GIRL'S NIGHT OUT
I do not own The Hunger Games.
Summary: Joahnna Mason copes with a breakup the only way she knows how: going on a man-hunt. She brings her roommate Katniss Everdeen with her and the rest is frat party history.
Triggers: Language, sexual innuendo, general snarkiness
Prompt: Places, Frat House
"It's too fucking quiet in here." I glare at my roommate and flop down on my purple and pink polka dot bean bag chair. My roommate, Katniss, just gives me a quiet look.
"Well, it is. All you do is study. You're a fucking stiff. And don't start with the 'but being here is such a great opportunity' bullshit. I know that your Mom and sister are starving at home or something while you are here in glamorous Los Angeles…" It's a cheap shot: I know that maligning Katniss's little sister Prim is sure to pick a fight. I'm not disappointed.
She slams down her pencil (who still does their homework in pencil?) and glares at me. "Do not bring my family into this. We are lucky to be here in L.A. You should appreciate the sacrifices of your family more."
"Yeah, yeah." I reply drolly. "We're here in South Central Los Angeles. It's not like it's fucking Hollywood or anything. There's nothing to do here. I wish I had a car." I pop up and am pacing around our small dorm room like a caged tiger. I finally settle on opening a box of Nilla Wafers and dumping a handful into a bowl. I top it with milk and chocolate sauce and root around on top of our micro-fridge for a clean spoon.
Katniss's voice is laced with concern. "Oh, no, Jo. Not again."
"Everdeen, do not start."
"You guys broke up again?" Katniss gapes at me. I can't tell if she's looking at my face or the awesome culinary monstrosity I am shoving in my mouth. She is referring to my off-again, on-again relationship with the hot ROTC guy from upstairs. And by on-again, off-again, I mean that I like to spend some of my time "on" him, getting "off". Get it?
I crack myself up.
"When are you going to give up on him and move on?"
I slurp through the slurry of Nilla Wafers and milk, then wipe my mouth with a wadded up Kleenex from my side of the desk. "Move on? Are you kidding? I'm just getting started. Have you seen him in uniform? Yum. I just like to keep him on his toes." I stare her down, daring her to contradict me. Usually she puts up a good fight. I need one right now because my heart still hurts from Brian's, "I love you, I'm just not in love with you" speech. Prick.
Tonight, she just shakes her head. "Jo, you're better than this. I don't care if he does look better than Top Gun in 3-D, you need a more stable relationship. One where the guy cares about you the way you care about him."
"Stable?" I say it like it's a dirty word. "That's for old ladies. Wallfowers – no offense to the present company. You know my motto…"
She finishes it for me, "Body by Ferrari, heart by Jeep. You should add 'stomach of iron' to that." She motions to my empty bowl. "That's disgusting. How can you eat that?"
Katniss has an eating disorder or something – she barely eats. She says it's something about growing up poor and she doesn't want to get too used to having a lot in case she ever has to live like that again. It generally works out for me because I never have to worry about my roomie eating my food.
Our relationship works because neither of us judges too much. Or maybe because we judge each other too much. Hard to tell. Bottom line, though is that I would walk through fire for Katniss fucking Everdeen. Just don't tell her that.
I shrug. "I needed a snack. You know I get hungry before dinner, and I hate what they serve in the dining hall anyway. What's today? Meatloaf?" I give an exaggerated shudder. Meatloaf day in the dorm cafeteria is enough to make me want to go vegetarian.
"No, it's Thursday that's the Malibu Chicken Sandwich."
Did I mention that Everdeen doesn't eat? She memorizes the menu, though. It's like she got caught for stalking food and food took out a restraining order. I'm excited by the thought of the Malibu. It's a breaded chicken patty with ham and muenster cheese. They top it with some special sauce and put it on a bun. Yum. Something to look forward to tonight besides watching a chick movie like Stick It.
I know, it's a glamorous life I lead. This is why I like Brian to liven it up a bit.
Wait a sec. Did Everdeen just say that it's Thursday? I know what we're going to do tonight. Katniss must see the gleam in my eye because she's eying me warily and shaking her head. I'm sure she knows what's coming: she usually sees my crazy ideas coming before I do.
