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Oh my god, have we been dating?

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Getting back into the swing of school wasn’t actually too hard. In fact, the assigned readings, busy work, take home projects, it was all a welcome distraction from the shitshow that was the rest of Leah’s life.

 

They were off the island and back home, all eight of them. They were all fine, as well as they could be after being stranded on a deserted island and forced to survive. Every single one of them had lost something on the island, some part of themselves (for Rachel, she lost a hand, too). But, they had gained a few things as well, though they would never say that to the woman who ran the experiment, they didn’t want to give her the satisfaction that any part of her theory was correct.

 

They didn’t create a bullshit, female only utopia. What they found was a family in seven other just as damaged girls. Together, on that island, they were able to recognize the damage in themselves, and together they were learning how to put their pieces back together.

 

Back home everything was different, while also remaining remarkably the same. There had been a few news articles and talk show specials about what happened to the Unsinkable Eight, but the girls hadn’t released any information on their own. They had hoped to live at least somewhat normal lives until their court date rolled around.

 

School remained the same. Kids kept to their cliques, gossip spread through the student body like the flu, teachers just happened to assign projects in the same exact week as every other class. Really, the only change there was the addition of one more person to her friend group. Fatin (school hottie and shoo-in for Julliard) had taken to hanging out with Leah and Ian (school loners) every chance she got. To the outside eye, it might have seemed strange. To Leah and Fatin, it was just a natural progression. They had spent nearly every waking moment together on the island, walking each other to their next class and eating lunch together was a no-brainer.

 

Outside of school, Leah’s life was more different than the same. Her parents were still the same, just more. Her mother hovered more, her father looked increasingly awkward every day. They got her a therapist, though. A real one. It was strange, to have someone listen to her, about all the shit that happened on the island (she even started talking about what happened before the island) and not try to invalidate her feelings or make her feel insane. Her therapist didn’t put the blame on her for things that happened on the island, there was no nurse waiting just outside the door with drugs to knock her out cold if she got “too emotional.” Strange.

 

Although her parents seemed even more concerned about her than before the island, they didn’t try to enforce a curfew. They let her go out to parties on Friday and Saturday nights where they knew alcohol, sex, and drugs would likely be. All it took was for her to say “Fatin will be with me” and they let her stay out until two in the morning, with the only requirement being that she texted them sometime in the night to give an estimated time she would be home.

 

Leah wasn’t really a party person. Before the island, she had been to four in total. One of those times, she was inside for five minutes before some guy asked if she wanted to go back to his car. Big crowds, loud music, drunk teenagers, and a mass of sweaty bodies wasn’t really Leah’s thing. But Fatin asked Leah to go with her once and ever since, Fatin would arrive at her house at nine pm sharp to take her to whatever party was happening that night.

 

If anyone asked why Leah kept going to parties almost every week if she so clearly didn’t enjoy them, she wouldn’t be able to give them an honest answer. The parties all sucked. The alcohol was cheap, the music choice was lame, and Leah hated talking to the other kids from school. But she still went. Every single time. Why? Not even Ian knew the reason.

 

It was the second party Fatin had dragged Leah to. It took even more convincing to get Leah to go than the first time.

 

“Come on, it’s a college party,” Fatin’s tone was pleading.

 

“How is that any better than a highschool party?” Leah didn’t look up from her book, knowing one glance at Fatin’s puppy dog eyes and she would cave.

 

“Better alcohol for one. Not much more expensive, but an improvement on the shit kids our age think is good. And… well…” Fatin trailed off.

 

“And college guys are hotter?” Leah finished her friend’s statement, eyes still glued to her pages.

 

“Baby, no need to sound jealous. They’re eye candy, nothing more,” Fatin teased. Always with the flirty jokes. Leah snapped her book shut and Fatin eyed her expectantly.

 

“Fine.”

 

“Yes!” Fatin cheered and did a stupid little dance. Leah felt her face heat up, people were staring. Fatin either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

 

They arrived at the party not long after it had started and it was already packed. A frat house, of course. Fatin led Leah through the crowds to the kitchen. She said she had never been there before, but she somehow knew exactly where to go to find the alcohol. It was like a sixth sense.

 

The kitchen was more empty and Leah felt like she could finally breathe. Fatin let go of her hand to pour them both drinks. Leah shifted nervously from foot-to-foot, noticing how the guy in the corner of the room looked at her, his eyes raking up her body. He had a leering smile on his face. Leah looked away.

