West Grand Street in downtown Chicago was so jammed with TV and radio news vans, all trying to get as close to the Day Rehab center as possible, that one would have thought a celebrity was due to come out. All the local affiliates of the major networks were there - - the ‘Big Three’, Fox, WB and CNN - - with one goal in mind: to NOT miss this story. Some of the reporters were impressed that the clinic had kept it quiet for this long; not impressed enough to heed the protests of the clinic’s administrators and leave but impressed nonetheless.
Katherine Turcell ran a hand through her long red hair and preened in the recognition that was her due for breaking the story. It was she who had investigated the strange flash that had bathed Chester Street in a eerie glow, not giving up even when Serious Money started leaning on her station. It had been agreed on by her colleagues of the other networks -- unofficially -- that she would be allowed the position closest to the front doors when the stars of this bizarre story came out into the linelight.
"Thirty seconds to air, Kit," Jean Shallot, her camera-woman -- never camera-person, thank you very much! -- reminded her, shouldering the tools of her trade.
"Thanks, Jeannie," she smiled. "Teleprompter all set?" Another crewman gave her a thumbs-up and patted the device in question. Katherine tested her mike. "How’s the feed? Do I sound okay?"
"Clear as a bell on both counts, Ms. Turcell," came a baritone voice over her earpiece.
"Twenty seconds," Jean warned.
"Places people," Katherine snapped. Instantly her crew scrambled to their marks. A make-up person approached and made some last-minute adjustments to nature.
"Three....two....one....and go!" yelled Jean.
Katherine smiled into the camera, microphone at the ready. "Thank you, Ron," she acknowledged the studio. "Well, today we’re coming to you live from the steps of the Day Rehab Center in downtown Chicago, where the end of a bizarre and tragic story is about to unfold on a happy note."
"Six weeks ago two young women, Eve Delm and Dawn Trydaliso, were involved in a freak accident when Ms. Delm stopped to give Ms. Trydaliso a jump-start. The accident changed their lives forever. According to confidential sources, it somehow fused their bodies together, turning them into conjoined twins. The girls have spent the last six weeks in the rehab clinic, learning to walk, move, and according to these same sources even breathe together. Hospital administrators have barred reporters from interviewing the girls during their stay at the clinic, saying quote ‘it would be traumatic for them’ unquote. Now, with them due to be released today, the question on everyone’s mind is, what does the future hold for these two?"
* * * * * *
"What is this supposed to be?"
Eve held up a very wide black band-aid made of stretchable material. There seemed to be no way to put it on, short of violating the laws of physics.
Dawn looked sheepishly at her. "A micro-mini?"
"I see. What, pray tell, are we supposed to do with it?"
"Wear it," Dawn said promptly. "I think we’d look great with it on. It’ll really show off our butt."
Eve snorted. "We could just go out like this, if you really feel like showing lots of skin." Eve and Dawn’s quarters at the rehab clinic, where they’d lived for the past thirty-one days after having spent eleven at Chicago General, appeared as if a suitcase had exploded. Various items of clothing decorated the bed, floor, and even the door frame. Currently, they were dressed in lacy underwear and a custom bra which accommodated their wide torso.
Dawn smiled at the woman who she shared a body with. "Well, I certainly don’t mind," she giggled, and felt Eve blush.
"Look, Dawn, why don’t we just go with the jeans and pink top, okay?"
Dawn sighed. She hated pink, but at this rate they’d be wrangling about clothes until doomsday; she’d already won one major battle with Eve, so decided she could be generous with clothes. "Okay, that works for me."
The girls finished dressing in silence. An observer, had he been present, would be hard-pressed to tell that both the heads which occupied one body hadn’t been born that way. They slid their jeans on smoothly, zipping them up and buttoning them offhandedly; the pink blouse also went on casually, first the right sleeve then the left, and was buttoned up just as casually despite the rather custom way it was designed.
