The day was drawing to a close on that cold, December evening as Alya sat in the library. Although it was Friday night, she was cramming for a test coming up on Monday, so she had told Matt that she wouldn't be able to go out with him. He was very understanding of the whole thing, which was one thing she liked about him so much. He was always so considerate.
Surprisingly, she didn't feel bad about it at all. She really wasn't in the mood to go out with Matt that night anyway; she probably wouldn't have enjoyed herself. After she finished here, she planned to go back to the apartment and just relax for a while. Lissa would be there, and Alya always enjoyed her company.
She had been thinking about Lissa increasingly frequently lately, and wanting to spend more and more time with her. She sometimes thought she had more fun with Lissa than Matt, which was a surprising thought. Matt was handsome and charming, and the sex was nice of course, but there was something about Lissa that made Alya feel so comfortable around her. With Matt, Alya always felt self-conscious, as if their relationship were fragile and could be destroyed with a single wrong word. With Lissa, there was none of that. Alya could just let go of all her worries and be herself, because Lissa would never judge her.
Even with dozens of other students in the library, Alya suddenly felt very lonely. She had an urge to close up her books and go home right now, to talk and joke and laugh with Lissa. She could always study extra hard tomorrow to make up for it.
That wasn't like her, she realized. Alya would never sacrifice good studying time for such simple pleasures. At least, that used to be the way she felt. She was a bookworm, but lately she had felt a lot more social, at least around Matt and her roommates.
She sighed and closed her book. If she was going to let her mind wander like that, there was no point staying here in the library. She wasn't really getting any studying done anyway. Maybe after taking a long break with Lissa she would hit the books again later that night, but for now she was too tired.
As she stepped out of the library, a cold wind whipped through her hair, causing her to shiver. At the moment it was not snowing, but it had snowed a little earlier in the day, and the ground was covered in a white blanket. She had to be careful to watch her step; the sidewalks could be icy when it was like this.
She had brought only a light jacket, so was unprepared for the cold air. Part of her wanted to march right back into the warm library building, but she knew that her apartment was waiting for her. As soon as she arrived home, she would grab one of the blankets off her bed and curl up on the couch.
The only thing missing from the fantasy was a nice mug of hot chocolate (with marshmallows, of course). She had neither at home, so that was out of the question. Then she realized that there was a mini mart only a couple of blocks out of her way. They were bound to have at least the hot chocolate this time of year, and probably the marshmallows too. It would mean a longer trip home, but the thought of nursing a hot cup of cocoa was too pleasant to ignore. She left the library steps and headed in the direction of the mini mart.
Once she left the campus, the streets became more or less deserted. It was actually nice and peaceful, if a little cold. She wrapped her coat tightly around her, wondering if she should re-think her decision. Maybe she should just go home and ask Lissa to drive her over to the store. But no, she thought it might be fun to surprise all of her roommates by making them hot chocolate. So she trudged on to the store.
It was nice and warm inside, so she took her time browsing through the aisles, hoping not to find her targets too quickly. The hot chocolate was right up front, but fortunately she had to scan the aisles twice for the marshmallows, which were sitting on a shelf way in the back. Her usual hot drink of choice was tea, but tonight for some reason she craved a hot cup of cocoa. Part of that was that Lissa didn't usually drink tea, and the whole point was to have a bonding experience with her roommate. She paid for the groceries, then with her newfound treasures she marched back out into the cold.
Now she had no other obstacles in her way. She could go home satisfied that she had accomplished her goal. She could almost taste the cocoa already.
A couple of blocks from the store, she noticed a young couple kissing in the front seat of a parked car. She grinned, finding the scene rather amusing. Well, it was really none of her business, and she was getting cold, so she slipped quietly past them.
"Oh, Matt!" she heard the woman moan.
Alya's eyes suddenly went back to the couple making out in the car. It couldn't be! Hesitantly, she approached for a better look. It was the same brown hair, the same gray jacket.
She maneuvered to the front, and suddenly, it was perfectly clear. The boy was Matt!
Angrily, she approached the car, then knocked on the window. Matt turned around. When he saw her, his eyes grew wide with astonishment. The girl looked surprised as well, though she was someone Alya had never met before.
