"How To Make a Bed"
It's got to be her boobs. They sprang up overnight, it seems like, and Mindy went from that hyperactive Indian girl who covered her trashy romance novels in brown paper like they were assigned reading – you're not fooling anyone, he wanted to say – to that cute Indian girl who didn't seem to get why all these guys were suddenly being friendly. Duh.
Yeah, there's Stevie, trying to stand close enough that his arm brushes her chest, and Danny frowns, watching her look up with that big smile, looking kind of like a cartoon chipmunk – look, it's just that her little helium voice carries, it's not like he's watching her for real – and say, "Howdy, neighbor," just as she stands up and clutches her pink-stickered AP Bio textbook to her chest. Ha, denied! Stevie makes a face and splits, and Danny doesn't waste a minute watching him go or trying to figure out if Mindy had pulled that move on purpose. He's got work to do, even if no one else does.
There's a rager tonight, and the fact that he plays third base is enough to get him in, enough to get past the fact that he never parties with the rest of the team. It's nobody's business that his dad split and some nights, after he's done his homework, he helps Ma out at the motel. It used to be just lining up all the little plastic-wrapped stuff in the bathroom, but now he can strip and make a bed in thirty seconds flat. He's got a system. And Ma gets a couple of hours off her feet to just spend time with Richie, so whatever, it just makes sense.
Somehow, Ma's got wind of the fact that there's a party happening – she's probably picturing something with paper hats with elastic bands and birthday cake – and has been trying to get him to go. Richie's at a sleepover, and Ma says she can handle everything herself. "I'll just do the beds," he bargains. If he is gonna go, and that's not a yes, he doesn't want to show up smelling like bleach, but making the beds is pretty safe, and he can maybe vacuum the rooms real quick.
He probably won't even go. It'll be nice to have the house to himself for once, some time when he can watch what he wants to on TV and doesn't have to deal with a million questions from Richie and Ma's sad looks.
He's got Springsteen on his Walkman and he's singing along to "Glory Days" when he hears something outside Room 12. Ma's at the other end of the hall, scrubbing toilets, and there's nothing that he can think of that would make that weird whispery noise – it's not like there are trees for the wind to howl through.
He pushes his headphones down so they're around his neck, and the Boss's voice is still coming through, but now he can hear sniffling, so he turns the music off. There better not be another raccoon out there looking for scraps. He drops the shiny bedspread, kicks the dirty sheets over to the corner, and yanks open the door.
He recognizes that back. What the hell is Mindy doing in front of the motel at this hour, in a sparkly sweater and short little skirt? "Hey, uh," he says suavely, only to have her jump about a foot in the air, all the sequins on her outfit making her look like a sputtering firecracker.
She rubs furtively at her eyes and swivels around. Her eyes are big and damp until she squints to peer at him even though he's only about two feet away. "Danny?" she asks, sounding surprised. "Are you – is this part of the whole thing?"
"What whole thing?" he asks, and her face crumples up and she's crying and somehow still talking, and all he can hear is something about 90210 and the egg thing and the party before she barrels into his chest, and he closes his arms around her reflexively. She's got enough momentum that they're in the middle of the room, the backs of his knees hitting the just-made bed, before they come to a stop with his top half on the bed and her on top of him.
She's warm and soft and this is not what he thought the night was gonna be like.
The stream of words she's been speaking into his chest as if he has an ear down there has stopped, he registers, then realizes his hand has been stroking her back soothingly, hitting the speed bump of her bra's back strap with each up and down pass. He snatches his hand away, and she arches her back so that she can look at his face. He kind of liked the feeling of her nose pressed against his sternum, maybe because then he didn't have to meet her eyes.
Her round cheeks are smudged with damp and her eyes are darkly shining. "What was that about an egg?"
She shakes her head, her chin tickling his chest. "Don't worry about it. Why do you smell so good?"
He deflects, trying to keep her busy so she won't notice how much attention his body's paying to hers, still on top of him; he's getting for free what Stevie and the rest of those schmucks have been angling for ever since she, uh, developed. "I smell good?"
"Yeah, and it's familiar," she says, dipping her head down to take an unashamed sniff of his chest. "What is that?"
"Bounce," he admits, hoping she can't feel anything that's happening in his pants. "Those little sheets, you know." The motel laundry goes through a box a week, and those sheets still have that smell after one load.
"That's what it is!" she says, smiling in satisfaction. "I was gonna ask the other day in Bio –"
"Okay, off," he says, because that last pleased wiggle of hers nearly gave the game away. He squirms beneath her before figuring out that that's possibly the worst idea he's ever had, because she's not just soft and warm and fragrant. She's Mindy, and they've sort of been friends since he ended up without a lab partner while she got stuck with that idiot Mitch Greenstone. He knows how she talks (a lot) and what she likes (pizza and romance novels) and what occupies her mind (obsessively tracking celebrities' hotness), but he didn't know until now what she would look like, big-eyed and round-cheeked, lying on top of him, looking like a mermaid in her shiny blue-green dress.
"Danny!" she protests, squealing and locking her hands around his biceps when he moves again. "What're you – oh."
He turns his head to see her flat on her back next to him, her hair looking even blacker against the white sheets of the bed. He wills his boner away and looks down the length of his body, finally seeing that his button-down's smeared with the remnants of her makeup. She waits in silence while he strips it off, wads it up, and casually camouflages his crotch with the bundle.
Just when he thinks he's gotten away with it, she says, "So here I am, all alone with Mister Third Base."
"Mindy!" he says, and she grins that bright, wide smile of hers.
"I didn't mean it as a sex thing!" she protests, and it's a little adorable that her voice drops to a whisper for the three-letter word. "Just, you know, a jock-slash-stud thing."
"Yeah, I'm a stud," he says. Does she really think he's out every night with some cheerleader?
"That's what I said," she says, back to the happy chirp he's used to, and he's glad her eyes are dry. She snuggles close, her cheek pressed against his t-shirt. "Mmm, whoever made this bed knew what they were doing. I love it when the sheets are tucked in nice and tight, you know?"
"Yeah," he says, wondering where the hell his hands are supposed to go now.
Her breath is warm against his jaw, and her arm is draped across his chest. He cocks his head to peer at the sliver he can see of her face – familiar, but not from this angle. He frowns when he feels something hard underneath his shoulder, and rolls carefully, trying not to jostle her out of her nap. Of course, because it's her, she feels it and blinks sleepily up at him. "What is it?" she asks.
"Nothing," he tries, but her hand flops around on his chest before cupping his shoulder and lifting it up. The thing is pulled free, and she holds it up for his inspection: it's his Walkman, and he remembers that the headphones are still around his neck.
"Springsteen?" she whispers, already settling back into sleep.
He grins helplessly; she knows him too. He flips the tape and scrunches so their faces are level, but it's still a tight fit to share the headphones. Her eyes open and search his when "Downbound Train" starts, and he keeps looking back, wanting his favorite song to go on forever.
She raises her hand to his cheek, and when he shifts his hips to mirror hers, his crumpled button-down falls off the bed he made to land on the floor.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.
This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/440697.html.