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Vi's Guide to Not Picking Up Guys

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1) Cut & Dye Your Hair

The first time that Vi had cut her own hair, Vander had almost murdered her.

It wasn't because she wasn't allowed to cut her hair or anything, it was because he just didn’t know how to fix it. They had to wait a few weeks (the shame knowing she went to school like that is out of this world, but at least she thought she looked cool at the time), and even then, one side of it had to be shaved, cut short to her scalp, and the rest was shaggy in ways she couldn’t have predicted when she’d been crying in the bathroom at three in the morning with head thrown over the shower.

But when she looked at herself in the mirror for the first time, saw the short, cropped hair across one side of her head, she smiled like she hadn’t ever been able to before.

Having long hair was way too much work anyway, she insisted. And it didn’t suit her.

Seeing it so short was like getting a dose of identity straight into the veins. She looked like herself. It was nice - it was new - it was refreshing - it was… euphoric.

And then came the dye.

With her natural hair being nothing short of blonde, it wasn’t like she would need bleach or anything so…

It was an accident. She thought that she picked up a dark red dye, it wasn’t meant to be pink, she swore.

Maybe Vander knew that she was lying, maybe he didn’t. Nonetheless, he didn’t sit her down, just shook his head from across the bar and gave her a knowing smile.

“Suits you, kid,” he’d said through that smile. It was like it was something he’d been expecting. “Just weird seeing you looking all grown up.”

She was sixteen at the time, old enough to know who you are, young enough to still be growing into your skin. Old enough to be treated like an adult, but young enough to act like a child.

“Thanks,” she’d said.

After that, whenever the blonde roots began to peak through the dye, Vi would come home to a box of dye sitting on the counter. That’s when she knew that Vander would take her into the bathroom and use one of those silly little brushes to paint the dye into her hair.

He never was very good at it: there were more dye stains in the bathroom than there were tiles, and it was somehow always all over the both of them and there were always splotches left on Vi’s skin, ones that always stained. But Vander insisted, he always did. For as many times as Vi said that she could do it alone, he always shut her down, with one excuse or another. Vi pretended that she didn’t know that they were excuses so that she could spend time with him.

What?

When you’re young, it’s kind of embarrassing to say that you wanna spend time with your folks, so you had to use the most unconventional means to get it. Sure, outright asking would be fine, but Vi never really was all that great with words.

Now, when Vi has to dye her hair, she does it alone.

She’s standing in a different bathroom, one without all of the stains, in her own house. She doesn’t use a brush, or even gloves, just stands in front of the mirror and smears it around and she hopes that it covers everything.

Of course, she still has short hair. Still has the shaved side and maybe even has the slightly sloppily cut edges on purpose. Even if she technically is trained now, cutting your own hair is way different from cutting someone else's. It’s - like - a given.

The last of the dye makes a fart noise as it squirts out onto her head and it makes an even worse slop sound as she plops her hand atop it to rub it around. Making one last assessment, she tilts her head slightly to the left, and then slightly to the right. It doesn’t look like any spots are missing.

Thirty minutes on the clock, enough time to make dinner and eat it before she has to wash it off.

Vi looks between her dye-slathered hands and the taps of the sink. With a practiced manoeuvre, she turns the tap on with her wrist, bathing her hands in the stream of water and wishing to whatever fucking power there is that her hands aren’t going to be stained.

They are, because apparently she didn’t wish hard enough, and she heads out of the bathroom. She’s extra careful not to accidentally bash anything with her head, because that’s most definitely a common occurrence around her house.

In the kitchen, the frozen mac ‘n’ cheese that she’d left to defrost on the kitchen side has never been more appealing.

She pierces the film atop it and slings it in the microwave, thumbing through her social media as she waits for the precious pop. Vi scrolls past the accounts that post all of those satisfying soap cutting videos and the recipes for meals that she’ll never make, but makes her mouth water anyway, a tattoo artist’s most recent work and an advertisement for athletic wear.

The mac ‘n’ cheese is reliably and remarkably reminiscent of what one might taste if they were to gnaw on a slab of cardboard. It’s immaculate, and chewy to perfection. Cooked just how Vi likes it, because she’s never bothered to make anything better.

She’s crunching (it’s definitely not supposed to be crunchy) on it absently when her stream of scrolling through shitty text posts on Instagram is interrupted by yet another advert.

It’s for a dating site. Vi snorts.

She doesn’t need a boyfriend. It’s not like she’s ever had one, ever needed anyone outside of– like – Powder, or her family. She’s fine on her own. She is. It’s not that she wants to know what it’s like to be kissed or – like – held or anything like that. It’s nothing like that at all. It’s not.

Relationships are for the bitches that take aesthetic pictures of their engagement rings to post to their story, or for the people that think that they’re being all cute taking candid pictures of their partner and uploading it to their favourite song. Relationships are for people that rely on others to be happy. Relationships are for literally everyone else.

Most importantly, relationships are not for Vi. Quite strictly, Not For Vi. Never for Vi.

She chews another forkful of shitty mac ‘n’ no-cheese and flicks past it. Vi’s doing just fine on her own, thank you very much.

2) Sick Gainz

The gym is one of the places that Vi feels most at home, other than her bed at midday when she should be at work (it's a wonder that she hasn’t been fired yet, but they’re understaffed and she usually did a good job, so she supposes that’s why she’d had so many ‘last chances’).

It almost feels like a second home, like the soft stretch of sweat becomes a second skin, that the pressure of everyday life is released by the time she’s heading into the showers.

Today, Vi is doing some cardio.

And if she’s completely honest, there’s a pair of trainers that have been sitting in the locker room, unclaimed and festering for what has to be about three months now. She would much rather go and stick her face in those and take a good, healthy whiff than do cardio.

The bane of her fucking existence, if you didn’t know that already.

Though, here she is, starting up the treadmill.

At least the view isn't bad, Vi thinks. The gym that she frequents looks out into an open park. On the one hand, it’s kinda weird to be able to see people going about their daily lives, without a care in the world, without knowing that they’re being watched. On the other, though, she got to watch all of the - like - birds and shit.

She saw the wind and the rain and the sun. On days like this - cardio days - Vi gets to see how the rain streaks across the glass, how the wind thrashes at the trees, how all of the people emerge from the streets as the sun emerges in the beginning of summer.

On these days, Vi gets to watch the seasons change and for that much, she’s grateful that she has to run until she’s got so much thigh sweat that it looks like she’s pissed herself.

It’s kinda nice, if not for the sweat.