Dawn craned her neck to look at Eve and noticed the other looking harried. "Hey, Eve? Something wrong?"
Eve chewed her bottom. "I’m sorry if I’ve been snappy today, Dawn. I’m just scared."
Dawn smiled at her. "I’m just about ready to climb the walls or hide under the bed until all those reporters go away." Her smile faded. "But they’re not, are they?"
"Thanks to that orderly who leaked us to he press they won’t," Eve muttered darkly.
"I wish Mike was here," Dawn sighed emphatically.
Eve nodded agreement. Officer Michael Bechilde, who’d found them after the strange accident, had regularly paid the girls visits to offer support and, at a time when they needed it, kick them in their ass. At twenty-eight he was nearly a decade their senior, but both Eve and Dawn found themselves wishing he wasn’t married. "So do I; it’s bad luck he came down with the flu."
The girls wandered over to the window and got a good look at the media zoo as it blocked the entire street. A hot-dog vendor had set up shop near the front of the clinic and was selling his wares to the reporters and crowd of gawkers. The weather had cooperated nicely; Bright and sunny, not very windy by Chicago standards. Perfect weather to be plastered all over the news by.
Without thinking about it, the girls gave themselves a hug. In the past, as their coordination increased this hug had gone through many alterations. Its current form was that Eve would cup the shoulder on Dawn’s side and Dawn would do likewise for Eve’s side. Then, they’d both squeeze. It still wasn’t much of a hug but it was made up for by the fact that, since both girls shared sensations throughout their body even if each only controlled their half, they could feel both sides of it.
"Ready, partner?" Dawn asked.
"Always, my friend," Eve smiled.
"By the way," Dawn said, "thank you for last night, letting me...."
Eve blushed. "Don't mention it."
"It’s okay if it’s a one-time thing, y’know...."
"We can talk about that later," Eve said hurriedly. "Right now, let’s just try to survive those human sharks out there."
Dawn giggled. "Have I been a bad influence on you? The Eve I was first introduced to would never make a comment like that."
Eve gave Dawn an odd look. "You have no idea."
* * * * * *
It was the slap heard ‘round the city.
For those watching the news, the scene from the camera’s view was at first not believed despite the disclaimer that no camera tricks were used. A pair of slim, muscular legs clothed in short-heeled shoes and jeans descended the steps. As the camera panned up, the viewing public saw that the flat-tummied figure wore a tight pink blouse. The body broadened out drastically -- without, somehow, losing its attractive curves -- to sport two heads, each about a little over a shoulder-length apart.. The head on the left was a green-eyed blonde, and the one on the right was a dark-eyed brunette. The left head’s expression was nervous as it scanned the crowd, the right had on a cheerful smile.
Showtime, Katherine thought. In a flash she was in front of the girls, microphone brandished. "What do the two of you plan on doing once you leave here?"
The brunette -- that’s Dawn, Katherine thought -- gave her a bigger smile. "Eat some real food. You don’t even want to guess what they’ve been feeding us."
The blonde, Eve, tried to echo Dawn’s smile, but Katherine could she was a touch too nervous. "Pick up our lives as best we can, I suppose."
"How easy will that be?" Katherine pressed., shoving the microphone into Eve’s face.
"Well," she stammered. "Uh...we’ll have to reorganize our classes a bit...we each had a temp job, they don’t hold those open....we’ve kept up on our college courses thanks to some of our professors, so...."
"How about boyfriends?" Katherine probed, instinct sensing a juicy point.
Dawn felt Eve blush and knew she’d be a complete loss for words, so steered the microphone over to her side. "I think that’s a private concern." She really wanted to curse the woman out for doing that to Eve, but the blonde’s attempts at modifying Dawn’s choice of vocabulary had largely been successful.
Katherine smiled wider. "Could it be you’re not interested in men anymore?"
