Stef followed Milla through the Hyde agency, through the familiar parts that she’d been seeing since shifting in, and into halls she’d never set foot in, but were still somehow familiar, thanks to the cookie-cutter nature of agencies.
Recruit dorm hallways apparently always looked like recruit dorm hallways.
Milla required her room’s door open, and they walked inside.
Compared to the hotel-room/studio apartment setup of most of the dorm rooms she’d seen, Milla’s room was much larger – the room the door opened into was an open living space – a lounge room blending into a dining area, and ending with a breakfast nook towards the kitchen.
It was also significantly more lived-in than most of the rooms she’d seen. There were traces of life everywhere – and to her glee, they were traces of a life lived in and around magic.

She let go of Milla’s hand, and began to walk towards a bookshelf – at first glance, there was nothing unusual about it, but on second-glance, there was hardly anything normal about it.
There were children’s books on the lower shelves, but almost all of them seemed to be fae, rather than being titles and authors she recognised. As the shelves progressed upwards, there were less books-with-pages, and more postcards and book items. The fae were all for ebooks – due to the generally smaller allotments of space, anything and everything that could be compressed or digitised was.
According to the Connect, to keep some measure of the habit of browsing bookshelves – and bookstores – for a small extra fee, you could get a postcard, containing a download chip for the book – tap it against your device to copy the file; or “book items” – the same tap-and-go mentality, but in a small collectible, rather than just a postcard.
‘Turnabout is fair play, you realise,’ Milla said. ‘You’ll have to show me your room some day.’
‘You’ll love my bedroom,’ Stef said, trying not to feel embarrassed about the words, hoping they didn’t sounds like an invitation. ‘I’ve got this really cool Hogwarts ceiling.’
‘I had one of those when I was a teenager,’ Milla said, ‘it was great for the nights I had insomnia.’
‘What have you got now?’
‘Posters of Lucy Lawless and Gina Torres,’ she said with a grin. ‘I’m not spiritual, but they’re goddesses to me. I kind of love the hob system for that, we should adopt it.’
‘The huh?’ Stef asked, then followed Milla through to her bedroom, which, as promised, had a collection of posters staring down from the roof. Milla flopped onto the bed, her uniform becoming cute pink shorts and a matching spaghetti-strap top. Milla grabbed the hem of her top and played with it. ‘This is something I’ll always appreciate about requiring. I can never remember what size I am for clothes when I’m shopping. In this brand I’m a twenty, in that brand, I’m a twenty-four.’ She retied the bow on her shorts. ‘Requiring always takes the cue from my brain about how loose I like my clothes.’
Stef shuffled awkwardly beside the bed, unsure as to what she should be doing.
‘Pyjamas?’ Milla suggested.
Stef blinked a couple of times. Pyjamas. Right. Those things that people wore. Whereas she generally fell asleep in whatever she’d been wearing during the day – whether it was a T-shirt or her full uniform. Sleep came if and when it wanted to, and what she wore seemed to have no effect on the quality of the sleep that came.
‘Right,’ she said aloud, then required a long T-shirt, and a pair of shorts like what Milla wore, but she chose with with yellow stars, rather than pink with unicorns.
Milla gave her an approving nod, then patted the bed beside her. Stef crawled onto the bed beside her, pulled a pillow down for herself, and rolled onto her side, ready to listen to the recruit.
‘You’ll have to forgive me,’ Stef said, the words slipping out without consideration. ‘I never did sleepovers like this, even- And I don’t mean the flirty part. I mean- We had, guest rooms for whenever mother invited over girls from my classes. I’ve never done that, yanno, room of sleeping bags thing.’
Milla squeezed her hand. ‘We could do that next time, if you like. It’s even more fun as an adult, because you don’t have to sneak the grown-up movies.’
‘So, hob gods?’ Stef asked, and lifted her hand to gesture at the posters. ‘You were gonna explain?’
‘The hobs have gods by popular vote,’ she said, pulling a pillow down from the head of the bed, her black hair spilling over it. ‘Basically, they have an upvote system for their god hierarchy, and they accept public and popular figures as minor deities, due to their influence. So if you’re a fae celebrity, you’re usually a god. Sometimes, groups on the Mount will conspire to catapult an unknown up the charts, but it never lasts, it’s fifteen minutes of fame, unless that person has something to contribute. And sometimes they do, it’s a great way to bump up minor political candidates.’
Milla reached down, took her hand, and twined their fingers together. ‘You okay?’
‘It’s just a night of firsts,’ Stef said. ‘Never had anyone flirt with me. Never had anyone invite me to bed.’
Milla held up a hand. ‘You don’t feel obligated to be here, do you?’
‘I don’t,’ Stef said. ‘I don’t always know what I like, but I know what I don’t like. I usually know when a decision is being forced from me. We just spent, like, an entire movie cuddled on the couch. I’m more than okay with something like that continuing.’
Milla opened her arms wide, and with only a second’s hesitation, Stef snuggled into her. ‘Boob pillow is best pillow,’ Milla intoned wisely. ‘Feel free to enjoy the girls.’
