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Orion's Belt

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Ellie slung her bag off her shoulder, allowing it to fall carelessly to the ground. It was old and worn and she didn't care whether or not it got dirty. She smiled knowing Joel would scold her for being so negligent with her own belongings.

Raising her arms above her head she stretched, groaning in pleasure as all the parts in her body aligned into place. She was tired, but knew that she would instantly feel better for coming regardless of how exhausted she felt. It had been a long week but she had survived it unscathed for the most part.

Though, she wasn't convinced she would never not feel tired again until this was all over.

"Williams." a stern voice called, not looking up from her clipboard. "You're late."

"Sorry, Maria!" she huffed, jogging over to her coach. "Just lost track of time."

"Don't make a habit of it." she scolded, a faint smile on her lips. "5 laps, stretch and then 5 more for being late. Then we'll get into some drills once you're caught up with the others."

"Yes Ma'am." Ellie mumbled, mock saluting as she jogged passed her coach and onto the running track to get started.

She was a tough lady but she was fair and just. Ellie definitely did not want to get on her bad side though, she had many stories about how ruthless she had been to those that had crossed her.

Ellie had worked hard to get where she was and had given up a lot. Her social life definitely suffered, she was okay with that though, people weren't really her thing. Every spare moment was dedicated to training so she could get good enough to make the junior varsity soccer team her first year. She considered it a stepping stone to the varsity squad and she would make sure that even during their first game she would make a good impression.

Settling into college hadn't been easy for her, it was a big change from the small high school she had arrived from. She had never been good with crowds, thankful that her home town was mostly full of old folk who didn't have much time for dealing with the shenanigans of youth, too busy working hard every day to make a living.

When she received the letter from the university she had thought about throwing it away before opening it, her nerves getting the best of her. She wasn't even sure she wanted to go to college or if it would have been a good fit for her but Joel had insisted she open it saying that the worst thing that could happen was that she would be rejected but they would try again. From the moment she got that acceptance letter, Ellie decided that she would try for Joel. He thought the world of her and she wanted to repay his kindness for everything he had done for her.

Even if that meant coming out of her comfort zone.

And that it also meant following the rules.

She wasn't a bad kid, but she always had issues following rules laid out for her. Especially if she didn't believe in them or understand them. 

The crowds were the hardest part to get used to. When everyone else was in class she could walk around the campus no problem, in fact, she really enjoyed it. It was pretty and she always found something new to look at but when classes were out, there were too many people for her to comfortably navigate and she got lost in the crowd.

She was thankful that she at least had Jesse here.

Ellie was ecstatic when she found out that he had applied to the same school and also got accepted. He had definitely made adjusting easier.

Jesse was the complete opposite of Ellie. He was confident and he was charming in the way that made him easy to befriend. Ellie was quiet and reserved, she was shy and didn't find it easy to open up but people tended to like her once they got to know her. They were a perfect pair, balancing each other out but also being competitive enough to push each other to their best.

Ellie was tired, training had been grueling as they prepared for their first game. Ellie didn't know the team but was told it was their fiercest rivals and that their coach expected the best of them, spurring them to grab the win on their home soil. 

She wasn't sure whether or not she would be selected in the starting line up, considering she was one of the newer editions to the team but she thought that she had done enough to be a potential contender. Everyone in the team was talented and everyone had their different strengths on the field, she just hoped that her strengths complemented those of the first string enough to get a spot.

She wasn't going to hold her breath though, she had been warned about how hard it would be to poach a spot from one of the other more established players.

"Yo, Ellie!" Jesse yelled, waving at her as he sauntered over.

"Hey, Jesse." Ellie grinned, lifting her bag and slinging it back over her shoulder. "Good training?"

"Man, I think the coach hates me." he breathed heavily, his chest heaving. "Ran me for miles more than the other guys. I briefly thought about quitting... but knew you'd kill me." he laughed, knocking Ellie with his shoulder as he stepped up beside her.

Ellie only rolled her eyes. "As if you'd quit, you'd lose all the girls who fawn over you, you fucking jock."

"You think I need soccer to get the girls?" he asked, mock offended. "You don't understand my charm because you're a lesbian is all." he laughed.

