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I Don't Date Closet Cases

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“Why do you always do that?” Teru asks, leaning the weight of her head on the palm of her hand, elbow resting on the small, round bar table between them. Mei had just gotten back from chatting at the bar with Mike, and the smile dropped from her face as soon as Teru’s words caught up with her.

“Always do what?” she huffed, words short and cold. Mei knew what Teru was talking about, but it was the elephant in the room that Mei was going to ignore no matter how many times it was brought up.

“You know very well what, Ms. ‘I-Don’t-Date-Closet-Cases.’” Teru quipped, and it annoyed Mei how amusing Teru found all this. “Flirting with Mike all the time. Mike, the girl currently dating a boy and steadfast in her conviction she likes men, despite finding a new one every week because she won’t bed any of them.”

“What’s the harm? I’m just helping her realize what she actually wants. And you can’t tell me she doesn’t want girls, not with how much she loves to get touchy feely with all of us when she’s blackout drunk.”

“There’s harm in making her like you when you won’t date her.”

Teru was right about that, and Mei hates admitting Teru is right and she’s wrong.

“Unless, of course, you want to date her. Which would be why you’re trying so hard to pry her out of the closet instead of letting her come to that conclusion on her own.”

“Oh please, we both know she won’t come to that conclusion on her own, she probably just thinks she hasn’t found the right guy, or that she doesn’t like sex, or something,” Mei snorted.

“Someone being too dense to realize their own sexuality has never bothered you before.” And Teru was right about that too. Issei was still firmly clinging to the conviction that she wasn't gay despite her very obvious attraction to Junjun. It’s just a fluke, she would always say whenever you got enough alcohol in her to even admit that the desire existed. They all knew that was bullshit, though, because before Junjun it was Haru, and before that it was Kazuki. The only difference this time was is that it happened because Junjun liked her first and wasn't shy about pursuing that interest.

Mei thought it was hilarious. That was solely because Issei didn’t date guy after guy in a vain attempt to prove her heterosexuality, or rather, lack of homosexuality to herself. She had remained unwaveringly single as long as Mei had known her.

Mike, on the other hand, had a new ‘boyfriend’ (if that’s what you could call them) nearly every week. It wasn’t so much to prove anything to herself, or anyone else as it was that Mike didn’t like being single. The problem with it was that some of the guys Mike ‘dated’ weren’t exactly trustworthy by any standards because most of them wanted Mike for her tits rather than her personality. Mei was simply worried that one of those assholes would try something someday when their patience with Mike wore thin. She told Teru as much.

“Mike’s not the kind to fall for that crap, though, and you know it.” Mei remembers that she hates hanging out with Teru on group nights, because Teru always talks sense and won’t take any of Mei’s excuses. “She's never even in a place alone with these guys specifically to avoid them getting too handsy with her.”

“That’s not-”

“Have either of you noticed that Mike’s new boyfriend looks shockingly like Mei?”

Both Teru and Mei nearly jump out of their skin as Junjun seems to appear from nowhere, suddenly at one side of the table without either of them having seen her approach.

“What are you talking about?” Mei snaps, lips full pout with all this talk of boyfriends. The word felt slimy even when she didn’t have to say it out loud.

“Over there at the bar with her now. He’s turned to the side and you can glimpse his face a bit,” Junjun says, displaying her usual lack of social etiquette by pointing openly.

“Could you not?” Mei hissed and lowered Junjun’s arms despite the dim lighting, smoky haze and slim chance of anyone actually noticing or caring who or what Junjun was pointing at. Mei wasn’t going to look, anyway, because she didn’t care what Mike’s male thing looked like regardless.

Teru was looking, though.

“Wow, holy shit, you’re right.”

“She is not.”

“No, seriously, the guy’s got the same shade of blond as you and his nose is near exactly the same,” Teru says, her eyebrows raised as she looks back down at her drink and sips it. Mei’s head snaps over, if only for an opportunity to point out how wrong they both were.

A moment later, she’s snorting and turning back to glare down at the table. “My skin is way better than his.”

“You’re not saying he doesn’t resemble you, though.”

Mei really hated group nights. Especially group nights out when Mike brought her beau of the week.

 

 

“Are you alright?”

