Mal isn’t a coward by any means. She thinks of herself as a strong, brave, independent woman who doesn’t need Prince Charming to come and rescue her. In fact, she’s one of the most intimidating people she knows, only second to her mother.
But every person has a weakness, and hers is currently staring into her soul.
Mal sighs as she keeps her gaze on the fucking cockroach on her kitchen wall.
She just wanted to brood in her apartment after spending the day with her ever so lovely mother.
She just wanted to eat pasta, is that really too much for a girl to ask?
Apparently, her arch-nemesis thinks so.
The way Mal sees it, she has two options. Either she kills the cockroach, get it over with, and spend her evening in peace or she could ask one of her neighbours if she could eat dinner with them and possibly spend the night at their apartment.
Now, don’t get her wrong. Normally, she would rather tie a boulder to her foot and jump in the nearest lake than make any contact with another person that isn't the delivery person from whatever restaurant she ordered from but she just had a really long day, okay?
Since she's too poor to afford therapy to deal with her mommy issues, having someone to vent to or at least talk to sounds fucking fantastic right now.
Along with the fact that she can't kill cockroaches without using bug spray if her life depended on it. And just when it seemed her evening couldn't be shittier, the can of bug spray she keeps in her apartment is empty and she forgot to buy a new one. So, fuck.
"This is so stupid,” Mal mutters but grabs her keys and exits her apartment anyway.
She locks the door and carelessly throws her keys inside the flower pot outside her door. The plant had been dead for a few weeks and Mal really ought to replace that since she learned in some YouTube video that robbers tended to break into places that look like no one lives in, but she thinks it perfectly matches her personality so the plant’s staying.
For the six months she'd lived there, she knows a grand total of one person on her floor.
That person is the girl who lives next door to her.
As far as she’d seen, the girl is either a major in fashion designing or biochemistry. They’re attending the same university (which is pretty fucking expensive but they had an amazing art program there and Mal was on a sports scholarship so), though they had no classes together, Mal had seen the other girl around campus sometimes.
Which to be honest, it wasn't really too hard to do since the girl she was referring to striking blue hair that definitely stands out from all the brunettes and blondes from their school. Mal does too since you know, her hair's freaking purple but that wasn't the point.
The blue-haired beauty is friends with the ex-captain of the tourney team (Jake? Jack? Jay?). Well, the girl seems to be friends with everyone, even Carlos – Mal’s socially awkward best friend. But for some reason, that olive branch never seemed to reach Mal. Not that she blames the girl, she doesn’t exactly have a sparkling reputation around the university, or around anywhere really.
But all that, along with Mal not even knowing the girl's name, did nothing to deter her from her goals of having a good dinner, someone to talk to, and a place to sleep tonight.
Mal is the daughter of the most fearsome woman she knew, she could do anything. Well, anything other than killing stupid bugs that appeared mysteriously in her apartment but still, she could do anything. And she could certainly do this.
Mal stands confidently in front of her neighbour's door. She could do this.
She raises one of her fists and knocks on the door, she could do this.
She hears the muffled voice of Camila Cabello abruptly stop before footsteps pads towards the door, she could do this.
Only when the door opens did Mal falter. Maybe she miscalculated her abilities a little bit.
The most gorgeous brown eyes (they bordered on red and brown actually) greets her when the door opened. The girl's blue hair is in a very cute messy bun, she’s wearing an oversized shirt and blue shorts that had the same shade as her hair.
Mal feels her mouth going dry.
This girl is really, really pretty. Like Mal is a proud bisexual and she’s having a bi panic again, that’s the kind of pretty she is.
A cough snaps her out of it and she forces her green eyes to focus on the girl's brown eyes. However, Mal sees amusement dancing in them (and the smirk on the girl's plump pink lip – Mal stop) and she realizes that she had been caught checking the other girl out.
Fuck. She coughs, pushing her embarrassment down. Deep, deep down.
The girl focuses her attention on Mal. Okay, so just because this girl is gorgeous and totally just caught you checking her out doesn't mean you couldn't do this.
"Something happened in my apartment and I can't go back there tonight. I know this is a huge favour to give to someone you don't even know but can I eat dinner and hopefully stay the night at your place? If you don't mind, of course."
