Volta was okay. They didn't know exactly what was wrong or if it would happen again, but the vet had prescribed some medication for her to take, and Imogen was keeping a close eye on her. But the whole thing kept Imogen up all night and today she was exhausted.
"I can't believe we only have two classes together!" Fiona lamented as they walked through the hallway towards Fiona's locker.
"We have the same study period?" Imogen offered, trying to make Fiona see the positive. In her opinion, study period was even better than class. She had a few ideas of things they could get up to…
"Maybe I could transfer into your calculus class," Fiona considered, making Imogen roll her eyes.
"It's too late to change," she reminded Fiona.
"Boo. I wish I hadn't come back a week late," Fiona pouted.
Truth be told, Imogen wished Fiona hadn't come back a week late, too. She had missed her friend a ton and was really looking forward to figuring out exactly what they meant to each other. But she also knew she had a tough week coming up, and she was grateful that her best friend was back in Toronto.
"You had to help your mom adjust to house arrest," Imogen said sympathetically. She really liked Fiona's mom and she hoped that everything would turn out alright. "How's she doing, by the way?"
"You're joining student council, right?" Fiona completely ignored Imogen's question, which was strange, but not completely out of character. But for some reason she couldn't quite place, Imogen was starting to get the same strange panicky feeling in her chest she had gotten at the bus station.
This was feeling like what had happened with Eli – too intense, too fast. She wasn't ready for all the pressure of having to spend all her time with Fiona; even if she probably would have anyway, she didn't want to feel like she had to.
She told herself not to jump to conclusions. They hadn't even discussed anything. She was probably overreacting.
"I might be busy with other things…"Imogen explained, giving Fiona a strange look.
"Like what?" asked Fiona incredulously, which pissed Imogen off a little. She had a life outside of Fiona Coyne. Why was Fiona suddenly acting all possessive and clingy? Especially since she knew about how much Imogen had hated that very thing with Eli.
When they turned the corner, Fiona looked curiously at Imogen. "What's with the jock-a-thon?"
"Your locker's now in hockey player central," Imogen explained disapprovingly. The hockey team had been grating on her nerves lately. Hopefully she and Fiona would be able to spend most of their time at her locker, which was fortunately not surrounded by Ice Hounds.
She watched as Fiona walked up to her locker and was immediately checked out by several of the boys including the captain. Imogen hated him already.
"The mysterious neighbour finally appears," he said smoothly. "I didn't dream you'd be so hot, though. Mike Dallas. And you are?"
Imogen honestly wanted to punch him in the face. It occurred to her that Fiona seemed to bring out that reaction in her.
"The wrong tree to be barking up." Fiona replied, unimpressed.
"That's a terrible name. You should change it," he tried again.
"It's Fiona Coyne," Fiona gave in. "Look, I'm flattered, but not interested."
"Well I love me a challenge," Mike boasted.
Imogen rolled her eyes at the idiocy of this guy. But she couldn't help but smirk a little at Fiona's response.
"And I love me girls."
That seemed to catch Mike off-guard. "No way! You're way too pretty!"
Fiona shut her locker and looked over at Imogen, who suddenly felt even more uncomfortable. She just knew Fiona was going to bring her into this and… they hadn't even talked about it, yet.
"This is my girlfriend."
There they were – the words that Imogen had been dreading. Not because she didn't want them to be true, but because Fiona had promised that they would figure all this out together. She had promised. And apparently Imogen had missed that entire conversation. Instead Fiona had taken it upon herself to figure it out for her.
She wanted to say something, but she didn't want to hurt or embarrass Fiona and she definitely didn't want this hockey jerk to hurt her, either. So she just stood there awkwardly, trying to convince herself that Fiona hadn't just violated all the trust Imogen had in her.
"She's a lesbian? And you're a lesbian? Is this heaven? I thought it was high school!"
Imogen looked away as Mike spoke, feeling sick and more uncomfortable than ever. This was just what she needed on top of all the confusion about what this meant – for her feelings for Fiona to be sexualized by some fucking asshole.
"Sorry, ladies," Mike continued. "I won't be able to buy this 'lesbian' thing unless you prove it. Let's see a kiss."
"Ew!" Imogen could not believe what a pig Dallas was. She couldn't hold it in anymore. He was disgusting.