As Matt rolled down the window, his surprise turned to fear.
"Oh my god!" he exclaimed. "I just..."
Then Alya did something that surprised even herself. She laughed. Lissa had been right all along about him. By sowing that seed of doubt, she had forced Alya to consider the possibility that Matt would be unfaithful to her. She had wondered what she would do in this situation, and now that it happened, she realized that she had thought about it so much that it seemed perfectly natural to her. Of course Matt was going to be unfaithful! That was just his character. Alya didn't need someone like that in her life.
"Who the hell are you?" the girl demanded.
"You don't want to know my name," Alya replied, "and I don't want to know yours. I just think you ought to know that Matt's been sleeping with me. Goodbye, Matt. Don't bother calling."
Without even waiting to see the result of her words, she turned and walked away, leaving Matt behind forever.
She felt no sadness, no remorse, no regret. In fact, she felt more free than she had since she started dating him. Up till now, there had always been that specter looming there, the thought that maybe, just maybe, he would cheat on her. It was always a nagging doubt in the back of her mind. Ironically, now that it had proven true, now that there was no more doubt, it freed her from the worry.
Lissa had warned her about this. Lissa, her wonderful, sweet roommate, had wanted so much to spare her from the anguish. But the funny thing was that there was no anguish! As she thought about it, she realized it was because her relationship with Matt had been mostly physical. Sure she enjoyed the sex, but it couldn't take the place of a deeper, more emotional relationship. Hell, at that moment she thought she could give up sex entirely as long as she had good friends like Lissa around. She found that she wanted to be near her, to talk to her, maybe to hug her and feel her strength.
Alya smiled as she walked home to her apartment. She couldn't wait to tell Lissa about what happened.
Lissa was sitting on the couch with a textbook in her hands when Alya entered. Alya dropped her bag in the entryway, sat down next to Lissa and threw her arms around her, catching her off guard.
"What's this for?" asked Lissa, though she had to admit it felt nice.
Alya let her go, but left one arm around her shoulders. She wore a friendly smile on her face as she gazed into Lissa's eyes.
"What's going on?" asked Meg from where she sat at the kitchen table.
"Oh, I might as well tell everyone," said Alya. "I caught Matt with another woman."
"That creep!" Meg exclaimed.
"Oh Alya!" said Lissa. "I'm so sorry!"
"Sorry? What for? You were the one who warned me about him. And you know what? It's okay. You'll be happy to know that it doesn't bother me a bit. Isn't that what you wanted? To spare me from the pain?"
"I still feel bad about this whole thing."
"Well, it's over now, and there's no use crying over it."
"No, but there are other things we can do," said Meg. "For instance, the term 'lynch mob' comes to mind."
"Don't worry about Matt. When I caught him with that girl, I told her he's been sleeping with me. So now it looks like he's lost both his girlfriends in one night. That's a suitable punishment, don't you think?"
"Yeah, but a guy like him probably has two or three spares lying around somewhere."
"Well, he can do what he wants now, since I've given up all claim to him."
"Oh, come on," said Meg. "You two both know where he sleeps, don't you? Why not take advantage of the fact?"
"Meg, this is Alya's decision to make," said Lissa. "If she's willing to let things be, then I think we can do the same."
"Oh, all right. But you two are no fun."
"Thanks, Meg," Alya told her. "But it's over, and there's nothing more to be said about it. Besides, I bought some hot chocolate to make for you guys, and I'll be damned if he's going to spoil my evening."
Meg laughed. "Who needs a boyfriend if you can have hot chocolate, right? Not that there would be any competition in my case."
Alya got up and skipped into the kitchen to put some milk on the stove. Monique happened to be out of town, which meant there were only three of them to share the bounty. Five minutes later the girls all crowded into the kitchen to fill their mugs with steaming hot milk and stir in the cocoa powder. Then they returned to the living room to sit and talk. Alya went to her room to retrieve a blanket to wrap around her, and Lissa thought it was such a good idea that she did the same. Not wanting to be left out, Meg grabbed her own blanket, and the three of them sat and talked, all bundled up.