"Yeah, yeah."

"Plus." he began. "You're making a name for yourself too. Have you seen some of the cheerleaders checking you out? Not to mention some of the guys on the team. You're pretty popular for a nobody." he finished, wrapping his arm around her neck and ruffling her hair. "My little Ellie's growing up."

"I'm the same height as you!" she exclaimed, struggling out of her grasp before shoving him. "Not like I care." she said with a shrug. "What are we doing tonight, anyway? You down to grab some food?"

"Yeah, I'm starved. But also there's this party I've been invited to tonight at one of the frat houses. You have to go with me later." he turned to face Ellie, looking at her with a look of pleading.

"Don't you have a game tomorrow?" she asked with a cocked eyebrow.

"Yeah, I'm not going to be drinking much. You're gonna come watch me, right?" he asked, linking his arm with hers.

"As if you need to ask. You're coming to mine, right?" she asked back, bumping into him.

"If you come to this party with me, sure." he grinned.

"Jesse." she groaned. "You know I don't do parties."

"Please, Ellie." he begged. "I need you to be my wingman."

Ellie looked down and rubbed at the back of her neck. "Fine, but you owe me."

 


 

Jesse held her wrist tightly as he dragged her through the crowded house to the kitchen. Opening the fridge he grabbed her two beers out, taking the lid off each one before handing one to his friend.

"Uh, are you allowed to just take those?" she asked skeptically, slowly taking a sip of the alcoholic beverage.

She wasn't a massive fan of beer, spirits being more her thing but she would take anything at this point. She felt out of place and out of her depth as everyone moved and shoved their way around the packed place, not to mention the chorus of screams from all the drunk girls perforating her eardrums.

She hadn't expected anything less of a frat party though to be fair.

Ellie had never been like that, being the type to scream in excitement or cling to others. She also didn't think she would like to be like that or have anyone around her doing that to her. She figured it would make her anxious and nervous. Anything that made her the center of attention was already too much for her.

She was much happier sitting on the sideline, far away from anything that would get her noticed in any social setting.

It was just easier that way. 

Jesse only shrugged. "They won't miss them."

It wasn't long before Ellie lost Jesse in the crowd. She wasn't too worried about it, she knew he would be okay and they would meet up eventually. By that point, Ellie had had a few beers so was feeling more at ease and found talking to the strangers a little easier.

She was surprised that she recognized a few of them. A couple of guys from Jesse's soccer team and even a few girls from her own team were there so she didn't feel like such an outcast. 

She continued to chat with them before eventually being forced to a beer pong table despite her protests. She had heard the yelling and trash-talking in her peripheries all evening and knew it wasn't something she wanted to be involved in.

This already wasn't her scene.

She had played a few times with their highschool friends but definitely not enough to feel confident in her abilities, especially in front of a large group of people.

Fortunately, she was shoved beside Jesse. She wasn't entirely surprised that he was right in the middle of all the commotion, he always seemed to be in the middle of it all no matter what it was. Usually, it was trouble and Ellie would have to drag him out of it.

"Ellie!" he yelled, wrapping his arms tightly around her. "I missed you. Everyone, this is Ellie!"

The crowd around him cheered for her and she felt her face blush with embarrassment, making a mental note to punch him when they were away from everyone.

"Are you two next?" two football jocks at the end asked cockily. "'Cause you might as well not even try, you look shit. No one's beat us yet."

"Oh yeah?" Jesse slurred. "My mate Ellie here happens to be the best at this game. She could take you on solo."

"Jesse!" Ellie hissed, tugging at his jacket. "What are you doing?"

He shrugged with a shit-eating grin, one that made it made sense as to why he got into so many situations like this.

"Don't get me in trouble." she pleaded.

"We'll take both of you losers on before you even sink a cup!" he added, pumping his fist in the air. 

"Jesse!" Ellie hit him hard on the arm. "Are you even any good, I've never seen you play!"

"Absolutely rubbish." he laughed, filling up the cups in front of him with beer. "We're definitely going to lose."

"I'll play with you."

