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Anticipating Your Next Move

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Becky is pretty sure her laundry bag weighs as much as she does. But at this point, she's wearing her last pair of holey underwear, and she absolutely has to haul it all downstairs and start her laundry. "Bag of holding," she mutters to herself, thumping the bag down the steps. She hates the basement. It's dark. And creepy. And contrary to her own imagination, she is not equipped with a sword. Her inking pens might be mightier than a sword in some cases, but not that good for defense in creepy basements.

Another machine is running through a final spin when she gets to the laundry room, but no one is around, so she starts her laundry running and turns around in circles a few times. There's the usual stack of weeks- and months-old magazines and a shelf of trashy paperbacks. Not that Becky has a problem with trashy paperbacks. She loves that shit, but she's not in the mood.

On one end of the folding table, there's a chess board set up, waiting for someone to start playing. She pokes a knight. A voice asks from behind her, "Do you play, or do you just move the pieces around and pretend you're in the middle of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign?"

Becky laughs. "I don't see why it can't be both," she says. She almost swallows her tongue when she turns around and sees the woman talking to her. "And how did you know I play D&D?"

The woman smiles at her, and Becky forgets to breathe. "You were muttering about swords. It was a hunch."

"I could be a crazy serial killer," Becky points out.

"You're tiny. I could take you. Hi, I'm Lindsey."

"I'm Becky. So are you new to the building? I don't remember seeing you around before."

"Not new," Lindsey says as she starts unloading her wet clothes from the washer and putting them in the dryer. "I've lived here about a year, but my band has been on tour for a lot of that."

"Oh, wow, what do you play? I love music. Metal mostly. Old shit. I'm sorry, I'm talking a lot." Jeez, Lindsey's hot.

Lindsey just grins. "Bass. I think our Wikipedia page calls us industrial punk."

"That is way cooler than my Wikipedia page," Becky says. "I'm just an artist and a writer. Not even a cartoonist, which is closer to the truth."

"Comics? That's way cool. I went to Pratt," Lindsey tells her.

"SVA," Becky grins. "You shouldn't have been on tour for so long. This building is full of boring people."

"Tell me about them," Lindsey says, sitting in one of the chairs by the chess set.

Becky sits opposite her. "So, my neighbor is like... Wall Street Junior. All he can talk about is finally moving to Manhattan and shit. Like, dude, I'm glad you have goals, but they are the most boring goals in the world."

"Bet he's quiet," Lindsey says.

"Yeah, cause he's never there. There are a couple seriously old people, too. Actually they're pretty cool. Deaf, anyway, which comes in handy when I need to listen to Norwegian metal at one am to stay awake."

Lindsey laughs. "What is it about Scandinavian metal that's so fucking great?"

"The darkness of their souls matches the darkness of their winters," Becky says. She almost manages a straight face.

Lindsey snorts. It's disgustingly fucking cute. She describes a couple of the people she has met, and they both tell a couple of art-school horror stories. Becky hasn't even gotten into her weirder studiomates yet when Lindsey asks slyly, "Any more weird neighbors? What about that girl who walks around muttering about swords?"

"In her defense, she's drawing a lot of swords lately, and that's all she sees when she closes her eyes. That and beards," Becky says and nudges a pawn forward. "Also, the basement is creepy, and I was wishing I had actual skill with one."

"Don't worry, I'll protect you," Lindsey says, countering with a black pawn. "Especially from that brunette with the pigtails on four. Anyone who keeps hours that fucked up must be a weirdo."

"Awesome. I feel safer already," Becky says and moves her knight out. "So, I didn't actually catch which band you're in."

"Mindless Self Indulgence," Lindsey says.

"Good name," Becky replies.

Lindsey smiles. "Yeah, it's pretty great. The touring is what kills my sleep schedule. I try to get into something resembling a normal human sleep pattern when we have a break, but it always backfires."

"I just work better at night," Becky says. "Between that and fighting with constant deadlines, I have a pretty wacky schedule myself." Her laundry stops, and she makes her chess move and gets up to transfer the load. "Or I could cut back on the coffee," she muses. "But then the darkness of my soul would match the darkness of my metal."

"You like your coffee black just like your metal?" Lindsey asks with a cheeky grin.

"Totally," Becky says. "Actually, a friend gave me a mug that says that. It's from a band, I think?"

"It is," Lindsey says.

"I should probably listen to them if they have a song like that," Becky says.

Lindsey smiles wider. "You really should."

"Oh god, that's your band, isn't it?" Becky wants to hide in the dryer with her wet clothes.

"I think I'm just going to let you figure that out," Lindsey says and moves another piece.

Becky sighs dramatically and comes back to sit down. "I always like new music, so it won't really be a hardship. Industrial punk, you said?"

"Depends what kind of a mood you catch Jimmy in," she explains, sounding fond.

"Boyfriend?" Becky asks. She's already embarrassed herself, might as well.

Lindsey bursts out laughing. "Hell no, I'd kill him. Lead singer. Also, he's married. And I'm not, well... let's just go with a hell no."

Becky laughs. "So no mixing work and pleasure, then."

"At least not when it comes to my bandmates," Lindsey replies and moves her knight and takes one of Becky's pawns.

"Shit," Becky says. "Shoulda seen that coming. I'm rusty."

"I haven't played regularly since art school. I think we can safely assume you're gonna pull similar shit on me," Lindsey replies.

"Yes, that's my evil plan."

They play for a while longer, talking idly, and Becky is in the middle of plotting out her next couple moves when Lindsey's dryer buzzes. "Guess that's me," Lindsey says, crossing to the dryer to dump her dry clothes back in her laundry basket.

"Sure, leave right when I have check within three moves," Becky teases.

Lindsey pouts. "Sorry, I have practice tonight. We should play chess again sometime."

"Acceptable," Becky says solemnly. "Hey, it was nice to meet you."

"You, too," Lindsey replies with a big, gorgeous smile. "Glad to know there's at least one cool person in this building." And then she's out the door, her laundry basket against her hip. Jesus fucking Christ, she's hot, Becky thinks.

This kind of thing never happens to Becky. She stares at the washing machine for a while, but she can feel the huge smile on her face.

 

##

 

Lindsey is fucking cold. To be fair, it's December in Brooklyn. Some cold is to be expected, but it's a good ten degrees lower than average, and their last tour date was in Los Angeles. She's not used to this shit. She has a bag of stuff from the bodega on the corner over one arm, so she reaches into her bag with the other and feels for her keys and… nothing.

"Shit, shit, shit," Lindsey mutters, digging hopefully into all the corners of her bag. Now, of course, she has a crystal-clear mental image of exactly where her keys were sitting on her kitchen counter. This is not good.

She waits hopefully for a few minutes to see if anyone comes out the front door, shifting from foot to foot. No dice. Then she narrows her eyes at the directory on the call box. Becky. Tiny, pretty, ginger Becky, who likes metal and chess and, most importantly at the moment, works from home and stays up late.

There's nobody with a "B" first initial, but there is an "R. Cloonan" and that's probably her best bet since Becky is usually a nickname for Rebecca. She pushes the button and waits.

"Yeah?" Becky's voice echoes in the small alcove over the front steps.

"Hi, it's Lindsey? From uh, chess and laundry? I kind of locked myself out."

"Dude, it's like Hoth out there; let me buzz you in. No, wait, come upstairs. I'll give you some coffee. I just made a fresh pot." The door buzzes before Lindsey can answer, so she knocks the slush off her boots and trudges upstairs to 3B.

"Hi," Becky says, opening the door before Lindsey even knocks. "Am I being bossy?"

"You have coffee, I'll let it slide. But seriously, I can just go wait by my door if you're busy."

"That would suck, no way. It's coffee o'clock anyway. Come in."

"It's always coffee o'clock in my book," Lindsey says, and Becky grins.

"A woman after my own heart." Becky leads her through her slightly cluttered, art-covered living room to the kitchen, pours her a mug and hands it to her. "I have sugar and creamer here somewhere if you want it."

"Black is fine," Lindsey says.

"Oh hey, I listened to that song," Becky says. "And like, a bunch of others. You guys are great."

"Thanks," Lindsey says. "Hold that thought." She fishes her phone out of her pocket and calls the super, telling him as an afterthought that she's waiting in Apartment 3B. "He says maybe half an hour," she tells Becky after she hangs up.

"That means anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour," Becky says with a sympathetic smile. "Come sit down if you want."

"Nope," Lindsey says. "You're going to show me some artwork." She grins hopefully at Becky. She's been trying not to outright stare at the walls and general other surfaces of the apartment since she walked in.