Pretty Girl seems surprised, but her expression quickly changes to questioning.
"What happened in your apartment?"
"Uhh.” Yeah no, they gotta move this inside real quick before someone hears. "Can we go inside your place?"
She puts her hand on her hip, "How can I be sure that you won't murder me?" she sets her hard gaze on Mal.
Mal grimaces, was this girl in for a surprise, "You’ll find out."
Pretty Girl gives her another scrutinizing gaze making Mal sweat (which is magic because it’s winter and Mal doesn’t sweat, no she’s not Jade West) before finally stepping aside and letting Mal inside her apartment.
She looks around the place while following the girl.
Blue. The girl's colour is obviously blue and to prove it, her apartment is covered in the colour, many different shades but mainly the one that Pretty Girl herself sports on her hair. There are also lots of fabric laying around, not the way that Mal's things laid around when she tossed and dropped them throughout her apartment, but 'laying around' as in 'different colours and types of fabrics are all arranged and folded neatly'. She could also see chemistry stuff on presumably, the girl's work table.
Mal could already see much of the girl's personality and flair but had yet to know or ask her name.
Pretty Girl leads her to her expensive-looking couch and asks her to sit down while she’ll go get their (Pretty Girl looked at her pointedly at that) dinner ready. To Mal's surprise, the couch is very soft and cosy, despite most expensive couches she’d sat on being hard and uncomfortable. Damn, Pretty Girl sure knows how to pick her furniture.
As Mal plays around on the couch, running her fingers through the soft material, the blue-haired girl's head pokes out of the kitchen door.
"Hey, if you're done groping my couch, you can watch some TV. The remote is on the table," Pretty Girl snickers at her, while Mal stares at her like a dragon caught in headlights.
"Oh, and by the way.” The girl catches Mal's eyes and Mal couldn't, for the life of her, look away. “My name's Evie, Evie Grimhilde.”
Pretty Girl – Evie smiles at Mal wickedly.
Mal rushes to introduce herself. "I’m-"
"Mal. Mal Bertha, right?"
Mal’s eyes widen and Evie laughs.
"You know me?" Her voice cracks.
"Do I know the girl who always looks like someone stole her teddy bear and who's always picking a fight with Chad Charming? Yeah, I think I had to at some point.”
"...Actually, he picks fights with me,” Mal says after being silent in awe for a minute.
Evie laughs again and by the gods, Mal would dance around the streets with her clothes on fire and snakes wrapped around her head if it meant hearing the girl laugh again.
"I think it’s a tie between the two of you. Well anyway, the food will be ready in fifteen minutes," Evie says before leaving Mal to her thoughts.
And girl, are they many. Like how long Evie must've known her, how well-known her reputation must be in the campus, how her resting bitch face and constant need to live inside her own head for far too long must have fucked up any potential friendship she might have formed with Evie, etc.
A new one enters her head and her mind is once again thrown into a vortex of confusion, why would someone like Evie pay any attention to an aggressive and emotionally-imbalanced girl who always has a scowl on her face and only has one friend in the entire university like Mal?
Well, Evie did say that noticing her was unavoidable but still. Did Evie want to be friends with her? Or did she want to ask Mal out? Or did she want Mal to ask her out?
Or maybe she’s overanalysing this whole thing and Evie’s just pulling her leg to give her false hope to get back at her for interrupting her day of listening to Camila Cabello’s songs.
Yeah, that's most probably it. But she gotta hand it to Evie though, she had Mal going there for a second or five minutes, or okay, six minutes.
But that's fine. Cause she's not gonna think about it anymore, nope. Mal’s just gonna watch some TV and wait for the food to be ready. Yep.
After a few minutes of watching a sitcom about a Cuban family on Netflix that would have been hilarious if she hadn’t been thinking about the earlier situation, Evie calls out.
Mal stands up from the couch, turning off the TV, before making her way to the kitchen/dining room area of the apartment.
Immediately, a wonderful smell fills her senses as she walked in. Evie’s still setting up the table so Mal helps her. After that, they sit down on opposite sides of each other.
Mal takes the time to look around the room. The kitchen and dining area are merged together, similar to her apartment. But like the girl's living room, it’s cleaner and organized than Mal’s.