Lissa felt bad for Alya, but also for herself. Now she wouldn't get the chance to destroy the relationship. Alya was taking it rather well, all things considered, and Lissa felt happy for her. She had discarded Matt and moved on with her life, and it looked like she didn't feel the same pain that Lissa had.
In a way, Lissa was jealous. She wished she had had as easy a time getting over the relationship as Alya had. She wished someone had warned her what Matt was like so that she could have been prepared for it. But instead she had been left exposed, naked, and vulnerable before the awful truth.
That didn't mean she would have preferred to have Alya go through the same thing. Alya didn't deserve that. Even the new Lissa wouldn't have wished that on her roommate. Certainly it would have made her job easier; a girl who was hurting inside was much more easy to take advantage of. But it didn't change the fact that Lissa still had to go through with this.
They continued to talk for over three hours, about subjects ranging from world history classes to the pros and cons of fruit-flavored shampoos, to the finer details of bicycle maintenance. They talked of their families, of past relationships, and of their favorite movie stars. Not surprisingly, Meg's were all female. They teased Lissa about being a spoiled rich girl, Meg about liking women, and Alya about being a nerd. They even joked about Monique being French, even though she was not there to defend herself. Not once did the topic of Matt come up again in the conversation; Alya didn't seem to want to talk to him, and out of respect for her feelings Lissa and Meg didn't either.
As the evening wore on and the conversation wound down, Alya said she was getting sleepy and wanted to go to bed early. Lissa figured that was a sign that she wanted to be alone, so she and Meg headed back to their bedroom, each plopping down on their respective beds.
"So that's it, then," said Meg.
"That's what?" asked Lissa.
"Alya's broken up with Matt. Isn't that what you wanted?"
Lissa sighed. "What I wanted was to be the one to break them up. So now I'll have to scratch that part of the plan."
"What do you mean? Isn't the whole plan scratched?"
Lissa shook her head. "Alya's just gotten out of a bad relationship. Another one like that could ruin her. What she needs right now is to get involved with someone who won't do that to her."
"I'm not sure this is such a good idea any more, Lissa. You know I'd be overjoyed if she came over, but you're playing with her emotions."
"I'm giving her what she needs."
"Bullshit. You saw her. She wasn't crying, she wasn't angry, hell, she acted like she didn't even care. I think that's due to you. You've been a good friend to her, so maybe you should quit while you're ahead."
"Have you ever seen anyone get over a boy that easily? Or a girl for that matter?"
"No, but that's all the more reason--"
"What if she's hurt inside? What if she's putting on a positive face when really she's torn up over him?"
"What if you're just speculating?"
"Why am I trying to justify myself to you, anyway? What business is it of yours?"
"Okay, fine. I don't want to argue over this. Just be careful, for her sake and yours," she said with a tone of finality.
Lissa smiled at her, then reached out and put a friendly hand on hers. "Thanks, Meg, for looking out for us. I appreciate it, I really do." She stood up and headed for the door.
"Where are you going?" asked Meg.
"To put into effect the next step of my plan," Lissa explained with a grin.
After the cold evening air, Alya felt nice and comfortable in her bed. She had to admit that she enjoyed having a nice warm body in bed with her, but Matt would never again have that privilege. Sleeping alone actually felt a bit liberating. She sighed and turned onto her side facing the wall, just wanting to sleep.
The door opened, spilling light into the room. Alya turned over and squinted into the brightness. Lissa stood there, framed in the doorway. With the light shining behind her, she looked like an angel.
Lissa closed the door and crossed the room to the bed. Alya was startled to feel the covers being lifted, and Lissa slipping in beside her.
"What are you doing?" she whispered.
"I thought you needed someone to hold you right now," Lissa replied. "That first night after I caught Matt and you together, I cried myself to sleep. The last thing I wanted was to be alone, but there was no one to comfort me. I was even tempted to ask Meg to climb into bed with me, and damn the consequences. I don't want you to have to be alone tonight."
"I'm fine, Lissa," she said, "Really."
"Maybe you think you are, but what happens at two or three in the morning when no one else is awake and you have only your thoughts and emotions keeping you company? Trust me, Alya. I want to be here for you."
Alya considered. Lissa had been so good to her. Despite the fact that Alya was slightly older than her, Lissa had been like a big sister. As she thought about it, she realized she really did want someone to stay with her tonight, especially someone as kind and loving as Lissa.
