A half an hour later the two girls walked in the door to Carol’s house. The tournament had been closer to her home than Linge’s so they had planned for Linge to stay over, and while it wasn’t completely dark out yet they didn’t really have anywhere else to go and Carol figured there was no sense in staying out.
The walk to her house had mostly been made in silence; Carol was absorbed in her thoughts, equal parts vindication for putting that fuck boy in his place, humiliation at having had yet another public outburst to her name, and guilt for ruining her friend’s night. Of all of these, the guilt weighed most heavily on her. Linge had been so excited about the tournament, certainly more than she herself had been, and because of her they had to bail.
When they arrived in, they went back to the script for the night; a bowl of snacks, sodas and games back in the “game room” Carol had set up in the corner of her room. The girl had an impressive set-up thanks to her constantly absent mother leaving her cubs uninhibited access to the family’s bank accounts; the space featured one of each of the latest gaming consoles along with two 40” TVs set side by side and a full size couch. Truly a gamer girl’s paradise. At that moment though it was anything but comforting to the kitten... The silence between them as they played their separate games felt particularly oppressive to her. Her competitive fire had all but flamed out from earlier so there was little enjoyment in playing online or practicing combos.
Finally she could bear the weight no longer; no matter how it pained her to do so, she needed to talk to Linge about what happened... Carol let out a heavy sigh as she summoned up the courage to engage the conversation, knowing full well that she would have to divulge her greatest shame in the process. “H-hey Linge?”
“Yeah?” The older girl paused her game, turning to face her friend
“Sorry about tonight. I kinda ruined your night...”
“What are you talking about? You were so cool, like a superhero.”
“I certainly don’t feel very heroic...”
“But it’s true, you totally saved me.”
“Yeah... I’ll admit, kicking that loser’s ass was pretty satisfying but...” Carol sighed again; she knew this wasn’t gonna be easy, but Linge deserved to know, considering the night’s events. “You remember how I said I didn’t want to go to this tournament? Well... I have a bit of a history with live events...”
Over the next half hour Carol explained in detail the fateful night at the Evo finals. The events still felt fresh in her mind as she relayed them and she could hear the jeering chants of “trap” just as clearly as she had throughout the day. All the frustration and anger she had in the moment resurfaced, and along with it the shame and humiliation from her own rash decisions in that one moment...
Throughout the story Linge sat quietly listening intently to her friend. Her expression was completely unreadable to Carol and that really worried her. She wouldn’t laugh at her, would she? The kitten wasn’t sure what she would do if her friend were to ridicule her after she opened up to her this way...
“So yeah, I hadn’t been to another live event again before tonight. I thought I had put all that behind me, but I couldn’t even get through one night of casuals without causing another scene...”
Linge was silent for a long moment after Carol finished. The kitten’s emotions twisted and roiled the longer she waited for her friend’s response. Finally, after what felt like an age, Linge finally spoke. “I’m sorry...”
Carol was sure she was ready for any response the older girl could have given her, even the negative ones, as much as she didn’t want to think about them. As she sat across from Linge watching her features reflecting all the guilt and shame she herself had been feeling back at her though, the kitten found herself completely at a loss. What could she possibly have to feel guilty over? What had happened was because of her explosive temper and lack of self-control...
“I’m sorry,” Linge repeated. “It’s my fault you had to go through that again tonight. It’s because I’m too weak...”
“What are you saying?” Carol found herself genuinely confused by the squirrel girl’s statement; she had always thought of Linge as, well, eccentric, but never had she considered her to weak. “What could you possibly have to apologize for? Nothing that happened tonight was your fault!”
“No buts!” Carol stood up to emphasize her point to her friend. “Look, I may not feel good about the way everything went down tonight but there’s no way I would have let that asshat get away with hurting one of my friends. And I sure as hell don’t blame you for any of that. So don’t you dare apologize to me or feel any amount of guilt, I won’t have it!”
“O-Okay,” Linge managed after a moment. It may have just been Carol’s imagination but she thought she saw the other girl blushing. That wouldn’t have made any sense though so she chose to write it off as a trick of the light.
Satisfied that she’d taken care of the immediate problem of Linge blaming herself over nothing, Carol’s curiosity finally got the better of her. “Seriously though, what actually happened out there? Why didn’t you take his stupid ass out yourself? I mean, you saw how easily I was able to beat him, surely you could have done so yourself.” She immediately regressed asking as beside her Carol saw Linge’s expression sink; she’d clearly struck a nerve. “Sorry, forget I said anything...”
“No,” Linge said quietly. There was an awkward pause before she continued. “No, it’s okay. You were so brave to tell me about your past, you deserve to know mine...”
