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Hurl Scouts obliterated the Flight Attendants in the semi-finals, and the after-party was going to be legendary. Bliss was riding the endorphins well into the second hour of the party, and she was damn happy. Hurl Scouts were going to finals, and Bloody Holly had completely recovered from her knee thing (she even had a doctor's note) and they were going to rock. She was living in Austin, where people actually did things. Bliss had a legitimately good job at a pizza parlor and she co-DJ-ed at an alternative radio station sometimes. Plus, she was taking a few college courses on the side so that her mom didn't die of shame, and she was entirely without homework. And Pash was visiting from college, so she was a little giddy on top of buzzed.

The girls had strict instructions to refrain from throwing either one of them into any kind of water, or throwing any kind of water on either one of them. Bliss had built up her rep, and Razor liked her so much that he was willing to let her assign punishment laps. Pash had texted and said she'd meet them at the afterparty, but Bliss was having a hard time finding her. For a few seconds, she was kind of worried that Pash might've straightened her hair or something. Or maybe Pash had forgotten that Bliss had dyed her hair purple last month, but that was kind of stupid, because drunken revelers were yelling "Ruthless!" and throwing themselves at her practically everywhere she went.

Bliss searched for Pash inside, where the air smelled like sweaty Febreeze with some pot underneath. There were a couple of near-misses with drunken groping musicians, but Bliss made it out before she could down her second beer. She figured that Pash had probably gotten lost or decided to take a shower or something, so she sat on the stairs outside of Johnny's house and felt her ass slowly soak in the dew.

Pash arrived in a fucking taxi, and she looked awesome. She'd changed into some really tight jeans and a pair of Chucks, and her makeup looked all worn in and thick. And she was wearing a fucking Babe Ruthless shirt, the one from last year with the picture of her punching Ringo Scar in the face mid-skate. She didn't look like an Ivy League college student at the top of her class, she looked like she fit in almost better than Bliss did. Bliss had been in Austin for a year and a half, and had spent three and a half years in the alternative scene and she still hadn't managed to completely pull that one off. It was probably the lack of boobs. Pash had awesome boobs, and she gave the best hugs.

And right in the middle of the first hug that she'd gotten from Pash since her last visit, Bliss kind of felt like she wanted to cry for no reason. She'd just missed her best friend. It was weird, because even in Austin when she had everything that she used to want minus a dependable boyfriend, it didn't feel like she'd imagined it would. She still felt weird and gawky, and if she didn't feel like partying or doing stuff with the derby, there wasn't really much to talk about. A dependable boyfriend probably wouldn't fix it, and if Bliss got one of those she would probably end up kicked off the team for breaking with the solidarity. There was something about the constant bruises that really attracted the freaks.

When she had been in high school, Bliss had thought that escaping from Bodeen and the beauty pageant circuit and getting to avoid real college would be so perfect that she wouldn't ever be unhappy. But it was hard for her to make friends at work, and her derby friends didn't know how to talk about anything else. Bliss kind of sucked at making friends, but she almost didn't need them, 'cause she still had Pash.

Pash would e-mail her every other day, and they had TV shows that they would watch together while talking the phone, and they called each other so often that Bliss had to get a heinously expensive cell phone plan. Everything was better when Pash was around. Bliss did get kind of frustrated with every time she had to threaten to inflict physical violence on asshole derby groupies who tried to hit on her best friends. It was a good thing that Pash was cool with all of the girlfriend jokes. It wasn't such a big deal in the alt scene, especially in derby, and Bliss had messed around with a few girls from different teams during break and that was cool. Pash was never uptight about what Bliss got up to. But it was different for Pash, 'cause she was all important in a prestigious school and reputations mattered over there.

Pash took like a full 15 minutes to inspect Bliss's face, grinning goofily. "I have to make sure you haven't gotten anything scandalously pierced," she said, wiggling her eyebrows.

"I'm not gonna get any piercings, even though it would totally kill my mom. They're too dangerous with all of the injuries and stuff." Bliss leaned in and got another hug. Pash smelled like grape soda.

"Oh yeah, I remember that time last year when Kitten Affliction's Marilyn got torn up halfway to her eye!" They both shuddered at the memory. That turned out to be a really badass scar, though.

Bliss reached into the pocket of her discarded hoodie and pulled out a hard lemonade for Pash. "You have to start off slow. A week and a half isn't enough time to be able to waste a whole day with a hangover." Pash nodded and kind of buried her face in Bliss's shoulder.

The air was getting kind of chilly, and Bliss was starting to regret how she hadn't really showered, so she put her hand low on Pash's back and pulled her inside. Thankfully, the music didn't suck, and it was pretty mellow. Over Pash's shoulder, Maggie made the face that she always made when she wanted you to get some action. But Maggie had been hoping that they'd hook up ever since she met Pash, so Bliss just ignored her. But she didn't ignore that bitch Risky Biscuit's lewd gesture. Bliss handed Pash over to Bloody Holly to get some more booze, and then she punched Risky Biscuit in the face so hard that she hit the ground. "Do you know why they call me Ruthless, bitch? Because bad things happen when you fuck with me." Bliss was tiny, so nobody ever seemed to expect her. It was an awesome advantage.

Smashley laughed so hard that she made a fist and kind of fell over on top of another Attendant and almost started a brawl. But that Smashley was clumsy and the new girl didn't know how things worked, so Bliss just rolled her eyes at the team captain and went back to her best friend. Pash wrapped her arm around Bliss's hip and pulled her into a quiet upstairs room to talk. It was covered in little white Christmas lights, and they gave Pash a kind of halo.

"Aww, Bliss. You defended my honor! And you scored 18 points this game. You're so awesome." Pash was probably halfway to drunk already, she always had a really low limit and she'd probably had some at the match. Bliss would probably have to cut her off after two more jello shots. Pash looked really good in the kind of way that only happened once you saw someone that you'd been missing for a really long time.

And then Pash held onto Bliss's face with both hands, really gently, and just looked at her for a little bit. Bliss's mouth went dry, and her gut started to drop. She really didn't want to jump to conclusions, but Pash's face was so close that Bliss could see every single freckle. And then her mouth tasted like lip gloss, lemonade and stale beer. The kiss was short, and over almost before Bliss's nerves had finished screaming about how Pash had just kissed her. Pash, her best friend in the whole world, started to giggle. "I've wanted to do that for so long. But I was always too nervous."

Bliss just wanted to kiss her again. "Me too," she said, and her voice was weirdly gruff.

Pash grabbed Bliss by the wrist and pulled her over to the pile of pillows on the floor, grinning like she had just won something. Bliss was shaking a little, and probably a little too drunk to deal with everything. "I don't know why we were so scared," Pash said, and Bliss kissed her.

By the end of that kiss, Pash had grabbed Bliss's hair so tightly that some of the purple came off on her hands.

That purple got all over everything.