“How many am I on?” Misty sucks in a sharp breath, the words straining against tight lips as she does another push up.
Cordelia, who is sat nearby on the track field with her back against one of the bleachers and her legs stretched out, smiles softly. “Thirty four.”
Thought she doesn’t complain through words, Misty’s expression says enough of how she feels about that. Cordelia bites back a smirk, lowering the chemistry book to her lap. “Only sixteen more.” She tries helpfully, as if she would be capable of doing that many. Her only arms are so spindly she thinks sometimes she couldn’t hold up even half her body weight.
She surveys Misty under the guise of admiring the scenery around them, but eyes focus in solely on her biceps as she pushes up and down. The muscles tense tightly, well-formed against her pale skin. At the sight of them, Cordelia feels every ounce of saliva run dry in her mouth, something stirring awake deep within her pelvis. In a moment of weakness, she imagines Misty pushes her down onto a bed with those strong arms, trapped delightfully beneath them, and the remaining air in her lungs escapes with a squeak.
Stop it, Cordelia. She curses her wanton thoughts and banishes them, even if they move reluctantly. It’s difficult as Misty continues her push ups in earnest, beads of sweat forming on her forehead with the afternoon sun blinks above them. “Forty nine. . .fifty.” Slightly breathless, she rolls over so she’s lay on her back and closes her eyes. “It’s hot.” She says, wiping at the face with her shirt. As she does, it reveals an expanse of a taut and creamy stomach that has Cordelia reeling on the spot.
Despite this, she succeeds in finding words from her scrambled brain. “It was your idea to do exercise.”
Misty turns to her, hair gathered beneath her head like a pretty, blonde pillow; her lips twist upwards. “You know I gotta train every day.”
“I know.” She laughs, “but it looks exhausting.”
The Cajun doesn’t disagree. She lifts herself with wobbly arms and slowly moves over to where Cordelia is sat with a welcoming smile. A second bottle of water is offered, which Misty takes and begins to drinks greedily; droplets of it escape down either side of her mouth, dribbling onto her track shirt and darkening the gray material Eyes linger, mesmerized.
“It ain’t too bad.” Even so, she plonks herself down next to Cordelia in weariness, legs momentarily knocking against her own. “It’ll be worth it, if I get to go to the state meet.” She dares to look proud. “Even my Daddy said he’d come watch if I did.”
Cordelia smiles and rubs a hand on Misty’s arm softly, feeling the smooth hairs there. “I don’t doubt you at all. You’ll be the best runner there.”
She flushes under the compliment, but doesn’t grow bashful. Lips twist and twitch into a pretty grin that Cordelia returns, then moves to put away her book. “Are you ready to go?” Nodding keenly, Misty gathers all of her things too, a messy pile in her arms that is quickly carried the five minute walk to Cordelia’s car. “You going home or to mine?” She asks as nonchalant as she can, hoping for the latter, which Misty instantly agrees to.
Misty sings along to the radio the entire way, tapping her fingers against the dashboard and occasionally throwing playful laughter over to the content Cordelia. In turn, she hums softly, wishing that the drive would last longer so they could remain in such a serene state. All too quickly, though, she’s pulling up in front of her house and Misty is already jumping out of the car.
She scrunches up her nose as she stands on the stoop, head shifting this way and that. Cordelia peers at her through the corner of her eyes while she unlocks the door, stifling a laugh when Misty lifts up an arm to smell her armpit. “I stink.” She grumbles, face pinched together.
“Well, go shower.” Cordelia insists with a toying smile, then nudges Misty over the threshold of the door.
The Cajun doesn’t need to be told twice, hurrying inside where shoes are shrugged off and she leads the way to Cordelia’s room. She casually chats about school and the owl nesting near her cabin on the journey, and turns occasionally to grin toward Cordelia with shimmering eyes. Bags are thrown onto the floor before Misty makes herself at home with grabbing things to shower with. Warmth spreads through Cordelia at seeing the blonde so comfortable in her home, just as much as when she’s twirling blissfully along the wooden floors of her cabin.
With the pleasant heat embraced, she smiles into herself and rises to her feet. Misty peers around from where she’s stood at the ajar door, questioning.
Cordelia’s soft expression keeps her at ease. “I’m going to make us something to eat.” She says, knowing that those are the magic words to brighten Misty. Especially after over an hour of exercising. It works, and she gives an impish grin.
“I won’t be long.”
