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dude, you are cooler than a vintage cassette

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Why do humans create such beautiful, fragile things? Nylon stockings that rip so easily; delicate glass contraptions that you can crush in your palm or smash on the floor; cassettes to unravel and snap in half; handing over your heart and soul to another person.

It's never made sense to Connie, that the human race could create such vulnerable things and treasure them, yet give away what seems the most important thing about ones self to someone with little thought.

Connie knows if she were ever to make such a dumb move, she'd be more cautious, more careful, more aware of who she's handing everything over to.

Maybe that's why she's so snappy. Maybe because, somewhere, deep in her subconscious, she's decided that no ones worthy.

Maybe, she's decided she's not worthy.

That's fine. It just means she doesn't have to watch her back as hard as she used to.

Two birds, one stone.

That is, before Eva fucking Hansen.

And now Connie's head-over-heels for a tiny girl in powder blue dresses and an Alice band, who borrows books about trees from the library, who can't keep her curly dirty blonde bob-cut out of her eyes, who stutters and has so much anxiety it's actually kinda scary.

Zack asks her why she's been so chill and she flips him off.

It's not that he doesn't know she's a lesbian, but she doesn't think she's ready for her mom to find out about Eva.

She's not sure she's ready for anyone to know about Eva.

That's a little distressing in itself.

Anyway.

Fragility.

Vulnerability.

It shouldn't be this hard to make Eva a goddamn mixtape for her birthday, and, yet, this would be the third hour that Connie's spent agonising over song choices and snapping half-finished cassettes.

Zack's actually gonna kill her for taping over his Pink Floyd tape, on accident, while searching for blank cassettes.

The real problem is that Connie has no idea what kind of music that Eva is into.

Doesn't want to give her sentimental bullshit, or something weird, like Kate Bush (all of her songs have a background, and often they're really creepy), or The Smiths (Connie's not dumb, she knows The Smiths couldn't be further from Eva's aesthetic), but, on the other hand, doesn't want to give her, like, Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath.

And God knows what Mr. Hansen would say if he heard his daughter listening to Metallica.

Connie doesn't know what to do. She'd tried to wheedle out song preferences from Eva on their date a few days ago, but she was noncompliant, totally bagging her interests, and insisting that Connie pick the music.

Connie was ready to throttle her then and there.

They ended up listening to Prince, and Eva seemed okay with that, so at least Connie had a starting point.

Now, she's in the middle and is lost as fuck.

It shouldn't be this hard.

There's a Queen cassette unwound on her bed and her mother is going to lose her shit when she finds out, and she stole her dads Peter Gabriel cassette, just in case Eva's into that slow shit.

Her dual tape player's been dragged off her desk into the middle of the carpet, cord strung taut from where the player sits right back to the powerpoint.

Yeah, it probably looks like a landfill in here.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Connie looks up to find Zack standing in the doorway.

"Fuck off." Connie snaps.

"Connie, what's happening? Why does it look like that trash lady from Labyrinth came through your room." He mock-gasps. "Don't tell me you've traded me away to the Goblin King."

"Did I say 'fuck off'?" Connie says, almost to herself. "I'm pretty sure I said 'fuck off'. Also, I'm pretty sure David Bowie has higher standards."

"First of all, fuck you. Second of all, as if you're any better. And third of all, what's this about?" Zack appears to sober, and closes the door behind him as he ventures into the room, carefully, barely avoiding stepping on a Beatles tape. "You look frantic."

Connie sighs, running her hand through her mostly dead perm. She needs to get it redone at some point, before it dies completely, and leaves her hair flat and greasy. "...I'm trying to make a mixtape." She tells him, voice clear of any venom.

"A mixtape?" Zack echoes, taken aback. "For who?"

Connie flushes, "None of your business."

"All of my business," Zack sits down across from her and points to a tape beside her, "that's my Tears For Fears tape, there."

Connie rolls her eyes. "Whatever."

"Is this about that girl?" Zack questions.

"That girl that I've never fucking mentioned to you before?" She knows she's being awfully aggressive, but she's been on this for three hours. Ever since she got home. Connie could've been doing anything. But it's got to be perfect, for tomorrow.

For Eva.

She's so gay, Jesus Christ.

"I'm not blind, Connie." Zack rolls his eyes, leaning against a bedpost. "I've seen you with her. Jarden and Alan have seen you with her. The whole school's seen you with her. You're not exactly subtle."

"Fine." Connie huffs, throwing down Rebel, Rebel. "It's for Eva."

"So, what's your problem?" He looks genuinely puzzled, which is a new sight for Connie, because usually, whenever Zack's looking at her, it's frustrated. "Trying to make it perfect? She's a simple girl, Con."

"Yeah. But the simple ones are always really complex as well." Connie fires back. "So, realistically, it's that I want it to be perfect and I have no idea what music she's into. She's given me no inclination. Whenever I ask her about music, she gestures vaguely to whatever I have playing and says it's 'fine'."

"Oh, man, you're fucked." Zack laughs, and she can't blame him, but scowls anyhow.

"Thank you for your support." Connie deadpans. Zack pats her shoulder, semi-sympathetically. Then, he dives for a pile of cassettes and comes up with a bunch wedged between his fingers.

"Just put a bunch of Cyndi Lauper and Stevie Nicks on it and you'll be fine." Zack informs her, handing her the aforementioned cassettes. "Every girl's a sucker for Fleetwood Mac. Ooh, and put like one Eagles track in there. They're always nice in a mixtape. Refreshing. Everyone loves Hotel California."