Mei snaps out of her daze. “Hm?”

“You’ve been glaring at your coffee as if it’s just said something unsavory about your mother for the last two minutes.” One of Mike’s eyebrows is raised and it’s clear she’s trying to draw a laugh and dispel whatever mood Mei seems to be in.

“Oh,” Mei says intelligently, then follows it with a slight laugh a moment too late, “Sorry, didn’t get enough sleep last night, I’m out of it.”

“Princess Mei hasn’t been getting her full amount of beauty sleep? Something is definitely up,” Mike jokes, a smile stretching her lips and wrinkling the corners or her eyes cutely. It’s momentary, dropping to something more neutral before Mike speaks again. “What troubles her highness enough to be losing sleep?”

Mei considers the question for moment, and it’s silent between them except the click of Mei’s heels on pavement as they walked and the background noise of main road traffic.

“Nothing important,” she settles on eventually, raising her sweet, chocolatey excuse for coffee to her lips for a sip. It’s an iced drink despite the chilly early fall weather already sinking into her bones.

“Anything that’s making sleep elusive isn’t nothing,” Mike insists, eyebrows furrowing this time in genuine concern, “You can talk to me, y’know,” Mei simply hums and focuses her gaze ahead and they fall into silence again.

Eventually, Mike nudged Mei’s side with her elbow.

“I’m serious. What’s up? It’s not like you to be so quiet and to not be sleeping well on top of it. I’m worried.” Mei sighed.

“I just don’t like the guy you’re dating right now, is all. He gives me the willies and he smells gross.” Mike snorted.

“Is that all?”

“What do you mean ‘is that all?’ He’s sleazy! I don’t know how you can stand to be next to him, let alone kiss him.”

“Hmm, I can’t really.”

“Then why are you dating him?” Mei can’t help some of the bitterness that leaks into her tone.

“I don’t know?”

“Eugh!” Mei stomps ahead. It was frustrating how passive Mike was about all this, about how gross so many of the guys that approached her were.

“Mei, wait!” Mike called, and Mei would hear the hurried shuffle of Mike’s loafers and she sped up twice as much as mei to try and make up for the difference in their strides. “He’ll be gone in like, two days tops, why does it matter so much?”

“I don’t get that either! Why are you with him if he’s just going to be gone by the end of the week? What’s the point? You don’t like him, you don’t want anything from him - you pay for yourself on dates, for God’s sake! - and he’s got the personality of a bag of month-old trash. And it’s not just him, it was the guy before him, and the guy before that, and before that. I can’t even remember any of their names!”

“Why are you so upset about this?” Mike didn’t sound mad at Mei for all her questions and frustration channeled unfairly and Mike, and it killed Mei.

“I just- I don’t see the point in dating a bunch of unbearable men and dragging them places with your friends when they’re not even going to be a permanent fixture in your life. I don’t get why you’re dating all the time when you don’t even want anything out of a relationship with a man.”

Mei’s wording was deliberate, but she knew by Mike’s confused silence that it was lost on her. She sighed again, her annoyance ebbing into something a little more sad.

“Forget I said anything. I’m just tired and everything is annoying, and you know I don’t like men anyway.”

 

 

“I swear I’m going to end up ripping my nails off if he grabs her ass one more time. And if that happens I’m sticking them in his eye sockets and stealing his wallet, I just got these done today and they weren’t cheap.” Mei was, in fact, picking at the nails she’d had glued on and painted just earlier that day, mostly to deal with the building rage she felt as she glared daggers towards the bar where Mike was standing with her latest boy toy. Kanna rolled her eyes at it all. Mei hated having fake nails, anyway, it would be a miracle if they lasted the next two days without this added stressor.

“Why don’t you just sweep Mike off her feet already so you don’t have to deal with sleazy beau after sleazy beau?” Kanna suggested, and Teru didn’t try to hide her amused laugh at the look at death directed at Kanna next.

“I don’t want - It’s not - He’s just gross, don’t you dare imply I’m mad because I’m jealous or something equally stupid.”

“But you are,” Teru said, and Mei hated how matter-of-factly she said it.

“I’m not, I just - Shut up. I just don’t like men and I especially don’t like them getting touchy-feely with my friends that don’t like getting touched and felt.”