Dawn felt Eve’s side of their body go rigid with shock. She gave the reporter a deceptively mild look. "Our lack of a love life is our own business."
"Oh?" Katherine pressed. "I have it on good authority that the two of you share sensations. Maybe you’ve decided that...."
Later, Dawn would be very embarrassed she let herself be pushed that far and Eve perversely amused. Now, this moment, one could hear a pin drop as Katherine’s head was snapped to one side by the violence of Dawn’s backhand. The reporter stared at them in shock, hand unconsciously going to rub the red welt beginning to form on her cheek.
"Let’s get the fuck out of here," Dawn growled.
There really wasn’t much for Eve to say to that.
* * * * *
"Nice backhand, Dawn."
Neither girl had been paying attention when the cab they’d left the clinic in had pulled up to Mike’s apartment. That dirty, sneaky male had thrown them a surprise party and had conned a cabbie into helping acquire the girls for it.
Mike, the very picture of health, studied Dawn and Eve as they sat on a love-seat in the living-room of his apartment. A sign draped from the ceiling proclaimed CON- GRATULATIONS, and various foodstuffs still festooned the countertops in the kitchen. Both Eve’s father and Dawn’s mother were present as well; Taylor was trying to look disapproving and failing while Faith still looked embarrassed. Mike’s wife, Crystal, sped them a look of sympathy. Robert DeFalco, Mike’s partner and another guest to this surprise party, had already given Dawn a high-five.
All the girls wanted to do was crawl into the woodwork.
"You do realize," Mike continued, "that she’s never going to stop harassing you two after this."
"Oh, leave them alone," Crystal said, blue eyes shooting a glare at her husband. "I’ve heard you say many times how you wished....," she broke off with an impish grin as Mike glared back at her.
"Harrumph," Taylor said, clearing his throat to stifle a laugh. "I think that Eve handled herself well, considering it was her first experience with one of those vultures."
Faith shook her head. "How many times must I tell you, daughter, that violence solves nothing?"
"I think that woman deserved it," Eve interjected. "I was half-tempted to slap her myself. The nerve, asking questions like that!"
"Isn’t this a little off topic?" came a quiet voice off to one side. The various guests turned to glance over at Carl Young, who’d been keeping to himself for the most part. His scrawny body was not complemented by the faint look of guilt on his face. "Dawn and Eve are finally out. Let’s just be happy for them, okay?"
An embarrassed silence followed as Carl’s point struck home. Mike was the first to recover. "Sorry; I just know how nasty those reporters can get, and I don’t want them to hound you two."
Dawn opened her mouth up to speak but Taylor overrode her. "There are ways even around the First Amendment, Officer Bechilde," he said grimly. "If that red-haired witch thinks she can harass MY daughter, she’ll be contemplating her mistake in the unemployment office."
"I don’t have Mr. Delm’s business connections," Faith interjected, "but I’m on good terms with the Bishop’s niece. If that woman starts to bother you, Dawn, just let me know."
"I heard that Eve and Dawn made some sort of arrangement with the hospital," Carl burst in. "I don’t know about the rest of you, but I sure would like to hear what it was."
All eyes shifted to the two girls in question. Dawn began speaking first. "It was Eve’s original idea," she said. "She should be the one to tell it."
Eve blushed. "Well, you know that our insurances aren’t covering the medical costs; they claim it was an ‘Act of God’. If it hadn’t been for Daddy," she said, speeding a grateful look at Taylor who fidgeted nervously, "we’d be in debt forever. They advised us to come back for regular checkups, and Dawn pointed out that they seemed to be really salivating over the prospect of further testing, so I figured we could make an arrangement."
Dawn beamed. "Yeah, thanks to this genius over here on my left, we’re gonna get our rent paid in exchange for coming back every week for testing."
"You don’t have to stay on clinic grounds, I hope?" Mike asked.
Both girls shook their heads. "Heck, no," Dawn said. "That’s what they wanted, but we told ‘em no way. So they’re gonna put us up at the Shady Acres high-rise downtown."
