saturday night. We're doing it."
"I guess I can sacrifice my dignity for thirty dollars," Stevie says. "Okay, I'll tell everyone else. Are you down to go to the slam tomorrow?"
Stevie has an obsession with poetry slams that Kat completely supports her in, while avoiding them when she can; the shine of a bunch of twenty-somethings reading bad poetry really wore off after her first year. "Sure," she says. "I have to go, though."
"To hang out with Missy?"
"Just call everyone else," Kat snaps, and hangs up.
Missy comes out in a towel and drops it as she looks for clothes. It's not actually weird; Missy's never been modest, and they're sleeping together now. But Kat can't help but crankily think, as she goes to the bathroom, that it feels weird. And she wishes it didn't.
She ends up dressing in a sequined, almost backless tank top and tight jeans. Missy has on a short skirt and a skimpy tube top. Kat doesn't know how it could possibly stay up, but that's not really her business. She wouldn't even be looking that closely, except Missy looks her up and down and says appreciatively, "Very nice."
"You too," Kat says, resisting the urge to cross her hands over her not-exactly-plentiful rack.
Missy laughs like she can read Kat's mind. "Come on, let's go."
The place Missy takes them to is far enough away that they spend a half an hour on the subway. It's also in a sketchy neighborhood, and Kat immediately vows not to lose Missy. She doesn't want to be stranded here. (Even if, okay, she pretty much trusts Missy not to lose her. Still.)
That turns out to not be a problem, though. It's just Missy and Kat, since, as it turns out, Missy's "friend" is a massive, butch female bouncer who's on duty, and thus can't dance with them. Kat can't help but wonder if Missy was planning on picking up, or even fucking on the premises - but then Missy puts her hands on Kat's hips and moves in close as another frenetic song starts, and Kat stops caring.
Missy's not that good a dancer, but she's into it and can move her hips to a beat. Kat mostly bobs up and down, until Missy guides her, makes them fit together better. Kat feels like they're making a scene, except when she looks around, everyone's dancing like this - tons of girls dancing with each other, a few kissing on the dance floor. Even back at Skunk Club, Kat never saw anything like this. She feels like a yokel, like she grew up on a farm or something.
"Stop thinking," Missy yells in her ear. She trails her lips down Kat's neck, stopping to bite sharply, somehow timing it with the movement of her hips. Kat can't hide the way she shudders. When Missy pulls away, she's smiling predatorily.
Kat is so very, very into it. She moves and grabs Missy's shoulders, sliding her hands down to Missy's hips and throwing herself into the dancing.
"I want a drink," Missy says after a couple of songs. She looks at Kat speculatively, then says, "What can I get you?"
"I'm fine," Kat says quickly. She doesn't want Missy making assumptions. At all. "Seriously, I'm all good."
"Fuck that," Missy says. "I'm getting two vodka cranberries. You can drink one, or not." She disappears into the crowd.
Kat stays where she is, dancing. She's surprised almost to the point of jumping when a woman starts dancing with her, moving in and grinding against her. It should be invasive; it's not like Kat isn't aware that these dance moves basically turn every woman here into an admittedly queer tool of the patriarchy. But in spite of herself, she's turned on by the thrill of it, dancing this closely with a stranger.
At least, she is until Missy comes back and says shortly, "I'm cutting in," shoving Kat's drink at her and then dragging Kat over to one of the tables at the edge of the dance floor.
"What was that all about?" Missy says as she takes a sip of her drink.
"That's not how cutting in works. And nothing," Kat says. The music is loud enough that they're basically yelling; this club wasn't designed for deep conversation. "This is good. I'll get the next round."
"You're fine," Missy says. "Don't worry about it."
Kat wants to protest that, but she can't come up with a way to do so that doesn't involve being weird about how she doesn't want this to be a date. There's no real reason to think of it as a date, she reminds herself; friends do things for each other sometimes. Keeping that in mind, she slams the rest of her drink back and says, "Come on."
Missy finishes hers, a smile growing on her face. They go back out to the dance floor together.
