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tough girls on the mend

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Leighton thinks it might be a whole Big Conversation, but it’s almost shocking how naturally it comes up. 

Well, not that shocking, given that Bela is, well, Bela. 

“So I think at first glance, Andrew Garfield is obviously the hottest, but Tom Holland has his charm, you know, he’s a little cutie you could just stick in your pocket. But the wildcard here is Tobey. Like, Spider-Man 3 Tobey when he’s unhinged, I bet he’s into some weird shit. Anyway, that’s my take, which Spider-Man would you bone?”

Leighton isn’t sure whether to laugh or vacate the common room.

Instead she just says simply, “none of them. I don’t want to fuck any Spider-Men.” 

“Not even Andrew?” 

Leighton rolls her eyes. She breathes in, then just lets it fall out of her mouth. 

“If I had to pick anyone from the franchise, sign me up for Zendaya.”

Bela looks at her for a second, then nods. 

“Alright, I respect it. Good choice.”

“Good choice? That’s your only reaction?”

“Look, everyone wants to fuck Zendaya, it’s a known fact.”

“Yeah, but I want to fuck her because—because she is a woman and I—I exclusively like women.”

It hangs between them for a half a second that feels like hours. Then Bela just grins. 

“Hell yeah, dude. Is this a new thing, or a you’ve known for a long time thing?”

Leighton breathes out. “The second one.”

“Sick. Good for you. I can totally keep it on the DL if you don’t wanna spread it around.” 

“Yeah,” Leighton says, oddly touched, “I’m trying—I’m not trying to actively hide it anymore—I just—I don’t want it to define me.”

“Leighton,” Bela says, hand finding Leighton’s. Leighton braces herself for some sappy both my parents are present in my life shit. But Bela looks straight into her eyes and says, “no matter who you fuck, you will always be defined, first and foremost, as a huge cunt.”

A laugh bursts out of Leighton’s chest. 

“Speaking of—” Bela nudges Leighton’s shoulder. “How is it?”

“How is what?”

“Getting cunt, bitch! Tell me about it. Does it feel better to go down on someone, or for her to go down on you? Or do you do it both at the same time? I feel like 69-ing would be way better with two girls. Because I tried it one time and keeping a dick in your mouth while getting eaten out is hard, pun definitely intended—”

“Yeah, okay, this conversation is over.”



Co-ed bathrooms were a mistake. Or, just the idea of communal bathrooms. Or, honestly, any bathrooms where she can be accosted by Travis monologuing about some twink from an improv troupe he is in love with. 

“So then after the show, he invited me to go out with the team, but then I found out everyone was invited.”

Leighton tries to brush her teeth faster, but she is unfortunately committed to her dental hygiene and her two minutes aren’t up yet. 

“And the tea is," Travis continues, "he is giving me bottom energy, so that would be a point of contention if we ever get further.”

Leighton spits, rinses her mouth at lightning speed.

“Travis, please, I cannot emphasize how much I don’t want to hear about any detail your potential sexual escapades.”

“Okay, you don’t have to be homophobic about it.”

Leighton glares at him. Then it’s out of her mouth before she can even think of it. 

“Can’t be homophobic if I’m gay, can I?”

Travis furrows his brow. 

“But you’re not.”

Leighton shrugs, her lungs tight and loose at the same time. 

“Who knows? Maybe I am.” Her heart is beating too fast for a conversation with someone she literally never thinks about. She quickly deflects, “you’re definitely a bottom, though, don’t kid yourself.”

Travis hangs his head. 

“I know.” He looks at her then, eyes very knowing for a person who Leighton regularly hears singing off-key Shawn Mendes from down the hall. “And hey, I don’t know if you’re fucking with me or not, but if you’re not… that’s very brave of you.”

Leighton scoffs. “I’m not fucking brave, Travis I’m—” she takes a breath in, swallows down whatever is rising in her throat. “Whatever. Brave is trying to date a man on an improv team.”



Leighton is just trying to enjoy her flavorless dining hall breakfast as much as one can, but, of course, why would it be that simple? She can’t help the anxiety and the spark she refuses to name that rises in her throat when she spots a familiar 5’2” figure across the dining hall.

“What the fuck is she doing here?”

Whitney turns around at their table.

“What the fuck is who doing here?”

“No one,” Leighton says instinctually. “I just—someone I don’t want to see.”

Whitney just nods, doesn’t press, which is why Whitney is probably Leighton’s favorite roommate. 

“You’re my favorite roommate,” she tells her now, just for fun. 