"Sure," Becky says. She's vibrating, though. Like she can't wait to talk about all this stuff. Fuck, Lindsey likes her. Becky leads her across the living room to a framed painting. "Okay, this isn't my art or anything, but my friend Gabriel did the line work, and his brother Fabio painted it. It's probably my favorite thing ever. They're both comic artists, and they live in fucking Brazil, which is unfair on multiple levels."

"Gorgeous," Lindsey says, studying the painting. "They always work together?"

"Not always. They're just so good at blending their styles together. Here, I've got a book here that I worked on with them." She hands Lindsey a small volume from a shelf.

"PIXU," she reads and starts flipping through the pages. "I'll be honest, superhero comics have never really been my thing. I mean, the art is always gorgeous, but I have a hard time getting into the stories. This looks like it's more my style."

"I've done a little bit of everything," Becky says, leaning against the bookshelf and sipping her coffee. "I mean, whatever pays the bills, you know? I've been lucky that I've had steady work with a lot of great people. Sometimes things don't work out, and it's a bummer, but then I get to do stuff like this." She pulls two more books off the shelf. "These are my first two minis. They're self-published, and I wrote and drew them, so basically they're like little inky children."

"Oh wow, just the covers are incredible," Lindsey says.

Becky beams. "Thanks. I'm really proud of them. I wanted to use all the best materials, best paper, inks, everything. Whenever I get a box from the printer, I open it up and just sniff. That's probably weird."

"That is not weird," Lindsey says. "In my spare time -" she laughs. Like she's had much of that lately, "I like to do paper sculpture. There's nothing like it."

"Oh god, I love that. I don't have the patience for it, but it's so fucking cool," Becky says.

"I like the challenge of forcing myself to be patient, if that makes sense?" Lindsey says and opens Wolves. She grins and looks back up at Becky. "Beards and swords."

"I told you," Becky shoots back. "It's, uh. A theme. Sort of a lot." She points at the bookcase behind her, and Lindsey steps closer to her to scan the titles. Medieval history, arms and armor, and D&D manuals go side-by-side with manga and a dozen other things. There's a really gorgeous glass dragon figurine right behind Becky's head. Lindsey grins at her, and Becky continues, "The next mini doesn't have any beards, though. Total departure for me. I figure I should stretch my wings a bit," and then giggles at herself. It's fucking cute.

"Okay, so that's the mini tour?" Lindsey asks.

"Please tell me the pun was on purpose, although if it was I might propose," Becky replies. "Yes, that was the mini tour, except for the stuff I'm working on right now." She waggles inky fingers at Lindsey. "Over here." She leads Lindsey over to her drafting table. "Right now, I'm working on pencils for a cover I'm doing for DC, and I've been inking my new mini. I had to take a break because it was all starting to blend in my head, and I was starting to hate it."

"Crazy talk, that's beautiful." Lindsey pulls the sheet a little closer to look at the details. "I am officially amazed. Love your style, lady." Becky fiddles with her hoodie strings and smiles. Jesus, she's cute. Lindsey wants to - well. She should probably just cut that thought off at the pass. She leaves on tour again in a month. Best to not get super into this girl and then leave again. That way lies heartbreak. She knows from experience. "So, you do pencils and ink, and then it goes off to someone else for coloring, right?"

"Yes! I like to pencil and ink by hand, even though a lot of my friends have started using tablets. So I make scans after my pages are done and send them off for colors. Colorists," she says in a confidential tone, leaning a little closer, "are wizards."

Lindsey is fucking doomed.

"Seriously, people don't realize how important they are. A colorist can make passable pencils look great. And vice versa. But mostly it's the former. Don't know what I'd do without my colorists. I've been trying to improve my own coloring skills, but it's fucking hard," Becky explains earnestly.

"I'm so glad I got locked out," Lindsey replies. "This is - you're awesome."

Becky gets pink-cheeked and grins. "I'm glad, too. I mean, it sucks that you were locked out, but it's always good to share a cup of coffee with someone to break up the day."

"Or night," Lindsey says with a glance at the windows. Then she checks her phone. "The super is setting a new record," she adds, wrinkling her nose. "Although I'm the idiot who locked myself out, so."

"More coffee," Becky says, lifting Lindsey's cup out of her hand. "And something really terrible from my DVR. Yes?"

"Yes," Lindsey replies. "Thanks." She finally takes her jacket off and puts it on top of her bag of groceries by the door. She's glad there's nothing super perishable in her bag. "So what level of terrible are we talking? Reality TV terrible or like, SyFy terrible?"

"Hush your mouth. SyFy is quality programming." Becky sits down on her couch and props her feet up on the coffee table.

Becky ends up putting on a truly terrible horror movie, and they have fun laughing at it and having a pretty interesting conversation about the role of women in modern horror at the same time. The super finally calls Lindsey two hours after she called him. In his defense, he apologizes profusely, so Lindsey lets it slide. This time.

She says goodnight to Becky and takes herself and her poor neglected bag of groceries upstairs to her own apartment, tossing her keys pointedly into her bag as soon as the super lets her inside. She realizes a minute later that she's still standing in the kitchen, staring at nothing with an epically stupid smile on her face. God, she likes this girl. Maybe Lindsey will invite Becky to her New Year's Eve party. And to play chess again. Lindsey even saw a board on one of Becky's shelves. Maybe next time.

 

##

 

A couple days after Becky's impromptu hangout with Lindsey, she shuffles into her living room in the morning to see - something - on the rug by her door. She shuffles closer. It's a polaroid of a chessboard with a note scrawled in Sharpie. Next time?

Becky grins at the polaroid and takes it over to tack it above her drafting table with a pushpin. Definitely next time, she thinks.

The problem with that is that she ends up staring at it, analyzing Lindsey's handwriting and trying to figure out what her apartment is like from the hints of photo background. She frowns and makes herself draw three mermaids in a row for being excessively moony, wondering idly if fish scales are better or worse than beards.

Then she fishes out her own polaroid camera from the depths of a closet and takes a picture of her board. Yes! her message says with her cell number below. Call or text anytime. She climbs up to the fourth floor and slips it under Lindsey's door.

Becky goes and refills her coffee mug and then goes back to her desk, opening up her laptop and clicking on her skype chat. Cameron, she types, Flirting via polaroid - cute and quirky or sign of incurable hipsterdom? Asking for a friend.

LOLOL, he replies. Both, I'd say.

Well, I suppose it could be worse, she says. My ~friend could be *only* incurably hipstery and then everything would be awful.

Did she call yet? he sends back a minute later.

No. *sigh* But she keeps crazier hours than me, so maybe she's just not awake yet. ...Also maybe I should give her more than 20 minutes, she adds.

LOLOLOLOLOL, Cameron writes back. Okay, maybe she deserves that.

She forces herself to start drawing again, and she gets lost in it until she jumps when her phone starts ringing. The number isn't registering on the caller ID, so she answers. "Hello?"

"Hey, Becky. It's Lindsey."

"Oh! Hey, what's up?" Well, that was quick. Becky starts grinning.

"Me, finally, and I got your note. Well, obviously. So, it's not chess or anything riveting like that, but before I forget, I'm having a New Year's Eve party type deal for some of my friends, and I was hoping maybe you could come up, too?"

Becky grins. "I'd love to! Should I bring anything? Wine? Beer? Appetizers?"

"If you wanted to bring a bottle of wine, that'd be awesome," Lindsey says. "I've got the food covered. I fucking love cooking, but I never get to on tour. It's gonna be awesome."

"Cool, so, what time?"

"Any time after eight. Or, you know, before, since you have that harrowing journey up the stairs."

"It's just the basement that requires arms and armor," Becky says seriously, and Lindsey laughs. "See you soon."

Becky hangs up and writes WINE!!! on a post-it note. About a half hour later, her chat dings again.

...What did you send a polaroid OF? Cameron's message says.

A chessboard, she types back.

This time, his "LOL"s take up three lines. She fucking hates him.

Be glad you're in Berlin.

I want to meet this one, he types back.

I just met her myself, Becky says, and she knows she's blushing, even though Cameron can't fucking see her. But since she's in a band, she could get to Berlin sooner than I might be able to.

Well, you're pretty smitten already, so... Cameron says.

Shut up, Becky replies. I'm drawing now. She's totally not drawing. She's thinking about long legs and red lipstick.

A little while later, her computer pings again. So what's her name? he asks. And what band is she in, anyway?

Lindsey Ballato. Mindless Self Indulgence.

Half a minute later, Cameron says, Just google image searched her. Holy shit.