 

“Drink up,” Fatin said as she placed the cup in Leah’s hand. She hesitated, but Fatin tipped her drink back and took a large gulp. She never wasted any time getting drunk. Eyes were still on her, but she pushed the uneasiness from her mind and tilted her own cup back.

 

Fatin made her finish her drink and poured them both a second. At this time, the guy in the corner decided to make his move. He came to stand beside them at the island, using the excuse of getting another drink to invade Leah’s space. Leah shifted closer to Fatin.

 

“Did you two just get here?” A stupid question. Of course they just got there. They were far too sober to have been there very long.

 

“I always make sure to arrive fashionably late. The beginnings of these parties are always so fucking boring,” Fatin responded. Leah couldn’t tell if she was genuinely interested in talking to the guy or just placating him until she had finished refilling their cups.

 

The boy ignored Fatin’s statement and said, “I’m happy to keep you girls company tonight, I can show you a good time.”

 

He turned towards them and leaned in slightly. His chest almost touched Leah’s shoulder. She inched away, not making eye contact.

 

“Not interested,” Fatin’s tone was final. She handed Leah’s cup back to her and promptly led her out of the room by her hand. Leah didn’t look back.

 

Fatin took them to a corner of the living room, out of sight of the kitchen. Her eyes scanned the crowd, her shoulders tense. Her discomfort was imperceptible to anyone but Leah.

 

“Thanks,” Leah had to speak loudly to be heard over the music. Fatin’s eyes stopped moving around and landed on Leah. She visibly relaxed.

 

“Guy was a dick.” Leah knew she meant you’re welcome .

 

They stood there a few minutes longer, nursing their drinks. They waited a few seconds longer after their cups were empty to head back into the kitchen. The guy wasn’t there. Leah didn’t have as high a tolerance as Fatin did, so by the end of her third drink she was feeling very warm and relaxed. Another filled cup was placed in her hands and she didn’t need to be told to drink it.

 

She didn’t get very far into her drink before it was being taken out of her hands and placed on the counter. Fatin said nothing, just took her hand and led her out of the kitchen. Leah wasn’t sure what was happening, but she was just drunk enough to not be overcome with anxieties.

 

They got to the living room and Fatin turned around. Her fingers stayed wrapped around Leah’s hand as she walked backwards, swaying to the music. It clicked in Leah’s mind. Fatin wanted to dance. She hadn’t ever danced at a party before. The ones she went to alone, she always stood off to the side. The one party Fatin had taken her to a few weeks back, she hadn’t been comfortable enough (or drunk enough) to dance when Fatin had asked her to. She wasn’t much more drunk this time than the last time, but she was more comfortable. Leah let Fatin pull them into the crowd.

 

It was a tight fit with so many moving bodies around them. Fatin pulled their bodies together and wrapped her arms loosely around Leah’s neck. Leah just stood there for a few moments, unsure of what to do. Fatin smiled softly and leaned forward.

 

“Put your hands on my hips and just follow my lead, okay?” Fatin’s breath was hot against her ear. Leah nodded and did as she was asked. Fatin leaned back out of her space.

 

Fatin swayed her hips in time to the music. It took a little while, but Leah began to follow along. Lips curled into a smile as Fatin realized Leah was getting more relaxed, dancing along to the music more than following Fatin’s lead. As per a typical college party, the music was energetic and the dancing was sensual. Leah couldn’t tell if it was the alcohol, the massive amount of body heat surrounding her, or the fact that she and Fatin were pressed exceedingly close together, but her skin felt very very hot.

 

The song changed to something a bit slower and Leah wasn’t sure how she did it, but Fatin got closer somehow. Their hips were pressed together and their faces were inches apart. Leah swallowed thickly as Fatin practically grinded herself against her. It was just dancing. They were just friends. Fatin was probably just horny. It meant nothing. Right?

 

Fatin grinded her hips again and Leah could feel a puff of breath hit her lips. She dug her fingers into Fatin’s waist. Leah felt Fatin tense up. Shit. What the fuck did she just do? Did she overstep?

 

Before Leah’s mind could wander down into a pit of despair, she got caught off-guard by Fatin’s lips on hers. She was too shocked to respond, it didn’t help that the lingering alcohol in her system made her brain slow to catch up with what was happening. Fatin pulled back abruptly when Leah didn’t reciprocate. Shit. Her brain finally caught up and she surged forward to kiss Fatin before she could apologize. Fatin kissed back immediately. Leah was barely drunk, but somehow she didn’t have a care that they were making out in front of so many people, so many strangers.