“Hey!” Kimberly says from Whitney’s side. “That’s like, your choice to make, totally. But, ow.”

“Yeah, what the fuck!” Bela exclaims, before looking around. “So who’s here who shouldn’t be?”

Leighton sighs, looks over at Alicia loading her plate with on-campus hashbrowns she is not entitled to. Leighton looks back to Whitney, the only one of them who doesn’t know yet. Which is kind of fucked, given that she’s Leighton’s self proclaimed favorite roommate. 

“She’s kind of—kind of my ex.”

Whitney raises her eyebrows.

“Alright, good to know,” she says, before smiling warmly right into Leighton’s fucking soul. Then her eyes flick back to Alicia. “So do we hate her or what?”

Leighton exhales. 

“Not to be cliched, but—”

“Oh bitch,” Bella interrupts, “don’t you dare say it’s complicated.”

“Sometimes things are complicated!” Kimberly protests. 

“Exactly,” Leighton says. Maybe Kimberly is her favorite roommate. 

“Nah, I’m with Bela,” Whitney says. “Fuck that bitch, she’s not good enough for—oh shit, she’s coming closer.”


“I’ve got this,” Bella says confidently, before cooing, far louder than she should, “Leeeighton! That was soooo funny.”

“Oh no,” Leighton whispers, as Bella’s hand rubs up her arm. Dear god. 

Bela tosses her hair and Alicia comes closer and Leighton might die. 

Whitney has started laughing and Kimberly is looking anywhere that’s not at Bela.

“Bela, abort,” Whitney manages to get out through her chuckles. Then, right as Alicia passes them by, Whitney says seriously, “Leighton, I would say it’s crazy how much tail you’re getting, but you are the hottest person I know, so.”

Leighton raises her eyebrows. Alicia doesn’t look at them, but Leighton sees her posture slightly stiffen at Whitney’s words. 

“Hell yeah,” Bela says, as soon as Alicia is out of earshot. “That was fucking dope, dude.”

Whitney shrugs, grins. “Better than whatever you were trying to do, at least. But sorry, Leight, you’re not the hottest person I know.”

“If you say my brother—”

“Hell no! I met Michael B Jordan at a fundraiser for my mom once.”

“Are you kidding me?” Bela erupts, “I have never been more jealous in my life. Describe each ab to me.

“He was obviously clothed.”

“Each ab, Whitney!”

Leighton snorts, and Kimberly grins at her and then all four of them are laughing, hunched over the big ugly dining hall tables until people start staring. 



Leighton sometimes wishes she didn’t have such a good gene pool to work with. Or, specifically that she didn’t have the same gene pool as her goddamn brother. 

As soon as they hit puberty, all the girls in Leighton’s class immediately started asking her about Nico, like he was Harry fucking Styles or something. 

So it’s no surprise that, now that he’s officially single, it’s the same old story. 

“I just feel like he could lift me up and also recite poetry,” some girl says, swirling a strand of orange hair around her finger and making disgusting fuck me eyes at Nico from across the basement. 

Leighton rolls her eyes. God, she’s tired of this. Especially now that she has two people to being angry on behalf of, because of her stupid brother’s stupid dick. 

“Hey!” she calls from across the room. “You, redhead.”

The girl looks up. Leighton takes her in. She’s cute, in a weird Anne of Green Gables way. If Anne of Green Gables had a nose ring and over-the-top eye make-up. 

Leighton can work with that. 

“What?” the redhead snaps, in a kind of hot surly way. “Did you have commentary on my conversation?”

“Actually, I did,” Leighton says, sauntering over. “That guy you’re talking about, just to let you know, cheated on his girlfriend repeatedly and didn’t tell her. Also recite poetry? Trust me, I read his sonnets for high school English. It made me want to abolish iambic pentameter.”

The girl raises her eyebrows. 

“I mean I was only saying he was hot, but sure. Let me guess, you were the one that got cheated on.”

Leighton snorts. 

“Oh gross, no. He’s my brother.”

The redhead chokes. 

“Oh shit, my bad.”

“So all I’m saying”—she leans in a little—“is if you want to work with the same genetics but someone who isn’t a total asshole, I’m around.”

Twenty minutes later, she has one hand buried in red hair and the other unbuttoning cheap jeans, vodka and adrenaline and spite combining in her bloodstream, as she props the girl on the counter of a dirty frat bathroom. 

“I can give you my number,” the girl says after, flushed and pleased. 

“I'm good.” Leighton says, buttoning her shirt. 

