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Magic, Madness (Heaven, Sin)

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It should be illegal to be that cute, Hope thinks. Part of her feels angry -- maybe it’s not anger as much as jealousy, but anger is the feeling that makes the most sense so that’s where she’s at right now -- when she watches Amy fail at something so completely and disastrously.

Just look at her. It’s cringe-worthy (really, Hope just visibly cringed) watching Amy trying to flirt with Ryan. Not as sharp as your chin? What the fuck does that even mean? She feels embarrassed on Amy’s behalf, but like, she can’t turn away.

It’s like watching a car crash. She’s horrified and she can’t look away.

And she can’t stop looking because it’s Amy. If it were anyone else, Hope would have absolutely no interest whatsoever. As it is, she’s staring, but it doesn’t matter, because nobody notices. It doesn’t matter because Amy never notices.

Amy, with her cute collared shirts and her dorky smile and her perfect fucking GPA. Yeah, it should be illegal to be that cute, Hope thinks. And it should be illegal that she cares.

Because she doesn’t care. Not about this place. Not about these people. They’re placeholders, temporary people in a life where she’s just passing time until she can see the world. She’s always hated this school. Always hated LA. Ever since she moved here when she was fourteen, a result of her parents divorce. Even at that age she could see the truth about this place, and the truth was that it sucked.

It was just fake. Everything here was fake. Fake smiles, fake tans, fake personalities. Fake confidence.

Hope frowns as she watches Amy beeline back to Molly and their loser table on the outskirts of the quad. Even Molly is fake. Acting like she’s better than the rest of them, as if they all can’t see her giant, pathetic crush on Nick.

Hope doesn’t know how Amy puts up with her, really. But Amy isn’t like the rest, and maybe that’s why Hope cares. Amy isn’t fake. Amy is unabashedly awkward, unashamedly dorky, unrelentingly nice, even when everyone else is mean. They make fun of her and she shrugs it off. She stands up for what she believes in, even if it takes a bit of pushing. Like in 10th grade when she heard a freshman was being bullied for being gay so she came out. Like Junior year when those bathroom bills were the talk of the news, so she petitioned the student council for that gender-neutral bathroom.

Hope respects that, thinks Amy could really be something -- someone -- if she put herself out there, grew a bit of a backbone. Amy would be unstoppable.

Maybe nobody else notices that, but Hope does.

The only problem is that for as much as Hope notices Amy, Amy never notices her.

//

It’s not a crush, exactly. It’s more like a passive interest.

She knows it’s never gonna happen. When (and why) would it? They’ve never hung outside of school and any attempts she’s made at flirting have gone completely over Amy’s head.

So Hope watches and she admires and she thirsts, just a little, because Amy is so fucking cute and Hope isn’t immune to it.

It’s thrilling, really. The idea of being with Amy in that way. Imagine being the object of Amy’s affections, her intense passion. It’s appealing, if only because Hope would love to show her off, would love to see the surprise on everyone’s faces if they ever saw them together. It’s like a secret fantasy, one she’d never tell anyone, the idea of slinging her arm over Amy’s shoulders, of trapping Amy between her body and a wall, Amy’s cute, little, dorky, perfect smile turned in her direction.

It’s just a thought, though, a fantasy to pass the time until they all leave this place for their new lives and fancy colleges.

Hope’s never cared about any of that. She always just wanted to see the world.

//

The party’s boring. Same boring drinking games, same idiotic people. There’s only so much of Theo and Tanner’s moronic bullshit she can take, and by this time in the year, she’s pretty tapped out.

She knows it’s a cliche, the whole smoke-a-cigarette-in-the-bathroom-and-have-an-existential-crisis-about-how-it’s-all-a-bunch-of-fake-BS thing, but it’s kind of her brand and what else is she gonna do? Sing karaoke? Yeah fucking right.

The door opens and Hope watches as Amy nearly stumbles in, slamming the door behind her. She’s soaking wet and crying, breathing sharp and quick as she clutches at the counter.

Huh. Well this is a new development, she thinks.

Suddenly things just got a lot more interesting.

//

“Why are you so cruel?”

It’s a good question, Hope thinks. “I just don’t like meek people.” It’s why she likes Amy. Amy isn’t meek, but Molly makes her shrink herself and that’s the part Hope doesn’t like. Push Amy to the edge and Amy is a cannon, a goddamn force of nature. And it’s oh so tempting to see just how far Hope can push. “You’re like Molly’s little sidekick bitch.”

“Well, you’re just a basic hot girl who’s gonna peak in high school.”

It’s so satisfying, Amy’s face in that moment. Hope expected it, for Amy to push back. What she didn’t expect was Amy surging up on her tiptoes and pressing their lips together.