Then again, it’s pretty hard to look hot at the gym when you just know the ass-sweat is getting way too obvious through your shorts.

On the treadmill beside her, Vi can briefly see another girl running. She’s broken into a stride, her dark ponytail swaying behind her as she jogs. If this random girl can jog, Vi can too.

She ups the speed of her treadmill, beginning to start into a run and almost instantaneously regretting that exact decision.

But she’s committed to it now. There’s no way that she’s going to slow the pace, not in front of this girl, who looks like she keeps turning to look at her.

The gym is like a second home to Vi, but if she’s going to run this fast at roughly nine in the fucking morning, she would rather live in the absolute dumpster fire that is Powder’s workshop.

Moral of the story: fuck cardio.

She aches the whole bike ride back to her apartment.

3) Face Tattoos

Vi is feeling impulsive.

It’s not like she can get another piercing, the second helix that she got is still healing and she doesn't want to lose track of cleaning and whatnot.

So, what does that leave?

She doesn’t have any tattoos yet, that’s for sure. She has some spare cash, she can change that.

Vi is looking in the mirror adjacent to her front door, flexing at herself, wondering where would be the best place to get a tattoo that’s going to change how she looks. And then it hits her in the face, literally.

She should get her face tattooed.

All of a sudden, Vi is out of the door, jogging down the street (fuck cardio, why was she jogging? It’s not any nicer outside of the gym, even if it was a little bit cooler today) to the bus stop.

From there, she rides the bus into her town centre before heading to the one tattoo parlour that she had actually heard good things about.

“Do you - by any chance - do walk-ins?” Vi asks the girl at the counter.

The girl’s brown curly hair is pulled back into a loose bun, and the blouse that she's wearing makes her look professional, but definitely more on the casual side.

She grimaces. “Not usually, I’m afraid,” the girl says. “Though, we don’t have many bookings so I can ask around and see if we have an artist free, if that’s alright?”

“Yeah, that’d be great actually, thank you so much,” Vi says, palms setting into the wooden counter. As the girl stands and steps around the desk, Vi idles, picking up one of the neatly placed business cards and flipping it over in her hands. She suppose that Dynasties and Dystopias isn’t the worst name for a parlour, it does sound pretty sick.

Just as she’s slotting it back into place, the girl comes back.

“We could fit you in today, depending on what you were wanting to have done,” the girl informs, and she’s looking down at a piece of paper in front of her, what Vi assumes is a list of names and times. “If you’d like to speak to one of our artists, we have one available.”

“Yeah, that’d be great, thanks,” Vi says. Again. She wishes that she didn’t only have approximately three phases of polite vocabulary to use, but they haven’t failed her so far.

“If you’d like to follow me.” The girl motions to the side. This time, before she steps around the counter, she places a bell at the front of it and then leads Vi through the door that she had left from.

When Vi steps through it, she’s almost struck by the intense change in atmosphere.

The walls are covered in graffiti - there’s a tag at the bottom, a social media plug. Everything from barely clothed women to men in top hats and old timey anchors and arrow hearts pasted across the walls as the room opens out once more.

“Hi there!” A new voice says, clawing Vi’s eyes away from the wall. What her eyes land on are nothing short of what could be the most intimidating woman that she’s ever seen.

She’s taller than Vi, maybe only a couple of inches but how close she’s standing doesn’t help anyone’s case. Noticeably, she doesn’t have any visible ink on her skin, but she’s muscular. Even through her lean frame, Vi would be a fool not to notice. There’s something about the insistent blue in her eyes that makes Vi feel like she’s back in school, about to say something that’s going to piss her off immediately.

“My name is Caitlyn Kiramman,” she introduces herself, stepping back only slightly to be able to hold out her hand.

Vi takes it and she‘s definitely thinking about how sweaty her hands are. She hopes Caitlyn doesn’t notice, but there’s an insistent sort of feeling that she definitely does.

With all due respect, Vi just doesn't do well with women. Give her a man and she could talk like she’s the smoothest fish in the fucking loaf, but if you put her in front of women, she turns into a fumbling, bumbling shell of a person. Merely, an inferior being. She was intimidated by women in the way one is intimidated by the skills of another person.

She never had any female friends growing up (never had any friends growing up) - so it’s sort of like a blank spot. Wherever she could, she simply avoided girls. Said something rude or made herself out to be an asshole or scary, just so that they’d keep their distance from her.

Stupid? Definitely. Idiotic? Yeah, that sounds right. Imbecilic? Okay, you get the point.

“Vi, nice to meet you.”

The woman hums affirmatively and lets her hand go. She shifts her stance, one hip jutting out to the side as she folds her arms over her chest. “What are you looking to have done today, Vi?”

“A face tattoo,” Vi says, maybe a little too quickly.

“We could see about getting that done for you, assuming that you want something small?” Caitlyn takes a step back, looking around broadly before focusing on a surface to her left. When she reappears in front of Vi, she’s holding some kind of tablet. “Is there anything in particular that you were looking at?”

“Uh. My - uh-” Vi thinks. Is there anything that she’d been meaning to get? Not really. And now, the more thought she puts into it, the more the decision feels more and more difficult. The longer she stares, the longer she puts off answering, the more awkward this interaction becomes and she doesn't want to have to deal with that. Instead of you know, awkwardly laughing it off like a normal person, or asking to see some design ideas, she simply blurts: “My name,” like a fucking imbecile.

“On your face?”

Vi blinks once. “Uh. Yeah.”

“We can arrange that.”

4) Manspreading(?)

The face tattoo, to her own credit, looks fucking sick. She feels like she could - like - lead a protest or something. Vi isn’t exactly sure what it is about it, but since she was able to remove the bandage, she’s never felt more like herself.

It’s like cutting her hair in that bathroom all over again.

With her job at the salon, the tattoo, while it wasn’t appreciated per se, it wasn’t the grounds to fire her. For that much she was grateful. It wouldn’t have been very economically smart to have to either remove it or find another job - both options sounded like they sucked ass, so Vi decides not to dwell on the ‘what ifs’ (and Vi’s never really been good at the whole spending money wisely thing).

Simply, she’s happy that everything turned out okay with her inherent lack of foresight in her sporadic decision.

Around eight in the morning, when the last curls of dawn draw to a close, Vi is on the bus she knows takes her directly into the centre of town. It’s maybe a little more crowded than usual but if she’s being really honest, she doesn’t care too much.

Sure, it’s a bit of a dick move, but she placed her bag in the seat beside her when she first got on. And even if someone asked her to move her bag, her legs are spread so wide that they’d probably be deterred by the lack of space.