"What happens when they decide that they’ve gotten all the testing they need?" Mike pressed.
"We get a two-week grace period," Eve said. "After that, we’re on their own."
Mike sighed. "Well, I hope it works out for the two of you."
"I can have all your furniture moved out of your room into your new place by the end of the week, honey," Taylor offered.
"Actually," Eve said. "We’ve decided to get our own."
"Do you need a place to stay until your furniture gets moved in?" Crystal asked. "We have a spare room the two of you could use..."
"No, we don’t, but thank you," Eve smiled.
"We’ve already had some moved in, and it comes with appliances," Dawn shrugged. "Eve’s gonna go over our finances and see what we can afford."
Mike began tinging his glass. "People? I think this is a good time to wish Eve and Dawn good luck in their new endeavor," he smiled faintly. "Then we can embarrass them some more and they can’t complain."
Eve and Dawn both giggled and blushed at that as Crystal came around with the champagne , filling people’s glasses.
"To the future," Mike declared after his wife was finished. "May it be brighter than today!"
"May everyone receive just payment for what they do," Carl whispered softly to himself as everyone clinked their glasses together.
* * * * *
If there was one thing that Eve envied Dawn above all else, it was her ability to fall asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow; she usually took about a half-hour to drift off to dreamland. Thank the Lord that Dawn liked to sleep on her back. As it was, Eve didn’t think she’d be dozing off anytime soon; she had to much to think about.
Their new apartment was depressingly bleak. Only a futon and a speakerphone with an answering machine graced their bedroom. No other furniture had been brought in yet -- they’d just gotten the apartment a few days ago -- and there wasn’t even any food in the fridge. They’d have to go shopping tomorrow.
That’s right, she said. to herself. Think about everything but what’s really bothering you. She looked sideways at Dawn, sleeping peacefully, her hair spread out over her pillow like a halo. Particularly when something isn’t bothering you when it should.
Eve had always been a tactile person. Her dad was stiff and formal, but she herself would never just shake hands if she could get away with a hug or a peck on the cheek. It’d been her strongest temptation as a Christian; without that influence, Eve probably would have long since lost her virginity. She’d always craved a special closeness with someone.
One did not get more special -- or closer -- than sharing someone’s body.
After the two made their peace, Eve found she actually liked her current situation. There was something about always having someone with you to weather good times and bad, to talk to, cry with, or sometimes even to yell at. It was how she imagined the perfect marriage would be like. Was it any wonder that Eve had a moment of weakness last night, before they left the clinic? She hoped God thought it was a reasonable excuse. Dawn had never hidden the fact she enjoyed masturbating, and had hinted more than once after their reconciliation that she wanted to experience it again. Even could see her point; yes, it was Eve’s body but it was Dawn’s body too. Masturbation wasn’t considered a sin by all religions, and she’d promised Carl she’d look at the world through other people’s perspectives. Finally, last night, Eve said yes as long as Dawn realized she wasn’t participating, just along for the ride as it were.
What a ride it was!
It had taken all of Eve’s willpower - Eve still had her faith - not to join in as Dawn rolled and kneaded their right breast like it was all she ever wanted to do. She could feel every one of Dawn’s quivers and gasps, knew the fiery sensations of pleasure as Dawn’s hand, caressed its way down to their shared vagina to pump and thrust. Eve had clenched her pillow tightly, refusing to cry out as Dawn built them to a climax; when they came, the passion burst out of both on them, and Eve joined Dawn in a declaration of ecstacy.
Eve couldn’t stop thinking about it. She knew it was sinful , but Dawn didn’t think so, and the dark-haired girl had as much rights to their body as she did. She told herself as long as it wasn’t too often, God would understand.
If only her excuses didn’t sound so hollow, even to her....
Sleep was a long time coming for Eve, and time to ponder brought more unanswerable questions.