This time, Missy sticks closer to her. Kat feels like she should protest, but somehow, Missy glaring away anyone who wants to dance too close to them makes Kat itch to get out of here, take Missy back to their dorm and -
Jesus, she's turned into some kind of horndog, like a high school guy she would make fun of. She bites her lip and tries to think of something more wholesome. Only, they're in a club, and the more vodka cranberries Missy brings them, the more focused on fucking her Kat gets.
Finally, five drinks and three hours in, Kat says, "We need to get out of here."
Missy stops immediately. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," Kat says. "I want - fuck, I want -" She gives up and drags Missy in, kissing her.
"Oh," Missy says. "Oh. Right, yeah." She grabs Kat's hand and all but drags her out of the club.
They take a cab home, mostly because Missy all but drags Kat into it, swearing that she'll pay. Kat can't bring herself to protest, not when Missy's hand is on her thigh and she's smirking at Kat like she knows how wet and hungry Kat is right now.
"Oh God," Kat says when Missy slams her against the closed door of their dorm room. She feels Missy reach behind her and lock the door. As soon as the lock clicks in, Missy moves her hand to grip Kat's ass hard, kissing her like both their lives depend on it.
"Fuck," Missy says. She sounds completely wrecked, and her fingers are clumsy when she cups Kat's breast, brushing over her nipple through her shirt. "God, you're so…" She trails off and kisses Kat, rolling Kat's nipple between two fingers.
Kat would be embarrassed by the way she gasps and shudders at that, going completely boneless, except when she does, Missy's breath hitches and she kisses Kat even harder, shoving a leg between Kat's.
Kat's never done this before, been drunk enough to roll her hips shamelessly against someone's thigh. She's never been completely fine with someone pulling her pants down against a door, and she's definitely never had someone stick their hand between her legs and say, "Fuck, Kat, you're so wet," pressing a finger into her and moving against her clit with a hard, desperate rhythm.
Everything she's feeling isn't enough to stop her saying crankily, "I know, now hurry up," holding onto Missy's shoulders as she rides her hand.
Missy laughs a little and presses down on Kat's clit harder, thrusting almost wildly. Kat's entire world feels like it's tilting on its axis when she comes; it's ridiculous and stupid and absolutely, wonderfully perfect.
When she's capable of thinking again, she drops to her knees and brings Missy's skirt and thong with her, dragging her tongue over the folds of Missy's cunt. Missy's wisecracks stop quickly, replaced by moans and Kat's name, over and over. Kat feels drunk on both the booze and power when she makes Missy come.
She expects them to part ways and go to their beds, but Missy says, "Fuck, get up here," and drags Kat up, kissing her. She leads Kat over to her bed and kisses her again, over and over, until Kat's ready to go again. By the time they fall asleep, aching and satisfied, moving to her own bed isn't even a thought in Kat's head.
She wakes up first in the morning. Missy's curled around her like Kat's her teddy bear or something. Kat most of the time still feels like she's all knees and elbows, and she can't help but think that Missy can't be comfortable. But when Kat tries to move away, Missy frowns and clings to Kat tighter.
Kat sighs. She feels awkward like this. Patrick never minded her morning breath (and part of her notes that she can think it, now, without it hurting), but she and Missy aren't dating. They don't have some kind of dumb delusion about being in love. She tries to move again, though, and Missy's arms tighten again.
"Wha," Missy croaks. She blinks her eyes open, then looks up at Kat. "Oh. Hey."
For one awful second, Kat's worried Missy doesn't remember the previous night. Then Missy grins and says, "We really went at it last night, huh."
"I, uh - yeah," Kat says. "Yeah. It was fun."
Missy smirks. "Fun is one word for it."
Kat doesn't realize Missy's moving until her hand is sliding to Kat's hip. "I haven't," Kat says, and then bites her lip. She's pretty sure she's being more than a little lame.
But Missy just cocks her head. "What, you scared of a little morning breath?"
"What if I am?"
"Get over yourself," Missy says, and kisses Kat.
She gets a hand in the boxers Kat hastily pulled on the night before. Kat cries out like a complete idiot, surprised by her own response; she's aching and rocking against Missy's hand before Missy even has a chance to make fun of her for it.
She gets Missy off after, fingering her with what she can admit is the ease of practice. Missy actually slaps her ass when she goes to shower, which is demeaning and not funny at all, much less hot.