At the end of the day, she thinks, it's much more comfortable to sit that way anyway.

It feels stuffy to have her legs closed.

Not even in the haha funny sex joke, Vi gets insurmountable volumes of pussy way.

One of her most vivid memories from primary school is having her teachers call her unladylike. Or sometimes, they’d make comments about how the boys could see up her skirt. Or sometimes, they’d tell her to sit more like a girl. Or sometimes, they’d tell her that she’d never get a boyfriend if she acted so much like a boy herself.

To that, she simply stopped wearing skirts.

Easy.

Eat shit, assholes, fuck the patriarchy, or whatever.

Her fingers tap the skin of her knee that’s exposed from the rips in her jeans, the same place her tights would rip and she’d gain yet another scar from yet another fall. Tipping her head back, she gently closes her eyes and relaxes into the seat, the beat of the song in her ears thrumming her into a state of quiet enjoyment.

5) Getting… More Tattoos

Vi seriously didn’t mean to be back so soon. She swears.

“Hi there - uh - Sky.” Vi has to lean awkwardly over the desk to read from the nametag pinned to her blouse. Noticeably, it’s the same one as before, only in a soft shade of yellow. It looks nice on her. “Again, I mean. I’ve come to see if the artist I spoke to last time is here? Caitlyn? Kimman - I think.”

She pulls a black sheet of paper out of an organiser kept beside the monitor. Sky clicks the pen against the desk, using her freehand to tuck a stray curl away from her face before steadying the paper. “Caitlyn Kiramman? She’s on her break right now. Can I ask why you’re asking after her and I’ll let her know you were looking for her,” Sky responds politely.

“It's about a consultation. I mean, I guess I could have anyone, I just wanna see an artist, if that’s okay? I just asked after Caitlyn because I had her last time and everything and I just - like -” She’s babbling. Fuck. She’s even making hand gestures. Taking a deep breath, Vi steadies her hands on the edge of the counter, taking just a moment to think instead of giving this poor lady the verbal equivalent of taking a laxative.

“Oh that’s completely fine, in fact, I can have her give you a call whenever she’s free?”

“Perfect, yeah, that’d be great.”

“If you’d like to leave your phone number with me, I’ll get it to her as quickly as possible.”

When Vi scrawls the numbers down onto the sheet of paper, she hopes that her handwriting is at least legible.

The more time that passes, though, the more the numbers that she remembers writing fade to nothing short of weirdly shaped letters and a child’s drawing. The doubt only grows tenfold when she doesn’t receive the call from Caitlyn that evening.

Or the day after.

Or the day after that.

Or even the day after that.

It takes five whole days for Caitlyn to return her call.

And when she does, of course, it’s at one of the worst times possible.

She’s caught with her hand down her pants, declining a call with the horny brain fog in the forefront.

There isn’t room to judge either. It’s been a while and with the sheets empty in mid-afternoon and nothing good on Netflix. Truly, there's nothing better to do. So why not?

And then, a voicemail pops up on her notification bar and it’s like a fucking fog horn blasts through and clears her head and it hits her. Vi rushes to press call as soon as she can, promptly closing the tab on her phone’s browser.

“Hello? This is Caitlyn Kiramman from Dynasties and Dystopias, I believe this is… Violet Lane - Vi?”

“Uh, yeah, yeah that’s me.” She sits up, sounding like she just got back from a run. She hopes that the rustling of her sheets isn’t too loud. Vi wipes her hand down her leg as she continues. “Sorry about rejecting your call I was - uh - making dinner. Didn’t want it to burn.”

“That’s no worry at all,” Caitlyn says and Vi is almost certain that’s a customer service voice, but even if it is ostensible, it’s nice. She sounds sweet and genuine and Vi almost forgets that it’s probably just an autopilot response. “I’ve been told that you were looking for a consultation?”

6) Use Your Tattoo Artist’s Phone Number For Unscrupulous Reasons

Vi:

 

What are ur thoughts on the show tattoo fixers?

That’s the message that Vi sends and apparently immediately forgets about. At least, until she receives the response in a tone that she definitely hadn’t specifically set for Caitlyn (yes, the tattoo artist).

Caitlyn:

 

It’s a good show, I think! I watched it when I had more free time but it was more of a background thing.

Vi:

 

rlly? do you know anyone in the show?

bcuz you all do tattooing n shit

Caitlyn:

 

Yes, I do actually!

Vi:

 

waitwhat

deadass?

Caitlyn:

 

Yeah!

Vi:

 

who??

Caitlyn:

 

I met the cast when I was on the show as a guest appearance.

Vi:

 

you were ON the show????

Caitlyn:

 

I was!

Vi:

 

what episode?

Caitlyn:

 

I don’t remember exactly, I’m pretty sure it was somewhere in the third season?

Vi:

 

im watching szn 3 now, ur not in here though

Caitlyn:

 

Maybe it was before then? I’m really not sure, sorry!

7) Watch All 4 Seasons of ‘Tattoo Fixers’ for Your Tattoo Artist

Vi:

 

you lying bitch.

8)Ask Your Tattoo Artist to Hang Out

It’s midway through a session and most definitely not appropriate when Vi does the unthinkable.

Caitlyn is working on one of the sleeve designs that she requested, and she’s blocking out an area in a solid black. It’s one of the most excruciating things that Vi has ever felt, but she’s working through it.

Maybe it’s the brain being completely boggled by the feeling of being continually stabbed with a needle that drives her to do it.

Maybe, it’s Caitlyn’s reassuring words, the way she’s telling her that she’s taking the pain really well (she’s fine with this, she’s fine, she’s not gonna be thinking about it at all later).

Maybe it’s Caitlyn’s smile. It’s so tender and she looks like she actually cares about their conversation.

Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve been bantering back and forth the entire session. It’s almost like Vi has shed her skin of social dyslexia. She feels like she can actually talk to Caitlyn like a normal person without having to deal with the word vomit she faces when interacting with literally any other woman.

Maybe, it’s just word vomit.

“And anyway - I told him in advance that he shouldn’t go in there, so really it’s no fault but his own and I don’t think I should take any responsibility for that,” Caitlyn says. She’s telling a story about herself and another artist at the same parlour, a tall guy named Jayce Talis. Apparently, Vi has probably seen him on more than one occasion and just hasn't paid proper attention to him.

Caitlyn’s story finishes with the flourish of her laugh, it’s light and almost hummed through her lips.

“You’re doing amazing, by the way, please do let me know if you need to take a break. This is a really large section,” Caitlyn compliments, but she never really stops.