“Take your time.” Cordelia breathes; her mind tells her legs to move, but they seem to refuse, as if she just needs to take the sight of Misty in that moment. Looking over at her friend, the Cajun appears to be under the same conflict, and the two continue to stare with unknown words hanging tentatively on their lips. She exhales until her lungs begin to collapse in on themselves. Even so, her smile lingers under Misty’s intent eyes. “I’ll be downstairs if you need anything.”
Misty nods, the wisps of her hair bouncing delicately.
It’s a struggle, but she manages to draw herself away from those twinkling, blue eyes and begin the descent downstairs. Without Misty’s constant conversation, it seems awfully quiet. She fills it with music from her phone that perches on the kitchen counter and she rifles through the cupboards like a girl on a mission. Maybe she is. Feeding Misty is something that she’s grown used to now; normally an affair of pizzas and burgers, and whatever is easy to just place in the oven at that moment.
For some reason, she gives pause. Teeth chew on her lip thoughtfully, until the pressure becomes too much and she breaks through sensitive skin.
She knows that the Cajun doesn’t care what they eat, that it doesn’t need such a debate. So why is it suddenly a great dilemma?
Fingers push through bags and items in the freezer, none of them taking her fancy. She wants to do more for Misty than some cheap meal. She wants to do something nice, something special. Why? She doesn’t dare say. What’s special about a random Wednesday night in the last week of March? Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. But Misty is here, and that’s special to her. Maybe that’s reason enough.
Once the idea begins to take root like a tiny, hopeful seedling, any resolve she has to counter it flies from the nearest French window.
With a new and bizarre thrill bubbling away in the pit of her stomach, she moves back to the fridge where she pulls out a series of vegetables and begins chopping away. The repetitive work is soothing, her mood lightened by the playlist filling the air around her. She smiles absently as Fleetwood Mac plays, one of the randomly chosen songs, humming to the tune with a small sway in her hips.
Losing herself in cooking is easy, something that she’s always loved to do, and doing it for someone that she cares (a whole damn lot) about brings a whole new element of joy to the simple tasks. Once the vegetables are seasoned and roasting, Cordelia focuses on making the sauce and boiling the pasta to perfection.
In the small bouts of time between, she sets the nearby table with nerves itching in her fingertips. They tremble and quiver until she scoffs out her self directed annoyance. “Oh, stop being an idiot.” She mutters aloud. Her body listens, or at least dilutes the tension slightly. Replying to Zoe’s text about math homework distracts her for all of about three seconds, until she hears the sizzle of overflowing water mixing with the heat of the hob. Throwing her phone to the side hastily, she jumps toward the pan and removes it with as much speed as she can muster. Which, turns out, is way too much, and the boiling water sloshes this way and that against the rim of the pan. Some of it jumps ship, landing over her fingers without apology and summoning a strangled hiss from the teenager. “Goddammit.”
“You shouldn’t use the Lord’s name in vain, ya know?”
She spins, cradling her burning fingers in her other hand and wincing. Misty leans prettily against the doorway wearing the clothes she’d had on at school earlier that day. A cream colored dress reaches down past her knees, drowned by the oversized, knitted cardigan that sits comfortably around her shoulders. Her damp hair hangs longer than normal, slightly frizzed from being towel dried. Despite her serious words, a smirk fights its way onto her lips as she regards Cordelia.
The older blonde suddenly forgets that she’s actually in quite a lot of pain, chest heaving and eyes widening. She peers to the gold cross around Misty’s neck, catching the kitchen light and sending a warning that the Cajun can’t quite keep to maintain. “Sorry.”
Misty is less perturbed, if she even had been, and crosses the room with purpose. Her hair flounces airily even with the water trying to weight it down.
Suddenly a hand is cradling Cordelia’s and directing it to the cold water faucet. “You okay?”
She stares down at their combined hands. One, pale and soft, like moonlight. The other mottled by red markings that rampage over the freckles on the back of it.
“I’m fine.” Cordelia glances up to her. “It doesn’t hurt that much.” Not with you holding it like that.
Misty inspects it further as she bows in front of the sink, eyes narrowed into inquisitive slits and forehead creasing sympathetically. “I hope it doesn’t blister.” She says softly, brushing a thumb over it. That stings, but not as much as the sting in Cordelia’s chest. Her gaze begs for something else to stare at; all she can do is notice that Misty’s fingers are bare and they look awfully strange without any jewellery on them. The Cajun stands, still holding her hand under the icy water until it’s numb and frigid. She puckers her lips into a wrinkled line and then grins. “What are you makin’?”