Ellie spun around and came face to face with a beautiful black-haired woman and she gave her a smirk as their eyes met, fearful greens against confident browns.

"Oh yeah, thanks. Ellie is rubbish." Jesse grinned back, picking up one of the ping pong balls and tossing it in his hand confidently.

"Not with you, you idiot. With her." the girl laughed, snatching the balls out of his hand and shoving him to the side of the table. 

"What do you say we make a bet?" she smirked, stepping up to the edge of the table and looking up to meet the eyes of the boys probably almost three times her size. "Or are you chicken?"

The boys took a second to look at each other, confidently smiling before laughing. "Sure, what do you have in mind?" 

"Loser strips down and does a lap around the campus," she suggest with a cocked brow.

"What!" Ellie frowned, turning towards the girl. "No, I won't."

The two boys smirked, looking Ellie up and down in a way that made her skin crawl. "You got a deal."

"Just go with it." the shorter woman whispered softly to her, looking up to meet her eyes.

Ellie opened her mouth to argue but couldn't, the look in her deep brown eye's enough to keep her fear at bay for now. She'll reconsider if they were losing.

Ellie watched as the girl confidently stepped up to the table and without a word effortlessly tossed the ball in the air, it landing cleanly in the opposing team's cup.

The two jocks stood there dumbfounded.

Ellie turned to the girl, her mouth open more than it had any right being. The mysterious woman raised her hand, waiting for Ellie to high five her. After a slightly awkward wait, she finally followed the cue and gave her a hard one before she was handed the other ball.

"Your turn." she urged.

"I'm not good at this." Ellie leaned in close to her ear and hissed through clenched teeth. 

The girl only smiled at her, stepping up behind her and taking hold of her hand. "Here, like this." she whispered as she showed Ellie the correct motion, her hand gently sliding over her skin and her thumb finally caressing her knuckles.

It was softer than it had any business being.

Ellie swallowed the lump in her throat, sure she was imagining it all. Certain she wasn't grinding her hips against her ass as she did so, pressing further into her body as she guided Ellie through the motions.

No, Ellie was sure it was just the close proximity of her and the alcohol playing tricks on her mind and she definitely wasn't feeling her breath on the back of her neck.

She allowed the girl to help her throw the ball and just like before, it landed cleanly in the cup.

She excitedly turned towards her and much like she had held out her hand for a high five.

The girl met her with an enthusiastic one before pulling her into a tight hug. "You got this, freckles."

"Whoo! Girls." Jesse cheered. "Girls! Girls! Girls!" he began a chorus of chanting and the longer it went on Ellie was sure that they were no longer even saying the word correctly.

"Go on boys, drink up." The girl smirked. "And we'll have those balls back."

"That's not fair." one of the boys grumbled, retrieving the ball and tossing it back before sculling the drink underneath.

The second one followed suit, a deep frown etched on to his face.

"You're not sore losers, are you?" Dina asked again tossing the ball without a second thought and having it land perfectly in the middle cup. 

"You're kidding, right?" the boy yelled back at her. "You've got to be cheating."

The girl only shook her head and smirked at the boys before turning her attention to Ellie. "You're up again, Freckles."

Ellie nodded, suddenly missing the feeling of the girl pressed up behind her, guiding her. She shook her head clear, she didn't even know her and mentally scolded herself for being so pathetic.

She took aim, narrowing her eyes as she tried to judge the throw. She thought she had tried really hard, but when the ball hit the rim of the cup and bounced over the back to be caught she wasn't so sure about that anymore. Feeling a little stupid she turned back to her partner and gave a small shrug.

"Ha!" the guys chorused and high fived each other before jumping into each other and bumping their chests. "She's the weak link. Let's sink them, bro."

"Sorry..." Ellie muttered lowly.

"You're acting as if you've already won the game, how about you at least get one in before you celebrate." the woman yelled back at them in response before turning to Ellie, resting her hand on her lower back. "It's okay, you'll get them next time. Watch, bet they won't even get one."

Ellie nodded, strangely feeling calmer under her gaze and turned back to the game. Her heart immediately settled as the boys missed both their shots, muttering excuses under their breaths. At least it wasn't just her missing.

