Her Eyes On Fire
by Voleuse

She's the best friend we never had
She's the raw flame, the live wire
She prays like a Roman with her eyes on fire
- "Josie," Steely Dan

i. Los Angeles International Airport

"Joe and I shagged once, you know."

Jules doesn't look at Jess as she says it, but bends her head to her knapsack, fumbles for her passport. The terminal is busy, full of rushing Americans, chatter stifling sound like cotton balls.

To Jess, the statement bounces from wall to wall like song on tile.

"You..." She shakes her head, looks at her friend again. "You and Joe?"

"It was a while ago," Jules says. "Before we started the girls' side." She thumbs the pages of her passport, and the gold on the cover stings at Jess' eyes.

"Jules." Jess grabs the passport out of her hands, tucks it into her purse, beside her own. "Why are you telling me this? Now?"

"I dunno." Jules tucks her hair behind her ears, a nervous habit. "I saw you two kiss when we left home, and now we're going back for Christmas, and I wasn't sure--"

"If I was going to shag him?" Her throat is dry, and she fights the urge to lick her lips. Jules' lips are shiny with gloss, as always, Jess notices.

"It's gonna be weird, the three of us together again, and I," Jules bites her lip, "I don't want things to change."

"They wouldn't--"

"And I didn't want you to think I was just being...silly." Her hands empty, Jules' hands flutter aimlessly, and Jess captures them in her own. "It wasn't just a crush, you know, and I didn't tell you before because I was embarrassed, and I didn't want my mum to know, and--"

"Jules." Jess halts the spill of words with a smile, and squeezes Jules' hands. Their palms are warm together. "It doesn't matter."

"How can it not?"

"I like Joe, I do," she sighs, "but I need you. I need you both."

"Oh." Jules stares down at their hands, twined together now. "How do we do that?"

"I don't know."

Their flight number is called, and they disentangle their hands. Stand up, and join the crowd of passengers boarding.


ii. John F Kennedy International Airport

"Do you think Joe knows? About us?"

"Dunno." Jess gnaws on a pretzel between Jules' bursts of anxiety. "Your mum knew."

Jules rolls her eyes, takes another sip of her iced coffee. "Yeah, but she's paranoid."

"It's not a bad thing, you know."

"Yeah but," Jules takes another sip, "then why haven't you told him?"

"Why haven't you?"

"You know." Jules balls up her napkin, bounces it against the arm of the chair between them, and watches it ricochet into Jess' lap. "It'd be weird."

"I dunno." Jess picks up the napkin and tosses back at Jules. "You're the one who shagged him."

"Yeah." Throws the napkin back again. Sips at her coffee.

"Was it nice?"

"What?" Jules looks up from her drink, tosses the napkin, without looking, at the wastebasket. Doesn't watch to see it swish inside.

"You and Joe."

"I guess so."

"You guess so?" There's a hint of panic in Jess' voice, then.

"We only did it the one time, you know." Jules finishes her coffee, tosses the cup after the napkin. "He was my first."


"It was nice," Jules shrugs. "The girls said it would be better the second time, but then we started the girls' side, and..."

"No shagging his players."


Jess finishes her pretzel. Licks the salt from her thumb carefully, then offers the rest of her fingers to Jules.

"Mmm." Jules smiles and accepts, teasingly biting each finger.



"You and Joe," Jess stops. Hesitates, and thinks about wording. "Was it anything like...you and me?"

"Well." Jules releases Jess' hand. "Not really."

"Is that good or bad?" She's not sure what she wants the answer to be.


"Different?" It's almost the answer she wants, she thinks. "How?"

"Faster," and she smacks Jess on the shoulder, "but not like that, you slag."

"How, then?"

"Like..." Jules takes a breath, and her tongue darts out to wet her lips. "Like lightning, you know? Like how it is when lightning's about to strike, and you can feel it crackling under your skin."

"Oh." Jess feels a little breathless, now. "Oh."

"And us, together, we're more like thunder," Jules rambles on, "and it's just as good, just as frightening, but in a good way, and..." She trails off, eyes bright.

"Good, then?"



"Different." Jules leans forward, pressing her forehead to Jess' shoulder. Breathes damply through the cloth. "Are you going to shag him, Jess?"

"I want to," Jess admits, burrowing her hand into Jules' hair. "Would you, if you were me?"

"Yes." Jules raises her head, touches their lips together. "Will you tell him about us, first?"

"Yeah." Jess kisses her again, longer this time, but softly. "Do you think he'll mind?"

"Joe?" Jules breaks the mood with a snort. "He wouldn't have either of us at all if we couldn't play football."

"Yeah," Jess laughs. "Probably not."

Their flight number is called, and they stand up, hands tangling together as they move towards the queue.


iii. London Heathrow Airport

They disembark, shoulders sore and knees aching, but leaning against each other.

They don't see anyone familiar in the terminal, so they collapse on a row of plastic chairs, knapsacks landing with tired thuds, their groans even more worn.

"I hate long flights." Jess drapes herself across Jules' lap.

"Bloody terrible," Jules murmurs, and skims her fingers across Jess' face, drawing a smile out, and Jules back into an upright position.

"At least we're home now."

"Yeah." Jules scans the milling people. "But what do we do now?"

"Wait, I guess." Jess catches Jules' frown. "Oh, you mean about--"

"Yeah." Jules sighs, wraps her arms around Jess.

"I guess we should tell Joe, first, and see what he says."

Their lips brush together, and they kiss.

"See what I say about what?"

They part, and Joe is standing in front of them.

He's smiling, and when the two girls stand, he envelops them both in his arms.

"Welcome home, girls."

And everything feels just fine.


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