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in truth no beauty

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"Are you sure you're ready, Roxy?"

"As I'll ever be." Roxy punched her fist into her palm to drive home just how ready she was. "Lay it on me, Callie, I am so super psyched. No one will ever be more ready for anything than I am now. I can handle whatevs. Just say the word."

Roxy could hear the nervousness in her girlfriend's voice as she replied, "All right, then. I'm coming out."

The door to the bedroom—the bedroom Calliope had been holed up in for the past week—edged open much too slowly for Roxy's liking. But she knew she had to let this go at Calliope's pace, so she folded her hands behind her back to resist the urge to grab it and force the issue. Eventually the door stood wide open and there, on the other side, she was.

Roxy stared. She tried not to, but it was like...

It was like...

...watching a trainwreck.

I'm sure you're totes gorgeous. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You're so pretty, Cal, I can't wait to see you. All the things she'd told Calliope in the week leading up to this moment echoed through Roxy's mind, twisted and distorted by the reality of the situation.

Calliope was a monster.

There was nothing even a little beautiful about her. She was way too skinny, her skin looked all scaly, and her face looked like a skull. Maybe if Roxy was Jake she'd be into that but alas, poor Yorick, she wasn't.

Calliope looked like some kinda horrible monster right out of one of Dirk's favorite Ancient Greek myths and she was just standing there, looking at Roxy expectantly, and Roxy wanted to say something but the words wouldn't come out. What was she supposed to say?

So she just grinned weakly and flashed a thumbs-up.

Calliope's face fell. "Well," she said lightly, "at least I've got this over and done with."

"Calliope, I..."

"It's all right, love." The cherub smiled, her awful skull face splitting wide open to show off some truly frightening pointy teeth. "I already know that I'm hideous. It means a lot to me that you kept insisting otherwise, but now that the... er, the Earth cat is out of the bag, shall we say, there's little point anymore. Let's put it behind us, shall we?"

Roxy didn't know what to say. Even if she could stomach telling the lie she knew Calliope wouldn't buy it. She reached out to take Calliope's hand—it felt rough, leathery, and the claws were intimidating but Roxy had just finished playing the most intimidating video game known to humankind so who cared about a few lizard claws, damn it?—and nodded firmly. "I love you, Calliope," she said quietly, still reeling from the revelation, but now more than ever she felt like she had to say it, and now more than ever it was the truth.

The smile on Calliope's face gave way to something more subdued. She cocked her head in what Roxy could only guess was confusion. "I know you do, Roxy."