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A Compliment A Day...

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“You owe me twenty bucks.”

 

Okay . Not her best attempt at conversation, admittedly. 

 

But after Kirin’s melodramatic commencement, and everyone had settled, Leah took a tentative seat on one of the couches. Only for Dot to literally shove Fatin in the seat beside Leah before taking the seat on Fatin’s other side. 

 

And while Kirin started making everyone drinks with the help of Scotty, Fatin hadn’t said a word. She had smiled at Leah, a very pretty, disarming smile, but other than that? Nothing. 

 

So forgive Leah for not having her wits about her. 

 

When did she ever? 

 

“What?” Fatin replied, raising a brow. 

 

“The bet,” Leah reminded, trying not to cringe. “Over Flip Cup?” Her voice cracked near the end, her voice slowly losing confidence. 

 

Leah was pleading, in a way. She wasn’t subtle in the way she was practically begging Fatin to acknowledge her, to talk to her. She still didn’t understand what was running through Fatin’s head, and she wasn’t sober enough to feel shame in the way her eyes screamed, “ please ”. 

 

Fatin answered, silently. She answered with a softened gaze, and a small smile. Fatin breathed in and exhaled like she was letting something go - or maybe she was settling on something? Leah didn’t know Fatin well, couldn’t read her in the way she was sure Dot or Kirin could, but she relaxed slightly. Fatin’s hand landed next to hers on the couch, a pinky grazing her own. She shuffled back, seemingly getting comfortable. Leah exhaled softly as Fatin’s shoulder brushed against hers, her pinky almost, almost curling around Leah’s.

 

“Ah,”  Fatin chuckled, shaking her head. “You mean when you hustled me?”

 

“Sorry ‘bout that.”

 

“Nah,” Fatin smiled, leaning in a bit. “You can hustle me any day.” Fatin winked, and the familiarity of it settled the waves in Leah’s stomach. 

 

She couldn’t help but think Fatin did that on purpose. 

 

Dot snorted from Fatin’s other side, earning a slap to the shoulder. “Sorry, that was just not your best work, dude.”

 

Leah flushed nonetheless. 

 

“Why do you bully me, Dorothy?” Fatin whined, pouting a bit. Leah averted her eyes quickly at the way Fatin’s lips puffed out. 

 

“I was just joking,” Leah backtracked. “That wasn’t a serious bet.”

 

“Oh no, I’ll pay up,” Fatin assured, pulling out her phone. Leah tried not to lament how the action pulled Fatin’s hand away from hers. “What’s your number?”

 

“…What?”

 

Fatin wanted her number? Okay, okay, cool, cool, cool - That was cool. That was something sort of friends exchanged. Sure, it was a bit out of the blue, but Leah could roll with it. 

 

“For Venmo?” Fatin explained, holding out her phone. “I need your number so I can look you up?” 

 

Leah paused. Right. Yes, that made sense. But then again…

 

“Sure,” She carefully took Fatin’s phone, brushing her fingers against Fatin’s own just for the hell of it. If Fatin could flirt relentlessly, why couldn’t Leah just a bit? She was just drunk enough to not care as much, and maybe she was a bit high on the feeling of having Fatin’s shoulder brush against hers while they sat. 

 

She exited the Venmo app, going to Fatin’s contacts instead. “Or, you know, you could just have my number for…recreational purposes.”

 

Recreational purposes?” Fatin grinned, watching Leah type in her phone. 

 

Leah ignored the blush creeping up her neck. “Yeah, you know. Friends have each other’s numbers. We could hang out sometime. Do recreational activities.”

 

“Yeah, no, for sure,” Fatin replied, and - Wait . Was Fatin Jadmani… blushing ? Fatin cleared her throat, and, yes, Fatin was blushing. Leah could pretend it was from the heat in the room, the alcohol, whatever else, but…Fatin was blushing and looking at Leah with an almost shy expression. 

 

And that was a whole new ballgame. 

 

“And, maybe instead of Venmo-ing me,” Leah continued, feeling brave. “You could just buy me ice cream. While we hang out. At a friendly hang out-“

 

Okay, the confidence was leaving quickly. 

 

“I can do that,” Fatin said. She took her phone back from Leah gingerly, turning it over in her perfectly manicured hands. “I like ice cream.”