“I’ll go say something to him,” Junjun volunteered, and was up and making a beeline towards them before Mei could protest.

“Junjun, don’t you dare! JUNJUN!” It was too late, Junjun was out of earshot, twisting her way through the crowd of dancing bodies between their table and the bar.

“Have you noticed that this one looks like Mei, too?” Teru comments to Kanna, but she speaks loud enough so Mei can hear. It’s not an idea she wants to entertain, hasn’t since Junjun said something of the like nearly a month ago, so Mei stays focused on watching Junjun as she approached the couple standing (too close) together at the bar.

“Haven’t the last like, three looked like Mei? Although I will admit that it’s getting progressively more obvious. This one is basically a cisswapped spitting image, down to the laugh. It’s creepy.” Kanna speaks just as loudly. “His personality is dry as hell though, have you tried to have a conversation with him? The resemblance is entirely in the face.”

In a very Junjun-typical manner, Junjun squeezes her way between Mike and bf number, what must be at least, 100 instead of approaching like a normal person. Junjun is pretty tall and doesn’t have to look up to make eye contact with the man, at a rather uncomfortable distance that Junjun is completely oblivious too. The man, however, backs away a few feet, because despite being about as gentle in manner as an old dog, Junjun had a bit of an intimidating appearance.

Mei can’t hear Kanna and Teru talking anymore in favor of trying to focus all her attention on reading Junjun’s lips with little success. All she knew was Junjun was saying something to the man with a classic resting bitch face before he nodded and stormed off. Despite her misgivings about Junjun going over there, she felt a slow-seeping satisfaction seeing him run off like that.

Until Junjun turns to Mike and starts talking that is.

“Oh, no, no, no,” Mei mumbles, and jumps from her seat to stop whatever Junjun is doing in it’s tracks. Except Kanna and Teru are grabbing her wrists and pulling her back down before she can get very far.

“What is your deal? Chill out,” Kanna sighs, refusing to let go of Mei’s wrist because she knows Mei will be up as soon as she does.

“I want to know what Junjun is saying, though.”

“Is it really that big of a deal? You’re not Mike’s only friend, you don’t have to monitor all her conversations,” Teru points out.

“I know that,” Mei snaps, “But what if -” She stops.

“What if…?” Teru prompts, and her amused tone annoys Mei.

“Nothing,” Mei spits, wrenching her wrists out of Teru and Kanna’s grip to fold her arms over her chest, face turning sour. “It’s none of my business, they can talk about whatever they want.”

“Right,” Teru says, and Mei hates that she hears all the implications in Teru’s tone and that every single one of them is right as she turns to watch Junjun and Mike talk, unease settling into her stomach when Mike glances directly at her, only for a moment.

 

 

For once, Issei was Mei’s saving grace.

Not that Issei was actually solving any of Mei’s current inner turmoil that she wouldn’t admit to herself she had, but rather Issei’s reclusiveness came in handy for once when she complained that their entire group had been going out way too much lately. Not to say hanging out wasn’t fun (in Mei’s opinion; Issei was probably more than okay with hanging out less often), but it was annoying to dress up and go out to seedy, smoky bars and get hit on by slimy men all night when all Issei wanted to do was stay in and watch Netflix.

For this reason, they were all gathered in (a begrudging) Issei’s tiny apartment, squeezed on her loveseat, arm chair or floor in more or less a massive heap. Mei had snagged a spot on the loveseat on Junjun’s right, but the way Junjun had been leaning into Issei on her left and whispering in her ear for the last five minutes made Mei strongly considering moving to the floor lest one of their playful (read: flirty) push fights breakout and she be caught in the midst of it.

But that would mean giving up the way Mike was currently clutching her calf and hiding her face in Mei’s knee every time the on-screen psychological thriller got too intense. Mei would wait until the flirting actually started before she moved.

The best part of it all is the distinct lack of men (besides Tsubame, but he wasn’t slimy so he was tolerable), particularly, Mike’s boyfriend of the week. Mei’s only concern in that department was that she hadn’t heard about the new one yet. As annoying as her last one was, Mei was near certain anyone would be better than him.

