"I got my sights set on you and I'm ready to aim
I have a heart that will never be tamed
I knew you were something special
When you spoke my name
Now I can't wait to see you again…."
"What about my lab partner?" Sarah asked, trying to sound nonchalant. Her head rested on Jill's lap as they watched a Miley Cyrus video on her laptop.
Jill gave a pensive look as she ran her fingers through Sarah's hair. "Who, Chuck? I don't know. He's cute. But I don't know him that well."
"We could spend more time with him to see if you like him. He's just… really nice," Sarah said. Since meeting Chuck in biology class, Sarah had grown closer and closer to her lab partner and friend. She and Jill had each dated others, but this was the first time they were going to try to ask someone out as a couple. As soon as Jill suggested it, Sarah had thought of Chuck, but she didn't want to seem overly eager in front of Jill, so she waited until now to bring him up.
"Since when do you like nicey-nice?" Jill teased, raising an eyebrow. Sarah didn't usually go for Chuck's type, that was true. He was nothing like Jill, for example. Sarah was known for being polite but introverted, but Jill was known for being bold and even brash. Both, however, were widely referred to on campus as "those badass girls." As in "whatever you do, don't piss off those badass girls."
Sarah smiled, embarrassed to admit how much she wanted to be with Chuck. Normally, Sarah could deceive just about anyone. Jill read her pretty well, though.
"I like Chuck, too," Jill said, almost indulgently. "But just because he seems nice…."
"No, he's like the most genuine person I've ever met. I mean, not that you're not…"
Jill laughed. "It's okay. It was months before you even told me your real name. Neither of us are exactly open books. It might be good for us to be with someone, you know, guileless."
"Chuck is smart," Sarah said, defensive.
"I know. Trust me, I like that he's sweet and honest. I just think we should make sure he's what he seems. Plenty of guys act like they're so sweet and respectful and they talk about all they've read on feminist theory and everything, but then they actually aren't that nice at all." Jill was being more cautious than normal; she was usually willing to risk her own heart, but Sarah didn't trust easily and the thought of going out with someone who would hurt Sarah — or would disrespect either of them — made her blood boil.
"What do you suggest, a lie detector test?" Sarah said, teasing Jill. Jill was thinking about going into security and she was always thinking like an agent of some kind.
"Not a bad idea. But the criminology department might notice if one goes missing, so how about we meet him on different terms?"
"I heard that he's pledging Nu Rho Delta House this weekend. Let's meet him on that turf and see if he's really the guy we think he is."
Sarah frowned. "Pledging? That… doesn't sound like Chuck."
Jill shrugged, "I got the info confirmed."
"Well, it's not right to just spy on someone you like."
"Of course it is. Or if it's not, it's fun nevertheless," Jill grinned cheekily. "Besides, I already figured out how we're going to hang out with a bunch of frat boys all weekend without being recognized."
Sarah groaned. The way Jill was grinning, it was sure to be a terrible idea.
"Lately I been stuck imagining
What I wanna do and what I really think,
time to flow out."
Sarah and Jill stared, squinting almost in disbelief, at the college men holding hands in a circle and dancing as they spun around while belting out Britney lyrics. Jill the ex-theater geek had made sure her and Sarah's clothes, hair, and faux-facial stubble made them look just like regular college guys (albeit ones with slight builds and pretty features), and Sarah the former Girl Scout had had no trouble tracking them to their pledge retreat/hazing ritual in the woods abutting campus. But when they found the boys, they were so appalled by the lack of rhythm and intonation that they almost forgot why they were there.
"Hey, pledges," Lester growled at them, wallowing in his upperclassman status, "You two on the side! What are your names?"
"Uh, I'm Jack, and he's Sam," Jill said, indicating Sarah.
Lester yelled, "You're late! Now get in the circle you stupid crap piles!"
Jill and Sarah exchanged a look, silently reminding each other that their plan would be ruined if they punched Lester, and so they went to join the dancing circle. They managed to squeeze in right by Chuck's left side — when they tried his right hand, a bearded guy said, "Nope, sorry, cut in somewhere else."
When the singing was finished (finally), Lester made them run a mile. Then they had to do the crab in the dirt. Then they all sat in a circle to talk about all the reasons why Lester was great.
Chuck took it all in good humor, but Sarah found it tedious. Jill barely managed to not choke someone.
Then, Lester made them all pair off and wrestle each other, which for the most part was pretty laughable. Except for the two new guys, 'Sam' and 'Jack,' who fought each other using judo moves and pretty much rocked (despite it being a friendly match). The whole group applauded when they were done, and as Sarah and Jill took a bow, they gave each other a pleased glance. It was nice to be able to spar a little without some jerk yelling "whooo, catfight! Take off your tops!!"
After that, Lester wanted to make Morgan eat a pinecone, but Chuck suggested that they all brainstorm ways to promote Lester's band instead, which seemed to appease the tyrant.