That's what Kat tells herself, anyway.
They've got the show to play in a day, so Kat, Stevie, Jen, and Carrie all convene for a last-minute band practice Friday afternoon. Jen takes one look at Kat and says, "You're not."
"That girl, really?"
"You shouldn't fuck roommates," Stevie adds. "I know you're kind of a baby dyke, but come on."
"One, I'm bi, as I've told you," Kat says. "Also, how is it any of your business? We are not those stereotypical women obsessed with one another's love lives, come on."
That shuts it down relatively well. But Kat doesn't know why she's surprised when, as they're setting up before the party the next night, Missy comes up and says, "Lots of amps."
"It's a party," Stevie says. "It'll probably get loud. Can we help you?"
Missy raises her eyebrows, but to Kat's eyes she just looks sarcastic and vaguely annoyed, not intimidated. "Whoa," she says. "Are you that pissed about me sleeping with Kat?"
"Augh," Stevie says.
"It's not a big deal," Kat cuts in. "So drop it."
Missy takes a step back, for no reason that Kat can tell. "Right," she says. "Look, I'll see you." She disappears into the already-growing crowd.
"Ouch," Carrie says. "That was cold."
"What?" Kat turns around. "Let's soundcheck. We have to start playing soon."
"Uh-huh," Jen says. There's some kind of heavy implication there, but Kat's not going to argue with her. She starts tuning up her bass and ignores everyone around her except the band.
They kill it. Kat's a little worried for awhile, but people get into it, and then start making out and drinking heavily while dancing to their music. She supposes she should be insulted, but she's learned not to hate parties; and anyway, they're getting paid.
Once most people have crashed or sobered up enough to go home, it's almost three AM. The host pays them, though, and as they're loading their shit back up into their cars, Missy comes up to them and says, "Hey, Kat, can I get a ride?"
Her eyes are hooded and she looks - kind of drunk, actually. But Kat can't very well turn her down. "Sure,' she says, and loads the last amp into her trunk. "Come on."
"See you," Carrie says pointedly.
Kat's tired and doesn't feel like putting up with their implications, so she flicks her hand and gets into the car. But she's barely pulled out onto the road when Missy says, "So I guess all your friends know."
"Yes?" Kat shrugs, forcing herself to be casual. "It's not a big deal, right? It's not like any of them are homophobes."
"You care about that, not me."
Kat narrows her eyes, but doesn't look away from the road. Yet, anyway. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing." Out of the corner of her eye, Kat sees Missy shrug. "Just, you're awfully worried about how people see you."
"Oh, and you're not? I guess the tough girl act is all genuine, then."
"Calm down." Missy sounds tired. "I'm not trying to imply anything, okay? Jesus."
Kat wants, for no reason in particular, to lash out. She doesn't get why Missy's being like this, especially not after the band played a great gig and Missy had - Kat thinks, anyway - enough to drink to mellow her out. In theory. "Right," she says tightly.
They make the rest of the (fortunately short) trip in silence. Missy leaps out of the car and goes up to the entrance without Kat, but she waits for Kat to catch up before going inside. Kat expects them to just go upstairs and go to bed; it's almost four in the morning, and Kat for one is so tired she didn't even guilt herself about not taking her gear upstairs. But Missy stops when they get inside and says abruptly, "There's this girl in my philosophy class."
"Okay?" Kat tries.
"Right," Kat says tightly.
"I'm probably gonna go for her."
"Is there a point to this?"
"We're casual," Missy says. "So me sleeping with her won't be a problem."
Kat can't explain, even to herself, how she feels. Her throat is tight and for some reason she wants to reach out, despite being completely sure that would end badly. "Not at all," she says. "Casual. Like you said."
"Good," Missy snaps, and stomps over to her side of the room.
Kat looks away when Missy strips. It doesn't feel right, for some reason, and it's too late to do self-actualizing about why.
Two days later, Kat walks in on Missy and a willowy black girl having sex on Missy's bed.
Well, Kat thinks distantly, at least they're not having sex on Kat's bed.
"I'll go," Kat manages to get out. "I just - " She grabs her chemistry textbook. "Bye," she blurts out, and leaves, all but slamming the door in her haste to get to the student lounge.