“Can I just have my toothbrush, please,” someone whines outside the door. 

Leighton knows that voice. Oh, does she know that voice. 

“Hey, big brother,” she says, swinging the door open. “Sorry that took so long.”

Nico’s eyes grow wide, land on the partially disrobed redhead still on the sink. 

“Oh shit, Leight, were you guys, uh…”

“Yep!” Leighton says, though suddenly she feels sweat form on the back of her neck, feels her voice quiver. “Fucked her before you could add another freshman to the tally, so there you have it.”

She thinks she might throw up. Which is ridiculous. She’s told people now. Several people. But Nico is family. Nico is Nico.

“Anyway, see ya around,” she says, ineloquently, pushing past Nico. This house is loud and sweaty and smells like beer and she has to leave.


She feels more than hears him following her, but doesn’t slow until she’s out in the back yard, past the fence. Right around where she and Alicia first kissed. Fuck that. Fuck her brain for making that connection. 

“Hey, Leight, come on.”

Nico’s caught up to her now, though he has to stop to pant, but his hands on his knees. 

“Shit, you’re fast,” he says, with his little easygoing grin. 

“Well, maybe if you focused on cardio instead of building muscle for whatever one of my friends you decide to fuck over next, you could run faster.”

Nico raises both his hands in defense. 

“I get it, I get it, I’m an ass. But, kind of not the point right now.”

Leighton crosses her arms, projects apathy. 

“The point being?”

“Look, I was outside that bathroom for five minutes, I heard… things I do not want to hear because you’re my little sister. So you, uh, you, I guess, you…”

“And people think you’re good with words.”

“You sleep with women now?”

Leighton nods. She wants to say something snappy, correct his now into, since I was 16 and told you I was going to study after school and got fingered by a stranger at the Loews Regency Hotel. But she can't really form words right now. 

She’s not an idiot about her family, it’s fine when Ellen DeGeneres or Peter Thiel are gay, but it’s a whole different story with their own kids. Nico though, Nico has always been the only person related to Leighton who could be remotely described as chill. And this moment, on the lawn outside his frat house, will be the test of that. 

“Alright,” Nico says slowly, “that’s—I mean—” he stops, looks at her intently before stepping forward, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Leight, it’s all good. You’re my sister, I love you, nothing will ever change that.”

“I don’t need your approval, dickhead,” she says, but she lets herself fall into his arms, let herself be held by him like she did when he left for Essex without her and she told herself she wouldn’t cry.

“I know you don’t,” he says gently, kissing the top of her head. “But you have it. Besides, now we can talk about hot girls together, right?”

Leighton leans back, wipes her eyes. 

“When I tell you I’d rather jump off the roof, I need you to know I mean it.”



“It’s just simple math, Kimberly!”

“Simple to you, maybe.”

Leighton groans, grips the table so she doesn’t do something stupid but justified, like pulling out her roommate’s stupid dated haircut. She loves Kimberly, she does, but how her brother managed to tutor this girl is beyond her. 

“Look, I’m going to go get some of this mediocre coffee you serve in this place, and by the time I’m back, please try to remember basic statistics or I will resort to violence.”

“You are very scary.”

“Thank you.”

Leighton goes up to the counter, considers a snack and then changes her mind when she sees the poor excuses for food that they have in this establishment.

“The usual, rich bitch?” Lila asks, a note of affection in her voice that both of them would deny. 

"It's embarrassing I have a usual, but yes."

“White lady special!” Lila calls to Canaan. “Oh wait, Leighton, get the fuck out of the way.”

“Excuse me?”

“The new hottie I’m trying to rail just walked it.”

“Ew, rail?”

“Lila is obsessed with them,” Canaan confides, handing Leighton her pumpkin cream cold brew, “she’s got a crush.”

“Please, I don’t get crushes.” Lila flips her hair. “I do the crushing.”

“Sure,” Canaan says. 

Leighton, curious despite the fact that she could truly care less who anyone is trying to rail, turns to see—

“Oh shit, Tova? You have a crush on Tova?”

“Keep your voice down, blondie, damn!” Lila cuts a finger across her throat. “Wait, how do you know Tova? You’re like the lamest person I’ve ever met and they're the coolest.”

“Rude, you work with Kimberly.”

“Fine, you’re the second lamest person I know.”

“Still, both rude and inaccurate.”

“Shut up, they’re coming over.”

Leighton plasters a smile on her face. She has a lot to prove here. First off, that she is not lame, and second of all, that Tova definitely does not bring up memories of anyone Leighton may or may not still think about when she closes her eyes at night. 

