“This kind of sucks,” Violet said, watching various supplies be carried out of the med tent. “I mean, I didn’t expect CHOP to live forever, but this is more whimper than- um, shit. Not to minimize the way we’ve lost some people. But you expect clashes with the cops lit dramatically with Molatovs and trash can fires, refracting around the fog from smoke grenades. Epic drama. Not anticlimactic notices from the city and the police to vacate before the skull-cracking starts.”
“Hey, a majority of the city council has already agreed to cut the SPD’s budget in half. That’s huge.”
“I guess,” Violet said thoughtfully. “But I wanted to thank you, both of you. It might have been better if we’d been able to catch the assholes involved in the shootings, but that the two of you chased them off was a close second- and already way more dangerous than I ever would have been comfortable asking you to be involved in. But you two have really helped, in ways I wasn’t sure a couple of out-of-towners would, you know?”
“Sure,” Demi said.
“I was kind of wondering if you might want to stick around. For a few days, at least, just make sure things really are going back to normal- relatively safe, I mean.” She tugged on her cloth face mask. “I get the feeling we’re a ways away from normal.”
“I think we would,” Demi said, “but we were staying here.” She pointed at the abandoned precinct building. “And with the cops retaking it, I don’t think they’d be keen on having roomies.”
“I could, uh, I could put you up in my place, just for a few nights. It’s nothing fancy- one of you would have to sleep on the couch, if that wouldn’t be a problem with Mai. I mean, if you don’t mind cuddling close, we might all fit on my queen, but.”
“Couch is fine,” Mayumi said.
“And you’re okay with us, uh,” Violet blushed. “I wouldn’t want to, um, intrude.”
“Oh,” Demi said, and stifled a laugh. “We are not- we’re just close friends.”
“Well,” Violet said, turning an even brighter red, “then I guess that changes the nature of my offer, a little. I mean, if you want to just lie side by side I can absolutely try to be a gentlewoman and keep my hands to myself, but I can’t promise not to drool on you. Oh. Crap. I meant that in a sexy way, not in a waking up in one of your grandmother’s slack-jawed dribble puddles. From the mouth! Oh my god,” she muttered, “I’m making this so much worse.” Then she stood bolt upright. “Oh. Ew. And I’m not saying you have to fool around with me to stay, either. That’s gross. God. I will just give you my keys,” she reached into her pocket, “and I’ll text you the address. If you need anything, I’ll be trying to hold onto a rock at the bottom of the river.” When Violet tried to hand Demi her keys, Demi caught her hand and held it. “Oh,” Violet said, and swallowed.
“It’s okay, Vi,” Demi said. “We’re all a little… worked up. It’s been a stressful few days, for everybody, and, at least so far, your flusteredness is more adorable than restraining-order worthy; and if you had been offering, it wouldn’t exactly be the first survival sex I’ve been offered. And I’m happy to stay, at least for a night. After that we can talk. And if Mayumi needs to leave before me, she can always take the car.”
“Think I’ll stay too,” Mayumi said. “Though I’m not much of a cuddler.”
“Not much of a lesbian, either,” Demi said. “Doesn’t often talk about men, but when you get enough of the right kinds of liquor in her, wow. The absolute pornography that drips from that woman’s mouth.” Mayumi stared death at her. “But it’s oddly beautiful, too; I swear, if I wasn’t already very bi, I would have been afterwards. It was the spoken word equivalent of a steamy sex scene.”
“I think that’s an experiment worth trying. I’ve got a moderately impressive- for a mostly poor community college girl- liquor collection, a lovingly used copy of Dirty Dancing– I think we could have a hell of a night. I have warm sake- crap, I hope that didn’t sound racist- I just like warm sake.”
Mayumi continued to glare, slowly turning it from Demi to Vi. “You monsters,” she muttered, before turning down the street.
“I hope I didn’t offend her,” Violet said.
“I don’t think so,” Demi said. “Last time she did that, she came back two hours later with a bottle of the most exquisite alcohol. The label was torn, and I think the bottom had a little dried blood on it. I couldn’t tell you if she bought it, or beat a man to death for-slash-with it, but whatever it was, wherever she got it, it was worth it.”
“You two really seem like the fun kind of weird.”
“You’re just saying that because you want into my pants.”
“They do seem like they’re some very fun pants. But seriously, there’s no pressure. If it’s just a platonic evening with friends, that’s totally fine. How do you feel about pizza?”
Demi rubbed her belly. “I’ve been known to eat more than I should.”
“Let me treat,” Demi said. “You’re already putting us up, and potentially sharing some of your booze. Just aim me at the best pizza that’s in our general path.”
“It’s a date.”