 

“Me too.”

 

“Oh my God,” Toni groaned out from where she sat between Martha and…Shelby. Huh. “Let’s get the game started, please .” 

 

“For real,” Scotty agreed, taking his seat next to Bo. “Ya’ll got your drinks, now let’s actually party. I could be dancing with some hot chick right now.”

 

“And yet, you’re not,” Bo barbed lightheartedly, earning a soft push from Scotty. 

 

“Whatever.”

 

“C’mon, let’s get moving, they gay drama can only keep me entertained for so long,” Ivan called from his position sprawled out on another bean bag. 

 

Dot snorted. Toni let out a “What!?”. Fatin tensed slightly, and Leah, if her eyes didn’t deceive her, saw Shelby freeze. Leah perhaps wouldn’t have picked up on it if she hadn’t had a similar reaction. 

 

Something to file away for later, she supposed. 

 

“Okay, okay,” Kirin was the only one standing, and Josh looked happy enough to let the other guy take the lead. “Our lovely, genius slash Flip Cup champion, Nora, suggested a game of Back-to-Back.”

 

“Uh,” Raf chimed in, raising his hand like he was in class. “What- What is that, exactly?” 

 

He looked a bit embarrassed. Leah sympathized, but she was also happy that she wasn’t the one who had to ask. 

 

“Simple, my dear friend, Raif-“

 

“It’s Raf-“

 

“Two people stand up, back to back-“

 

“How surprising,” Ivan deadpanned. 

 

“Facing away from each other-“

 

“Is that not implied from standing back to back?” Henry asked. 

 

Kirin ignored them, and he was already pulling up…Toni and Shelby. God she sometimes wondered if Kirin could read a room. 

 

Shelby was blushing heavily as Toni shrugged and smiled tepidly at her, apparently actually listening to Leah and letting bygones be bygones for the night. Shelby ducked her head shyly as Kirin adjusted them to stand with their backs to each other, making sure they were touching and both had a drink in hand. 

 

Maybe Kirin could read the room? 

 

“We, the group, will ask them a ‘Who’s most likely to’ question, and they will respond. If one drinks, that’s that,” He continued, miming drinking from his cup. “But, if they both drink, they both have to drink again. If neither of the drinks…”

 

He held his hands out, waiting for the group to finish. 

 

“They both have to drink!” Josh answered excitedly. “I love this game. This is actually kind of fun because it helps us get to know each other as well. A great bonding exercise.”

 

“Sure,” Kirin replied, giving Josh a kind smile. “Joshy is correct - About the drinking thing. Anyway, who wants to ask the first question?”

 

“Who is most likely to lose to Nora and me in Flip Cup?” Rachel called out almost immediately. 

 

Toni flipped Rachel off so aggressively, Leah was surprised the girl had the thought to drink while she did it. 

 

“Oop, you both drank!” Scotty called out. “Drink again, bitches!”

 

“I don’t think you can say that,” Bo mumbled. 

 

“Damn dude,” Henry laughed. 

 

“No, I didn’t mean it like that,” Scotty defended. 

 

He looked around helplessly for support, but everyone was looking at the pair as Toni flipped around to look at Shelby. 

 

“Why would you drink at a comment obviously thrown at me?”

 

“I would definitely lose in a game of Flip Cup,” Shelby protested. “I’ve never played!”

 

“Yeah, but-“

 

“And you have experience, so you’re more likely to beat them than I would be.”

 

“I-“ Toni paused. “Touché. My bad.”

 

“No fucking way Shalifoe just apologized to Shelby,” Fatin whispered, leaning in to make sure the girls didn’t hear. 

 

Leah needed to have a conversation with Fatin about personal space. 

 

Or maybe she didn’t. She couldn’t decide. 

 

“Parties are magical,” Leah said solemnly. “It’s like we’re in the Twilight Zone.”

 

“Alternate realities are totally a thing,” Dot chimed in quietly, leaning over Fatin. “Have we stumbled into one?”

 

“Does this mean I finally have a chance?” Fatin said, her face dropping into a serious expression. 

 

“What?” “Dude, for the last time!”

 

Right. Dot and Fatin. And the strange dynamic they seemed to possess. 