When she finally looks at the girl in front of her, she finds Evie looking at her as well.
Of course, like the useless bisexual that she is, Mal’s cheeks turn pink as she averts her eyes to the food on her plate.
Evie seems to enjoy her embarrassment as the girl giggles at her misery.
Mal would be angry if anyone dared to laugh at her, but as stated before, she's a useless bisexual who's IQ turns to 1 whenever a cute girl is in the vicinity. And Evie’s not just cute, she's fucking gorgeous so Mal’s uselessness exceeded normal levels.
"Shall we eat?"
Mal nods, still can't quite meet the red-brown eyes staring at her.
They eat in silence. Not the 'we can't talk to each other over the sounds of trumpets playing in our ears because the food is so good' type of silence that Mal was used to with Carlos.
But the 'holy fuck there's a really really beautiful girl sitting in front of me and I really wanna get to know her and all her ins and outs but I’m awkward and can't function properly so shit' silence (at least on Mal’s part). The food’s amazing though.
Thankfully, Evie speaks. "You know, I haven't said that for a long time."
Mal looks up, "What?" she already forgot the last thing Evie said before the awkward silence happened.
"I haven't said 'dinner's ready' in a long time.”
Mal’s glad the girl isn’t looking up because at least this way, Mal’s slowly regaining her lost IQ.
"Oh." shit now what. "Um, you're in your second year like me, right?"
Evie nods. Okay cool, see Mal can be a normal human being too. sometimes. "So you haven't said that in a year and a half?"
Evie pauses, then shakes her head.
Mal blinks in confusion, temporarily abandoning her food in favour of looking at the girl in front of her.
Evie seems to sense her confusion and looks up. "It’s nothing,” but Mal manages to catch an empty look in her eyes before it was replaced with an interrogating look.
"So, what could possibly be so dangerous and sudden that you had to seek refuge in my humble abode?" Evie asks her with all the flourish and dramatics of a theatre actress.
Now, Mal is a really awkward kind of person, she can’t really talk to people she has a crush on and her rude-o-meter is usually turned off around those people. But, she couldn't stand it when people use big words in normal conversations.
"Are you always this prissy during conversations?" Mal deadpans.
"It depends on the person I’m talking to, and how much they, you know, actually talked to me."
Evie doesn’t seem at all surprised at Mal’s sudden change in demeanour. Mal realizes that that's exactly the reason why Evie did it.
“Well, excuse me for being embarrassed about asking for help."
Evie giggles again, this time more light-hearted than teasing.
"You do seem like that type of person," Evie teases. "Anyway, don't avoid the question."
Mal sighs, she already knew what type of reaction her tale will get from the girl. Teasing, laughter, and more teasing. But for some reason, that made Mal want to do it.
"Before I begin, I want you to know that I am not a coward by any means. I am a strong, brave, independent woman who doesn't need a prince charming to come and rescue me. In fact, I’m one of the most intimidating people I know, only second to my mother. And also, don't you dare tell anyone about what you're going to hear," Mal warns her with a deadly serious face.
Evie nods hesitantly.
Mal takes a deep breath. Time to get laughed at by a very pretty girl who Mal wants to impress so badly but judging by her story, it's definitely not gonna happen any time soon.
"Okay, this story is really embarrassing and stupid, so I’m just gonna say it all in one breath," she starts.
Not waiting for a confirmation from Evie, Mal launches on her tale of misery and embarrassment.
"I spent the day with my mom, which drained me both physically and emotionally, so I go home to relax, unwind, and repress all the traumatic things that I have ever experienced with that woman. Then. Then you know what happened?"
"No, that's why I’m asking you," Evie interrupts her with an annoying (endearing) grin.
Mal gives her a look, which makes the blue-haired girl laugh, before continuing on her story.
"What happened was, I got home, went to my kitchen to get some snacks, and then a fucking cockroach appeared on the wall, like the devil herself. So obviously, as a smart, logical twenty-year-old, I noped the hell out of my apartment and searched for a place to spend the night at."
The room is silent for two whole minutes (that Mal happily spent internally devouring her remaining self-esteem and self-respect) before Evie burst into laughter.
