Author's note:

This was written for someone over on livejournal. It was originally posted in a 'slash' community, so if that's not your thing (it's not necessarily mine, but it's popular, so I write it occasionally), best to leave this one alone. It's not graphic or anything but I'm rating it M because it does contain adult themes.

Set sometime after college and the prompt I was given was "sleepover".

The title is taken from a Missy Higgins song called 'Nightminds'.

Reviews would be appreciated. :)

xx

She's early. She hovers for a moment by her car, not wanting to go in just yet. She allowed herself time in case she got lost, but the house was easy to find and now she's twenty minutes earlier than she said she would be. House. She scoffs at the word. It's one of many doors in a long wall of pale brick – one window at the front, blinds drawn down to keep out the heat shimmering off the sidewalk. Neighbours either side.

She can hear a television blaring somewhere, and the hum of air conditioners from the back of the building fills the air, which is heavy and still and hot.

She has to knock twice before Dawn answers the door. Answers the door in a towel.

"Shit, I'm sorry I'm running so late," are her first words. She pulls the towel a little bit closer around her body and beads of water run from her bare shoulders.

"I'm early," Kristy says.

Dawn ushers her inside quickly and smiles. "It's been ages."

"Yeah." Kristy doesn't smile back. "So this is it then?" She motions outward and then jams her hands back in her pockets.

"Uh, yeah," Dawn says. "I know it's tiny but it's mine." She smiles again. Awkward. "Hey listen I just need to get dressed and do my hair. Help yourself to a drink or something." She points towards a fridge that hums loudly in the corner of the smallest kitchen Kristy has ever seen.

Dawn disappears and Kristy looks around, still standing by the door. She can see the kitchen to her right – separated from the living area with tiles instead of carpet, which looks extremely thin and worn to Kristy's eyes. Two arm chairs and a sunken couch are crammed at the far end of the living room – a table and two mismatched chairs by the door. A television balances on a small, squat bookcase crammed with magazines.

Kristy finds herself a diet coke, which she assumes is there specifically for any visitors, and slings herself into the arm chair.

Dawn appears again, dressed and moisturised and towelling her hair. She gives Kristy another smile, brief and nervous.

"So is it as bad as Richard described?"

Kristy cracks a smile at this. "No. But I can see his point."

Dawn nods and tosses her wet towel across the back of one of the dining chairs. "I won't let him visit here anymore. We just argue."

"Can't he and Sharon loan you some money or something?"

Dawn rolls her eyes. "They've offered countless times. I don't want it. I'm okay here."

Kristy looks around. "Why here though? Isn't there anywhere else? I mean, closer to your friends or something?"

Dawn shrugs and takes a bottle of water from the fridge. "I wanted a change. I'm close enough to visit for a weekend or something. And I got a job here, but this is all I can afford for now. But it's okay. It's not as bad as it looks. Honest." She sinks into an arm chair, still raking her fingers through her hair. "What did you get Mary Anne?"

"Some leather-bound journal thing I figure she'd drool over," Kristy says, tapping her fingers on the side of her coke. "You?"

"A plant, to keep on her desk."

Kristy nods.

"She's really excited," Dawn says, anxious to fill any pauses that fall between them.

"About the job or the party?"

"Both, I guess. I think everyone is coming to help her celebrate."

Kristy just nods again, her mouth going a little dry at the mention of everyone.

"Thanks for coming to get me," Dawn says. "I mean I didn't want to put you to any trouble or anything but when Mary Anne said you'd be coming through here to get back to Stoneybrook, I figured..."

"Yeah, it's okay," Kristy says. "Mary Anne wants us both there, so..." She shrugs.

"Well I'm just going to do my hair and then I guess we can go, if you want," Dawn says. She's back in the bathroom before Kristy can think of how to respond.

x

Kristy keeps the music at a level loud enough to delay any need for conversation, but low enough to hear Dawn if she decides she wants one. The air conditioner is on full and the road is wide and quiet and baking under the high sun.

Dawn has been quiet since Kristy scoffed at her suggestion of winding down the windows in favour of the air conditioner, but she turns in her seat suddenly, her eyes slightly narrowed.

"Why don't you like me?"

Kristy looks back at her in amazement. "What?"

"You don't like me anymore. Why not?"

Kristy fixes her eyes back on the road, her mouth open and closing as she tries to think of something to say. "I do like you," she manages eventually.

Dawn scoffs this time. "No you don't."

Kristy doesn't answer and Dawn lowers her sunglasses and crosses her arms over her chest, hostility seeping out of her every pore.

x

"What are you doing?"

They're the first words either of them have spoken for more than an hour.

"I always go this way," Kristy says. "It's quicker to cut through the mountains."

"No it isn't."