The games now completely forgotten, the two girls walked across the room to sit on the bed. Carol honestly wasn’t sure what to expect; she had never known the other girl to be anything but full of her uniquely eccentric but genuinely positive energy, she couldn’t even imagine what kind of demons Linge could possibly be keeping... Linge struggled to start, clearly reluctant to tell this story to her friend, but she stubbornly refused to let Carol talk her out of talking about it. Finally Linge was able to gather her nerve and started, relating the events of the previous year when she had first entered high school.
Linge had always been an outcast at school (something Carol could totally relate to) and was actively targeted by many of her classmates. Then she met Shiro, a college-age wolf and the first boy to show any real interest in her. Despite her social anxieties and the fact that Shiro was nearly twice her age, she found herself quickly falling for him and the two had started dating. Eventually, as any couple would, they began to talk about sex; Linge made a point to express how, while she wasn’t sure if she was ready at the time, she was really excited about the idea of having her first time with him.
Listening to all of this, Carol had no idea as to why Linge would look back on that time with such apparent pain and regret. Sure, there was something about the way she talked about Shiro that seemed... off, but everything she’d heard made him sound like a great guy, exactly what any girl would want (at least if all the mushy bullshit the girls at her school were spouting was to be believed...). There was another brief pause while Linge collected herself, then she began to talk about one fateful night...
The two of them had been out on a night date through downtown. At the end of the night, rather than taking her home, Shiro took her to a motel. He had her undress and put on some sexy lingerie. Through the whole ordeal she felt so out-of-place and so Shiro was able to get her to do whatever he wanted. As the night went on, the man grew more and more aggressive until, just as Linge started to feel something was wrong, he revealed to her that he’d been toying with her the whole time. And while he didn’t actually rape her, he left her feeling helpless and violated as he and his friends abused her and then blackmailed her into silence. Carol was apparently the first person she’d ever told the whole story of how they “broke up”...
Carol could feel herself trembling with impotent rage. Seeing her friend so obviously hurt and not being able to do anything about it was worse than anything she’d ever felt for herself. It was everything she could do to not scream or punch something, but Linge needed her here and now.
“I’m sorry, I don’t even know what to say...” Carol put her hands on Linge’s shoulders, looking the other girl intently in the eyes “Nobody deserves to be abused like that... That piece of shit had better pray that I never find him, I swear if I ever do I’m gonna put my foot so far up his ass that I knock his fucking teeth out...!”
“And anyway, what kind of fucking moron is he to have passed up on you? I mean you’re so cute and genuine and kind-hearted...”
“That dumbass is lucky to have even known you, never mind that you wasted your affections on him.”
Throughout her rant, Carol had been kneeling up on her bed, her face right up in the other girl’s She’d been caught up in trying to make her feel better, but now that she’d stopped to really look at her, she couldn’t really discern the look Linge was giving her. She knew she wasn’t really good at this emotional shit; had she somehow managed to make the older girl feel worse somehow...? Guilt welled up in her immediately. What kind of friend was she that she couldn’t even talk her up properly...?
Before she could get another word out, the other girl suddenly lunged forward, catching her face in her hands and leaning in to press her lips to hers. So surprised by the sudden turn of events was Carol that she fell backwards onto the bed taking Linge with her as the other girl refused to relent on the kiss. Everything happened so fast; the poor kitten was completely stunned by her friend’s aggressiveness and soon found herself pressed back into the pillow with Linge practically straddling her. She felt like she might burst into flames at any moment. She brought a trembling hand to the other girl’s shoulder; whether she was trying to push her away or pull her closer even she wasn’t sure at that point.
Seconds that felt like days passed before Linge finally relented, leaving Carol looking just as stunned as before. Her heart was pounding, the sound drowning out the world around her as her thoughts were racing far too fast to hope to focus on any one. She tried to say something, she wasn’t even sure what, but all she could manage was to open her mouth wordlessly and stare on in shock.
Linge favored the kitten with a warm smile. That smile faltered at Carol’s reaction, fearing she had hurt the other girl’s feelings. “Sorry! I’m sorry I, I just-”
“It’s okay,” Carol, finally finding herself again, said quietly, reaching out for the other girl’s hand. “It’s okay,” she repeated, “it was... it was nice.”
What had happened, while sudden, really had been nice in the end, she was forced to admit to herself. It was however completely foreign territory for Carol, who had never given any real thought to stupid girly things like romance and thus had no context for the feelings she was having. Without realizing it, she had been staring into the squirrel girl’s eyes for who knows how long; her blush suddenly redoubled and she looked down at her hands, still in Linge’s.
A long moment passed in silence before either girl could bring themselves to say or do anything. Surprisingly it was Carol who finally broke the spell. “Hey Linge...?”
“Did you maybe want to hang out over here again or maybe at the mall or catch a movie or something?”