 

“Breaking my heart, even in an alternate universe,” Fatin sighed, a hand to her heart. 

 

“I got one!” Ivan called out. “Who’s most likely to throw their piss at someone in a basketball game?”

 

“Okay,” Toni huffed, taking a quick sip from her drink. “You guys can’t fucking target me.”

 

“I wasn’t,” Ivan shrugged. “I totally thought Goodkind would’ve drank to that.”

 

“I would never-”

 

“I’m obviously kidding.”

 

“Right,” Shelby huffed, turning around to be back to back with Toni once more. 

 

“Does anybody have a question that isn’t clearly aimed at me?” Toni said, drinking her drink again. She didn’t seem to care too much about following the rules of the game. 

 

“What about…Who’s most likely to become a wedding planner?” Raf asked quietly. 

 

Leah looked at him curiously. “What a strange question…” She mumbled, earning a chuckle from Fatin and Dot. 

 

“Why the fuck did Toni just drink?” Rachel stood, pointing accusatory at Toni. 

 

“Yeah, what the fuck is up with that?” Ivan said. 

 

“Shalifoe?” Fatin gasped. “You never cease to surprise.”

 

“Toni is really into wedding stuff actually,” Martha added. “She talks about it all the time.”

 

“I’m not…Well, shit, I guess I just drank,” Toni hummed, still sipping from her cup. “I like weddings! They’re kind of cool, and I think it’d be fun to plan my own. You know? Like think about what kind of flowers I’d get, and the suit, and the food, and…whatever, fuck off, all of you.” She finished as people either stared at her open mouthed or bursted into laughter. 

 

“I like weddings too,” Shelby finally spoke. “They’re fun, and I do have a knack for planning.”

 

“Yeah, I guess I should’ve gave that one to Goodkind,” Toni admitted. 

 

“I don’t think we’ll get a more surprising answer than that out of those two,” Ivan commented. “Unless Shelby wants to confess something real quick.”

 

Shelby flushed slightly, sipping her own drink. “I’m good. Let’s give some other people a chance.”

 

A few more rounds went through, and Leah thanked the lord she didn’t have to go up. She enjoyed sitting, watching other people go up and answer the questions. It was entertaining, and Josh was actually right with his slightly dorky comment, she was learning more about these people. 

 

Kirin actually likes reality TV. Dot would 100% outlive all of them on a deserted island. Fatin was lactose intolerant - Leah would have to revisit the whole ice cream situation with her later. Henry used to be a boy scout, Martha was vegan, Ivan had a boyfriend, and Raf loved Katy Perry. 

 

All very interesting. 

 

The night went on, and throughout the game people drank plenty even when they weren’t answering questions. Leah found herself two more drinks in as the game dissolved and people stuck to just chatting and hanging out. It was fun, much more fun than a party in a way. And luckily all the people included seemed to be pretty cool. 

 

“And that’s why I think Katy Perry is criminally underrated.”

 

Leah hummed along as Raf finished his explanation. He sat perched on the couch arm, and Leah thought he was a nice guy, really, but she was more interested in Fatin across the room, whispering heatedly to Kirin, Dot, and Ivan (who was looking like he was holding back laughter). She wanted to know what they were talking about. 

 

“Yeah, no, she’s…she’s cool,” Leah replied absentmindedly. 

 

“Did you guys hookup?” 

 

“What?”

 

Leah whipped around, staring at Raf with wide eyes. The boy, to his credit, looked appalled that that had just come out of his mouth, his own eyes widening in surprise. 

 

“Sorry!” He held his hand out quickly, scrambling to defend himself. “I shouldn’t have asked! It’s totally not my business. I was just getting vibes. Like, with the eye contact, and I mean, c’mon. You’re hot, they’re hot. I saw you guys talking earlier pretty close, and I thought you were checking each other out-”

 

“I’m not hooking up with her!” Leah hissed out, her face flushing almost completely. She peered around to see if anyone had overheard, but everyone had drifted into different conversations. Shelby, Toni, Rachel, Nora and Martha were talking by the other couch, and it was strange to see Shelby and Toni not look like they were two seconds away from tearing each other’s heads off - alcohol was something else. Henry,  Bo, Scotty, and Josh were all chatting as well - and again, Fatin, Ivan, Kirin, and Dot were huddled up…

 

“Wait,” Raf let out, sounding confused. “Her?”