It shouldn't bother her, thinking about Missy's hand skimming down the girl's back - the girl from philosophy, Kat guesses. It's not like STD rates are high between two women, and Missy can do what she wants; there's genuinely no reason for Kat to be upset. But she is, with a sharpness that surprises her.
She doesn't normally use her cell phone for anything but urgent calls, but however stupid this is, it feels urgent. So she pulls out her phone and dials Bianca's number.
"Bianca Stratford speaking."
"Bianca," Kat says. She surprises herself with her own voice; it's weak and upset in a way Kat's not used to thinking of her voice.
"Oh my God," Bianca says. "Kat, are you okay?"
"Sure," Kat says, in what she's pretty sure is the least convincing tone of all time. "No big deal. Missy's sleeping with someone else. I've never been better."
"Um," Bianca says, which is code for 'you are speaking crazy, please return to a more human mode of communication.'
"Oh, right," Kat says. "My roommate."
"The eviltron you hate?"
"The very same," Kat says. "It's…possible I don't hate her. Don't freak out."
But her warning falls on clueless ears. "Oh my God," Bianca says. "Are you serious? Daddy's going to - not that I'm going to tell him, but eventually he'll find out."
"No, he won't," Kat says. "We're keeping it casual. So casual I was just sexiled." She doesn't sound normal but, she thinks, she can probably keep Bianca from really getting to the bottom of things.
Except then Bianca says, "You're so in love with her, aren't you."
"What?" Kat says it so loud that girls walking by glance at her inquisitively. She waves them on, then says, "Of course not. Don't be ridiculous."
"No, but you totally are. You're like, Patrick levels of upset right now."
"And see, you didn't just tell me to shut up about Patrick. Soooooo."
Bianca's applying to UCLA, Berkeley, Brown, and UNC. There's no reason for her to sound so stupid, or be so wrong. "I barely know her."
"Um, it's almost Thanksgiving break. That's like…months."
Kat shakes her head, then remembers Bianca can't see her and says, "Thanks, but that's not why I'm upset. I guess I just thought if I was lowering myself to sleep with my roommate I at least wouldn't get sexiled."
"So tell her."
"Definitely not," Kat says with an uneasy laugh. "I doubt she'd react well to me suddenly wanting to be exclusive."
"It's worked out well for me."
Kat really doesn't want to remember, just now, that Bianca and Cameron are somehow working out. "And I'm happy for you, but -"
"My point is, I never expected it, but it's working out. So maybe you should try the same thing. Duh."
"I can't," Kat says, suddenly feeling heavy.
"Of course you can."
"I really can't. I tried once, remember? It didn't work out."
"Oh my God, you're so right. No one has ever broken up with someone they loved and ended up happy with someone else."
Kat sometimes wonders just how much of her rubbed off on Bianca before she went to college. "Fine," Kat says. "Maybe I'll try."
"Good," Bianca says. "You should. You're so much less annoying when you're happy, and you're flying back in like a week."
Kat closes her eyes briefly, then says, "Okay. Thanks. Bye."
"Love you too," Bianca says, and hangs up.
Kat sits in the lounge for a couple hours, alternately studying Chemistry and wondering what the hell is wrong with her. She's being stupid and she knows it; there's no real reason for her to feel like this about Missy. Missy, who's obsessed with gymnastics and martial arts, and who doesn't seem to care much about feminist theory at all. Missy, who flirts with half of campus and thinks Kat's band is stupid even while pulling a favor to get them a gig. Missy, who enjoys bringing Kat to the edge over and over without letting her come, because she thinks Kat losing it enough to curse at her is funny.
Really, it's the last bit that points to this being a problem, Kat thinks sourly. She knew sleeping with her roommate would be a problem.
When she judges they've had long enough to fuck, she goes back to their room. It's a little cool; Missy must've opened a window along with spraying the Lysol Kat can vaguely smell. "Hey," Missy says, not looking up from her book.
"Did you have fun?" Kat says, then winces; she didn't mean to sound this acerbic.
"Oh, yeah," Missy says.
Kat looks over at her and opens her mouth to say - something, something sarcastic and bitchy. But Missy raises her book, and Kat blinks.
