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wouldn't you love to love her?

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Trixie kicks the front door closed with one foot and squats down to lower the cumbersome cardboard box in her hands to the ground. The tinkering sound of porcelain rattles from inside as she removes her hands from beneath it, and then she’s standing upright again, more out of breath than she would care to admit.

Katya drinks directly from the faucet in the tiny sink in the kitchen area, wipes her mouth clean with the back of her hand, and then immediately launches herself onto the bed in the corner of the room. The frame creaks as it takes her weight, and she only narrowly misses Trixie’s hard-shell suitcase with her elbow as she lands.

It had taken them seven days to drive across the country with everything they own in the bed of the truck – mostly because Katya insisted on making it through at least one state every day, and neither of them really cared to stop in Iowa or Indiana for the night.

Trixie walks over to the bed and crawls up in between the overnight bags and suitcases full of clothing to sit right by Katya’s head, pulling it into her lap as she exhales a huge lungful of air.

“Fuck. We made it.”

Katya gazes straight up at Trixie, her eyes drooping and confused at looking at her from upside down, and smiles. “We made it.”

“I’m doing literally anything you want for the rest of forever. I can’t believe you just drove non-stop for a whole fucking week, thank you, thank you.” Trixie bends down to pepper Katya’s cheeks and chin with featherlight kisses, whispering ‘thank you’ between each one as she smooths Katya’s hair away from the sides of her face.

Katya yawns, “You know I’d do it again, honey. Although my carbon footprint is probably as big as Texas now, with all that gas we went through.”

The tiny new studio apartment is only a forty-minute walk outside of Trixie’s campus. Three thousand miles and two flights of stairs later, they’re home.

With every box that gets unpacked, Trixie feels the four narrow walls expand around her; the tapestry from their old bedroom and the potted plants from the balcony, and Katya’s stack of books that she still hasn’t read but has been meaning to, all embroider the blank fabric of the place into something more familiar, less clinical.

Katya’s French press doesn’t fit inside the shallow kitchen cabinets, so she leaves it out on the side as a display piece, hoping that it comes across as a design choice rather than a design flaw. Trixie puts her yellow whistling kettle on the back corner of the stovetop even though it’s still empty, and Katya makes sure she takes up just a little less than half of the closet space, because she knows Trixie will need more than her.

Trixie is absolutely thrilled with the combined washing machine and dryer that sits right beside the fridge. She remembers the basement laundry room of their old place, casts the burden of it off her shoulders like a weighted shawl, before peeling her actual, sweaty clothes off right in the middle of the apartment. She throws them into the laundry bag that now hangs on the back of the bathroom door, leaving her standing in only her underwear and socks. At the end of August, it’s still comfortably warm, but she shivers a little at the AC hitting the clammy skin of her torso. Katya comes over and wraps her arms around Trixie from behind, feeling how Trixie’s naked back sticks to the thin front of her t-shirt. She buries her face in Trixie’s neck, inhales the scent of sweat and gentle floral perfume, and closes her eyes, content.

***

After her first and only evening class of the week, Trixie slides her laptop into the inside pouch of her backpack and zips it closed, hauling it up onto her shoulders. The rows of people ahead of her slowly filter out of the lecture hall and she follows behind, sweating a little under her thick, cream-coloured cord jacket. She knows that it’ll be breezy once she’s outside, and she doesn’t have the energy to take her bag off again and carry her coat until she gets there, so she waits patiently through the prickling heat on her chest and back.

Out in the student parking lot, Trixie scans the rows of cars. Some are neatly parked; others had clearly been left in a rush, sitting all wonky in the bays. Most of the license plates are from Massachusetts; there are a few from Maine, a handful from New York, and two from Vermont, all in the same row. At the very end, nailed to the back of a faded red pickup truck, is the only Californian plate in sight. Its horn honks and Trixie laughs, waves back at the hand that’s sticking out of the driver’s side window.

Trixie climbs up into the truck, drops her bag to the ground, and brings her legs up onto the seat as she swivels sideways, turning her whole body to face Katya.

“Hey!” Katya leans over to kiss Trixie but gets stopped halfway by her seatbelt having reached the end of its tether. Trixie giggles, meeting her the rest of the way to kiss her on the mouth. “How was class?”

“Necessary,” Trixie smirks, rolling her eyes. “Gen Ed honestly kicks my ass, but it’s worth it in the long run, I guess. How was work?”