 

“I-” Leah tore her eyes away, meeting his gaze. “What?”

 

“You said ‘her’?”

 

Leah paused. “Who were you talking about?”

 

“Kirin?”

 

“Kirin?!” Leah let out, a little too loudly, causing multiple heads to turn. 

 

“Yes, babe?” Kirin replied, looking very much tipsy. 

 

Fatin was also looking at Leah, looking confused as well. 

 

“Nothing! We were just talking about…Lacrosse,” Leah faltered, internally screaming. Why the fuck would they be talking about lacrosse?

 

“Yeah,” Raf jumped in. “The team is doing great this year.”

 

“They’ve lost every game,” Henry pointed out. 

 

“Yeah, but Kirin, you’re doing great. Specifically,” Raf said. 

 

Kirin frowned before shrugging. “I am pretty great. You know who’s really bringing down the team-”

 

“Oh my god, they were obviously not talking about lacrosse,” Ivan groaned out, smacking Kirin on the shoulder. 

 

“No, Leah’s, like, super into sports,” Rachel said, smirking at Leah. What was going on? “Rilke loves women’s soccer.”

 

“Okay,” Leah cut in. “That…We were just talking about the party and how cool it is. That’s it.”

 

“You know what this is reminding me of?” Scotty asked from his spot laid out on a beanbag chair. “Paranoia.”

 

“Oh my gosh, that game is so funny,” Bo agreed. 

 

“We should play!” Josh cheered. 

 

“I don’t know, people are getting pretty sloppy,” Dot scratched the side of her head, eyeing Shelby who was leaning heavily into Martha. 

 

“That’s what will make it more fun,” Kirin shrugged. “Everything is more fun when people are sloppy. Except sports.”

 

“And, like, most things,” Henry laughed. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Raf whispered, leaning in to Leah to avoid the other people hearing. “I didn’t mean to assume.”

 

“Kirin, really?” Leah whispered back. “It’s not your fault drinking makes me forget volume control,” She added. 

 

“I don’t know!” Raf shrugged. “Now that you mention it though, you and Fa-”

 

“Hey, lovebirds,” Fatin called out, gesturing toward Leah and Raf. “You two gonna join the group, or?”

 

“Yes!” “We’re not lovebirds.”

 

“Okay, do we need to explain the rules to anyone?” Kirin asked, herding the group into a circle once more.  A few people raised their hands, including Leah and Raf. “Okay, it goes like this: We sit in a circle, like so, one person starts. They whisper a question to the person on their right - make it spicy - the person answers out loud. If anyone wants to know what the question was, they have to take a drink-”

 

“A shot!” Scott declined. “A drink is too easy.”

 

“Yeah, no,” Dot rejected. “Then we’ll all really be getting sloppy.”

 

“Okay, how about a big gulp?” Josh suggested timidly. 

 

“Okay, fine, a ‘big gulp ’,” Kirin amended. “Then they say the question out loud. That’s the whole game.”

 

“Easy enough,” Rachel accepted. 

 

“The best questions are the ones with people as the answers,” Toni suggested. 

 

“True,” Kirin pointed at Toni in agreement. “Now, who wants to go first?” 

 

Leah took her position seated between Raf and Rachel. Raf seemed like a safe option, he wouldn’t ask her anything too out of pocket as far as she could tell. Although, he had point blank asked if she and Kirin had been hooking up…But she had faith that he wouldn’t embarrass her too badly. She didn’t know what she’d ask Rachel if it came down to it, but she was sure she could think of something. Eventually. 

 

“I’ll start,” Ivan volunteered, leaning in to whisper into Dot’s ear. 

 

He whispered quietly, earning an eye roll from Dot. 

 

“Fatin, obviously,” She replied easily. “Gotta do better than that.”

 

“Oh, I have to know this one,” Fatin replied on the other side of Ivan. She easily chugged the rest of her drink. “Spill.”

 

Ivan laughed easily, sipping his own drink, holding the suspense before sighing. “I asked who she would marry if she had to out of the people in this room.”

