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Lipstick stains & coffee cups

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“Nonononono, you—you’re not listening to me, Sammy. She wasn’t a little girl at all! She was actually an adult, just like…short, though.”

“Uh huh…”

“And she was just pretending to be a kid.”

“But why? That’s the part that doesn’t make sense.”

“So she could bang the dad!”

“I—wait. Wait. She pretends to be a kid to seduce the dad?! How is that scary?! That’s just gross!”

“No, it’s—”

“It’s super gross! Why would you watch that?”

“I—ugh, see, this is what I mean, you’re not hearing me. She pretended to be a kid to get adopted into the family, right?”


“And to gain everyone’s trust because, oh look at me, I’m just a spooky little girl. Look at how high my collar is! I’m wearing pigtails, so clearly I could never possibly be a threat.”

“All right, sure.”

“Then she gets the dad drunk and tries to boink him!”

Ew! I—wait, boink?! Did you literally just say boink?

“He doesn’t do it! Jesus Christ, she’s a kid!

“You just said she was an adult.”

“She was preten—okay, you know what? Clearly I’m the one at fault here. I’m not painting you a good enough word-picture. Look, it’s one of those things where you just gotta see it to get it. We should watch it sometime, then you’ll understand where I’m coming from.”

“Number one, you literally spoiled the whole thing for me.”

“No, no, I did not. The second viewing of a horror movie is always the best! You pick up on all the foreshadowing and shit. I mean, if anything, I think I enriched your viewing experience...”

“Number two, I don’t do horror movies, so hard pass.”

His hand pressed against the door as she went to open it, effectively stopping her. “Oh, but I thought it was gross, and totally not scary?” Josh raised his eyebrows mockingly as he met her gaze, “Or did I mishear you?”

Sam stared up at him blankly. Mostly it was meant as a front to keep him from thinking she was amused (which she was), knowing full well that if she let him see her smile or, God forbid, laugh, it would only encourage his behavior. “Still don’t do horror,” she said flatly, wrinkling her nose in disgust before lifting her drink to her lips. “But nice try. I’m sure you’ll get me one of these days.” Jokingly, she popped him on the shoulder with the knuckles of her free hand, “Just not tonight.”

Josh yanked the door open, bowing with a grand flourish to let her walk outside first. “I will,” he agreed, “I will absolutely get you to sit down and watch something spooky, you can count on that shit.”

“Uh huh.”

“All I’m saying about this one, though, is that you should consider—”


Consider broadening your horizons. I mean, think about it, Sammy…who knows? You might just find yourself…” he crept his fingers up her back like a spider’s legs as she fumbled through pulling her gloves on while still balancing her drink. He laughed when she jumped, holding his arms up in front of himself defensively as she whirled on him. “…attracted to the dark side!” He wiggled his fingers, punctuating the thought with a low ‘oooh!’ noise, only narrowly avoiding a smack aimed at his arm.

Sam managed to get him on the second try, thwapping the sleeve of his coat ineffectively. “I almost dropped my cocoa, you dunce!”

“Okay, but…you didn’t, sooo…”

“You’re so—” But then she stopped, blinking in sudden realization. She looked from one side of the street to the other, the knot of her hair bobbing with the movement. “Uh…” she muttered, brow furrowing, “Where did…everyone go…?” Despite the snow, campus had still been relatively bustling when they’d first gotten to the coffee shop, those students who hadn’t already left for winter break trying to get one more party in before going home to their families. Perplexed, she turned back to Josh with wide, uncertain eyes. “…how long were we in there?”

He pushed his sleeve up to get at his watch, having already stashed his phone away in his bag. “An excellent question. Well, it’s, uhh…” Josh sucked a loud breath through his teeth, mouth pulling into a grimace of shock. “It is tomorrow.”

What?” She looked around the street again, head shaking slowly, “Nuh uh. No way. No way we were in there for that long!”

“I dunno what to tell you.”

She blew a resigned raspberry up to ruffle her bangs from out of her face, “Well. I mean…time flies when you’re having fun, I guess.”

“Oh, is that what we were doing?” Josh joked, jamming his hands into his pockets as they began the slow, winding walk back towards the dorms.

“Are you insinuating I’m not fun?”

Insinuating? No, no. Of course not.”


“Don’t ‘hey’ me. It’s hardly my fault that you’re boring.”

“You are just asking to get shoved out into the street. I’m going to wait until I see headlights, and then throw you in front of them.”

“Ouch! I’m kidding—I’m kidding!” Chuckling, he nudged Sam with an elbow. “Look, you want a real moment of vulnerability, here? Some truth? You gotta promise not to let it slip to anyone that I’m all gooey and sappy under this unflinching exterior…I, for one, had a real good time tonight.”

“Oh yeah? I’m honored.”

“You should be! Your awful taste in movies notwithstanding, I can tell you honestly and genuinely, from the bottom of my dusty old heart, that I have been on much worse dates. This one’s gotta rank top five, at least.”

Sam raised her eyebrows, watching him with a secret little smile behind the lid of her cup. “Date, huh?”

Josh was quiet for a second. Then, he shrugged, glancing at her from the corner of his eye. “Was it not?

That time she did laugh, rolling her eyes. “I don’t know. Maybe it was.” Under their feet, the snow crunched, somehow sounding so much louder than it should’ve; it was strange how silent winter nights made the world. Sam took another sip of her hot cocoa, keeping the cup held high in both of her hands. “Man…it really just doesn’t feel that late, does it?”