"Look who fucking sucks now. " the woman smiled smugly, goading them. "For being such big talkers you're being awfully quiet now, aren't you?" 

"Yeah, yeah. Just throw the balls." the growled, motioning for the crowd to quieten down.

It hadn't been a perfect game, but it was mostly one-sided. Ellie couldn't be certain but she was sure that her partner missed some on purpose to make her feel better about how much she missed. Each time she missed it gave her a mini-stroke, but the other girl never seemed worried, just giving a small shrug and reassuring smile in response.

By the time they had sunk the last cup, the boys were all but quiet, far from the loud-mouthed ones that they had stepped up to play.

"Alright fuckers, outside and drop your pants." the black-haired woman grinned at Ellie.

For a moment she thought they were going to argue, were going to back out but as the crowd started booing and shoving them towards the door, they eventually conceded and went on their own accord, beginning to pretend that they had lost on purpose so they could take their clothes off and show off.

Anything to save their pride.

Ellie had only rolled her eyes.

If Ellie wasn't feeling buzzed before, she definitely was now. She felt drunk and elated, enjoying the crowd that had cheered for her. With the jocks outside and presumably removing their clothing due to the chorus of both cheers and laugher, the house had cleared out to watch them complete it.

She was thankful for that now that the pressure was off her.

She felt her phone buzz in her pocket, seeing a few picture media messages from Jesse that she had ignored from earlier, the latest message being from Joel. She clicked his message thread.

"I know I said I'd not bother you so much why you're settling in but it's Friday and the house feels empty without you. I think it's haunted and it was just covered up by your elephant feet. What are you doing on your first Friday night?"

Ellie snorted and leaned back against the kitchen countertop. 

"The house is not haunted, you're just getting senile and losing your mind. Would you believe I'm at some frat party?"

"Will you search on the internet and find where I can find some sage if anything to help get the smell of dirty laundry out of your room but I may need an exorcist for that. Did someone kidnap you? Send an SOS if you need me to send the police."

Ellie quickly thumbed back a response. 

"Where was this humor when I was home? TTYL, my kidnapper is coming."

She shook her head and stuffed her phone back in her pocket.

She knew Joel wouldn't cope too well without her being there so made a conscious effort to message and call when she could. They had been a constant fixture in each other's lives for years and adjusting without the other had been hard for both of them.

Ellie realized the first day after she had a tough day of classes that she couldn't go to him to just vent. Debriefing was important to her, it stopped her from keeping everything pent up but she didn't have him here to do that. She had Jessie, but it wasn't the same.

Ellie was glad she chose to stay behind in the house, enjoying the quiet moment that followed. She went to the fridge, retrieving another beer that she deemed she deserved for conquering the champions.

"You're not going to watch?" the familiar voice asked from behind her.

Ellie turned around, for a moment fearful she was going to get scolded for taking the beer from the fridge, her heart finally settling in her chest when she saw it was the same girl from before.

"Nah, couldn't really care less about seeing two meatheads undress. What about you?" she said with a small shrug, popping the cap off the beer before offering it to the girl.

She shrugged in return, taking the beer from her and brought it to her lips, keeping her eyes in Ellie's the entire time. "I've seen it all before, nothing new... Hey, do you want to head out back and get some fresh air?"

"Yeah, sure." Ellie replied, grabbing another drink and taking the top off.

Ellie waited for her to move in front of her and lead the way but to her surprise, the girl reached out and took her hand, leading her out the back of the house to the porch. She couldn't help the blush that painted her cheeks, thankful that they were heading into the night and not into a lit room. She wasn't sure she would be able to handle the embarrassment if she knew.

 They both settled on the railing, leaning on their arms as they peered out into the darkness and into the night sky.

"So, what's your name?" 

"Ellie..." she replied, bringing the bottle to her lips. "You?"

"Ellie... That's a pretty name. I'm Dina." she replied. "It's Jewish or whatever."

"It's nice." Ellie nodded slowly. "Different. I like it."

"Are you a freshman?" Dina asked, tilting her head to the side.

"Yeah, I am..." Ellie replied, turning to give her a soft smile. "This place is a lot bigger than what I expected."

