The Question Game
I open my eyes again and glance down. Tina and I are laying on my bed, me sprawled out on my back while she's laying with her head resting on my stomach. We've been listening to music through the computer on the other side of the room for the last few minutes, both of us just unwinding from a long day at school that involved two slushie facials and a trip into the dumpster. She's turned her head to the side to look up at me, and I nod to show I'm listening.
"Let's play Questions."
"Do what?" I ask in confusion.
Tina laughs. "Questions. You know, where you go back and forth asking each other questions, and both have to answer, completely honest." I raise an eyebrow. "C'mon, it's fun. If you're creative, you learn a lot of interesting things."
Even though I still think it sounds like a weird idea, it's really hard to say no to her when she's giving me that look. So I sigh in mock resignation and nod. I'm rewarded with a bright smile.
"Easy one first," she says. "Favorite color?"
"Red," I say immediately.
"And mine is blue," she says.
"Yeah, that one's sort of obvious," I say and reach down to tug on a strip of blue hair.
She laughs and looks up at me. "Well I told you it was easy," she says. "Okay, now it's your turn."
"What's your – favorite food?" I say, spitting out the first one that comes to mind.
"Pizza, like you," she answers and I laugh, shaking my head.
"Nope, mine's spaghetti," I correct and her eyes widen in surprise. "Well look at that, you're right, this is a good way to learn things." I smile smugly at her and add, "Your turn."
"Okay," she says and I can see her thinking. "Favorite band?"
"You're, like, cheating somehow. All of your questions are really easy," I say. "Beatles, you do at least know that one. And yours is Joan Jett and the BlackHearts."
"Fine then, you come up with something better," Tina says, trying hard not to smile.
"Alright." I lace my hands together behind my head and stare up at the ceiling thoughtfully for a minute. "How about, what's your biggest fear?"
When I glance down, Tina's blushing and she shoots an embarrassed look up at me. "Promise you won't laugh?" I nod and she hesitates a second longer. "Thunderstorms."
"Really?" I ask in interest.
Tina nods. "When I was three the house down the street from us got hit by lightning, and the noise was so bad it shook our house. Ever since then I've hated thunderstorms."
"Why would I laugh at that?" I ask. "Lots of people are afraid of that."
At this Tina's face turns redder and she starts chewing on the inside of her cheek. "Well that's not the weird one," she says. "There's another thing that I'm really afraid of, they're sort of tied for first."
"What's that?" Her answer is so quiet that I barely hear it, but I have a hard time biting back the laugh when I do. "Wait, you're afraid of dinosaurs?"
"Artie!" Tina says indignantly. "You promised you wouldn't laugh!"
"I'm not laughing," I say, holding up my hands in surrender. "It was just a question. I just don't know anyone who's afraid of an extinct reptile. I'm curious."
Tina doesn't meet my eyes, twisting a strand of her hair between her fingers. "Have you seen Jurassic Park?"
"Well I watched it when I was six and all of the dinosaurs had me pretty freaked out. Then as luck would have it, my school took a trip to a dinosaur park a couple weeks later. Dinosaur bones, whatever. But then this animatronic dinosaur sticks its head out of a bush and roars at me, and I almost had a heart attack. I just – I don't like them," she finishes awkwardly, still refusing to look at me.
I'm still trying very hard not to laugh, but I reach down and squeeze her hand. "Don't worry, I'll keep Rexie out in the yard when you're over," I promise sincerely. She rolls her eyes but laughs.
"What about you? What are you afraid of?"
I consider it for a second. "Skinny jeans." Tina lifts her head up and lets it fall heavily onto my stomach, and I oof as the air rushes out of me. "Ow, okay, um, Rachel on a sugar buzz."
"Everyone's afraid of that. Doesn't count."
"Again, everyone. C'mon, Artie, be serious."
"Alright, alright," I concede. "I won't mention the fear of being stranded somewhere without my chair, because that one's pretty obvious."
"You just mentioned it."
I flick the top of her head lightly and she giggles. "I'm claustrophobic."
Tina turns onto her side to look at me better, her eyes wide. "Really?"
"I don't like small spaces. Or, well, really I just don't like them if they're dark and small," I say. "It gives me panic attacks. When I was five I was playing hide and seek with my brother and I climbed up into the attic and got stuck in the crawlspace. I was stuck up there for hours. I hyperventilated and passed out before my dad managed to get me out."
"That's so scary," Tina says, one hand over her mouth.
I smile. "Scarier than a dinosaur?"
The hand that was previously over her mouth comes down to hit my chest, and I oof again. "You're a brat," she informs me. She drapes one arm over my stomach, resting her chin on her arm and watching me lazily. "My turn?" I nod and she stares at the wall thoughtfully for a minute. Then she gets a mischievous smirk. "Most embarrassing moment."
