Copyright © 2009 A.Matheson. All Rights Reserved.
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Part thirteen: ‘If you try sometimes'
“ We didn't pay!”
“At the restaurant, we didn't pay .”
“Yes we did,” Kirstin laughed, “I took care of it.”
“When did you do that?” the drummer frowned.
“You took your eyes off me for a couple of moments, if I recall.”
“Shame on me,” Meg smirked, “Thank you.”
Megan had shrugged off all caution from the moment Kirstin had asked her to take her home. Seeking out a waiter in an instant, and asking for their coats, she had taken Kirstin's hand firmly in her own, practically dragging her out of the building. Much to her date's pleasure.
They had been about to hail a cab back to the hotel when Megan turned to her suddenly in the street. “You're sure this is what you want?” she asked candidly, giving Kirstin's interlocking hand a squeeze.
The blonde was a little taken aback, and slightly touched by the sensitivity Megan was displaying, and the concern that was clearly showing.
“Yes,” she answered with certainty. The street where they had exited was only mildly busy, with very few pedestrians. They were quite alone apart from the gentle hum of far-off traffic. “I haven't asked you out on a date just so I can blow you off.”
Her brow raised, and Meg tried hard to contain her immediate mirth, but to no avail. She burst out a sharp laugh, followed by another unsuccessful attempt to contain a giggle.
Kirstin laughed openly too. “You know what I meant!” she batted her lightly with her free hand. “You have a dirty mind, Miss Rogers.”
Meg smiled, “Yes I do,” she responded with a distinct glint in her eye. “But seriously, I just want to check. Because if we go back together, right now, and do what I hope we're about to do, and tomorrow you wake up and change your mind, I promise you, I am never going to talk to you again.”
Though Meg looked like she was trying to inject a little humour into the statement, Kirstin heard the sobering truth in her tone. “Understood.” And she wanted to allay that notion entirely, and as soon as possible. “That is not going to happen,” she stated in all seriousness. “Unless,” she raised a brow, “I don't know, you call out someone else's name at an inappropriate time,” she widened her eyes.
Meg cocked her jaw clearly amused, “Well, I'd like to say that's never happened before,” she drawled.
“Are you serious?” Kirstin frowned deeply, obviously shocked.
“Can you imagine me calling out anyone's name?”
Kirstin laughed gently, “No. But then, my knowledge is limited.”
“Not my style.”
Meg nodded, “Cab?”
Meg turned back into the street to raise her free hand a little pre-emptively. “Oh. We're not in New York City anymore Carrie.”
“No,” Kirstin laughed again. “But sex can be had in any city,” she glanced at a grinning Meg. “We just… have to… yeah okay, I don't know, maybe we should go back in and ring for one.”
“Well,” Meg rocked back on her heels, and took a peek at Kirstin's feet. Kirstin pulled a bemused face, “We're not that far from the Hotel,” she offered.
Kirstin suddenly realised that Meg had been assessing the comfort of her footwear, “I'm not the one wearing new shoes,” she commented glancing downwards.
“I can cope.”
“Really?” she was doubtful.
“If it gets us back to the hotel quicker, yes .”
Kirstin smiled, “Well I'm all for that, but I have no idea how to get back.”
“I have a very good visual memory. Do you trust me?”
The blonde laughed, “I trust your homing device, if that's what you're asking. And I like your sense of direction.”
“For now, yes, that's all I'm asking. C'mon.”
And that's how they had found themselves wandering the small back streets of Glasgow city centre. Holding hands, ducking down alleyways, skipping over puddles, focussed and intoxicated. Every now and then one would look across to the other and grin, like a child. And it had taken Megan a good few minutes of walking to realise she hadn't actually parted with any cash at any point in the evening.
“Next time it's my treat.”
“ Next time,” Kirstin repeated. Not a question, merely an underlining of a new expectation, something she was actually very happy about.
Megan heard the subtle nuance of happiness in Kirstin's tone, as well as the additional reminder of her own supposition. She slowed her pace, causing her hand-holder to slow with her, until they were stopped in a disused doorway of an old building.
“Yes. Next time,” Megan stated. “Because I plan on there being more than one date.” Her blue eyes seemed to bore right into Kirstin, who took a moment to respond.
“Now who's being forward?” she hesitantly joked.
“Well,” Megan began, “usually I'd wait to see how good the sex was before making that decision.”
Kirstin inhaled sharply and nodded, “Okay, yeah, we can… we… yeah,” she pulled Meg closer, feeling the heat between them again. “We covered that.”
“Remember South Paw?”
“Our wet t-shirt competition?” Kirstin guessed.
“No, you pushing me off the curb.” She watched Kirstin smile at her own memory of denial. “You were at the perfect height.” Now the blonde's face wrinkled and Meg began herding her backwards. “Step up,” she instructed.
Kirstin's brow furrowed again until her foot met with a small stone slab behind her, and she understood, stepping up onto it, and meeting Meg eye to eye. Somehow her date was even more imposing from the same height.
“Smooth,” Kirstin verbally applauded.
Meg grinned at her, “I really wanted to kiss you that day,” she said, studying her face in the somewhat lacking streetlight.
Kirstin nodded, pulling on Meg's coat, drawing her near, kissing her soundly, and responding to her touch as a hand found its way beneath her coat. And then the need seemed like too much once again. She broke the kiss, “Take me to the hotel !” she half-shouted, her forehead pressing against Meg's.
Meg herself was breathless. “I did,” she answered proudly. “I'm kissing you on the doorstep, just like you asked.” This elicited another frown. “This is the back entrance,” she clarified.
Kirstin smiled, “The back entrance? I'm going to try really hard not to make that joke.”
Meg actually blushed, “Now whose mind is dirty?”
“That's not good dirty, let's not go there.”
“I agree. But you should know…”
“ Please ,” Kirstin raised her voice slightly, insistent, “don't. Don't spoil,” Meg's face wrinkled, and Kirstin rolled her eyes, “this moment by saying any-more-on-the-subject,” she enunciated. “God, I hate dating intelligent women.”
“I'm intelligent? And we're dating?” Meg smiled, pushing the fire door open with ease, and beginning to untangle herself in the process.
“Hm. Well, that would imply a future Miss Rogers,” Kirstin remarked, allowing Meg to hold the door for her.
“Oh, and we wouldn't want to commit to that,” Meg playfully shook her head, closing the door and joining her.
“If we can drop the childish innuendo we might stand a chance.”
“I can behave, if that's what you want? But we should save that for daytime.”
Kirstin watched the playful smile on Megan's lips, wondering briefly how many women she had charmed into bed. Knowing how powerless she felt herself, and imagining that most women hadn't put up quite so much of a defence as she had. Without even realising, she had stopped moving.
Meg paused, sensing the delay. “You okay?”
For every flash of the devil there was an equal flash of angel. It was confusing to watch the seductress soften before her eyes in seconds, from persuasive vixen to guileless innocent.
“I want you to do what you want.” Meg sensed the change in Kirstin's countenance and listened carefully. “And what I hope is that we want the same thing.” Meg waited, quietly watching, processing. “Promise me you'll just be who you are?”
Kirstin found it hard to rationalise what she was asking, especially considering how many years she had been asking Grace for something she clearly didn't want to give. But somehow she was beginning to realise that she might have had everything backwards. Perhaps instead of needing to compromise values and beliefs for the sake of a relationship, she should allow those ideals and morals to inform whom she dated. And that meant knowing exactly what the other person was about, not what they thought she wanted them to be about.