Whoa. It’s all she can think as she pulls back, her hand pressing more firmly against the wall in surprise. She can feel the ghost of a laugh in her throat as Amy stares at her, intense and wanting.

Then Amy’s kissing her again and she can’t breathe. She has to crane her neck lower, but it’s worth it, the little exhale of breath against her lips when she deepens the kiss. Amy’s fingers come out to grip at her jacket and Hope feels a thrill of anticipation and pleasure behind her ribcage.

She likes how when she pushes, Amy pushes back.

//

It’s almost painfully obvious that Amy hasn’t done this before. From their awkward migration to the floor and Amy’s shaky fingers as she takes off Hope’s shirt to the way her eyes bulge as they stare at Hope’s boobs.

But God, if that doesn’t make it better, the surge of bravery on Amy’s face as she goes for it anyway. Hope desperately wants to pull Amy closer, to grab her firmly by the neck and show Amy what they could really be like, but she holds herself back.

If Amy wants to be in control, if she has something to prove, then Hope doesn’t mind.

“Um.” Amy leans back, pulling air into her lungs.

“You okay?”

“Yeah,” Amy exhales. “Sorry, I just got a little dizzy there.”

Hope searches Amy’s eyes. “We can stop if you want.”

“No,” Amy rushes out, her gaze flicking from Hope’s eyes to her boobs. “We are not stopping.”

Hope has to laugh. At how cute Amy is. At her eagerness. “Okay.” She leans back on the floor, waiting for Amy to take charge again, and unbuttons her jeans. Amy tugs at her shoelaces, pulling off Hope’s shoes in a hurry. Hope watches, fascinated.

This isn’t the passive Amy that follows Molly around like a loyal puppy. This Amy is a go-getter, someone who won’t let anything stand in the way of what she wants. And for some reason what she wants right now is Hope, so Hope is content to sit back and let Amy power through.

Amy finally gets her shoes off and tugs at her jeans, but they’re tight against her skin and when she finally manages to pull them off, her tiny body goes flying backward.

Hope snorts out a laugh. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah!” Amy crawls back over, a girl on a mission.

It should be illegal, how cute Amy is. Hope bites her lip as Amy’s fingers grip her underwear and slide down her legs. Amy stares at her for the briefest of seconds, then looks upward to the sky, like she’s wondering if this moment is really happening.

Hope knows the feeling, but she can’t take her eyes off Amy’s face. She’s drunk, from alcohol, yeah, but also from the millions of emotions that flit across Amy’s face in the span of three seconds. Hope can’t drink them in quick enough.

“I… should probably take off mine, too,” Amy says, as if she was going down a checklist of things she’s supposed to do when you have a half-naked girl in front of you. Hope wouldn’t be surprised if she actually had one of those and the thought makes her grin.

“Yeah,” she teases.

Then it’s like her fantasy come to life, Amy tugging her own underwear off and flinging them behind her on the bathroom floor. She pulls at her sparkly blue dress, one Hope’s never seen her wear. Hope likes Amy’s style, thinks it’s adorable in that dorky-gay-girl way, but she likes the dress, too. It makes Amy’s eyes pop.

“That’s a nice dress,” she says, and she means it, perhaps the first sincere compliment she’s ever given to Amy.

Amy’s muffled voice comes from beneath the fabric as she pulls it over her head. “It’s all she had.” Hope pauses, her eyebrows furrowing. What? Who is she? Molly? Amy finally gets the dress over her head and smirks down at her. “Ms. Fine.”

It’s like a thousand fireworks in her stomach, this kind of flirting. Amy’s smug expression. Hope almost can’t take it. She laughs, leaning back on the floor and closing her eyes or the briefest second. “Oh my God. Of course.”

Amy grins and leans over her, coming closer. Hope softens as Amy’s eyes meet hers, nervous and eager. She brings her hand up as Amy kisses her and rests it on Amy’s shoulder. Amy’s skin is warm. She smells like Chlorine and alcohol and strawberries. They kiss for a moment, drunk and sloppy and inexperienced, before Amy pulls back again. Hope gets swept away in it, the way Amy looks at her.

People have always looked at her in a certain way. Like she’s a bitch. Like she’s hot. Like they want her, but just to say they had her.

Amy looks at her like she’s a difficult Calc problem, one she desperately wants to solve. It makes her stomach flip, the way this moment feels simultaneously serious but fun. Amy’s hands trail down her stomach and Hope represses a shiver as goosebumps prickle over her skin.