“All good right now. By the way, I should’ve told you before now but my safeword is ‘pineapple’,” Vi says.

It was actually her safeword, but Caitlyn didn’t have to know that.

“Oh, frisky,” Caitlyn replies, sniffing indignantly and continuing on. “By the way, I think it’s rather impressive that you designed this yourself. I’m a fan.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty sick, right?” Vi responds with a hum. “I used to draw a lot when I was a kid - never had any classes or anything, though. Just kinda continued doodled and eventually I guess I got kinda good at it.”

“Same here, actually! When I was younger, my parents wanted me to do something academic but I was insistent on pursuing art. As soon as they found out that there was some money to be made in this industry, they suddenly ‘realised my talent’ and we found a compromise. Now I’m here and running my own parlour, which isn’t too shabby” Caitlyn explains.

“Oh shit, you own the place?”

Caitlyn shakes her head. “Almost. My parents bought it out but I full-time manage and do - you know - just about everything that someone who owns the place would.”

“Consider me privileged to be tattooed by the woman herself.”

Caitlyn’s hands pull the area taut, taking the gun away from her to adjust her placement in her seat.

Vi insists that she’s feeling fine, but the brief moments that she isn’t being assaulted by a needle is actually really jarring. It’s like a solace.

Also, when Caitlyn sits back, she looks really fucking pretty. Like a model or some dumb shit like that.

She has her hair tied back in a low bun and her button up is cuffed at the sleeve, just above her elbows. Not only that, but the top buttons are undone and Vi can see the soft sparkle of the gold necklace that rests against her skin.

She wants to pretend that she's not looking.

Vi averts her eyes and swallows heavily.

Caitlyn tuts. “Don’t you worry, you’re very privileged. You’ve taken much time out of my extremely busy schedule for this, you know.”

She adjusts again, flicking her head to the side to get a stray piece of hair out of her face.

“Hey Cait?” Vi says, and as soon as she says it, she immediately wants to shove a sock in her mouth and gargle on toilet water. Cait? Since when were they on nickname terms?

“Need a break?”

“Oh, no. I just - like - I wanted to know if maybe you wanted to hang out sometime. When you’re not poking me with needles, I mean.”

Vi closes her eyes and braces for impact.

9) Try to Lie to Your Tattoo Artist

Vi:

 

hey cait

u know i was in an episode of gilmore girls one time

10) Fail at Lying to Your Tattoo Artist

Caitlyn:

 

Nice try, but I’m not falling for that.

:) <3

11) Take Your Tattoo Artist Back To Your Apartment

“For some reason, I was expecting something much more… messy,” Caitlyn says, as she’s standing in Vi’s living room.

She made sure to tidy up, though it had been mostly clean (by her standards) so there wasn't much to do in the first place, nothing that couldn’t be hidden in a cupboard anyway. She’s even made sure to get all of the dust off of the blinds and now that was a rare occurrence.

Vi wonders what drove her to want to make such an impression on Caitlyn. Usually, she didn’t give more than a monkey’s fuck what people thought about her. And then, she has to venture to question just what it was that drove her to invite her over in the first place. It's strange to begin with that she asked, and arguably even more bizarre that Caitlyn had accepted.

Caitlyn, the woman that had been kind enough to humour her designs and tattoo her for a discounted price (something that she had apparently added without telling Vi in the beginning because she thought she was cute, and even more so when they started to become friends), was standing inside her house.

“Huh, really?” Vi says, and looking around, even she was expecting something much messier. She doesn’t remember the last time her place had been this clean. “I’m a pretty clean person, y’know. There’s not much to it.”

“Was there anything that you wanted to do while we were here?” Caitlyn asks, and she’s already drifting through the room like she is, herself, the breeze through an open window. She slips off her shoes before she steps onto the rug before she neatly places herself into the sofa.

Vi follows her, like it was the first time she’d ever been there, too, which was a weird feeling, taking into consideration that it was her own damn home.

Somehow, though, it looked so much different when it was Caitlyn that was sitting there, in her living room. There was something about her that was so starkly different from Mylo or Claggor or Powder, maybe not in the literal sense, of course, she was a person all the same.

It was the way she carried herself, Vi thinks. The way she’s holding herself so gently so as to not disturb the place, the wild contrast to the image of Powder throwing herself down on the couch and disturbing all of the cushions.

No, it’s not quite that.

It’s that Caitlyn isn’t family. That has to be it, surely. She might be the first person to ever come here that isn’t someone that Vi is related to, which is one of the weirder thoughts.

Caitlyn is a friend. That’s all. She’s a friend.

There’s a soft flush in Vi’s chest as she follows behind and promptly takes the seat beside her. She fumbles to retrieve the TV remote from the coffee table, turning it on and trying her best to navigate to netflix without exposing something she shouldn't.

Of course, there isn’t anything. There can't be.

It’s not like she watches fucking porn on the big screen, but what if she had left the bluetooth on her phone and for some reason she hadn’t cleared the browser from like - four nights ago and the phone would automatically sync to the TV and there, in all of its fucking glory, would be whatever the fuck Vi had been getting off to.

But that’s irrational. She knows it is.

Netflix opens without much of a stutter.

“I was thinking that we could - you know - watch a movie or something. Whatever you want, really,” Vi begins as she’s clicking into her account.

And, of course, this launches a discussion of their favourite movies.

Vi finds out that Caitlyn, the woman who had seemed so esteemed and at least somewhat uptight, is a sucker for shitty, trashy, cringy romance movies. And that? It couldn’t be more perfect.

Especially not since Vi had forgotten to clear her list and she can stand passing the remote to Caitlyn, who scrolls through title after title while Vi closes the curtains.

The snacks come next, anything that Vi can find. Including, but not exclusive to: a bag of microwave popcorn, of course, served in the biggest bowl that she can find, and the remains of what looked to be Powder’s candy stash (she won’t mind too much, Vi doubts she even knows that it’s there).

When Vi finally joins her, Caitlyn has already found a film to watch. She must have pulled the throw from the back of the sofa because she seems to have foregone the sweater that she’d been wearing and nestled into the couch. Without even needing to ask, Caitlyn folds the excess blankets over Vi’s thighs as she sits and even moves to be pressed into her side, pulling the bowl of popcorn into her own lap.

And Vi?

Well, it seems like she’s just figuring out what a woman is because Caitlyn’s weight against her feels so right and she’s putting an arm around her and pulling her that little bit closer, leaning her head against her and pressing a kiss to Caitlyn’s hair.