Fuck off, you have a girlfriend, Becky replies.

I'm an artist. I appreciate things artistically, he replies, then adds a minute later, Mandy says she'd hit that too. Becky can't help but laugh. She loves Mandy.

Fuck off, she repeats. We'll see what happens. The truth is, she doesn't want to get her hopes up.

Because she is an utter sucker, she opens up Google Images about thirty seconds later. Just to see. It turns out her neighbor isn't just in a band, she's a fucking rock star. Who is completely, utterly gorgeous. Which Becky knew, but it's different in the pictures of her onstage. And holy shit, is she bendy.

Drool bib, she writes under WINE!!! on her post-it, chuckling at herself. Then she goes back to drawing.

*

You may be right about the basement, says her phone the next morning. The text came in at two am. Nearly had a heart attack just now. Turns out it was a stray cat.

You fed it, didn't you? Becky writes back, not really expecting a reply.

I totally did. It was so pathetic! I couldn't just leave it. :(

Becky grins at her phone. Well, now you have a feline best friend.

*

Becky picks up her phone that night after she finishes washing dishes. Red or white? she types.

Whatever you like best, comes Lindsey's reply. Dinner would probably be better with red, but I imagine we'll want wine outside of dinner.

Looking forward to seeing you, Lindsey texts a minute or two later.

Becky takes a deep breath. Me too! Becky replies and makes a mental note to go get a nice bottle of wine the next day. She creates a reminder on her phone just to make doubly certain.

*

Finally, it's Saturday, and Becky has wine and a relatively cute outfit. Well. It's cute. She knows it. She called her sister and described it to make sure. She goes upstairs and knocks.

The person who answers the door is a big, tall dude with a big voice. "I'm Steve," he says and shakes her hand.

"Becky," she replies.

"Oh, I know," he says. "C'mon, you have to meet Jimmy before she realizes you're here," Steve says and pulls her across the room. Becky wishes she had a chance to stop and look around, but she supposes that can come later. Steve leads her to a skinny guy wearing a hideously awesome Christmas sweater. "Yo, Jimmy, look what I have," Steve says.

"Small, red hair, not my wife. You must be Becky," Jimmy says with a sharp grin.

"I must be?" Becky asks. "What if I want to be someone else?"

"Ooh, you're good. Which just proves you are Becky," Jimmy replies.

"Does my reputation precede me?" Becky asks.

"Indeed it does," Jimmy says. He opens his mouth to say something else, but a woman Becky can only conclude is his wife by her hair and shorter stature sneaks under his arm.

"Don't be an asshole," she says. "Hi, I'm Chantal."

"Hi! Nice to meet you. I, ah, kitchen? I have wine."

"Ooh, you're my new favorite. You might want a glass of that if you're going to talk to Jimmy and Steve for long. Come with me to the kitchen." Chantal hooks her hand in Becky's elbow. Lindsey is in the kitchen, pulling a pan from the oven. "Look who I brouuuught," she sing-songs. Lindsey looks over her shoulder and beams. "I had to rescue her from my husband and Steve."

"You earned your dinner, then," Lindsey says. Becky must look nervous or something because Lindsey laughs and puts the pan down and wraps an arm around her waist. "Hi."

"Hi," Becky replies. "I have wine."

"You do," Lindsey says. "Let me, ah -"

"I'll take it," Chantal says with a smile.

"Open it, and pour this girl a glass," Lindsey says and squeezes Becky before pulling away and stirring something on top of the stove. "I'm so glad you came," Lindsey says warmly. "Kitty is on her way, and then the whole band will be here. Let me finish this up, and I'll introduce you to some other people, too. Chantie, wine?"

"On it," Chantal says, passing glasses around. Becky takes a sip. It's nice to have one of her hands occupied. She tries not to fidget with the other too much.

Chantal leans back against the counter. "Lindsey is a fucking amazing cook. Like, full out gourmet levels of awesome. If she gets tired of the band thing and the art thing, she could totally be a chef," Chantal says.

"Too stressful. I'll keep cooking for friends," Lindsey replies.

"Sometimes she gets a bug up her ass and cooks for us on the tour bus," says a woman in the doorway of the kitchen. "I think she's insane, but I don't question it."

"No, you just make fun of me when I end up bruising myself on all the fucking cabinets. And then eat my food." Lindsey hugs her. "Hey, Kitty."

"Hey, sweets," Kitty replies and hugs back. "This your neighbor friend?"

"Yup," Lindsey replies. "Kitty, this is Becky. Becky, Kitty, our superhero drummer."

"Awesome. Hi," Becky smiles. "So you guys just all hang out even when you're not stuck on a bus together, huh."

"Well. We took a long break a while back, but now it's the holidays. For better or worse, they're part of my family," Lindsey says with a smile.

Steve leans into the kitchen and adds, "I'm the ex-con brother-in-law, and Jimmy's the creepy uncle."

Lindsey laughs. "As long as you know it. Becky," she says softly, "let me get all this food out on the table, and then I want to introduce you to everyone else, too."

Becky and Chantal help move the food to the table, which suddenly expands out into the living room with the addition of a couple of card tables. There's a whirlwind of introductions after that, and Becky can hardly keep everyone straight. She's really happy to end up next to Lindsey, though. She's pretty sure her face is permanently red from Lindsey talking her up to everyone. Luckily, there is wine.

Of course, being tipsy leads to a new set of problems when Lindsey keeps ending up in her personal space. Becky's instincts all tell her to take advantage of the closeness, to lean in and steal kisses. But her wine glass hasn't been empty since Chantal filled it the first time, and that's definitely not because she hasn't been drinking it. She decides that ignoring those instincts is the best plan.

The conversation is usually enough to distract her after a minute, anyway, and she definitely ends up in at least a twenty-minute conversation about krautrock with Kitty's husband over dessert. Lindsey periodically leans over her shoulder to add comments and then staying there, which feels like a pretty clear signal to Becky. "You're going to have to roll me back down the stairs," she turns and murmurs to Lindsey in a momentary lull. "I haven't eaten that much in ages."

Lindsey just beams. "It was good? I was worried about the sauce."

"It was amayzing," Becky replies. Other people nearby chime in to agree, each one more ridiculously exaggerated, and Lindsey buries her face in Becky's shoulder and laughs. Becky pets her hair soothingly.

"My friends are assholes," Lindsey mutters.

"I'm pretty sure they are assholing out of love. And possibly also revenge for the indigestion they are sure to experience from overeating."

"I'm not their mother," Lindsey sighs.

Becky laughs. "I think you love it, though." She pokes Lindsey in the side until she squirms.

"Fine! Fine. Yes. Have more wine. Or coffee. Should I make coffee?"

"I'll do it," Chantal says, waggling her eyebrows at them and standing up. "You just...relax." Becky thinks Lindsey blushes then, but that could totally be the wine. Or a trick of the light. Then she smells the coffee brewing, and Lindsey chuckles.

"Your face is the definition of conflicted."

"I haven't had this much to drink in a while, and it's...nice? But coffee."

"Coffee always. I don't think you'll have a problem falling asleep," Lindsey says.

"No, probably not. One cup of coffee can't possibly counteract all this alcohol."

"You can always have more," Lindsey says.

"You are a bad influence," Becky teases.

"You said it was nice. I want you to enjoy yourself." She smiles, and Becky might be kinda sorta staring.

Chantal brings the coffee, and that's a momentary distraction for everyone, but she still can't keep her eyes off Lindsey for long. Becky is pretty sure she hasn't had this much fun with so many people since Comic-Con. Lindsey gets drafted to go find them games to play, and Becky talks to Steve for a while. Steve is genuinely hilarious and fun.

"She came to audition for us, and she breathed fire. We had to hire her."

"Obviously," Becky agrees. "Good choice. So, I heard somebody say you go back on tour soon?"

"Yeah, after the holidays. Doing the Northern America circuit again," Steve says.

"So what's worse, touring in the dead of winter or at the height of summer?"

"Depends what you want to deal with the bus smelling like," he laughs. Becky laughs, too.

"Both have their own appeal. I like fall tours best, though," Chantal says. "Not too hot, not too cold. Pretty trees."

"Are you a musician, too? Oh man, I feel so out of the loop."

Chantal replies, "I am! But I go out with James and the rest of them sometimes, too."

"Awesome," Becky says. "Wow. So are you a solo act, or do you have a band or what?"

"Solo now. I met these assholes when I was in a band called Morningwood." Becky giggles. "I know, right? It was great, but solo is fun, too."

"I like watching your solo act," Jimmy says, coming over with Lindsey and draping himself over Chantal. She rolls her eyes, but turns to him and starts whispering.