“I don't know if you've noticed, Kirstin, but I find it really hard to be anything but me.” She stood in the darkened back hallway, her hands now stuffed firmly in her woollen coat pockets, hair ruffled by the evening breeze, her simple glamour undeniable, and her mischievous charm now turned to gentle sincerity. “All I want right now is you.”
A smile edged its way into the filmmaker's lips as she decided to enjoy the moment, capturing it, storing the feeling, the yearning, and the wonderful wave of exhilaration that accompanied the confirmation that it was indeed reciprocated.
“Snap,” she concurred with concise simplicity. The hand being proffered was once again readily taken. “I can't believe you just quoted Wham!”
Even at the age of seventeen it was fair to say that Kirstin had been the epitome of studiousness. Disregarding the fact it was a Friday evening, she sat at the desk in her room to read and re-read an essay that had already been completed with ample time to spare. She vigorously scrawled amendments, only to erase them with equal energy moments later. Frustrated, she lit a candle and held a small seal stick to it, watching the deep-red molten wax drip onto a piece of faux parchment beneath. She played with the burgeoning bubble, accidentally burning the tip of her finger in the process.
“Ouch! Ffff…” she waved the finger in the air before thrusting it instinctively into her mouth.
Though it was barely gone seven, being wintertime, most of the day's glow had left the rather limited picture frame of her window. It was unsurprising, therefore, that when a light flicked on in the house opposite her attention was caught.
She looked up, finger still in mouth, seeing an angry looking neighbour slam her door and stare at it. Their houses were no more than ten feet apart, and if both girls opened their windows they could easily communicate. But if one left her window open, the other would throw something vile through it, so both windows tended to remain shut unless absolutely necessary.
Meg swung round, throwing her rucksack on to her bed, and only then catching the set of big brown eyes staring at her from across the way. Her frown deepened momentarily feeling exposed. Kirstin reacted immediately, averting her eye line, and suddenly feigning interest in her work. Meg stared at her unashamedly, moving toward the window and pausing in front of it.
Kirstin felt the attention, “What?” she shouted, as she looked back up.
Megan saw the muted protest and wrenched up her sash window, waiting.
The young blonde shook her head. Pushing up from her desk in annoyance, she rolled her eyes and opened her own window in response, shrugging again in question.
“Why do you gotta be perfect, preppy?”
“I'm not allowed to out this evening, and it's because you're stashed away upstairs being an exemplary student. What in the hell are you working on anyway?”
Eyebrows shot up. “You're not allowed out tonight because last Friday you came home drunk at four in the morning, knocking over trash cans, brandishing a traffic cone and sporting a black eye,” Kirstin replied dryly with more than a hint of incredulity.
Now Meg rolled her eyes, “Semantics.”
“No, not semantics, details. And you'd know the difference if you actually turned up to class.”
Her neighbour ignored the jibe, “I have a theory ,” Meg responded rather brattishly.
“Oh please, enlighten me,” Kirstin retorted with equal sarcasm.
“You stay in on Friday nights because you have nothing better to do,” came the shot.
Kirstin just stared at her. It was insulting, yet her brain couldn't think of a damn thing she could be doing right now that would prove otherwise.
Meg cocked her head during the silence, torn between feeling smug, and being a little saddened at the apparent truth of her words. Bravado gone, her shoulders slumped in response to her sudden, and shocking empathy. “I actually envy you,” she admitted quietly.
Now Kirstin felt pitied, rather than mocked. “Go to hell,” she swore, reaching up and slamming her window shut. But no sooner had she turned her back than her head whipped back round at a very crunchy sounding thud.
The window was dripping. She looked at it with disgust, before swiftly wrenching it open once again. “That's one more reason your mother has for keeping you in Megan,” she admonished. “You just happen to have an egg in your pocket?” she asked, carefully checking to see if there were more where that had come from.
Meg was angry, it wasn't often she felt kindly toward people, and so this rebuff was taken very personally. “I was saving that for you.”
Meg laughed, “I'm not the one staying in on a Friday night doing homework I probably finished last week.”
“Oh my god.” Meg exclaimed, realising she had nailed yet another truth. “Who knew I could be so insightful,” she commented in dryly. “I'll grow up, when you get a life.”
“You think underage drunken brawls and being grounded constitutes a life ?”
Meg hated how that sounded, hated even more that Kirstin thought it. “That happened one time.”
“You're being grounded all the time.”
“I mean drunken fighting… It wasn't my fault.”
“It wasn't !” She wasn't about to explain to her why, but had to defend herself. “Usually we just… we go out, have some drinks, have some fun…”
“Get yourselves into situations…” Kirstin added.
Meg ignored her, “Nat's dad is away for the weekend. He has a pool, and a tennis court, and stables with horses…”
“…and a mini bar…”
“You should come,” Meg stated, without thinking.
Kirstin shook her head briefly, trying to understand what had just happened, “No thank you. Sounds like my idea of hell.”
“You could let your preppy hair down.” Meg widened her eyes, “ Start a fire .”
“Hanging out with your ‘friends' is not my idea of fun.”
“Who said anything about anyone else?”
Kirstin snorted a laugh, “Right, me you and Nat, that'll be cosy!”
“Nat won't be there.”
Now Kirstin really frowned. “You're inviting me to go with you to Nat's house, while everyone's away?”
“Yeh.” Megan found that was suddenly exactly what she was asking, though it hadn't been her intention.
“I don't know. But it's okay cos you're now un invited.”
“You can't leave the house,” Kirstin teased, thinking she guessed the reason for the sudden retraction.
“Can too. Watch me.” Meg looked down at the drop from her window, then back toward Kirstin, “If I thought you had the guts I'd reinstate your invitation.”
“I can leave my house whenever I want.”
“I've never been grounded.”
“Because you never go anywhere,” Meg threw back, while thrusting some items quickly into her bag.
Kirstin watched her as she locked her door from the inside, turned a lava lamp on and hit play on her tape deck, edging the sound up slightly.
“When I get mad, and I get pissed
I grab my pen, and I write out a list
Of all the people, that won't be missed
You've made my… shit list…”
“Oh my God,” Kirstin breathed, realising Meg was actually preparing to jump.
“Sure you don't wanna come?” she asked, with a twinkle in her eye as she paused on the edge of her window.
Truth was, as much as she hated every stupid teenage show of angst that Meg embodied, part of her really did just want to jump, and run.
Meg saw the moment of deliberation. “Come on!” she appealed.
“You and I are not friends,” she stated.
“So why would I collude with you?”
“If you join me you won't have to lie to my mother when she comes round and asks if you know where I am,” Meg reasoned.
“I wouldn't do that anyway.”
“No,” she smiled. “But I would.”
“I'd never ask you to lie for me.”
“You've never had to.”
The statement hung, ambiguously. Was she insinuating she'd never had to ask because Megan would lie willingly unbeknownst to her, or simply because she hadn't had cause to ask yet? Kirstin's brow knit. “I never will.”
“I know something happened,” Meg stated.
“I don't know what you're talking about,” Kirstin replied, only wishing it were true.
“Last month, with the dip-shit.”
“You mean your ex-boyfriend? He is delightful by the way.”
Meg shook her head sadly and sighed. “If he touched you…”
“It's none of your business, Megan. And I don't appreciate you acting like you know more than you do.”