She's reading The Feminine Mystique. The surprise of it stops Kat from saying anything. She mentally dismisses Missy and grabs her pajamas, deciding to get ready for bed. She's had a stressful day.
During chemistry the next day, they have to prepare test tubes for an experiment with Borax. As always, Kat's only half sure of the point of it; she does know, though, that Missy's hands are shaking so much they keep having to start over.
"Could you not?" Kat snaps. "Good God." She reaches out and fits her hand over Missy's, steadying it as much as she can. "What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing," Missy says defensively.
Kat doesn't bother calling her on it or anything, so she's surprised when Missy adds, "I…I skipped lunch to talk to Cliff."
"Low blood sugar is not actually a good thing, you know," Kat says. "Do you have a cereal bar or something?"
"Those things are crap."
"They're better than nothing. Here, let me do this." She takes the test tube from Missy and goes about getting their experiment done.
After class, Missy says, "Right, I'm gonna go and get some food."
"Good," Kat says.
Missy pauses, then adds, "You could come with me?"
They don't hang out much outside chemistry and their room; there's no real point to it. It's unusual enough that Kat blinks confusedly for a few seconds before recovering and saying, "Um, sure."
"Cool," Missy says.
They go to The Pub and Missy gets a burger. She offers to buy Kat something, but Kat actually is in the habit of eating breakfast, so she turns it down. Instead, she gets a protein shake and sits with Missy at a table out of the way of most of the foot traffic.
It feels…weirdly intimate. Kat stares at the table and takes a drink from her shake.
"So, you fly home tomorrow?"
"Yeah," Kat says. "Just for four days, though."
"I guess I'll see you when you get back."
"Sure," Kat says. "How about you?"
Missy snorts. "Cliff goes to Columbia, so we're all meeting in the city. I assume campus'll be a ghost town by the time I take a train out."
"Wow, no Thanksgiving dinner at home?"
"Nah. We'll go to a steakhouse or something."
That sounds kind of sad to Kat, even though it's not like her family's three-person Thanksgiving is much more cheerful. But Kat just says, "Cool."
"I guess," Missy says. She takes a bite of her burger, then says abruptly, "Cliff knows about - I mean, there's not an 'us', but he does know."
"Okay," Kat says. She's not sure where Missy's going with this.
"So, anyway," Missy says. "It should be an interesting dinner."
"Good luck," Kat says. She gets the feeling Missy's family isn't like hers, where she and Dad will yell for fifteen minutes and then let it go, so she doesn't really know what to say.
"Thanks," Missy says, and takes another huge bite of burger.
They sit there in silence for awhile, and then Missy says, "So…do you have class?"
Kat shakes her head. "I'm done till Monday."
"Great," Missy says. "Um, we could watch The Real World?"
It's a stupid show and Kat doesn't really understand what someone as smart as Missy gets from it. But Kat is capable of recognizing a peace offering when it's shoved in her face, so she says, "Sure," and follows Missy back to the dorm.
That night, they sleep together again. It's strangely tentative, almost clumsy, and Kat is relieved when she has an excuse to leave early in the morning. She has a plane to catch, after all.
Things are anything but simple once she actually gets home. Dad greets her with, "My Kat. How is the moral dissolution of college treating you?"
He means it as a joke, but Kat flinches, which leads to earnest questions. Kat doesn't want to tell him yet, so she avoids him as much as possible until the next day, Thanksgiving, at which point Bianca blurts out, "Kat has a girlfriend, Daddy."
Kat is going to kill her. "No, I don't."
Dad looks at her and folds his hands at the edge of the table, just beyond his plate. He takes a deep breath, squares his shoulders, and says a little mournfully, "I knew this day would come."
"No you didn't!"
"We all did," Bianca says. "No offense."
"I just want you to know that I want you to be happy," Dad says. "No matter what else, that is my priority, Kat."
This is definitely making the top ten of most embarrassing moments of her life. This is worse than flashing her coach to get Patrick out of detention. This isn't worse than drunkenly puking on his shoes, but it's a close second. Kat wants to die. "Dad," she tries again.
Dad looks directly at her and narrows his eyes. "Does she treat you well?"
