“Kanaya. I’ve noticed that you’ve been wearing an uncommon amount of headscarves, hats and the like recently. I am beginning to think you are trying to hide something? Perhaps a pair of small horns has cropped up in the past few weeks?” Rose sat in the shade of a tree, the two girls relaxing after finishing their last class for the day.
“I assure you, that I do not know what you are alluding to. Furthermore, if I were to have horns, they would be long and elegant. Would you like a bite of my sandwich?” Kanaya focused on unwrapping her lunch, hoping to veer the conversation in a different direction.
“Let me attempt again. I’ve seen you wear more forms of head covering in the past three weeks than I have in the past year and half. I even asked Vriska, and she informed me that you wear some sort of head covering at all times when you are home as well. Not that she noticed until I asked. And thank you, but I must declined.” Rose had tried to many weird culinary concoctions that barely fit the label of sandwich to brave Kanaya’s food again.
“Oh, I suppose you are right. You see, I have recently found this accumulation of hats and scarves in my closet, and could not resist trying them out. This is entirely impromptu.”
“I am inclined to believe you as long as we change the words ‘found’ to ‘sought out’ and ‘impromptu’ to ‘deliberate’”
“I believe the correct term for such a thing is ‘putting words in my mouth,’ words that I deliberately did not say, nor have any intention of saying,”
“You realize-“ Rose started to correct her before being cut off.
“Yes, yes I know I just said one. It was meant for effect.” Kanaya snapped, and folded her arms across her chest defensively.
Rose let out a tiny ‘hm’ but continued to stare pointedly at the flat cap that adorned her friend-maybe-something-more’s head.
“If that is the case, then, please, can you take your hat off?”
“That is unnecessary and I will refuse from doing so now simply to spite you.”
“You devious creature you.”
“Yes. It is I, the most devious of creatures. The fearsome Kanaya.”
“You do realize what this means now?”
“That you will respect my wishes and leave my head alone?”
“Why would I ever do something like that? No. This calls for a series of dramatic and entirely unnecessary series of unfortunate events.”
“I was afraid you would say that.”
Later that day, Kanaya had to dive roll from a bench at university as Rose tried to sneak up behind her. The next day she had to dodge to avoid Rose leaping from a tree. She avoided trees after that. She also learned that she had to talk with her back to a wall at all times after Rose attempted to recruit Vriska to sneak up behind her as Rose distracted her. There was even more than one psychoanalysis where Rose tried to compare her stubbornness to her inability to open up to her mother.
Ultimately it was a war of attrition, one Kanaya was bound to loose. Once Rose fixated on a target, there was no way to deter her. It was only a few days before Kanaya pulled Rose into an empty lecture hall, standing oddly close for a heart beat before they each took a step back and cleared their throats.
“You are perhaps wondering why I pulled you in here.”
“Not especially, I presume it has to do with the hat you are now wearing.”
“Rose, do not ruin this for me. If you are allowed flying jumps from places on high, then permit me my own dramatic endeavors, I’ve been planning this unveiling for too long. Now let me start again. You are perhaps wondering why I pulled you in here.”
“I can only guess that you have caved to the sexual tension and finally, at along last you wish to ravish my body.” Her dry voice did not convey Rose’s actual desire on the matter.
“No? Was that not correct? Then tell me, Kanaya, what is it you intend to do with me here, in the sanctity of this class room.”
With a flourish, Kanaya removed her trilby to reveal…
“That is an awful hair cut.”
“To be more precise, a good hair cut that has now grown out and thus is awful,” Kanaya corrected.
“There is a simple solution to this, one that does not require covering your head at all times. This new thing called a hair salon. A place where you exchange currency for services.”
“This currency that I lack because I am a poor design student who must spend ridiculous sums of money on paper and pens?”
“Oh. Fuck. Yes.” Rose’s cheeks colored as she realized the obvious.
Kanaya ran her fingers through her grown out hair. What had once been a pixie cut now was bordering the line between bob and mullet. It fell over her forehead and poked her in the corner of her eyes. She hated it.
“So, what do you plan on doing?”
“Let it grow out until it is something more manageable? Shave the whole damn thing off?”
They both sat on the edge of the table, staring at the white board covered in gibberish and poorly drawn dicks.