“Whatever,” Meg snapped, reverting back to self. “You're not coming then?”
Kirstin hesitated once again. Meg turned hearing a knock on her door. It was her mother, come to complain about the music. Time being suddenly of the essence Meg pushed forward, clambering downward and jumping the remaining few feet, landing with a thud.
She looked back up at Kirstin, who was now leaning out of the window in shock, watching her pseudo-escape. “One day you'll jump. One day. And you won't look back.”
And with that she scampered around the back of the houses, and into the trees beyond.
Glasgow was the inception, an earnest beginning to the idea of dating a childhood crush. A start towards the notion that people do not necessarily change, but rather your opinion of them may alter, radically, based upon their feeling, and consequent behaviour toward you. And when an age-old foe is no longer spitting remarks of historical grievances at you, and instead is complimenting you with words, and flattering you with their eyes, suddenly you are able to see the kindnesses, the softness and the vulnerability, where once there had been irksome irritation and pain.
Megan was so cautious, so worried that Kirstin be sure this was what she wanted, that she had no need to question it herself. She found instead a desire to reassure her, to smooth the wrinkles of worry that had formed, and to give her little reason to doubt her sincerity. The only way to do that was to show her how much she wanted her.
“I think the word you're searching for is ‘ incredible' .”
Kirstin was lying on her back, waiting for her pulse to calm. “Actually I was going to say… a little embarrassing.” She looked at Meg who frowned deeply causing Kirstin to laugh in her face. “I'm sorry, I meant because… I… it… didn't take long… or very much ,” she raised an eyebrow.
Then Meg laughed along with her as she crawled her way back to seek a pillow, fluffing it up and nestling into it, her eyes sparkling as she watched a mild blush rise to her bed mate's cheeks. “Maybe I'm just very good?” She drawled, smiling wryly.
Feeling the sudden lack of Meg's bodily warmth Kirstin reached down, pulling the sheets upward, beginning to cover herself. She noticed the disapproving look Meg threw at being denied her viewing pleasure, and paused midway. “You are very good,” she answered in earnest, “but that … was a record.”
“Seriously?” Meg was shocked even though Kirstin nodded. “Then I'll take that as a compliment.”
“You should.” She twisted round onto her side to face the drummer. Even after such a heated and intimate exchange, they both seemed to keep their distance afterward, not engaging in the typical reassuring contact that comes with familiarity. This new notion of actually liking each other was more serious than the ease with which they could connect viscerally.
Both women were aware of it. Both women had felt the importance of Megan reaching for Kirstin's hand in that restaurant, and holding it all the way back to the hotel. It meant something to each of them, but it would take time for them to learn that it had meant something to the other.
“I'm not done yet, by the way,” Meg burred with a sly smile.
“Really.” Meg reached out a hand, tentatively placing it on Kirstin's stomach, idly tracing the lines of her distinctly taut frame. Kirstin in turn watched Megan's face as she watched her own hand traverse the topography of newly chartered land. She paused, fingering a small area an inch or so beneath Kirstin's right breast. Her face changed, her mouth seemed to want to form the beginning of a question, but instead she looked at Kirstin, hesitant.
Kirstin simply looked back at her. It was not a story she was ready to tell, and Meg understood her silence. She blinked, gently tracing the length of the whitened spidery, scary-looking scar with tender concern, before reaching further across and pulling her closer. “Do you have to be anywhere tomorrow?”
Kirstin shook her head. Then she smiled as a blush rose to her cheeks, then her brow furrowed. “I took the liberty of clearing my calendar,” she admitted.
“That was presumptuous ,” Meg teased.
“You were thinking of turning me down?”
“They say crazy skips a generation,” Meg joked, instantly regretting having made any reference to her mother.
But just as Meg had recognised Kirstin's need to avoid a conversation, Kirstin was capable of returning the gesture. “Then tomorrow I'm all yours, if you want.”
“I want. But let's not wish tonight away?”
Kirstin pushed a clump of dark hair from Meg's face and kissed her. “Okay,” she smiled happily. “You have hair like Ally Sheedy circa Breakfast Club. It's cool.”
“That's cos I'm cool,” Meg smirked playfully.
Kirstin laughed, “No, you're goofy, which is sometimes mistaken for being cool.”
“Hey! You're the goofy one. In a contest of being goofy, you get that mantle, don't even deny it!” Steely blue eyes locked onto what now seemed like hazel-green, and sparkled with delight.
Rain does not suspend all play
Sheets of rain in rhythmic waves hit the large blue-grey panes of glass making up an entire wall of the bedroom in Meg's suite. If the room's occupants had risen to open the drapes, they would have found the puddles that had been avoided the night before were burgeoning rapidly. In fact overall a very grey, and ominous day would have welcomed them, if they had made any attempt to greet it at all.
But there were no plans, for no plans had been made. And when no plans were made, very little tended to get done. Including the small necessities taken for granted on any other given day that contained things that needed to be done. Moreover, late nights that preceded days with no plans gave call to late mornings, and sometimes even no morning at all.
Meg was curled around her when she woke, almost halfway through the day after mere hours of slumber. Kirstin felt so safe, and snug and completely satiated that even the thought of untangling herself was enough to make her miss what she hadn't yet surrendered.
They had decided, quite logically, to head to Meg's room, which was far superior and befitting of the lasciviousness they sought. It hadn't been that late when they returned, at least in comparison to most nights on the tour, and they had definitely made the most of it.
A soft moan alerted her to the fact that the drummer was rousing, “ God , you smell of sex,” her companion growled lazily, smiling with abandon and burying her face deeper into the neck of her detainee. “It suits you.”
The vibration of Meg's voice made Kirstin prickle with quick arousal, she pushed her away slightly to smile at her. Meg squinted. “You sleep well?”
“What little sleep I got was very content, thank you.”
Somewhere between collapsing with exhaustion and finally sleeping their bodies had found a level of familiarity they had both decided they could accept and enjoy. And their languishing was to continue for most of the rest of the day. They ordered breakfast in bed, despite the late hour. There was a short debate when it arrived.
Megan eventually decided to take matters into her own hands and ask the waiter to bring it into the room, while both women were barely covered, and still in bed. Kirstin had blushed mightily, something that was becoming a more regular occurrence than she would like, but Megan's disregard for common etiquette had pleased her. Not as much, however, as her ignorance of the notion they should hide their activity on the basis of their sexuality. It simply hadn't crossed her mind.
Meg lived in a world where people knew her orientation, and so it never occurred to her to conceal it. Not that she wasn't aware it might raise the odd eyebrow, but simply that she had no want to adapt her behaviour because of it. She neither hid it, nor shouted about it. In fact the only points she had raised were that if the waiter left their food outside, firstly, one of them would have to dress in order to retrieve it – she frowned - and secondly someone they knew might notice there was certainly more food than one person could comfortably consume in one sitting.
“Maybe I can't shout about the fact that I bedded you for a second time,” Meg bantered, earning her a playful swipe, “but I don't want to have to pretend I bedded someone else.”
And so they agreed to shock the waiter, who turned out to be a waitress, and did a sufficient amount of blushing herself.
They looked at the very large tray settled in the middle of the bed, laden down with so much food they weren't sure quite where to begin, their eyes wide in wonder. Kirstin reached out and plucked a slither of parma ham in hunger.
“ Wait, ” Meg demanded, jumping up and ignoring the confusion of the blonde in her bed.