So we're walking down the street: Katniss, her friend Madge and I. Madge is a real looker – all soft, blonde hair, pansy blue eyes, and curves in all the right places so that she looks like an old-school pin-up girl. Seriously. She's so gorgeous that even I'm about a twelve hour Lifetime for Women movie-marathon away from pitching for the other team. I had Katniss ask her because she's boy-bait. She's the anti-Katniss: quiet and soft spoken. I'm sure there's a dominatrix personality in there somewhere and I can't wait to see it someday. Guys just eat that shit up. They can't wait to open the door for her, or get a drink for her, or just breathe in her Love's Baby Soft or whatever the hell scent she wears. I don' even care that I'm going to swoop in and pick off the leftovers: Madge's leftovers are that good.
We're headed to the ultimate feast of male flesh: a frat party. It's like a co-ed buffet. It's the ultimate place to work off my anger at Brian with some young, pretty, limber guy. Someone who has more staying power than sense, preferably. I can't wait to lose myself in some rock hard abs. Heck, I'd take some mushy-as-sand abs right about now. A girl's got to get her confidence back, right?
Which is why I am surprised when, as we're walking down Adams and turning onto fraternity row, a guy jumps onto the fence around a frat house. He looks a little bit like a golden retriever, all blonde wavy hair and exuberant smiles. He is, of course, smiling his big puppy dog smile right at Madge (Good call, Mason!). The best part is that he is hotter than a Hemsworth and I mean the cute, blonde one.
"Hi, ladies." I swear those dimples are enough to make me devour him whole.
"Hi, handsome!" I swagger up to him while Katniss and Madge simper like pansies.
The Hottie doesn't take his eyes off of them, though. Damn Madge and her soft pink sweaters. "You ladies coming to the party?"
Duh. Oh, that's too bad: his elevator doesn't go to the top floor. Hello, Captain Obvious! I decide then and there that I will call him Brainless. I generally like my men with a little more going on upstairs, although he is hotter than Chris Evans as The Human Torch in Fantastic Four. And those dimples! And those jeans! I might be able to talk myself into him.
I smile a toothy grin in his direction and say energetically, "Absolutely."
He beams. "Can't wait. Come on inside."
And just like that, we walk into Lambda Chi Whatever. Thank God for Madge's pink sweater, because we're in without a door fee and the typical fight from Katniss over money. Brainless from outside is nowhere in sight. The girls and I grab our Red Solo cups while I scope out the target rich environment. It has all the best elements: beer pong, groups of hot guys milling about, free-flowing beer, and (best of all), not a lot of girls yet to spoil the hunting.
I assume my mission to nail a guy is blessed from above when I see the translation of Lambda Chi's motto above the door, "Every Man a Man." It's like I'm in the Diet Coke commercial where the ladies in the office building watch the construction workers - I know I've come to the right place.
Brainless finds us and we talk for a while. Frankly, I am having fun getting a pleasant buzz on and watching him flirt with, surprisingly, Katniss. I didn't even think Katniss Everdeen knew how to flirt. I'm sure she's seen a picture of a man once or twice, but this is the closest to one I think I've ever seen her get. Maybe some of it has to do with Madge's earlier exclamation of, "Peeta? Peeta Mellark?"
I have no idea what that meant, except that Brainless flushed all the way up to his ears and hung his head sheepishly. It was so adorable that I almost had to go get a tennis ball for him to fetch. Turns out that he's an old high school friend of Madge's, which may be why he turned his attentions to Madge's wingman instead. I'm pretty sure he recognized that I was out of his league almost immediately by the way he kept skittering away every time I tried to size up his bulge.
What? If you're going to chop some wood, it's important to know the size of the log.
Anyway, I'm having fun watching Katniss act like a girl and not a student-robot for once. She's smiling. I swear that I even saw a hair flip. If Brainless isn't careful, he might unleash the huntress within. And here I thought she might not ever be ready for a vibrator! I guess she's been reading up on the side and moved right to the advanced level. I smile at the thought of my little Katniss all grown up and talking to a penis with a pulse. She'd fucking deck me if she knew what I was thinking, which just makes me want to laugh out loud.