"Was that a question or a statement?" Oof. "Question, got it." I slide the pillow under my head so I'm propped up enough to still see her while I think about it. There's one embarrassing moment that immediately comes to mind, but I'm not going to say that one. I think it's innately known that telling the girl you have a crush on that you have a fully functional penis is embarrassing and I'm not going to remind her of that. Since we're finally back on track to where we could possibly start dating again, I'm trying to keep our relationship not awkward.
"When I finally got to go back to the school after the accident," I start and Tina's eyes fix on me curiously, "I was still adjusting to the changes. Well at the time it didn't really occur to me that when you're pulling yourself in and out of your chair, it tends to pull at your pants. And since I can't feel below the waist, I didn't notice that they were slipping. I wound up spending half the day with my pants midway down my thighs before a teacher noticed and pointed it out to me. In the middle of class."
Tina's trying really hard to not laugh at me, and I'm afraid if she bites down any harder on the inside of her cheek she'll start bleeding. "Oh just go ahead and laugh, Tee, I won't get upset," I tell her with a smile and a second later she breaks down in laughter.
"I'm sorry, I really shouldn't laugh at that," she gasps out, but she keeps laughing anyway. Once she's finally got it under control, she nestles her chin down on my stomach again and says, "So that's why you wear the belts and suspenders all the time?"
"What are you talking about, it's a very fashionable look," I say, deadpan, and Tina laughs again. "Yes, that's why. I'd really prefer my clothes stay on until I willing choose to remove them." Tina's nodding thoughtfully. "You do realize you have to answer this question now, don't you?"
Tina's face turns bright red again. "Definitely breaking out in hysterics at the animatronic dinosaur," she says. "I went completely ballistic, just standing there staring at it and screaming my head off. The kids at my old school teased me about it all the way up into I moved, and if I went back that's probably the only way they'd remember me."
"That would be kind of hard to forget," I agree and for once Tina doesn't hit me. I'm watching the small smile that's curling on her lips and it takes me a second to realize she's staring at me expectantly, and a second longer to figure out why. "Oh, okay, um, who was your first kiss?" Oh that's smooth Abrams, stare at her mouth and ask about kissing. Real subtle.
Apparently Tina's thinking the same thing because she starts twisting her hair around a finger again. "This boy in my fifth grade class," she says and I can see the color spreading through her cheeks. "His name was Leonard."
"Leonard?" I ask with a snort.
"Yes, Arthur," she shoots back. That shuts me up. "He was really nice to me, and he gave me this really cute handmade Valentine card, and then he kissed me."
"Awwwh, how cute!" Oof. "Ouch. You're abusive."
"Well then what about you, Casanova," she says. "Who was yours?" Instantly my face turns beet red. Oh crap, I'd forgotten I'd have to answer this question too. "Was it me?" Tina asks with wide eyes and a really sweet, excited smile.
I laugh. "I'm not sure whether I should be offended that you think I have that little attraction with the females, or just think it's cute you're that excited by the possibility."
"The second one," she says decidedly. "So who was it then if it wasn't me?"
"I'm not telling," I say, shaking my head. "You actually know her."
"Oh my God, it's Rachel," she says, busting up laughing.
"It is not," I say indignantly. "I was never that desperate. She's crazy."
"She'd kill me if I'd tried."
"Worse than dead if I tried."
"I'd kill myself for trying."
"Why does kissing always result in death with you? What about Karen, that girl from the wrestling team?"
"Now you're just being mean," I inform her, rolling my eyes. Tina scoots up so her arms are folded on my chest with her chin resting on them, fixing me with a curious stare that I'm pretty much helpless to fight. Especially with her that close. "Alright, if you really must know –" Tina nods me on, "– it was Quinn Fabray."
Tina's normally small eyes suddenly go extremely wide. "No way! Quinn? Like head Cheerio Quinn?"
"No, the other Quinn Fabray," I say sarcastically. "It was a really long time ago, before the accident. First grade. We used to be friends, and she fell and broke her leg on the playground. I sat with her until they took her to the hospital, trying to keep her calm and everything, and when she came back to school she kissed me. You know, as a thank you."
There's a really mischievous smile on Tina's face now but there's something really soft and sweet in her eyes. It's really confusing sometimes how she can convey so many emotions at once. Girls are weird that way. "Wow, first grade and already getting lip-locks from the head cheerleader," she says approvingly. "I have to say, Artie, that's pretty badass."
I laugh, trying not to feel too pleased at that. "Yeah, well, you know me," I say off-handedly. Tina giggles appreciatively (I love the fact that I'm the only person who can get her to actually giggle) and makes herself more comfortable beside me. It's kind of funny how she always starts off with her head on my stomach and then gradually moves up until she's curled up at my side.
"Whose turn is it?" she asks.
"Yours, I think," I answer, a little distracted by the fact that she's resting her head on my arm. And the rest of her body is flush with mine. And I think I'm getting a little high off the smell of her jasmine shampoo. Why does she have to make things as simple as breathing so difficult?