A huff of air close to a laugh comes from Cordelia. She gestures to the pan with the nudge of her head. “I was making linguine, before. . . well, this.” Her hand stares pathetically back at her.
“Linguine?” Misty’s cheeks widen with an earnest smile. “Sounds real fancy.”
She laughs again, a real, definite one, and moves to turn off the water. “I just need to put it all together.”
Even at her insistence, Misty’s grip clings.
“I’m fine. I promise.” The pain is now like a subtle nip on her skin every so often. Ever so softly, Misty begins to let her fingers loosen their clasp and make to fall limply by her side. They hang sadly, as if having lost their purpose.
Cordelia offers the sweetest of smiles, brushing past Misty to finish their meal. Eyes remain on her the entire time, watching each and every movement with interest, a pretty tinge of befuddlement creeping in too.
It remains there the entire time that Cordelia sets up two dishes, placing a hearty amount for Misty and a more modest for herself. Misty’s confusion only peaks when she’s led to the table and not Cordelia’s bedroom, where there are drinks and neatly set cutlery waiting for them. “Am I missin’ somethin’?” she teases, “is today some sort of special occasion?”
Her neck reddens, and she tugs her collar up to hide it. “No. I just. . .” She won’t look into Misty’s eyes, or maybe she can’t. “I just thought it would be nice.”
Misty accepts that with a carefree shrug, though her entire being seems to drip in appreciation. The smile falters, for the blink of an eye, and she clears her throat. “Do you mind if I say grace?”
Grinning, she shakes her head. “Go for it.”
There is littele hesitation from Misty now, who closed her eyes with a bowed head, and draws those ringless hands together. Cordelia follows suit, though pokes one eye open to observe with a warmth in her heart.
“For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.”
Cordelia hums out her own quieter amen, then peers curiously with the tilt of her head before either of them take a bite. “Do you normally pray before meals?” She enquires. It isn’t something that she’s accustomed to Misty doing normally.
The Cajun nods, stabbing at the linguine eagerly and twizzling it around her fork. “We always do at home. At school ‘n here I guess I normally do it in my head. But this fancy meal definitely needed one at loud.” She doesn’t pause to think any further on it, shovelling the heaping forkful between pale lips and moaning in happiness. “Hmmm, Delia, this is amazin’.”
She flushes again, smiling. “Thank you.”
Another mouthful, one that leaves sauce left on her chin. Cordelia stares and bites back a smirk that pushes and barges against her mouth.
“You have to make this again.” She insists.
“Okay.” Cordelia agrees in a heartbeat.
Misty does that look again, all too grateful, and manages to slow her assault on the food as though she remembers that table manners are a thing. Her cheeks are plump like a hamster’s as she chews what’s remaining, then swallows it with another moan. A hand reaches out for the glass of water and chugs at that. “How come you never said you were such a good cook?” she says playfully, a pink tongue poking out between teeth.
Taking a bite of her food as a distraction, Cordelia falls victim to her own demure expression. “I only ever cook for myself.” She says, trying not to let sadness hijack her words. “And Fiona once in a blue moon.” Cordelia then smiles genuinely. “And you, but you’re normally so hungry that I don’t have time to cook anything that take more than fifteen minutes.”
Her laugh is full of delight, like a charming angel. “I’d wait if it meant it was this good.”
Cordelia swells with pride again, unable to chew seeing as she’s smiling too much.
“What about you?” She starts.
Chewing stops, her mouth hanging open. “Huh?” Cordelia knows she should be grossed out, but she really, without a doubt, is not.
She giggles. “Are you good at cooking?”
“Ah.” Misty pauses only to grin devilishly and shake her head. “Nellie don’t let me in the kitchen anymore.” Eyes widen with pointed mirth. “I have a tendency to set things on fire.”
The very idea of Misty causing chaos in the kitchen elicits more chucking from the older blonde, her fondness all too obvious and floating over the mahogany table where Misty meets it with her own grin.
“Now bakin' - that is where my talents lie.”
Cordelia leans forward as she sips her drink, entranced by the conversation which fills the kitchen that’s only used to silence. “You’ll have to bake for me some time.” She suggests even if her tummy fills with butterflies as it leaves her lips.