* * * * *
Someone else in Chicago also isn’t getting much sleep; hasn’t been for weeks now. It’s the nightmares.
He sat in his workroom, in an apartment complex that prides itself on good neighbors and no questions. Feverishly his figures stab out at his keyboard, torturing information painstakingly gathered and analyzed numerous times. Reams of paper in a bleeding-edge computer language were stacked on one side of the finished-oak computer desk. Eight people in the world under- stood that language. Two of them fit the clinical definition of clinical psychosis, and that unhappy brotherhood was beginning to approach three.
A fist pounded on the table as his latest inquiry received an unfavorable reply. "Stupid machine!" he grated.
It was the answer. It had to be. There was no other possible explanation.
* * * * *
The worst days of a person’s life can begin as simply as a phone call.
Eve and Dawn had woken up and started their stretching exercises, a new part of their routine by order of their physical therapist. Dawn wasn’t a morning person, and Eve was tired from a night of little sleep and many questions, so neither were in the best of moods until after breakfast and Dawn’s first cup of coffee. There were many things to do today for the both of them as part of the process of conjoining their legal identities as thoroughly as their bodies had been. Their course schedules had been an early triumph; since they were both first-year freshmen, they still needed their electives and by happy coincidence were taking the same courses albeit at different times.
"Scholarships don’t pay for everything," Dawn told Eve. "I was working any temp job the agency sent me."
Eve nodded. "I know the feeling. If I couldn’t pay for my college myself, Dad would’ve arm-twistd until I took his money; I want to make it on my own." Eve felt Dawn’s eyebrow raise -- a gesture Dawn used when she was amused -- and blushed in embarrassment. "Well, you know what I mean."
"Yeah, actually I do. It’s real easy to get on welfare and very hard to get off," Dawn said. "That’s why I work my butt off."
Eve began to respond, but was cut off by the phone. They went into the bedroom where Dawn clicked the speaker on. "Hello?" Dawn ventured.
"Yes, is this the residence of Ms. Delm and Ms. Trydaliso?" a man’s voice asked.
"Dawn, that’s Mr. Lythande, the guidance counselor that’s helping us link our schedules up," Eve murmured to the other woman.
"Speaking, is that you Josh?" Dawn knew that the man preferred the students referred to him by first name. He was a likable sort who generally seemed to care about those he was helping.
"Guilty as charged," he chuckled, "but you may wish it was another reporter after you hear my news. One of your professors doesn’t want to cooperate."
"What? Which one?" Eve said.
"Betting odds it’s O’Shea," Dawn growled.
A sigh escaped from the phone. "You got it. She says that the class that Dawn wants to transfer into is already full."
"Well," Eve shrugged, "that’s not a problem, we could do the morning...."
"I already asked, and she said that’s one full too."
"So what are we supposed to do?" Eve demanded.
"I’m going to talk to her department head, explain the situation to him," the phone assured. "I’m sure he’ll see reason."
"Thanks," Dawn said and meant it. "I’m gonna let you go so we can swear at O’Shea in peace, okay?"
A chuckle wafted up. "Throw in a few for me, would you?"
"Will do," Dawn smiled and hung up.
"Dawn," Eve fretted, "we can’t just drop out of the course; it’s too late in the semester, we’d have to take it pass/fail."
"Which means we have to take it again, since it won’t count as credits," Dawn snapped, then patted their left arm. "Sorry, hon. Didn’t mean to snap at you."
Hon? "That’s okay," Eve said. "I feel like snapping at someone myself."
"By the way, you never did tell me what you wanted to take up," Dawn said.
"Nursing," she answered promptly. "I like to help people."
"Hmmm....I wanted to take up computer programming," Dawn mused. "I suppose I could live with nursing."
"We can discuss it another time," Eve said, checking her watch. "We’ve got a driver’s test to retake in one hour, remember?"