And then, in the middle of the film, in the midst of another kiss to her head, the question hits Vi like a fucking 14 wheeler.

Does Caitlyn have a boyfriend?

Is there someone else that does this with her? Curls up and watches the movies she wants, and lets her keep feeding her popcorn even though she’s missed their mouth like four times already and doesn't mind just to hear the little laugh she does, loud enough to hear, quiet enough not to disturb the movie. Is there someone else that wraps their arms around her, holds her close? Is there someone else that kisses her head?

Is there someone that kisses her?

Does Vi want to kiss her?

She does. Maybe just a little. Maybe it’s the dim lighting or the way she keeps turning to look up at her but there’s something about the look in her eyes that makes Vi think that maybe, just maybe, she wants it to.

And then, there’s a series of notions that hit her all at once, all of her synapses firing, each one the imposition of a house fire.

The first? It’s that Caitlyn is almost asleep, somehow, even though it can't be that far past midday, and even though they’re only about halfway through the film. That she’s laid against her, much more slumped than she had been before, hand still in the bowl of popcorn, breathing much deeper, more level.

The second? It's that Vi fucking hates this movie. She likes the cheese, yes, but this was just straight shit. She’d rather take a good, hard whiff of the consequence of a lactose intolerants’ cheese rampage, and she means actual cheese, not even the metaphorical kind.

The third? It’s that she wants to be Caitlyn’s boyfriend.

She decides that she doesn't want to know what that means. She’s too scared to find out.

12) Have Platonic Domestics With The Homies

One of the weirder things that comes from being friends with Caitlyn is the rate at which she wants to eat dinner together, Vi learns.

It’s not that she has a problem with it or anything like that, it’s just that for someone that Vi doesn’t even live with, Caitlyn sure comes over just to eat a lot. And it’s not like she’s coming over for Vi’s spectacular cooking either. Most days, she brings the food herself or even just the ingredients. The only announcement of her coming?

Cait:

 

Dinner tonight?

And Vi’s never once been able to say no.

Some days, they have ‘tea’ in front of the TV, watching yet another shitty rom com from Vi’s list. Some days, Caitlyn spends the evening teaching Vi how to cook her favourite meals (they spend an entire day trying to properly dice an onion and Vi has never cried so much in her life). Some days, they order takeaway and sit on the floor and talk about literally nothing for hours.

Sometimes, it feels like they’re the only ones existing in the only place in the world, in the four walls of the flat, it’s just Vi and Cait. No one else.

But in - like - a friendly way. You know?

13) Half Living With Your Tattoo Artist?

When Vi gave Caitlyn the spare key to her apartment, she really wasn’t expecting her to use it all that much.

So when she left enough clothes at her house to entitle herself to one of the drawers in Vi’s dresser, it was modest to say that she was just a little surprised.

Today, Caitlyn’s laying across the couch in nothing but a sports bra and sweats, with her hair slicked back into a greasy ponytail. The throw is half pulled over her, half still hanging on the sofa cushions.

Vi just walks right on past her.

“Hi to you too,” Caitlyn says, eyes still trained on the TV. She’s flicking through the channels of cable, she’s clearly bored of scrolling through Netflix.

“You’d be the same if you had the kind of day that I had,” Vi responds. She turns in time to see Caitlyn sitting up, looking from the couch to the hallway, where she’s standing, plucking a fresh shirt from the radiator, where it had been drying.

Caitlyn shrugs and reorganises herself so that she’s laying with her arms crossed against the back of the couch. “Sounds like it’d be better if you talked about it?”

Caitlyn’s right, of course.

Cait’s always right even when Vi doesn’t want to admit it.

14) Let your Tattoo Artist Dye Your Hair

Caitlyn’s liberal use of the key has worn on Vi so much that she doesn’t even flinch when she hears the front door open.

“In the bathroom!” Vi announces, staring herself in the mirror. She’d been prodding at a spot that had been bothering her all day and finally leans back, knowing that Caitlyn would probably tell her off and say something about it being “bad for her skin” if she caught her squeezing it.

“Is everything okay in her- oh, wow, you’re not wearing trousers,” Caitlyn says, now standing in the door with her coat (and apparently Vi’s jeans) in her arms.

They weren’t dating. They’re not like that - it’s just different. She is to Caitlyn what she is, and there is nothing that you could ever give to Vi that would make her admit that she’s like. Somewhat maybe kinda attracted to Cait? But it’s in like. A heterosexual way. She thinks.

She picks up the scissors and tugs at her hair a little, shrugging before she dips her head low in the tap and turning the water on.

It’s cold and she’d be lying if she said that she doesn’t recoil even a little bit.

“Wow, someone has no respect for privacy,” Vi monotones, taking her head up from out of the sink, putting the plug in and allowing it to fill up.

“Can I ask just what it is exactly that you’re doing?”

Vi motions to the set up that is displayed out across the bathroom counter, the scissors and the pot and brush and the colour tube and the developer. “Isn’t that much a little obvious?”

Caitlyn hums. “Can I watch?”

“There’s better ways to ask to see me in my underwear but I’ll allow it,” Vi says, fingers checking the temperature of the stream of water.

And she continues, almost like Caitlyn isn’t there, though it’s a little hard not to notice her when she’s dabbing the excess water out of her hair and Caitlyn is smiling at her in the mirror, perched on the edge of the bath, coat now folded in her lap.

“You had a good day?” Vi asks, still rubbing the towel across her hair. When she lets it drop, her hair is sticking up in all directions. She takes a comb to it without a second thought, smoothing it down.

“Oh, yes. It was rather quiet if anything but it was lovely. There was a real character that I saw today and reminded me - would you like me to finish your sleeve at any point?”

“My sleeve? I thought it was finished.”

Caitlyn stands, folding both the jeans and her coat over the ledge where she’d been sitting. “We discussed finishing it over your back, did we not?”

Vi makes eye contact with her in the mirror. “Huh, yeah, so we did.” She watches as Caitlyn’s hand traces over the design she made permanent and it tickles something in the back of Vi’s mind to watch her brain whirr, like she’s planning how to ink the tattoo Vi hasn’t even decided on. The moment shifts and Caitlyn’s hand touches the end of Vi’s messy hair.

“I’ve never dyed anyone’s hair before,” she says almost wistfully, her fingers gentle as they play with the lock.

“Wanna help?”

Maybe there is part of Vi that wanted to regret asking her - but it is immediately quelled by the way Caitlyn’s eyes light up. Her entire face brightens, momentary and fleeting before she nods, a small smile coming to replace it.