"All right," she agreed, then turned over and lay her head down on the pillow. Lissa scooted in next to her, turned to face her, and put an arm around her. Alya had to admit, it did feel good. She could feel Lissa's warm body pressed up against her back and her breath on the back of her neck. It was like a never-ending hug, and Alya felt she needed a hug right now. Just feeling Lissa so close to her, knowing she was there to protect her from her own grief and loneliness, was so peaceful and relaxing. She drifted off to sleep, more content than she had been in a long time.
When she woke up crying at two-thirty, she realized Lissa had been right. Unlike the daytime when she had other things to keep her mind occupied, now in the middle of the night she was laid bare to her emotions. The thought that she had almost fallen in love with Matt both frightened her and saddened her. Overall, there was a deep regret for what could have been. It wasn't that she missed Matt, surprisingly. She had never really trusted him, and so their relationship remained shallow. But she regretted wasting time with him when she could have had a much deeper and more fulfilling relationship with someone who truly cared for her.
Then she felt Lissa's warm body against her back, and she suddenly felt much better. As long as she had good friends like Lissa there for her, she could face anything. She turned over so that she could be face to face with her roommate.
Lissa's eyes opened.
"Oh, I'm sorry," whispered Alya. "I didn't mean to wake you."
"It's all right," Lissa replied, putting her hand to Alya's cheek. Then, feeling moisture there, she drew it away.
"So I was right after all," said Lissa.
"Yes, you were right after all. I hate Matt for what he did to me, but worse, for what he did to you. You deserve so much better than that, Lissa."
"It's all right," soothed Lissa. "As long as we have each other."
"Thank you so much. I don't know how I could stand this if you weren't here for me."
"Oh, come here, Alya." Lissa rolled over onto her back, pulling Alya over on top of her. For a moment, Alya was shocked; the position had a potentially sexual feel to it. But she pushed that thought from her mind; Lissa wouldn't do something like that to her. It was probably completely innocent. She lowered her head and rested it on Lissa's shoulder. It felt so comforting, like when she had been held this way by her mother as a child. In fact, Lissa was being a surrogate mother to her, which was just what she needed right now. It was so comforting to know that she was there. As Lissa tenderly stroked her hair, the sadness and anger faded into nothingness again, and Alya let herself drop off to sleep once more.
As the next day was Saturday, there was no alarm to wake them. Lissa actually woke at 6:30, but as Alya was still asleep, she didn't want to disturb her. It actually felt nice to be sleeping in each other's arms like this, with Alya's quiet breathing the only sound in the room. The girl's cheek rested on Lissa's chest, and Lissa thought she looked so beautiful like that.
For a moment she began to have her doubts about this whole plan. What would happen to Alya after Lissa seduced her? Would it ruin her life, as Meg had suspected? Lissa had fantasized about walking down the street holding Alya's hand and running into Matt, and then kissing Alya passionately to show him what he had given up. But she was taking an awful risk with Alya's heart.
That was the old Lissa speaking, she decided. The new Lissa had no fears, no inhibitions, and no regrets. She did what she wanted.
She lay there for another hour, just staring up at the ceiling and enjoying the peace and serenity of Alya's sleeping form there with her.
When Alya finally woke, she groggily lifted up her head and stared around the room. Then she glanced down at Lissa, who was lying there smiling at her.
"Good morning, sleeping beauty," said Lissa. "How are you feeling?"
"A lot better," Alya replied. The two of them sat up, then rested there together on the bed.
"Are you sure you're all right?" asked Lissa, putting an arm around her shoulders.
"Yeah, I'll be fine. Thanks for staying with me last night. And thanks for looking after me. I feel kind of embarrassed, crying like a baby."
"Oh, don't be. I did the same thing when I first lost Matt. If there's any time when it's all right for a girl to cry, it's when she catches her boyfriend cheating on her."
"Lissa, you're so sweet. I don't know what I'd do without you."
In reply, Lissa pulled her in to a tight embrace. As she hugged Alya, she decided to be bold. She had to play this perfectly or it could spoil everything, but she knew what she had to do. As the two girls began to draw apart, Lissa kept her face up next to Alya's, their cheeks rubbing against each other.