Kirstin watched as Meg nakedly sauntered off toward the kitchen area, only to see her swaggering back with a large bottle in hand. “You're not going to be in charge of any heavy machinery today, right?”
Kirstin paused mid-chomp, smiling. She swallowed suddenly, “No. Is that what I think it is?”
“If you think it's a bottle of Krug,” she peered quickly at the label of the dark bottle, “Grand Cuvee, then yes, it is.”
Kirstin coughed at the name. “They leave $200 bottles of champagne in the fridge in case you might open one accidentally and have to pay for it?”
Kirstin frowned, “You bought it?”
“Yes,” Meg answered simply. “Along with these,” she held up a small wicker basket that Kirstin hadn't noticed she was holding.
Meg grinned at her. “I mean, if you don't want them, you can just watch me,” the drummer teased, pushing the basket onto their already bustling tray. She climbed back onto the bed, pulling the sheet around her a little before beginning to open the perfectly chilled bottle.
Kirstin wasn't sure what to make of it. Megan paused, seeing her uncertainty, taking in the image of her sitting in the bed, a white sheet tangled around her lower extremity, hair ruffled from sex and sleep, not unlike her own she imagined. Her perfect skin was somehow gleaming, but now a gentle frown settled upon her face.
“You cocky little shit,” Kirstin blurted. Meg opened her mouth, suddenly unsure she had the measure of the situation. “You bought that for breakfast?” She didn't seem that angry, yet her words held a certain irritation.
“Er,” Meg averted her eyes briefly as if thinking, “yes?”
“And what if I hadn't come back?”
Megan cocked her head, watching Kirstin closely for any guide as to her level of madness. Screw you , she thought. “Then obviously I would have gone to a club and picked up some girl to console myself with, and I would be drinking it with her.” Her expression remained neutral, but her tone was challenging.
Now Kirstin's face changed. Her voice dropped suddenly, if she had been joking, she was now most definitely serious. “Really?”
“NO. Jesus Kirstin! No.” She took a breath, forgetting altogether about the bottle in her hand. “If you had taken me to dinner to tell me you didn't want to sleep with me, a-gain , I would have come back here and thrown the damn bottle off the roof! How many times did I ask you if you were sure? Huh?” She could see the regret in Kirstin's face, but was still insulted. She looked at her with such intensity. “You cleared your schedule, I bought a bottle of champagne. So sue me, I'm an optimist. I think we're equal.” A smile began to spread across Kirstin's face, it dampened Megan's anger, despite herself. “So,” she started smiling, “do you want some damned champagne, or not?” she managed not to laugh.
Kirstin also just about managed to suppress a giggle, “I want some champagne, yes, please, and thank you,” she answered, dipping her chin humbly.
Megan shook her head. “I booked a suite too, I didn't notice you moaning about that last night,” she joked flippantly.
“What?” Kirstin was incredulous, as Megan popped the cork.
“J to the K. That was pure luck,” she commented quickly pouring bubbles into the nearest glass and handing it to her. “I had no idea you were going to ask me out.”
Kirstin smirked briefly. “I'm sorry,” she said carefully.
“It's okay. Here,” Meg grabbed a couple of strawberries and plopped them into her glass. She edged closer. “Stop thinking I have some secret underhand agenda. What you see is what you get, remember? My only scheme was to hope you'd let me take you to bed,” Kirstin smiled at her, “and if I succeeded, then to try and keep you here for as long as I could,” she grinned devilishly.
The problem was that Kirstin wanted Megan to have a bigger agenda, and it had to be a secret, because if it weren't she might bolt. She wanted Meg to get under her skin before she had time to realise she was there. She failed to realise that Meg already was.
“You just want my body, huh?” Kirstin went along with the notion.
Meg swallowed, “No,” she answered quietly, more soberly, “I want another date . And to get that, I figure I should make sure you have really good memory of the first.”
Kirstin held up her glass, “To many more dates,” she half-winked.
Meg chinked her glass and they both drank, watching one another and gulping. Megan reached forward and took Kirstin's glass from her, placing them both on the tray and moving in, capturing her lips with her own. The kiss was slow and languorous, but built in intensity as they mutually gave in to its deepening, leaving them both momentarily breathless.
“I shan't be forgetting this anytime soon,” Kirstin smiled in assurance.
Kirstin's phone had rung three times, once from her brother, once from Al, and once from Suze. None of them were people she wanted to talk to while she lay in naked slumber with Megan, and so instead she picked up three separate messages. Recounting each to Meg in turn.
“Leo hopes we enjoyed our evening.”
Meg smiled, “Does he know you took me?”
“No. But I did tell him I wanted to impress someone.” Meg smiled happily at that. “Al wants to know when we'll have some footage for the website,” Kirstin continued as she listened to the next message.
“Grapple's website,” she answered nonchalantly as she deleted the first two messages.
Meg pulled a face, “Doesn't he think the public have enough of our personal crap to sift through already?” Kirstin raised her brow. “I don't mean what you're doing is crap,” she quickly clarified, “you know that. I just mean people already know what and who Jess ate for the last five days, what with frakfuck, myface and all her twattering… Can't they just wait for the final cut?”
“Um,” suddenly Kirstin felt a pang of guilt for being a part of the charade that was the publicist machinations, “Well, we're contracted to supply footage for advertising, so we agreed to give up footage we thought wouldn't make the cut.”
“Great. So all the most boring bits,” Meg rolled her eyes.
“ Nooo, I personally deleted all the interviews of you recounting your dreams.” That earned her a slap to the thigh and she laughed.
“I have interesting dreams, I'm just incapable of relaying them in all their glory!”
“Ah ha.” Kirstin continued to titter genially, while picking up the final message on her mobile. She silenced as she listened.
Meg sensed the change in atmosphere as Kirstin concentrated. She turned her attention to her own phone instead, not wanting to pry. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed as Kirstin hung up the phone.
“You mind if I put the TV on?”
“I realise… its just…” she got up quickly to grab the remote control for the large screen that faced the bed, clicking it on and flicking through the channels until there was the unmistakable sound of two women grunting, on court. “Oh my God!” Meg repeated looking at the player names and scores. “She's beating her!”
“Who are we cheering for?” Kirstin asked, putting her phone down, a little confused.
“Kat,” came the response, as if it were obvious.
“Oh,” Kirstin recalled the name, “that's the player you know?”
“She was at the party.”
“I know. And now she's beating the top seed in the quarters.”
“Wow. Didn't the other one win last year?”
“Yes, she most certainly did. With relative ease.”
They watched play for a few minutes, with Meg occasionally cheering, “Go on!” and “Get in!” As the players changed ends the camera paused on a sitting Kat Bohm, who was focussed, swapping between sipping water, and drying her hands.
“She's not an eyesore, is she?” Kirstin commented.
“No, indeed,” Meg replied, with a little more gusto than Kirstin's ego wanted to hear. Meg could feel Kirstin's eye on her. She turned to meet her gaze, understanding the silence. “Too emphatic?”
“A little,” she responded, eyes widening. “How well do you know her?” she asked trying to keep the edge of suggestion from her voice.
“You think I've slept with her.”
Meg milked the moment a little before answering. “Yes.”
Kirstin laughed out loud. “She's an ex?”
“Hell yes! I just discovered you dated a wild child tennis prodigy, and I'm looking at her, and I'm wishing I was you!”