"Damn, almost forgot! Glad one of us has a brain. Gotta tell you, hon, I’m worried about it."
There’s that ‘hon’ again, Eve thought. "Relax. How hard can it be?"
* * * * *
A little over one hour later, Dawn reflected silently that truer last words were never spoken. The fact that it hadn’t been their fault was of little confort.
Currently, they stood in the parking lot of Chicago’s DMV, the wind whipping at their knee-length black skirt. Dawn had been fingering her collar of the sleeveless white blouse nervously while Eve was tried to use reason on the instructor. "But the other driver ran the stopsign!"
The tester looked down his nose at them. Dawn got the distinct impression he was wrinkling it and resisted the urge to ask him if he wanted it straightened. "I’m sorry," he said in the nasally tone of those who know they are born superior. "I’m not convinced a normal driver would’ve been caught in the same situation. Like it or not, your field of vision is limited, dearie."
"That’s why I look left and Dawn looks right," Eve insisted. "That way we can tell each other if we’re going to miss something." Dawn had decided to let Eve do the talking here; she knew herself and if she opened her mouth onscenities would come pouring out to bury this pompous bureaucrat. Just one more ‘dearie’, she thought, and I may not be able to resist.
The tester looked like he was considering Eve’s points, then shook his head. "No," he intoned as if speaking ex cathedra. "I’m afraid I’ll have decline your petition. Come back with a new learner’s permit, and we can discuss retesting."
"But..." Eve tried to continue, but Dawn laid a hand on their left arm. When Eve glanced at her, she shook her head.
"Let’s just get out of here," she said, keeping her voice even with great difficulty. "We’ve still got to get to the banks and put both our names on our accounts."
The two girls walked to the bus stop, ignoring the gawks and rubbernecking of passerby that had been the hallmark of their day. Eve didn’t seem to be in a chatty mood, so Dawn held her piece. She had a few things to consider anyways; mainly, that she’d called Eve ‘hon’ back in the apartment, a pet term she used for lovers. She knew how Eve felt about that sort of thing, but after that last night at the clinic it was hard not to think of the other woman in those terms.
Eve touched their right arm. "Bus is here," she said in a somewhat less chipper tone than when they had arrived at the DMV. Dawn smiled at her and gave their left arm a reassuring squeeze as the two boarded.
"Mom! Mommy, hey look!"
A young boy, around eight years old dressed in jeans, sneakers and a Pokemon t-shirt stared at them with wide eyes as he tugged at his mother’s floral dress. The woman looked up at what her son was pointing out and her eyes got big.
"It’s not nice to stare, Nicky," she said to her son.
"But that lady’s gots TWO HEADS!" he declared at the top of his lungs. Several of the passengers who had been trying not to look like they had also been staring immediately became very busy looking at the fluffy clouds as they raced across a blue sky.
Dawn could feel Eve flush with embarrassment, and she had to put a hammerlock on her temper as they made their way to the back of the bus. Had she been her old self, similar comments about her Goth attire had earned a nasty comment right back at its utterer. These days Dawn sat on her mouth a lot more; it was frustrating, in a way. Dawn thought that Eve cared too much about what other people thought, but on the other hand, she’d noticed Eve tended to get people to listen to her. Dawn was envious of that and realized that if she wanted the same she’d have to adopt some of Eve’s politeness. So far it seemed to be working, except when someone deliberately stepped on her toes like that reporter-lady; then all her good attentions went out the window.
"Dawn?" Eve murmured.
Mentally Dawn shook herself out of contemplation. "Yeah?"
"Could I ask you a favor?"
"Could we stop by the church on West LeMoyne street after the bank? Please?"
Dawn winced. Churches reminded her of her mother’s fire-and-brimstone approach to religion. Even though her current condition had facilitated a reconciliation of a sort, she still blamed her mother for the divorce that split her parents up when she was fourteen years old. Eve took comfort in her religious beliefs; Dawn could tell from the slight tremor in the girl’s voice that she needed that comfort badly, considering how lousy today was turning out.
