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bickering over the scraps

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For the first time in several years, Cat opened her eyes calm. Her body twitched, unresponsive and relaxed, muscles humming with the bone-deep vitality of satisfied use.

 

She blinked, her sleepy mind beginning to register that some things were not quite adding up.

 

The first (and she almost cried in relief at this realization) was that she was finally free of the desperate loneliness. Fuck, but it had been a bad night. She had not expected to run into Killian and her new girlfriend at the cafeteria. The second was innocent enough on its own–the window was too close. She glared at the offending aperture. And then it struck her–the window was too close because she was on the wrong side of the room .

 

Catherine Foundling, stomach boiling with a cocktail of emotions she had no intention of dealing with, turned her head to meet the molten gaze of Akua Sahelian.

 

Fingers of light squeezed past the blinds and cast the other woman with dappled radiance, light playing over her dark skin and darker hair like waves. Her eyes, the same liquid gold that had haunted Cat through high school, struck an almost amber tone in her half-shadowed face. Akua shifted slightly and Cat was painfully aware of the muscles shifting against her bare skin. 

 

Catherine,” she drawled, in a voice too perfectly composed to be unrehearsed. 

 

“I would never have expected this from you.” Akua’s eyes flickered to where their arms were still clasped around each other. Cat felt her face grow hot and tore her eyes away. She searched for something, anything , that she could focus on that was not her bitch queen of a roommate. She settled on the fire extinguisher.

 

“Shit,” Cat grumbled. “Please tell me we didn’t fuck last night.” She shifted uncomfortably and  felt a sticky film of sweat that, compounded with the grin on her nemesis’ face, confirmed her fears. 

 

“Of course not, my dear,” she said, sarcasm dripping from her voice. “We sang musical numbers and held hands and,” she shot Cat a sidelong glance, “I was very thorough in keeping your virtue unbesmirched.”

 

Akua was cruel, and awful, and–suddenly Cat was acutely aware of every point where they touched, skin to skin, and it was wildly disconcerting to realize that Cat felt safe in her arms. This is Akua Sahelian , she reminded herself. The girl who spread Little Orphan Girl as a nickname to your entire high school student body. Remember who she is, and don’t get horny, idiot.

 

But Cat was remembering now how miserable she had felt last night, and how she had been desperate for any sort of stimulation to distract her. Akua had walked into the room just when Cat had decided to go hunt down Killian and beg her ex to give her another chance. Cat blushed. The memory of Akua “helping” her was…No! Bad Cat...No thinking about sex with her right there!

 

Akua’s smile softened into concern, and she raised her hand to stroke Cat’s cheek. “We should talk, dear heart.”

 

“There’s nothing to talk about! We had sex because I was out of my mind and we are never going to bring this up again!”

 

Cat was aware that her point was being mildly undercut by the fact that she wasn’t moving, but she couldn’t help it. She blamed Sahelian’s sheets. The traitors. All she wanted to do was curl up somewhere she felt secure, and right now it was very hard to work up the urge to leave what her traitorous muscles considered the safety of Akua’s blankets. 

 

Why did Akua say yes, last night? Did she have some ulterior motive? Catherine could not see what she could gain from revealing details of her past in college, so was it possible she was softening Cat up to ask a favor of her? There was nothing that Cat could give her that her parents’ money could not. Does that mean she actually–

 

“Dearest, we do need to talk. I would be more than willing to have meaningless sex and leave it at that, but I know you. You’re already trying to figure out my angle. I don’t know how to prove to you that I don’t mean you any harm.” The ghost of an emotion passed across Akua’s face that Cat did not know how to read.

 

“Why did you have to sleep with me in the first place? You could have just let me handle it myself.”

 

“What was I supposed to do? You offered , Catherine!” Akua’s hold on Cat tightened. She looked genuinely hurt and it worried Cat that she could not tell if Akua was feigning it.

 

“Well, as much as I appreciate the help with the rebound,” Catherine bit out. “I think I’ll no longer be requiring your assistance.” 

 

Something pale and cold roiled behind Akua’s eyes.

 

“Do you really think so little of me?” Akua hissed. For the first time, Cat distantly noted, Akua’s voice was unsteady. “Do you really think that I want to settle for a single night like some lovelorn fool?”

 

Oh. Oh.  

 

Akua looked away. 

 

“I–I should go,” Akua muttered, tone thick with misery.

 

Cat tightened her arms around Akua’s waist. She leaned in and rested her head on her shoulder.

 

“I don’t think I want that,” Cat murmured, and found she could not meet Akua’s eyes.

 

There was a long silence, pregnant with hesitation. 

 

 “We don’t have to talk about last night,” Akua said.

 

Cat breathed in, letting the warm scent of Akua’s skin settle her nerves. She closed her eyes and felt a wave of exhaustion pass through her. She curled up in the bed, feeling her body settle against her roommate's.

 

““Deal,” she mumbled. “We don’t have to talk about this, either.”