Meg grinned with amusement, and threw a pillow, watching Kirstin duck and grin back. “She's a good friend.”
“It was a brief encounter a long time ago, and we're just friends. Good friends. Want me to introduce you?”
“Maybe…” Kirstin teased.
Meg laughed, and threw a second pillow, starting a fight that resulted in being pinned down and kissed furiously.
What kind of pie would you be?
A long and wonderful day holed up with Kirstin had finally come to an end, after all there was always, eventually, work to be done. There was music to be played, and Glasgow was waiting, not content with amusing itself, queuing, and waiting, not so patiently.
Meg had said goodbye to Kirstin at her door, with a chaste smile, and a lingering kiss, having agreed to make their way to the theatre separately. They had not, however, discussed how anything would proceed, and Meg had decided Kirstin needed to lead the way for the most part.
Knowing she'd have to lose her ever-widening grin, Meg headed down to the foyer to meet with Illy in order to take a cab to the venue. Pete was doing his best to herd the talent, but as usual they ended up doing what they wanted, which was often devoid of his presence, much to his irritation.
Illy noted a distinct glimmer about Meg, despite the fact she was clearly still pissed at her betrayal. They had a quick coffee before asking for taxi, the questions burning on both their lips tempered by recent elation for Meg, and by continued caution for Illy.
Instead they talked of the city, of shared friends, of the recent success of Kat Bohm, of anything other than what might have happened last night, and of what had certainly happened years ago. Nevertheless the attempted avoidance of a topic merely saw the pair swerve continually near it, until collision was inevitable.
“You know who's coaching her now?” Illy murmured in a gossipy tone referring to their mutual friend. Meg shook her head. “ Josephine Marceau.”
“The French Champion?” Meg had watched the tennis circuit heavily at one point, and knew a great deal of the players by name.
“Ah ha. Seems to be working,” Illy added, Meg nodding in agreement. “If she makes the final, you fancy going?”
It had been a long time since she and Illy had been to watch a match of Kat's, “If we can make time, definitely.”
Each conversational topic ended in stilted stillness and wondering thoughts. Illy hated uncomfortable silences, and had to fill them in. “Why don't you guys play My Cherry Pie anymore?” she asked as they both stared in opposite directions from the taxi window. She had been listening to it just that morning.
Meg thought about it. “I don't know, guess it got bumped off the set list.”
“I love that song.”
“It's a good song.”
“Even if you do say so yourself,” Illy teased, glancing over.
“ I didn't write that one,” Meg exclaimed, jumping to her own defence.
Illy looked at her, surprised, “That's not what the sleeve says.”
“I know,” Meg nodded, “but do you believe everything you read?”
“If it's on your website, yes!” Illy frowned. If Meg hadn't written it, that left only one other person, and she wasn't sure she wanted to think about what that might mean. She stared back out of the window, not speaking again until they were out of the cab, and had avoided the queue of animated fans attempting to get a closer look at anyone that was lurking by the tour trucks.
Meg absentmindedly signed a couple of tickets that were being thrust in her direction as they were ushered behind the security line, but Illy seemed to be in a daze.
“So Jess wrote that song?” she asked, finally seeking clarification as they neared the back stage entrance to the venue.
“Ah ha,” the drummer nodded.
“And lied to the world about it?!” it was such a ridiculous notion.
“She didn't want to say who it was about.” Meg held the door open for her, looking her in the eye.
Illy paused, “What are you telling me?”
Meg wasn't really sure, she was only just piecing it together herself, “Well…” she took a breath, “I just assumed I didn't know who it was about. But now, I kinda think it's about you.”
Illy's eyes widened almost imperceptibly. “Oh God,” a sudden hopeless desperation washed over her. She glanced around quickly to check no-one could over-hear them. “You think she lied to the world, so she could hide it from me?”
Meg shrugged, it was pure conjecture, but it did make a lot of sense. The words of the song were particularly pertinent. “It's a good song,” she repeated, not sure what else to say.
“It's a great song,” Illy affirmed with sadness. “And I thought it was about… well, you , being broken-hearted. Fuck .”
Meg watched the myriad of emotions that were suddenly clearly coursing through her friend. Illy turned and entered the building.
“Do you love her?” Meg asked, stopping Illy once again in her tracks. She hadn't expecting to be so brazen with the question, nor so quick, but Jess was as much her friend as Illy, more so even, and she hadn't a clue what was really going on.
Illy opened her mouth to speak, but no words came. She looked away quickly. “I care about her,” she said finally. Meg sighed, knowing that it was more than that. And Illy could see she believed it was more. “I don't know,” she continued, shaking her head, “I did, once.” Illy started off again, clearly agitated, with Meg in hot pursuit.
“Are you two…?”
“No! No Meg, I swear,” she answered continuing to make her way down the hallway with a little sluggishness. “We're not. We… talk , sometimes. On the phone. Every few months. I've had dinner with her a few times in the last two years, if we're in the same city. We see each other at gigs… and awards shows…”
“And she asks you to come on tour with us, and you say yes.”
Illy sighed. “Yes.”
Meg caught up to her, pulling her up, wanting suddenly to talk about it. “And you were sleeping with her on that first tour?”
“Yes,” Illy said simply.
“I had no idea.”
“I know. I'm sorry.” Meg could see she really meant it. “I… I was caught up in the whole notion of Jesse Graver being into me, and I was fairly certain you wouldn't approve.”
Meg smiled kindly, “Illy, who you sleep with is your business,” she said candidly. “Sure, I'm a little pissed I was easily duped, but I do understand you wanting to keep it quiet. I'm more concerned about what's going on now.”
Illy nodded. She took breath and closed her eyes briefly. “I'm with Aud. Aud knows it's complicated, but she trusts me.”
“Okay,” Meg accepted that. “You trust yourself?” she asked sardonically.
Illy started walking again, “That's the only person I can trust,” she spat a little bitterly.
Meg cursed herself. “Don't mess with her, Illy,” she warned lightly as she joined her again, taking the corner that lead up towards the dressing rooms.
Illy's brow hiked, but she continued on her way, “Excuse me?”
“She's… not as thick skinned as she appears, and she's dangerous when wounded.”
“She's a songwriter, she doesn't hide how she feels very well.” Meg laughed openly causing Illy to stop. “You think I'm wrong?”
“Let's just say I think there are very few people who are capable of telling when something really matters to Jessica. Maybe you should listen more closely to that song,” she suggested.
Illy frowned again, taking another deep breath. “It's not about me.”
“I don't want it to be about me. Do you understand?”
Meg looked down the corridor quickly. “Yes,” she answered simply as she turned back. And she did. She understood that if the song was about Illy then she would have to deal with what the song said about how Jess had felt, and probably did still feel. The song would be saying everything that she was incapable of conveying. It spoke of pain, of love she wanted to bestow, of an inability to be what someone needed, and of how agonising it was watch everything slip away.
It was everything that Illy might once have only dreamed of hearing, and now it was everything she might dread to hear. Some things, no matter how regrettable, cannot be taken back once they have been acknowledged. They can no longer be brushed aside in innocence, instead all pretence is shattered, forcing reality to the fore.
Meg did indeed understand, perhaps too well. “I like Aud,” she added.
“I like her too. And you don't get to make me feel bad about something I didn't even do,” she chastised.
“I'm sorry.” Meg shook her head, annoyed at herself.
“Something else is going on,” Illy piped up.
