The Homecoming rally doesn’t really count, Amy thinks. It’s not like they’d discussed it beforehand. It’s not like Karma had known what she was about to do. It’s not like Amy had known what she was about to do. Hindsight being what it is, Amy probably wouldn’t have picked on-stage at a pep rally in front of their entire class as the occasion to kiss her best friend for the first time.
Maybe Amy’s impulsive; sue her.
Again, they hadn’t really talked about it, but the second time around, Amy is more prepared. More or less. Okay, mostly less. She’d agreed to “be lesbians” with Karma before it had seemed like it would be a Problem, capital-P (the “P” is capitalized to connote significance, okay, because just about everything with Karma since The Kiss has felt Significant, and Amy has been assigning mental importance to Events as a means of coping).
So, the second time around, they still have an audience, and Amy is sort of weirdly grateful? She doesn’t have to worry as much about wanting to get her mack on with her best friend if their viewing public is demanding it of them; she’s just giving the people what they want, she’s magnanimous that way. They’re at lunch in the quad and some asshole starts chanting for them to kiss kiss kiss and Karma just smiles and rolls her eyes indulgently in a way that says they’re so silly isn’t that cute. Then Karma leans in like it’s not a big deal at all, like the fact that her mouth is a breath away from Amy’s mouth is just fine and normal.
What’s Amy going to do after that, shove Karma away with both hands? Not so much. If she feels a little weird about kissing Karma, if she feels something akin to butterflies in her stomach? She plays it off. She kisses back like a pro. Amy is nothing if not professional.
“Maybe less tongue,” Amy finds herself saying. It’s not completely out of the blue. It’s not like a total non sequitur. Karma had been kissing her goodbye before Geometry and Amy had just sort of vocalized her thoughts on accident. Karma looks aghast. Amy hastens to soften the blow, “Like, a little less.”
“Oh my god, am I completely shoving my tongue down your throat? Is it gross?! Tell me if it’s gross!” Karma is near hysterics and Amy feels strangely obligated to assuage her.
“It’s not gross, relax,” Amy’s saying (it is, in fact, the total opposite of gross; Amy’s kind of into it, if she’s being completely honest, WHICH SHE IS NOT), “Just maybe more PG for school. Maybe tone it down a little?”
“Oh, gotcha,” Karma winks. Literally winks, like she has a secret and Amy’s in on it. “Wouldn’t want to titillate the masses.”
Amy tries to control how hard she flushes. She mostly fails. “If you could never use that word again, that’d be great.”
“What, ‘titillate’? That word?” Karma is enjoying Amy’s discomfort way too much.
“Titillate!” Karma is still laughing.
Amy shoves her into a locker.
Sometimes Karma is a really good listener. Sometimes she really takes Amy’s suggestions to heart. After one too many PBR’s, this is not one of those times. Amy remembers very specifically asking Karma to think about maybe using a little less tongue, and here Karma is using decidedly more.
They’re hidden away in Shane’s laundry room (and Amy use the word “hidden” very loosely because the entire student body knows they’re in here) for “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” because they’re all apparently twelve, and Amy is thinking really hard about where the appropriate place to put her hands is. She settles for one in Karma’s hair, the other on Karma’s lower back; her thumb skimming along the waistband of Karma’s jeans.
“Is this okay?” Karma mumbles into the bare juncture of Amy’s neck and shoulder. She mouths along Amy’s clavicle as she waits for an answer.
Amy’s brain sort of stutters out an inarticulate hnnnng at the feel of Karma’s mouth on her throat, but by the grace of god and also Jesus, she manages an audible “So okay.”
Thing is, Amy wasn’t surprised when she and Karma got thrown in here for the amusement of their doting peers; she’d expected it, even. Not expected it in the way that she’d had any idea she’d be exactly here, against a Kenmore front-loading washing machine, with Karma’s hand snaking under the back of her shirt while probably a whole crowd was listening on the other side of that door; but more in the general sense that she’d anticipated something kind of mortifying and insanely pervasive.
She probably shouldn’t be enjoying it this much. Maybe she’s too into it.
“You good?” Karma breathes out, right up into Amy’s ear. Something inside Amy stops – then starts again at the soft, concerned hitch in Karma’s voice. The pounding of Amy’s heart echoes the throb between her legs.
Karma’s hand falls from the sharp jut of Amy’s shoulder to the soft dip of Amy’s waist, gives a little tug until she pulls Amy’s hips flush with her own. If Amy were a stronger person, she’d have bitten down on her own tongue to keep from crying out at the contact.
“Yes,” Amy hisses. Her mouth finds Karma’s again. She is so, so good.
Somewhere, a clock is ticking.
There’s no audience. No one to perform for. Nothing to prove.
Amy kisses Karma. Softly, surely; borne of habit.
Karma lets her.
It starts with, I’m sorry.
Amy is trying not to dwell on it. When she thinks back to her first time, she doesn’t want it colored by apology or regret. So this wasn’t exactly how Amy pictured the Big Moment, with Karma looking guilty and insensible, as if she was just now recognizing the effect she had on Amy; how a touch, a look, was enough to undo Amy completely. Instead, Amy focuses on what came after; how Karma had turned to her in that instant and Amy had felt a shift, had felt something monumental and elementary sliding into place.
I love you, Karma had said. And Amy didn’t doubt it, exactly; she knew that Karma loved her. She believed it. She just wasn’t entirely certain what that love meant anymore, if Karma meant love like Amy meant love. She wondered if Karma meant it like it was something that ate at her, that swallowed her whole and left her in pieces at the same time. Did Karma mean it like something that she felt entirely, bodily, with all the tangled, confused parts of her, like Amy did? Did she want Amy like Amy wanted her; inexplicably and uncontrollably and without hesitation or remorse?
Probably not. Karma probably wasn’t about all that. Karma was probably not as invested as Amy was; Amy gets that. On some level, she gets that. Amy was not about to criminalize Karma if she was just looking to explore her sexuality and enjoy herself in the moment. Amy was an equal-opportunist; she supported everyone's right to express their sexual desires and curiosities, provided they were consensual (they are woman, hear them roar, et cetera, et cetera). Not exactly Amy's jive, but she can dig it. Maybe Karma is fine just rolling with this, with seeing how it plays out, but Amy can’t exactly compartmentalize like that.
For Amy, this is everything or it is nothing.
“I love you,” Karma says, one hand on the button of Amy’s jeans. Amy doesn’t respond, doesn’t move, doesn’t do anything but remind herself how to breathe beneath the weight of someone else’s body. “I love you.”