It goes unnoticed by the Cajun, who is scraping the last few morsels off of her plate loudly. “I can do that.” She pauses.
“What’s your specialty?”
She can feel her own gaze growing darker with intensity, something suddenly way out of her control, and it pulls Misty in like a moth to the flame.
Leaning her chin on one hand, she gives a cross eyed grin, lost in Cordelia’s stare. “Whatever you want.” She whispers, a promise that in that moment seems to transcend their conversation and hint to a much bigger picture. It makes Cordelia stare dumbly at first, enrapt, until the rational side of her brain kickstarts with a bang and jerks her upright.
Misty seems to realize her faux pas before it’s too late, face paling in embarrassment? Horror? Neither are given the opportunity to dissect it as the Cajun stares at her empty plate, then clears her throat loudly. “Uh, is there any more?”
On her feet all too quickly, Cordelia relishes in the distraction. As she returns with the remains in the pan, ready to scoop them into Misty’s dish, she catches Misty’s berating expression that the Cajun seems to direct at herself. Angry and ashamed, she reeks of self-hatred for those few fleeting moments until Cordelia appears by her side. Then, it disappears with her fluttering blinks. She tilts her head to one side to glance just barely at Cordelia with a half smile, like she can’t quite manage to bring the other side of her lips up. The small action is just enough to send cracks rippling through her already weak heart.
“Thanks.” Misty whispers, avoiding eye contact. Cordelia feels her mouth quirk in annoyance.
She moves around to her seat where Misty has no option but to look at her in the middle of devouring the rest of the food. Her satisfied moans begin to usurp the tension that had briefly enveloped them.
Even so, it’s still not enough for Cordelia, who desperately seeks any other form of conversation. Her usually overworking brain comes up short, leaving her just sitting with a mouth jutting open and closed like some sort of floundering fish.
For once in her life, her mother turns out to be her savior; she stomps into the kitchen without warning. Cordelia hadn’t even heard the front door go. But she sucks in a sharp breath and then pushes it from her lungs, hoping her relief isn’t too evident. “You’re back early.” She comments to the woman, who has thrown her handbag to the side and begins the process of making herself a cappuccino.
“The case settled.” Fiona gives somewhat of a proud smile. “I showed that bitch Laveau how good representation works.” A haughty laugh follows, or maybe a cackle. Cordelia isn’t quite sure. “I’d do it all over again to see the look on her smug, little face.”
Cordelia gives a long, slow nod. “That’s good, I guess.”
“It’s a cause for celebration. Joe is taking me to that jazz club he keeps talking about and then tonight we are going to have the best – "
“Please don’t finish that sentence.” She scrunches her eyes closed with the will of making herself deaf for a few seconds.
It doesn’t work. “Honestly, Cordelia, you are such a prude.”
She flushes pink, then scoffs. Any offence is barely hidden, but that’s not the least of her worries. Eyes drift over to where Misty is sat, observing the two with interest from her seat. Fiona seems to only just then notice her presence. “Ah, Misty’s here.” She announces, then pointedly looks to Cordelia. “Again.”
“We’re just having dinner.”
Fiona’s eyes grow more interested, darker with thought. “How quaint.” Her eyes flicker in Misty’s direction again, finding the Cajun staring right back with no signs of relenting. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get ready.”
She reaches for her drink and begins retreating with it, leaving a smell of bitter perfume in her wake. Cordelia sighs over what’s probably been their longest interaction for a week, then turns apologetically to her friend.
Misty smiles now, a real smile that meets the pretty blue behind her eyes. “Does your mom think I’m here a lot?” Though chuckles follow her words, there’s something coating them that Cordelia can’t quite understand.
“It doesn’t matter what she thinks.” Cordelia replies steadily, moving to take their empty dishes.
Reaching out, Misty’s hand on hers halts her quickly. “You cooked.” She gives way as answer, that appreciate demeanor flourishing around her once more. “Least I can do is clean up after us.”
Cordelia follows in her tracks, watching as she begins doing the dishes without complaint. She almost protests that they have a dishwasher yet the words refuse to come. All she can succeed in doing is slowly ambling up to Misty’s side, hips brushing against her, and holding her hand out expectantly with the dishtowel ready.
At the sight of it Misty beams, then continues to clean with a hum playing at the back of her throat. Cordelia catches it, just barely there, and smiles to herself too. They work in synch, without words, but with peering glances and content washing over them.
