That Classy Girl

Emma didn't plan on meeting Lee at Cups, but she did. She didn't plan on it leading to a conversation about the expression of sexuality or LGBT rights. She definitely didn't think it would lead to getting Lee's number, either.

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Author's note

One of my first decent fiction stories. Hope it's not awful.
AA

1. That Classy Girl

Walking out of her apartment building was absolute torture when there wasn't air conditioning outside too. She knew that leaving one's house was a necessity, if you wanted to buy food food that didn't make you gain five pounds just by looking at it, or if you wanted to actually interact with human beings. Emma was going for both, and she was going to be early so she could save a place for herself and her friend, as well as a pastry or two before Andrew could tell her off for it. In all likelihood, she was probably going to get something with a lot of carbs and twice her suggested daily caloric intake, and her shorts would be threatening to burst by the time she left.

She told herself that it didn't matter because she would sweat it all off by the time she got back to her apartment, and Andrew didn't have to know she was having a cheat day. It wouldn't matter to him that she was ready to burn off all the calories.

Just down the street, which was ages away when it felt like an inferno outside, was her favorite coffee shop, Cups. There was nothing better on a hot day than an iced caramel macchiato and one of the ham sandwiches they stored in the refrigerator—the ones that sucked on cold days because the sandwich was also cold. Emma distracted herself from the heat by thinking about the taste of the sandwich and the smells she would be hit with when she walked through the door. Coffee was the biggest one, followed by bread and pastries, and then the flavors of each drink in the shop.

This is home, Emma thought, taking it all in. There was nothing like it. She had probably spent hours there, meeting up with friends after work or grabbing a cup of coffee before madly rushing to get to work.

She loved being there, and was used to the comfort of knowing how things would usually be inside. Who would be there, who would be working on a Thursday, and what the best thing to get was.

So of course, she was unprepared when something out of the norm happened when she got there. There was a woman standing on the sidewalk outside Cups, holding a clipboard and asking passer-byers if they had a moment for equality. Emma hesitated on the pavement when she saw the woman, and she was unsure what exactly the petition was for.

"Excuse me, do you have a moment for gay rights?" she asked, and Emma suddenly had the courage she didn't normally have with strangers—especially not strangers who had pixie-cut black hair and vivid hazel eyes that contrasted beautifully with dark skin. But considering she always had something to say about the subject, and because the woman looked like someone she would enjoy talking to, Emma decided she may as well talk to her.

"Yeah, I do. Actually, I have a few moments, and am willing to buy a coffee for you while we talk about it," she said, smiling slightly and hoping the heat covered up her blush. The woman gave her a startled look, and she could imagine that there hadn't been many responses like that yet.

"I'm Emma." She offered her hand out, hoping that the woman would take it. To her relief, the woman did, grinning, a gleam in her eye.

"I'm Lee. It's nice to meet you," Lee said.

"Nice to meet you, too," Emma replied, excited at the prospect of actually having a conversation with someone who actually cared about the subject—Andrew wasn't always the best to talk to about it. He'd get fed up with her questions after about a minute or two.

"I'm interested to hear what it is you have to say," Lee said.

The two of them walked inside, sighing in relief at the cool air and breathing in the scent of coffee afterwards. Lee ordered just plain black coffee, to which she added a bit of cream and sugar to. Emma tried not to scrunch her nose. She was picky about how coffee was prepared.

They sat at a table, awkwardly trying to navigate through a conversation for the first few minutes, not exactly knowing how to talk to one another yet. They asked about what they were doing there, and Lee asked if Emma went there often, and how long she'd lived in the area. Small stuff like that, trying to get to know one another better.

"So why're you doing the petition?" Emma asked curiously, sipping her iced coffee, leaving a red lipstick ring on the straw which she wiped off with her thumb.

"There are more things that need to be worked out with our rights. I mean, discrimination is a big one. I was lucky to find a place where I would be allowed to actually do this," Lee said. Emma nodded, agreeing that discrimination was a problem, though she'd seen issues on both sides of the argument.

"I mean, I could see that. I haven't actively tried that before, but it does make sense. I just want to know, why start this kind of thing in an area like this where people probably wouldn't give you the time of day?" Emma asked, the question not quite coming out right. Damn.

"Doing it here is exactly the point, where people haven't been reached or were receptive. How else are we going to change anything if we don't go where the problem is?" It was obvious. Of course.

"Well see. It's like people are more likely not to listen to you because of your appearance. Twice as many people would stop if you looked more familiar to them. People don't trust unfamiliar things."

Lee's eyebrows pulled down for a moment as she frowned, probably upset with what Emma said. She wanted to slap herself. This conversation was not going well.

"So, you're saying it's better to hide rather than be completely honest?" Lee asked, though it didn't sound like a question at all. She was staring angrily at Emma, looking like she was trying to control her temper (which she undoubtedly had).

"No—I'm saying that your choice to express yourself the way you have is what makes people around here ignore you. Not hide, just choose some things to not show as much," Emma replied, hoping she hadn't said something more offensive.

Lee nodded shortly. "So hiding."

"No!" Emma said quickly. "It'd be keeping the same goal, same discussion, same you. But you would dress like you'd dress to a more professional situation, because people respond to that better." Lee seemed to understand, at least, what she was trying to say. Emma felt her start to tap her foot, inches away from her, and could barely hear it over the machines.

