GameStop closed at eight, and by the time Miles closed the store down and locked up it was eight thirty. By eight forty, he had been home, changed his clothes, and picked me up at my apartment. He drove as fast as caution would allow--heedless of the speed limit, and the thankfully oblivious cop that had been sitting at the light on Doyle street. By eight fifty, we were pulling into the parking lot of the Safeway by Dave's place, and speeding into the building. Miles' usual hunter-gatherer shopping style was in full display as he stalked down the chip aisle, grabbing bags of Doritos and six or seven two-liter bottles of Mountain Dew. At five to nine, we were back in the car, headed for Dave's place.

Please let Kate be there, I had been saying to myself all afternoon. Please let Kate be there. I do not want to spend the entire evening listening to those dorks talk about dwarves and elves and dragons.

Nine o'clock, and here we were, another Friday night hiking through Dave's apartment complex, loaded down with Mountain Dew and Doritos. Miles walked in front of me, walking a step and a half faster than me because first, his legs are freakishly long, and second because the anticipation of D&D night was too much for him to bear at this late hour. He waited all week for this. All of his buddies, Dave, Cody

and Randy, all crowded around Dave's dining room table. Dave huddled behind a cardboard foldout, insanely detailed hand-drawn map lying in front of them, table littered with all kinds of paper ("character sketches" Miles calls them), endless tumblers of Mountain Dew, more Pink Floyd than you can shake a stick at, and dice of such increasingly mind-boggling geometry as to make your head spin. It was fun for him.

Why was I here, you may be wondering. I've been bugging Miles for weeks about wanting to do more stuff together. This was really just a preamble to the break-up speech, which I'd been practicing in my mirror for the last week. "I want to do more stuff together!" I whined, hoping that he would feel smothered and want to get out of the relationship by himself. If this didn't work, I was planning on moving to the "I want you to meet my family," speech, then the "does my ass look big in these jeans," question, and if none of that worked, I would just have to face my fear and break up with him.

Course, tonight, the "I wanna do more stuff together" plan had backfired on me. When I told him I wanted to do more stuff together, he invited me to D&D night. Totally not enthused with the idea, but realizing that it would be another Friday night alone with my vibrator (which I'd told Miles was a back massager), I tagged along.

Not that he was that bad a guy. He was okay looking, sweet and kind, funny and witty. But he was overbearing,

quick-tempered, a little selfish in bed, and there were personal hygiene issues he'd never gotten around to solving. He was nerdy, which is okay, because I'm more than a little nerdy myself, but there's nerdy and then there's NERDY. He was a good guy, just not MY guy. Not the one for me.

He was a big guy, rotund in the mid-section, a couple of inches over six feet. He always wore this black duster probably because he thought it made him look like Neo from the Matrix.

He always wore combat boots (which were usually the source of some of my hygiene complaints), and baggy cargo pants. It was like he was perpetually ready to go to war with the world, but you didn't have to know Miles to realize that he would have released his bowels and run screaming into the night if someone had pointed a gun at him.

I got to the steps leading up to Dave's third floor apartment as Miles was knocking on the door. I trudged up the steps by myself, lugging his stupid Mountain Dew and Doritos and wondering if I shouldn't just skip all those little games and just break up with him. I heard the other guys cheer as someone opened the door to admit Miles. Hooray! Now the nerd-fest can officially begin! By the time I got up the stairs, he was already seated at the table, black duster discarded on the couch, ready to begin tonight's fantasy role-playing marathon.

Kate was nowhere to be seen. This wasn't altogether surprising. I mean, why would she want to hang around all these losers all night? Surely she had better things to do. I sighed and picked a place on the couch, reaching into my purse for my book (a David Eddings fantasy--like I said, I'm a tiny bit nerdy myself), when I heard a female voice say, "Here you go, Miles."

I looked into the kitchen, and there was Kate. The relief that washed through me is impossible to describe. She placed a tumbler of Mountain Dew in front of Miles and looked into the living room. Her eyes caught me, and her shoulders fell in what looked like relief. "Oh, thank God," she said, "another girl." She moved toward me and gave me a hug. "This place needs way more estrogen," she said.