“With you. I feel like… I let you down.”
Meg blew out a breath and rubbed her face quickly, she took a quick peek at the time on her phone noting they had plenty, “I need a role model Isla,” she started candidly. “I need to see two grounded people capable of having a normal relationship.”
And then it was clear. Isla almost laughed. “And you're upset to discover I have a history with Jess because you think it spoils my relationship with Aud?” Meg shrugged. “You want us to be perfect, and we're not.” Illy pursed her lips watching the childlike hope Meg carried splintering before her. “Aud and I have a very honest, grown up relationship. We accept that the other person has a history, and that not everything in it is resolved, or can be. But that's okay.”
Meg bit her lip not wanting to dispute that, but needing to, “You and Aud have both told me there's always an ex.” Illy stared at her, seeing where this was headed, and where it had come from. “Would you say Jess was yours?”
“The last big thing?” Illy questioned. Meg affirmed that was what she had meant by nodding. Illy nodded in return, “Yes.”
“If she suddenly told you everything you had always wanted to hear…”
The drummer stopped mid-sentence.
“You're sleeping with the filmmaker aren't you?” Illy asked plainly. “And you like her, and you're worried she isn't over her ex, and more so you're worried her ex isn't over her. And that at some point they'll both realise it. Am I right?”
“When two people break up, one is usually pushing for it more than the other. One person is usually more unhappy, and sick of hoping things will improve. Breaking up is not designed to improve things, it's designed to stop them altogether. It's the first step towards moving on. And there are a lot of steps in between. I have no idea how I would feel if Jess…” she shook her head, not even knowing what it was that Jess could do or say, never mind what affect it might have.
“Wasn't it you who told me you're not over the last big thing til the next big thing is sitting on your face?”
Illy's jaw dropped. “No. That's sounds like someone else altogether!”
Meg frowned, “You know what I mean. You're not over the last big thing until you meet the next big thing. And using that logic…” Meg let the notion hang, not wanting to follow the point she was making to its natural conclusion.
“If Aud is the next big thing, I should be over Jess? Ergo, if you're the next big thing, Kirstin's ex isn't a threat?”
Meg's brow knit. They had been very vaguely, and rather cautiously strolling toward the dressing rooms. There was very little activity in the venue since they had made good time, but Meg couldn't help keeping her voice low, “Something like that.”
Illy pushed open the room marked Control Zed and checked inside it, ushering Meg inward when she found it empty. “Megan, when was the last time you were sure, I mean absolutely certain, about something like this?” She headed over to the fridge in the corner and grabbed a bottle of sobering cool water. “Seems to me all big things start small.” She took a sip, offering it to Meg who refused. “But they grow, and given enough time they can become bigger than the last big thing. Until then, there will always be a period of time when they're not. And honestly, maybe we don't realise the size they've grown to until they're standing next to the last big thing that was.”
Meg blinked at her. “I'm doing your head in aren't I?”
“A little, yes. I think it's okay not to instinctively know all of the answers. I know that I want to be with Aud, and I will continue to be with her until such a time as I don't anymore. That's all I can promise her, and all she can promise me. That's what being in an honest relationship means to us. A level of openness that leaves room for failings, without an expectancy of failure.”
“You're going to riddle me out of this conversation, aren't you?”
Illy smiled, “If you're asking me if her ex is an issue, then she already is.”
Meg sighed heavily, knowing it was true. “And Jess?”
“Is Jess. She enjoys the chase, that's all I ever was.”
But Megan wasn't so sure.
Kirstin had ventured to the venue a little later than Megan, with Suze in tow. When she had called by her room to collect her she half expected to see Josh hanging around, but her assistant told her he was meeting them at the venue.
This had irked Kirstin somewhat, it meant she would have to retell the news of the day before involving the script they were developing. Suze had received numerous related calls regarding the film and the cast, which she had tried to relay to Kirstin earlier that day by answer phone message.
All other news had lingered ominously. So ominously in fact that Kirstin barely spoke on the journey across town. Thankfully she could allow Suze to fill her in, while nodding in the appropriate places. And it wasn't until the pair had entered the venue that Suze noted her boss's unusually meek countenance. In fact it was exactly as they passed Megan and Illy in the corridor that she realised why.
“Hey Kirstin,” Illy sang, “Suze,” she nodded.
They both smiled and nodded back, “Hey.”
But Suze knew something wasn't right. “Oh my god,” she hissed, looking back at the two musicians, registering the fact that Kirstin had barely even blinked at Meg. Her mouth hung open.
Kirstin gave her a sideways glance. “What?”
“I owe you five hundred don't I?”
Kirstin blushed deeply and stuttered, “I… er… I… don't…” she was very aware the other two women, though engrossed in a conversation of their own, might well have heard Suze's jibe.
“Shut up. Just shut up. I can't believe this,” Suze shook her head.
Kirstin increased her pace, heading for the back stage door and consequently their truck.
Suze was rummaging in her purse for gum, “This is so not fair,” she muttered as she found some and shoved it in her mouth, scraping curls from her face that the breeze insisted on allowing to impair her vision. Though the rain had ceased the ground outside was still wet and they had to dance around the puddles in the car park.
Kirstin had clamped her mouth shut the entire way, and held the door open for Suze, making sure it was firmly shut behind her. “You cannot tell anybody,” she told her in not uncertain terms.
Her assistant stopped mid chew, “What?”
“I don't want people to know, okay?”
Suze frowned, seeing how serious her friend was, “Okay. I won't tell. But they fuck like rabbits Kirstin, it's hardly news.”
“Yeh, well… I don't wanna be a rabbit.”
“I didn't mean…”
“I know. But that's exactly why I'd rather no-one knew.”
“How did you know?”
“Are you kidding? That's the first time I've seen you not go out of your way to say hi to her.”
“Really? I've been doing that?”
“Ya-hah,” the native New Yorker sang to her now wincing boss. “And here I was thinking you were in meetings all day!”
“I did go to a meeting,” Kirstin pointed out.
“Mmm. Well… are you going to spill?! That's the least I deserve, now that I'm both unkissed and penniless!”
Kirstin laughed, and nodded.
The Glasgow show was a roaring success, just as every gig seemed to be. Kirstin was glad that she was able to sit in a truck and watch it from a distance however. Having chatted with Suze she was a little wary of her conduct around Meg, since she was clearly incapable of acting normal. Apparently normal involved a great deal of ever increasing friendliness, and some occasional covert flirting she hadn't even been aware of, both of which were hard to pull off convincingly the same day you had seen someone naked. She reasoned it was better to remove herself from the situation, which was easily accomplished. But that didn't have to mean no contact at all.
- You were great tonight X
- You mean I was great this afternoon. I could be great again tonight? ;) x
- You have a big head. It fills my screen. Mostly hair…
Kirstin stopped typing. The thought of a repeat viewing was very enticing, but she was wary of jumping in too quickly, thereby forming a habit or encouraging expectations in either direction. She told herself again that she wasn't a rabbit, and then pondered how best to formulate a response.
