“You smell, like, really good today,” Karma says.
They’re snuggled up on Amy’s bed getting ready for a Don’t Trust The B In Apartment 23 Netflix marathon. It’s the sort of thing that couldn’t have happened six months ago, when everything was awful and they tiptoed around each other like strangers and Amy spent all of her time listening to Bon Iver and wanting to forget her whole life. Then one day, Karma finally lost it and shouted, ‘Look, we both screwed up, and we both screwed Liam Booker, but I will actually die if we’re not best friends anymore, so fuck this awkward bullshit! Fuck it right in its dumb face!’ Amy’s mom came in during that last part, which wasn’t stellar, but ever since then it’s been better.
So now, it feels pretty much normal to be like this—curled up together having sleepover number seven billion.
(The fact that Karma’s wearing a cutesy little pink nightgown instead of a tanktop and sweats is a little weird, but whatever. Karma’s figuring herself out. If that means sleeping like I Dream of Jeannie, go for it.)
Amy will always feel all warm and fuzzy and hearts-in-her-eyes over Karma, at least in some corner of her heart, but it’s time to put that heart corner to rest. Move on. Karma even offered to help her with her online dating profile. Maybe now Amy will actually be able to take a profile picture that doesn’t make her look weirdly like Andy Samberg in a wig.
So instead of reading like twelve different hopeful meanings into what Karma said, Amy just replies, “Oh, the power of daily showering” and shoves a handful of popcorn into her mouth.
Karma grabs a lock of Amy’s hair and twines it around her finger, then leans in and inhales. “Mmm! Is that new shampoo?”
“Huh. Well—” Karma tugs on Amy’s hair, but not hard enough to hurt. “It’s good shampoo.”
“Thanks, weirdo,” Amy says, and goes to press play. She’s ready to get her Van der Beek on.
But Karma apparently isn’t, because she starts—running her fingertip over Amy’s neck. Oookay. “And your skin is so soft today. Like, that right there is a good neck.”
“Are you planning to murder me and make a coat out of my remains?” Amy feels obligated to ask.
“What?” Karma pulls her hand away fast. “No. Why?”
“You’re just acting a little Cruella de Hannibal.” Amy shrugs. “That’s all.”
Karma stares at her for just a little too long, eyes bright and determined in that familiar troubling Karma way, and then says, “And you’re good enough to eat.”
“Are you high?”
“No!” Karma exclaims, looking suddenly really miserable.
Amy knows that look. “Are you ... gonna throw up?”
“I’m fine. Just – let me sit a minute, okay?”
“What’s wrong? Stomach flu? Or hey,” Amy adds with a lame-on-purpose chuckle, “maybe you’re pregnant.”
Karma rolls her eyes. “Oh yeah, from all that sex I’m never having again with Liam Booker.”
“You haven’t even eaten half of that yet,” Amy observes, gesturing to Karma’s carton of ice cream, “and you can usually eat like a carton and a half of ice cream no problem. It’s one of your most awesome qualities.”
“It’s not the ice cream,” Karma mumbles.
After so many years, Amy is good at going into default nursing mode. A little comprehensive list pops up in her brain, ‘Things That Make Karma Hurl,’ and she scrolls past asparagus (this is definitely a No Asparagus kind of party) and remembers—
Interacting with cute boys makes Karma nervous-vomit.
Not that there are any cute boys around, unless you count the Beek, and they’re like ten years too young to be susceptible to that Dawson’s Creek spell.
So that means that the only ... cute ... person around is ...
“Wait,” Amy says, “were you flirting with me?”
Karma lets out a huge, frustrated sigh and hits Amy with a pillow. “Oh my God, yes, finally! I thought I was going to have to throw my underwear at you or something.”
“You’ve done that before,” Amy reminds her, wrinkling her nose at the memory. This is the easiest thing to focus on. “It was in no way flirty.”
“Well, you called Justin Bieber the King of the Buttheads. I had to punish you.”
Amy gives her a Look.