I decide to check out the rest of the party. Katniss and her wingman are going to be just fine – it's not like they are alone as long as they have their faithful companion, Brainless. I can tell by his earnest expression that he's more reliable than a seeing eye dog.
I get in a parting shot while he's gone to get refills for the three of them." You bring that back to our room, you had better bring out the puppy pads."
Katniss looks at me like I'm crazy. It's a pretty normal look. "What, Jo?"
I throw a thumb in his direction. "He's so youthful. So full of energy. He's like a golden retriever puppy. Does he do one word commands?" I waggle my eyebrows. I know Katniss can fill in what sort of commands I would give him. She hits me on the shoulder surprisingly hard: she may be thin, but she's wiry.
"He's a good guy."
"And how do you know him?" I raise an eyebrow. I'm playing with her, sure, but I'm also nosy as hell.
"We knew each other in high school."
Now, it's important for you to know that Katniss does this thing when she's embarrassed or lying. Sure, she blushes sometimes. But when she's really being cagey, she tucks a ghostly strand of hair behind her ears two or three times, smoothing it back like it's out of place.
Katniss raises her hand to smooth a hair that isn't there behind her ear. I grin at her. Gotcha.
"Ah? Did he know how to spell G-spot back then? Because it might be time for you to give him a pop quiz, Kat. Don't worry, I won't be home tonight." I see the warmth of a blush across her cheeks just as Brainless comes back with the beer.
I scram because I hate being a third wheel. Let him scrounge up a friend for the gorgeous but tragically lonely Madge — I'll find my own wood in this forest.
I head to the rear of the house, where the music is so loud that I can feel the bass in my teeth. There are hot, sweaty, gyrating bodies dancing and it's like watching vertical foreplay. I love the primal feel of it. I decide this is my new hunting ground and find a spot to stand while I tap my foot in time to the music. One hand is holding my Red Solo cup, the other is looped casually in the pocket of my jean mini skirt in the girl gesture for I'm available. I scout the territory. There are some promising possibilities, including a guy doing a keg stand who looks like The Rock, complete with tribal armband tattoo.
I make my way over to him ready to make him my Scorpion King, when I notice a small card table toward the back corner of the room. It has a passel of guys seated around it, sort of like a bird feeder for boys. I abandon my rock-hard friend and mosey over to what looks like a poker game. And a game like that, with a bunch of guys as my audience, is a game I want to play.
Yeah, I'm competitive. Shock, right? It doesn't help that Brian has stomped on my heart so I want to take an axe to the nearest male I see. A poker game is the perfect place to cut someone down to size. One way or another tonight, I'm gonna fuck somebody, even if it's only their wallet.
Poker is a game of skill and I have a time-tested strategy. I put on my best I'm a girl voice and change my body language to tone it down. I'm hoping it no longer says, Hi, wanna fuck? And now more closely resembles, Ooh, is that Poker? I've never played before…Which is what I say out loud. A bunch of male heads turn in my direction and it's like a pack of wild dogs are checking me out as meal potential. Ah, a bunch of overeager males: this is going to be so much fun.
Someone pulls out a chair for me (how sweet – I bet he calls his Mom at least once a week) and tells me that he'll help me with the rules. He introduces himself as Brue and asks me if I'm at the party alone. I widen my eyes innocently.
"I'm here with a couple of friends. My roommate is back there talking to a guy. They seem pretty into each other…" For a second I feel a genuine flash of concern. Katniss is back there talking to some total stranger. I push the concern aside for two reasons: one, Katniss is quiet but is pretty bad ass when she wants to be. I've never seen a girl fight like she does when we argue. Two, Brainless looks like the worst thing he'll do is lick her to death. Which she might enjoy, if she didn't have such a stick up her ass.
Brue furtively looks at my cheerleading t-shirt with its strategically placed megaphone bearing my name. Here's another guy-fishing pointer: megaphones make their I.Q. drop twenty points at least. It could be the fact that mine is right over my breasts which are oh-so-perky in their push-up bra, or the idea of a limber girl in a short skirt … If you can get your hands on anything with a megaphone on it, do it. I came by my shirt honestly and I plan on using it like a Get into pants free card.