“If you are willing to go to such extreme as shaving the entire thing, then I could offer my lack of expertise? I cut my own bangs, and help trim Dave’s hair, and you know how finicky he is. Worse case scenario, if I mess it up, you can still shave it.”
“That... is not a bad plan. Yes. I am a fan of this.” She gave a small nod as she thought the situation over.
“Come over to my flat tomorrow, then. I have clippers and scissors and even a bathroom.”
“An entire bathroom you say? What luxury. I accept your gracious invitation. Consider it a date.”
“A date?” Her heartbeat quickened as she tried to keep her voice calm.
“I mean… its just an expression… and it is technically a date on the calendar, but only if you want it to be,” Kanaya tried to retract her words, but only managed to jumble them together.
“You are rambling. I must run to class, but, yes, it can be a date.”
Kanaya had never been so thankful for horrible hair.
Kanaya had never been so resentful for horrible hair. What was she suppose to wear? What wouldn’t she mind getting loose bits of clippings scattered on. Something dark, something that her dark hair would blend into. But what would look good with her new hair? She couldn’t just wear anything. Shit. Why did this have to be so complicated?
“Stop fussing, fussyface. She sees you almost every day. And this is the worse date I’ve ever heard of! Where’s the romance, where’s the grandeur! If she isn’t giving you a necklace at least, she isn’t doing it right.”
Vriska leaned on the frame of the doorway, watching her flatmate tear apart her wardrobe.
“Not everyone needs candle lit dinners at fancy restaurants followed by breaking into hotels’ pool for skinny dipping. Not everyone can even afford that, not everyone wants to risk that.”
“Bluh. Of course everyone wants that! Its great! But look, for your shitty ass date, just wear some thing loose. No, not for that. Just so you can shake all the hair out of it easily. Anything tight and it will be unbelievably itchy, trust me. And, worse case scenario, you’ll have to ask Rose for a shirt. And that’s not really a worst case scenario, is it?”
“No, its not. She’s bound to have something that will fit me.” Kanaya was thoughtful for a moment.
“Even though she’s what, a foot shorter than you? If not, oh no… guess you have to be topless… such a loss. Life is awful! You have the worst luck!”
Walking over to where Vriska was laughing to herself, Kanaya closed the door right in her face.
“Hey, I was helping.”
“To some degree, but now I must change. Most notably, away from prying eyes.”
“What ever floats your boat, what ever lifts your skirt, Maryam!” Vriska’s voice faded as she walked across the flat to her own room.
Tentatively she knocked. A gentle rap at the door that she has visited many times before. A door that she now stood before nervous, playing with the hem of her shirt, worrying it with her fingers. A habit she has had since she was young, and mostly able to resist unless highly agitated. She looked down to appraise her outfit, a dark green v-neck and jeans, simple, easy, casual but still attractive. A v neck. It was only now that she realized that it would funnel all of the trimmings to her cleavage. Fuck. And it was too late, she couldn’t run back to her flat and change, because here was Rose. Rose with her constant headband, and purple skirt and black shirt, and wiry smile.
“Do come in.”
The flat struck that careful balance of tidy enough to maneuver, but not so clean as to appear imposing. That is to say, everything had a place, but not necessarily was everything in its place.
“If you want, you can put your bag down in my room,” she gestured to the first door on the left, “and I have the bathroom set up for when you are ready,” she gestured to the only door on the right.
After putting her bag down, Kanaya brought over a metal tin to where Rose was sitting on the frayed couch in the kitchen-cum-living room
“I brought some baking, as a thank you. And do not worry, I followed a very normal recipe,” Kanaya was still fidgeting, still not entirely comfortable.
“Kanaya, please relax. And sit, you’re tall enough when I’m standing, when I’m sitting this is just ridiculous.” She waited until they were both situated before she took a bite of the baking and continued, “first and foremost, these are delicious. Second and second most, what kind of hair cut would you like?”
Kanaya breathed a sigh of relief. This was a conversation she was prepared for, this was something she had rehearsed and could talk about. She even had saved some pictures on her phone to illustrate her points.
“Something similar to this, shorter on the sides, longer on tip. Very different than my last hair cut. It is time for something new.” She leaned over to show the examples on her phone.
“And in the back?” Rose leaned in closer.
“Short. I need to be rid of the mop that now resides on the back of my head.”
“We can use the clippers for that.”