"That's easy for you to say, Mr. I'm-So-Cool-And-Everyone-Loves-Me." Connie snorts, shoving him, lightly, but accepting the cassettes and ejecting the Elton John one from the player.

"Seriously?" Zack pouts, sitting back on his heels, a The Who tape in his hand. "You're getting pissy over a mixtape?"

"Yes. Yes, I am. And I'll continue being pissy about it, up until the moment I give it to her," Connie says, shoving Fleetwood Mac into the player and jamming her thumb against the Play button, "and then I'll spend the next twenty-four hours freaking out over whether she'll like any of it, before I see her again."

"Connie." Zack murmurs.

"What?" She growls, as Landslide starts playing.

"Let me help you."

"I took my love, I took it down."

"How about no?"

"Climbed a mountain and I turned around."

"How about yes?"

"And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills..."

"Why should I trust you?"

"'Til a landslide brought it down."

Zack purses his lips. "I have good taste and make rad mixtapes, and there are many in the glovebox of your car to prove me right?" He suggests.

"I mean..." Connie scowls.

"Connie, we never hang out anymore." His voice is earnest now, young. Non-asshole-ish. "Lemme help you out."

She starts to consider it. "In making Eva fall in love with me and my impeccable taste?" Connie asks.

"That's your endgame?" She rolls her eyes at him, throwing her hands up.

"I'm not picky, Zack. But I do know what I want." Connie replies.

"Jesus." Zack mutters.

"Hey, we can't all be the golden child, skipping class to secretly kiss Alan Beck out by the bike shed during his free period." Zack goes a new shade of pale, eyes wide.

"How do you know about that?" He whispers.

"Please. I know everything." Connie snorts.

He stares at her, looking genuinely a little scared. "...dude."

"Fine. I skipped class to smoke and saw you." He's still staring. "I didn't tell a soul, I promise."

He picks up a pillow and a muffled, "Fuck," is audible through the pillow.

"Aw. You're okay." Connie bumps their elbows together, feeling s little bad. Then, she reaches for a pile. "D'you think she'd like ABBA?"

"Which one?" Zack leans over her shoulder as she sorts through the clattering pile.

"Visitors. It's got all the good ones on it." She says, and Zack nods in agreement.

"Definitely Visitors, and maybe Angel Eyes." He adds.

"Yeah." Connie picks up the tape and scans the back for the tracks.

"Do you wanna put something really upbeat on there?" Zack questions as he shuffles back over to the player.

"What, like, shove on some Michael Jackson? Oh yeah. I'll just give Eva Hansen, who's jumpy as shit, a mixtape that starts with the creepy sound effects from the a Thriller music video." Her sarcastic tone rises with her volume. "Because I'm sure she'd love that, if that time at the drive-in is any indication to her music taste."

"'That time at the drive-in'?" Zack repeats. Connie groans, loudly, and falls back on the carpet, very nearly crushing a Billy Joel tape.

"I took her to the drive-in, they were playing a horror flick, Eva didn't like it." She says, pulling her knees up. Zack leans over her, giving her an unreadable look. "To be fair, she got distracted, and then there was suddenly screaming, so I can't exactly blame her."

"When did that happen?" Zack laughs, and Connie sits up, smacking him with a pillow.

"A little after the start of the school?" She says, thinking back to it, back to when Eva ran down her driveway at the end of the night and kissed her against the door of her car, and left her a moment after, lips tingling, in the dark.

"That's how long this has been going on?" Zack looks almost impressed.

"Yeah." Connie nods.

"And you're only now making her a mixtape?" He says it as though he's speaking to a child, and Connie, being the older sibling, fucking hates that. She rolls her eyes instead of exploding.

"That's not right?" Connie replies, giving him a disdainful look.

Zack shrugs, smiling. "I've already made Alan, like, four."

"This isn't a fucking contest." She states, and Zack pokes her.

"You made it a contest when you ransacked my music." He informs her.

Connie sighs and runs a hand through her hair again, before muttering into her palms, "Fuck."

"Come on. I'll help you. Scoot over." He pushes her a little before sitting cross legged beside her, and reaching for the ABBA tape in her hands.

~

Eva makes her play it in the car on their way to the diner, the one that Connie had taken Eva to on their first date.

"Are you sure?" Connie asks, watching Eva fiddle with the case, in her peripheral vision.

"Oh yeah." Eva responds, and puts the tape in the player, scanning the back of the case.

U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday starts playing, and Eva frowns at the listings.

"Is something wrong?" Connie knew she shouldn't have given it to Eva, yet.

"Yeah, it's all good, I'm just a little sad that there's no Sex Pistols on here."

Connie has to physically stop herself from laughing so hard that she drives them into a ditch, because who fucking knew that Eva Hansen liked The Sex Pistols?

"That's nothing against your song choices!" Eva cries, looking desperate.

"No, no, I'm just surprised." Connie chuckles, and sees Eva physically relax. "And, you know, that gives me ideas for the next mixtape. Anything else you want to request?"

"Ramones." Eva says, almost immediately. "They're really good. Ooh, and Joy Division!"

"I have to buy some new tapes." Connie murmurs, turning a corner.

"I'm gonna make you a mixtape of just my bands." Eva announces, shuffling in her seat, almost to the beat of the song.

"I look forward to it." Connie tells her, earnestly.

Eva smiles at her, teeth sparkling in the passing streetlamp.

Fin.