Mina forced one eye open, slowly. There were dark curtains on the windows, which was nice, but they were open a crack and the sunlight from that crack just so happened to be hitting her right in the eye, which was not nice. Mina was not one for hangovers, but that didn't mean that she enjoyed mornings after drinking. In fact, they made her rather cantankerous, and cantankerousness often led to overuse of italics.

Ordinarily Mina was not one of those women who woke up foggy and disoriented after hooking up, having no idea where they were or what had happened. Mina was very much aware of what had happened last night: mind-blowing sex. Obviously. Mind-blowingness was the only excuse for staying over after sexytimes with randos. But this morning, Mina was a little bit disoriented-she blamed it on the crack in the curtains. And so, she rolled over in order to see who, exactly, was responsible for such a mind-blowing night.

The sight with which Mina was confronted (disorientation being no excuse for poor grammar) almost made her fall out of the bed.

She had just hooked up with the Russian.

Well then.

Mina had been introduced to the Russian some months before at her geek friend Tim's house. He had been introduced to her simply as "the Russian," a nickname she got the impression Tim had given him. But since Tim was the one who had introduced him to their circle, the Russian was what he was called.

What did she know about the Russian, anyway? Mina went over the facts. Fourth-year computer science student who had a job with RIM all lined up after graduation. Dean's List? Probably. Political leanings? Probably libertarian, maybe anarchist. Better than Mina on the Nintendo 7. Also better than Mina at holding his liquor.

There was one pertinent fact that Mina stayed far away from in her mental summation, and that was name. Had anyone ever told her his name? She could swear that she had him on Facebook, but maybe she just skimmed by his name every time he came up in her news feed. She had the vague notion that there was a V somewhere in it, and that his last name was probably something-ovski.

Sitting up in bed, she surveyed him carefully. He slept on his stomach, face half-buried in the pillow. His hair was longish, and of a curiously unluminous blonde shade. Mina wondered idly whether it would brighten up if he rinsed it in lemon juice, or maybe vinegar. His eyes were closed, but she seemed to remember pale grey irises. She studied his face for signs of inherent Russian-ness, but she wasn't sure exactly what Russian faces were supposed to look like. Oh well, ethnicity was mainly a cultural construct anyway, she reflected. The pale skin of his shoulders and upper back was visible above the comforter, and she remembered that his body was all lean and wiry and… Russian. Was that a Russian thing? Cultural construct, she reminded herself firmly.

Her stomach rumbled. She glanced back over at the Russian, but he still showed no signs of waking. Typical. With a sigh, Mina hopped out of bed and headed in search for a bathroom, hoping that her absence might wake him.

His apartment was rather neater than she had expected, and his bathroom, when she found it, absolutely spotless. She'd picked a good one, she thought, feeling the pleasant ache in her muscles occasioned by last night's activity.

He still wasn't awake when she finished in the bathroom, so she slipped on last night's panties and t-shirt and went exploring. There were six different computer consoles in the living room, and the coasters on the coffee table turned out, upon closer examination, to be hard drive disks. The kitchen looked warm and inviting, especially to Mina's still-growling stomach, but she didn't really think it would be kosher to just go rummaging around in the Russian's kitchen while he was sleeping.

Well, she was hungry. And he should probably get up anyway, considering it was nearly two in the afternoon.

When she got back to the bedroom, she found that the Russian had rolled onto his back and lay across the bed spread-eagle. The ray of light from the crack in the curtains hit him just at the collarbone, and Mina found herself pausing to admire him once again. But her stomach was louder than her libido.


He didn't move. Well then. This was the time when knowing his name would be super-useful.

"Hey! Dude!"

The Russian rolled onto his side, mumbling something incoherent (presumably in Russian). "Useless," Mina muttered, poking him in the ribs. "DUDE!"

This time he started, eyes opening wide. They were pale grey, Mina noticed. And the way they were staring straight into hers gave her a butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling that she hoped was just hunger.

After a moment, he said, "That was kind of an unpleasant way to be woken."

Mina shrugged. "Sorry. But I decided against dropping ice cubes down your back, so you can count yourself lucky."

"And why, exactly, did you decide to wake me up so unpleasantly?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well." The Russian sat up in bed, letting the covers fall to his waist. Eyes on face, eyes on face, Mina told herself. "I would have expected that either A, you would have wanted to leave before I woke up to avoid a potentially awkward situation, or B, you would have woken me up for morning sex, which I gather from the fact that you're dressed and not in bed, is not what's on your mind right now."

Oh. Morning sex. Why hadn't she thought of that? Well, she was thinking about it now… "Yes, well, this is option C, I'm really hungry and I figured raiding your fridge would be impolite."