"Oh my God," Kat says.
"I just want to know, Kat. It is a father's duty to make sure his daughters are happy."
"Yes," Kat says. "Yes, I'm happy, okay? Pass the mashed potatoes and please, I'm begging you, let's change the subject."
They do, but Dad's question sticks with Kat for the rest of the day. She has tomorrow and Saturday, isn't even flying back until Sunday, so she feels like she has the right to dwell on it, at least a little.
It's just…weird. Her automatic response is to say of course she's happy; she's doing well in school and isn't sexually frustrated, and both of those are things to celebrate. But then she thinks about her issues with Missy and isn't so sure.
Missy hasn't contacted her by phone or by email, which is probably for the best. Kat spends a couple days hanging out with Bianca, one afternoon including Cameron, tells Dad about college, and just generally does her best not to betray how strange she feels about the thing with Missy. She does a good enough job that when Dad drives her to the airport and they hug goodbye, she's honestly not sure if she's sad to leave or excited to be going back to New York.
She's not un-self-aware enough to ignore her nervousness when she lets herself into their dorm, though. It's a definite letdown when the dorm is empty; she doesn't know what to say or think.
In the end she just sits down and calls Carrie, leaving a message on her machine to let her know they can grab dinner if Carrie gets back in time. She's considering taking a nap when the door opens and Missy comes in.
"Oh." Missy stops dead. "Hey."
"Hey," Kat says. She feels so damn awkward. "How are you?"
"Oh, I'm - fine," Missy says. "How was your Thanksgiving?"
"It was good," Kat says.
"Cool," Missy says. "I mean - yeah, mine too."
"How's, um, Cliff?"
"He's good. A jackass, but good. How's Bianca?"
"A happy senior," Kat says. She ends up forcing a laugh, even though she hasn't said anything funny.
Missy doesn't laugh with her. "So you snuck out," she says abruptly as Kat grasps for something else to say.
"I - huh?"
"The day you left," Missy says. "I would've said goodbye, you know. It's enough to give a girl a complex."
"Sorry," Kat says.
Or rather, snaps. Missy looks taken aback. "Whoa."
"Sorry," Kat says. "It was a long flight."
"Right," Missy says.
She stands there for a minute, awkwardly, while Kat doesn't say or do anything. Finally she says, "I'm going to the dojo," and grabs her gym bag, leaving.
Kat really needs to not feel like shit right now. She grits her teeth and goes about putting all her newly clean clothes away.
She's reading when Missy gets back. Missy's obviously freshly showered, and once she tosses her gym bag in the closet, says, "So I got a call before you got back."
"My parents are coming into the city."
"I know," Missy says. "They were just here, and if they hate Manhattan, it's not like they'll like it here. But they're coming."
"Okay," Kat says.
"So…want to go to dinner with me?"
It's already five. Kat's not sure what constitutes 'dinner' for Missy. "How much do I have to dress up?"
"They'll want to go to a charmingly quaint hole in the wall," Missy says. "So you should probably look your best. Only, you know. Casual."
"Oh, well, that's comforting," Kat says. "When should we leave?"
"They'll be here around seven."
Giving her two hours to impress Missy's parents. Wonderful. Kat leaps to her feet and says, "I hope you don't need the bathroom," grabbing a towel and her bath kit and making a beeline for the shower.
Two hours later she's blown her hair dry, pulled it back into a partial ponytail, put on a nice shirt and her best pair of jeans, and debated before putting on a snappy pair of ankle boots. When she finally emerges from the closet, Missy looks her up and down in a measuring way. She's wearing almost the same clothes as Kat, but with a dark shade of lipstick. Kat's not sure if it's meant to look as rebellious it does.
"Good," Missy says. "You ready? They should be downstairs."
"Okay," Kat says.
She heads for the door; Missy catches up and grabs Kat's hand as she opens their dorm door. It surprises Kat so much she almost jumps, but at the last minute she realizes what she's doing and holds Missy's hand instead, lacing their fingers together.
She's not sure if Missy's nervous or what, but she assumes Missy will let go before her parents see. She's assuming that so hard, in fact, that it's not until they get downstairs and Missy keeps hold on her hand and says, "Mom, Dad, this is my girlfriend Kat," that Kat realizes she's wrong.