Somehow, Junjun and Issei’s pushing managed to stay relatively civil until the credits for the movie rolled. Mei took the opportunity to jump up and stretch, just in time to avoid a lapful of Junjun as Issei shoved her down roughly on the couch. Just a fluke, my ass, she thought, not lost to the smile stretching Issei’s face despite her attempts to act pissed off at Junjun’s antics, or the way Junjun’s hands landed on Issei’s waist and held her delicately. If the tension between them (entirely on Issei’s part) didn’t break by the end of the night Mei would eat her favorite pair of shoes.

Her attention was pulled away from the borderline sickening (almost) couple by a tug on the string of her pajama shorts. “Meimei.”

Mei looked down at Mike, the one beckoning her attention, tilting her head to acknowledge she’d heard.

“I’m not dating boys anymore.” Mei froze. Had she heard that right? “Or I guess, that’s to say, I realized I don’t like boys.”

Mei wasn’t the only one listening now. Everyone in the room already knew what Mike was going to say next, but even Junjun and Issei stopped for a moment as everyone turned to Mike.

“Geez, why do you all have to look at me like that? I just want to say outloud that I’m gay, I guess. I’m sure none of you are shocked.”

“We’re not.” Oh, that’s rich coming from Issei, “It was kind of obvious. Anyway, what should we watch now? That movie was the only thing that had my interest, you guys pick something.” She was back to trying to ignore Junjun. Typical. Mei is glad she didn’t make the eating-her-shoes comment aloud.

Mei nudged Mike with her foot, silently asking her to scoot over so Mei could settle on the floor, not really wanting to chance another round of rough-housing between the pair on the loveseat.

It felt the same as always to settle down on the floor and raise her arm to tuck Mike close to her side, though somehow, it was more relaxed. But there was an underlying and nearly intangible tension there, too, something different from the strain that had been present before.

 

 

It’s been two weeks and absolutely nothing has happened. That nothingness in and of itself was a lot.

To see Mike go from dating someone new nearly every week without fail to dating absolutely no one for the past two weeks (three? She hadn’t had a boyfriend the week she came out, either, had she...) is the kind of change that’s jarring and a bit uncomfortable, even if all persons witnessing know it’s for the better. Of course, Mei figures, there’s a period of time Mike needs to adjust to the realization that she doesn’t like men, but rather women.

Discovering your sexuality (or lack thereof, or romantic attraction) can be a lot of things, from exciting to devastating, but Mei figures Mike stands more on the middle of the scale; somewhere between shocked, uncomfortable, and relieved. She needs to grow used to the idea of liking women and explore the territory a bit on her own, of course she wouldn’t be dating any girls right away.

It still ate at Mei that it was approaching a month since Mike had dated someone. She hadn’t been comfortable with or desired men and still dated them, but that wasn’t exactly the reason it bothered Mei so much.

‘Have either of you noticed that Mike’s new boyfriend looks shockingly like Mei?’
‘The guy’s got the same shade of blond as you and his nose is near exactly the same.’
‘Have you noticed that this one looks like Mei, too?’
‘Haven’t the last like, three looked like Mei?’

All the comments that, at the time, had only pissed Mei off came back to haunt her. She had adamantly denied them, and still would if they were brought up again, but that didn’t mean she didn’t see the truth in them. It had created an expectation, not just for her she knew. Despite the only problem in the way of it being realized being eliminated, the expectation wasn’t being met and Mei would be lying if she said it wasn’t disheartening.

There was also the question of what the hell had sparked Mike’s sudden epiphany, taking into consideration the fact that she’d spent her entire life almost miraculously unaware of her attraction to women. The answer to the question was indubitably with Junjun.

Junjun was currently seated across from Mei in their favorite Starbucks, still in her pajamas and sunglasses on; Mei wasn’t even sure she was actually awake. Usually in moments like this Mei would be questioning exactly why they were best friends again, but her nerves were so worn down she didn’t have the time to feel disgust at Junjun’s complete lack of fashion sense.

Mei had just finished spilling her guts about the Mike Dilemma to Junjun, and the silence had stretched on about fifteen seconds too long for Mei’s liking.