"Ew?" Fiona looked at her with hurt and confusion, but Imogen didn't care. She was livid at her 'girlfriend'.
Fiona regrouped, taking Imogen's side so she wouldn't lose face. "Yeah, ew!"
"C'mon. Just one kiss," Dallas egged her on.
"Sure. We'll kiss each other," Fiona said. Imogen crossed over into full-fledged panic mode as Fiona walked towards her. It wasn't that she didn't want to kiss Fiona. It was that she didn't want her relationship – whatever it was – to be put on display for some misogynistic idiots. "After you kiss him."
Imogen barely registered the last part of what Fiona said. She needed to get out of there immediately. "I have to go."
"Wait! Are we having lunch together?" Fiona practically pleaded.
"Can't. Band practice." Imogen's rejection was curt. She couldn't deal with Fiona right now. She had too much else going on.
"You joined a band?" Fiona said, surprised. Imogen had forgotten to tell her amidst everything that had happened over the last few days. "That's so silly. Do you even play an instrument?"
Imogen felt like an idiot when Fiona dismissed the band like it wasn't important at all. It seemed like all day, Fiona thought that nothing Imogen thought or did was important enough to bother asking about or supporting. All Fiona seemed to care about was the title of being Imogen's girlfriend.
Imogen felt like her chest was crushing in on itself. She needed to go. She couldn't be around someone who didn't respect her enough to care about her feelings and her decisions.
"Sort of. I gotta run."
The next afternoon, Imogen paced through her house, her stomach in knots. Her mother would be there soon to pick her up for dinner. Her father was nowhere to be found, which wasn't that unusual, but she wished he could at least pretend for her mother. She wanted her mom to be jealous that she hadn't chosen to take Imogen with her. She wanted her mom to feel bad for leaving them.
Her mother was in town from Ottawa. Apparently she thought they should spend the anniversary of Liz's birthday together. And so Imogen found herself in a very conservative dress with her hair down, waiting for her mother to pull into the driveway and wishing she was doing anything else.
She just wanted to talk to Fiona, who was the only person in the world who would understand why this was all such a big deal, but they were fighting. Because apparently Imogen ruined everything good she ever touched, like some sort of King Midas but with badness instead of gold.
She took out her phone and unlocked it. She scrolled through her contacts and hovered over Fiona's name. Finally, she clicked it and began typing. I am going for dinner with my mom and I am freaking out!
She erased it and started again. I'm sorry about yesterday. I'm just stressed. It's Liz's birthday tomorrow and my mom's in town and you and I haven't talked about what anything means. She erased that message as well. It seemed like a lot of stuff to dump on Fiona via text message.
She sighed and tried again. I just need my best friend right now. She knew Fiona would take that the wrong way, even though it was true. She erased it, too, and put her phone back in the purse she hadn't touched since the last time she saw her mother.
When she heard the car pull up, she ran out the door before her mother could come in.
"Umm…?" Imogen had come looking for Fiona with the intent of apologizing to her and explaining what had been going on with her and why she just needed to forget about everything today, but she forgot all that when she say Fiona lounging around with asshole hockey guy.
"Oh. Hey, Immie. What's up?"
Imogen cringed at the nickname she had gotten when she was young. Where did Fiona even get that from? The only person who still called her that was her dad, and to hear it from anyone else – even Fiona– just seemed wrong. Especially today. It put her on edge.
"It can wait." Imogen said, still trying to figure out what exactly she was seeing in front of her. Because it looked like Fiona was flirting or at least being overly friendly with the homophobic jock named Mike Dallas.
"I'll go, uh, check on Bo and Ingvar," he muttered, wisely leaving the girls alone.
"What is it?" Fiona asked.
"I just thought that maybe we could talk, but obviously you're too busy flirting with a guy for that," Imogen said, irritated, confused, and maybe a bit jealous. One minute, Fiona was planning their entire lives together and getting upset if Imogen didn't want to spend every second with her, then next she was trying to impress Mike fucking Dallas.
"We were just joking around." Fiona explained as she followed Imogen down the hall. "It's hard work planning a dance – you know, so your band can play."
That just confirmed everything Imogen had feared. She shook her head in disappointment, which was clearly not the reaction Fiona had anticipated. "When Mo told me about this dance, I knew it. You organized it for me. But you said my band was silly."