"M'kay," Tina murmurs and for a minute I think she's going to fall asleep. Not that I mind; these questions are starting to get embarrassing and I have nothing against just laying here with her. "If you could have one wi– never mind."
Tina's abrupt cut off makes me curious and I glance down to see she's looking embarrassed. "Why'd you change your mind?" I ask.
"I know the answer," she says and I can hear something sad in her voice.
I give a quiet laugh. "My one wish wouldn't be the accident," I say and she looks up at me in surprise. "I'm over that, Tee, I'm done wishing I'd never been in the accident. If I hadn't I wouldn't have found music, or Glee club, or become friends with you. I'm not going to trade that." There's something almost like pride in her smile. "Although right now, if I could wish for anything, it'd be to feel that."
Tina looks where I'm pointing, at where her legs are both right against mine, one of them draped halfway across my shin. When she notices, she stops moving her foot, which had been tracing idly up and down the length of mine.
"I don't even mind the not being able to walk part," I say thoughtfully, getting Tina's attention again. "I'm used to that. I just really wish I could feel." I stare down at her leg for a second longer and then look back at her face with a smile already in place again. "What about you, what's your one wish? Chocolate cupcake?"
Tina laughs quietly. "Is it copying if I said I wish you could feel it too?" she asks curiously.
"Yeah, I think so," I agree, trying not to laugh. "C'mon, be original."
"Well if I can't use that one, then yes, I want the cupcakes," she says, smiling, but I can see that the sincerity is still in her eyes. And somehow that makes not being able to feel a whole lot less sad. "How far down can you feel?"
"Hey, you can't take two turns," I say in mock indignation and Tina laughs.
"Okay, ask your question," she permits.
I put on a thoughtful expression and then say, "How far down can you feel?"
Tina laughs, hitting my chest playfully. "Does that mean you're going to answer my question?"
"If you answer mine first," I say, grinning. Tina rolls her eyes, trying not to laugh, and sits up. She brings her foot around to rest by my shoulder and points at it determinedly. I can't help but laugh at it and nod.
"Okay, gimme your hand," I say, holding out mine. Tina places her hand in mine and I set her fingers an inch above the top edge of my hipbone. "I can feel that," I say and then push her fingers down just a few centimeters. "And that is where I can't feel it anymore."
"Weird," Tina says, staring at our hands with such an intense concentration that it's actually amusing. Then she suddenly seems to realize what she'd said and looks up in alarm. "Oh, I didn't mean it like that, I just–"
"Chill, Tee, I get it," I say, laughing. "I agree; it's weird. I'm not offended." We slip into an easy silence again, me propped up on the pillows watching her, and her sitting beside me, her gaze on our hands again. As I keep an eye on her face, I feel something in my chest getting all fluttery. "Hey Tee, is it my turn to ask a question?"
Tina laughs. "I'm not sure, I've lost track," she admits. "But go ahead."
I lick my lips nervously, and push myself up until I'm sitting. Tina's watching me with an innocent curiosity that makes my stomach do flips, and I meet her gaze nervously. "Can I kiss you?"
For a moment Tina looks surprised, and then she blushes and nods. I lean forward carefully, thinking at any minute that she'll pull back and say she's changed her mind, but then she closes the space between us and her lips touch mine. It feels sort of like I've suddenly been jet-propelled forward, the way my brain feels all light now.
It's light and tentative and sweet just like the first time, and when I pull back I can't help the embarrassed smile that slips onto my face. Tina's smiling too, and that makes me feel ten-feet-tall.
"My turn to ask," Tina says determinedly and there's something oddly focused in her gaze that I've seen before. She places a hand on my chest, gently pushing me back against the pillows, and then she leans over me, setting an arm on either side of my chest to keep herself up. I'm trying really hard to ignore the warmth that's forming in the lowest point of my stomach that I can feel as I look up at her like this. "Can I kiss you?"
I smirk. "If you must," I say in an off-hand tone, shrugging a bit even though I think my ears might be permanently red with how badly I'm blushing. I really wish I didn't blush quite as much as I'm prone to. Tina giggles, and then leans down to kiss me again. There's nothing hesitant in the way our lips meet this time, firmly, insistently. I slip a hand up around her neck, into her hair, and there is no describing the feeling it gives me when she makes a pleased noise against my lips. It's just sort of – wow.
When she finally pulls back, we're both sort of breathing heavy but I can't help but smile. "My turn," I say, a sudden bout of courage sweeping into me. If this doesn't work out, I'm going to blame it solely on the endorphins that she's let loose in me, but I can't not ask now that it's in my mind. "Can we give that first date thing a second try?"
The smile that breaks out on her face is dazzling and in response, she just kisses me again. "I'm going to take that as a yes," I say when she finally lets me speak again. She laughs and lays down at my side once more, keeping one arm draped over my chest and nuzzling her head into my shoulder. "You know, Tee," I say and she glances up at me through her lashes, "I think we should really play this Questiony game more often."