“Junjun!” she shouted, snapping her fingers in front of Junjun’s face. Junjun turned her head, finally in the direction of Mei instead of staring blankly behind her. “What is your problem? Usually you’re at least listening even if you don’t look like it.” Junjun pouted at her, and Mei sighed. It wasn’t often that Junjun was actually distracted by something so much that she zoned out completely, and there was no way Mei was going to get anything out of her before it got out of Junjun’s system.

“What’s got your head so far in the clouds you’ve lost sight of the ground?” Mei asks, patting Junjun’s cheek to make sure she was still listening.

“Issei rejected me.” Okay. That was hardly anything new.

“Doesn’t she do that on a daily basis?”

“It’s different this time, Mei. She basically said there’s no chance ever no matter how much I try.”

“That’s...Junjun, she’s always like that. She’s a self-proclaimed misanthropist who loves to make things hard for you just as much as she does herself. That’s never stopped you before.”

“She said romantic love is a trap to expand the capitalist system. She hates capitalism and by extension hates romantic love, Mei, she’s never going to date me.”

“Junjun.”

“I like her so much, I don’t know what to do? I thought she was going to cave eventually, because everyone keeps telling me she likes me, and she seems like she likes me sometimes, but-”

“Junjun.”

“-everyone was wrong, Mei, and she probably isn’t even capable of liking anyone, let alone me, oh my God-”

“Junjun, shut up.”

When Junjun shows no sign of obeying Mei’s command, Mei reaches over again and forcibly shuts Junjun’s mouth.

“Stop it. First of all, Issei says shit that she doesn’t follow through with all the time, particularly when it comes to disliking people and not doing things for them. Secondly, Issei has admitted several times, in moments of drunken honesty, the she does like you, and that she’s liked people before you, and no amount of denying her feelings erases that. Okay?”

Mei lets go of Junjun’s jaw long enough for Junjun to nod, but goes right back to holding it when Junjun opens her mouth to say something.

“No, I’m not done. You should know as much as I do - everyone does - that if Issei’s going to betray her beyond-ridiculous hate of capitalism to date someone, it’d be for you. Don’t even think about saying that’s not true. She’s got it so bad for you and that’s the only reason she even said whatever bullshit about capitalist love traps to begin with; she knows you know, and she’s weak for you, and she wants to throw you off long enough to build her defenses back up. It’s an endless cycle of growing too affectionate for her liking, and dampening your spirit long enough to convince herself it’s not worth it before you come back and make her doubt that conviction. She’s scared of emotions that aren’t purely sexual attraction or hatred and you make her feel a lot of them.”

Mei still can’t see Junjun’s eyes, but she knows by the way Junjun’s posture loosens that her words make sense and quell all the worries that had been racing through Junjun’s mind since Issei had pushed her away.

“Now, what did you say to Mike?” And Mei knows by Junjun’s smile that she knows exactly what conversation Mei is referring to.

“The same thing I said to you,” Junjun says as if that explains it all, as if Mei’s supposed to know what that means. Junjun has said a lot of things to Mei, and Mei isn’t as smart as Junjun is, she can’t figure out what exact thing Junjun means just by her tone or the context of the conversation like Junjun can.

“What. Thing.” Mei means it as a question, but her patience has grown so thin in regards to Mike related stress that it comes out sounding like a demand that faces consequences if not met.

“That her boyfriends all look like you.” Mei stares at her. “And I also kind of told her she gets a little gropey when she’s drunk. Especially with you.”

“I hate you.”

“I was expecting something more along the lines of, ‘Thank you, Junjun, for making my biggest supposed-straight-girl crush since 11th grade realize she’s gay and in love with me.’”

“I hate you, oh my GOD. Junjun! She hasn’t - I don’t have a crush on her. She hasn’t even said anything to me since she came out to everyone-”

“No, not everyone. She came out to you. It just so happened everyone else was listening.”

“She wouldn’t have done it when everyone was there if she didn’t want everyone to know-”

“She does want everyone to know, but she wants you to know in particular. She was looking at you when she said it. She only bothered to get your attention when she wanted to say it.”

“That’s probably just because I’m the only other lesbian, I’m the easiest to say it to. And that doesn’t change the fact that she hasn’t said anything about it to me since that night.”