Fiona had really hurt her the other day when she brushed off the band. Even if she hadn't had a chance to tell Fiona about the family stuff going on in her life right now, Imogen had hoped she would at least get a little support with the things Fiona did know about.
"And this is my apology!" Fiona exclaimed, obviously not getting the point.
"So is that the plan, Fiona?" Imogen asked, getting angry that Fiona wasn't understanding. She didn't need a carnival or a dance or any other grand gesture. She just needed Fiona. "Are you going to throw an event for me every time you can't talk to me?"
"We can talk whenever you want!" Fiona said, losing her patience.
"No we can't!" Imogen burst out. "You came back from New York and decided everything: we had to spend every minute together, I'm a lesbian, I'm your girlfriend, let's broadcast it to the world."
"You're having second thoughts." Fiona looked so hurt. For the first time since Fiona got back, Imogen noticed how tired she looked and saw the dark circles under her eyes. Imogen didn't want any of it to be because of her; she had to fix this.
"I care about you more than anyone," she explained in a calmer voice. And it was true. Fiona was the most important person in her life. And what if she lost her? What if, just like with Eli, they didn't work out romantically? Imogen was terrified that if they rushed into things like she had with him, it would be a disaster. And Imogen would lose the only person left in her life who really knew her and who really cared. She could have dealt with losing Eli – it would have hurt, but she could have done it. But she wasn't sure she would be able to deal with losing Fiona.
"Well it doesn't sound like it," Fiona replied, every word stabbing Imogen in the heart.
"But you're pressuring me," Imogen tried to explain as she felt the tears well up in her eyes. She could feel it falling apart already. She wasn't going to be able to be what Fiona wanted her to be. She was going to lose her, just like she'd lost everyone else.
"Fine!" interrupted Fiona. "Pressure's off. Let me know what you decide." And with that, Fiona walked off, leaving Imogen in the hallway alone.
It took all her strength not to burst into tears in the middle of the hallway. This wasn't how this was supposed to go. Imogen did want to talk to Fiona about their relationship, but more than that, right now she just needed to talk to her best friend.
The only reason she had even gotten out of bed this morning was because she knew she would see Fiona, and she had hoped the other girl would cheer her up like she had so many times before.
"It's Liz's birthday," she said quietly, under her breath. If anyone heard her, nobody let on.
"I just… I can't lose her," Imogen was explaining to Adam as she helped him with his tie. She hadn't spoken to Fiona since their fight two days ago and she was going crazy. "But I don't know what to do or how to explain to her how I'm feeling. Everything is just so overwhelming right now."
"You should probably just tell her the truth," Adam suggested, understandably confused.
Imogen sighed. Somehow she doubted it was going to be that easy since Fiona hadn't seemed to take her seriously ever since she got back.
"Hey," Fiona walked into the hallway and Imogen couldn't stop her heart from skipping a beat. "Can we talk before you go onstage? Or you could talk and I could try listening for a change?"
Adam smiled at her and Imogen figured this was her chance.
"I'll meet you guys backstage," Imogen told Adam and watched as he left. Then she turned to Fiona. She took a deep breath, trying to figure out how to begin in a way that wouldn't turn into a fight. "I want to be your girlfriend."
"I like how this is starting," Fiona smiled, looking hopeful but cautious.
"But it has to be slow – like, super slow – and I'm worried that's not going to be good enough for you." Imogen knew she liked Fiona and she knew she wanted to be with her, but she still hadn't figured out what that meant for her. And it was overwhelming to have Fiona try to mold her into what she wanted. She wanted to make Fiona happy, but wasn't going to change herself for her. If she was honest, she was terrified that the person she was wouldn't be able to make Fiona happy.
When Fiona sighed in response, Imogen just wanted to know what the other girl was thinking and whether she was on her way to losing her best friend. "Okay. Your turn."
Fiona shook her head and sighed again. "My world is a mess," she admitted, and Imogen felt guilty. She might not have been as supportive as she should have been, either. "Everything that's going on with my family right now is so up in the air, and I was looking for solid ground with you, but I pushed too hard. So whatever speed you're on, I can be on that one, too."
Imogen felt a weight lift from off her shoulders. That sounded like the Fiona she knew and liked so much.