“Do I put those gloves on?” Caitlyn asks, motioning to the ones laying on the counter.

“Oh, I still need to cut it. Shouldn’t take too long,” Vi says, plucking the scissors from the counter once more.

In the mirror, Vi watches Caitlyn hover around her shoulders as she begins the usual routine of trimming her hair. As she does, Caitlyn first regails the tribulations of the day before she gets distracted on a tangent and starts an embarrassing story about dropping a drink down the front of her shirt on the first day of school. Which, quite naturally, triggers Vi’s dramatic recount of the party where the same thing happened to her, and how that very same night she had the cops called to her house in the dead of night because their scream from their sister’s wet willy scared the neighbours.

“Cupcake, you wanna help, right?” Vi asks, pulling the longer parts of her hair to the slide, slicking and pinning them down.

“Of course, what do you want me to do?”

This time, Vi actually turns around to face her when she points a smile in Caitlyn’s direction.

“You wanna shave this side down for me?”

Caitlyn blinks and just like that, her hand is against Vi’s face, and then she’s pushing her fingers through the hair. “But what if I mess it up? I wouldn’t like to hurt you.”

“Nothing that won’t grow back,” Vi reminds her. She raises a hand to meet Caitlyn’s, guiding it to the space between them. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to, though.”

Caitlyn’s hands are gentle and more surprisingly, she doesn't fuck up. At least, not that much anyway, nothing that Vi can’t fix on another occasion, namely one where Caitlyn’s eyes aren’t present.

They’re still talking, even as Vi mixes the dye in the pot in front of her. And even more when Vi is handing Caitlyn the pot, noting that she only needs to cover the roots (Caitlyn swats at her hands, telling her that she knows, she knows, but she still asks for confirmation with every stroke she takes).

She’s far gentler in the process than Vi had any intention of being towards herself. She soothes the brush over the sections slowly and methodically, never forgetting to make sure she is okay. Vi has no complaints to speak of.

Just when Vi thinks she’s finished, however, Caitlyn asks her to spin to face towards her.

“I just want to be sure that I covered your whole hairline,” she supplies.

“You’re very thorough,” Vi compliments. “Maybe I should talk to my manager about taking you on in the salon.”

“Har, har. You’re very funny.” She’s still smiling, though.

And apparently the conversation is just enough to provide for adequate distraction because Caitlyn apparently piled too much onto the brush as she applied it to the edges.

There’s a huge blob of dye from the brush that’s dripping slowly down her forehead.

It’s this moment that Vi realises just how close Caitlyn is to her. She’s so concentrated, tongue peeking out of the corner of her mouth, and it’s all shattered in an instant. As it breaks, she lets out a laugh. It’s gentle, but enough so that Vi can feel the warmth of her breath against her skin.

It's contagious, especially when it starts running even further down her face.

Caitlyn's hands are on her chin, tilting her jaw so that she can swipe the dye away before it stains.

She's so close that Vi could kiss her.

15) Kiss Your Tattoo Artist

She does.

Caitlyn's lips are warm and pulled into a warmer smile.

Somehow, they’re everything Vi expected and the more she didn’t. Regardless, this is exactly what she needed.

16) Have a… Gender Crisis?

It doesn’t strike Vi until almost an hour later what she’d done.

The rest of the night proceeds as she’d have expected; finishing her hair, kissing Caitlyn, dinner, kissing Caitlyn some more, and watching a movie before Caitlyn left with another lingering kiss, first to her cheek and then to her lips.

After that, she’d all but collapsed into her bed.

That was when the whole thinking thing started.

It’s like - one minute she’s cutting her hair, the next she’s kissing Caitlyn like it’s the most natural thing in the world and Vi doesn’t know what is worse: the fact that she let her, or the fact that she liked it.

Vi kissed Caitlyn - or, Caitlyn kissed Vi - but who kissed who isn’t really important. Vi’s almost certain it had happened both ways on multiple occasions across the evening. The sheer notion of it made her feel like she’s gobbling tin after tin of baked beans (don’t ask, it’s a story for another day).

It was one thing to have the kiss to begin with and a whole other to be able to say that she actually enjoyed it.

And she did. Oh, god, she did.

Kissing Caitlyn felt like cutting her hair for the first time and getting a fucking face tattoo and wearing jeans instead of skirts.

Kissing Caitlyn, in the same breath, make all of the things that Vi hate not so bad. It felt like being in love and cheesy candids posted to her Instagram story with a stupid love song over the top. It felt like holding hands and long walks on the beach and longer evenings spent on the couch in front of a sitcom and it felt like a relationship.

Relationships weren't for Vi - but a relationship with Caitlyn didn't seem so bad.

Vi knows that she’s something like attracted to Cait - that was a while ago - but she never expected it to become something as mammoth as this.

She never expected to kiss her.

She never expected being able to lean into Caitlyn, have her kiss her head.

She never expected to touch her skin without thinking.

She never expected Caitlyn. Not really.

The one thing glaring in the night, curled in the bed beside her, is that Vi is not queer. She doesn’t like women. She’s not gay. She doesn’t want a girlfriend, but what she does know is that she wants to be Caitlyn’s boyfriend.

And that’s… definitely something.

(It keeps her up all night).

17) Have a Gender Sexuality Crisis

“Love, what’s the date?” Caitlyn asks.

She has a coffee in her hands, bed hair still not quite soothed, and is wearing the dressing gown that Vi keeps hanging on the bathroom door. In front of her, there’s the calendar that Vi doesn’t use.

The last date that is crossed off, Vi sees as she steps behind her, is April 4th.

“July…” she drawls, plucking her phone from her pocket. “I mean - June 5th.”

“You don’t even know what month it is?” Caitlyn asks, turning to her with a ridiculing smile. She shakes her head and takes the calendar from the wall, flipping over the months until she reaches June and then she replaces it on the wall. “Just what world are you living in?”

“I use my phone calendar to remember stuff - I always lose the pen to the actual calendar,” she explains.

True to word, the plastic holder placed at the top of the calendar is barren and empty.

Caitlyn tuts. “I suppose I’ll just have to fill this in for you then.”

Vi just shrugs, making some comment about how she can if she wants, and that it’s hers to fuck with if she needs to keep track of her schedule. Then, she starts to make breakfast.

Flicking the stove on, heating the oil, asking Caitlyn how many rashers of bacon she wants.

Just enough for a sandwich, apparently, whatever the fuck that means.

“You know,” Caitlyn says, perched on the kitchen work surface. “Pride is coming up.”