"It is. I've timed it. Twice."

"Oh, whoopee for you."

It's a relief to finally have some shade spilling over the road. The drive is winding and the road is narrow, but greenery and trees are starting to replace the bone-dry, dust-coated edges of the freeway as they edge closer to Stoneybrook.

Kristy bumps the air conditioner off as the car attempts the first steep climb, and Dawn immediately winds her window down.

The air flowing into the car is thick and heavy and smells of rain and moisture, though Kristy can't see any clouds overhead.

They drive on in silence, until a sudden thought provokes Dawn into speaking again.

"Where are you staying? You're staying with your folks, right?"

Kristy grits her teeth. "I was going to stay at Mary Anne's tonight."

Dawn slides down her in seat in an obvious huff. "I was going to stay at Mary Anne's tonight."

In retaliation to this comment, Kristy pumps the air conditioner on again and slides the fan onto full.

x

"Can we stop?"

The sun is low in the sky at this point and the drive is mostly downhill – the steep climbs behind them.

"Why?"

"Because we haven't had a bathroom break since lunch time."

Kristy sighs and pulls over on the side of the road. "Don't take too long. I'm going to stretch my legs."

Dawn slams the car door behind her and disappears off into the trees.

Kristy stands by the side of the car and stretches. It's awfully humid now. The trees are still but she can hear running water somewhere. Casting a glance over her shoulder, she gives up on Dawn after a very short time and heads through the trees to find the source.

There's a creek, bordered with moss and biting insects. She wades out to the middle, the water halfway up her thighs and just soaking the bottom of her shorts. A car horn blasts short and sharp through the trees and she grins. Dawn can wait.

She stretches again, relieved to be out of the car, relieved to have some breathing space away from Dawn. She checks her watch. Another hour – maybe two if the traffic is heavy once they join the main road again.

"Kristy!" Another blast of the horn.

"Here!" Kristy snarls back, annoyed.

After a moment or two battling with the undergrowth, Dawn finds her and immediately kicks her shoes off and plunges in, gasping a little at the cold water.

Kristy watches Dawn scoop water into her hands and slide them up her bare arms, washing away sweat and dust, before she splashes water up onto her face and neck.

"Oh, that's better," she sighs. "It's so hot today."

"It's summer," Kristy bites.

She has her back to Dawn when a wave of cold water splashes over her.

She turns around in amazement, drenched, and Dawn is standing there, looking extraordinarily icy in the dappled sunlight.

"What the hell did you do that for?"

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Dawn asks, hands on her hips.

Kristy blinks. She's only ever heard Dawn swear once before, and that was when Claudia accidently hit her with a hammer when they were hanging up a banner of some kind.

"You've been hostile since you walked in my door this morning," Dawn fumes. Water swirls gently around her thighs. The hem of her dress is sticking to her skin and the hair around her face and neck is wet from when she bathed her face and she looks beautiful. Kristy adds that as another reason to dislike her.

"If you think we're both staying with Mary Anne tonight, you have another thing coming," Dawn continues, still trying to provoke Kristy into saying something. "It'll only upset her if we're like this and this is supposed to be her weekend – to celebrate getting her job. She's going to –"

"That." Kristy says, jabbing her finger at Dawn. "That is exactly why I don't like you. Of course I know it's going to upset Mary Anne. I know exactly what upsets Mary Anne. I've know her so much longer than you have but you think you're the Big Mary Anne Expert because your mother married her father. Newsflash, Schafer:I know Mary Anne, okay?"

"You're jealous?" Dawn splutters.

At this, Kristy sloshes through the water and grabs her shoes, disappearing into the trees to go back to the car.

Dawn decides to wait a while. Her heart is racing due to the argument and the air seems heavier than ever. Clouds have swirled in above her and she watches them grow darker before she decides to head back to the car.

Kristy is leaning against the driver's side door, a scowl on her face, her cell phone in her hand.

"You're not telling Mary Anne about our argument, are you?" Dawn asks, unable to help herself.

The look Kristy gives her in response makes her stop, and she thinks about apologising before her own stubbornness kicks in.

"The car won't start." Kristy mutters.

"What?"

"The car won't start. It's run dry or something, or the battery's flat, I don't know."

"You tried to start it?"

Kristy looks at her in amazement. "No, I'm psychic and I can tell through Kristy-to-car mind-meld that it's just not going to work."

"Pop the hood."

Kristy reaches through the open window and pops the bonnet, watching Dawn as she stands in front of the car, gazing in at the engine.

"What's your diagnosis?" Kristy asks, her voice heavy with sarcasm.

"It's probably because you had the air conditioner running flat out all that time," Dawn snaps, slamming the hood back down. "Is someone coming to get us?"