Kate's my height, maybe a tiny fraction taller than me. She's got a gorgeous smile and sly green eyes that hide behind her the black horn-rimed frames of her glasses. She's got black hair, cut short to just around her jaw line.

Tonight she had on a black, tight fitting t-shirt and black jeans, but there was nothing new about that; Kate always wore black. Kate's sort of a nerd too, but more of a goth nerd. She's into The Cure and Type-O Negative and horror novels and

her DVD collections of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. She and Dave had been going out for the better part of a year now, and didn't show any sign of stopping any time soon.

"Jesus, get a room," said Cody, watching us hugging each other with a lazy gleam in his eye that told me he was picturing one or both of us naked.

Kate gave him the finger and took me by the hand, leading me away from the D&D-athon. "If you need us, we'll be in the bedroom!" Kate said, meaning the bedroom she and Dave shared. They lived together in this apartment, and their relationship was going a lot better than mine and Miles' was.

"Take lots of pictures!" Cody called after us.

"Fuck you Cody!" she said in the same tone.

And before I knew it, I was in the bedroom and Kate was closing the door behind us. The decor was an interesting blend of goth nerdery and sci-fi dorkery. For every leering gargoyle model, there was a menacing Darth Vader. For every Tim Burton movie poster, there was an anime movie poster. For all the dead roses in vases, there were plenty of little action figures. But all told, the scheme worked. The room was neat and organized. The bed was a black frame with blood-red bedclothing, and Kate had lit a couple of candles, giving it an intense dark mood. She'd even lit a stick of Nag Champa, which was smoldering away nicely on the bookshelf, a delicate tendril of smoke curling around the Stephen King and Clive Barker paperbacks.

"Want some wine?" she asked. I nodded, and she turned to the dresser, and poured me a glass of red wine out of an already opened bottle. Kate's still nineteen, just like me, and all the other people in this apartment, but her brother works at a liquor store by campus, and brings her bottles of wine as long as she promises not to get all loaded and go driving, and not to tell their mom about it. She handed me the glass and I sipped at it cautiously. "Good, right?" she said, nodding. I nodded along, although I wouldn't know a good wine from a bad one.

"I got a really crappy movie we can watch while the guys are out there," she said, waving a red Netflix envelope in the air.

"What?" I asked.

"It's called Xanadu."

"How do you know it's crappy?"

"It's widely agreed to be one of the worst movies ever made." She said, turning to flip on the television. "Perfect for making fun of while drinking wine and being ignored by our boyfriends."

I laughed at this, but felt a tiny sting inside.

She put the movie on, and we settled in to watch it. She sat down on the bed, and motioned for me to sit next to her. Since there was nowhere else in the bedroom to sit, I did.

The movie was as crappy as advertised. Olivia Newton John running around in roller skates to ridiculously dated disco music. We lost interest half an hour into the movie and started gossiping instead.

Every now and then, we would hear things from the other room like an angry, "Bullshit!" followed by an incomprehensible, "Sorry, Randy, you missed your saving throw!"

We talked about people we knew from school, who were still in town. The lame-os like us who never left town for college. People like us who would be stuck here for the rest of our lives, working shit jobs because we were too afraid to go into the outside world. Maybe too afraid to leave the comfort and security of our families, maybe just incurably lame.

The movie went into a huge dance number, a bunch of people on roller skates dancing around to this crazy song, and Olivia Newton-John belting "It's Xanaduuuu" at the top of her lungs, and Kate and I were momentarily entranced. "Do you think she's pretty?" Kate asked, meaning Olivia, who was running around in a grey puffy pantsuit complete with sparkly halter-top.

It was hard to separate Olivia from her character, who was whiny and annoying, but it was easy to see that she was an attractive woman. That radiant smile and that feathered blond hair.

"Yeah," I said, "she's pretty."

"I think she's gorgeous," Kate said, and although I didn't say it out loud, I agreed with her.

We drank more wine, and gossiped some more. The gossip ran out after a while and we sat drinking our wine and watching the awful-ness that is "Xanadu." At the end, Olivia and her androgynous love interest share a kiss, which was fine. The credits rolled and a few seconds into them, Kate sighed and said, "I wish Dave kissed me like that anymore."

It took a moment to register what she'd said. "What do you mean?" I asked.