Vi looks up to the ceiling in ponder. “Huh. So it is. I had no idea.”

“I’m thinking of going this year, you know,” she explains. Vi hears her feet hit the ground as she pushes herself off of the counter. Then, there are arms around her middle, a chin resting on her shoulder. “Do you have a flag that you want me to buy for you?”

Vi’s hands pause, her brain giving something like a hiccup. “Isn’t there - like - a thousand reasons why straight people shouldn’t have a flag?”

“Well - yes - but you’re not straight, Vi,” Caitlyn says. The arms around Vi’s waist loosen. “Hold on.”

The arms are gone and Caitlyn must’ve taken a step back. Vi doesn't want to see the look on her face, so instead she faces the bacon like she’s got a bone to pick with it.

“Vi - be honest with me here.”

“Would never think of lyin’ to you, cupcake.”

“Are you - do you identify as male?” Caitlyn asks. The words don’t feel accusatory, but there’s something about her tone that tells Vi that she can’t crack a joke and slip out of the conversation (her usual trick).

“I’m not sure.”

“You’re not sure?”

“I’m not.”

Vi had only wondered how long she could put off this conversation for. After all, with the ambiguity of what they were to each other in the first place, it was inevitable that someone as attentive as Caitlyn would eventually want answers. She guesses that she just didn’t think that it would be this soon.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Caitlyn asks tepidly.

Vi just shrugs.

Caitlyn appears in her peripheral again, leaning against the counter closest to her. “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to. I know these things are often best thought about alone but I’m here if you need to - I don’t know - just vent, I suppose.”

“Do you mind? If I do, I mean,” Vi asks.

Caitlyn makes a gesture, so as to say ‘go for it’.

Now that she has centre stage, it's like Vi is the protagonist that forgot all of her lines.

She doesn’t know where to start.

It’s like going balls deep into a workout without stretching beforehand. Like - this kinda did come out of nowhere.

“I’m just kind of confused, you know?” Vi starts, because starting with the root feeling is best, maybe. She’s not sure. She's never been too good at being straight (ha, ironic) with her feelings. “It’s like - I don’t know where to start.”

“Gender is a hard conversation, no matter where you start,” Caitlyn says slowly. It’s like she’s been there. It’s slow and it’s validating and the gentle smile that she shoots in Vi’s direction gives her just enough to take a step back.

“I’ve always been the way that I am. Not really girly but not really boyish either,” Vi says. She places a couple rashers of bacon in the pan, listening to the oil hiss to life. “It’s like, I like being a woman, but sometimes it feels easier not to be. I’m not a man but I guess I fall somewhere between the two.

“I guess it didn’t really matter to me what or who I was until now,” she continues. “I think I just didn’t want to go through the hassle. I mean, I never even thought about who I was attracted to until you.”

“Oh really?”

Vi looks over to Caitlyn. She’s listening intently, nodding along where she can, looking intuitive, like she’s trying to formulate something to say.

“I like it when we kiss. I like you, I think. I want all the gross mushy stuff with you but for some reason I just - I don’t know. I feel like I have to be a man for you to like me back,” Vi says. “And I know that that’s completely irrational but I can’t seem to shake it. I didn’t even know that I was attracted to women until recently. Maybe I knew but just didn’t acknowledge it until now but still. It’s just… a mess.”

“If it helps at all, you don’t need to be anything in particular for me to like you,” Caitlyn says. Her voice isn’t as insistent as before. Maybe Therapist Mode disengaged and Vi is talking to just Cait again. “I like you well enough as you are.”

“You do?”

“Of course I do,” Caitlyn responds. Of course she does. “You just have to be you, that’s enough for me.”

“And you’re okay with that if I wanted to be a woman?”

Caitlyn nods.

“And if I decided one day that I wasn’t?”

“That’s also okay.” Caitlyn watches her movements with something like compassion, or whatever other abstract feelings come with being with another person. “I like you. Whoever you choose to be.”

Vi swallows, a deep nod. Then, she takes to a smile. “Talking relatively here, you could put any amount of bacon in a sandwich if you tried hard enough.”

“Oh, shut up.”

18) Going to Pride

It’s the first time that Vi’s ever been to Pride and definitely not the last.

She holds Caitlyn’s hands and she kisses her and she even laughs as Caitlyn buys one of those stupid fucking rainbow feather boas and drapes it across her arms.

At some point, Caitlyn drags her to the Love is Love sign and demands that they set up their phones to record. Vi doesn’t exactly argue, but she’s definitely surprised when someone offers to take the picture for them. She’d never say it directly, but it’s definitely one of her favourite pictures.

Vi gets it printed as soon as she can; it lives beneath the rainbow Pride magnet on the fridge. Every time Caitlyn brings it up, she tells her to fuck off.

Affectionately, of course.

19) Go on a Getaway Trip With Your Tattoo Artist

One day after work, a few months into their relationship (wow!), Caitlyn flops down onto Vi’s sofa with a loud groan.

“I need a vacation.”

For days afterward, all Vi can think about is Caitlyn in a bikini on a beach, in a tent cozying up to her in the middle of the night, hearing her uproarious laughter as a rollercoaster dropped. All she can think about is Caitlyn in all of the places that aren’t home, all of the places she hasn’t been.

Needless to say, it’s not that long before she’s asking how much time Caitlyn can get off of work and all of a sudden, they’re pitching a tent in a field next to a lake in the middle of nowhere.

“I have to say,” Caitlyn says, opening a cold bottle of water and taking a tip. “You put all of this together awfully quickly. And I’m quite surprised about how quiet you were about the whole thing.”

“You said you wanted a vacation,” Vi says with a shrug. “Ask and you shall receive.”

“I’ll start asking for things more often, maybe I’ll get something nice,” Caitlyn muses.

“You might,” Vi considers.

And in truth, if Caitlyn asked for just about anything, Vi would try her best to make it happen. Even if it meant going out of her way or doing something she usually wouldn’t. Being in- Liking someone this much means that. It’s going the extra mile just because you want to see them happy.

Vi would do just about anything to see Caitlyn smile.

That’s what leads to Vi gathering dried out leaves and twigs and sticks to use as kindling for the fire that they start a little ways from their tent.

Of course, they’ve already had their fill of snacks by this time, and the sun is only just beginning to set, but apparently Caitlyn has been set on s’mores since Vi offhandedly mentioned them in the car on the way in.

She struggles, but it sets alight eventually.