Katya starts to reverse out of the parking lot, her small, dangly earrings being thrown all over the place as she looks at all of her mirrors and over her shoulders. They’re a pair of tiny, silver hands; in one is a rose, and in the other, a sword. “Really good, actually. A middle-aged lesbian couple came in and bought about half of the big men’s shirts we had on display. One of them complimented my earrings, so I told her that my beautiful, intelligent and hilariously funny girlfriend got me them. They gave me a pretty generous tip after that.”

Katya had found a job at a vintage thrift store downtown, and she couldn’t be more thrilled with it. She made sure to pick up enough hours on her contract so that Trixie wouldn’t need to work alongside her studies anymore, and with Trixie’s loan to fill in the gaps, they live more comfortably than Trixie ever imagined she would as a student in the city.

Trixie smiles, reaching down to pick the aux cord from where it dangles on the ground to plug it into her phone. A guitar begins to play quietly from the car radio, and she leans forwards to turn up the volume just enough for her to be able to sing alongside Stevie Nicks’ voice without drowning her out completely.

Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night, and wouldn’t you love to love her?” Trixie sings softly, lightly nudging Katya’s arm where it rests on the gearstick with the toe of her boot. Katya glances over at Trixie and smiles, feeling affection blooming in her chest like a lotus flower.

Trixie turns her head to look out of the front window, frowning a little when she realises that Katya has missed the turn back to the apartment.

“Where are we going?”

Katya smiles, keeping her eyes on the road. “Why, you don’t have to pee, do you?”

Trixie shakes her head, “No. Why, are we going far?”

“Not really. But we might be out a little while.” Katya ends the conversation by turning up the radio just a little further, and Trixie watches her, smirking, her brows furrowed inquisitively, as she starts to sing again.

After a little while, Trixie scoots across the bench to sit in the middle of the cab, with the gearstick right between her knees, to hold Katya’s free hand. In between gear changes, Trixie rests it in her lap, tracing circles over her palm. When Katya moves to shift gears, she brings Trixie’s left hand with her, holding it against the lever underneath her own hand before laying it limply in Trixie’s lap again.

Once they’re outside of the city, Trixie has even less of an idea where they might be going. Katya takes a turn away from the main road, and the tarmac turns into gravel and dusty earth as, all of a sudden, they’re driving through the middle of the woods. Trixie stares in a vacant awe at the towering pine trees on either side of them, and crawls back to her side of the car to roll the window down and stick her head out to look around. The cold air rushes against her scalp and face and she shivers, but can’t stop staring up at the forest.

“California never looked like this,” she says, her mouth agape as she tilts her head up.

“It’s beautiful, right?”

Trixie brings herself back inside the car, rolling up her window as she goes, and finds that Katya is looking at her.

“Eyes on the road, dummy,” Trixie says, and she can hear the smile in her own voice, all gooey and warm, watching as Katya does as she’s told.  

The road begins to wind uphill, and Trixie leans back in her seat, glancing over at Katya as she focuses on the ever-steepening incline with the tip of her tongue darting out to wet her lips, her brows furrowed just slightly. Eventually the trail flattens out into a small clearing amongst the trees, with patches of grass having withered - and even disappeared altogether in certain spots - where cars have parked on top of it.

Trixie watches quizzically as Katya kills the ignition and hops out of the truck, before following shortly behind herself, her backpack left tucked snugly underneath the dashboard.

The wind blows Trixie’s hair into her face as soon as her boots hit the ground and she shivers, zipping her coat all the way up to her chin as she jogs to catch up with Katya a few paces ahead.

“What are we doing here?”

Katya turns to grab Trixie’s hand, swinging it between them as they walk. “You’ll see.”

Katya leads them through a narrow opening in a gathering of trees. As they come out of the other side, the landscape opens up, green and endless. The city looks impossibly small and faraway despite them only having driven for twenty minutes. The skyscrapers seem to stand in one long, staggered line, all a similar shade of deepening blue as the sky reflects on the thousands of windows of the buildings. It looks exactly the same as during their very first flight into Boston, just as the plane had begun to land: somehow unreal and untouchable, as though it had simply been dropped from the sky just for her to see. For miles surrounding it is nothing but the forest, and Trixie wants desperately to walk across the treetops to make it back home, counting how many branches she can step on before she falls right through to the earth below.

