by Mairead and jenn
Val likes margaritas, like Justin does. Strawberry, with enough tequila to hit you just right after four hours of dancing. They drink three at the bar. Daphne's never been carded here.
Daphne's a lousy dancer, but Justin's never minded and neither does Val. Val holds her hips, pulling her into the rhythm, and laughing into her hair. Daphne's never felt her body like this, that adolescent clumsiness she's never lost that makes her trip and fall over doorways and across smooth pavement, forgotten for now. Val holds her steady, teaching her with her body. Slow and sinuous, with hands that cup her hips and show her how to follow. Rhythm and pressure and warmth that slips through the thin leather and fingertips that brush the bare skin of her waist.
This is Babylon, and Daphne laughs when Justin giggles in her ear, blond head bent, arm loose around her shoulders. Thirty minutes ago he pulled her into the bathroom and they took the hits he got from Emmett, giggling like the teens they were at the sound of moaning from the stall beside them. You spend way too much time studying, Justin had said, sticking out his tongue with the tiny pill in the middle. She'd snickered and licked it from his mouth, leaning back into the wall to laugh when he told her very seriously how gross it was to kiss girls.
"I don't count," she'd answered, and once it would have hurt to say it, but it doesn't now. Justin leads her out again, nimble over moving bodies and around groping hands. They were on the floor ten minutes before it hit her, and that's when everything went liquid and sharp at the same time. He'd wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into the music and she followed, because she'd follow Justin anywhere and they both know it.
"This is going to totally ruin your rep," she told him, watching the eyes on them, on *him*, on Justin, who's a legend in his own right and too beautiful to look at too long, bright as the sun at noon. He holds her hair when she throws up after parties and makes her soup when she's sick. She's never loved anyone like she loves him, and she doesn't think she ever will.
"Having fun?" Val whispers against her ear, and she nods, eyes closed at warm breath brushing the bare skin of her shoulder. Justin dressed her tonight. Be yourself, he'd said, throwing out the jeans, shaking his head at her dress. Soft leather she'd bought on a dare when they'd gone shopping weeks before. A tank top of Justin's, too loose and too tight in all the right places. Be yourself, he's said as she looked at herself in the mirror. And be more.
This is her and this is more. She's nineteen and she's high and tonight, she can be anyone she wants to be. She leans her head back and feels the brush of skin on skin when Val's chin rests on her shoulder. An instant of heat and promise and it should scare her and it doesn't.
Val had laughed when she'd tripped over a stool, catching the margaritas before they spilled. Blue eyes smoky behind the thinnest line of eyeliner, soft red lips. Auburn hair straight and as soft as silk when it brushed Daphne's cheek. Be careful, she'd said, grinning as she handed the drinks back. You need help with those?
She hadn't, but she'd said yes.
Val likes alt rock and chocolate pecan ice cream, Ben and Jerry's only. She's a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon and is going to medical school next year when she finishes her masters in biochemistry. She likes strawberry margaritas and Bruce Willis action movies and pretty girls. She doesn't know Daphne isn't gay.
Daphne doesn't tell her.
Justin's moving away, like he always does, just out of her reach, but he'll never leave and Daphne's learned that's what matters most. Moving like she wishes she could, liquid under glitter and bright lights, and Val murmurs that he's too pretty to be alone long tonight.
Daphne laughs, turning her head to meet smoky eyes. "He's never alone."
The kiss should startle her, but it doesn't, tequila and crushed strawberries and lips softer than Justin's had ever been, even in memory. A tilt of her head and it's all so much *better*, this is how colors taste and music feels when it's burning into every inch of your skin.
Val splays her fingers over Daphne's hip, her thumb rubbing rhythmically over the protruding bone, making Daphne's skin flush slowly, languidly.
Val's silver studs flash in her ears, and her upraised face glitters. Daphne's chest is tight as her body twists and spins. She lets her fingers move, they pull upward, tracing the curve of Val's sides, her breasts, her shoulders, and then down again as if they had never strayed.
Her breath rises out of her body, and she feels as if she is being lifted, the music ringing in her ears like a hymn. She throws her arms to the ceiling, laughing. Val's eyes darken with mirth, and her teeth flash, white and joyous.
Daphne's eyes close as she falls upward, tethered only by the firmness of the fingers at her waist, the breath against her lips.
Suddenly she can't breathe, smothered with sweet tingling, and she realizes that Val's lips are pressed to hers.
...and Val's lips are pressed to hers, fingers clutching at her hair and the soft skin under her shirt.
Val tilts her head to the side, catching Daphne's lower lip between her teeth, lifting her thumbs to drag across Daphne's taut nipples, fingers pinching softly. Biting at Daphne's lip, and those two sensations of tightening suddenly explode, as if her body hit water after a long fall. Heaviness floods her limbs in thick grains of lead, and she reels backward, gasping desperately. "Jesus fuck--" Her eyes skitter wildly around the room, landing on Justin before she realizes what she's searching for. "I have to--Valerie---Justin's waiting--" She pushes away, elbows locking, and stumbles forward, distancing herself from the swaying softness, dark eyes and dark hair.
Her hands shoot out and clutch fistfuls of Justin's thin white shirt. Her face is sheened with sweat, but it's an icy clamminess now, and she feels pale. Justin is dancing, rolling, but he pulls Daphne close, wrapping his arms around her shoulder, pressing his face into her thick hair. "Are you coming down?" He yells over the music. "You look sick."
"Can we go?" she shouts at him, her face shoved into the crook of his neck. "I feel gross. I'm sorry, I just--" she breaks off, stifling a sob, hoping he won't notice. He doesn't seem to, because he's leaning over to whisper something in the tall, green-eyed guy's ear. And then he's dragging her outside, and the cold hits her like a wave, and she falls to the pavement, retching.