Now! She turned her head ever so slightly, and suddenly the two girls' lips touched. Alya's eyes opened wide, and Lissa copied her expression. She couldn't afford to seem too eager.
Lissa deliberately tensed her body for a moment as if frightened or confused, then relaxed and let the kiss happen. She closed her eyes and melted into Alya's arms. Actually, it felt surprisingly good, considering that she had only been a lesbian for a couple of weeks. Alya was still hesitant, but she drew out the kiss a surprisingly long time.
When they drew apart, Lissa kept her eyes closed and wore a smile of contentment on her face. "Oh, Alya!" she sighed. Then she opened her eyes in an expression that she hoped looked like alarm, and pulled back. "Oh my god, Alya," she breathed. "Did you just...? When I slept in your bed last night, I didn't mean that we should..."
Alya looked confused, even a little hurt. "I'm sorry," she said. "I don't know what came over me." Perfect! Lissa thought. Alya had fallen for it; she thought this was her own doing. And that meant that she thought it was something she wanted just as much, if not more, than Lissa did.
The two of them sat there together like that, just looking at each other, not saying a word. Lissa allowed it to continue for about fifteen seconds. It had to be long enough to allow the thought of what had happened to sink in, but not long enough to give Alya time to think that maybe it had been deliberate.
"Alya," said Lissa finally, in a timid voice. "Do you... do you really think of me like that?" she asked.
"I don't know," Alya replied, staring down at the bed. "I've never kissed a girl like that before."
"Neither have I," Lissa lied. "I didn't think I could ever do something like that." Then, feeling a sudden surge of boldness, she added, "But with you it's different."
"What do you mean?" asked Alya, a little defensively.
"I don't know. You know I love you, Alya, right? I mean, I feel closer to you than to Monique or Meg, especially these past few weeks. Maybe it's because this whole thing with Matt has given us something that we've shared, even if it wasn't particularly pleasant for either one of us. I just want you to be happy. Anything I can do for you, I will do with all my heart.
"And then when you just kissed me... I thought it was something you wanted, something I could do to make you happy. And maybe, just maybe, it's something I wanted too. I mean, it did feel nice."
"Lissa, I can't believe you're saying this! I'm not a lesbian."
"Why did you kiss me, then?" She changed her expression to one of disappointment and hurt.
"I told you, I don't know. But we shouldn't do things like that."
"You're probably right," said Lissa. "If we continued, it might ruin our friendship." She turned away, then rubbed the back of her hands across her eyes as if to wipe away tears.
"Lissa," Alya said softly. "Look, I don't want to hurt you. But we can't do this."
"I know," she said, putting a bit of a sob into her voice. "I just wish... I just wish you hadn't kissed me, because now I know what it feels like." She got up and left the room.
Now that she had taken the next step (and played her part perfectly, incidentally), it was time to change roles. Before, she had been a source of strength for Alya, to give her the courage to walk away from Matt. Now she had to reverse it. She would be the vulnerable one, leaning on Alya's strength.
She grabbed a change of clothes from her room, winking at Meg to let her know that her plan was working, then headed into the shower. Afterward, she entered the kitchen to eat breakfast, and found Alya sitting there already. Lissa remained quiet, and so did her roommate. That was what she had hoped. Alya was thinking about that kiss, no doubt not able to talk about it.
The silence continued for the rest of the day. After breakfast Alya packed up her books and left for the library, leaving Lissa and Meg alone in the house. The two of them discussed the plan, and although Meg was still a little wary about it, she promised not to interfere.
Alya returned at lunch time, but all she said to either one of them was "hi." To see them sitting there, not speaking, one would never guess that just last night they had been talking away for hours about everything and nothing. The atmosphere in the apartment wasn't exactly gloomy, but there was a nervous tension in the air.
After lunch Alya decided to study in the living room. For a moment she looked as if she wanted to say something to Lissa, but that moment passed and she buried her nose in her books. Lissa went to her room and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon, only re-emerging at dinner time.