As they divided into groups and sat around making Jeffster poster mock-ups, Jill managed to push her way into Chuck's group — by literally pushing Morgan into the other group when Chuck wasn't looking. Sarah caught Morgan before he fell, though, rolling her eyes in disapproval at Jill who pretended not to notice.
"Hey — Morgan, right?"
"I'm Sam," Sarah said.
"Cool, nice to meet you, man. So like, do you want to brainstorm or you want to say we need to take a piss and actually go play Angry Birds on my phone until this 'activity' is over?" Morgan said.
"The second thing. Definitely," Sarah said with a grin.
"Great, let me go get Chuck," Morgan said.
"Oh, he looks busy," Sarah said, noticing that Jill seemed to be getting information out of their maybe-future-partner.
"I can't leave without Chuck, he's my best friend," Morgan said, and Sarah smiled at his earnestness.
"Look, the guy he's talking to?" Sarah said, pointing to Jill, "He's my friend, Jack. I think we should let them talk. I happen to know that a girl who's a friend of Jack's is into Chuck, and Jack might fix them up if it turns out Chuck is a nice guy."
"Chuck is the nicest guy you'll ever meet," Morgan said immediately, "Greatest, smartest, coolest guy."
"That's quite an endorsement," Sarah smiled.
"Look, honestly, Chuck didn't even want to be here. He hates frats. But I wanted to join one. You know, to help me blend in. I just transferred, and like, it's hard sometimes, you know. But Chuck is pledging just to be supportive to me. That's the kind of friend he is. He always, always has your back. So tell Jack to tell the girl that she couldn't do better than Charles Bartowski."
"That is quite an impressive speech," Sarah said, hiding how happy it made her.
"It was totally improv, can you believe it?" Morgan said proudly.
Sarah grinned, then led Morgan out into the trees, where they talked a little more about Chuck. As they were doing that, she also kicked his ass at Angry Birds.
Jill, meanwhile, was having an interesting conversation with Chuck.
"So Chuck, seeing anyone?"
"Anyone you're into? Any ass you particularly want to tap?" Jill asked, trying to sound like exactly the kind of guy she wouldn't want to date. She was going to learn something about Chuck one way or another. And besides, she had to admit to herself that it was kind of fun getting to say horrible things. Especially since she thought of herself as playing a character: "Douchey horny college dude."
"Um, wow, Jack, those are some highly personal and not disturbing at all questions," Chuck said, smiling awkwardly, obviously trying to change the subject.
"Come on, man," Jill said, wondering if she should grab her crotch for manly effect but realizing in time that no one else was doing that, "Just making conversation. So like, there are lots of hot girls on this campus, right?"
"Yeah, sure," Chuck said politely. "Lots of great girls." He headed into the woods to forage for dead branches to gather for Lester's planned campfire/songs-about-Lester session, and probably to get away from 'Jack's' oddly personal questions, but 'Jack' followed him off the paths, and soon they were both deep in the trees.
"Like who do you think are the hottest girls on campus, dude? Like on a scale of 1 to 10, who gets at least a 9.5?" Jill said.
Chuck looked uncomfortable.
Jill frowned. She was going to have to chang tactics. "Just kidding, dude. I'm only asking since I've seen you looking at that Sarah chick."
Chuck blushed bright red.
"That bad, huh? So why don't you go for it, dude?" Jill said, landing an encouraging (and hard) punch to his shoulder.
"Come on, Jack, she's seeing someone," Chuck mumbled.
"Yeah, Jill Roberts."
'Jack' wrinkled his nose. "Ugh, Jill."
"What's wrong with Jill?" Chuck said, defensive about her.
Jill shrugged. "What does Sarah see in her?"
"What are you talking about? Jill's so beautiful and…"
"Really? What's beautiful about her?"
"Well, uhhh…. her mouth. She has a really nice mouth."
"Yes, mouths are very useful. If you know what I mean," she said, elbowing him. "What else?"
"Um, her skin looks very smooth," Chuck mumbled, uncomfortable with the conversation.
"Sure, don't want to go bed with sandpaper. What else?"
"Um… she has nice legs."
"Yeah, legs are great. Sounds like all her pieces are great. Like a good game of Tetris."
Chuck stared, confused. "I guess. I just don't know that much about her. Though I do appreciate the old school gaming reference. But look, man, I only met Jill once. But she seems SO amazing. And if Sarah likes her, I know she must be smart and strong and… and …. Look, maybe we should not talk about this. Like I said, they're already a couple."
"Dude, they're not exclusive," Jill said
"I know, Sarah told me," Chuck said and Jill managed not to show her surprise. She actually didn't realize Sarah had told him that; she must really trust Chuck, considering how much Sarah feared being gossiped about.
Still, Jill kept her composure. "So, what's the problem? Why aren't you getting IN there?" Jill asked, making some lewd motions with her hands. "Don't you want in on that hot girl-on-girl stuff? I sure would."