“She was dating guys that looked like you and stopped dating guys altogether when it was pointed out to her, what more proof do you need-”

“She hasn’t said anything to me-”

“Because she doesn’t want you to think you’re some experiment to confirm her suspicion that she’s gay, Mei, geez. It’s also maybe kind of a lot to realize you’ve been subconsciously seeking out partners that look like one of your best friends because you find them attractive and don’t even realize it. How long do you think it would take you to come to terms with the fact that you feel a friendly love for someone and very suddenly and unexpectedly realized you think they’re hot? Particularly a friend who ‘doesn’t date closet cases’ that you don’t think has even the slimmest chance of liking you?”

“But everyone else knows I’m full of shit when I say that,” Mei mumbles, hating to admit out loud that she’s not steadfast in her proclaimed lack of interest in closeted women, however indirectly it may be. “And I flirt with her all the time, it’s got to be obvious.”

“To me? Absolutely. To Teru and Kanna? Definitely. To Mike? She thinks you’re just treating her the same you do me, even though to me it’s obvious that you treat us very differently.” Junjun pats Mei’s hand that rested on the table top. “Just give it time, okay? It won’t be that long, she just needs to figure herself out and find a way to swoon you.”

Mei hates it when other people are right and she’s wrong.

 

 

“Mei!” Mike yells excitedly when Mei picks up her phone, so loud Mei pulls it several inches away from her face in surprise.

“You sound like you’re in a good mood,” Mei comments, bringing the phone close to her again but not quite to her ear just in case Mike isn’t done shouting.

“I’m just happy to talk to you, we haven’t really been able to talk much recently,” Mike explains at a much more acceptable volume. “I’ve missed you!”

Mei’s stomach somersaults at the admission, Junjun’s words from the previous day running through her mind for the hundredth time.

“Anyway, catching up on the phone isn’t exactly what I had in mind, I mostly just wanted to hear your voice.” Was Mike flirting with Mei or was that just the hope Junjun had reinflated making her read too much into what she was saying? “Do you want to go out to dinner with me tonight?”

“Totally.” Mei sounds more composed than she feels, heart nearly hammering just because of a few words that could hardly be considered more than friendly over the phone. Mei was becoming seriously lame.

“Great. I’ll come pick you up later, I’ll text you first.”

“Sounds good.”

 

 

Mei realizes a tad belatedly when she opens the door to see Mike sans glasses dressed sharply in a button up, black slacks, and dress shoes with the lapels of her double-breasted coat folded down neatly that when Mike had asked her to dinner, she had meant a dinner date. All the butterflies she’d willed away after hanging up the phone earlier came back with a vengeance. She was just thankful she was wearing a simple enough dress to pass as dressy.

“What’s this?” Mei asked coyly as she tugged her scarf in a pretense of tightening, but was more a habit of nerves before turning to lock her door behind her. “You’ve dressed so nicely, is this just for me?”

“I could ask the same of you, princess,” Mike replies, and Mei’s heart rate speeds up when she turns back to Mike to see her eyes are on definitely on Mei’s legs. She hadn’t really expected something as forward as that, date aside, after the period of nothing.

“You know as well as I do that a short dress and heels are as casual to me as a onesie and crocs are to Junjun, darling.” Mei wants to hit herself for the pet name, but it had slipped off her tongue without thought because it just felt like it belonged in that moment. It became less regrettable when it tugged a smile from Mike.

“That’s fair,” Mike agrees, looking up at Mei’s face, “Although sometimes I wish you would skip the heels. I already look short enough next to you without them.” They both laugh, and it’s soothing.

 

 

Dinner feels both like a date and not at all; Mei can’t remember ever being so comfortable on a date despite her nervousness, but it’s impossible not to be when it’s Mike. Flirtatious banter comes as easy as breathing between them, and it feels electrifying that it isn’t one-sided for the first time since Mei had started doing it.

They squabble momentarily over the check, Mei saying immediately she would pay her own half, but Mike talking right over her and insisting it be one check and that Mike be the one to pay. Mei loves it, because it was both Mike trying to woo her and just in Mike’s nature to be pushy about paying for dates.

“Walk with me?” Mike says when they’ve stepped out of the restaurant, offering her arm. Mei takes it as silent acceptance of the invitation despite the fall chill biting at her bare legs in protest.