 

Fatin gasped loudly. “Dorothy…”

 

“Shut up, dude, you already knew that,” Dot grumbled, sipping her drink some more. 

 

“It’s still nice to hear,” Fatin whipped away a fake tear, and Leah found herself smiling at the action. 

 

“Shut up.” 

 

“Wait, can we go out of the circle?” Rachel asked suddenly. 

 

“What?” Kirin frowned. 

 

“Like, instead of going in order, can we just ask whoever we want a question and they answer it out loud, blah, blah, blah?”

 

“I guess…”

 

“I like that idea,” Ivan said. 

 

“Me too,” Scott agreed. “Adds more spice.”

 

“Well who am I to say no to that?” Kirin laughed. 

 

“Perfect,” Rachel smiled, already crawling over to Toni. “My turn.” 

 

She whispered into Toni’s ear, earning a wide-eyed look from the other girl. The other girl flushed deeply, coughing a bit into her fist before shrugging, trying to play it off. 

 

“Uh, Goodkind, I guess,” Toni mumbled out. 

 

“Easiest chug I’ve ever done,” Ivan quickly finished his drink. 

 

“Wait, are we chugging or just gulping?” Martha asked. 

 

“I think as long as it isn’t a sip?” Bo suggested. 

 

“I don’t think we need to be nit picky with rules in a drinking game,” Henry shrugged. 

 

“Doesn’t matter,” Scotty waved them off. “What was the question?” He asked eagerly. 

 

Leah found herself leaning in with the rest of the group. 

 

“I asked her who she’d rather sleep with, Martha or Shelby,” Rachel answered smugly. 

 

Hoots and hollers were let out all around as Toni scrambled to defend herself. 

 

“Marty is my best friend! I would never sleep with her. I’d rather fuck a tree!”

 

“Okay, ouch,” Martha frowned. 

 

“You’re saying you’d fuck me?”

 

“No…”

 

“Never mind all that, Shalifoe just admitted she’d sleep with Goodkind-”

 

“If it was between her or Marty-”

 

“This is too good,” Fatin cackled, reaching over to high five Rachel. 

 

“You better watch yourself, Jadmani,” Toni glared. 

 

“Oooh, I’m so scared,” Fatin laughed, rolling her eyes. Then she paused. “Wait, no, I was just kidding.”

 

“Too late, bitch.”

 

“Shalifoe…”

 

“Uh, is Shelby okay?” Leah whispered to Raf, seeming to be the only one not too busy laughing at Toni to notice the way Shelby was the reddest Leah had ever seen. Redder than when they had been talking about pegging that first day of school. Shelby chugged her almost full drink quickly, slamming it on the table - finally gaining people’s attention - and she filled her cup once more. 

 

“I think we should move on?” Leah suggested timidly. 

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Raf agreed, nodding at Leah. “I got one.” He scrambled over to Bo. 

 

Thank you , Leah mouthed. 

 

She didn’t know what was going on with Shelby, but she felt the urge to not let the rowdy group get a hold of her. Especially since Leah was the one to invite her. 

 

“Oh,” Bo blushed as Raf pulled away. He scratched the back of his neck shyly, eyes fluttering about. “I would have to pick Martha.”

 

“I gotchu,” Toni finished off her drink. 

 

“Jesus, is everyone going to be doing that?” Leah mumbled. 

 

“The question was which of the girls he would most want to take on a date.”

 

Another round of hoots and hollers. A few whistles, one Leah was fairly certain came from Fatin. Leah sat back, settling next to Nora as people asked each other more questions, and more people revealed themselves. Almost every answer was a person. Almost every answer was responded with a drink for the question. The group was a nosey one. 

 

Raf would rather sleep with Kirin between him and Scotty - Much to the latters offense. Martha thought Scotty was mostly likely to be scared of birds out of the group. Toni, asked again, would marry Hailee Steinfeld if she could marry any celebrity. Rachel would lick Nora’s toe if she had to lick anyone’s toe in the room. Scotty thought Rachel would win in a fight to the death between all of them (which led to an intense debate between Scotty, Rachel, and Toni). If Josh could meet any celebrity, he’d meet Spillz - whoever the fuck that was.  Shelby would pick Martha as the one person in the room she could only talk to for the rest of her life. And so on. 

