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Every possibility opens up horrifyingly as Venus shuts the door behind them. 

 

Jupiter's immersed in darkness- pitch black. She can't see anything. Not even Neptune- who entered the closet first, and who Jupiter should definitely be aware of. Jupiter's feelings are dangerous after all, the way her face heats up, the giddy nervousness that settles in her stomach that's not supposed to be there. She feels gross, and anxious, and weird, and her heart is thudding in her chest as she tries to act like this is going to turn out normal. Nothing is going to happen. She doesn't want anything at all. 

 

"I will win." What kind of dumb statement was that?

 

"Um, where are you? Haha-" Jupiter reaches tentatively next to her and gets a fist full of slightly rotted wood. "Whoops, I think this is a broom." 

 

"How dare you confuse me with a broom," says someone that she reconizes immediately. Neptune. Who is right behind her, from the sound the sound of her voice, and the slight brush against Jupiter's back. She feels heat rush to her face. 

 

"Oh no," Jupiter says, not because of Neptune's statement, but because of Neptune herself. She is in a dark closet with Neptune. This will not turn out well. 

 

"Just kidding, I'm here," Neptune replies, a little bit of laughter in her calming voice. As she says it, she moves closer. Jupiter freezes for a second.

 

"Oh. I see." 

 

She's not used to this. But Neptune's voice is also comforting. She's so chill, and doesn't seem to feel a fraction of whatever anxiety Jupiter is having. It kind of rubs off on Jupiter in a way- if Neptune isn't worried, then why should she?

 

"Or feel, I guess. I can't see." See? She can make jokes. She can do this. It was a horrible joke, and she can't do humor, but she tried at least.

 

"...We are close," Neptune murmurs a little awkwardly, answering whatever retorical question Jupiter accidentally brought up. And they are. So close. Closer than they should be, especially here. Jupiter can hear Neptune breathing. It's even. And then there's a hitch. 

 

"Yeah..." Jupiter says, the awkwardness and nervousness setting back in again. Lets pretend like this is normal. That nothing could happen. Have a normal conversation. "So..." 

 

And then she feels gentle hands on her waist. Ones that don't belong to her, heavy and foreign. She doesn't know what's happening. 

 

"...um, Neptune-" She lifts her own hands for a second, as if she were about to remove Neptune's, but she doesn't do anything. She doesn't want to. She can't. It feels nice, and wrong at the same time, because she- 

 

"Shhh," Neptune whispers next to her ear. She sounds a little shaky. Her hands carefully and gently wrap around Jupiter's lower torso, hugging her from behind, and pulling her against her body. Jupiter can feel her heart thudding way too loud in her chest. Neptune rests her head on Jupiter's shoulder. She's much taller than her. 

 

All of the childhood lessons on purity and don't-touch and don't-let-others-touch-you are coming back to Jupiter. There's still a chance to save her reputation right? What's left of it at least. She can still deny this. 

 

"No, I-" the words don't come out, as Neptune shifts, and Jupiter shivers. 

 

"Here-"

 

And then there's a nervous kiss to the back of Jupiter's neck. She's taken off-guard, her face flushing. Her breath hitches in her throat. It's not very quick as kisses usually go,  lips lingering for longer than they probably should, and Jupiter can save the memory of the feeling in her head as Neptune pulls away a little and rests her head on Jupiter's shoulder again. Jupiter can feel how fast Neptune's heart is beating against her back. There's a little "oh" from her as Jupiter relaxes. 

It's a symbol of trust. Neptune is warm, and inviting, and now they have something between them that she's never had with anyone else.  There's no going back. 

 

"Wow," Jupiter breathes. She didn't ever really expect touch to be like this, and technically, if you don't think of it as bad, it's not a bad thing. Right? No. Of course not. This is probably the most prolonged physical contact she's had in the last 3 years, and she wants more now that she's gotten a taste of it, but that's exactly why they forbid her from it. She's a bad kid. She wants bad things. "I--" and then everything comes slamming into her. She wants to keep this. She- "It's not real if we don't say it aloud right?" 

 

"That's right. No one can prove it." Neptune's the right one. She always is. 

 

"No one except us." 

 

"It's your word against mine. A double lock. So it never happened unless we both say it did." 

 

Because technically, if nothing is written down, and nothing is said, and everyone pretends that it didn't happen and that it didn't exist, did it really happen? Is there any proof that it did happen? Without proof, everything falls apart. One win for them, zero for God.

 

"Neither of us is going to be that stupid, right?" Jupiter whispers.

 

"Of course not. We both know better."  

 

Jupiter knows that they do. Their... everything depends on it. There's so much that is waiting to go wrong after this. This is the very thing they're not supposed to do. And Jupiter knows that she offered herself up to the cutting board at the worst time once, admitting and then getting sent here. She's lucky it wasn't something else.  "I'm um... kind of an idiot though." She is. She's idiotic, and stupid, and that's why she's stuck in a closet with a girl who she wants the worst from. 

 

"You liar." That's reassuring. Neptune can spot lies from anyone. She always knows. Maybe Jupiter is lying to herself. "You're much better at keeping yourself quiet. I never would have if I knew you might be stupider than even me." 