She takes a deep breath as Amy slides through her. Hope imagined this, once or twice before, but never like this, and never with the thought that it might actually happen. And when she did imagine it, it was always her pressing against Amy in a dark room. She was the one who would show Amy how it really felt to let go, she was the one making Amy speechless.

But now look at her. She had pushed and Amy had pushed back, and now Hope’s a helpless fool on the floor, weak and breathless as Amy touches her, slides between her, pushes inside --

Hope involuntarily grimaces.

“How… is that for you?”

This night really is getting interesting, isn’t it? She has no idea what to say in this situation, doesn’t want to to freak Amy out because after all this, she doesn’t want Amy to leave. But…

“Um. It’s okay.”

“Is there like… another way that you prefer or…?”

If the situation were any different, Hope would have turned to mush. How can Amy still be this cute? As it is, though, Hope doesn’t know what to do. “Um.” Amy’s staring at her so intensely, so expectantly, and Hope can’t bear it. She brings her hand up to Amy’s cheek, wanting to ease the next words out of her mouth but not knowing how. “I…” God. “I don’t think that’s the hole you think it is.”

Amy’s eyes widen and she slips out of Hope immediately. “Oh my God.”

“No, it’s okay!” Hope rushes out. Fuck fuck fuck.

“I’m so sorry!”

“It’s okay!” Hope repeats as Amy sits up, horrified. “It’s okay!”

Amy shakes her hands in the air, clenching her eyes shut. “I’m sorry! I’m not used to approaching it from that angle and my… my geometry was off.”

Hope goes impossibly soft. Fucking nerd. “It’s okay, seriously. Don’t worry about it.”

“I’m sorry,” Amy repeats. Her freckly face is unimaginably pink as she reaches for the nearest cup. Hope tries to tell her not to drink it because she put her cigarette out in it when they started making out, but she’s not quick enough and Amy downs the liquid inside.

Hope grimaces again, watching in horror as Amy freezes, disgust taking over her face. She pulls the cigarette butt from her mouth, gagging.

Hope has a bad feeling about this… “Are you… are you good?”

That’s when Amy throws up on her.

//

When the night first started, she had no idea it was going to go the way it did, but as she stands in the shower, hot water rushing over her, she has to laugh.

The immediate disgust and horror passed almost as soon as Amy ran from the bathroom, Hope shrieking at her to leave because what the fuck what the fuck!! Now, she just feels bewilderment.

She turns off the shower and steps back onto the bathroom tiles, searching for her clothes. She pulls them back on and goes to leave the bathroom, but she hesitates, seeing Amy’s underwear on the floor.

God.

She picks up the fabric, a soft and dark blue, and lets out an exasperated laugh.

What the fuck even is this night?

She shoves it into the pocket of her coat and steps out into the hallway. When she hears the sirens, she freezes, her eyes widening.

A group of people run down the hallway and she stares as Jared jogs past her, breathing heavily. “Shit shit shit. Gigi!”

“Jared, what the fuck is going on?”

“It’s Amy!” Jared calls over his shoulder. “She caused a diversion so we could get away! She’s a fucking hero!”

Hope’s brain short-circuits. What the fuck is he talking about?

She follows the crowd to the backyard yard and peaks over the fence where everyone is crowded. Her mouth drops as she watches two police officers put Amy in handcuffs.

“The prison system in this country is just legal slavery, you know!” Amy shouts as they tighten the cuffs. “Prisoners are people and they deserve the same rights as everyone else!”

“Oh my God, shut the fuck up. What is wrong with you…” Hope whispers to herself, but an impressed smile is pulling at her lips and she can’t stop it.

Hope watches in amazement as they lead Amy to the cop car, Amy yelling statistics at them the entire time, almost begging for the situation to get worse.

“SHOTGUN!” She calls, then laughs. “Just kidding. I don’t have one.”

Then she’s being pushed into the backseat of the car and Hope can’t believe it. She can’t fucking believe it. Who would’ve thought?

But Hope knew… she knew along, didn’t she?

Push Amy… and Amy pushes back.

//

Okay, so she knows she said that it should be illegal to be that cute, but she didn’t mean Amy should get arrested.

Like, Jesus, fuck.

Still, she thinks as the cops drive away to roaring applause from their classmates, she guesses Amy has always been an over-achiever.

//

She doesn’t expect Amy to show up to graduation after that, and when it’s apparent Molly isn’t coming either, Hope rolls her eyes. Those two really can’t do anything without each other, can they?

And now they have to suffer through Jared reading Molly’s speech. Hope would rather cut her ears off. She tunes out and pulls out her phone, but then there’s a crash from behind them.

She spins around in her seat, among the sea of heads turning to look, as Jared’s car busts through the chain-link fence and onto the field. It spins out on the track and Hope looks on in amazement at Molly and Amy through the windshield.