Slowly, Stef reached a hand up, and let it gently rest on Milla’s right breast. ‘Lesbians used to confuse me,’ she said, ‘I was never sure how, with four boobs in the equation, they wouldn’t reach critical mammary mass and explode.’
Milla made a choking, chortling sound, rolled over, and began to beat her hand against her pillow, struggling to breathe through the laughter.
‘I didn’t think it was that funny,’ Stef said.
Milla struggled and took in a deep breath. ‘No, no,’ she waved her hands, then wiped tears from her eyes. ‘You just know- You’d get this too, that depressive thing, when something random is the funniest thing in the world?’
‘Allie Brosh’s corn kernel?’
‘Exactly!’ Milla said, then collapsed against Stef, pulling her into a close hug. ‘Four boobs,’ she said, ‘and we’re not exploding. What’s your explanation now, Agent?’
Stef looked down, at Milla’s proper girl-boobs, and her own- Her own complete lack of boob. ‘Dominant boob and recessive boob?’
Milla pushed on her chest, and Stef fell back to the bed. Milla paused for a moment. ‘You okay with being tickled?’
The question gave her pause. ‘I- I dunno,’ she said honestly. ‘I don’t think I’ve been tickled since primary school.’
‘Do you know what a safe word is?’
‘A verbal cue to stop a script from running?’
Milla blinked. ‘You are such a dork. Your safeword is macaroni.’ She flexed her fingers. ‘Tickles incoming.’ She pounced, her fingers moving at what would have been an astounding speed, if it could have been translated into pure keystrokes per hour.
Almost as soon as Stef had had time to comprehend the speed of Milla’s fingers, all coherent thought seemed to stop. She squirmed and giggled, new and strange noises coming from her mouth as Milla continued to tickle her. Every few seconds or so, one of Milla’s boobs would hit her in the chest or face – it was like being pelted with stress toys, soft and not entirely unpleasant.
After a few minutes of tickles, Milla rolled off, laughing nearly as hard as she had done during the onslaught. ‘What’d you think?’ Milla asked as she brushed her hair back from her eyes.
‘I get why some people don’t like it,’ Stef said, ‘but I kind of enjoyed it.’ She rolled up onto her side, and propped her head on her elbow, then slowly reached forward to pull Milla’s top down, covering the patch of stomach that had become exposed.
‘Oh noes,’ Milla cried in mock-horror, ‘my squish!’
Stef laid a hand on Milla’s stomach, pressing her fingertips into the recruit’s soft, expansive tummy. ‘I like it,’ she said quietly. ‘I know it might be thin privilege to say this,’ she said, waving vaguely at her own body with her free hand, ‘but I’ve always kinda wished that I could gain some squish. I’ve never been able to. I kinda-’ she pulled up her own shirt, exposing the scars that ran from below her waistline, nearly up to her recessive chest. ‘Amongst other things that happened, after the crash I was in, they had to resize my stomach. Yanno, cut away the bits that had been nicked and perforated, and make it, like, travel-sized.’
Milla reached out a hand, hesitating an inch above the closest scar. Stef nodded, and Milla laid a hand down, Milla’s light brown hand standing out in stark contrast to her sunlight-deprived white skin.
‘If you’re mindful enough to talk about privilege whilst in bed with a hot girl,’ Milla said, ‘then you’re exactly the kind of friend I want.’ Milla drummed her fingers on her squishy stomach. ‘One thing that a lot of people don’t talk about is the Agency is about the best weight-loss plan you could ever ask for. If you’re fat, you can usually talk a medical agent into trimming you down a few dress sizes. You get to fit into the ideal, skinny trope overnight. And that’s fantastic for the people who want it. I don’t. I like the way I look. I just don’t always like the way people react to the way I look, but at the same time, that’s a litmus test, so the reactions are useful, if not always polite.’
‘You’re pretty,’ Stef said. ‘I might be a pancake, but I don’t have trouble telling when girls are pretty.’ She smirked. ‘Okay, almost all girls are pretty.’
‘I know right?’ Milla said with a grin. ‘Girls are so goddamn pretty. They should stop, I don’t have time to kiss them all!’
Stef leaned closer, and kissed Milla on the cheek. ‘Beat you to it.’ She looked down at Milla’s hand. ‘I don’t get it. I usually freak out when people touch me. Even like a handshake. I’m- I’m just not doing that with you.’
‘Maybe our crazy fields are generating some kind of exception barrier?’
‘That might be it.’
Milla’s hand flipped, and she scraped the back of her nails across the cluster of scars on Stef’s stomach.
Stef’s head flopped back, and she made a strange hissing sound. It wasn’t a noise she usually associated with-
Milla scratched at her scars again, and thought seemed to slip away.
‘Want me to stop?’ Milla asked. ‘I don’t want to break your little pancake self.’
The sensation had been pleasant. She trusted Milla. There was something wildly exciting about experimentation. She had to be brave, even if she blamed science later on. She reached down to her stomach, took Milla’s hand, and extended one of Milla’s fingers.