Dawn forced a smile. "Sure thing."
Eve’s smile was the genuine article, a pulsing sun in the gloom of her face. "Thanks."
Six weeks ago, Dawn thought, I would’ve told you in no uncertain terms what to do with your religion. I’m definitely mellowing out.
She was a little worried over the fact that she didn’t feel more worried about it.
* * * * *
Eve was almost in tears as she stood on front steps of Our Lady Of Hope. The bank had been bad; the teller kept talking to them as if they were one person, and people were openly gawking wherever they went. Dawn’s face was masklike in its impassiveness. Eve knew the girl didn’t like churches because of her mother, but was still willing to be here. Eve resolved to let her dress their body however she wanted for the next three days as a thank-you rather than taking turns each day like they’d agreed on.
"Father O’Brian’s usually giving confession by this time," she told Dawn, feeling the day’s frustrations loosening its hold on her. "Some people find him very stern, but I like him."
"I guess that’s what counts," Dawn said as they entered the venerable church. The faint smell of incense lingered in the air; she had to admit she always thought that stained-glass windows looked real cool.
"There he is," Eve whispered, pointing to an elderly priest unlocking the confessional. She started after him in such a hurry they almost tripped over their shared feet; Dawn had to do some fancy stepping in order to prevent the spill. Father O’Brian, looked up from his unlocking and froze as he saw Eve and Dawn making their way down the side aisle. Perhaps -- Dawn was willing to admit -- she was a little oversensitive, but he did not look happy to see a member of his flock. In fact, he looked sour.
Eve felt happier as they reached that grim demeanor she admired. "Father O’Brian? It’s me, Eve! I work at the Angels Of Mercy Shelter, the one that the church helps run?"
"Hmmph. Yes," he intoned, glaring at Dawn. "I remember you child."
"I was wondering....could I talk to you?" Eve said plaintively. "I’ve been having a very tough past couple of months, and...."
He cut her off in mid-plea. "I’m sorry child; I’m very busy today." Dawn noted that he still seemed to be glaring, but now at both of them.
Dawn thought, what’s his problem? I’m sure I’m not imagining that glare, and anyways, he was just real rude to Eve.
Eve slumped. "Oh, then how about...."
Father O’Brian cut her off again. "I’m afraid I’m very busy for the rest of the week. Now, If you’ll excuse me." It was a command, not a request, and the old priest made his way to the rectory without even bothering a backwards glance.
Eve’s whole world came down around her. No time, she thought numbly. All I wanted was to talk, and he said he had no time. Her vision swam and she felt a hard pinch on their left arm, snapping the world back into focus. It was then she realized the leg she controlled had almost given out in her shock
"Don’t you faint on me, hon," Dawn whispered, her voice quivering in rage. "Fucker’s not worth it. Let’s just go home, okay? We’re done for today"
We sure are, Eve thought as she nodded dumbly. Her haven, the place she believed she could always turn to no matter what, was gone in an instant. It was never there, an inner voice whispered. If it had been, it wouldn’t have vanished so quickly. She was adrift, with nowhere to turn -- except Dawn, she realized.
It was clear to Dawn that Eve had just gotten the shock of her life; if her almost fainting wasn’t enough of a clue, her dazed expression certainly was. Dawn had never given thought to what her new life would be like if something happened to one of them. Eve’s near-collaspe was a good preview and the experience left her cold and shaking. Don’t you dare think about yourself, you selfish bitch, she told herself sternly. Eve needs you. On their trip to the bank they’d withdrawn spending money until their new debit card came in the mail. A cab would eat a chunk of it, but there was no way Dawn wanted to subject Eve to another situation like the previous bus. Today had been bad enough.