“Leighton, what’s good?” Tova says, with a slight head nod, effortlessly cool as always. 

“Shit, you do know them,” Lila whispers. 

“Lila, my favorite barista,” Tova says, smooth as shit. “Didn’t know you two were friends.”

“Yeah, Leighton and I are best friends.”

Leighton rolls her eyes, ignores Lila.

“We miss you around the center,” Tova tells Leighton, with probably very kind intentions. 

“I don’t think all of you miss me,” Leighton says, before she can help herself. 

“Whoa, what’s the history here?” Lila asks, resting her chin on her hands, like she’s here for storytime, not the line of customers that is rapidly forming behind Tova. 

“No history,” Leightons says instinctually, “I just meant, well, I’m sure Ginger hated me.”

“Nah, Ginger actually grew to like you.” Tova shrugs, then grins. “There’s no accounting for taste.”

Leighton laughs, relieved by the ease of this conversation.

“Yo, we’re all getting together tonight to do karaoke to music from only LGBTQIA+ artists.”

“Of course you are.”

“But you should come through, it would be fun to hang. Don’t tell, but I think Alicia really misses bossing you around.”

Leighton feels a blush rise in her check. Alicia definitely did like to boss her around. But she also definitely doesn't miss her. Whatever. It’s fine. 

“I can’t, sorry.” Leighton flips through her rolodex of excuses that she has for an occasion like this one. What ends up coming out is, “Alicia kind of stomped all over my heart, so.”

Tova, to their credit, just nods, and Leighton feels a tension between her shoulder blades ease.

“Fair,” they say with a shrug, before a slight smirk comes over their face. “Ah, nothing like some dyke drama in the morning. Text me if you ever want to talk about it, okay?”

Leighton swallows, throat suddenly thick. 


Tova grins at her. “Sick. Anyway, Lila, you wanna come sing Kim Petras with me tonight?”

“I thought you’d never ask.”


Sitting Senator Evette Chase

Leighton knows she has to stop but she can’t, flipping through Alicia’s instagram like she’s those kind of girls who wear sweatpants and runny mascara in public.  Even the app isn’t doing it for her these days, anonymous hot women sparking nothing in her.

Ugh, no. She’s not doing this. She storms out of her room, in a sudden burst of annoyance. She needs to get the fuck over this thing. 

“Whitney,” she calls, pushing on the door to Whitney and Kimberly’s room, “is there anyone on the soccer team I can casually sleep with to get over Al—oh my god you’re facetiming your mom.”

“Leighton,” fucking Senator Chase says to her from an iPad screen. Leighton wants to melt through the floor.

“Senator,” she chokes out. “So great to see you. Amazing Wall Street Journal profile last week.”

Whitney shoots her a look that is half apology, half about to start laughing. Great.

“Thank you very much,” Senator Chase says, same look on her face, “Whitney and I were just finishing up here, if you want to keep up talking about which student athletes you want to have relations with.”

Leighton tries to hold her head up high, she really does, but this woman hangs out with the president and now knows about Leighton’s sex life. Leighton’s gay sex life. Jesus.

“I’m good,” she manages. “I’m just gonna—leave and never come back.”



“Leighton! How are you?”

Today is not Leighton’s day. She only got an A- back on her Advanced Calc test because she helped Kimberly pull an all-nighter, plus they were out of those tiny muffins at the dining hall today, and now she has to look into Esme’s smug face, with all of her fake concern on it, right in the middle of the quad. Just her fucking luck.

“I’m doing great,” she tells Esme, smiling too big, “just so so busy, you know. Almost too many friends to keep up with.”

It hits her that she’s not even lying about that. Ha. 

“Wow, Leighton,” Esme coos, “that’s amazing. Honestly, you seem so much happier here than you were in high school.”

Leighton scoffs. 

“Oh, don’t pretend you know me, bitch.”

“I wasn’t—”

“And you know what, I am doing better than in high school, because I'm not surrounded by stuck up cunts like you.”

Esme flinches. 

“Jesus, Leighton.”

“Oh no”—Leighton puts on an exaggerated frown—“did the word cunt offend you? Are you that squeamish? Maybe this is why I’m doing so much better than I was in high school. Because I’m with people who actually get it. Who aren’t little bitches. Remember when you freaked out because Jake Van Howen gave you a hickey junior year? I had already fucked a dozen heiresses by then. So yeah, guess I’m doing better now. Because I’ve found people who don’t blink an eye at that shit.”