"Ditto." Dina smiled, clasping her hands together and looking down at them. "So, what do you do, Ellie?"

Ellie gave a small shrug. "Biological science." she paused, realizing she probably sounded boring. "And soccer." she added, wondering if that made her sound any more interesting or worse.

"Oh, so you're a space nerd, huh?" Dina grinned, turning her head back towards the girl at her side.

"A little bit." Ellie couldn't help but blush, thinking that Dina wouldn't know what the degree was to do with. "What about you?"

"Film making with a little acting here and there." she began. "I'd like to be an actress one day, I know that's not likely though so I'd settle with making some kick-ass films."

"Why not?" Ellie asked unsure if she should press.

Dina only shrugged in response before motioning with her head towards the stars. "So, you want to go up there?"

Ellie took a deep breath and exhaled. "Yeah, I think so. One day anyways. I've just always been fascinated with it. Something out there that's bigger than we are, making us all small and insignificant."

Dina nodded. "Do you know about stars? Constellations and shit?"

"Yeah, I know a bit. My uh... My old man taught me a lot about them. I don't think he was ever interested in that stuff but he learned them to teach me."

"Could you show me?" Dina asked softly, taking a cautious step to the side to close the gap between them.

Ellie turned her head to meet her gaze before nodding. "Yeah, I can show you some."

She tilted her head back and looked at the stars, narrowing her eyes briefly as she searched for one she could easily identify in her inebriated state. It took a moment but finally she settled on one.

"That one there." she said softly, lifting her hand to point in the direction. "You see that line of three bigger stars there? That's Oriens belt... It's made of three bright stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. It's pretty easy to spot in the sky... but if you just go down from that one a little bit..." she continued pointing but dropped her hand lower. "You see that super bright star? That's Sirius, also known as the Dog Star."

"Why?" Dina asked with a mumble, turning her face to her.

"It's official name is Alpha Canis Majoris."

"Oh." Dina mouthed. "That makes sense, I guess."

"And that one there..." she moved her hand, pointing to the left. "That one is Gemini."

"I don't see that one at all." Dina spoke softly, turning her attention back to Ellie, losing her attention to counting the freckles on her cheek as she listened to her talk passionately about the night sky.

Ellie gave a small laugh. "Yeah... they don't really look like anything you expect them to. Hmm... Let me see. Oh! There''s Taurus too. Do you see?"

"Mhmm." Dina hummed, her eyes still fixed on Ellie.

"And uh, the largest constellation is called Hydra, it takes up 3.16 percent of the sky..." Ellie added matter of fact.

"Where's that one?" Dina asked absentmindedly.

"Oh, you can't see it. Maybe around April, I'll be able to show you..." she trailed off, realizing how forward that sounded considering she would likely never see this girl again.

Finally, Ellie turned her face towards Dina, her face turning a deep shade of red when she realized that she had been staring at her. For how long, she didn't know but even a few seconds was too much.

"You have a lot of freckles, you know?" Dina only smiled lopsidedly as she finally turned her attention away from Ellie and back to the sky.

Ellie's lips felt dry and she felt her tongue darting out to moisten them, noticing her mouth felt just as dry so she raised her beer to her lips instead of replying. What was she even meant to say to that?

She felt the shorter girl shiver beside her, each one causing her to brush her bare arms against Ellie's body. Ellie didn't hate the contact but she immediately became concerned. It was a lot colder outside than it had been when she arrived at the party earlier. Likely Dina had thought the same.

"Are you cold?" Ellie mumbled, her eye's fixing on Dina.

Dina only nodded.

Ellie slipped her jacket off her shoulders and turned to hold it out for the girl beside her. Instead of taking it from her and putting it on herself, Dina smiled softly and slipped her arm inside one sleeve followed by the next, patiently waiting as Ellie lifted it up her back until it settled right.

"Aren't you a gentleman." Dina quipped, shooting her a daring smirk.

"Yeah, well I'm not prepared to hide your body tonight when you freeze to death." she shot back, turning her attention back to the sky and away from Dina's prying eyes.