 

Kirin smiled as Ivan whispered into his ear. “Leah,” He answered confidently. 

 

Fatin was already taking a drink before Leah could even think to. “Question, bitch.”

 

Leah tried not to take it too seriously, the way Fatin only drank for questions that were answered by either her or Dot’s names. She reminded herself that Fatin was lounging next to Kirin and Ivan, across the room from Leah, and a little curiosity didn’t have to mean much. 

 

“Who out of the people in this room would I let marry my daughter,” Kirin answered before Ivan could. “I’d trust Rilke. She’s cool, smart, and nice. Hella respectful. I’d trust her to date my daughter, my son, my best-”

 

“Okay,” Fatin cut in, sending Kirin a glare. “We get it, Leah’s great, we all know that already.”

 

“Do we?” Rachel slurred from her spot. 

 

“Ouch,” Leah replied, frowning at Rachel. 

 

“Nah, no, I meant - “ Rachel shrugged. “We all clearly already know those two think you’re great.” She gestured to Fatin and Kirin. Leah didn’t know what Rachel was trying to get at, but she blushed either way. 

 

“Totally,” Toni agreed. 

 

“And Raf,” Josh chimed in, red faced, leaning back in his beanbag. 

 

Leah glanced around. The alcohol seemed to be catching up to everyone. Josh especially. But hey, at least the host was having a good time. 

 

“Yeah, that’s not…” Raf murmured from his spot next to Leah he had reclaimed a while ago. They had moved from the couch to in front of the couch, leaning their backs on the bottom of it. 

 

“Somebody ask one of the quiet girls a question,” Scotty interrupted. 

 

“Don’t call them that,” Fatin flipped Scotty off before leaning into Ivan, the pair also looking close to their limits. 

 

“Yeah, Nor,” Rachel added. “Participate.”

 

“I can’t really participate if somebody doesn’t ask me a question,” Nora said, smiling in amusement. “I’m enjoying just hanging out, anyway.”

 

“C’mon, one question,” Rachel pouted, grabbing onto Nora’s hand. 

 

“Okay.”

 

“I got it!” Josh hopped up, stumbling over to Nora. “I got it.”

 

Leah waited patiently as Josh actually managed to whisper quietly enough for nobody else to hear, and watched Nora tilt her head up in thought. 

 

“I would say,” Nora started. “Leah.”

 

“Got it,” Fatin replied, she sat up easily, taking another drink. She looked Leah right in the eyes, and Leah ducked her head. 

 

Leah was starting to wonder if they should cut the game off. 

 

“The question was,” Josh announced, standing up to return to his beanbag. “Who in this room would Nora consider her best friend - outside of her twin, of course.”

 

Leah looked at Nora who was smiling back at her gently. She nudged her shoulder gently. “I’d say the same,” She said quietly. 

 

“Even with Fatin here?” Nora answered, her eyebrows raised.

 

Leah frowned in confusion. Sure, she and Fatin talked, but Leah and Nora hung out almost every day at lunch, she wouldn’t know why Nora would suggest Fatin being one of her best friends. Maybe Rachel would be a contender, but Fatin was…

 

“Got it,” Fatin called out, hearing her name somehow when Nora had spoken. 

 

“That wasn’t-” Leah said, eyes widening as she watched Fatin finish off another drink. “...A part of the game.”

 

“Why are you guys talking about me then?” 

 

“We still need to ask her a question,” Scotty was adamant. 

 

Her name is Leah, dickwad,” Fatin said. 

 

“I know that.”

 

“Do you?”

 

“I’ll ask Leah a question,” Raf cut them off. 

 

Leah watched as Fatin’s eyes narrowed before she was standing up, holding up her hand. 

 

“No,” She said, causing Raf and Leah to look at her in surprise. Toni and Dot were already giggling, and the rest of the group was drunk enough to not react much. “I want to ask Rilke a question.”

 

“Uh,” Leah looked around, eyes landing on Raf.

 

He simply shrugged with a small smile before scooting away. 

 

“Eyes here, honey.”

