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“Sweetheart, I swear, you’re not going to burn yourself.”

 

Kankri cradled the blown glass bong in his lab, fiddling with the slide. The bowl was empty, so he wasn’t spilling ash or bud all over his lap, but he’d been known to forget with a half-packed bowl and dump dusty weed onto his jeans. Meenah was curled up on the couch next to him, hugging a pillow to her chest and socked feet up on the cushion. Her lips were pursed.

 

“I dunno, Kankles. Every time you do the lil flippy thing with the lighter and then tilt it sideways I get nervous.”

 

He reached out and put a hand on her knee. She glared at it.

 

“And yet, have you ever seen me burn myself? It’s perfectly safe.”

 

“You keep saying that babe, but you have those callouses on your fingers and I’ve got these,” Meenah grumbled, waving her acrylics at Kankri. They’d gone to get their nails done earlier that day, Kankri for his usual bright red pedicure and Meenah for some jet-black, pointed falsies. Currently, they were attempting to decompress after a particularly heated encounter at the Sephora makeup counter. Meenah had to drag Kankri away from the other customer who was attempting to explain why Kat Von D was actually, really, super unproblematic. Obviously, Kankri had to correct her. The woman was a menace.

 

Okay, to be completely honest, Kankri just really wanted to smoke after a long day and was hoping that maybe, this time, he’d convince his girlfriend to join him. He’d never, ever pressure her into it – consent was ALWAYS key, even and especially with substances. On the other hand, being high by yourself with a sober girlfriend was boring for Meenah at best and catastrophic psychologically for Kankri at worst. She’d gone home early the night he couldn’t stop laughing at Pacific Rim. She’d missed the forehead touch scene!! Absolutely tragic.

 

“Meenah, would you like me to use the lighter? I can hold it for you so you don’t have to touch it.”

 

She continued to frown, deeper somehow, and scooched her feet further into the couch. At this rate, she’d be subsumed by the soft cloth. Meenah shoved her face into the pillow and made a noise.

 

“Yes, beloved?”

 

“Rrrrrrrrraaaaaarrrggggghhhhhfine,” she said, lifting her head mid-groan. “But only ‘cause I love you and ‘cause dragging you out of that store by your belt hurt my armmmm.” She waved her arm in front of her for dramatic effect, rolling her eyes to look at Kankri while holding her wrist limply in front of her.

 

“You know you didn’t need to grab my belt, right dear?” He winked at her, making sure to communicate he was teasing, setting the bong on the table to start packing a bowl.

 

Meenah stuck her tongue out at Kankri and unfurled a little, kicking her feet and grabbing her phone. “Whaddya want to watch?”

 

“To be completely honest, once I get high I’m going to spend the entire time looking at you. Whatever you want, dearest.”

 

Meenah buried her face in the pillow again and screamed. “AAAHHH why you gotta be so NICE, stupid crab.” She rolled sideways and bonked her head against his shoulder. “We’re watching Kipo again, then.”

 

Kankri smiled, sliding himself and the tray sideways until his thigh was nestled against Meenah’s. He opened up the grinder he had finished crushing a few nugs into, and scooped out an amount of the ground bud with a business card folded hot-dog-style he kept on the tray. Carefully, he held the bowl in one hand and the card in the other, tapping the green herb into the well of the bowl with a finger. Some pollen remained on the card, and he scraped the kief into the bowl with a well-polished claw. Finally, he tapped the side of the bowl, the weed jumping and settling into an even layer. Kankri was satisfied. He picked up the bong and slotted the bowl into the stem.

 

“Ready?”

 

Meenah looked apprehensive again. “You’re SHORE the lighter isn’t gonna explode in my hand while I’m holding it on?”

 

Kankri smiled. “Meenah, would you like to see me do it one more time?”

 

She blushed. “Yes…”

 

“Of course, dearest.” He leaned over and laid a light kiss on her temple. She’d told him once that sometimes his pet names sounded insincere, so he wanted to be clear in his intent.

 

Slowly, in a very telegraphed manner, Kankri lowered the bong to his lap and held it in his left hand, the red Bic in his right. He flicked the spark wheel on his lighter. The flame burst to life and reached toward the ceiling.

 

“So, the reason that the flame will not burn you is because you’ll be pulling it into the bowl, over the edge. I’m going to do what’s called ‘cornering,’ where I hold the lighter to the edge of the bowl and let the flame just creep over the corner. If I held the flame over the entirety of the flower, it would all catch at once, which is called ‘torching’ the bowl.”

 

Meenah poked his cheek. “Shut up, you gigantic fuckin’ nard. Smoke the weed.”

 

“I’m smoking the weed!” He did exactly as he said he would, burning the bud in the corner of the bowl and only the corner of the bowl, extinguishing the flame after a moment’s exposure. Kankri breathed in until there was no room left in his lungs, swiped the air filter off the table, and held it to his mouth to exhale.

 

“And then, we use the air filter ‘Smoke Buddy’ at the end, to prevent my bastard landlord from evicting us for illegal substance use.”

 

“And because of the cats,” Meenah added.

 

Kankri nodded. “And because of the cats.” He leaned back to look at Meenah again. “So, did the practical demonstration help?” The warm fuzziness of the high spread up Kankri’s spinal cord and cradled the base of his head. Mmm, that was pleasant.

 

“Imma be real with you Vantas, once was not enough, but I don’t wanna get you stuck in your couch before I get stoned.”

 

“Would you like to have your hit out of the girlfriend instead of out of the bong, then?” Kankri waggled his eyebrows at Meenah, who blushed and hid behind her hand.

 

“Maaaaaybe out of the gillfrond,” she said, looking up at him from under her lashes.

 

“Well, then out of the girlfriend you shall have it! Now, before I do this, you’ll have to breathe all of the air in your lungs out. Got it?”

 

Meenah nodded, setting her hug-pillow down next to her and cuddling closer to Kankri. She rested her head on his shoulder. He paused, soaking up her warmth for a moment, until she poked his stomach. “C’mooon, you’re gonna get sleepy-high, dork.”

 

Kankri pulled another hit, burning up most of the weed in the bowl. Holding his breath, he set the bong and lighter down, threw the filter into his lap, and turned down to Meenah. He gently cupped her face in one hand as she breathed our through her nose sharply, and kissed her.

 

She opened her mouth and he breathed out, not too quickly. Kankri risked opening his eyes and Meenah’s were still closed, lashes resting on her cheeks. She pulled away before he finished breathing out and tapped his chest before coughing. Kankri couldn’t really stop breathing out at this point, and may have given Meenah a face full of smoke while she continued coughing.

 

“Hak – FUCK – kaff kaff – KANKRI – f-huh-huck,” she wheezed out. He snorted a little more smoke out of his nostrils and patted her back a bit. “Holy shiiit, babe, that hurt!”

 

“Yes, unfortunately while I absorbed the brunt of the THC, I did not absorb most of the resin smoke.”

 

She flicked his head. “Shut the fuck uppp and get me some water.”

 

Kankri hugged Meenah and kissed her head a few times while she squirmed like a particularly fed-up cat. “Of course, sweetheart. Hydration is key!” He let go and laughed as he dodged the smack she was aiming in his direction (it would have hit his ass, but it was about the thrill of the chase) and hurried to the kitchen.