Tonight Meg fixed dinner for everyone, which would have given Alya and Lissa time to talk except that they weren't talking. Lissa decided that she wouldn't let it go on another day, because that would actually work against her plan. Tonight the two of them needed to have a heart-to-heart discussion. But Lissa couldn't be the one to start it. It had to be Alya.
As soon as Lissa was finished eating, she took her dishes over to the dishwasher. Suddenly, she slammed them down in the sink and fled to her bedroom. She noticed a look of shock on Alya's face as she passed. Perfect.
As soon as Lissa closed the door, she went over to the dresser where she hung her purse, and pulled out a small plastic bag. Inside was a dark red powder. This was a trick she had thought up a couple of days ago. Testing it had been a little painful, but now she knew exactly what she had to do. She dipped her thumb and forefinger into the powder, pinching a bit between them. Then she dusted her fingers off-- she couldn't afford to overdo it. Knowing what was coming, she took a deep breath, then rubbed her eyes.
Even the tiniest trace of the cayenne pepper still left on her fingers was enough to sting. More importantly, it was enough to bring tears to her eyes. The pain would go away in a few minutes, but the effects of the tears would linger much longer.
She replaced the bag in her purse, lay down on her bed, and waited for Alya to come check on her.
The girl was so predictable. Five minutes later, there came a knock on the door.
"Come in," Lissa told her.
Alya opened the door and stepped into the room. Lissa continued to lie on the bed, facing the wall.
"Lissa, we need to talk," said Alya.
"Please leave me alone, Alya."
"No. I know you don't want to talk to me right now, but we have to."
Lissa turned around and sat up, gazing at her roommate with tear-filled eyes.
"You've been crying," said Alya.
"So what? I'm allowed to cry if I want."
Alya sat down on the bed next to her and put an arm around her. "Look, Lissa, all this time you've been looking out for me, trying to make sure I didn't get hurt. Now it's time for me to take care of you for a change. Tell me what's been bothering you."
"You!" Lissa accused.
"Me?" asked Alya.
"Yes! It's just so... frustrating being around you. This morning you kissed me, and then all the rest of the day, you've been treating me like I wasn't even there. I just want to be friends again, but you've been avoiding me all day. I don't know what to think any more. Did I do something wrong? I'll do anything to make it up to you. If you want, I'll... let you kiss me again. I'll even let you... I'll let you..."
"Lissa, please don't. You're just confused right now. And you didn't do anything wrong."
"So you don't hate me?"
"Of course I don't hate you!" Alya told her. "I've been confused today myself. It wasn't that I was trying to avoid you; I just didn't know how to talk to you after what happened this morning."
"So you don't blame me for it?"
"Blame you? Of course not. I was the one who kissed you, remember? Or at the very least, we kissed each other."
Lissa leaned in and hugged her. "I just thought... maybe after I didn't measure up to your expectations, you didn't like me any more," she said.
"Oh, Lissa, you know I wouldn't ever hurt you like that," Alya soothed as Lissa lay her head on Alya's shoulder. "It really has nothing to do with that."
"So you liked it too?"
Alya sighed. "I don't know. It's really a new experience for me. Maybe I was feeling a little vulnerable after what happened with Matt, or maybe I was just trying to get even with him. Or maybe I feel so close to you that I made a mistake in trying to take our friendship to the next level."
"But is it really a mistake?"
"Lissa, we can't do this. It's not right. It sounds like you're a little vulnerable right now too. If I were to do this, I would be taking advantage of you."
Lissa nodded, then pulled away and looked Alya in the eyes, though she made sure to keep that disappointed look on her face. "You're probably right," she said. "Things have just been so confusing lately. I hope I haven't made it sound like I've been coming on to you. I just thought maybe you were mad at me for rejecting you. I thought if I were to let you.... I mean... Oh, I don't know. I just want you to like me."
"I do like you. Oh, hell, I might as well say it. I love you. But only as a friend, all right?"
"All right," Lissa replied with what she hoped looked like a forced smile. "That's all I really wanted."
"So we're friends again?"
Lissa nodded. "We're friends again," she agreed.
They got up and headed back out to the living room, smiling. They were just about to sit down when the phone rang. Meg was closest, so she answered it.