Her tranquil word falters as her brain goes practically rogue of all rationality, sighing over how painfully domestic this all feels.
Reality returns to her as Misty reaches for the dish towel hanging limply in her hands where fingers brush and electricity flies up her arm. She hides her shock under a sheepish smile, then suggests going up to her room under the guise of studying.
Misty sits cross legged on her bed, hair now dry and frizzing at the ends in a way that makes her want to reach out and touch it. The textbooks in her hands keep her fingers distracted, to her great relief. Sinking down onto the bed, she feels the mattress shift, as does Misty. The Cajun moves that slightest bit closer, bringing with her the waft of Cordelia’s shampoo. She likes it. She likes the fact that Misty smells like her, that she could be hers.
Because she’s never going to be.
And she realizes that with a sinking heart.
There’s movement in front of her, an arm casting shadows against the dim side lighting, and suddenly a pair of glasses is in front of her face. “You’re ‘sposed to wear ‘em.” Misty gently reminds her. “Squinting your eyes ain’t good for ya.”
She nods, grateful, more for the fact that Misty thinks her strained expression is from blurry vision that a nauseating realization.
With the glasses on, the words come into focus; Misty too. The idea of studying biology right now is the furthest from what she wants to do, but Misty encourages her, chatting amicably about punnett squares and transcription and things that drift into one ear then straight out of the other. “You don’t need to look so bored.” Misty grins after a while, delicate fingers flipping onto the next page.
Cordelia blinks, tilting her head in the Cajun’s direction.
She’s leaning against the headboard now, lost in a sea of pillows and eyes pointing at Cordelia with the warmth of the sun. “I thought you liked biology?” I like it because you’re there. The older blonde swallows the lump ascending her throat.
“I do.” She starts with floundering commitment. “My head is just starting to hurt a little.”
Misty grins, an air of sympathy to her. “Tell me about it. I can’t wait for all of this to be over.” She places a dramatic hand to her pale forehead. “Feel like my brain is gonna be nothin’ but mush soon.”
“Think I’m too late for that.”
Her wry words have Misty sitting up straight again, gravitating toward her person like the moon dances around the Earth. Cordelia sighs under her breath. “I feel like all we do is stuff for College.” Misty grumbles, “I miss doin’ fun stuff.”
She pokes a thin eyebrow upward. “Like what?”
“You don’t know?”
Misty shrugs, gaze softening. “Anythin’. I’m real sick of training and studyin’.”
“We go to your Cabin.” She nudges her, wondering where the teasing tone appears from in her voice, as if they do anything other than gardening and listening to music when they’re there.
Cordelia chuckles. “But?”
There’s a thoughtful hum, brows knitting into one. “This could be the last year we’re with each other. I want us to do other stuff.”
Despite that being a possibility that Cordelia has been all too aware of since the beginning of school in September, hearing Misty concrete and build the truth like a dominating tower winds her. For a moment, she doesn’t know what to say. Seeing as she fears whatever does come out of her mouth will only send them spiralling down into a whirlpool of sadness.
She doesn’t want that; not when Misty so regularly carries that same weight on her shoulders without her prompting.
Lifting an arm, she finally lets her twitching fingers meet the mark that they so desperately want, and she squeezes her arm. “Well, what do you want to do?”
Misty’s hand finds hers, holding on. She smiles, daringly. “Lots of things.”
“Well, you gotta name one to start.” Cordelia laughs.
Her face pinches together in contemplation, eyes darting up at her friend then back to the bed sheets that she smooths with her free hands. They’re yellow and soft, and remind Cordelia of her friend every time she sees them.
“I know you don’t like animals and stuff. . .” She starts slowly, “but I ain’t been to the zoo since I moved here and I was thinkin’ - maybe, if you’re free. . . we could. . .”
Cordelia smiles, endeared at her suddenly demure nature. “We can do that.” She agrees with very little debate.
“I’ll pay,” Misty offers.
“You don’t have to.” She begins with a shake of her head, words light and loving.
“But I want to.”
The intensity that the response is thrown, bringing everything inside of her to a standstill. Her lips just about part, air escaping without noise. Misty continues to stare, transfixing and bewildering and beautifully insistent. Cordelia isn’t sure where this sudden need to buy things for her has stemmed from, but the more she thinks about it, the more her head hurts. So, she casts the idea aside and relents with a tentative smile.