Esme’s eyes are wide and her mouth is open, and Leighton isn’t sure if it’s due to Leighton insulting her or off the casual revelation that she sleeps with women. And Leighton finds that she truly doesn’t care either way. 

“See you around!” she says far too cheerily to Esme’s stunned silence, and then she walks straight past her. 

It would be exceptionally cool if Leighton didn’t make it two feet before colliding with someone. 

And if that someone didn’t happen to be her ex. What is with today?

“Sorry,” Leighton says lamely, stepping back. 

Alicia just smiles at her, her stupid fucking charming smile. 

“Dozens of heiresses, huh?”

“You heard that?”

“You were essentially yelling. I think they heard you in the engineering building. So… dozens?”

There’s something in Alicia’s eyes, something that Leighton found herself utterly obsessed with for weeks, a look like she’s in on some joke, but she’s also inviting Leighton in with her. 

And Leighton is helpless but to laugh. 

“Okay, that might have been a slight exaggeration. But there was an heiress once. I had to sign an NDA after.”

“Damn, bitch, it must have been great sex.”

Leighton smirks. “You know it was.”

Alicia grins. “Yeah, I guess I do.”

Leighton wants to step closer, wants to say, “you could know again,” wants to press Alicia against the wall of the engineering building until both of them forget that they technically broke up. 

But she doesn't. Not just yet. 

“So,” Alicia says, “you’re, like, telling people now?”

“About the heiress? Well not by name, the NDA was very clear.”

Alicia chuckles. 

“You know what I mean.”

“Of course I know what you mean.” Leighton tries to feign nonchalance, but she’s never been great at that particular demeanor. “Yeah, I’ve told some people. It’s not a thing. I’m not making a big announcement or whatever, and definitely not an instagram post in 2016 that’s a picture of me with a painted rainbow on my face and the caption ‘deal with it.’”

Alicia laughs, eyes doing the thing again. 

“Oh, so you went deep on my instagram, huh? All the way to the coming out post? Your fingers must be tired from all that scrolling.”

Leighton goes a little red, thinking about other things her fingers may or may not have been doing while scrolling on Alicia’s instagram. 

“Everyone goes deep on everyone’s instagram,” she deflects, “Also, deal with it? How old are you, 12?”

“I mean, I was 15, in my defense.”

“Weak defense.” 

Alicia shrugs. The sun is still doing its best, despite autumn threatening to turn into winter, and it shines off of Alicia’s hair. Stupid sun.

“I’m really proud of you, Leighton,” Alicia says. 

“Oh, gross.”

“No, I’m serious. It’s—it can be hard and weird and uncomfortable. God, especially if you have some beautiful, effortlessly cool, 5’2” goddess who may have put a bit too much pressure on you.” 

Leighton laughs. She pushes some hair out of her face, suddenly needing to do something with her hands. 

“So was that an apology hidden in there? Couldn’t quite tell amidst the bragging.”

“Would we call it bragging, or stating facts?”

Leighton laughs, sun warming her face. She didn’t expect to laugh so much, the first time she talked to Alicia since they broke up. She expected bitterness, a festering in her stomach to rise up and attack Alicia. She has a notes app on her phone of a very biting speech she would deliver if this moment arrives. 

But it’s warm out. And Alicia is grinning and kind of apologizing, and Leighton had forgotten the high of this feeling, this back and forth. So she doesn’t pull out the notes app monologue. Not today, at least.

“I don’t know if effortlessly cool is a fact,” she says instead, “I saw how much effort you put into making your Doc Martens look 90% shiny, 10% scuffed.”

“Hey, you leave the Docs out of this!”

Leighton laughs again. What is going on?

“Anyway,” Alicia says, “I’d love to stand and talk about whether or not Doc maintenance makes me cool—it definitely does—but I have class.”

“Right.” Leighton tries not to sound disappointed. That would be utterly pathetic. "The effects of colonization on the gender binary, or something like that."

"Gender in a Global Perspective, but close." Alicia smiles, light brushes her hand over Leighton's forearm, a question. “But I’ll see you around, right?” 

“We’ll see,” Leighton says, but she knows she’s grinning. 

“We’ll see,” Alicia echoes. 

When she had first slept with Alicia, when she got the inexplicable and unfamiliar urge to do it again, she felt the oddness and warmth all the way back to her dorm that morning. She’d walked into the common room, then immediately excused herself, because there was something big and foreign growing in her chest, and she didn’t trust herself in the afterglow to not release that sensation out into the world. 

“How was the rest of your night?” Kimberly had asked.