What the fuck?

Molly climbs out of the car and runs to the stage, but Hope can’t look away from Amy as she stumbles from the driver’s seat and follows Molly down the aisle of students.

“I’m gonna take my seat,” she hisses to Molly, but Molly drags her up on stage.

“Look who made it!” Molly yells, thrusting Amy’s hand in the air.

The entire senior class screams, shouts of “YEAH AMY!” and “QUEEN!!!!” heard over the applause. Amy smiles, her tiny, dorky, perfect smile, and Hope can’t help the laugh that bubbles up her throat. She drops her phone in her lap and claps along with everyone else as Amy fistbumps the air, letting out a loud “WOOO!” She thinks of Amy’s freckly blush, of her fingers on Hope’s skin. Of her underwear, in Hope’s room still hidden away in her jacket pocket.

It’s then that Hope realizes, with a rush of giddiness, but also sadness, because she knows Amy is leaving for Africa this week.

She would date the fuck out of that nerd.

What if she’s too late?

//

She’s not sure if she should go over there, but ultimately decides she can’t hold Amy’s underwear hostage forever. She gets Amy’s address from Jared and drives over, her knuckles white on the wheel the whole time. She’s not good at this stuff, and she desperately doesn’t want to be a bitch.

Amy’s dad answers the door, and he’s even dorkier than Amy, which somehow makes Hope less nervous. She leans against the side of the house while he goes to get her, fingers hooked around the handles of the plastic bag with Amy’s underwear.

The folded up piece of paper burns a hole in her pocket the whole time.

Finally Amy comes to the door, cautiously stepping out. She’s wearing her perfect smile and socks with Birkenstocks and it’s so fucking dorky Hope almost can’t take it, but her stomach swoops anyway. So that’s where she’s at right now.

“Hey,” Amy laughs quietly.

“Hey.” Hope holds the bag out and Amy grabs it. “I figured I’d bring back your clothes.”

“Oh,” Amy says, looking into the bag. “Thanks so much. Uh. I don’t… usually leave my underwear in places that… uh… aren’t… aren’t my room.”

It should be illegal -- okay, well, let’s just say it’s not fair, how cute Amy is. “Yeah. I figured.”

Amy nods, looking at her seriously. “Uh, so how… how are… are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Hope shrugs. She can handle a little vomit. She quirks her eyebrows in Amy’s direction, smirking. “Are you okay?”

Amy nods, putting on an air of fake casualness. “Uh, yeah. You know, prison kinda changes you, but…”

“Mmm,” Hope teases, laughing at Amy’s playful smile.

“But I’m fine.” Amy shakes her head with a grin. “Sorry… I just don’t really know what I’m doing with all that stuff yet.”

“Well,” Hope hesitates, wanting to word it right, wanting to show Amy she’s into her. But Hope’s not an idiot. She’s been a bitch and Amy’s leaving. She knows it’s a long shot. “For someone who has no idea what you’re doing… you kinda know what you’re doing.” She quirks her eyebrows, giving Amy a flirty smile.

Amy laughs, her face opening in surprise. “Uh… ah.” Amy looks away, overwhelmed. “That’s… cool. So…” Hope gets swept up in it. In Amy’s shy smile, her awkward blush as she searches for something to say. “How is… how’s your summer going?” Idiot… “I mean.. What are you doing for the summertime?”

She wants to tease Amy, but decides to spare her. For the sake of the conversation. “I think I’m gonna backpack around for a bit.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Where?”

Hope shakes her head, shrugging. “Honestly, anywhere I can find a couch to crash on. I just wanna see some stuff before college.”

She feels, for the first time, that Amy actually sees her in that moment, and it makes her stomach flip. Amy’s giving her this look, this invigorating, understanding look. “That’s really cool. Me too. That’s why I’m taking a gap year.”

“Yeah?” Hope wants to leave it like that. Doesn’t want to change the way Amy’s looking at her. She takes the piece of paper out her pocket and holds it between them. “Well, have fun nerd.”

Amy stares at the paper, confused, and hope quirks her eyebrows, giving her wrist a little flick. Amy takes it, looking at it in shock. Hope grins and gives her a last smile before walking away.

“Well,” Amy’s voice comes from behind her, rushed and breathless. “If you’re ever in Botswana, you have a couch to crash on.”

Hope looks back, surprised by such a smooth line making it out of Amy’s mouth without something lame ruining it. “Okay,” she laughs, feeling soft.

“Well, technically it won’t be my couch because I’ll be staying with a family, but I’m sure they’ll be cool with it!”

Yep, there it is.

//

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