"He's not the most romantic guy, you know," she said.

"Huh." Here I had always thought her and Dave's relationship was the strongest out of any of our group of friends. They were always laughing with each other, always hosting parties.

She hesitated briefly before she said, "Do I sound like an old lady if I say that my needs aren't getting met?"

I laughed at this. "No, you sound like someone whose needs aren't getting met."

She got up to turn off the DVD and pour herself more wine. She gestured to me with the bottle, silently asking if I wanted some more. I stood up and held my glass out, and she poured more of the wine into it. "It's not that I don't love him," she said, after sipping at her wine. "He's just not, you know..." she pointed to her crotch, "DOING it for me, if you know what I mean."

I nodded in complete understanding.

"Miles hasn't made me come in weeks," I added, totally without meaning to. The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. I clapped a hand over my mouth in embarrassment, and blamed it on the wine.

Kate laughed loud. "Must be the wine talking," she teased.

I sighed dramatically. "If only it weren't true," I said.

"Don't you ever..." she waved her hand over her crotch,

mimicking masturbation.

"Oh, all the time," I said, surprised that I'd actually said it. I don't normally talk like this--to anyone. It's not that I'm a prude, or think it will offend anyone, it's just, you know, not their business. But since Kate had opened up to me, and we were already on our third glass of wine, it just came easier. "I even have a vibrator that I keep in the bedside table that..."

"...Wait," she stopped me. "Miles thinks its a back massager!"

We laughed aloud, and I almost spilled my wine, which made us laugh harder.

After a tiny moment of hesitation, during which Kate gave me a funny, evaluative look, she moved to her own bedside table,

opened it up, and took out her own back massager, which started us giggling again.

The thing was enormous! The size and shape of a baseball bat, if half the length. The thing plugged into the wall! No batteries here!

When I was able to talk again, I marvelled at it's size.

"Well," she explained. "If it's too small, Dave will think it's actually a vibrator!"

And this started us going again. While she laughed, Kate leaned over and plugged the thing into the wall, and turned it on. The sound it made! It sounded like a chainsaw had started up in the room. Unable to hold my wine and continue laughing, I carefully set it down on the desk by the TV, and fell onto the bed, clutching my stomach and curling up into a fetal position. She mimicked using it on herself, and this kept me laughing until I was begging her to stop. She fell back onto the bed and we laughed together.

When the giggles died away, Kate sighed and said, "It's such a shame we have to do it ourselves."

"Yeah, well, what are you going to do?"

Her hand was moving lightly up and down her belly, and every now and then, another giggle would escape from one of us. I watched her hand moving, up and down, from between her breasts to the top of her black jeans. She watched me watching her, gauging me, evaluating me. As our eyes were locked, she slipped her hand down the front of her jeans, and her eyes closed.

I watched her touching herself, listened to her breathing. Some part of me wanted to get up and leave her to her business, but there was nothing waiting for me in the other room, and besides, this was kinda hot. She was sharing something with me, and even though she was a girl, and I wasn't a lesbian or anything,

I'd never really even thought about it. Being gay, I mean. I'd never really asked myself the question. I just assumed I was straight and that was the end of it. I had a boyfriend, for crying out loud.

But was this really gay? Two girls on a bed and one of them's masturbating? Seems to me that gay involves two people of the same sex actually having sex with each other.

Her hand moved up and down, distorting the front of her jeans, and her mouth opened and shut, her lips puckered and relaxed, her eyes lightly shut.

It was certainly hot. The little grunts of pleasure that escaped from her mouth every now and then, the way her body moved and writhed as she explored. Suddenly, I realized that I was wet, you know, down there. And that must mean that I was kinda into it too, girl or no girl.

Would it be gay if I masturbated with her? I mean, not actually touching, or anything. Just two girls on a bed masturbating. Fully clothed and not touching?

Nope, I reasoned. In order to have sex, two people have to at least be touching each other. Kate and I were separated by at least a foot of bedspace.

Fuck it, I thought, and then I did. My jeans were tighter on me than Kate's were on her, so I had to undo the button and zip down. I put my hand into my pink panties and started work on my clit.