"Jo-Jo?" He asks tentatively.
I giggle. "Johanna. My name is Johanna." I giggle again. He falls for it hook, line and sinker and the rest of the guys fall in line as well. I learn all of their names: John and Scott and Jason and Chris. The super-hunk of dark and brooding manhood introduces himself as Gale.
He's named like a girl? You've got to be fucking kidding. Evidence, again, that God has a sense of humor.
Brue is being a sweetheart and explaining the rules of five card stud in small words, obviously thinking I am either impaired or an idiot. Maybe he's hoping I am just that drunk. I wonder if I should let him down now or save him as a backup in case I can't close the deal with the Super Nova at the other end of the table but I decide against it. Brue seems like a nice guy and it's always good to have a friendly face to have your back, especially in a room full of guys. Everyone needs a wing man, right? Despite Tall, Dark and Broody, the rest of the table is totally buying my innocent girl act. And Brue is adding credibility to it, completely, by treating me with the respect and consideration of a little old lady being escorted across the street.
I decide then and there that I'll slip him some of my winnings. Because I will win.
An hour later, Dr. McHottie is the only person at the table still sober enough to be a contender. He keeps staring at me over his shots of Jaeger, shooting me dark looks. If he were any more brooding he should be wearing an REM t-shirt. It's late, his glares are getting old and I'm so bored that not even the thought of him removing my undies with his teeth cheers me up.
"Well, boys, it's been fun." I stand and begin to collect my winnings, ready to take my game elsewhere. Two of the guys laugh at me. One snores. Brue is passed out, so I take a wad of cash and shove it into his pocket inconspicuously. He probably won't remember any of this tomorrow and it feels like the least I can do when he was so nice to me.
He-who-is-hot- but-has-the-name-of-a-chick says drolly, "How about we take a more private game upstairs, just you and me?"
I pause: one the one hand, he is Captain-of-the-Starship-Enterprise-hot. On the other hand, I'm tired of his glares and his quiet intensity and his bullshit. If I wanted angst like this, I would read my english classics assignments. Or call Brian. Still, it's late – way past two and finding someone to ride off into the sunrise is going to be difficult at this time of night.
So I say the only thing I feel like is really an option. "Sure."
As I'm following his Mark Wahlberg t-shirt torso and Channing Tatum ass up the stairs and congratulating myself on a pretty great consolation prize, I spy the familiar braid of my roommate moving down the hall. She is following a glowing yellow head that I can only assume to be Peter or Pedro or whatever his name is. I give Katniss a mental hi-five and remind my drunken brain to talk to her tomorrow. Hopefully she's remembered the three rules our Resident Advisor Effie has drilled into our brains: penis, partners, prophylactics. Check for penis, check for partners, bring your own prophylactics. I giggle - that's how fucking drunk I am.
It's the sight of the old-school Lita Ford, Bon Jovi, and Warrant posters in Gale's room that makes me guffaw. Holy shit, the guy is a closet 80's hair band throwback! I can feel myself humming music that reminds me of my parents, which is decidedly not cool. I decide I have to take matters into my own hands…as it were…to counteract the parental vibe.
It's barely six when I wake and I feel pretty good. Hey, it's the curse of a fast metabolism, what can I say? I assess all body parts for soreness and love bites and then make short work of finding my clothes. My date, if you can call him that, snores lightly. Even asleep he is amazingly hot: like a Baldwin back when the Baldwins were it, but without the pesky mat of chest hair. I dress. My spiky hair is strategically planned for walks of shame, so I just run my fingers through it. I check my pockets for my keycard and cell phone, make sure I have all the cash I came to the party with (plus my winnings) and quietly close the door behind me.
Something downstairs smells great. I use the facilities quickly, trying to touch as few of the surfaces as possible – have you seen fraternity bathrooms after a party? – and practically jog down the stairs. Whatever that smell is reminds me of being back home on Christmas morning and spending time with my Mom and Dad before the rest of the kids woke up.
I love mornings. Shh. Don't tell anyone.