“I must say that I’m curious,” Mike begins when they’ve started walking in the direction opposite of where Mike’s car was parked, set on walking around the block once to talk some more before going home. “Were you as aware as Junjun of how much my last several boyfriends resembled you?”

The question caught Mei off guard, not having expected such blatant acknowledgement of the thing that had been eating at her insides the past few weeks.

“Hmmm, not at first,” Mei says, and it’s not completely a lie; she’d been pretending not to notice it for a while. “But it became kind of glaring with that last guy. And then you decided you didn’t like men at all and I thought maybe Junjun was right.”

“Ah, so you knew this was coming then?” Mike says, looking down at the sidewalk sheepishly as they turned the corner.

“Not really,” Mei laughed, bumping shoulders with her. “I’d kind of lost hope on it after two weeks. At least, until Junjun pointed out that it’d look kinda bad on your part to come out as lesbian and then ask your lesbian friend on a date in the same breath. Still, I wasn’t expecting it. I kind of figured you might go for other girls because you realized you only liked my face or something.”

“I don’t,” Mike said quickly, looking up and right back down when she realized what that sounded like. “I mean, I do, obviously, but it’s not just your face. I don’t make a habit of keeping friends just because they’re pretty. I like you as a whole, not just in parts.”

“Did you realize it suddenly or is it the reason it took you three weeks to ask me out?” Mei couldn’t help but ask.

“Both?” Mike sounded unsure of the answer. “I mean, there was the sudden realization that I liked looking at you, sure, but I wasn’t sure if it...went beyond that.” Her voice quickly became embarrassed at the implication behind her words. “I mean, I knew that liking you romantically wasn’t really a question, but I didn’t know about the whole sexual bit.”

It makes sense, Mei thinks, because this entire time she knew Mike probably figured she just didn’t desire sex. For all Mei knows, she doesn’t. It’s not like asexuality was an anomaly or something Mei wasn’t prepared to accept.

“What about now?” Mei prompts as they rounded another corner.

“I’m not completely sure,” Mike admits with a laugh, “but the thought of experimenting with it doesn’t make my skin crawl like the thought of doing the same with a man does, so I think that’s indicative of something. And I do enjoy looking at more than your face.” Again with the unexpected forwardness.

“Yeah? Like what?” Mei asks with a laugh, enjoying the embarrassed cough from Mike at the equally unexpected question.

“You know you have killer legs.”

“Mm, so I’ve been told,” Mei responds, much too pleased for Mike’s liking, and she decides to take mercy and change the topic to something more mundane before they round the final corner and arrive at Mike’s car.

“Your highness,” Mike says, grandiose in the way she opens the passenger door. Mei laughs and gets in the car.

“Thank you, stooge,” Mei says playfully, laughing even harder at Mike’s face of mock-offense at the name before she closes the door and walks around the car to get behind the wheel. Once she starts the car and pulls out onto the road proper, Mike hesitates for a moment, chewing her lip as if thinking very hard about something, before she takes Mei’s hand in her own that isn’t on the wheel. Mei loves it.

 

 

It wasn’t really necessary, but Mike insisted on walking Mei to her door. The butterflies that had subsided throughout dinner and their walk returned as Mei unlocked her door, intense to the point of being almost unbearable when Mei turned back to bid Mike goodnight.

“Well, goodnight then?” It sounded unsure and Mei felt silly. “Don’t forget to text me when you get home safe.” Mike rolls her eyes and Mei’s worry.

“I doubt much harm will befall me, princess,” Mike says, then sinks her teeth into her bottom lip for a moment as she stares at Mike’s collar instead of her eyes. In a flash, she’s leaning up as far as her tiptoes will take her and placing a soft kiss on Mei’s cheek, before rushing to say, “Goodnight,” and trying to scurry down the steps and to the safety of her car.

Mike hasn’t even managed to turn around and take a full step before Mei grabbed the lapels of her coat and pulled her back, pulled her close and leaned down to kiss her properly on the mouth. She held it only a moment longer than Mike’s kiss on the cheek before pulling away, feeling satisfied when Mike mindlessly licks her own lips.

“Goodnight,” Mei says again, smoothing down the ruffled lapels and letting go of Mike. “Text me.”

“Goodnight,” Mike says, a second later than she meant to as Mei had already turned to open her door.