Leighton had smiled tightly, said “fine,” and left. 

Now, when she walks into the common room, still shaken and warm from her conversation with Alicia, Kimberly is sitting there, stats textbook open on her lap.

“How was class?” Kimberly asks.

“Fine,” Leighton says instinctually. But then she blurts, “but I ran into Alicia after and we had a… nice conversation?”

Kimberly slams the textbook shut. 

“Tell me everything.”

So Leighton does, even though it was a five minutes of civil conversation, she lets herself ramble about it, insecurities and eagerness and caution and hope spilling out to Kimberly. Then again, when Whitney gets back from class, and again, when Bela comes back from a comedy obligation (two words that should not be next to each other), and again, when Jocelyn stops in help Bela get instagram followers, and by the end of the afternoon, Leighton is pretty sure her whole floor is caught up on how she is still definitely into her ex, but unsure of where they stand at the moment, if her hurt can heal enough to jump back in.

Weeks ago, the thought would give Leighton nightmares, her vulnerability on display in front of people she’s barely known for two months. But now she just leans back, a different sort of unfamiliar glow in her chest expanding. 



“Fuck him! Fuck him! Fuck him!”

The chant echoes through the apartment of some girl on Whitney’s soccer team (Jenny? Jenna? Jen?), radiating off the cheap plaster. 

“Fuck him! Fuck him! Fuck him!”

“All right!” one of the girls calls, “who's next?”

“Okay,” Kimberly says, setting her beer down with such conviction that half of it sloshes over the rim solo cup, “I’ll go.”

The girls cheer. Leighton’s grimaces. 

“So me and this guy have like, mind blowing sex…”

Leighton quickly excuses herself to the fire escape, shutting the window behind her so she doesn’t have to hear details brother’s sexual skills. Again. 

“Sup,” says one of Whitney’s teammates, Willow, Leighton remembers, because a stupid part of her brain has memorized the name of every gay person she’s met since she was 14.

“Hey,” Leighton says, “sorry if I’m intruding on your… little balcony moment.”

Willow laughs. 

“Hey, it’s our little balcony moment now. Honestly sometimes I gotta get outta there when the fuck him starts; it makes me too sad for straight women. They’ve been through so much.”

“Oh,” Leighton says, fiddling with her jacket, “did—did Whitney tell you?”

“Tell me what?” Willow asks. Then she looks at Leighton, scrutinizing. “Oh shit—oh you thought I said that because I thought... Nah, I just always talk about straight people like that. But, hey look at you, blondie.”

Leighton purses her lips. 

“Look at me.”

“Yeah, I would have guessed Whitney’s other roomie from bumfuck with the big ol' titties would be the queer one, but good for you, girl.”

Leighton laughs a little. “Yeah, it’s new. Well, not really new. Talking about it is new.”

Willow nods. 

“I get you. When I first came out, it was fucking weird. At first I was like, 'hell yeah I get to tell my friends, and be the center of attention,' the dream. But after a while, I’m was just like ‘okay I don’t ever want to explain this shit to another living soul.’”

Leighton laughs. 

“I think I’ve always been at that last stage. Like why does it have to be so much of a hassle?”

Willow echoes her laugh, almost louder than the chanting inside. 

“I feel you. Eventually I just made my sister tell my extended family so I didn’t have to do it.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Leighton says, as a room full of women yell fuck him about her brother. Maybe he has one or two redeeming qualities. 

“But the real tea,” Willow says, taking a long swig of her beer, “is that coming out gets all the hype. Like in all these movies with skinny blonde white people—no offense—”

Leighton snorts. “None taken.”

“The movie always ends after they come out, and it’s like, damn, they missed all the good shit! That’s all later.”

Leighton looks down. All the leaves have fallen from the trees that line the street of poorly maintained apartments. In a few weeks it will probably start snowing. She shivers a little on the balcony. 

Fuck him! Fuck him! Fuck him!” echoes in the silence from inside. 

“So do you have a fuck him ?” Willow asks, “or you know, a fuck her for the real ones?”

Leighton laughs a little. 

“Yes, but… I don’t want to fuck her. Shit, I mean, I still do want to fuck her, but I don’t want—it’s complicated.”

Willow laughs, long and loud.

“Welcome to being a lesbian, bro. Happy to have ya.”

Leighton glances into the apartment at the girls screaming inside, girls that she knows she will walk home with, stumbling and giddy, taking turns holding each other up from falling on the cold pavement. She grins, warm despite the chill in the air.

“Happy to be here.”