They continued talking, enjoying sitting so close to each other, Rose bending over Kanaya’s arm to view the phone instead of taking it in her own hands. Why would she willingly ruin the opportunity to be closer to Kanaya?
But eventually Kanaya went from sitting on the busted old couch to sitting on a stiff chair in the bathroom, towel wrapped around her throat to keep out the worst of the clippings.
Rose’s fingers threaded through her hair, accessing the length, and using a comb to part it. And then there was a snip and dark curls fell to the ground. Another snip, another curl fell. Kanaya couldn’t see them, didn’t want to turn her head to look behind her, but she knew there were there and felt excitement well up in her chest. Excitement that could largely be due Roses’ hands moving her head, pressing it forward or to the side to give her a better angle.
She worked from the back of the head around to the front, the snip of scissors following her.
“I’m just giving it a rough shape now, and will go back over once everything is mostly to the length you want it.’
Kanaya was dimly aware of the words, but she was to focused on Rose standing before her, her legs on either side of one of Kanaya’s so that she might have an easier reach. She was basically straddling her leg. Wetting her lips, Kanaya resisted the urge to reach out the few inches and touch her hips. Instead she balled her hands up beneath her towel.
And then Rose was back behind her, pushing her head forward. She had never been so aware during a hair cut before, heart hammering, the sudden click and buzz of the clippers made her practically jump out of her seat.
Rose wasn’t any better. Although she tried to remain calm and poised, her hands were shaking, her bottom lip pinched between her teeth in concentration. A few times she lost focus and just played with Kanaya’s hair. It was thick and dark and everything hers was not.
“Shit.” Her focus had slipped at exactly the wrong time.
“Rose… what is shit… what happened?”
“Nothing, nothing. I just cut a bit closer than intended. Nothing that can’t be fixed….I might have to shave the sides as well. Actually, would you like this to be asymmetrical?”
“Shave only on side? I… yes. This is a good idea, let’s do it.”
“And remember, we can always shave both sides if you end up not liking it.” Rose muttered more to herself.
At last Kanaya was standing in front of the mirror. Fiddling with a strand here, readjusting the fringe.
“I like it. I really do… but I look very gay.”
“I hate to break this to you, but you are in fact a homosexual. One could even call you a lesbian.”
“This is true, but I don’t want to conform to more stereotypes. I don’t want to be someone that they can point to and say, ‘obviously you’re a lesbian!’”
“Do you like the hair cut, honestly?”
“Then it doesn’t matter. How other people perceive you is their own problem. If they want to think all people who don’t fall in a heteronormative structure have short asymmetrical haircuts, then their heads are so firmly lodged up their own asses that they are wearing them as hats. You shouldn’t limit yourself or what you like, because you want to prove something to people who wont even care. Basically, in short, fuck those guys.”
“I didn’t realize you felt so strongly about this.”
Rose gave a tiny shrug, “I’ve spent enough of my life trying to prove things to people, instead of doing what I actually enjoy.”
Kanaya watched her in the mirror; she looked so small then, so serious, the usual playfulness gone from her eyes.
A soft whisper of, “Rose,” escaped Kanaya’s lips. She had never seen her look so vulnerable, never really considered the possibility, had never thought how she might comfort her. She was not prepared for this situation.
At the sound of her how name, she looked into the mirror, meeting Kanaya’s eyes, and let out a sigh.
“So, it goes.” The playful look was returning, as much of a defense mechanism as her brother’s glasses and pokerface. “What would you like to do the rest of the night, Ms. Maryam?”
Kanaya was mentally berating herself. She had been shown the briefest look at what made Rose work, and all she could do was stand there, not offer any comfort or support. She muttered under her breath, more candid than intended.
“Another chance to comfort you as you revealed something personal would be grand.”
Rose quirked an eyebrow, touching Kanaya’s shoulder so that she turn to look her in the face and not through a mirror. “Oh really now? Well, they are few and far between, such episodes. I suppose that you must remain in my company in order to see such a thing again.”
“I suppose I must,” That wasn’t a rejection, that wasn’t disappointment. It was a second chance. “Are you implying you would not be apposed to more dates?” She held her breath; she thought she had ruined everything in that one fragile moment.
“Kanaya. I’ve wanted to be with you for over a year. Now, before you can stutter and fuss, kiss me.”