"Hello? Oh, hi Matt," she said, and her face lit up with a cheerful smile. Lissa's and Alya's darkened at the name of their enemy. Meg, however, was unfazed. "Just the person I wanted to talk to," she said. "No, you can't talk to Alya; I want you all to myself. You know, I was thinking about you all night, sweetie. Couldn't get you out of my mind. I finally had to go do something, so this morning I went out and bought a meat cleaver. The girls and I came to the conclusion that we want to help you. We figure that your biggest problem is your inability to control your urges, so we're going to physically remove the source of those urges, and then you can get on with your life. I know, you don't deserve such kindness after what you did to Lissa and Alya, but they're so sweet, looking out for your welfare like that. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how dull the cleaver was until after I bought it, so it will make for kind of a sloppy amputation. But don't worry; I'm going to go buy a hacksaw next week as a backup. That will make it much cleaner, although a lot slower. What's that? Oh, no need to thank me. We'll be by your apartment some time to take care of it for you. You don't need to give me your address; both Alya and Lissa know where you live after all. Unfortunately, I don't know when we'll get the chance. We're all kind of busy so we need to find a time when we can all come see you at once. Don't worry though, we're definitely going to stop by some time. We'll just make it a nice surprise. Anyway, we'll see you later, dear. Love you. Bye."
She hung up the phone, and Alya and Lissa burst out laughing.
Alya got up and dashed over to Meg, then threw her arms around her and hugged her. "Thanks, Meg," she said.
"For always being there to look after us. Maybe we don't always show it, but we really do appreciate you."
"Well, I wish I could say it was out of the goodness of my heart," Meg replied, "but the truth is, I'm just trying to get into your pants." She reached down and pinched Alya's ass. Alya yelped, then slapped Meg's hand and, laughing, returned to the couch, where Lissa was already sitting.
"And thanks to you too, Lissa," Alya told her, hugging her as well. Lissa hugged her back, thinking just how nice it felt. Yes, seducing the girl was going to be fun.
After that, things were back to normal, or at least, mostly back to normal. Alya did notice that Lissa seemed a lot more affectionate than before. It wasn't any one single thing that she did, but more a combination of little things, like hugging Alya a lot more than before, or laying her head on Alya's shoulder when they watched TV, or wrestling with her. One day when they were both particularly exhausted from their studies, they even fell asleep together on the couch and Alya woke up on top of Lissa with her head on the girl's chest. Lissa was still fast asleep, so Alya lay there for ten minutes just listening to her breathe. When Lissa finally woke, she seemed a little embarrassed, but once they sat up again, Lissa threw her arms around her in a friendly embrace. Alya didn't mind; in truth she actually enjoyed the attention. Lissa was really a sweet girl who was nice to hug.
Alya did have her suspicions, though. Lissa had all but admitted that she was willing to take their relationship beyond friendship. Maybe those innocent gestures were not so innocent after all. Even more surprising was that even with these suspicions, Alya didn't mind a bit. If she was going to cross over, it would be with a girl like Lissa. Not that she had any plans to make the switch any time soon. For now she was content just to be friends.
She aced her test on Monday, which didn't surprise anyone in the apartment. When she mentioned it, Lissa threw her arms around her and congratulated her so cheerfully that Alya might as well have announced that she had won ten million in the lottery. But she hugged Lissa back, happy that her roommate took so much thrill in her accomplishments.
There was only a week left before Christmas vacation started, and they were all excited for the break. It would be a welcome relief from the stresses of college life. A couple of weeks before, Matt had invited Alya to go home with him to meet his parents, but now that that had fallen through, on Monday she called her own parents to make new arrangements. It wouldn't be the same, but at least she would be at home with her own family.
She got airplane tickets for Friday night, which came all too soon. She was the first one to leave, so she said goodbye to all her roommates, giving them all hugs. Lissa, of course, drew out that hug extra long. When they pulled apart, Alya thought she almost saw tears in the girl's eyes.
"I'll miss you," Lissa told her.
"I'll miss you too," replied Alya. "But it's only for a couple of weeks after all."
"I know. You've got my home phone number, so call me the day after Christmas, okay?"
"I will. So I'll see you soon." She turned around, picked up her bags, and left the apartment, surprised to feel tears in her own eyes.