“It sounds fun. We’ll definitely go.” Misty smiles, too. “Ooh - we should go to the botanical gardens. You’d love it.” Those cheeks spread wider, eyes twinkling with Cordelia’s excited expression staring back at her.
“Yeah.” The Cajun is nodding eagerly, pursing her lips into a twisted line. She hasn’t seemed to notice that they’re still practically holding hands, but Cordelia doesn't have the heart to stop the tactile moment. Shifting with gleeful anticipation, she shifts on the spot. “We’ll go.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
Her own intensity shines through then as she leans in so close that their foreheads almost touch. Misty pales, stuck to the spot and eyes growing twice the size. All she can manage is another dumb nod.
Cordelia reels back, cursing herself for having so comfortably swooped in, before she eyes the textbooks in distaste. “I'm think I’m all studied out.”
There’s a hum on agreement. It takes her all of three seconds to decide that the books are better suited on the floor, leaving more room for Misty to stretch out long legs that Cordelia admires through hidden views. Misty reaches for the TV remote, turning it on automatically and beginning to see what Netflix has to offer. “What do you wanna watch?” she asks.
She shrugs, too busy appraising Misty to care. “Please just don’t put on anything scary.”
“Aw no. I don’t like that kinda stuff.” Her nose crinkles up cutely. “Let’s just watch somethin’ funny.”
As she sifts through the choices, the tip of her tongue ever so gently makes an appearance between her lips. She eventually decides on some spoof movie, deciding the two need an easy movie after their hour or so of staring at the fine writing in textbooks. “There.” She settles into the pillows the way a cat kneads and prods to get comfortable. Cordelia follows suit, not intentionally but totally intentionally leaning into Misty’s side. “Now, we can just watch Netflix and relax.”
She snorts. “Yeah. Netflix and chill.”
The inappropriateness of the words is lost on Misty, who turns to her with a muddled expression. Eyes and mouth and nose pinch together. “What?”
“Netflix and chill. . .” More sniggers threaten to fall. “That’s a thing.”
“I ain’t ever heard of that.”
Cordelia resists the urge to present the palm of her hand to her face very quickly, giving a soft shake of her head. “It doesn’t matter.”
The Cajun frowns now, brows dipping down. “Am I missin’ somethin’?”
She is glad for the dim light when pink begins to color her neck. Describing exactly what it means to Misty makes her gut twist in an instant with the idea that she might take her joke too close to heart. Cordelia shakes her head again. “No, It's fine. Just watch the movie.”
Misty gives her some serious stink eye, though eventually lets her thoughtful gaze return to the TV that demands attention. As it goes on, Cordelia can feel her eyelids growing warier with the long day behind them. A long week, in fact. Another week gone. One more closer the end of school. Misty moves an arm that’s clearly grown dead, accidentally catching her just against the ribcage. She hitches her breath, eyes locking. An apology is mumbled out and all is forgotten. Even the process of breathing is forgotten for Cordelia who has to kickstart into her lungs into exhaling.
She stretches out her own limbs that ache with a lack of use, laughing at her much longer Misty’s legs appear compared to hers even though there’s little than a few inches between them in height. When she shares that with Misty, the Cajun laughs fondly and presses their legs together, just for a moment. The silky feel of skin against Cordelia’s is wonderful, no matter how small the contact.
This is nice. No, it’s better than that. It’s amazing, it’s natural. It’s easy.
Cordelia doesn’t think she’s ever felt more herself with any other person, not even Fiona who had given her life and experience and memories. Misty gives her that in an altogether better way. One that she never wants to lose.
The movie ends, and it blends into another, then an episode of a TV show. Until she’s blearily glancing over at the time on her phone. “Shit. It’s late.” She sits upright from where the two had been half cuddling, half pretending that neither noticed how close they’d gotten. Blinking feverishly, she double checks her first assumption. “It's really late.” How is it past midnight?
“Oh.” Misty drips in disappointment. “Least we don’t have school tomorrow.”
“But you’re gonna get back so late. Won’t your dad be angry?”
There’s a moment of pause, of consideration. Misty’s relaxed attitude confuses Cordelia, whose heart races at the idea that she might have gotten her into trouble. “I’ll just call Tommy. As long as they know I ain’t dead, it’s fine.”
She frowns. “He’ll still be up?”
A quick snort follows from the Cajun. “Until at least three am. It’s the only time he can go on his play station in peace.”