Annoyed, Karma says, “Obviously, you were right. But there’s no way I could have known that in 2010! None of us could have!”
“Um,” Amy says, and points at herself with both hands.
She’s kinda going for a laugh with that one—Make Stupid Hand Signs And Talk About Bieber is seriously the only mode she can manage in this must-be-a-dream moment—but instead, Karma’s face falls.
It instantly feels like a serial killer is trying to make a coat out of Amy’s soul.
Quietly, Karma asks, “Do you not like me anymore?”
“What?” Amy says blankly.
“I just told you I was flirting with you, and you’re being smug about Justin Bieber. If you still liked me, we’d be—kissing by now, wouldn’t we?”
Amy’s heart threatens to bust right out of her chest and flee to Canada to avoid the sheer overwhelmingness of this moment. “Because—because everything! Why would you say that? Why are you even flirting? Is it time for Hester High’s gay Brangelina to make their comeback? 22 Karmy Street?”
“Weak joke,” Karma says, pointing accusatorily at her. “And no. I—I’ve had a lot of time to think, you know. And I just realized—I never want to not be with you.”
“That doesn’t mean you should be my girlfriend,” Amy says impatiently. “I’ve been doing a lot of research, okay? I watched Kissing Jessica Stein. I know how that goes.”
Karma ignores her. “I love you. You’re, like, written on the inside of my brain. And I love that. I love knowing everything about you.”
“That’s being best friends.”
“Okay,” Karma says, heaving a heavy sigh. “I didn’t want to have to say this, for reasons of major awkwardness, but you’ve left me no choice: I had a sexy dream about you. There were tongues. That’s not just being best friends!”
Amy orders herself not to get distracted by that truth bomb. Even though it is seriously tempting. After all, let no one forget: “You had a sexy dream about Kermit the Frog!”
“You swore never to mention that!” Karma says furiously, hitting her with the pillow again.
“Yeah, well! Desperate times, bro!”
“And I know it’s weird and I know it’s not fair,” Karma continues, hugging the pillow to her chest. “But if anyone else ever dates you? I’m going to hate that bitch. No offense.”
“Hey! Don’t call my future girlfriend a bitch.”
“I think I just called myself a bitch,” Karma says, unbearable levels of sincere. “If—if you’ll have me.”
How is this happening?
How is this actually happening?
“God, Karma, I don’t know.” Amy rests her face in one hand. “I know you. You get fixated on these ideas sometimes and you don’t always think it through all the way and believe me, I can’t take going through this again—”
“I thought,” Karma interrupts. “I thought this one through.”
Amy looks up at her. “Since when?”
Karma bites her lip. “Since about two weeks after your mom’s wedding.”
“That long?” Now Amy’s in the mood to hit her with the pillow. Serious pillow justice. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I did. It almost ruined our friendship.”
“Well, yeah,” Karma says. “That’s why I didn’t say anything.”
“But you knew! You knew I was crazy about you. Why would you be scared to tell me?”
“I wanted to be sure,” Karma says, hugging the pillow tighter to her chest. “About how I felt. I really didn’t want to do anything that would hurt you, Amy. But then you started talking about online dating profiles, and that cute girl you met last time, and it just made me want to jump off a roof, and I thought—well, that probably means something.”
The best Amy can come up with, in this truly surreal moment, is, “So you tried to seduce me by dressing up like Princess Bubblegum?”
Karma sighs and looks down at herself. “It’s stupid, isn’t it?”
“No,” Amy confesses, a little grumpily. “You look amazing.”
Karma beams. “So do you.”
That one’s a little hard to believe. “My shorts have little cows on them.”
“I know,” Karma says, “Why is that hot?”
Amy scoffs. “I dunno, maybe my body’s too mootilicious for you—”
And that’s when Karma kisses her, putting a fortunate end to a super terrible pun. It feels a little like a dream, but Karma’s mouth is there against hers, warm and real, and for the first time in six months Amy lets herself really admit just how much she’s missed kissing her.
Entirely without meaning to, Amy sighs, “Wow.”
Karma smiles bright. “I know.”