She hated that Fiona's life was falling apart right now. She just wanted to fix it. But she also needed to be clear about what exactly this slow speed entailed. "That means no more events in my honour!"
"I promise," Fiona licked her lips, drawing Imogen's attention to them.
Imogen smiled for the first time in days as her eyes trailed over Fiona and she allowed herself to take in her ridiculously hot girlfriend. Her heart beat a little faster when Fiona spoke again. "So, um, does this super slow speed mean no kissing?"
Imogen smirked, finding it hilariously adorable that Fiona thought she would be able to resist kissing her. She just wanted to do it for Fiona and not for anyone else. "Just not in front of the jocks, okay?"
"Okay," Fiona agreed, her voice low and husky as her eyes flitted down to Imogen's lips. Imogen stepped forward and Fiona brought her hand up to Imogen's neck. When they kissed, Imogen's body went crazy. She pulled back from Fiona sooner than she wanted to when she heard whistling and clapping from behind her.
"Finally!" Mike Dallas was grinning like a maniac. Imogen hated him. Especially since Fiona actually seemed to like the pig-headed jerkface.
"Are you here to cash in on those two dances I owe you?" Fiona asked, a little too smiley for Imogen's liking.
"No, I'm good," he grinned as he walked away.
Imogen decided to ignore him for the moment, instead focusing on how happy she was to have Fiona back.
"Listen, I need to talk to you about some stuff," Imogen said. When she saw the worried look on Fiona's face, she scrambled to clarify. "Not scary stuff, I promise. Just… stuff that's going on with me that I… I want to tell you. Look, I know you're a hot shot student council member and all, but can you and I bail after our set? Go to your place?"
"I'll try my best to convince Marisol and Mike that they don't need my help for the rest of the dance," Fiona promised, reaching for Imogen's hand as they wandered slowly towards backstage.
Imogen stopped, pulled Fiona towards her, and leaned in so close she could feel Fiona's breath on her lips. "Did I mention there won't be any jocks around after we talk?"
Fiona smiled and she bit her lip. "I will make it work."
Imogen kissed her girlfriend before pulling away and tugging her backstage just as she heard Mo ask where she was.
"I'm here!" She reassured him. "And so is my girlfriend."
It felt so good to say that out loud. She looked at Fiona and couldn't resist kissing her on the cheek.
"Imogen, I am so sorry I wasn't here for you this week. I know Liz's birthday and seeing your mom must have been really hard, and I feel like a total jerk," Fiona apologized when Imogen finished telling her about her week. "I am so so sorry."
"It's okay," said Imogen quietly as she snuggled into the safety of Fiona's arms. "I should have told you. And you're here now. I know you have a lot going on in your life, too. I'm sorry for adding my problems on top of all that. But you make me happy. You're just the only one who… I mean, I feel like I can tell you anything."
"You can. Always." Fiona pressed a kiss to Imogen's forehead. "And you make me happy, too."
Imogen raised her head to bring her lips to Fiona's, smiling into their kiss.
"How is your mom doing, by the way?" asked Imogen as she pulled away slowly. "You never really told me."
"Honestly, she's not doing very well. The case against her is pretty strong and it's going to take a while for it to go through all the courts. Even then, she might not win. She could go to jail, Im. And for now she's stuck in New York, mostly alone."
Imogen wrapped her arms around her girlfriend and held her close. "Maybe you and I could think of something to cheer her up? Put your amazing event organization powers to use for something other than winning me over?"
Fiona laughed. "Okay. Let's start tomorrow?"
"Okay." Imogen bit her lip as she stared at Fiona's mouth, torn between wanting to kiss her a million times and wanting to take it slow.
"Stay over?" Fiona blurted out.
"Super slow speed, I promise," Fiona assured her. "I'll even sleep on the couch. I've just missed you and I don't want you to leave."
"I missed you, too. And I don't want to leave." Imogen took a deep breath, considering everything. "You don't have to sleep on the couch. Which isn't to say I'm ready for – "
"Im, it's okay!" Fiona interrupted before her girlfriend got too worked up. "I'm not ready for that either."
"Right." Imogen swallowed hard, suddenly feeling awkward again. "Let's just… we can tell each other when things are too fast, right?"
"Definitely… Um, can I kiss you now?" asked Fiona, hesitantly.