Her mouth forms into a small ‘o’ and she watches as Misty begins searching through the clothes in her bag to find her phone. She yawns as she does so, eliciting one from the older blonde who only seems to grow more tired by the second.
The idea of driving a full round between her and Misty’s house makes her limbs cry in protest and her brain bubble with all sorts of silly ideas. Like the one that dives from her lips before it manages to go through the filter in her head. “You could stay here, you know.”
Misty’s head snaps up from her phone. “What?”
“You could stay over.” She says quietly when she gains the courage to say it again, palms beginning to itch with sweat. “It’s really late.”
She doesn’t know what she expects Misty to say, but it’s certainly not the sweet and naïve ways she asks her question. “Like a sleepover?”
Sleepy giggles bubble over her lips. “Yeah, I guess so.”
Excitement begins to fill the edges where indifference had been. “I haven’t had a sleepover since I went to church camp.”
“Well.” Cordelia starts in a voice that she tries not to make too enticing and obvious. “We could have one now.” By now, Misty has started wringing her fingers together, teeth pulling at her lip while she nods emphatically. Her lack of hesitation causes Cordelia’s heart to swell impossibly wide.
Still grinning, she finally plucks up her phone and starts racing through the contacts. “I need to tell Tommy.”
Cordelia nods, slipping out of the room to give her that slightest bit more privacy. As she does, she finds herself in the kitchen once more, picking out whatever snacks she can find, which turns out to be a questionable bag of pretzels and some miscellaneous candy bars. Neither of which are much to boast about but Misty makes an excited noise when she sees them, practically snatching them from her hands.
She laughs. “What did your brother say?”
“Well, at first he asked why I was botherin’ him, then he said he doesn’t care and lastly he told me that I better not be getting drunk somewhere.”
“I don’t know about drinking, but I can offer you those.” She vaguely gestures to the food, inwardly jumping for joy at the idea of Misty spending the night at her house.
Misty offers her the sweetest of gazes. “I won’t complain about that.” Already she’s opening the pretzels and stuffing some into her mouth. She shuffles further back on the bed, making room for Cordelia. “Wanna watch somethin’ else?” she asks with a mouthful of food.
“You are so gross.” Cordelia giggles, jabbing her in the side where she thickly swallows the half chewed food and gives a sheepish tilt of her head. She offers the open packet to Cordelia, who takes one and eats it in a much daintier fashion. Misty continues to look to her in question. “I’m gonna get changed before we watch anything else.” She explains, pausing when she nears the closest. “You probably wanna borrow some pajamas.”
“Well, unless you want me to sleep with no clothes on.” Misty blurts out, realizing her words and flushing past the point of pink to red in a matter of seconds.
Unable to look at her under her own blush, Cordelia misses the way her face drops with self-directed ire again, features crumpling in on themselves sadly. But she doesn’t see it. And she turns around with some shorts and a baggy T – shirt for the Cajun, throwing them in her direction. Misty squeaks some hurried words out about going to change in the bathroom, leaving Cordelia to do the same herself.
She suddenly feels on show in her own thin layer of pajamas. Her paranoia convinces her that the cotton is suddenly see through even if her rational mind argues such an idea. She climbs under the covers to add another layer over her bare skin, taking the remote herself while she waits for Misty.
It seems like an eternity before the lock clicks open and Misty tiptoes out. A nervous smile lingers on her lips, and she looks like all of a sudden she may be regretting her decision to stay over when she spies Cordelia in the bed. “Hey.” She says softly, fingers tugging down the shirt that is barely long enough to cover her abdomen.
Cordelia totally doesn’t stare. She tries to put Misty in as much ease as possible despite her own frantic insides by gently patting the free side of the bed. It has the opposite effect. Both stare like two deer caught in opposite headlights. A long breath flows from her lungs as she severs eye contact, moving the bag of pretzels off Misty’s pillow.
Her pillow. Not Misty’s. She wishes it was.
Ever so gently, Misty begins to pad over to the bed, where covers are lifted and she scoots underneath. Her hair spills onto the pillow that has stolen Cordelia’s interest with no regrets and all the older blonde can think is how both the pillow and Misty’s hair still smell like her shampoo. If she breathes in deep enough, the sweet scent fills her lungs.
She can’t help thinking how strange this feels, how different it is to be sat under the covers with her instead of on top. Both their warmth begins to combine, and if she shifts her leg just a few inches they’ll be touching. Oh God, how she wants to. But she fights the urge and focuses on the TV because it’s the only thing keeping all sane thoughts reigning over the not so sane ones. Misty does the same, munching away and occasionally commenting on how bad the acting in the movie is. All she can do is hum out agreement.