- … I very much want to give you an opportunity to repeat your victory dance, but I was under the impression you wanted a second date? X
Megan laughed out loud, and blushed a little. She was helping to pack her kit up, doing a final check before loading. She sat on her drum stool which was always last to be zipped away, and texted back with a smile,
- Your hair was as big as mine last night… and yes, I want a second date. Could be tricky to organise under the radar though. Maybe you could meet me for a nightcap and we can make a plan? x
Kirstin was powering down her equipment. She chewed at the pen in her mouth until it cracked, splintering and hurting a little. She was contemplating the reality of secretly dating someone when you were practically living with the majority of their friends. A nightcap at the hotel seemed like a good idea. Ben and Jess would probably go out, maybe Illy and her boys would… no, no Illy probably wouldn't be. Unless they were… no. No they're not. Although Meg wasn't certain was she?
They would both have to travel back to the hotel anyway and Meg's room was practically opposite Kirstin's. It would be so easy. It's been less than six hours, Kirstin chastised her ridiculous schoolgirl excitement, telling herself she could wait.
- Nightcap is code word for gratification, amateur. If I bump into you on the way back, that'll be nice, otherwise we can covertly discuss a rendezvous on the plane tomorrow. X
- It is? I thought that was only in movies. I knew you only wanted me to hold your hand. You're so gay. How did I not notice that before?! ;) I honestly meant just a drink, but fine, I understand. I'll make sure I bump into you then… x
Now it was Kirstin's turn to laugh as she locked up the truck. Touring like this sometimes made it hard to remember where you were or what city it was that things had taken place in. The bus and the live truck were parked identically here as they had been in London , as they tended to be everywhere. The back alley was lit by the same dull yellow lamps. The building beside them was just as innocuous, if only for the fact that Kirstin rarely saw more than the stage doors for the most part. Hotels also often looked the same, though the Glaswegian hotel would be permanently etched in her head. The signage, the entrance, the foyer, the lift, even the mini bar in Suze's room. All had traces of the gradual build up between Meg and herself.
In fact, as she looked at the graffitied dirt on the back of the dark and seemingly uninhabited tour bus, even that was tinged. The stage door flew open casting light out into the alley. A large black metal flight case came tumbling out on wheels, followed by the roadie pushing it, and then a steady stream of lighting rigs and other equipment. They were deftly being hauled up ramps and into the kit truck ahead. It was then that she noted a familiar figure leaning in the stage doorway, pulling on a cigarette, and smiling.
Kirstin's stomach actually fluttered as she instinctively smiled back before checking herself quickly. She wasn't sure what to do. Going over might be a normal thing to do, but she was still sure she would give herself away to anyone who saw. Instead she pulled out her phone again.
- This doesn't count as bumping. X
She typed, and sent, then waited, watching Megan reach for her phone. She read the message and snorted, shaking her head and clearly replying.
- Now who's the amateur, this was merely a prelude to the bump. x
The smirk on Kirstin's face was unmistakably sexy. A single brow arched, but quickly returned to rest when she caught Suze out of the corner of her eye.
“You ready?” she shouted, arms wrapped round herself like a southerner.
Kirstin nodded and ambled over.
Megan watched them head towards the rear exit that was crammed with fans wielding cameras and pens. She rolled her eyes, it would hardly be a swift exit if she joined them.
Adie sneaked up behind her, “Hey!”
Meg jumped, “Oh, jeez. You done?” she laughed watching the lampie wipe her hands on a rag.
“Yeh. You guys go through a lot of bulbs, it's not very eco-friendly. You going out now, or?” Adie had caught the idle look of lust on Meg's face, but not the recipient.
“I didn't get much sleep last night, think I'm gonna just go back and play catch up.”
Adie nodded, her blonde dreads swaying slightly. “We've had cameras all over us tonight.”
“Down here?” Meg was surprised.
“Yep, smoking breaks, questions, shots of us rigging!” She raised her brow. “If I'd have known I might have checked to see I didn't have grease on my face.”
“I did,” Adie grinned. “Thankfully I was told in time!” Meg laughed at her. “Well I'm going to go meet Laur out front. We'll probably go straight back to the hotel too. Check you later gator!”
“Did you see where Jess went?” Meg asked before she had chance to get away. Jess was being unusually independent of late.
“She's at the artist gate with Illy signing people's foreheads! Ben's having a spliff with bass n drums on the bus. Really good stuff,” she smiled.
“Okay thanks.” Meg frowned when Adie left. She didn't really want to get involved with the mob outside, but she was interested in watching the dynamic between the two singers. Peeking her head out of the door she looked down the alley way in both directions. Crowds had gathered at both sides, being held back by gates and security. When crowds like this made it hard for the band to leave with much dignity there was always a car to be found to whisk them away if need be. It wasn't that the fans weren't respectful, just that sometimes artists weren't all in the mood.
Jess was rarely not in the mood, and Illy was quite in awe of how self-effacing the singer actually was. When it came to strongly held opinions the girl was outright obnoxious on occasion, but when it came to someone telling her how great they thought she was, she blushed, like she really hadn't heard it before.
One fan had grabbed a hold of her to hug her, “I love you,” she was shouting, “I love you.” Jess had hugged her back, and thanked her politely, and then told her in no uncertain terms she should use that word more wisely. People wanted photos as well as signatures, of both women, particularly together. Josh was filming everything he could, and Tragedy was to hand taking people's cameras so that they could get between the two front women and pose.
Illy was on autopilot, doing her job and grateful for being a part of it. There were fans that had clearly come to see Control Zed, and her name was being shouted almost as much as Jesse's. But her head wasn't focussed. For the first time Illy was noticing how normal Jess was, how humble she could be, and kind. Her remarks to fans weren't just smart, they were genuine. She seemed to actually be telling them that she was grateful for their support, while encouraging them to be a little less obsessed. The irony was they loved her all the more for it.
To Illy it was just a job. A flattering part, sure, but she sighed when she saw some of the more obsessive fans. Whereas Jess seemed to want to educate them, she wanted to relate to them.
Jess leaned into her and whispered, “You done here yet?” Illy nodded vigorously. “Okay guys,” the Grapple singer shouted, “I'm tired, I have to leave it there tonight okay?” A crowd's worth of ‘Aw' hummed back at them. “There's just too many of you! And I'm taking her with me,” she smiled gesturing to Illy. “Thanks for the gifts, we'll be back soon y'all!”
She placed a hand on Illy's shoulder turning her away from the crowd and ushering her back down the alley way. “You look tired,” she stated in concern.
Security kept the pair separated from the crowd and began closing the gates again, replacing the boards behind them. Josh pulled the camera off his shoulder, and Seth pulled a set of earphones off his noggin, scratching his head where they had made a groove in his fro. Megan saw them heading towards her, grateful she hadn't had to brave the masses, and watching them both carefully.
Illy looked at her one-time lover as they walked. “I'm just a little drained,” she admitted.
Meg saw the look. Meg did not like the look.
Illy made her excuses and joined her band mates soon after Jess declared she just wanted to go back to the hotel. It wasn't ideal for Meg, who was trying to figure out how to bump into Kirstin, but Jess seemed subdued, she wanted to make sure she was okay. Thankfully there was a car available with blackened windows to sneak them through the rear exit. It didn't stop people holding cameras to the windows in vain attempts of getting a picture however.
“Don't,” Jess warned quickly as the car pulled away from the crowds.
“Lecture me. You have your strong-words face on. And I'm telling you, I know . Okay?”
“You have no idea what I was about to say,” Meg half-whined.
“Yes, I do. You were about to tell me that Illy might be a little bit confused right now, and I should be careful.”
“Oh,” she had to admit that was pretty close. What she didn't realise was that Jess wasn't sure which one of them Meg was intent on protecting.