God damn it.
"Kat," Missy's mother says.
"Hi," Kat says. She forces a smile and detaches her hand from Missy's, shaking both Missy's parent's hands. "It's nice to meet you both."
"The pleasure's all mine. Call me Laine," Missy's mom says.
"And you must call me Peter," Missy's dad says. "We've heard a lot about you."
"All good, I hope." Kat looks over at Missy, smiling. She's fairly certain her gaze promises murder.
But Missy smiles back like she did exactly what she wanted to. God, Kat really will kill her. "So let's go out to dinner, shall we?" Kat says, turning back to Missy's parents.
"Missy told us about the most darling Mexican place," Laine says as they walk out of the dorm building.
"I haven't been," Kat says. Missy catches her hand and squeezes it like a warning. Kat doesn't say anything else except, "I'm looking forward to it."
"Excellent," Peter says.
They walk to the Mexican place. It really is a hole in the wall, but it's the kind of place tourists go to to feel like they've found a genuine New York City gem. Kat glances at Missy and sees the same kind of wry amusement she feels on Missy's face. It makes her feel better, somehow; they slide into the booth together, with Missy's parents on the other side, and Kat taps Missy's thigh lightly to let her know she's forgiven.
Kat gets tacos. and digs in while Laine and Peter exclaim over the enchiladas. She gets grilled about her career plans, but apparently one good thing about being in a lesbian relationship is that no one's too worried when you say you have academia aspirations. At the end of the night, Missy hugs her parents and says, "I'll see you in the spring," with a kind of tenseness that Kat is pretty sure translates into a threat if Missy sees them before then.
They walk back up to their room in silence. When the door is shut, though, Missy says, "I'm sorry."
"It's fine," Kat says, but all the anger she buckled down is rising and she can't help but think that it's really not fine.
"Okay, cool," Missy says, and turns towards her bed.
Before she has a chance to think better of it, Kat blurts out, "Actually, it's not fine."
Missy pauses and then turns back. "Excuse me?"
"You could have given me some warning that you were introducing me as your girlfriend."
She's almost, but not quite, surprised when Missy curls her lip. "What, like I was going to introduce you as my fuckbuddy?"
"It would've been better than what you did."
"Look, I'm sorry, I should've asked." Missy holds up her hands. "I really am sorry, okay? But I don't think it's that big a deal."
"No, I wouldn't. What is your deal, Kat?"
Kat wishes she knew. She's struggling with it, trying to figure out what she wants to say. Finally she blurts out, "Am I your girlfriend or what?"
"Am I," Kat says, "Your girlfriend. Or what?"
She expects Missy to laugh scornfully, or wave it off. Anything, really, but squinting at Kat and saying, "I don't know. Do you want to be?"
"What kind of question is that?"
"The realistic kind."
Kat frowns at her.
Missy spreads her hands. "I've wanted to date you for awhile. But you're not a freshman, so who the hell knows what you want?"
"We're trying to use gender neutral language," Kat says absently. When Missy's words sink in she adds, "Wait, really?"
"Really and truly," Missy says.
Kat looks at her. She knows every detail of Missy now; not as well as she might in a year or two, but well enough to tell how nervous Missy is, how much she wants Kat to be okay with this. It makes something in Kat unwind, relax. "Okay," she says. "Okay. I'm sorry I was an asshole."
"You weren't," Missy says, but it's obvious she's lying.
"I was." Kat shrugs. "But now I won't be." She moves forward, slowly enough for Missy to back away. Missy stands her ground, so Kat cups the back of her head and leans in, kissing her.
Missy practically melts against her, kissing back. Kat's never felt this from Missy before; she's so relaxed, so communicative, that Kat suddenly realizes just how much Missy was holding back.
"Let's not do that again," Kat says.
"Cool," Missy says. "Hey, I bought a vibrator. Want to use it?"
Kat pulls back and blinks.
Missy looks uncertain, but she doesn't say anything, just licks her lips.
"Um," Kat finally manages. "Yes."
Missy smiles widely. "Awesome," she says, and grabs Kat's hand, pulling her towards Missy's bed.