Meeting at brightly lit, chic little bars in downtown New York, where a single drink costs more than the cab fare across town, has become something of a habit. Ironically, especially when she isn’t working. She pretends to hate them in the same way that she pretends to hate the expensive silk bedding Trish bought her, and the way her hair is ten times shinier and bouncier when she uses Trish’s fancy salon conditioner. Pretending to hate luxury items is all part of being friends with Trish Walker, especially when you’re a grumpy asshole like Jessica.
Bars, in general, put her on edge. Or rather, Trish in bars does. Jessica can’t help it, can’t quite catch herself before she starts unintentionally counting drinks, watching Trish’s every move and inwardly scrutinising it. It’s a habit she picked up a long time ago and it’s difficult to shake. It doesn’t matter how many times Trish tells her she doesn’t need protecting, it’s a built-in part of her now, a reflex. Either she’s got good at hiding it, disguising those looks, or Trish has got good at pretending not to notice. Probably a bit of both.
Guys hit on Trish a lot. This isn’t really a surprise, but it is an annoyance. It splits fairly evenly between dudes who only care about her because they vaguely recognise her as famous (or, full-out know exactly who she is; hell, probably jacked off to It’s Patsy!, maybe still do), and ones who are oblivious to anything besides the fact she has boobs and legs. Either way, Jessica ends up spending almost every night scaring off handsy guys with bad chat-up lines. Trish rolls her eyes, tells her she can do it herself, but Jessica doesn’t miss the telltale signs: pulse racing, hands shaking; the look of relief that floods her face.
It isn’t just that there’s a part of her that still thinks of Trish as that fragile, malleable teenage girl, desperately looking for a way out. She recognises that it isn’t always unwanted, that Trish has more control of her actions these days, that she doesn’t always want Jess stepping in. Jess knows it’s possessive, to think of Trish as being hers, as something for her to protect. She has no right to her, no claim on her. It's taken her a long time to make sense of that anger, that feeling that sinks into her whenever she sees Trish flirt, to identify it for what it is: jealousy.
Tonight, Trish is in high spirits, bobbing about on her bar stool in a soft white dress and high heels. Her hair bounces about her shoulders as she sips on a mojito, chattering away about work, and Jessica’s tries to keep up, tries to bite back the smile that keeps threatening to break through as she listens. She has to keep her hands wrapped tightly on her glass - a pink drink she’d rolled her eyes at Trish for ordering, but that she’s quietly enjoying - to stop the urge to touch her. Their knees bump under the bar lip, and even above the rich smell of alcohol, Jessica can make out Trish’s perfume, sweet and flowery and making her ever so slightly giddy.
“I think,” Trish starts, swirling her straw around her drink and raising her eyebrows, “that a girl over there is checking you out.”
Jessica, the queen of subtlety, whips around in her seat in the direction Trish is looking, ignoring her friend whining not to, and it takes her a moment to locate the target amongst the sea of people. She makes eye contact with a blonde sitting at a corner booth and takes her in quickly: body angled entirely towards the bar, long tan legs, a neatly curled blonde ponytail. Her glasses glint in the bright lights of the bar, but her eyes aren’t trained on Jess. It’s like she sees right through her.
“Nah, not me,” she tells Trish, turning back to her.
Trish raises her eyebrows again, but says nothing. She raises her glass to her lips and takes a long sip. Jessica tries not to watch the muscles of her throat as she drinks, concentrates on her own cocktail, downing the three-quarters of it that’s left in one quick gulp, and gesturing to the bar staff for another drink.
“Same again, girls?” the woman behind the bar asks, a small smirk on her lips. Despite Jessica catching her attention, her eyes are on Trish (well, she is the one who’s paying). She moves with ease behind the bar, lazily, but clearly knowing what she’s doing. Her hips sway. She leans against the bar top close to Trish, and the look in her eyes is one Jessica has seen a thousand times before.
“I’ll have a whiskey chaser,” Jessica tells her, unsurprised when the blonde woman (god, why is everyone in this bar blonde?) barely glances at her.
“Why don’t you surprise me?” Trish tells her, confidently. She smiles as the bartender waltzes off, then notices the look on Jessica’s face, “what?”
“Nothing, nothing… I just… you’re flirting…”
Another eye roll. Another glance over at the booth in the corner. Jessica turns on her seat and watches for a second before turning back. Makes sense. The perky blonde with the glasses is eyeing up the bartender, not her.
At least it isn’t Trish.
“I didn’t realise you were into that kind of thing,” Jessica says, aiming for teasing but detecting a hint of something else in her own voice.
Trish’s eyes sparkle and Jessica’s stomach twists in knots.
The bartender places Trish’s drink - clear and sparkling and with a cherry in the bottom of the glass - onto a napkin and slides it across. It doesn’t take bionic eyes to see her phone number scribbled across it, right next to her name.
“Gee, Sara, does that come with all your drinks?” Jessica grinds out whilst the blonde is down the other end of the bar, her back turned.
“Play nice,” Trish tells her, grinning. “We can’t all be as irresistible as It’s Patsy!,” she adds, frowning ridiculously at her own joke.
Jessica’s silent for a beat longer than she should be, doesn’t smile, and she watches Trish’s eyebrows raise, her lips quirk into a smirk, and she knows she’s for it now. She rolls her eyes and crosses her arms.
“Are you actually jealous?”
Is her heart beating abnormally loudly? She digs her finger nails into the flesh of her left arm out of habit, knowing half-moons will be appearing there, the movement stronger than she intended, “are you kidding me? No.”
Trish’s smirk breaks into a full blown grin, spreading right across her face, and making her look like the cat that got the cream, and Jessica feels like she might be sick. She reaches for her drink and downs it in one go.
“Awww, Jess, you should have just said,” Trish teases. She plucks the napkin out from under her drink and slides it into the breast pocket of Jessica’s jacket, in one smooth movement that Jessica can’t stop.
It’s only then that Jessica relaxes, realising that Trish thinks she’s jealous of her. She groans.
They leave shortly after, Trish booking them a taxi to wait outside. As they pass, Jessica grabs the napkin from her pocket, stopping by a stranger’s table.
“Here. Give her a call,” she says, tossing it in front of the leggy blonde and gesturing to the bar.
The girl, clearly flustered mutters “thank you”, but it falls on deaf ears. Jessica’s already slinking back into line with Trish.