“Well guess what? I'm pretty confused right now. Mostly because she is. Because I wanted to meet her girlfriend so I could start thinking about her being with someone who I'm sure is perfect. Who I can see gives her everything she needs and wants and deserves. Okay?”
Megan looked at Jess in wonder. Her friend had never really been one to be open about matters of the heart, and it crossed her mind that more often than not Jess tended to push love away, reciprocal or otherwise. “What if what she wants is you?” she asked simply.
Jess scowled, snapping her head round, “Are you trying to make this worse?”
“No. No I… I just… I don't know what to think anymore. You guys are kinda devious.”
Jess relaxed a little, pulling an altogether different face, “I bet you think that was me? But it was her, she didn't want to tell you, or anyone .”
“I know.” Meg was sympathetic.
Jess saw the compassion. “Did you talk to her?”
“A little,” came the careful response.
The Texan was too afraid to ask what had been said. “Look, fact is when you really care about someone you want to keep them near, even if they don't feel the same. You don't get to lecture me about that.”
Jess was referring to Eva, Megan's last long term girlfriend, whom she had consistently tried to remain friends with, unsuccessfully. “You should tell her how you feel,” the drummer said.
“No. No I should not. That's exactly what I've not been doing for the past three years. That is neither fair, nor productive.”
“Isn't it unfair not to tell her?”
Jess shook her head. “I'm sorry. What did you do with my friend? The one who lives by a moral code no-one can live up to? This is me trying to live up to it, Meg. That's the point isn't it? Not that you always succeed in being a morally grounded individual, but that you at least try ?”
Meg sighed. That was exactly the point. And, it seemed, Jess was actually for once successful in pursuing that goal. But it didn't seem to settle well with her. She couldn't help but wonder how Illy would react to knowing how Jess really felt, and what Jess really wanted. Perhaps given an actual choice Illy would pursue it.
Jess stared at her, seeing the cogs at work. “Megan, if Illy wanted to be with me, she wouldn't be with the signer.”
Megan let the derogatory reference to Aud go. “If what you want isn't on the menu, does that mean you shouldn't eat?” she asked incredulously.
“I'm on the damn menu!”
“Yeh, in the light bite section!”
“Stop doing my head in! What the hell's wrong with you? You should be telling me to back off, not test the water.”
“I know. You're right. I should.” She had no way of explaining that fresh experiences could change how you viewed the past, present and future. That they could throw your moral compass off, and weave their way through your life changing the very fabric of its make up, if only for the duration of the experience itself. She had no way of telling because she wasn't supposed to tell.
Yet Megan's reservations regarding Kirstin were so very easily projected, using other people to answer her own questions, rather inconclusively.
Neither Megan nor Jess wanted to go out after the gig, Jess looked like she needed a drink after their chat in the car, and Megan wanted to lurk in the bar, hopeful, keeping an eye on the open doorway leading to the foyer.
Kirstin and Suze had found it a great deal harder to find passage home, having to compete with Glaswegian Grapple fans for taxis. As it happened Suze was hoping to wallow a little with Kirstin, and had encouraged her to have a drink before heading to bed. They had left Josh with the others to finish up the shoot and pack anything away. Kirstin was sure she was going to be very frustrated with the pair of them before the tour was out.
“I'll go, it's fine, find a seat,” Kirstin instructed her assistant, unknowingly entering the same territory as Meg and Jess. Of course many an evening was spent in a hotel bar on the tour, but not often so soon after the end of a gig. It was more usually the last port of call.
Meg, being in a composed hurry to return to her viewing seat was retrieving fresh drinks from the bar. Kirstin was still listening to an amendment in Suze's order. Both women turned at precisely the same moment, one toward the bar, and one away from it. The resulting collision was comical, and liquid.
“Shit!” Meg shouted, narrowly missing an actual impact of glass or bodies, and instead pouring the drinks she was carrying over both herself and Kirstin who, in a similar state of shock, stood there dripping with her mouth open.
She stared at Meg who had one eye shut as alcohol began to make it sting. “This is also not what I meant,” she commented dryly when her head had caught up.
Megan started laughing. “Oh God,” she winced, “I'm sorry.” She placed the glasses back on the bar and wiped at her face and eye. Kirstin licked her lips. “Ugh, whiskey!” she spat. The barman had by that point run around with a napkin for them each, and Suze had popped over to see what the fuss was about, with Jess in tow.
“What the hell?” she drawled.
Kirstin, who was by now smiling at the ironic turn of events, turned, “Hey Jess,” you're not getting your drinks I'm afraid ladies,” she remarked wryly, attempting to soak up some of the liquor from her shirt. She looked at herself, and then at Meg. “How can there be so much of it?” she asked.
“They were doubles.”
“Well, I'm going to have to change this,” Kirstin remarked in the general direction of Suze, who was rolling her eyes.
“We can get our own drinks,” Suze commented with heavy sarcasm.
“I'll come up with you,” Meg shook her head, still wiping her face.
Kirstin didn't miss the second eye rolling Suze administered, she bit her lip briefly in response. “You guys play nice now,” the filmmaker mocked. Suze and Jess were not known for hanging out together.
Suze bit her tongue, painfully holding back a retort.
The pair stood in the elevator in silence for the first few floors. Giving sideways glances and the occasional smirk. Kirstin finally starting laughing, causing Meg to smile, until she too was giggling away.
“You couldn't have planned that better.”
“I couldn't have planned that full stop,” Meg protested.
The doors opened and they both headed down the corridor together smiling, fishing in pockets and bags for keys. Meg paused at Kirstin's door as she kept digging in her pocket.
Her mouth moved for moment before her head made an almost sensible comment fall from her lips, “need any help?”
Kirstin laughed at her tenacity. “Not really.”
“I meant with the shirt.”
“I know what you meant,” Kirstin raised a brow.
“Worth a shot,” Meg grinned devilishly.
“I think you've given me every shot you had available!”
Meg laughed again, “Yes, I'm truly sorry. I'd happily help clean you up…”
“We're both expected downstairs, if you come in here, that's not going happen and we both know it.”
The drummer nodded sagely. “Fine. Can I at least call for you on the way down?”
“Yes, that you can do.”
Within ten minutes they were both back in the lift heading to the ground floor. “Jess is going to spend all night philosophising about relationships by the way.”
Kirstin looked at her, “She is? Why?”
“The whole Illy thing.”
Kirstin pulled a face. “Well maybe she can give Suze some decent advice.”
“She still hasn't?”
“This is not going to be the fun packed evening I was hoping for,” Meg sighed.
“And what were you hoping for?” Kirstin questioned.
“A least a little flirtation,” Meg whined. “Not listening to two women bemoan their lack of…” she searched the air, where it didn't exist, and instead looked pointedly at Kirstin, where it did. She felt her pulse race.
Megan squared up to blonde, inching closer. She glanced quickly at what floor they were on before swiftly herding Kirstin to the back of the lift and pinning her there.
“This,” she answered.
“Oh. This.” Kirstin enjoyed the instant heat between them, smiling at Meg almost defiantly, almost daring her to get closer. Being backed into a corner didn't have to mean you were submissive.
“Ground floor,” the lift announced in an annoyingly clipped English tone.
“Damnit,” Megan cursed, spinning around quickly striding off, leaving a thoroughly amused, and somewhat aroused filmmaker in her wake.
Continued in Part 14
Return to the Academy
Thanks to Jen for beta duties. Ax