Lindsey squeezes herself between Steve and Becky on the couch. She puts a stack of games on the coffee table and sits back. "Okay, I had to crawl into the deep recesses of my closet for those, so we definitely have to play something."

Jimmy snorts. "Bet that's the first time you've been in the closet for a while."

"Closets and I don't get along very well," Lindsey shoots back. "They're dark. And dusty. And I'm much happier out of them."

Becky is a smart woman, she can tell when conversations are happening for her benefit. She leans a little harder into Lindsey's side and says, "Never think we don't appreciate your efforts. How about Apples to Apples?"

"And she has good taste in games," Chantal says.

"There's no better way to get the true measure of a group of people than playing Apples to Apples with them," Becky says solemnly.

"You're gonna run screaming, then," Lindsey says, but she leans back against Becky.

Lindsey lets Chantal set up the game in favor of staying where she is. Becky can't say she minds. When the cards are all dealt, things get serious, though. These people are clearly competitive. They play for at least an hour, stopping several times for drink refills. Becky is pretty sure she can legitimately be considered as snuggling Lindsey after a while.

Lindsey turns the TV on half an hour to midnight and gets out champagne. Becky suddenly remembers that New Year's Eve involves kissing, and Lindsey hasn't been far from her side since she got here. Becky, it bears repeating, is a smart woman. Suddenly her hopes are way, way up.

They all have champagne and are watching Ryan fucking Seacrest be terrible. "I miss Dick Clark," Jimmy says.

"I'll drink to that," Becky replies, and they all take a sip of champagne.

"I miss good music," someone adds.

"But props to anyone who goes out and plays in the cold like that," Lindsey says.

"True that," Kitty says. "Fucking brutal."

And then it's a minute to midnight, and Becky's heart starts thumping faster in her chest. An arm slides around her waist. "Just so you know..." Lindsey whispers in her ear as the countdown starts.

"Figured it out," Becky whispers back. She feels Lindsey's lips curl up into a smile against her ear. Becky leans back against Lindsey, and they watch the ball slowly descend. A cheer goes up around the apartment and hands on her hips turn her around.

"Happy New Year," Lindsey says.

"Happy New Year," Becky replies. Lindsey tugs her closer and leans in, and she gets a kiss, soft and slow and tasting of wine and lipgloss. It's still over too soon, and Becky takes a sip of her champagne to hide her flaming cheeks. Lindsey doesn't let go of her, though. Keeps Becky's hand wrapped in hers.

There's chatter about plans for the new year, and a few people talk about resolutions. When Becky finishes her champagne, she holds in a sigh. "I should go," she murmurs in a lull in conversation. "I need to drink some water and sleep off all the wine because I'm supposed to drive up to Connecticut tomorrow."

"I went up for Christmas," Lindsey murmurs. "Glad you could come tonight."

"It was nice to meet your friends," Becky says, smiling around the room and getting a chorus of good nights.

Lindsey smiles and reaches out and wipes a smudge of lipstick off the corner of Becky's mouth with her thumb. "Now you can go. Sleep well, drive safe."

"Night," Becky says with an answering smile. She shuts Lindsey's door behind her and leans against it for a moment, smiling like crazy. She drags herself downstairs, forces water down her throat, and falls into bed. Suddenly, the new year is even more exciting than it had been.

 

##

 

A couple of days after New Year's Eve, Lindsey texts Becky. Wanna hang out? Maybe play chess.

She gets back a sad face and, Still in CT. Soon though. When does your tour start?

Gotta fly out to LA in three days, Lindsey replies. She really hopes Becky will be back by then.

:((((((( that's when I get back is Becky's response.

Well, fuck, Lindsey thinks. That's not fair at all. Fuck. I'm sorry about the shitty timing, she texts back.

My fault, should have made plans sooner. How long is the tour? Becky asks.

A month, then home again, Lindsey replies.

You'll just have to text me. And call me. And we can just get together when you get back, Becky responds.

Fuck, Lindsey thinks, Jimmy is going to have a field day with this. Whatever. Jimmy is totally disgustingly in love with Chantal, and Lindsey knows how to make him pay. New Years Eve ended too soon, she texts after a moment.

It really did. We'll just have to make up for it later, Becky replies.

Lindsey grins at her phone. She rolls over in bed and stares up at the ceiling. She should be packing, but instead she's thinking about curvy redheads. Not Chantal either, although she loves her a lot. God, Becky is so damn... she's gorgeous and passionate about her work and so fucking talented, it's ridiculous. And geeky and enthusiastic and - well, basically perfect, and Lindsey wants to get her hands on her. On her hair, her ass, her gorgeous breasts. Lindsey had spent a lot of New Year's Eve forcing herself to look at Becky's face, not her cleavage. Her face is gorgeous, too.

Lindsey sighs and rolls over again. Fuck, she needs to get laid, and she's not going to be able to before she leaves. Not that it was guaranteed. But. Fuck. She slides her hand down and presses against her clit over her panties. Might as well. She can do this on the tour bus anytime, too, but at least here she can spread out a little.

She shimmies out of her panties and pulls her tank top over her head. Might as well do a good job of it. She lays back and lets her hands wander over her body, cup her tits, slide over her stomach. Lindsey plucks at her nipples first, kneading her breasts with her fingers, returning to her nipples and tugging a little harder, idly squeezing her thighs together and relaxing them a few times. She licks her lips and slowly moves one hand down her body. She shaved earlier, and everything is nice and smooth and slick already. She presses down over her clit again, slipping a finger between her lips and rubbing gentle circles. She lets a moan escape and keeps rubbing.

Lindsey takes her other hand off her breast and reaches for the drawer in her nightstand. She grabs blindly, doesn't care which toy she gets, she just needs something inside her. It's her double-headed dildo, and fuck, that's what she really wants, this inside her, someone on top of her, cunt grinding down and - "Fuck," she groans as she slides it in, rubbing her clit with her other hand.

She starts thrusting it fast and hard. She wishes she had a person to thrust against, had tits against her chest. She feels good, though. So good. She hums, pinching her clit and angling the cock, and jesus h. christ, there's the spot. Lindsey lets out a strangled moan and arches her back and holds it steady at that angle. "Fuck, yes."

She speeds up her fingers on her clit, rubbing short circles around the hood until she clenches around the dildo, and pleasure starts radiating out from her cunt through her whole body. Her hips snap up one last time against her hand, against the dildo. Her eyes squeeze shut, and she freezes, letting the orgasm fade into the kind of secondary shivers that make her want to squirm against the sheets. "Shit," she breathes. Yeah, that was good.

She lies there and pants for a minute. She leaves the dildo in and cups her breast, idly rubbing over her clit a couple of times before finally getting up to wash the toy. She doesn't bother with the tank and panties. She has one more night to sleep naked before tour. Might as well take it. At least she'll sleep well, now.

*

Lindsey's not entirely sure where they are. Some town in the southwest. The point is, it has a Wal-Mart. They stop the buses, and everyone piles out to do their shopping. Steve doesn't need to buy anything, so he's tagging along after Lindsey. She doesn't need anything essential, so she heads straight for the toy section. "I thought we already determined that positive reinforcement doesn't work on Jimmy," Steve says.

"Yeah, but you won't let me buy him a shock collar," Lindsey shoots back, heading for the board games. She digs around for a minute before finding what she's looking for and grinning.

"Oh my gawd," Steve says in an exaggerated Valley Girl accent. "You are such a giant nerd."

"Shut up," Lindsey replies. "This is all I need. Let's go see if we can find some weird shit."

They spend another hour in the store, and when she gets back to her bunk, Lindsey pulls the shrink wrap off her travel chess set, makes sure all the pieces are in place, pushes a white pawn forward, and snaps a picture. Play with me, she texts Becky and attaches the photo.

:DDDD I'm out right now, but there will be some serious pawn action when I get home, Becky replies.

Hot time in the old town tonight, Lindsey types.

Be better in person. But you're brilliant, Becky adds a moment later.

You'll just have to imagine my unsubtle flirting this way, Lindsey says.

What makes you think I wasn't already? Holy shit. Lindsey imagines the blush that probably went along with that text and grins. Becky's blushing is one of Lindsey's favorite things about her. How's tour so far? comes in a few moments later.

I haven't wanted to kill Jimmy once so far, Lindsey replies.

Congrats, keep it up, Becky types, then sends a picture a minute later of her chessboard with a countermove. Lindsey stares at her own little board before moving a magnetic piece and texting back a picture.

So, any exciting new projects? she asks.

