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Not Gay for the Stay

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"Man, what dumbass bitch stuck A Brief History of Time next to The Da Vinci Code? I hope they don’t think that Dan Brown bullshit is serious.”

Poussey laughed, leaning against the shelf as Taystee re-shelved the offending book.

"Better than the time I found One Fish, Two Fish in the marine biology section,” she grinned, “Bluefish are real, sure, but I don’t think they ever saw no fish drivin’ a car.”

"Can you imagine that shit?" Taystee mimed driving, honking an invisible horn. "Honk honk! Get out the way, guppies! Why you all swimmin’ in the road?"

Poussey joined in, imitating what she thought an angry guppy might sound like: “Get your eyes checked, you old hagfish! You’re drivin’ on the sideswim!”

Taystee raised an eyebrow. “‘Sideswim’?”

"Sorry," Poussey smirked, "I just couldn’t kelp myself.”

"You messed up, P," Taystee sounded serious for a second, then started cracking up, leaning her shoulder against the same bookshelf as her friend, who laughed alongside her. When their laughter died down to giggles, Taystee whacked Poussey on the shoulder, and Poussey had to retaliate, pinching her on the side. The play-fight escalated until, in their fervor, they made eye contact, and suddenly gravity took over, and they were kissing before either of them realized it.

Taystee’s hand flew up to Poussey’s cheek, wrapping fingers around her ear and stroking her short hair with her fingertips. Poussey moved her lips against her friend’s, wrapping an arm around her waist, drawing her in close. Taystee made a soft sound, parting her lips, and Poussey took advantage, sliding her tongue first over her bottom lip and then into her mouth. When Taystee rubbed her tongue against hers, Poussey pushed her luck, moving her other hand to cup one of her friend’s breasts.

That was when Taystee pulled away, quickly straightening her clothes and looking around the library to see if anyone saw them. When it seemed as if no one had, she sighed, looking up at Poussey from under her brows.

"We can’t do this," she explained, not quite moving away but definitely not moving toward her either. "I like dudes. I know you don’t, but I do. I can’t do this with a girl." She looked down, and Poussey’s eyebrows knit together. She could practically hear her heart breaking. But she smiled.

"Hey, it’s cool, don’t worry about it. Sorry I, uh, crossed a line," she offered, biting her lip when she heard Taystee sigh.

"It wasn’t just you, P, it was both of us." She took a deep breath. "Maybe I’m gettin’ lonely in here, I dunno, but I guess that was nice?" Poussey wasn’t sure if that was meant to be comforting or what, but she just nodded in response. Taystee managed to make eye contact with her again, at least. "Look, I can’t be kissin’ on you, and I definitely ain’t gonna do nothin’ sexual, but… I like… bein’ close.” She made a pained face, struggling with the words. “Maybe we can just… cuddle?”

Poussey’s mouth hung open for a moment. A part of her knew that that would only make things worse; the part of her that knew she’d fallen for Taystee, that knew she would do anything for this girl, this woman, knew she wouldn’t be able to settle for that and would keep pushing until she pushed her away. But a larger part of her—the part that believed in fairy-tale love and its ability to conquer all, including heterosexuality—thought such an arrangement could push her friend toward her and herself into her heart. And that last part, that lonely, desperate part that wanted Taystee no matter what, in any capacity, begged her to say yes. So she did.

"Yeah," Poussey smiled again, "that’s fine with me." Taystee nodded, smiling back, and Poussey opened her arms. When Taystee stepped into her embrace, Poussey held on tightly, pressed her face into her hair, and hoped the pricking tears at the corners of her eyes wouldn’t spill over.