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It’s not that she’s never noticed Ginny Cordero before — it’s that suddenly everything about her just seems different. Maybe it’s the light from the sunset leaving pink and purple beams in Ginny’s strawberry-blonde hair. Maybe it’s the vodka in Monica’s Diet Coke finally getting to her, turning everything fuzzy and soft.

Whatever it is, suddenly she can’t look away. 

She finds herself looking at Ginny’s lips — pale and pink. She doesn’t wear gloss or lipstick; she looks soft and natural, her cheekbones high, her skin creamy with freckles over her nose. 

She’s beautiful. How come Monica never realized that before? 

It must have been all the stress they were going through when they became friends, she tells herself. She leans over and trades drinks — Ginny’s got a thermos full of hot cocoa and a generous helping of Bailey’s — and she puts her lips right where Ginny’s were on the metal rim, and she can’t help but smile a little. 

Next to her, Ginny does the same thing with her can of Diet Coke. Then they look at each other, both smiling, and after a second Ginny’s nose scrunches up in a laugh and she shoves the Diet Coke back to Monica.

“Ew,” she says playfully. “You put way too much vodka in there.”

Monica laughs, too, and to her horror, she hears herself using what Alexa and Rachel call her “flirty slut” laugh, the laugh she uses when drunk boys approach her at parties and try to show off or tell jokes. She closes her eyes, instantly self-conscious, and in the resulting darkness, she feels ungrounded. Like she’s floating.

Or falling. 

“Monica…” Ginny starts. She’s silent for a long time after that.

“Yeah?” Monica prompts, not opening her eyes. She rests her head on her knees, breathing deep. She can feel Ginny next to her, her shoulder touching Monica’s, and she feels so small and thin beneath her Sunnybrook Warriors hoodie. 

Monica’s never been the bigger one in a relationship before. And then she realizes she’s thinking of this as a relationship and she flushes, correcting herself mentally, furiously: Friendship. Friendship. Friendship. 

She realizes Ginny still hasn’t answered her.

“Yeah?” Monica says again, and this time her voice comes out soft and shy.

Ginny says nothing.

She takes Monica’s hand and squeezes it. She shifts closer. She rests her head on Monica’s shoulder and sighs, and when Monica finally opens her eyes, Ginny is staring out at the stars and shivering, just a little.

Monica feels the thin, dainty fingers in hers and squeezes them back.

“Yeah,” she says, and laughs a little, and hears something almost like a happy sob come out of her throat. “I feel the same.”