 

They left the party early. They didn’t really talk. They just walked back to Fatin’s car, hand-in-hand. Leah was buzzing with energy and her lips tingled. Once they arrived at her car (it was parked down the block), Fatin pushed Leah against it and kissed her deeply. Leah tugged at Fatin’s waist, slid her hands into the back pockets of Fatin’s (fucking skin-tight) jeans.

 

The car clicked, the doors were unlocked. Leah pushed gently against Fatin’s chest. It didn’t work at first, Fatin was too busy sticking her hands up Leah’s shirt to splay her fingers against her stomach. Leah didn’t want to stop, but she had to ask something. She pushed again a bit harder. Fatin whined when she broke the kiss.

 

“You’re not planning on driving, are you?” Fatin might have been able to hold her liquor well, but there was no way in hell Leah would let either of them drive.

 

“No, just wanted some privacy. Unless you fuck out here where anyone walking by could see?” Leah’s breath caught in her throat and heat pooled low in her stomach at Fatin’s words. She shook her head,

 

“Thought so. Now, get in,” Fatin said as she opened the back door of her car.

 

Leah didn’t think anyone saw them that night. There hadn’t been any leaks to the press about “two of the Unsinkable Eight caught together in a car” the next morning, so Leah assumed anyone who could have seen them had respected their privacy.

 

Leah thought, at first, it was going to be a one-time thing. Fatin was probably just horny and Leah was there at the wrong place, wrong time (right place, right time?). But then it happened again at the next party they went to. And again at the one after that. Always in the back of Fatin’s car.

 

It was fun. They didn’t talk about it. Leah was fine with that, she guessed. Fatin didn’t do feelings. Leah was just probably one of multiple people Fatin was sleeping with. They were just friends-with-benefits. No strings attached. Leah wasn’t good at no strings, but she was doing well so far. It only hurt every night Leah was alone that all they would ever do is sleep together. So overall? She was fine.

 

They were at another college party. It was well into their last semester of high school. Leah and Fatin had slept together almost twenty times by then. Fatin had gone to use the bathroom and Leah was left alone. It was almost like she was back to her life just before the island, standing at the edge of the room alone, a half empty cup in her hands, eyes idly scanning the crowd.

 

“I take it this isn’t really your scene?” A soft voice (though loud in volume to be heard over the music) caught Leah’s attention.

 

She turned to look at the source of the voice. A girl, a cute girl, stood beside her, smiling up at her. The girl was a whole head shorter than Leah. Her hair was dyed purple and she pulled it off really well. She had two nose piercings, a hoop in one nostril and a septum ring in the center. Her low-cut shirt revealed a tattoo on her collarbone, but Leah couldn’t make out what it was in the low light. She was very attractive. Leah didn’t really have a type when it came to women, but this girl definitely fit the bill.

 

“Not really.” Leah didn’t know what the fuck to say. She didn’t have any experience talking to cute girls. She settled on answering her question honestly.

 

“Then why come, if you don’t mind me asking?” The girl tilted her head, seeming not to mind Leah’s awkwardness.

 

“I don’t mind. My friend asked me to come.” At the upturn of the girl’s eyebrows and the purposeful look around, Leah clarified, “she’s in the bathroom right now.”

 

The girl nodded and looked away momentarily. She seemed to be thinking something over. Leah waited.

 

“Well, do you think she would mind if I stole you away?” It was Leah’s turn to lift her brows for clarification. Leah had no idea if Fatin would mind. They were at the party together, but not together . The girl continued, “would you like to dance?”

 

Leah found that she would very much like to dance. She set her cup on the nearest flat surface, not caring to come back to it. The girl took her hand and led her to the crowd in the center of the room. Her hand was soft and small, nothing like Fatin’s hands. There really wasn’t much about her that was similar to Fatin besides that she was attractive. Perhaps that was a good thing.

 

They were pressed close together. Leah’s hands were on the girl’s hips (she probably should ask for her name) and her hands were on Leah’s shoulders. They moved in time to the music. Leah had gotten a lot better at dancing the past year. Her confidence about it had improved, as well. She still wasn’t a big fan of parties, though.

 

They weren’t dancing very long before a hand wrapped around her bicep and she was pulled away from the girl. Leah turned to see Fatin and she looked terrifying. Leah glanced at the girl and she looked terrified.

 

“Leah, honey, can I speak to you outside?” Honey? Where had that come from? She didn’t really respond to Fatin, just let herself be dragged along by the hand on her bicep.