Some progress on my mini. I can't wait to show you.

I can't wait to see! You are so talented it's insane.

You know what they say flattery gets you, Becky sends back, along with a picture of her board.

I don't know, you tell me, Lindsey replies and attaches a picture of her move.

Everything, comes the reply, and a moment later, a picture.

Gonna take you up on that everything sometime. Lindsey responds and makes a move.

Figured that out too, Becky replies. Smartass.

Becky's next move takes out one of Lindsey's castles. Lindsey takes a picture of her making a face at Becky and sends it along with her next move. Still gorgeous, Becky says.

They send texts and pictures back and forth until the bus stops, and Lindsey tells her she's got to go. You have a show tonight? Becky asks.

Yup.

Break a leg... is that what you tell musicians? Or is that just theater?

My family refuses to tell me to break a leg because they know how I play. Talk to you later, Becky.

Looking forward to it, Becky responds. Lindsey can't stop smiling as she grabs her show bag and gets off the bus.

 

##

 

Lindsey has been on tour for a week and a half, and Becky is glad they both have iPhones because otherwise she'd have to get a better text plan. She had no idea how much fun text chess would be though. She also had no idea exactly how enjoyable talking to Lindsey every day would be, except she'd have assumed. They text more than just chess moves. They text the minutiae of their days, Lindsey complains about tour shit, Becky complains about art shit. They send each other pictures of weird or funny stuff. It's awesome.

One day, Becky sends Lindsey a picture of a pile dog shit on the steps of their building. You totally miss home now, don't you?

Yeah, you know just how to paint it in its best light. Becky squeaks when her phone buzzes with the next message, Miss your face a little.

She taps the little button to flip the camera and snaps a picture and sends it. I miss yours too.

Need a shower. And a real mattress. And some vegetables, Lindsey writes and sends a picture.

Jesus, Becky thinks. Still so gorgeous it hurts. Do you guys get a hotel night soon?

Tomorrow. Maybe I can call you?

Becky bites her lip and grins. Yes, please, she replies.

*

She goes out for drinks that night with her friend Melissa. "So, I'm sort of dating this girl in a band that's on tour," Becky says as she sips her margarita.

"Define sort of," Melissa says with a smile.

"Well, she had to leave on tour before we could make anything official. We just text a lot. Like... a lot," Becky says.

"That's good. So you like talking to each other. Anything else happen?"

"It's such a cliche, but we kissed on New Year's Eve. Then I had to go see my family, and she left on tour," Becky explains.

"So... any dirty texts yet?" Melissa asks with a sly grin.

"No!" Becky says and blushes because she is generally terrible at this. "Besides, I'd rather like, get dirty in person before we jump to, uh, sexting." Melissa just laughs.

Becky can't stop thinking about it, though. Can't stop wondering if maybe Lindsey will come home, and they'll actually manage to make some moves on each other. Then the next time Lindsey's on tour. Well.

She manages to stop thinking about it when she gets home and starts work again. She's got so many deadlines, even a couple of hours off at the moment makes her feel overwhelmed. And fuck, she has to do laundry. There's no way that's going to be interesting, not this time. Unless... Maybe she'll see Lindsey's stray cat.

She wanders into the kitchen to check her cabinets for tuna fish. She has two cans, and she puts one in the top of her bag and hauls it downstairs. She sets the first load running before she makes her way out of the laundry room to go cat hunting. She rolls her eyes at herself. This was supposed to be a chance encounter, not a planned cat-finding mission, but she can imagine how Lindsey will smile if Becky tells her she fed the cat. That's enough incentive.

Becky hears a noise in the direction of the darkest corner of the basement and squares her shoulders. She walks slowly, carefully toward where the noise came from. She uses her phone to make a little light. "Cat, where are you? Help me out here."

There's a tiny mew from the corner, and Becky stoops down and looks inside a ratty looking cardboard box. "Lookit you," she murmurs. Instead of running away, the cat lifts its head and starts purring vigorously. "You're pretty tame for a stray."

That makes Becky sad, the idea that this was someone's pet at some point. "Well, kiddo, I brought you some food. Dig in." She opens the can and sets it down in the box. She does not let herself pet the cat because she knows it's coming upstairs with her if she does. The cat gulps a few mouthfuls of tuna, then stretches to bump Becky's leg with its head. Shit.

She watches her hand move toward the cat's head as if in slow motion. She scratches its ears and pets down its back, and it arches into her touch and purrs even louder. "Fine. Okay. But you're getting a bath first. If we can get through that, maybe you can stay. Just stay here while I check on my laundry, okay?"

Becky goes back to the laundry room and checks the dial, then goes back for the cat. It's licking its chops, and she snags the empty tuna can before it can cut itself or something. "Okay, kiddo, here goes." She reaches for the cat. She's a little afraid she's going to end up with shredded arms, and then she'll get cat scratch fever and die without ever getting to kiss Lindsey again, and that would suck. But the cat lets her pick it up and carry it upstairs.

She takes it straight to her bathroom. "I know this is an evil place of water, but I can't have you shredding my pages, kiddo. Just hang here, okay?" She hurries back downstairs to change her laundry over and practically runs back upstairs. She feels her phone buzz in her back pocket as she does it.

It's a picture of what is clearly a souvenir shelf at a truck stop somewhere. All tacky, faux-Native-American shit that seems to be everywhere in those sorts of places. I miss normal stores.

I bet. I, ah, can't talk right now, Lin, I have to wash a cat.

Is that a euphemism?

Becky laughs and blushes. Not even a little bit. The cat in the basement made herself known.

Oh my god, you're a sucker. I love it.

She's way too friendly to not have been someone's pet before. She's totally not used to trying to make it on her own.

I was afraid of that, Lindsey replies. Is she sweet?

Let me get back to you after the bathtub.

You are winning so many points right now, Lindsey tells her.

Becky grins. Figured I would. She almost makes a joke about having a cat together but refrains. They're not even technically dating yet. That'd be moving at lightning speed.

So yeah, I'm going to call you tomorrow night. And I will tell you all about those points, Lindsey replies. Becky smiles and sticks her phone back in her pocket. She'll send a picture of the cat later.

The cat submits to the bath better than other cats Becky has known, but she still comes out of it with some scratches and with cat hair sticking to her arms and probably her face. Once she has the cat wrapped in a towel, it settles into her arms and starts purring again. "I am such a sucker, and you know it. Well, congrats, kiddo." Now she has to go down to the store for some sort of cat supplies. And get her laundry. Right after she snuggles the cat for a while.

Becky snuggles the cat until she tries to squirm away and then gets up to go downstairs, get her laundry, and put the next load in. The cat seems content to sniff around things for the moment. Becky puts away all her pens and drawings just in case it decides to start jumping up on things and then goes down to the bodega on the corner. They have a small selection of pet supplies that will do for now.

Becky lugs the supplies upstairs. She might pass out from going up and down the stairs so many times in one night, but it's for a good cause.

When she gets in bed after finally settling down for several hours of inking, the cat jumps up after her, and Becky smiles. She smiles wider when it curls up in the curve of her body and picks her phone up from the bedside table. She holds it out to take a picture of them and sends it to Lindsey.

*

When Becky checks her phone the next morning, Lindsey hasn't said anything about the picture, but she's sent a chess move. They keep playing throughout the day.

Becky sends her a picture of her warm-up sketch, and Lindsey replies with, Fucking amazing.

Gonna be a good day, I can feel it, Becky replies.

Calling you tonight. As soon as I get into the hotel, Lindsey says.

Let's see how many pages I can pencil by then. Could use an incentive system. Becky wanders into the kitchen for more coffee and to check the cat's food and water.

I have plenty of incentives, Lindsey replies.

Becky's face heats up again. I like incentives. Especially when my reward is coming from you.

Hmm, Lindsey texts. How many pages do you have to get done today?

At least 10, Becky replies.

Then if I call you tonight and you say you've done 10, I'll tell you about the dream I had about you last night. Then, a moment later, And before you ask, yes, it's so worth it.

Becky bites her lip. She only just stops herself from asking what kind of dream. It doesn't really matter. It could be sexy; it could be she and Lindsey fighting off the horde together. Either way, it's gonna be good.

Challenge accepted :), she texts back.

They keep texting throughout the day, but with a little bit less frequency. Becky draws her fingers off. She does take a little bit of a catnap - a nap with the cat, anyway - in the afternoon, but by the time her phone rings late that night, she's on her twelfth panel and grinning smugly.

 

##

 

Lindsey hits send on Becky's number and waits while it rings once, twice, and then Becky's voice, "Hey." Lindsey can tell she's smiling.