 

Leah felt fingers coming to her chin, directing her head to face forward, finding herself face to face with Fatin. A fairly drunk Fatin who was smiling slyly at her as she took in Leah’s face. This…This is something, Leah thought. Her skin burned where Fatin’s fingers now gently held her chin. Her face flushed where Fatin’s breath puffed against her face. Her entire body froze as Fatin hunched over her, eyes dancing across Leah’s very blushing face. She felt a swooping sensation in her gut as Fatin slowly crouched down, her hand not holding Leah’s chin was placed behind Leah’s head, braced against the couch. She smiled once more at Leah before tilting her head to speak into her ear. 

 

What was with Fatin and brushing her lips against her ear, and why did it drive Leah so crazy?

 

She hoped Fatin didn’t notice the way she shivered. But who was she kidding?

 

“Who, in this room,” Fatin began, her voice low, her lip grazing against the shell of Leah’s ear in a way that had to be on purpose. “Do you think owns the most sex toys?”

 

Fatin pulled away slowly, not removing herself from Leah’s space. She met Leah’s eyes with a raised brow, her eyes darker than usual, her eyelids drooping from the alcohol and-

 

“Got it!”

 

Leah glanced over to see Toni, Josh, and Scotty all chugging. 

 

“I already drank for it, idiots,” Rachel replied haughtily. 

 

“I-“ Leah cursed the way her voice cracked. She cleared her throat. “I haven’t even answered yet?”

 

“Yeah, but, c’mon,” Scotty laughed. “Everyone wants to know what she just whispered in your ear.”

 

“You kinda remind me of when I forget sunscreen on my daily walks-“

 

“Joshy,” Kirin cut in. “Not the time, man.”

 

“She could’ve just asked, like, my favorite artist or something,” Leah spluttered. 

 

“It’s Fatin,” Rachel deadpanned. “She didn’t ask that.”

 

“Well?” Fatin prompted, not taking her eyes off of Leah. 

 

Leah wasn’t sure if she wished she would or wouldn’t. 

 

Leah met her eyes. She felt like she was getting whiplash. Fatin stumbling upon her and Ian, them hanging out at the drinks table, abandoned at the VIP party, blushing Fatin on the couch, Fatin avoiding her after, and then…

 

She averted her gaze. “Kirin.”

 

Fatin chuckled. She seemed to have a need to throw Leah off because her head fell forward, landing on Leah’s shoulder. Her hand that had been against the couch fell to Leah’s bicep. Her fingers removed themselves from Leah’s chin and instead landed on the back of her hand. 

 

Leah’s fingers spread to allow Fatin’s between them before she could think better of it. 

 

“Nice,” Fatin mumbled into her shoulder. 

 

“What?” Leah mumbled back, willing her heart to stop feeling like it was beating out of her chest. “It’s probably true.”

 

“It’s not.”

 

“Well…”

 

“Do we get to know the question?” Ivan called out. “Or are you just gonna keep doing whatever that is?” 

 

Fatin sighed deeply, extracting herself from Leah. She flopped down next to her where Raf had been sitting before. 

 

“The question was who in this room owned the most sex toys.”

 

“Rilke,” Ivan clicked his tongue, shaking his head. “We all know that’s Fatin.”

 

“True,” Scotty agreed. 

 

“Gotta say,” Dot finally spoke. “That was pretty obvious.”

 

“Fumbled hard on that one, Rilke,” Toni said. 

 

“What sex toys would I even own?” Kirin frowned, scratching his head. 

 

“We’re not gonna touch on that one,” Ivan brushed off, shaking his head at Kirin. 

 

“Okay, okay,” Toni announced. “One more question. This one’s for Fatin.” A mischievous look crossed her features. 

 

“Keep it tame, Shalifoe,” Fatin said, actually looking a bit worried. 

 

“You’ve never been one for tame, Jadmani,” Toni scoffed. 

 

“You literally just asked Leah about sex toys,” Rachel said. 

 

“Have to agree,” Shelby gave Fatin an apologetic shrug. 

 

“Get fucked.”

 

“Shut it, Dorothy.”

 

Toni just smiled widely, an almost dopey grin, before her brow furrowed in thought. Leah watched a slightly tense Fatin watch her closely. Leah was holding her breath, along with most of the room before Toni let out a loud groan. 