"You sure you don't want to change your career to something funnier? Maybe a comedian?" Dina replied, taking her spot back next to Ellie and following her eyes to the sky, her attention still flittering back to the taller girls face every so often.

"When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a stand-up comedian..." Ellie turned her attention back to Dina. "But I found it's much more enjoyable sitting down." she finished deadpan.

"Oh my god." Dina said with the faintest of chuckles, covering her mouth with her hand. "That was awful.

"Hey, you laughed." Ellie shrugged sheepishly.

"Alright Mitch Hedberg, definitely stick to your current career path. I wouldn't want to have to be the only one attending your shows because I felt bad for you." 

"No, you'd be attending my shows because you-actually-find-me-funny." Ellie laughed.

"Maybe. Maybe not. Imagine trying to figure that out every set when I'm sitting there deadpan. I'm an actress, remember. At least my presence would fill the room for you. Maybe I'd laugh for you out of sympathy." Dina gave a small laugh back, pulling the corner of her lip into another smirk. "So Ellie... Soccer, huh?"

Ellie closed her eyes for a moment before taking a long drink. "Mhmm."

"Any good?" Dina asked, arching her brow at her.

"Eh, I'm okay." she shrugged. "I've got a game this weekend I'm pretty nervous about."

"Is that why you're drinking tonight?" Dina asked with a small tilt of her head. "Why are you nervous?"

Ellie gave another shrug, looking down at the drink in her hand and peeling anxiously at the label. "I just want to do well."

Dina laughed and knocked her shoulder into her. "Well, if you're as terrible at soccer as you are at comedy, I'm worried for you... But I'm sure you're much better than that. Don't be so nervous. Fake it until you make it."

"Yeah." Ellie smiled. "I don't think it's that easy but I'll keep that in mind."

"Oh, Ellie. I'm never wrong." Dina said confidently. "You remember that and you'll do fine. You'll get all the touchdowns... or whatever it is you do in soccer."

Ellie rolled her eyes. "Goals. But thanks for the pep talk, Coach."

"You know, we really should have lost that game..." Dina grinned with a small shrug of her shoulders.

"What? Why?" Ellie stuttered out.

"I might have liked seeing you naked..." Dina began with a devious smirk. "That and I think it would have been funny seeing you get all embarrassed and shit."

Ellie blushed hard, certain that Dina had noticed her sudden awkwardness. She wanted to come back with something equally as witty and open ended but the words were too jumbled in her brain. Instead she just stared at her like a deer caught in the headlights.

Ellie watched as Dina turned her attention back to the sky, her lips arched into a soft smile. Her eyes lingered on the way the moon bathed her olive sky, highlighting the sharp features of her face and she was certain in that moment she hadn't seen a girl more beautiful before now. She wondered if Dina knew?

She wanted to be an actress, of course she knew that there was something attractive about her features.

Would she mind if she told her?

She shook her head. She probably heard it all the time anyway.

But still, Ellie couldn't help the butterflies in the pit of her stomach and she blamed it on the beer. Convinced she had had too much for her own good and it was just starting to make her feel sick. She thought about whether or not she should try to find Jesse and drag him home with her but she couldn't peel her away from Dina's side, something drawing her body towards her.

She was certain Dina just had that personality that captivated others. The same one Jesse had that caused people to gravitate towards them, that made it easy to become their friend and for them to be everyone else's best friend.

"Tell me more about the stars." Dina finally broke the silence, gesturing with her head upwards.

Ellie wasn't sure how long they had been out on the porch for, the people had since returned to the party and moved around them but they didn't seem to mind. Dina listened patiently as she continued to talk more about space and if she had bored her with it she didn't let on. Instead nodded slowly or asking questions when she wanted something clarified or she didn't understand. Not once did she make her feel like she was just some nerd or stupid for her interest.

"Dina!" a boy yelled behind her, rushing up to them.

Ellie watched as Dina spun around, her expression neutral as her gaze fell on his face before she gave him a welcome smile. "Hey, Joe. What's up?"

"You gotta come with me, I've got something to show you." he exclaimed as he reached for her wrist, tugging her forward. 