"But part of me is how I express my sexuality," Lee said, stating the obvious, as though Emma didn't already know that. The foot-tapping made her anxious.

"Yeah, but why does that matter when you're doing this?" she argued, leaning forward enthusiastically. "I mean, if you're supposed to support equality, then why do you go out of your way to separate yourself from everyone in settings like these? You don't have to, and it would be better for your cause if you showed people that anyone can be anything, and that you're just like them anyways."

"I don't understand what you mean by that," Lee replied, looking like she wasn't sure if she should be offended or not. Emma shook her head quickly, leaning forward more as she started to explain what she meant.

"No—I said that wrong. What I mean is, you obviously are a lesbian. Not just in how you dress or how your hair is, but also the fact that your bag is covered in pins and patches that are clearly pride-related and that you stood outside with the petition. But why does it matter?" Lee gave her a reproachful stare, looking extremely annoyed, and she wanted to just sink into the floor. Words just weren't coming out right. She always got so nervous around cute girls. Or just cute anyone, really.

"Look, I get that you have a lot to say about this, but I don't really care to stay and listen to you degrade my sexuality or how I express it," Lee said angrily, reaching for her bag and starting to stand up.

"No, wait—please don't go," Emma said quickly, "I just need to explain what I'm trying to say. Please. I'll buy you another coffee if it's a waste of your time."

Lee looked down at her, dark eyes darting around and her jaw shifting as she thought about it. It seemed like she was sucking on her tongue. She sat back down after a tense moment, and Emma sighed in relief. "Fine. But you're buying me that coffee anyways."

"Deal," Emma said, smiling bashfully at the annoyed eye roll from Lee, tucking her hair behind her ear. She took a sip of her macchiato as she thought about how to phrase her question, leaving another irritating lipstick ring on the straw that she proceeded to wipe off as she asked her question.

"So, what I mean to say is, why does everyone have to know that you're a lesbian? I mean, isn't sexuality and gender just something that's a single part of you? Why does it have to be someone's first impression of you?" she asked after a minute or two of just sitting there in silence and listening to people talking, giving orders, and the whirring of the machines. Lee pursed her lips slightly, tapping her foot again.

Lee took in a sharp breath, opening her mouth slightly like she was going to speak, before shutting it again and thinking. Emma made herself stop staring at her while she thought. That was a creepy thing to do—Lee wouldn't understand that her face was just so dark and beautiful and so hard not to stare at.

"Of course it's just a part of me. The reason I've made it so obvious is that it's something that I'm proud," Lee said. "Not to mention that it's a way of expressing myself and who I am."

"I understand that. I just don't get why you have to make it someone's first impression of you if it's just something you're proud of." She was genuinely confused about the necessity of doing that.

"Well, why are you wearing that classy girl lipstick at two in the afternoon at a coffee shop?" Lee countered, seeming frustrated with how Emma just wasn't getting it. She was embarrassed at the way Lee had said "classy girl" like she thought it was a bad thing. She chose to ignore that.

"It's just, I'm pan and I don't feel the need to show that to everyone immediately. I don't feel the need to hide it though, and I won't if someone asks, but I don't want to broadcast that to everyone when I'm not comfortable with that."

Lee blinked for a moment before she replied, "Some people just are comfortable with it." She shook her head and sighed, obviously frustrated.

"I'm not going to understand the reasoning behind it, so I guess it's just one of those things. And for the record, I've always just liked how red lipstick looks. It can be worn casually, you know," Emma said quietly, stirring her macchiato a bit more. There was a tiny bit left that she wanted to be completely mixed together. It would taste bad if it wasn't.

"I know it can. But I just don't know why, especially just coming to Cups." Lee leaned forward, as though sharing a secret with Emma. "It's just one of those things." She smiled slightly in amusement as she leaned back in her seat.

"So about that coffee . . ." Lee trailed off after Emma's eyes shot up to meet hers. "You don't have to buy it for me, if you call me. Maybe we could talk about this more some time," she said, causing Emma to blush a deep red.

"Okay," she replied. She didn't know what she did to get Lee's interest, but apparently she did. She watched Lee write her number on the back of her receipt before she reminded Emma to call her, which she promised she would, before Lee left. She slumped in her seat, reeling over the fact that she somehow got Lee's number. She hadn't even been trying.

As she sat there marveling over everything that just happened, Andrew slid into the seat across from her with his coffee and a Danish pastry, giving her the look that said she better spill everything.

"That looked intense. She looked intense. You got her number? You gonna call her? You better call her," Andrew said, pausing between each sentence to gather more thoughts of things to say. She just let him go, knowing that in a bit he'd tire out and let her talk.

"Of course I'm going to call her," Emma said, rolling her eyes. Like she wasn't. She used her thumb to wipe more lipstick off of the straw, thinking about what she was going to tell Lee when she called her, while Andrew went off on his own tangent about how proud he was of Emma to finally get a potential girlfriend that she could bring on double-dates with him and his boyfriend.

Emma was just thankful she didn't leave a poor impression on Lee—she thought she had. She really did put her foot in her mouth when she was nervous.

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