"Hey, lady. How'd you do on work today?"

"Twelve pages, thank you very much," Becky says smugly. "I should work on this kind of system all the time."

"You're welcome very much. Hi, I like talking to you. How's the foundling?"

"She's good. Cute as hell," Becky replies. "Likes pettings and being in laps, but doesn't insist on it. Which is good because I can't really have a cat in my lap demanding attention when I'm working."

"Me neither," Lindsey laughs. "So she's definitely a she? Have you named her yet? Oh - and speaking of the cat, feel free to send me pictures of you curled up in bed any time."

Becky giggles down the line. "Sure thing. You had a good day?"

"Yes. We did a few touristy things, and now I am staying in the hotel until the very moment I'm forced to leave tomorrow," Lindsey replies.

"So. You gonna tell me about this dream you had?" Becky asks.

Lindsey flops over on her back and points her toe, stretching her leg muscles idly. She's pretty sure tonight's performance earned her a few more bruises, but she's feeling too lazy and content right now to go get her ointment from her overnight bag. "Guess I owe you, huh, big shot."

"You really talked it up."

Lindsey hears a rustle and a meow. "You in bed?" she asks Becky.

"Yeah, me and the cat are hanging. And yeah, she's definitely a she, and I haven't named her. I have an appointment with the vet tomorrow. They'll check for a microchip. If she doesn't have one, then I can name her," Becky replies.

"Smart and pretty," Lindsey replies.

"You're stalling," Becky says dryly.

"Not stalling. I wanna know all this," Lindsey replies. "But fine. You can have your reward. So, it started out as like… a sci-fi dream because Steve and I went to this crazy sci-fi museum yesterday. It was awesome. But anyway, we were on a space ship. I don't remember how we got there, really."

"Abducted by aliens for medical testing?" Becky asks. "No?"

"Hush," Lindsey tells her. "No interrupting. No, we were like. Roommates on this ship."

"I like that," Becky says.

Lindsey smiles. "So we're roommates, and there was some sort of thing where I went off on an extended mission because my subconscious is subtle like that."

Becky laughs. "Did you get kidnapped by aliens then? And I came and rescued you with like, my big lightsaber?"

"You know what they say about big lightsabers," Lindsey says. "Also, still interrupting."

"Yeah, yeah," Becky replies and Lindsey goes on.

"So I'm off doing whatever mission I was suppose to be doing and yeah, there was some sort of emergency. Then I was you for a while, and you insisted on being on the rescue team."

"Duh," Becky says, and Lindsey's stomach swoops. "And then it was this weird Avatar-style jungle planet, and you yelled at me a lot and then -" She pauses. "Well, there was some kissing."

"Also duh," Becky says. "Was it good kissing?"

"Fuck yes," Lindsey replies. "The best kind, where we couldn't keep our hands off each other and could barely breathe."

"Mm," Becky murmurs. "I'd like some of that now."

"God, yes," Lindsey says. "Seriously, one fucking New Year's kiss is not enough. We'll be back in New York in like, four days. Think we can make it 'til then?"

"Is there another option?" Becky says, sounding amused.

"There's the half-option where we have phone sex," Lindsey says. "Which would be great, but I think I'd like to be touching you for real the first time I make you come." Becky whimpers. "You're bright red right now, aren't you?" Lindsey asks.

"Yes," Becky replies. "Fuck, Lindsey."

"Yeah," Lindsey breathes. "Sorry. Wanna touch you so much, though. I keep thinking about it."

"I want it, too. I - yeah. Anything I say right now is going to sound uncool. I just - want you."

"Four days," Lindsey says. "Will you come to the show as my guest?"

"Yes, of course. Don't want to be anywhere else. Except maybe back here with you."

"Awesome. Great. God, I can't wait to see you. And play actual chess so I can see the faces you make," Lindsey says.

"Is that a euphemism?" Becky asks.

"Literal and euphemism. I contain multitudes," Lindsey replies. "Seriously, though. You make great faces when we play chess."

"Yeah, okay," Becky says and laughs.

"You do! Okay. I need to go make use of the jacuzzi tub. I got upgraded for some reason. Our manager didn't specify, and I was too impatient to actually get up here and call you to ask."

"And I am now going to go to bed and try really hard not to imagine you in a jacuzzi, so thanks for that."

Lindsey chuckles. She totally said it on purpose, after all. Lindsey pitches her voice low. "Well, I'm not gonna try not to think about you."

"Well, I hope you enjoy that, then," Becky says in a parody of extreme politeness.

"I will. You should enjoy yourself, too," Lindsey says. "I'll see you in four days, gorgeous. I'll email you the show info later."

"Night, Linds," Becky says softly.

"Good night," Lindsey replies and hangs up. She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. Time for a bath.

*

Lindsey is pretty sure she's a giant pain in the ass for the next four days, but in a band like hers, it's hard to tell. Kitty just laughs at her a lot, so that's a pretty good sign.

She texts Becky almost constantly, and finally, finally, the bus pulls into New York City. Lindsey always loves the last day of tour, and this one is going to be especially great, she can tell.

She doesn't see Becky before the show, but that's probably for the best. She does peek out from sidestage while the opener is playing, and she can see Becky in the balcony sitting next to Chantal and dancing adorably in her seat. Fuck, she's great. She hears Steve call her name and takes a deep breath. Okay. Nearly showtime.

When they hit the stage, everything that's not performing gets a little hazy, but Lindsey can't help playing to the balcony sort of a lot. Becky is definitely looking back. She beams every time.

 

##

 

Becky feels like a rock star tonight, and only part of it is the anticipation of later. Chantal had squeaked happily and run to give her a hug as soon as Becky had been led up to the VIP section. It's fucking awesome, though.

The openers are great, but Becky can hardly breathe when the stage hands are getting the stage ready for MSI. "They put on a helluva show," Chantal tells her over the din of the crowd.

"I can't wait!"

Chantal grins at her and so does Steve's wife Lucinda from Chantal's other side. "You are so exactly what she needs, honey," Chantal says in her ear.

Becky grins. They haven't really even begun yet, but she's pretty pleased Lindsey's friends like her. Then the show starts, and Becky can't look anywhere but Lindsey's side of the stage. Jesus Christ, she's hot. She beams up at Becky periodically and then does something ridiculous. Or ridiculously hot. Or both. It's just so good to see her, in the flesh and not just on her phone screen. It is possible to miss someone you've just met, Becky's sure now.

The show goes by so fast, Becky is almost disappointed when it's over, but then Chantal grabs her arm and pulls her toward the backstage areas. She hears Chantal call Jimmy's name, but it's hard to focus on the rest of the room when Lindsey's rushing toward her, sinking fingers in her hair and giving her a sweaty, endless, enthusiastic kiss. She wraps her arms around Lindsey's waist and kisses back as enthusiastically as she's getting. She hears some wolf whistles dimly, but she doesn't care.

"Becky," Lindsey gasps finally. "Goddamn, it's good to see you."

"Fuck yes," Becky replies and leans up to kiss her again. This time it's a little slower, softer. "You are so beautiful," Becky whispers when they stop for air again. "I couldn't take my eyes off of you."

Lindsey beams at her. "I could barely stop looking at you, either. Not that I could actually see you much, but when I could..."

"I could tell," Becky murmurs. "By how you immediately did something ridiculously dirty every time." She tucks her fingers into the waistband of Lindsey's skirt.

Lindsey smirks. "I aim to please."

"Get a room," Steve calls.

"No, no. They can do whatever they want," Jimmy says.

"And we will. In private. Creep," Lindsey teases.

Chantal winks at them. "I'll handle him."

"Thank you, Chantal," Lindsey says. "You're the only reason I haven't killed him yet."

They don't go get a room, though, because the band is too busy catching up with everyone else who came to see the last night of the tour, and eating, and drinking, and cleaning up, and Becky keeps getting distracted and meeting new people and maybe having a few drinks, which just make her happy and tipsy and - well, a bit handsy. Lindsey doesn't seem to mind.

Finally, Lindsey gathers her bags, and they hail a cab outside the venue. The ride out to Brooklyn at this time of night isn't super long, but Lindsey nods off against her shoulder anyway. She lets Becky tug her out of the cab and steer her inside, handing over her keys, so Becky can unlock her door. She only attempts to mumble a protest when Becky steers her into bed and avoids her reaching arms.

"Sleep now, Linds. You're exhausted. Come for breakfast, and we'll talk then," Becky murmurs.

"This was not the plan," Lindsey mumbles.