Mal patiently waits for Evie to stop laughing before unleashing her infamous pout and glare on the girl.
After about three minutes, Evie finally calms down.
"You know, it's so funny how Jay was so intent on avoiding you because he thought you were – and I quote – ‘a really scary chick, seriously, one time I accidentally sat on her usual spot at the bleachers and she fucking glowered at me Eves, like – not even a glare, a glower, I swear her eyes glowed bright green, I seriously think she's demonic',” she recites the words, snickering. "But we know that not so much the case now, is it?"
"I- fuck," in all honesty, she had forgotten she even talked (she means that in the loosest way possible) to Jay.
Evie laughs, throwing her head back.
"You know, I’ve always figured you weren't really all that tough, but wow. You’re a scaredy-cat, aren't you?"
Mal thinks the proper words to describe her would probably be 'a giant fucking pussy'. Not that she would ever own up to it.
Green eyes roll in response, "Psh, I’m a dragon, Pretty Girl, not a cat."
She falters when she realizes what she just said.
Evie’s perfectly shaped eyebrow quirk at the nickname but didn't mention it.
“So, you admit you're easily scared then?" is what she says instead, which Mal lets out an inaudible sigh at.
"No, " Mal says, but her tone didn't really hold a lot of conviction.
"Do you always laugh this much in conversations or is this just a special occasion?"
The blue-haired girl giggles – which Mal definitely didn't swoon at, psh of course not- and replies, "It's a special occasion thing. But to be fair, you're pretty special yourself so it matches, don’t you think?”
Mal feels her cheeks warm.
Evie smirks at her. And fuck, Mal just wants to kiss her ridiculously attractive lips.
Wait what who said that. Not Mal obviously (it was her).
Mal clears her throat and looks down at the half-finished almost lukewarm meal on her plate, "So, we should finish our food now."
Evie laughs at the sight of Mal devouring her food before joining her.
They asked about each other's interests (well, Evie did and Mal just responded in tangles of sentences) and Mal found out a lot about the girl. She’s a fashion major and here on an academic scholarship. Chemistry is Evie’s best subject and she would have made that her major, but fashion is her life, literally. She makes her clothes, her accessories, and sometimes makes clothes for other people (for a price, of course).
She’s from Colombia and moved to America when she was little. Her only family is her mom who, Mal’s guessing from Evie’s stories growing up, isn't fun to be around. Her family's rich but when she entered Auradon University, she only asked her mother for rent money and nothing else. Food and other expenses are all paid by Evie herself through her small clothing business.
Her best friend is indeed Jay, but she's also really good friends with the head cheerleader, Audrey (who Mal thinks is the living manifestation of Mean Girls but she's willing to give her a second chance since Evie’s friends with her) and she thinks Carlos is adorable and precious.
Mal totally agrees but she's also bummed out that she's not friends with Evie. Because Evie is actually very interesting and fun.
They took turns telling little facts and stories about themselves. Evie is a really good listener, Mal notes.
Evie also knows little things about Mal, which would creep her out if it's anyone other than Evie, but the girl just looks so proud when she mentions one of these fun facts that Mal lets it go.
For example, Mal tells her that she's in the softball team and Evie says that she already knows. Apparently, she cheers for number 13 (Mal’s number) whenever she goes to watch some of their games.
She tells her she's a good pitcher and Mal preens under her praise.
They were so invested in each other's stories that they didn't notice the time until Evie looks up at the wall clock behind Mal.
"Wow, it's that late already?"
Mal looks behind her and saw the time is already ten-thirty.
"Whoa, times flies."
"No kidding," Evie chuckles. "So, you still want to stay here or woman up and go back to your place?"
Mal nods her head at the first choice, "Here, please. I’ll sleep on the floor if I have to."
Evie grins at her. Not the teasing kind, it's more... fond? Something like that. Like the smile you give your pet when they're doing something incredibly fucking stupid, but they just look so adorable that you're smitten.
But, Evie is definitely not smitten by her. Mal internally laughs at the thought of Evie – actual fucking Latina goddess – liking her.
"Well, since you liked the couch so much, what do you say about camping there for the night?"
Mal grins, nodding. “Hell yeah.”