“It does not.” Reaching up, he tugged his beanie down a bit farther to cover his ears. “Then again, my sleep schedule is all kinds of fucked up, so I’m probably not the best person to ask, huh?” After shooting her a smirk, he let his gaze drop down to her cup, “Remind me real quick, Sammy, how it is that a self-proclaimed vegan’s walking around drinking hot chocolate? That strikes me as an awfully cow-based beverage.”

“I’m sure this will shock you, but there are so many ways to make things dairy-free, these days. Here, you wanna try?”

“No, I don’t want to try your weird soymilk monstrosity.”

She waved it in front of him teasingly, having to stretch a bit to get it right in his line of sight. “Scared you’ll like it better?”

If there was one thing Josh Washington never turned down, it was a challenge. He waited until they made it to one of the quad’s benches before stopping, plucking the cup from Sam’s hand.

“Ooh, wait, wait! Hang on, I didn’t realize how much lipstick I got on the lid. Here, I’ll—”

Josh pulled the cup well out of her reach, twisting his body around to keep her from grabbing it again. “Nah, too late, the lipstick’s part of the experience, now.” Without any further ado, he took a considerable gulp of the drink, turning back to Sam with a contemplative look. “Definitely not better than the real stuff…”

“You’re so full of it,” she laughed, taking the cup back.

“I mean, it’s fine, it’s okay, but does it really compare to actual milk? Eh.” He seesawed his hand in the air, unable to keep from grinning even as he did so. “Could use some marshmallows, if I’m being honest.” Snickering, he seemed to remember himself, taking a few steps past the bunch to the nearby lamppost, stepping into the circle of light it cast down onto the snowy path. “Hey, give it to me straight,” he pointed to his mouth, “Lipstick?”

Lo and behold, there was. Not enough to really be noticed unless you were looking for it, but definitely enough that Sam snorted. “It’s a good look on you.” She waved her fingers in a gesture for him to bend down, “C’mere, I’ll get it.”

He snickered and dutifully leaned down to her. “You better. Can’t have people thinking we were out here making o—”

For what was likely the first time in her life, Sam managed to render Josh speechless. Once he’d leaned down, she grabbed the front of his coat with the hand not holding her hot chocolate, pulling him into a soft, lingering kiss. She couldn’t help but grin into it as she felt him react, the grin turning into bright, self-satisfied laughter as she broke away. “Can’t have them think what? Sorry, for some reason, I didn’t quite catch the end of that sentence.”

There was a moment—fleeting though it was—where Josh simply stared at her, forehead creased with surprise, mouth twisting into a slow, disbelieving smirk. “Okay, see,” he started again, sniffing airily in an attempt to cover his shock with some modicum of feigned poise. “Your whole job here, Sammy, was to get the lipstick off my face, not to get more on it, so I think our communication broke down somewhere. Expectations weren’t made clear enough, maybe.” And while she was still laughing, she was still looking up at him, too, so he slid a hand behind her head, resting just under the knot of her hair, bending down to bring their lips together again.

Sam popped herself onto the balls of her feet as she felt an arm slip around her waist, craning her head up to return the kiss. Never before had the difference in their heights seemed so great and so unimportant all at once.

When they pulled away that time, foreheads still touching, it was Josh’s turn to laugh. A sliver of his tongue poked out to wet his lower lip, and he let out a joking sigh. “Am I, uh, to take that to mean this was, in fact, a date, Samantha?”

She hummed a thoughtful sound, smoothing out the fabric of his coat with her hand. “I think it’s probably safe to say that, somewhere down the line, we may have stumbled into date territory.”

“Go figure.” He looked down to her lips again, throat working as he tried to decide what he wanted to say. Or do. After a beat, he straightened back up, tucking a piece of hair behind Sam’s ear—a tender, uncertain afterthought. “So…the night’s still young. If you’re not feeling heading home to crash yet, would you wanna, I dunno, head to my place instead? Maybe watch something creepy?” The fingers of the hand still set against the small of her back crept upwards with the same spider-like movements from before, and he snickered in much the same way when Sam playfully shoved him away.

“If that’s some veiled attempt at saying ‘Netflix and chill,’ you’re—”

Josh rolled his eyes up towards the sky, shaking his head wildly. “With Cochise playing Warcraft in the next room? Please, Sammy, I have some shame, woman. Not much, but like...some.

She pretended to think about it for a moment, pursing her lips and averting her gaze thoughtfully. Finishing her cocoa, she tapped her finger against the lid as though weighing her options. “As long as it’s not the one about the creepy kid trying to get with the dad, you’ve got a deal.”

“Again, she was…pretending to be a kid. Pretending.”

“Still not watching it.” Sam dropped her empty cup into the trash bin next to the bench, only mildly surprised when Josh held his hand out to her. With a pleased uptick of her lips, she slid her hand into his, lacing their fingers as best as their gloves would allow. “You really are covered in lipstick now, you know,” she added, leaning in closer to his side as they walked. “You want me to do something about that, or…?”

He shook his head. “Nah. I like it just where it is. Maybe it’ll be my new thing. Whaddya think?”

“I already told you what I think,” she said, watching as fat flakes of snow began to drift down from the clouds above. “It’s a good look on you.”