"I can't get a signal. I'm going to walk down the road a bit and see if it improves. If any cars come past, wave them down."

"I'm not staying here alone!" Dawn cries. "We're in the middle of nowhere."

Kristy starts walking and Dawn trudges after her. It's a long time before either of them say anything, and thunder rumbles in the distance.

"Kristy, let's go back to the car," Dawn begs. "This is exactly how all those missing hiker urban legends start."

x

Rain beats down on the car and the windows look like curtains of water. Even if a car did meander past them, neither would see or hear it.

"Any signal on your phone?" Kristy asks, holding her cell above her head and squinting at the screen.

"No."

They're both in the back seat, legs slung over the front. Dawn's feet are bare and Kristy is still damp from the drenching in the creek.

"I'm wet," she complains, if only to break the heavy silence between them. "Sit up a moment."

"What?"

She wrenches the middle section of the back seat down and gropes around in the trunk for her bag. "I have to change my shirt." She hesitates slightly before she whips her shirt over her head and rummages around in her bag for a fresh one.

"I have that bra," Dawn says in soft surprise.

Kristy looks down. "Oh. Mary Anne gave this one to me."

There's a heartbeat of silence and Dawn starts laughing. "Me too."

They giggle together until laughter rolls over them in waves. Their argument seems utterly ridiculous now.

"I think I brought it with me," Dawn says, reaching for her own bag. She pulls the bra out of a front pocket. "I'll change. We can match."

Kristy snorts and pulls a new t-shirt over her head before she starts digging in her bag for a new pair of shorts. Out of the corner of her eye she can see the smooth expanse of Dawn's back, freckled and bare, her dress unbuttoned and loose around her waist.

"There," Dawn sighs, settling back and tucking the first bra into her bag. She seems in no hurry to button her dress again and Kristy keeps her eyes focused on finding a new pair of shorts.

"How long do you think it'll be before people get worried?" Dawn asks, looking out at the rain.

"Probably when it gets dark," Kristy answers, finally tugging out a dry item of clothing and shoving her bag back into the trunk of the car. She lifts her hips and slides the damp shorts to the floor.

"You don't think we're going to have to sleep here, do you?" Dawn asks suddenly.

"No," Kristy answers, just a tad too quickly. "No, someone will be along before dark. I mean it's not the main road but it's not completely abandoned either, you know? We'll be okay. We'll be at Mary Anne's tonight, for sure."

"You're babbling," Dawn says, a slow grin spreading across her face.

"No I'm not. I'm in complete control."

"Hey, Kristy, I'm sorry for this afternoon," Dawn says after a heartbeat. "All the fighting, I mean."

"Oh, never mind. I'm sorry too." Kristy kicks her shoes off and tugs at her socks. She doesn't want to get her clean shorts dirty and her shoes are covered in mud from the creek bank.

"I just couldn't figure out why you didn't like me anymore. You used to like me, right?"

Dawn sounds close to tears and Kristy looks at her in surprise, each of them still only half dressed.

"Of course I did. I mean – I mean we were never close though, were we?" She sounds a little bit desperate now.

"No. I guess we shared Mary Anne."

"Yeah, I guess so."

"It must be hard for her."

"I think it is."

"Was she the main reason you didn't like me? Because you had to share, all of a sudden?"

"I guess so."

"But you shared with Claudia. Before Stacey came along."

Kristy rubs her brow. "That was different. We all grew up together."

Dawn pulls her fingers through her hair slowly, inspecting the ends, thinking. Kristy watches her, only half-aware that she needs to keep dressing, that it's stupid, sitting here in the backseat half-naked with an equally half-naked girl who may or may not be a friend today.

"Do you ever talk to the rest of them?" Dawn asks softly. The rain is still beating down outside and it seems to Kristy that there's nothing else out there at all.

"Just Mary Anne. And Mallory, sometimes. Oh, and Logan, but that's mostly through work stuff."

Dawn nods. "Abby?"

"Nah."

"You never really got on with her. Not deep down..." She trails off.

"I did so." Kristy prickles a little, the truth of the statement hurting her a bit. "I'm not a complete bitch, you know. I bet you don't talk to half of them either."

"Just Mary Anne. I saw Claud last time I was in Stoneybrook but I didn't say hi or anything. I'm a bit scared. You know... we've all drifted apart. I'm not sure I want to go back again."

"I don't know what happened." Kristy abandons the effort to pull her shorts on and sinks back against the car seat. "It just all fell apart. We were so close."

"Too close, maybe," Dawn says. She's looking at Kristy, but she's chewing her lip and frowning, trying to remember the specific moment. The end of it all, the day she realised she hadn't spoken to any of them in weeks and that it suddenly didn't matter anymore.