 

Something about it makes Jupiter feel like she has to apologize. Venus would probably do the same thing. "Sorry," she says, and then she remembers that Neptune doesn't really like when people say sorry for things they can't control, and she tries to offer up an excuse. "I'm just so-" her voice breaks.

 

"There are worse things than saying it directly you know," Neptune murmurs, trying to reassure her in her own weird way. She hugs Jupiter a little tighter. 

 

"Like 'this feels right," Jupiter replies, glancing down at the pair of hands around her waist that she can't see. It's bad. it's not what she wants at all, and she's saying it because it's something she would never say- not outside her head anyway, deep down in the darkness of her repressed mind where all the horrible thoughts go. 

 

"And 'I'm just so happy," Neptune says, with as little feeling as she can muster. But there's a lilt on the end of her voice that suggests that she's in the exact same predicament as Jupiter. That's why they're going over this, right? Saying them to each other, so they don't say them to anyone else. "Exactly, what are you doing saying things like that?" Jupiter can't tell whether she's talking to herself or her.

 

"I'm not." The words jolt her out of her head for a moment, give her a taste of reality, even with the warmth of Neptune around her. 'I'm not saying them." And she isn't. It's just an example. "They're things anyone could have said about anybody. They're just in the air."

 

Jupiter's breath hitches again as she murmurs, "You mean so much to me." She means to say it like she's presenting something, back in school where she was perfect and everyone loved and hated her at the same time, but she fails and tears start to well in the corners of her eyes. "Anyone could have said that, about anyone." She's not saying it about Neptune. "Not that I'm saying it." 

 

Neptune nuzzles into her hair, and even though in popular culture it's seen as incredibly endearing, it has a deep pang of bittersweetness to it. Just like her words. "You get it," she says, softly, and so genuine Jupiter thinks that she might shatter into a million pieces in her arms. "the Midwest is great. All you have to do is not say it out loud." She pauses. "It's like a spell. And you can be as obvious as you want about everything else. You can wait it out forever. As long as you don't say it." 

 

Jupiter thinks of Elenor Rooselvelt. Elphaba and Galinda. The two old ladies at the end of her street that have been living together for decades, and don't have husbands. No one says anything. They never address it. It just... is. 

 

"I hope I can." Because Jupiter wants. She keeps wanting. That's going to land her in more trouble than she already is in some day. It's there, it's always been there, and it's in full fucking display as she turns her head, nosing against Neptune's cheek, a few centimeters from a casual act that would solidify her horribleness even more. "But even if I don't say it, I still feel it," she whispers. "Like a hand in the air. Holding tight." 

 

That's more literal than she wants it to be, as something brushes against her cheek that's too familiar for it to be Neptune, and too unknown for it to be Jupiter herself. But she knows it's her. It's there in the pit of her stomach. She's so touch-starved that her imagination is probably doing the work for her. It feels awful. 

 

"It's okay," Neptune says firmly. 

 

"Is it?" Something at the back of her throat begs to differ, the anxiety of being different and strange and bad culminating physically, like bile. 

 

"I said it's okay, so it's okay," Neptune says, a bit of the front that she normally puts up coming back to hide how nervous she is. Jupiter can feel it. "Stop talking. Stop talking forever.  I'm drunk. You're drunk. Can't see anything, double lock, nothing is happening." 

 

Ha, at this point it sounds like reviewing a lesson. And it kind of is. It's important that they know. Jupiter doesn't mind, really. She's used to doing it with herself. 

 

Neptune unwraps her arms from around Jupiter's waist, but she doesn't move. She just gently takes Jupiter's shaky hands in hers, running over Jupiter's knuckes with her thumbs. Jupiter gently holds on. Neptune's hands are warm, and bigger than hers. She still can't see. 

 

"Either way, your hands..." Neptune whispers, "...are nice. "

 

And that's when Jupiter finally makes up her mind. God damn her. 

 

"You're right." Jupiter lets go of Neptune's hands and turns around, so that she's finally facing her. She finds her shoulders, trails up to her face in the darkness, feels her staring at her as she cups her cheek.  "This is nothing." 

 

She leans up and kisses her. She doesn't care anymore. Neptune's lips are soft, and she's stuck in a fucking dark closet with a girl she's had a crush on ever since she's arrived at summer camp, and honestly, if her life is going to get worse from here on, let it. She still has a couple more minutes. She can pretend this is okay for a couple more moments. She wraps her other hand around Neptune's waist and trails her hand up her back. 

 

She pulls away for a moment. 

 

"And so is this." 

 

She kisses her cheek and lets Neptune pull her closer.  She makes a little noise as  Jupiter kisses her neck and lets her hands wander. It's payback, Jupiter thinks. 

 

"This too." 

 

"You get it," Neptune breathes as Jupiter takes her hand and kisses it, letting her thumb run up and down the side. "Exactly. Just... nothing. Like that hand in the air, you might think you're feeling it, but..." 

 

"It's nothing." 

 

"it's nothing."