I round the corner to find the blonde guy (what was his name, again?) who was with Katniss and Madge last night baking. Fucking baking! I would laugh, but the smell coming from the oven tops the orgasms I had last night. My mouth starts to water. I swear that his hotness quotient just went up about 2 points with room for more if whatever he made turns out to be from scratch.
"Oh, hi, Johanna." He says sheepishly. Like I caught him masturbating or something. "Can I get you some coffee?"
I don't do coffee because it gives me the jitters. My body is a temple, alright? "I'm more of a tea gal, myself."
He smiles at me and those killer dimples flash. "Girl after my own heart." He hands me a mug of something steamy and strong; just the way I like it.
I smile back at him because it's impossible not to in the morning brightness filled with those amazing smells. "Speaking of hearts…where is my roommate, Katniss?"
He doesn't even miss a beat. "She's still upstairs, asleep. She really doesn't do very well with alcohol, does she?"
Uh oh. Katniss has a nasty habit of being a puker. I grimace in commiseration. "I probably should have warned you."
He shrugs and laughs. "I doubt I would have listened. I just wanted to spend time with her."
"So you ended up holding her hair back, huh?" Katniss inspires that sort of thing. I've even done it a couple of times.
I stare in awe as he removes two dozen muffins from the oven. I notice he's got a couple more trays of various things ready to bake. "What's with all the baked goods?"
He rubs the back of his neck. "Baking relaxes me – I grew up working in my Dad's bakery. Everyone's usually pretty hungry after a party, so I thought I would make some stuff."
The smell may be distracting, but the famous Mason nerve endings are a-twitching. I take in his tired, sad eyes, wavy hair tousled - but not from sleep- and the slump of his shoulders. I put it all together. "You had a thing for her in high school, didn't you? And now that you've reconnected…you're scared? Of what?" Katniss is the most loyal person I know: if she thought enough of him to go upstairs, then she's all in.
He moves slowly and sits at the long, scarred table. His shoulders slump even more as he huddles over his mug. "I've liked her for a long time but she's in love with someone else."
"Love?" I squeak loudly, and it's not just from the jet of scalding blueberry that just exploded in my mouth like a tiny atom bomb. I would know if Katniss loved anyone. She's my roommate, for God's sake.
He sighs heavily. "Yeah, she's always been in love with Gale Hawthorne. I never stood a chance."
I pause in the midst of cleaving another blueberry muffin in half to cool so I can actually taste it. I hope the nerve endings in the roof of my mouth come back. "Did you just say Gale?" There cannot be two guys with a name like that on the planet, can there?
"Yeah. He's another fraternity brother of mine."
It's not lost on me that I have possibly slept (and I use the term lightly) with my roommate's love interest. I shudder: an Everdeen crossed is not a good thing. I'm going to have to calculate contingencies because I don't think she is going to buy my but I was really drunk and his washboard abs lured me in defense.
I shake my head to try to clear it, suddenly remembering why I think the guy in front of me resembles a golden retriever. "You're fraternity brothers with the guy who supposedly has the heart of your long-time crush? Are you for fucking-real? Why would you do that to yourself?" And I thought my relationship with Brian was complicated. Although the words are harsh, my tone is not. I can't be mean to a guy who looks the way he does and is feeding me glorious-from-freakin'-scratch blueberry muffins.
The timer dings and he pulls another batch of muffins out of the oven, swapping cookie sheets with some unbaked cinnamon rolls. I vow reverently that I am at least sticking it out until those are out of the oven and iced. He flops down heavily and we sip our tea in silence.
"What happened to Madge last night?" I ask him.
"She crashed in my room too."
I gawk. "Let me get this straight: you dress like you're from Abercrombie. You're hotter than Brad Pitt in Fight Club. You held hair back for two girls last night, let them crash in your room and can bake like this? What's the catch? Because you've got to be a pervert, or killed someone or something."
He grins at me and it's boyishly sweet. It makes me want to deck my roommate and tell her to wise up. "Thanks, I think. I don't think I'm a pervert. And I haven't killed anyone that I know of…"
I snort. "The pervs never think they're perverted."