Vi never quite gets over the look on Cait’s face when she bites into the first s’more of the night. Her lips are smeared with melted chocolate and she has to do that awkward thing where you keep your mouth open and breathe on the food to cool it down (Vi always thought it was gross when anyone other than her did it, but with Cait she doesn’t seem to mind as much, or at all, really). But she’s grinning and she’s humming about how good it is as she throws her head back.

Then, she’s trying to feed Vi a bite and she can’t help but say yes. That’s how Cait’s incorrigible sweet tooth begins their night in earnest.

Caitlyn, despite clearly enjoying them so much, gives Vi the last bite. The very notion of taking something so sweet makes Vi feel like jamming her head into a wall repeatedly, so she insists that Caitlyn has it. It doesn’t take much convincing and she swallows it in one bite.

After that, Caitlyn’s lips taste of chocolate and mallow and she’s still smiling, endlessly and listlessly smiling. Vi’s never seen her smile this much, she doesn't think she's ever smiled this much herself, either.

It’s weird, she’s thinking as she cracks open two beers for the both of them, how easy it is to be here.

As the fire dies down, the stories begin.

It starts with the first time Vi ever drank a beer, how she had fumbled with the bottle opener in the house of some random dude that she’d never even spoken to. And the follow up of how said dude had given her a smile, maybe a little patronising, and a pat on the shoulder after he showed her how to pop the cap.

That was when Cait remembers the night she graduated and got maybe a little too tipsy at the dinner table with her parents. Vi then details sitting at Vander’s bar and getting hammered on hard liquor while he wasn’t home; Caitlyn has a few questions about his parenting skills but doesn’t ask much more past the initial roll of her eyes.

And - oh - did Caitlyn ever mention that she’s horrific with kids? She seems to have countless times that she’s been left with the responsibility of having to babysit a relative, or a neighbours’ kid, or a friend’s kid and the countless times she’s not known what to do with ‘it’.

The mental image of Caitlyn sitting a child on the sofa beside her as she tries to make them watch ‘Law and Order’ is so hysterical that Vi breaks out into a laugh that makes her slap her knee.

Their stories blew like wind into the night.

Vi thought that Caitlyn was exaggerating when she said that she could handle her liquor. She was, for reference. This becomes increasingly clear when Vi catches Cait’s eyes wandering to the lake, then back to her, then back to the lake, each time her grin getting wider. It’s a look that Vi knows vividly after living in a house with many a mischievous siblings.

It was a back and forth for a while, one that Vi notes and chooses not to feed into. It comes to a head, as most things do, as Caitlyn interrupts her own sentence to say: “Okay, sorry, do you want to go swimming?”

20) Skinny Dip With Your Tattoo Artist

Predictably, Vi did indeed want to go swimming.

What she hadn’t anticipated, however, was that Caitlyn wanted to skinny dip. What she also didn’t realise was how easy it is to dissolve into a mess of giggles.

She loses track of what she took off herself and what Caitlyn helped her take off between kisses. It isn’t heated: in fact, Vi’s freezing her tits off and she’s like 69% sure that her nipples could cut glass.

It’s kissing for the sake of feeling each other’s skin. Caitlyn’s shoulder and Vi’s collarbone. The knuckles of her fingers, the scars across her hands. The hints of ink that Vi finds wrapping over Caitlyn’s shoulder.

The water, of course, doesn’t make the temperature any better. But holding Caitlyn and the heat of her breath on Vi’s face, the way they seem to move so naturally as one in the water, pushing and pulling. It makes the cold turn so easily into warmth.

Caitlyn’s smile opens and blossoms like a midnight bloom and spills like the crackle of the fire until the moment they clamber out of the lake. Who knows how long Vi let herself be near-drowned by each over-zealous wave sent from Cait, but her fingers are wrinkling and she’d be surprised if her lips aren’t turning blue.

When they finally hitch themselves to bed, they’re laying out on a towel (it’s almost like Cait had already anticipated going for a cheeky dip) and are talking like the night can’t end.

“I just didn't know that you had so many tattoos,” Vi says, turning on her side to graze over the sight of Caitlyn’s body before her. “Which one did you get first?”

“My family crest,” she responds without a thought. She contorts to the side and points to the crest that covers the right side of her ribcage. It’s not overly large but it’s big enough to be worn with pride. “They’re quite a big name, you know.”

Vi hums. “I didn't. You’re the first Kiramman I’ve ever known.”

“It was my way of rebelling against my parents in a way that they couldn’t particularly be angry at,” Caitlyn explains.

“They strict?”

“Maybe I was just a little unruly, ” Caitlyn says with a smile. “Once I was sure that my mother wasn’t going to go into shock if she found out, I got this.”

Caitlyn’s hands drift to her sternum and the flower floating on the skin between her breasts. Instinctually, Vi follows the movement, her own fingers taking to tracing the stem.

“What flower is it?” Vi asks quietly.

“It’s a violet, quite ironically.” The laugh that follows comes like an exhale. “It represents sapphic love. It was one of the things I did to take pride in who I was and who I loved. Now, though, every time I see it, I think of you.”

Caitlyn goes on to show Vi all of the drawings that litter her body and the stories behind each and every one of them. From the vine of ivy winding around her thigh and up her back, stretching around her shoulder, to the not one, not two, but three iterations of guns in different places. Apparently, she was really into shooting when she was younger.

That spawned her to at once see the irony of a “tattoo gun” and she had to get it tattooed. That, of course, with an actual rifle. The third and final? A finger gun on her upper thigh just for fun.

She even tells Vi about the stupid fucking game of noughts and crosses on her leg that she and Jayce decided was a good idea on a slower day.

Vi takes her time lingering on each of them, her fingers glancing over the skin.

“You’re beautiful,” Vi confesses.

21) Realise That You’re In Love

Caitlyn’s smile is radiant.

She looks at Vi like the sun looks at the sky, or how the moon looks at the stars, and there’s something about the look in her eyes that makes Vi feel like her feet are rising from the ground and she’s never going to come back down.

Caitlyn’s smile could calm typhoons and make mountains bow, could still the most raging of rivers and still the raptures of the worst winds.

“You’re gorgeous,” Caitlyn returns, and she turns to reach for Vi’s lips. The kiss is sweet and Vi can feel the smile still.

“You’re – fuck, Cait–”

22) Say “I Love You”

“– Cait, I think I love you.”

Caitlyn sits back, only for a breath. Then, she’s back, kissing Vi, pressing her gently into their air mattress.

“I love you too, Vi. I love you.”

And it’s safe to say that Vi never wanted - nay - needed a boyfriend in the first place.

She needed this. She needed Cait.