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i like that boy.

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“Glimmer?” Bow freezes in place, lips inches from Glimmer’s neck. He doesn’t recognize the voice coming from the top of the stairs, but it definitely sounds like an adult—worse, it has a vague British accent. He’s been told Glimmer’s mom has a British accent. Bow looks up at Glimmer, who looks just as panicked as he feels.

Move!” Glimmer hisses, pushing at Bow’s shoulders, and Bow remembers that he has a body and is not in fact just an orb of embarrassment and panic. Worse, he has a body that is currently standing next to the pool table, with Glimmer’s legs wrapped around his waist and his hands up her shirt.

“Oh, shit,” Bow says, jumping back. Glimmer hops down from the pool table, tugging her shirt back into place. It doesn’t help much. Her neck is still covered in red marks, and her hair is still hopelessly out of place.

And her mom is still coming down the stairs to the basement.

“Glimmer?” the voice says again, much closer this time. Bow takes a deep breath and resigns himself to his fate. He is going to die at seventeen in Glimmer’s basement, possibly of embarrassment and possibly because Glimmer’s mom will kill him.

“It’s fine,” Glimmer whispers to him. “My mom is—I mean, she’s not chill, but you look like you’re about to cry.” Bow is about to cry.

“Oh, you are home,” Glimmer’s mother says, rounding the corner from the stairs into the basement. She’s tall, intimidatingly so, and she’s wearing heels with her suit from work that make her even taller. “You have company.”

“Yep,” Glimmer says casually, like she hasn’t been almost caught making out with a boy in her basement while her parents were at work. “Mom, this is Bow. Bow, this is my mom.”

“Uh, hi,” Bow says. He almost reaches out to shake Glimmer’s mom’s hand, but then remembers that his hands were just touching Glimmer’s boobs, and that’s—it’s not like her mom will be able to tell, but that feels wrong, somehow. “I’m Bow. I’m Glimmer’s—” Well, they’re not dating, or at least they haven’t called it that, and if he introduces himself as her boyfriend he’ll probably piss both of them off in one shot. “—I’m here to study. With Glimmer. We, uh…have history together.” Glimmer’s mom slowly raises one eyebrow.

“I see,” she says. “And where are your books? Papers? Laptops?” There’s nothing in the basement except Bow, Glimmer, and a moderately defiled pool table.

“Oh my God, Mom, chill,” Glimmer says. “Bow and I are a thing, he’s just embarrassed.” Bow ducks his head, wishing he could, like, teleport, or turn invisible, or anything else that would get him out of this situation right now.

“Sorry,” he whispers. “I shouldn’t have lied. I just didn’t want Glimmer to get in trouble.” He hazards a glance upwards, and Glimmer’s mom looks amused, rather than angry.

“It’s alright, Bow,” she says. “I was a teenager once. I understand. And Glimmer isn’t in trouble; she knows how to make good choices.” Bow nods solemnly. He still kind of feels like he might die in the next five minutes, but it’ll be the embarrassment, not a homicide. “Are you staying for dinner?” Glimmer’s mother asks. Bow blinks and glances over at Glimmer. He isn’t sure what the protocol is, here. They aren’t dating, but Glimmer called them a thing, and that could mean a lot of…well, things, and he isn’t sure what they are falls under the having-dinner-with-the-family umbrella.

“Are you?” Glimmer asks. “My dad’s making Indian food.” It sounds like an invitation.

“Uh…if you guys want me to,” Bow says, glancing between the two of them. Glimmer nods, and her mother claps her hands together.

“Well, that’s that, then,” she says. “I’m looking forward to getting to know you better, Bow.” That sounds like a veiled threat, but Bow is feeling brave all of a sudden. Glimmer wants him to stay for dinner. Whatever kind of thing they are, it’s not just the casual kind.

“I’m looking forward to it, too,” he says with a grin. Glimmer’s mother glances over at her daughter with a secretive smile.

“I’ll see you upstairs in an hour,” she says. “Don’t get in too much trouble down here.” She heads back around the corner and up the stairs, and Bow turns to Glimmer, eyes wide.

“Did I do okay?” he says. Glimmer laughs, reaching out and setting her arms on his shoulders, fingers laced together behind his head.

“You did great,” she says. “She loves you.”