The cab ride home was quiet, the cabbie your typical unflappable specimen who didn’t even blink at the two girls who flagged his cab down; a quick "where to," and fifteen minutes later they were back at their new apartment. Eve did a lot of crying on the way while Dawn comforted and cried as well; in the end, it was too hard for her to remain stoic when she could feel Eve’s tears as if they were her own.
It was when the cabbie dropped them off that the day took a turn for the better, as Dawn gave the cabbie a twenty, he pushed it away. "Forget about it," he said.
Both girls gaped at him, their mutual sorrows forgotten. He grinned and knocked on his left leg; it sounded amazingly like plastic. "Camping trip, ‘bout four years ago," he said. "Tripped, fell into a ravine. Got me a compound fracture and the docs hadda lose the leg, y’know?"
Dawn still held the twenty limply; Eve wiped away her tears. The cabbie gave them another smile. "You two’ll have your down days," he said. "Just don’t let them keep ya down, hear?"
"Thank you, sir," Eve whispered. Dawn nodded, surprised that people like this still existed.
When they walked into their bedroom to check their answering machine, the little light was blinking furiously.
"Could we not get our messages?" Dawn asked. "I’d feel like I have to call people back and I’m not the mood to be social."
"Neither am I," Eve nodded. "Dawn? Thanks for not saying ‘I told you so’."
They sat down on their futon, folded up into couch position for day use. Dawn looked at the blonde girl and smiled. "I have to be honest, hon; time was I would’ve. Guess you’re rubbing off on me."
"So are you. Now all I can think about is going back and giving O’Brian a piece of my mind!"
Dawn snickered. "Sounds good to me."
Eve looked oddly speculative. "Can I ask you something?"
"Sure, fire away"
"You called me ‘hon’ today a couple of times today....."
"I’m sorry," Dawn stammered. "It just sort of, er, slipped out and, uh...."
Eve patted their right arm. "Don’t be sorry. I’ve never had anybody call me a pet name before. I just wanted to ask if you could call me ‘hon’ more often. I think I know why you’re doing it, and I like it."
For the first time that she could remember in a long while, Dawn was speechless. Was Eve hitting on her?
"In fact," she said sofly, reaching across their body to stroke Dawn’s cheek, "I like it a lot."
Where’s this coming from? Dawn thought, then rationality vanished as Eve leaned her head over to kiss Dawn’s neck. Eve’s hand began to unbutton their blouse as the other girl’s senses reeled under the simultaneous sensation of having her neck kissed and kissing someone else’s neck.
A tiny internal voice declared this is too sudden but was drowned out as Eve slid her hand into their blouse and began to caress their right breast.
"How does this feel," Eve whispered huskily to Dawn. "Does it feel good? I bet it’ll feel better when we get our bra off."
Dawn’s hand raised, as if on its own accord, to slip the blouse off, to unhook her side but the same internal voice bellowed this is WAY too sudden!
Six weeks ago, Dawn would’ve told it what to do and where to go on the way down. Six weeks ago, Dawn would’ve responded to Eve’s come-on instantly. Dawn now realized that six weeks ago, she was a jerk. Eve in her grief was striking out at everyone that had given them a hard time today, especially her religion. The dark-haired girl realized if she let this continue, Eve would come to depend on her, becoming subservient to Dawn’s control of the body.
With more self control than she ever called on before, Dawn ignored the sweet music of their body’s passion and took Eve’s hand away from their right breast, kissing its fingertips as she did. Hon," she said, "later on I’d love to continue this conversation with you. Right now, what I think we should do is go back outside wearing something scandalous, stick our tongues out at anyone who’s gawking rudely, and get a double-pepperoni pizza."
Eve bit her lip as she looked at Dawn like this was the first time seeing her. "Okay."
Dawn knew, from the look of gratitude in the other woman’s eyes, that she’d done the right thing.
Dichotomy Part Two
by Doctor Mercurious
For the erotic ending, click here.
For the non-erotic ending, click here.