 

“I can’t think of a good one right now,” Toni admitted embarrassedly. 

 

“Dude, talk about a let down,” Dot laughed. 

 

“C’mon, Shalifoe,” Kirinf groaned. 

 

“Boo!” Rachel and Scotty called out immediately. 

 

Even Josh was giving a thumbs down. 

 

“Whatever,” Toni muttered before throwing her hands up. “Are you a top or a bottom?”

 

“Depends on the girl,” Fatin answered easily. 

 

“What do you find physically attractive in a partner?”

 

“Height. Eyes- You’re not supposed to be saying these out loud, you dumb bitch,” Fatin laughed, leaning back against the couch. 

 

“Ugh,” Toni flopped down, frowning deeply. “I was supposed to get my payback.”

 

“That’s what you get, boozy,” Matha chided, putting down her water. “I think it’s time to call it a night.”

 

“Yeah,” Kirin yawned, stretching his arms over his head. “Not to be a downer, but I gotta start herding people out of here. We’ve left the masses unattended for too long.”

 

Josh sprang up. “Oh my God,” He paled. “I totally forgot other people were here.”

 

“I kinda did too,” Bo looked up thoughtfully. 

 

“Anyone sleeping here, get comfy. The rest of you with DD’s, stick around if you want, but also,” He pointed toward Nora. “Drive safe, my friends.”

 

Nora nodded, smiling slightly before standing and pulling Rachel to her feet. Leah took that as her cue. 

 

She glanced toward Fatin who had her head leaned back,and her eyes closed with a slight smile on her face. 

 

“Hey, uh,” Leah started. 

 

Fatin cracked open an eye, raising a brow at Leah. 

 

“I think we’re headed out.”

 

Fatin nodded slowly, lulling her head to the side to look at Leah more fully. “I’m glad you came.”

 

Leah paused. “Are you?” She asked, insecurity in her voice. 

 

Fatin frowned before turning toward Leah with the rest of her body. “Of course I am.”

 

“Right,” Leah chewed on her lip, glancing at Nora and Rachel from the corner of her eye. They waited patiently by the door. “I wasn’t sure.”

 

“Shit,” Fatin breathed out. “I- No, I was, I am very happy you showed up.”

 

“Okay,” Leah smiled slightly. 

 

She still felt unsure. Fatin had been so confusing all night, she really wasn’t sure where they stood. 

 

“I’ll text you,” Fatin said, trying to meet Leah’s eyes. “So we can get ice cream?”

 

“You’re lactose intolerant.” 

 

Fatin shrugged. “It’s fine.”

 

Leah smiled a bit wider. “Is it?”

 

“Are you gonna question everything I say?” Fatin teased. 

 

Leah shrugged, finally standing. She shuffled for a moment, a bit nervous under Fatin’s lazy gaze. 

 

“Are you gonna make me have to?” Leah said, unsure of where that came from. Why she said it. Shit was that too serious? 

 

Fatin was still, eyes dancing across Leah’s face. “I-“ She clasped her hands in her lap. “I’m always pretty straightforward, don’t you think?”

 

“In a way,” Leah replied. 

 

It probably wasn’t a conversation to have while drunk. Leah wasn’t even sure what she was asking, what she wanted, what she expected Fatin to say. 

 

“I’ll work on that,” Fatin gave a timid smile. 

 

Leah felt a bit lighter. 

 

“Okay, cool,” Leah glanced toward the twins, Rachel looking a little less patient with every passing moment. “Anything you want me to work on?“ She added awkwardly.

 

Fatin laughed. “Nah, you’re perfect.” There went the goddamn blush again. 

 

“Okay, cool,” Leah said again. “Yeah, okay, text me. I’ll see you later?”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” Fatin saluted her sluggishly. 

 

“Okay,” Leah said once again before turning away. “Bye then.”

 

She made it to the twins, Rachel looking half asleep and Nora offering an apologetic smile. She was just about to follow them out when Fatin called out again. 

 

“Rilke, Leah,” She said. “You look really nice tonight.”

 

Leah paused in the doorway. Her fingers tapped against the door, a smile hurting her cheeks, and she looked back. Fatin was looking at her with a small smile. No wink. No raised brow. No smirk. 

 

“You do too.”