“This is…”

“Familiar?” Katya says, leading them closer to the edge of the hill. She sits down on the grass, tugging on Trixie’s arm until she sits, too. “Remember that little hideout in the hills we always used to go to when we were in school?” Katya waits for Trixie to nod before continuing, “I went exploring the other day while you were in class, and I found this place. It reminded me of home. We could always come up here, escape the city for a little while if it all gets too much. Bring a picnic, maybe, and just…exist.”

Trixie finally tears her eyes away from the view to look at Katya. She reaches across the narrow space between them and pulls Katya into her lap, nuzzling her face into the crook of her neck as she wraps her arms around Katya’s slender frame.

“Halloween’s in a couple of weeks, too. We could always come up and sit in that little stone circle over there, summon a few ghosts. The possibilities are endless!”

“God,” Trixie chuckles, “you’re a witch in another life, I swear.”

They sit on the hill for almost an hour, watching as the sky gets October-dark and the lights in the city flicker on in a harmonised yellow glow, before the ground gets too cold for comfort. Heading back to the truck, Katya opens the tail gate to reveal a little pile of blankets and cushions from their bed at home, all neatly arranged against the back of the cab.

“When did you do all this?” Trixie asks.

“This morning, while you were in class.” Katya holds out her hand to help Trixie up onto the bed before following behind, grunting as she pulls herself up in one huge lunge. Katya makes Trixie wait for a beat as she lays down first, getting the cushions comfortably underneath herself before bringing Trixie down, tucked into her side with her head on Katya’s shoulder.

“You’re not allowed to fall asleep,” Katya whispers into Trixie’s ear, making the hairs on her arms stand on end. Trixie pulls the blanket over them both.

“Why not?” she grumbles into Katya’s chest, snuggling as close as she can get without climbing inside Katya’s skin; if she could make herself at home in there she would, she thinks.

“Because. Look.” Katya points up at the sky where the North Star shines, the brightest of them all. Trixie spots it straight away, and once her eyes adjust to the darkness more and more begin to appear. They’re just far out enough from the city that they can see more stars than they can count, and Trixie’s heart sings.

Oh.”

“Look, there’s the Big Dipper…and that one’s Cassiopeia.”

Katya holds Trixie’s hand as she points straight upwards, guiding her through the night sky with soft kisses to her temple. Her breath condenses in the air as she speaks, filling in the spaces between the stars where the sky is completely cloudless.

“When did you learn about constellations? I didn’t know you knew all these.” Trixie shifts so that she’s lying on her back, but firmly keeps her grip on Katya’s hand in between their bodies.

“I used to love astrology when I was a kid. Or...wait, no, astronomy. Astrology is the one with the signs and the planets, right?”

“Yeah, it’s all the gays on the internet blaming their problems on the fact that their mom’s a Caprisun and that Mercury’s making lemonade, or whatever.”

Katya lets her arm fall and land on her stomach, bringing Trixie’s down with it, as she starts to wheeze out a laugh that makes her knees curl in towards her chest. Trixie chuckles fondly, turning her head to the side to watch Katya as she delights, and then mellows, before returning her gaze.

“Thank you for showing me this, Kat. It’s beautiful out here.”

“I’m glad you like it,” Katya smiles, smoothing over Trixie’s hand with her thumb where it rests on her tummy. “I love you so much, Trix. Like, so much.”

“I love you too, honey. Come here.” Trixie tugs on Katya’s arm and they both turn to face each other, their foreheads resting together. She looks down at Katya’s mouth as much as she can with their noses in the way, and kisses her slowly. Katya’s nose is icy cold against her own and she tastes like spearmint gum. Trixie kisses her, kisses her, traces her tongue over the tiny bump on the inside of Katya’s lip where she had bitten it, smears the moisture of her pomegranate chapstick down both of their chins. Trixie only pulls back when she begins to yawn, and Katya leans forward, still trying to kiss into her mouth until she realises what she’s doing and begins to cackle.

“You wanna head back? You can have a nap while I make us some food.” Katya tucks Trixie’s hair behind her ear where it begins to fall in her face, making her nose scrunch up as it tickles.

“A nap? Girl, it’s almost 7pm - if I go to sleep now, I’ll be awake all night.”

“Well, you can still relax. Have a shower, put on a movie. I’ll get us a bottle of wine on the way back.”

Trixie hums. “Okay, that sounds like something I can get behind. Deal.”

Katya smiles and begins to stand up, holding out a hand towards Trixie. “Come on, babe. Let’s go home.”