I don't know how long we lay there, Kate and I, each with a hand down the front of our pants, all I know is that with the game still raging in the other room, and neither of our needs being met, it felt natural, even good to be doing this. Kate came first, and her body clenched and spasmed with her orgasm. I came soon afterward, and Kate watched me with fascination, as if recording my orgasm.

When I was done, I dared to open my eyes. Kate still had her hand in her jeans, and she was breathing heavily. The smell in the room was musky and heady. She smiled at me, and I smiled back. "I needed that," she sighed.

I nodded, too weak to speak.

She stood up, adjusted her clothes, and walked out of the room, saying, "I gotta pee."

I lay there on the bed, and zipped my jeans back up, thinking about what had just happened. Gay? Straight? Meaningful? Innocent? Did it matter? Thoughts whirled through my head like Olivia Newton-John on roller skates. Just before Kate came back into the room, I had been asking myself if I'd enjoyed the experience. Laying next to her, each masturbating, smelling each others' breath and scents. I decided, as Kate came back in, holding another bottle of wine and closing the door quietly behind her, that I had.

She went over to the desk and poured more wine. She handed me my glass and sat down on the bed next to me. "Sorry about that," she said.

"About what?"

"You know..." she said, motioning to the bed with a quick head bob. "That."

I sipped at my wine. "Don't be sorry," I said. "It was kind of nice."

She smiled wistfully at that, and rubbed her thumb around the edge of her wine glass.

"How's the game going?" I asked.

"They're in the Castle of Shezzbazzar or something," she said, "fighting orcs."

I took another sip of my wine and Kate continued to trace around the rim of her glass with her thumb. The air was heavy. It was obvious Kate wanted to say something, but was working up the nerve. I had a feeling I knew what she was going to ask, and I enjoyed the waiting, knowing that I'd probably say yes to whatever she asked me.

Finally, she breathed in sharply and said, "So do you think if two girls masturbate on the same bed together that makes them gay?"

I laughed. "I was just wondering that myself."

"Do you?"

"No," I said. "Gay implies sex, sex involves touching, and we didn't touch."

"So if we were touching, we'd be gay."

I shrugged. "I guess."

This seemed to satisfy her. Her mind was obviously occupied with heavy thoughts, which I mistook at the time for her contemplating whether or not she should have started what had happened here previously.

"What if we had touched," she said. "Do you think that'd be okay?"

I paused, searching for the right answer. The true answer. "Sure," I said, finally.

"Aren't you worried it'd make you gay?"

I shook my head. "I don't think it would make you gay."


"Something like that. Either way, it wouldn't change the fact that I still like boys."

"It kinda worries me," she said.

"You know, there's only one way to find out," I told her, and before she could protest, I leaned in to kiss her.

The kiss was soft, and short, but instead of being awkward or uncomfortable, there was a very strong feeling that it felt right. At least on my end of things. When the kiss broke, the way she was looking at me told me that she was feeling close to the same thing.

My boldness spurred her on, and this time she reached for me, and planted another kiss on my lips. This one was longer, wetter. When I opened my lips a fraction to admit her tongue, she hungrily reciprocated.

She wordlessly raised her arms and I wordlessly lifted her t-shirt off her, exposing her milky white chest and (surprise surprise) black bra. Then I did the same, and she pulled my shirt off, and she gazed down at my own black bra (it was a sheer coincidence).

We stood there, our hands on each others' hips, sort of testing the feeling. Swaying back and forth like prom dates, gauging how it felt to be this close to each other without our shirts on. We laughed some more at how weird it felt, but we were also pulling closer together. Our hips met, and our bellies and breasts were touching.

We kissed again, this time deeper and longer. Kate opened her mouth, and I allowed her to slip her tongue inside mine.

When this kiss broke, we stood, forehead to forehead, staring down at each other's breasts, smiling like idiots.

I brought my hands up and played with the shoulder straps of her bra, running my fingers up and down them, then around the cups, tracing the underwire. By now, her fingers were touching my bra, tracing around the seams with her fingernails, while I continued to feel around the warm material covering her breasts.

"Want to go farther?" she asked, her voice barely more than a whisper.

I totally did, and I told her so with a nod. "But what if one of the guys comes in?"

She rolled her eyes. "You're kidding, right?" she asked. "They're so caught up in their game they wouldn't know if a meteor hit outside."

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