"I'm a totally normal guy."
"Sure you are."
"No really. What you see is what you get." He holds his hands out, palms up.
I bit into a scone and close my eyes. This is heaven. "Then she's a fucking idiot."
The words are still hanging in the air when I see his eyes grow wide. Speak of the devil. Katniss is a pretty quiet walker, so I'm placing bets that he's jittery all of a sudden because it's her standing behind me.
"Good morning, sunshine." I throw over my shoulder in her direction.
Katniss is not a morning person and she looks like hell: her braid is askew, her green t-shirt has a stain on it that smells like tequila and she is frowning with eyes that barely seem to be open at all. She winces at the loudness of my voice.
Her voice is much softer when she greets us. And by us I really mean him. She is already ignoring me. "Good morning, Peeta. I hope you don't mind, but Madge will be down in a couple of minutes. Then you can have your room back."
Peeta (that's his name!) is already up and moving around the kitchen. He puts a cup of coffee, a glass of water and an aspirin in front of her without even needing to be asked. It makes me want to punch him. Grow a set, man! Katniss nods her thanks and takes the pill, then drinks the water thirstily. Peeta nudges a muffin in her direction but Katniss shakes him off.
Sometimes she is such a bitch. I snatch the muffin and eat it myself.
We hear a commotion on the steps, a soft giggle and a louder, decidedly male one. I swear I recognize at least one of those voices….Sure enough, it's Madge and Gale, acting chummy.
"Hey, Peet. I was just telling Madge how great your muffins are. She's in for a real treat." Peeta's gotten quiet all of a sudden. I look over at him curiously, then at the couple just joining us. Madge's smile seems to be sliding off her face. She suddenly looks…well…guilty.
Why would Madge look guilty? It's not like she boned Gale last night. The prick hasn't even acknowledged me. Two things hit me simultaneously: Katniss doesn't know that I was with him followed quickly by Holy crap. Madge likes Gale.
What the fuck happened while they were all in high school?
I'm staring from one face to another in abject fascination. Katniss looks like she might throw up again, Peeta looks more hurt by the minute. Madge fidgets like she is trying to hide something. Only Gale still has the cool confident look of Matt Bomer. Damn his strong jawline all to hell and damn him for his total lack of loyalty to Katniss. I hate a man who needs more than one woman.
No, I am not a fucking hypocrite. I'm not talking about monogamy versus anything else. I'm not even talking about physicality. I'm talking about a man (or woman) who needs the emotional attention of more than one partner to feel whole. Whether it's because they are insecure, or because they are an attention whore, being an emotional vampire is just not cool.
I'm trying to read into the suddenly oppressive silence that has fallen over the room when I feel my cell phone vibrating. It almost jolts me clear out of my seat. I look at the screen: it's Brian. Fucking Brian! No way am I picking up now. This is just too juicy to leave alone.
Gale is eating a muffin looking like he owns the place. The ladies look clearly uncomfortable. Peeta looks like he wants to crawl into a hole and die. I decide to take matters into my own hands. After all, I am a lady of action and Peeta is a man seriously lacking in game.
"So, Peeta. Exactly how long have you been in love with my roommate?"
I can see the Boom! on their faces when I launch that grenade right into the center of the room. Peeta looks stunned, frozen in place like a rabbit. I feel my cell phone vibrate again and judiciously ignore it just so I can watch Gale go from satisfied to brooding, Madge's fidget-y guilt clear and Katniss…well, the most surprising look is Katniss's.
I thought she'd be mad at the attention, or flattered but humble that a hot guy likes her. I thought it would be the only way to deflect questions about my time in a frat house all night seemingly alone with carnal knowledge of her high school crush. Instead, she's staring at Peeta. Is that a fucking blush?
I ignore the third vibration in my pocket: this is way better than Brian. This is better than being stuck in an elevator with the entire baseball team. I grab a chocolate muffin and take a satisfying bite. If that look on Everdeen's face means what I think it means, there will be a whole lot more baked goods around my dorm room in the coming months.
This year just got a lot more interesting.
(A/N: Special thanks to Baroness Kika and Sighing39 for the cheerleading on this.)