"Hey," Becky says, going back and perching on the side of the bed. "Guess what, I know where you live." She leans down and gives Lindsey another lingering kiss. "Come down when you wake up," she murmurs when she pulls back.

Lindsey nods. "Night," she says.

"Goodnight," Becky replies.

Becky lets herself out of Lindsey's apartment and into hers, where she's greeted by a meow. She smiles and leans down to lift Marian into her arms. "To bed with us. The sooner we sleep, the sooner tomorrow comes." Becky's not sure if she can sleep, though. She can still see Lindsey on stage when she closes her eyes. Also Lindsey looking sleepy and slumped into her duvet. And Lindsey drinking a beer and laughing. Fuck. She hasn't been this smitten in a while. It's kind of amazing.

She changes into her pajamas and forces herself to get in bed and not stay up all night drawing. Marian purrs beside her until she falls asleep, but a knock is what wakes her. She bolts out of bed, abruptly wide awake. Shit. She meant to like... shower and at least start breakfast before Lindsey got here.

"Just a sec," she calls, bolting into the bathroom and brushing her teeth. She's maybe panting a little when she opens the door, and Lindsey - who is totally standing there in pajamas herself - giggles at her.

"You look manic, Becky. Is this too -"

"No, no. This is fine. I just forgot to set an alarm," Becky says and tugs Lindsey through the door and into her arms. She tips her face up automatically and gets another one of those slow, thorough kisses. Becky leans into her with a happy sigh. Yeah, okay, her plans don't matter. This is good, too. She presses her cheek against Lindsey's. "I was going to make coffee. Start breakfast. I -"

"Need to turn around and head back to bed, gorgeous."

"Whatever you say," Becky murmurs.

"Careful, I'll take you up on that," Lindsey replies and backs her toward the bedroom. And then there's a loud mew from somewhere around their feet. "Oh!" Lindsey says, bending down. "Oh. Hi, baby."

Becky grins. "I named her Marian. As in Maid. Because I'm that kind of geek."

"You switched from swords to bows, Becky? Did I miss that while I was on tour? You have to keep me posted on these things." She very gently picks Marian up off the floor and cuddles her while Becky strokes the cat's ears.

"Didn't switch, just expanded scope a little," Becky replies. Marian purrs her contentment and butts her head up against Becky's hand.

"She's so beautiful and so friendly, and - fuck, we're not getting to the bedroom any time soon, are we."

Becky laughs. "I'll start breakfast and coffee. You can cuddle the cat."

"No, no, wait," Lindsey says, using her free hand to pull Becky in for another kiss. "Okay, there."

Becky smiles against her lips. "Coffee and food coming right up," she says. It's nice to cook for Lindsey while she's curled on Becky's couch, slippers kicked off, with her bare toes tucked under a cushion and a cat in her lap. A little intimidating to cook for, after the dinner Lindsey made on New Year's Eve, but Becky makes up for the basic food with running commentary. Lindsey just watches her and smiles.

She gets rewarded with another kiss when she takes Lindsey her cup of coffee. Becky could get used to this. Marian begs scraps of toast from Becky, but wanders off to sleep in a sunbeam while they finish their food. Finally, Becky takes the plates and turns back to look at Lindsey.

"Now what?" she says lightly.

"Now bedroom," Lindsey says emphatically. Becky can't help but agree.

Becky leads the way, closing the door firmly behind them and backing Lindsey up against it. She settles her hands on Lindsey's waist and leans up to kiss her. Lindsey wraps her arms around Becky's shoulders and pulls her close. "Christ, I've been waiting to have you near a bed," Lindsey murmurs between kisses.

"Just near it? On it is an option," Becky says, tugging absentmindedly at the drawstring of Lindsey's pajama pants.

"No, no. The bed is totally an option. Bed is preferred, really," Lindsey replies and pushes her gently toward it. Becky sits and slides back against her pillows, watching Lindsey kneel next to her, breathing hard as Lindsey's fingers hook in the neck of Becky's tank top and tug the cotton down. She didn't bother with a bra, didn't think about it, and now Lindsey's pulling the tank down below her breasts. "Fuck," Lindsey murmurs. "So perfect."

She breathes through her nose as Lindsey cups Becky's breasts in her hands, thumbing gently over the nipples as Becky bites her lip and pushes into it. Lindsey looks up into her eyes as she leans closer and slides her tongue over one of Becky's nipples. Becky moans, and Lindsey closes her eyes and starts sucking.

Lindsey's mouth is just gentle enough - but not too gentle - and Becky can feel herself getting wet. She reaches to tangle her fingers in Lindsey's hair and tugs her mouth up to kiss her. Lindsey doesn't seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere. She kisses Becky's mouth, her ear, her neck, down to her collarbones, licking between her breasts until Becky laughs and grabs handfuls of her shirt. "Enough. Enough!" She tugs at the cotton, and Lindsey slithers out of it. Becky hums appreciatively. Lindsey didn't bother with a bra either. Lindsey doesn't let her look for long before she lowers herself back down, her breasts pressing against Becky's.

Becky wraps her arms around Lindsey's neck and kisses her again. The feeling of her skin, of her body is heady, and Becky can hardly breathe. Lindsey's pajama pants are already loose thanks to Becky's earlier efforts, and they slide right down when Becky hooks her fingers in the waistband. She pushes them down as far as she can and cups Lindsey's ass, pulling her down and rubbing up against her at the same time. "Going commando, Lindsey? I like it." She moves her mouth to Lindsey's neck, under her ear, and starts licking over the skin, sucking gently.

"Fuck, Becky," Lindsey murmurs. She pulls back and kicks her pajama pants off and then tugs on the waistband of Becky's sweats and panties and pulls them off her legs. She leans down to kiss the top of Becky's knee and then up her thigh to her hip.

Becky reaches out and pushes Lindsey's hair behind her ear. "Come back up here," she murmurs, and Lindsey settles herself on top of Becky again. Becky hooks an ankle around Lindsey's leg, and oh fuck, this is even better. Skin on skin from head to toe.

"Fuck, I thought about this the other night."

"Every night," Becky tells her, rolling them over and kissing down Lindsey's neck again while she trails her fingers up Lindsey's inner thigh. Lindsey gasps into Becky's ear when her fingers nudge against the soft skin of Lindsey's cunt. She keeps her touch light, gentle, doesn't dip her fingers inside or touch her clit. Not yet.

Becky lets Lindsey press up against her hand, moving down to suck at the top of her breast, circling her tongue around the nipple. "Tell me what you want," Becky murmurs. "Tell me what you've been thinking about."

Lindsey laughs breathlessly. "Fuck. Everything,," she says. "Thought about everything. There's a lot of nothing to do on a tourbus."

Becky bites her lip around a grin. "That's not immediately helpful," Becky tells her, propping her chin on Lindsey's stomach and looking up at her. "What do you want most? Right now."

"Your fingers. On me. In me," Lindsey murmurs.

"Okay," Becky whispers back and slides her fingers up and down over Lindsey, still not touching where she knows Lindsey wants her. She knows that when she slides her fingers down and in, she's going to find Lindsey so slick and wet, and fuck, she can't wait. At the same time, she wants to drag this out, wants it to last forever.

"Teasing isn't fucking nice," Lindsey says breathlessly after a moment or two.

"You like it," Becky says, kissing open-mouthed across Lindsey's stomach and finally sliding her first two fingers between Lindsey's folds to find her clit.

Lindsey draws in a sharp breath, and Becky rubs slow circles over her clit before finally letting her fingers slide down between her folds. Becky lets out a little moan at how wet she is. She slides her fingers back out and up over Lindsey's clit again. This time she's a little faster, a little more insistent with her touches.

"Fuck. Becky, please," Lindsey groans, hips shifting. Becky kisses the tattoo on her abdomen and keeps rubbing, waiting for another moan before she slips one finger back down and inside, thrusts it in and out a few times. Lindsey's so slick that it goes easily. Lindsey thrusts her hips up, and she clenches around Becky's finger.

"You want more?" Becky asks.

"Yes. Please, Becky," Lindsey moans. Becky adds a second finger and starts thrusting, crooking them up to slide over Lindsey's g-spot with every thrust. She's starting to feel like she's teasing herself now, too, and she kisses even lower, sucking at the tender skin of Lindsey's thighs before finding Lindsey's clit with her tongue instead.

Lindsey moans, and her hands slide into Becky's hair, and she holds on. "Becky. Oh, fuck." Becky slides her tongue over Lindsey's clit over and over before she starts sucking. Her fingers keep thrusting, sliding easily as Lindsey clenches around them. She likes this a lot, likes the boneless way Lindsey moves against her, the way her hands in Becky's hair tug at her scalp. Becky wants to make her come, wants to hear it and feel it and taste it.