She looks up, at Dawn, a thought occurring, a voice appearing in her mind, in her breath, but Dawn leans forward suddenly – too sudden to match the quiet mood in their sombre cocoon – and catches Kristy on the lips in a soft kiss.

Stunned, she doesn't move, at first, but she pulls back after a few seconds, her eyes wide.

"What are you doing?"

"Getting close again." Dawn leans forward once and Kristy can smell peach and coconut – her shampoo or her moisturiser, and it's all so heady and full and sweet it clouds her mind and she lets Dawn kiss her again.

"Hey, Kristy?" Dawn whispers, her nose nudging Kristy's, their breath warm and wet between them.

"What?" Kristy's voice is husky and she's scared because she doesn't know what to do. Scared because she likes it and her heart is racing and she doesn't think she really wants this, not at all. She doesn't want to want it, doesn't want to like it.

"Don't tell anyone."

Kristy shakes her head, trembling, wanting to laugh at the thought of ever telling anyone this – sitting in the car with bare legs and underwear and Dawn practically topless and kissing her.

Dawn cups her face and pushes her back a little and Kristy feels a knee nudge at her thigh as Dawn kisses her again. She parts her legs a little and before she knows it they're both impossibly entwined and somehow Kristy's hands are in Dawn's hair, her wonderful soft, silky hair. Her skin is so warm and Kristy is trembling and she can hear her own heart thundering.

Dawn's hand slides up under Kristy's t-shirt and she breathes out slowly.

"You've done this before."

Dawn smiles. "Why do you think I live so far away in a tiny apartment nobody ever wants to visit? Rumours in Stoneybrook... you know what it's like."

"Yeah," she sighs. She wraps her legs a little tighter around Dawn and leans in to kiss her again.

x

The rain has stopped and it's dark and quiet outside. They've locked the car doors. Now and then Dawn dozes, her head on Kristy's shoulder, breath spilling across Kristy's bare chest.

"Are you awake?" Dawn murmurs after a while.

"Mmhm."

"What time is it?"

Kristy lights up her cell phone. "After ten."

"People will be worried by now, right?"

"Yeah."

"Poor Mary Anne."

"If we're still stuck here in the morning we'll walk down the road."

"Okay." Dawn shifts a little, resting her cheek on the naked curve of Kristy's breast.

"How long have you – you know..." Kristy says, a little awkwardly. "Liked girls?"

"Not all that long, really," Dawn says, her lashes fluttering against Kristy's skin. "High school, I guess. But I didn't want to. I knew I'd be outcast."

"No you wouldn't," Kristy says vehemently. "We wouldn't have shunned you or anything just because you liked girls."

Dawn smiles. "I was scared. And I'm still a bit scared. Can you imagine what Richard would think?"

Kristy snorts. "I see your point." She lets her fingers slide gently over Dawn's back, the small movement needing incredible bravery.

"I'm cold," Dawn says. "The rain really brought the temperature down."

A little reluctantly, they both get dressed, before nestling down on the back seat under a picnic blanket Kristy has dragged out of the trunk.

"You're prepared," Dawn says in admiration, as Kristy throws the blanket across the both of them.

"All those BSC sleepovers," Kristy explains. "You always need an extra blanket."

Dawn laughs and kisses her cheek. "Glad to see our president is still in there."

x

Kristy blinks and throws a hand up in front of her eyes. She has no idea what time it is, but a flashlight is being concentrated through one of the back windows.

It wakes Dawn and the moment she sees it she gives a piercing scream and starts raving in a panicked babble about serial killers in the mountains.

"It's the cops, you idiot," Kristy says, pushing her off and unlocking the doors. She laughs at the sight of Dawn sprawled in the backseat, hair wild, eyes wide, mouth open in fear and surprise.

"Kristy Thomas?" Two policemen stand by the hood of the car.

"Yeah, that's me." Kristy straightens her shirt, hoping it's not inside out or something. "We've had car trouble and I couldn't get a signal on my cell phone."

"Any idea what's wrong with the car?"

"Nope."

Dawn scrambles out and stands behind Kristy, giving the officers a bashful grin.

"We'll give you girls a ride to town and arrange a tow."

"You guys searched for us in the dark?" Dawn asks, sounding suitably admiring.

"We're on patrol. We figured a drive out here couldn't hurt. You're not that far from town."

"We have to get to Stoneybrook as soon as we can," Kristy says anxiously.

"We'll get you back to town and you can figure out what you want to do from there."

Kristy locks her car and links arms with Dawn as they follow the police and their flashlights back to the patrol car.

"Pity," she whispers.

"What is?" Dawn asks.

"I bet our sleepover with the others tomorrow night won't be half as fun as the one we just had."

x