"Dude, stop. It's not like that," Chuck said.
"It's just, they're so far out of my league."
Jill peered at him for a moment as he looked at her, his eyes appearing so vulnerable and pathetic and sweet.
She punched him in the arm again.
"Chuck, you are a great guy! And Sarah is obviously into you! So get with the program, and go out with those two mega-hot girls."
"But — but —"
"I've never dated a couple before. What if I'm not good at it? What if they don't want me? I'm just a geek. And -"
Jill rolled her eyes. "Shut up, Chuck."
"But what if they — "
Jill pushed Chuck onto the ground and straddled him. She pressed down on Chuck's shoulders and lowered her face slowly to his, then gave him a long, slow kiss, her tongue pressing between his lips gently, then forcefully.
"Ummm… Jack?" Chuck said, looking bewildered.
"Just as I thought," Jill said, "You're a great kisser. Sarah and Jill will be delighted to have you."
"Women like that are going to want someone who's more than just a competent kisser," Chuck said, still unsure what was going on, largely because Jill was still straddling his waist.
"You're right, women like that are impossible," Jill said, getting off of him. "They'll want you to be in an open relationship but still committed to working on a relationship with THEM."
"What's wrong with that?" Chuck said.
Jill continued her argument: "They'll want you to be helpful, but they'll get pissed if you assume they need your help."
"Why would anyone assume they need help?"
"Also? Being with women like that? It's tough on the ego. No offense, dude, but those girls could kick your ass. And I hear Jill Roberts could pwn you at World of Warcraft. And that Sarah chick — she's like supersmart. Do you really need that in your life?"
"What? That's dumb. That would rock to have someone to play WoW with. And I love that Sarah's brilliant. And that she's talented. And did you know that she speaks three languages, and she knows five martial arts forms and— "
"Wow, you really think Sarah's great, don't you?"
"Who wouldn't?" Chuck said. "I've been lab partners with her for a while, and she's one of my best friends and — it's just — there's no one like her. And Jill's amazing too, I can just tell. And I would love to tell them — but I can't — I mean… it's just…." he faded off and looked away.
Jill looked at him for a long minute, eyes narrowed, discerning. But then she smiled. "I think maybe Sarah and Jill should give you a chance, Chuck."
"Yeah, like that'll happen," Chuck said.
Jill took out her phone to text Sarah their GPS location. Then she pulled off her wig and watched as Chuck sputtered for a good minute before figuring out what was going on.
By the time Sarah got there, Jill had explained it all and was convincing him that it would be fine. She was quite persuasive in her arguments, and would have been even if she weren't nibbling on Chuck's ear.
As soon as Sarah arrived, the three of them looked at each other for a quiet minute.
Then Sarah grinned and said what all three of them were thinking: "Yeah. This is happening."
"As the smoke clears
I awaken, and untangle you from me…."
"Pledges!! Where are you, pledges?!? Dumb stupid idiots!" Lester shouted through the morning air, his ipod still playing even as his earphones dangled about his shoulders.
He gasped when he saw Chuck, the new guy 'Sam,' and Jill Roberts sleeping in a field, huddled together in a disheveled heap. Immediately, he ran the other way to get the rest of the frat.
"What was that?" Jill mumbled.
"That jerk," Sarah said. "Let's get out of here," she added sleepily, but didn't move.
Chuck sighed contentedly. "Pledge week is turning out a lot better than I expected. Seriously, I thought I would hate frat boys, but you two are okay," he joked.
Sarah rolled her eyes but then kissed Chuck, and then Jill, and they all smiled at each other, feeling happy and hopeful despite the cold, hard ground and the early morning hour.
"Wow, I'm really glad you two were lab partners," joked Jill.
"Yeah," Chuck said, "And here I was almost scared to take a class with Professor Casey."
"So what do you say we head back to the nice warm dorm and have some cereal and coffee?" Sarah said, stretching so that her arms embraced both her lovers.
"Sounds great," Chuck said, "But I have to make sure Morgan can pledge without me."
"Why?" Jill said.
"Because Chuck and Morgan are best friends," Sarah said, raising an eyebrow at Jill to remind her that not everyone in the world solved their problems as… forcefully as Jill did. "Besides, if we go back to the frat house, you can tell Lester off and threaten him."
"Sounds good," Jill said, mostly to the second part.
They unraveled their limbs from one another and stood up, stretching in the cool air. "I can't believe that Lester actually thinks he's in a real band," grumbled Chuck.
"Is it wrong that I hate Lester but I actually really like Jeffster's songs?" Jill said casually as they started walking back toward campus.
"Yes!" Sarah and Chuck yelled at once before they all started laughing. And as they walked along the path, they all felt free to talk and laugh and tease and ask all the questions they wanted.
They were surprised at how easy it felt. How right.