‘This scar,’ she said, pressing the point of Milla’s finger to the scar she’d once called Kait, ‘is my longest one. If- If that kind of thing-’
Milla leaned closer, bringing their faces to mere inches apart. ‘I might have to take your shirt off, Agent.’
‘Yes,’ Stef said, mustering what bravery she could to force a smile onto her face. ‘You very well might have to.’
‘You said tomorrow night,’ Milla said, ‘do you want to just play, or do you want to go all the way?’
‘Go,’ Stef said, ‘until I tell you to stop.’
Milla kissed her cheek. ‘As you wish, Pancake.’
Stef poked her tongue out. ‘Do your worst, Princess.’
Milla’s fingers diverged from the path of the suggested scar, and instead began to trace every possible route of the scars already exposed to the air. Little by little, her fingers inched upward, pushing her T-shirt out of the way.
‘Are you sure?’ Milla asked. ‘I don’t want to push you into doing anything you’re not comfortable with.’
Stef took Milla’s hands in her own, and brought them up under her shirt to rest on her chest.
Her shirt came away – whether it was Milla’s requirement or her own, she couldn’t remember. She shivered as the air conditioned air touched her skin. Milla’s face came closer, and she kissed the scars between her breasts.
Milla’s mouth continued to tease at her skin, her fingers running lines down her scars, down her sides, pressing and kneading in at all the right points.
She flushed as she became cognisant of the sounds she was making. ‘Sorry,’ she mumbled, as Milla’s tongue danced across her stomach. ‘Want me to hit mute?’
Milla raised her head long enough to give her an incredulous look. ‘Then how would I know you were having a good time, Agent?’
‘It just- It just doesn’t seem ladylike,’ she said, hating herself for saying it, but hating all the lessons of “proper behavior” that her mother had drummed into her even more.
‘Fuck being ladylike when you’re fucking ladies,’ Milla declared, then crawled up the bed to lie beside her, one arm flopping across Stef’s chest to pull her closer. ‘And I haven’t managed to give you an orgasm yet, that’s kind of disappointing, but understandable, not everybody comes during their first fumble.’
Stef furrowed her brow. ‘But- But we haven’t- How-’
Milla laid a hand on the side of her face. ‘Sex isn’t a single act, at least not how I define it, I mean, yeah, generally there’s below-the-belt orgasms going on, but it’s entirely more about the intimacy, and I like knowing I can make my partners come on any part of their body, and not just between their legs.’
Stef stared, utterly confused. ‘I don’t- I don’t get it.’
Milla began to slowly scratch at a spot on Stef’s side, the little patch of skin between her hip and her stomach, which immediately made her start to squirm. ‘An orgasm is when you feel so damn good your body goes up, goes “I can’t even”, and you have to roll over and take five.’ She continued to scratch, mixing the sensation of fingernails with the pads of her fingers.
Slowly, the touches seem to multiply, until her skin was burning in a good way. Every single time one of Milla’s nails touched the skin, she moaned.
‘See?’ Milla asked, breaking the silence for the first time in what seemed like forever. ‘Now, close your eyes, and just…feel.’
Stef followed the instruction, closed her eyes, then reached her arms above her head, arching her body a little, allowing Milla’s mouth and fingers all the access she could need.
Breath became hot in her body, as her noises of pleasure came short, and sharp.
With one final scratch of Milla’s fingers, she collapsed to the bed, panting.
‘See?’ Milla asked, ‘orgasm.’
Stef’s eyes fluttered as she tried to focus on Milla. ‘Overload,’ she mumbled. ‘Complete system overload.’
‘We can stop, Pancake, any time you want.’
‘Mmm’ she said. ‘I just- Just need a few minutes.’
Milla pushed gently. ‘Roll up onto your side,’ she instructed, then she slipped in behind Stef, her arms holding her. ‘See, Pancake, spooning, as promised.’
Stef lifted her hand and twisted her fingers with Milla. ‘Can- Can we-’ she swallowed. ‘I dunno if I want to do anything else. Not this time. I need time to process.’
‘Milla kissed the back of her head. ‘Don’t you dare feel bad right now, Pancake, I can hear it in your voice. You just got fucked for the first time, there’s no shame in not wanting to immediately jump into round two.’
‘Do- Do I say thank you?’ she asked. ‘I’m not sure what- In movies it’s usually a bunch of monkey screaming and throwing furniture around. Then L-shaped sheets and talking about the plot. I don’t know that we have a plot to continue talking about. And your sheets seem to be the standard configuration.’
‘After sex is after care. Do you need to debrief?’ Milla asked. ‘Do you need space?’
‘Nooo,’ Stef whined, and pushed her back into Milla’s chest. ‘I’m all comfy in the squish. Don’t move.’
‘I do have to sleep, Agent, so if you don’t need my mouth for talking or anything else, I’m going to nod off.’
Stef bowed her head, and kissed Milla’s hands. ‘Night, Princess.’
‘Night, Pancake.’
Stef closed her eyes, shuffed her head on the pillow until she felt comfortable, brought up her list of macos buttons, and initiated a sleep cycle.
Her body spent; her mind full of questions, answers, and sex, she breathed out, and fell into a gentle sleep.