Dina allowed him to do so, looking over her shoulder at Ellie she offered a small apologetic smile as she was removed from her vicinity and disappeared in the crowd.

Ellie took a breath and puffed out her cheeks before exhaling deeply, leaning back against the porch railing as she finished her drink, staring into the crowd where Dina had just disappeared. She had only just met her but she already missed her company.

She mentally kicked herself as she realized she had spent the entire night talking about herself and hadn't actually asked Dina many questions but she had made it easy and quite frankly hadn't given her an opportunity to ask.

Ellie wondered if she had done that on purpose.

She shook her head clear of the thoughts, no point dwelling on someone she would likely never see again. The university campus was huge and the likely hood of them running into each other again was slim, considering they were both doing entirely different things.

Pushing forward on her feet she made a beeline for the door. She would hunt down Jesse, drag him to bed and scold him later for leaving her alone for so long.

 



"But Ellie!" Jesse exclaimed, digging his feet into the ground in protest as she continued to drag him across the campus. "We must go back!"

"And why is that?" she muttered, sobering up now and feeling the cold as it lapped at her bare skin, realizing now that she had given her jacket away and likely wouldn't get it back.

She frowned, that was her favorite jacket.

"The ladies, Ellie." he finally managed to stop her and looked her head in the eyes, gesturing with his hand to emphasize. "The. Ladies."

Ellie rolled her eyes, wrapping her arms back around his waist. "You have a game tomorrow, you can worry about the ladies then. And you need to be quiet."

Jesse closed his eyes and nodded, leaning against Ellie's side and putting more weight on her then he ought to have. "Yes, Ellie. I'll be good. You're going to come to watch me, right?"

"I've already said I'd go. Are you that drunk?" she asked with a small laugh, heaving him up the steps of the building to her dorm.

"Yeah, but you're like, my number one fan." he mumbled, dragging his feet more and leaving Ellie to wonder if he was doing it on purpose.

"Oh, you think so?"

"Mhmm." he nodded. "You'll cheer for me even if I do bad because I drank too much the night before." he slurred, his words almost inaudible.

Ellie finally reached her door, maneuvering the tired and drunk man to rest on her side as she fiddled with her keys trying to find the correct one to her room. Once she had she quickly turned it in the lock, pushing the door open with a twist of the handle. 

"Alright, Jesse. Bedtime." she groaned, lifting him up enough to toss him down on to the couch. 

"G'night, Ellie..." Jesse mumbled sleepily as he shifted on the couch, almost instantaneously snoring.

Ellie watched him settle and smiled, pulling one of her blankets off the bed to drape it over him. He was a drunken idiot but he was her drunken idiot. She knew he would regret it tomorrow, he did almost every time but he could never help himself. She would definitely tease him for it.

She changed into a pair of shorts and an old tank top before climbing under the covers and settling her head against the pillow, rolling on to her back. She stared up to the darkness of her ceiling suddenly feeling more awake than she had all night.

She couldn't stop thinking about Dina. 

Why hadn't she asked for her number?

She mentally kicked herself, finally conceding that there wasn't much she could do about it now and admitting to herself that it likely had meant nothing to the smaller girl anyhow. She was probably just being friendly, she seemed like the type to do that. That would definitely explain why she had spent so long allowing Ellie to talk about herself.

She groaned, raising her hand to her forehead as she realized just how boring she had probably been. No one wants to hear about space. Why couldn't she think of something more interesting to talk about? Next time she spoke with someone she decided she would avoid that topic completely, but then what would she talk about?

That was the only thing she knew confidently enough to talk to a stranger about. 

She sighed, rubbing at her eyes. 

"Ellie!" a sleepy Jesse murmured, snapping Ellie out of her mental anguish.

"Go to sleep, Jesse." she said sternly.

"But, Ellie." he began again. "I met a girl tonight."

Ellie snorted and couldn't help but smile as she closed her eyes. "Oh, yeah?"

"She only has the prettiest name I've ever heard." he exclaimed, raising his hand to the air, still very much in his sleepy state. 

"Okay Romeo, what's her name?" Ellie asked, her interest peaked.

"Dina."

Ellie only closed her eyes tighter, her heart sinking into her gut.