 

Outside, there were fewer people and the music was no longer blaring. Fatin kept walking. They finally stopped at the far corner of the back yard. The hand on her bicep was gripping her hard, it was almost painful. The hand released suddenly and it dropped to Fatin’s side as a closed fist.

 

“Fatin, what’s going on?” Fatin wouldn’t look at her. She was very obviously taking controlled breaths.

 

“Why were you dancing with that girl?” Fatin snapped.

 

“Because she asked me to?” Leah was confused. She couldn't figure out why Fatin would have any issue with her dancing with somebody.

 

“You could have said no.” Fatin was seething. It only made Leah more confused.

 

“Do you not want me to dance with other people?” If Leah had a little more self-awareness, she would be kicking herself for how stupid she was. There was a very obvious reason why Fatin was upset, but Leah was completely blind to it.

 

“Of course! Why the fuck would I want you to dance with other people?!” Fatin was almost yelling. Her tone rubbed Leah the wrong way. She didn’t know what Fatin’s deal was and she was getting worked up by Fatin’s bitter tone.

 

“Oh, so you get to sleep with other people and I can’t?” Leah snapped back.

 

“I’m not fucking sleeping with other people, I would never do that to you.” Fatin’s voice changed suddenly. It was lower, dreadfully serious. It calmed Leah’s spike of frustration and gave way to worry.

 

“What do you mean, do that to me?” The second the words were out of her mouth, Fatin looked at her like she was being willfully ignorant. Leah’s head hurt from the confusion.

 

“I’m not a fucking cheat,” she spit out the last word as if it were poison. Leah knew Fatin would never cheat on somebody, she knew how much hurt her father had caused and how much Fatin didn’t want to ever be like him. But what did that have to do with Leah dancing with somebody?

 

Leah sighed. She had no idea what was going on and she was already at the end of her rope. There was something Fatin wasn’t saying or something Leah wasn’t getting and the only way to resolve the situation was to suck it up and ask Fatin plainly.

 

“Fatin, I’m confused. Why didn’t you want me dancing with that girl?” Leah said it as calmly as she could.

 

Fatin sucked in a breath. Her shoulders tensed. She looked like she was about to scream. She hesitated. Leah just stared openly in confusion. Fatin deflated.

 

“I got jealous. It looked like you were cheating on me.” Fatin looked serious.

 

“Cheating on you? Fatin, we aren’t dating.” Fatin recoiled as if she had been slapped in the face. It clicked. “Oh my god, have we been dating?”

 

Leah suddenly felt horribly guilty. She had just assumed it had meant nothing that they had been sleeping together. Pieces fell into place. Fatin held her hand a lot. She called Leah baby. Ian made gagging noises whenever Fatin complimented her. Fuck. They had been dating.

 

“Leah, what did you think was happening?” Fatin sounded genuinely curious, there was no longer any anger in her voice.

 

“I just thought we were sleeping together. You know, friends-with-benefits?” Leah winced as she said it.

 

Fatin stared at her for a moment. Leah felt awful. She could only stare back.

 

“Is that what you want? Friends-with-benefits?” Fatin sounded – fuck, she looked – so vulnerable.

 

“No!” Leah said it as fast as she could. “No, I don’t want that.”

 

It seemed to ease Fatin somewhat, though she still looked worried.

 

“I like you, Fatin. Like, a lot.” Leah bit her lip. They had already slept together, why was this so hard?

 

“I like you a lot, too.” Fatin gave her a small smile, which Leah readily returned.

 

“How about we try again?” Fatin looked confused. Leah continued, “ask me on a date, right here, right now.”

 

Fatin blinked at her. Leah smiled, waited.

 

“Leah Rilke, would you like to go out sometime?” Fatin looked awkward as she said it, but Leah found it endearing.

 

“I would love to, Fatin Jadmani.” She gave her a smile. Fatin’s shoulders finally fully relaxed.

 

Leah stepped closer and kissed her. It was soft, far softer than any kiss they had shared before. Leah pulled back and Fatin let out a contented sigh.

 

“There. Now we’re officially dating.” Leah pecked Fatin’s lips once more to prove her point.

 

Fatin smiled and wrapped her arms around Leah’s waist, pulling her closer. Leah draped her arms over Fatin’s shoulder. They stood there for a few seconds, just smiling at each other.


“Do, do you want to get out of here?” Fatin asked with a wiggle of her eyebrows. Leah knew she meant do you want to go fuck in my car . She laughed and nodded. They were going to have a lot of explaining to do to Ian and the other unsinkable girls, but at that moment, the only thing that mattered was her and Fatin.