She adds another finger and sucks harder. Lindsey's fingers tighten in Becky's hair, and she moans again. Her hips stutter up against Becky's mouth and fingers. Becky swirls her tongue around Lindsey's clit, then down around where her fingers are entering Lindsey and back up. She looks up at Lindsey's face, licking gently at her clit for a moment, admires Lindsey's shiny-wet lips and the way she's plucking restlessly at her nipples. "You want me back up there, baby?"

"Fuck," Lindsey whispers. "Just. Fuck. Yes. Don't move your fingers? Need them." Becky smiles and kisses her way up Lindsey's belly and wraps her lips around one of her nipples. She keeps thrusting her fingers and slides her thumb over Lindsey's clit. Lindsey whines in her throat and thrusts her hips up to meet Becky's fingers. Becky presses back down and lets her set the pace, sucking hard, then gently, then tugging at Lindsey's nipple with her teeth. "Oh fuck, oh fuck," Lindsey gasps, and her hips stutter up. "Becky."

And then she comes, arching up toward Becky's mouth and against her fingers. Becky keeps thrusting her fingers, keeps sucking Lindsey's nipples until she wraps her hand around Becky's wrist and pulls it toward her mouth and licks Becky's fingers.

"That, ah, seemed to go well," Becky mumbles against Lindsey's chest with a little laugh. 'Lindsey, Jesus, you're amazing. I missed you so much."

Lindsey laughs. "We're not done, gorgeous. Not at all."

Becky lifts her chin and grins at Lindsey. "Yeah? What're you gonna do with me?"

"Fuck, that's the question," Lindsey murmurs. "We'll just start right here." She wraps her arms around Becky's shoulders and rolls them both onto their sides, pressing close and licking into Becky's mouth, urging Becky's leg over her hip. Becky obliges, and Lindsey runs a hand down her back and over her ass. She teases at Becky's slit as they kiss, and Becky moans.

"Yeah?" Lindsey murmurs. Her hand settles back on the small of Becky's back, urging her to grind down against Lindsey's thigh.

She's wet enough that she's sliding over Lindsey with ease in moments. Lindsey's mouth feels amazing against hers, her whole body does. "Fuck," she gasps. "Want…" Lindsey gets a hand between them somehow, rubbing hard at Becky's clit even as Becky rocks her hips. Her other hand wraps around the back of Becky's neck, under her hair, and she licks and sucks her way from one breast to the other. Becky squirms and gasps Lindsey's name.

She’s already so turned on that every touch, every movement Lindsey makes is winding her higher, closer. Her hips stutter against Lindsey's hand, and when Lindsey drags her teeth over Becky's nipple, she comes hard, moaning into Lindsey's hair and shuddering against her. "God," Lindsey mumbles, draping herself half over Becky like a slinky, satisfied cat. "God, you're sweet."

Becky wraps her arms around Lindsey's shoulders and holds tight. "I… fuck. That was amazing. I vote we just… don't get dressed today. Keep fucking whenever."

"I am good with that," Lindsey replies. "Really, really good. I didn't get very far down my laundry list of things I want to do, you know."

"With breaks to eat, of course," Becky says.

"And cuddle the cat," Lindsey adds.

Becky grins. "And play chess."

Lindsey makes a face. "You beat me the last four times in a row, you know."

"I know," Becky smirks. "I'm going for five. I have a really great forfeit in mind."

"Do you, now?" Lindsey asks and rolls Becky onto her back. "Does it involve you sitting on my face? Because I'd be into that."

"Wow, you're good at this game," Becky says, looking up at Lindsey.

Lindsey smirks. "Gotta make up for my lack of chess skills somewhere, gorgeous."

Becky grins. "I'm sure you have lots of other skills. Which I will let you demonstrate. For, you know, however long you want. Should I go get the chessboard now?"

"Nah. Let's stay here a little longer. Don't wanna let you go yet," Lindsey replies and kisses her.

"Fine," Becky mumbles between kisses. "Postpone your - inevitable - defeat." She ends on a moan. Lindsey's rubbing their hips together again, absently, teasingly.

"Mmm," Lindsey replies. "I'm actually pretty sure I won."

 

##

 

Epilogue: MoCCA Fest

Lindsey gets off the subway and feels in her bag for her badge. She pulls it over her head and walks the final few blocks to her destination. There are people milling around all sides of the Armory and even more inside, but Lindsey's only looking for one in particular. One very small, very redheaded artist. Lindsey has a cup of coffee in one hand and a paper bag full of brownies in the other, and her smile hides a kiss that's meant for Becky, too.

She looks at her map, checks the signs around her, and makes her way toward Becky's table. There's a bunch of people hanging around her table, and Lindsey hangs back watching her draw and chat with people until Becky spots her and beams.

"Coffee?" she says hopefully.

"Yes. But that's second." Lindsey leans down and gives her a kiss first.

"Is there a third?" Becky asks, eyes sparkling as she accepts the coffee. Lindsey plops the brownie bag on the table in front of her. "Oh god, this is why I love you," Becky murmurs rapturously.

Lindsey grins and sits in the extra folding chair beside Becky. "So how's it going so far?"

"I sold a lot of my minis and some of Melissa's stuff. I stopped counting sketches a while ago. My ass is numb from this chair. You know, same old," she laughs.

Lindsey grins. "So, successful."

Becky nods. "So far, so good. Gonna make you take me to lunch in a while, but I said I'd be at my table for at least another half an hour. You can wander or hang out. I'll just be talking to people and drawing."

"I'm gonna hang out. Watch you do your thing," Lindsey says and reaches into the bag to steal a bite of brownie.

She loves watching Becky draw. They got into the habit, within weeks of getting together, of having art afternoons. Sometimes Becky works on contract pieces, and sometimes she works on her self-published stuff, and sometimes she can't resist covering a few sketchbook pages with video game fanart. Lindsey has taken over a corner of her own with collage supplies, and they peek over each other's shoulders and commiserate when Lindsey gives herself the five-thousandth papercut, or Becky just can't quite get a pose right, and it's just... pretty much perfect.

Becky has seen her play shows a number of times now, but this is the first time Lindsey has seen this side of being a comic artist, seen her at a convention. She sits back and watches her draw, watches her talk to people. When a teenage girl comes up and tells Becky what an inspiration she is, Lindsey beams with pride. That's always the best thing.

"Becky Cloonan, you're awesome," Lindsey whispers in her ear after the girl leaves. "You just don't quit."

"Hell no," Becky says. "I'm living the dream." She tips her sketchbook up to show Lindsey what she's working on - a commission piece of the Queen of the Black Coast. "I think she's starting to look like you," Becky tells her.

Lindsey laughs. "There are worse things."

"I'm glad I got to see this before I leave on tour again," she adds. "It's kind of awesome to see you in your element here."

Becky grins. "I'm glad, too. I'm going to really fucking miss you, by the way."

"Me too," Lindsey says. "But we got the tour thing figured out pretty early."

"You should give the poor travel chess set a rest, Linds," Becky tells her. "I am still way, way ahead in the standings."

"That works out in both our favors, and you know it," Lindsey whispers in her ear, squeezing high on her thigh. Becky blushes and clears her throat as she takes a comic from someone, scrawls her name and talks to the person for a minute. When the fan is gone, Lindsey leans in again, "And that means when I come home, I have to pay my debt all at once."

“You don't have to talk me into it, Linds. I'm pretty easy for you, and you know it." And fuck, it's true, and it's mutual.

Lindsey grins. "I know. I just like paying my debt to you, is all. Makes you kicking my ass feel almost like a reward."

"So you're losing on purpose is what you're telling me?" Becky asks with a teasing grin.

"Never," Lindsey says. "Never would I ever. That is a slur on my name, you saucy wench."

"You two have officially spent too much time together," Melissa says, slipping behind the table and sitting in an extra chair. "Go have lunch and make out in an alley or something." Yeah, Lindsey likes Becky's friends a lot, too.

"Maybe we will," Becky says, capping her pen and tucking her sketchbook away. "Maybe we will."

Lindsey grins and lets Becky take her hand as they walk toward the main doors. She gets stopped once to sign something and another person actually recognizes Lindsey, but they finally get out onto the street again. "So, I'm taking you to lunch. Where am I taking you?"

"My only requirement is a comfortable chair," Becky says. "And you."

"You really are easy," Lindsey says, squeezing Becky's hand.

"Like I said. For you." Becky's smile always makes Lindsey feel like she's won.