“Are you even watchin’ this?”
Cordelia rubs at the top of her cheekbones all along the underneath of her eyes. “Of course. I’m just kinda tired.”
Now, Misty turns in the bed so that she’s fully facing her, blue eyes focused in spite of her own clearly sleepy stupor.
She sighs happily. “We can go to sleep, ya know?”
“And skip the pillow fight?” Cordelia smirks.
A loud laugh fills the otherwise quiet buzz of the TV, and hands shove her playfully. She’s hyper aware of the touch. Because they’re touching each other. In her bed - together. It feels all too intimate for her, even more so than when she’d shared a bed with Hank. And all they’re doing is staring into each other’s eyes like their lives depend on it.
Misty’s touch begins to retreat. She almost reaches out for it, but catches herself the last second. She sighs, beginning to sit up in a slow amble. “I need to brush my teeth.”
The cold air pinches at her skin but she is glad to be away from tempting thoughts and brushes her teeth with far much more ferocity than she needs to. Misty hasn’t joined her yet, though she can hear noise from her bedroom and lives happy in the knowledge that she hasn’t fled. When she begins her return, she isn’t expecting to see Misty kneeling in front of her bed with hands clasped together and eyes scrunched tightly shut.
Her mouth moves quickly, too fast for Cordelia to decipher any of the words. She considers closing the door, giving Misty a moment of privacy as she clearly prays, but there’s a part of her that curiously watches on. The focus and fervor to her actions are somehow besotting to the older blonde, who’s never seen her like this before. Misty peeks an eye open, smiling into her words as she notices Cordelia there. She continues, unbothered. If anything, her lips move faster now. This is a different kind of intimate than most people know; this is baring your whole self out in front of someone without fear.
Cordelia wants to lose herself in the moment.
She does, until Misty is finishing by making the sign of the cross with her hand quickly and then squinting both eyes open. “Sorry for takin’ so long.” She mumbles, not sounding apologetic at all.
“It’s okay.” She licks her lip nervously and asks without thinking. “What were you praying for?” Misty stills and she panics. “Am I not supposed to ask?”
“No. I just. . .” She forces herself to relax, tucking wild hair behind both ears. “Just the usual stuff. For guidance and repentance. And the health and happiness of my family.” Misty can’t hide the way her cheeks tinge with a pink hue. “For your happiness, too.”
Cordelia smiles, delighted. “You pray for me?”
Misty nods, trying to give a nonchalant shrug even if her tone gives her away. “Every night.”
“That’s really sweet, Misty.” She says with genuine appreciation aimed the Cajun’s way. “Thank you.” There’s another moment of staring, more shared, lasting smiles, and Cordelia quickly clears her throat. “I put a spare toothbrush on the side for you.”
Misty smile and jumps to her feet, skipping past her with a flounce in her hair where Cordelia then hears the girl doing her own night time routine. In this moment, she crawls back into the now cooling bed, head nestled on top of soft pillows.
As Misty emerges this time, the nerves seem to have settled. She bounds with a newfound confidence that is contagious enough to have Cordelia grinning. As Misty joins her, she is yawning once more, eyes hooding over. She looks awfully beautiful in the semi darkness – only the TV lights the room around them now, but Cordelia makes to turn it off and plummet them in blackness.
Even so, she can feel Misty’s gaze in her direction.
They’re further away from each other now, a good, respectable distance between two friends. It mocks her silently as her eyes adjust until she can make out the outline of Misty’s shape. The Cajun tugs up the covers, right under their chins, and sighs into the room. “I’m tired.”
“Then go to sleep.” Cordelia giggles.
She doesn’t reply, but Cordelia is sure that she’s grinning.
The older blonde stares, eyes straining against the black as she fights her own exhaustion. She scoots closer, hoping Misty doesn’t notice. “Goodnight Misty.” Her own words are just as loving, filled with care and earnest and too many heavy things for almost two am. I love you. The thought appears without warning, popping into her mind so quickly that she almost utters the words out into the quiet of the night.
And they make her chest tighten like something is clamping down on her ribcage. Maybe it’s the weight of her unrequited feelings finally catching up on her or maybe it’s the realization that her crush has definitely progressed into something altogether serious and delightful and terrifying.