He shrugged. "Fair enough." Hefting himself out of bed and heading towards the bathroom, he said over his shoulder, "Go start the coffee, everything you need is on the counter. I'll see what I have in a minute."

"Got it," Mina said, watching him go. That was a lot of very unabashed naked Russian.

He was still naked when he walked into the kitchen five minutes later and nodded in approval at the percolating coffee.

"I know I have cereal and bread for toast, but I'll see if there's anything else if you want."

"Cereal's fine," Mina responded, not bothering to look up at his face.

His torso turned, so that she got the full-frontal view. "What are you doing?"

"Hush. You're ruining this for me."

He crossed his arms across his chest. "I thought you gender studies people were all about how objectifying people is bad."

"I remember reading a really good feminist argument somewhere about why objectifying male bodies is a good thing, but I can't remember the details so I'll leave it at that. Something about evening out the patriarchy."

"I'm sure." His voice sounded amused. "You said cereal? I have Raisin Bran and Fruit Loops."

"Oh, Fruit Loops. Obviously. I'm not really a 'two-scoops-of-raisins' kind of girl."

Within a few minutes, Mina was digging into her cereal, coffee mug steaming at her side. The Russian was sitting across the kitchen table from her, meaning that she could focus on his face again.

"You know, you're pretty calm about all this," he commented.

"I'm a very matter-of-fact person," Mina shrugged. "Some might even say blunt."

"I was thinking more along the lines of sanguine."

"Ooh, sanguine. Good word." They ate in silence for a couple minutes, and then Mina said, "Were you expecting me to be more dramatic about it?"

"Some girls are." After a second he added thoughtfully, "Then again, some girls ask me to speak Russian to them and expect me to have Communist flags on my walls."

Mina made a mental note not to let him ever find out hat she was still thinking of him as 'the Russian'.

"How did that thing get started? I mean, that Tim calls you 'the Russian' and all that."

"I think it's just because this is such a small city, so homogenous, you know. I mean, I was born here, so to even consider myself Russian is… well, real Russians wouldn't consider me Russian."

Mina thought about small cities and homogeneity and shook her head. "We make great intersectionality."


"I'm going to go get the rest of my clothes."

Leaving the Russian baffled, Mina headed back to the bedroom. That's it, girl. Run away when you start to get too close. Again.

When she emerged, the Russian was holding her phone up.

"Kelsey texted you. Also, why do you have my number saved as 'Russian'?"

Oh. Oops.

"Oh, I think Tim might have actually put your number in my phone," Mina said. She was pretty sure it was true too. "Or maybe Kelsey. Would you mind changing it? I'm not sure I know how to spell your name."

"You don't know how to spell my name?"

"Your last name." Please please please please please don't let him find out after all that

The Russian rolled his eyes, but started typing anyway. "It's on Facebook."

"Oh, who actually reads people's names on Facebook? I always just look at the pictures and the first few letters of the first name."

"I guess," the Russian said suspiciously, handing her the phone back.

Mina glanced down. Gavin Dubovski.


"Ah ha. I knew it was something-ovski," she announced triumphantly. Fortunately the Russian-er, Gavin-looked more amused than anything.

Gavin. Such a normal, common… lacklustre name. That would take some getting used to.

"Well, I better get going," Mina said brightly. "Thesis calling, and all that."

The Russ-Gavin stood up, and Mina's gaze was inevitably drawn into an appreciative once-over. This distracted her so much that she didn't notice that he'd moved right up in front of her until he reached out and tilted her chin up.

Before she could say something witty ("Oh, hello" was the best that came to mind), he was kissing her.

It took her less than a second to respond. There was something devastatingly hot about being fully clothed while he was completely naked, and Mina reached up to cup his jaw, guiding the kiss.

He mumbled somewhere in the back of his throat, and nudged her toward the sofa. She allowed him to steer them there, and when they collapsed onto it, clambered onto him to get back to where they'd been. Her whole world was beginning to narrow to the burning trail where his hand was finding its way up her shirt, to the electric slide of tongue on tongue, and that was-for lack of a better word-a bit problematic.

Beneath her he shuddered, and the idea that he was losing his self-control sent another wave of adrenaline coursing through her. She was just thinking about maybe taking her clothes back off after all when he pulled back a bit and gazed into her eyes.

"Mmm. I think I could get used to this."

His voice was low and seductive, but it electrified Mina in all the wrong ways. Get used to this? No. She didn't get used to men. Getting used to someone was too close to depending on them and that was a bad, bad, BAD IDEA. And now that he was Gavin, all too real and normal and everyday, rather than the distant, vaguely mysterious Russian…

Well, the upshot of it was that she needed to get the fuck out of there.

He seemed to notice that she was SO NOT into it anymore, because he asked, all sweet and concerned and… and clinging, and cloying, "Hey, are you okay?"

"I think my phone went off," she blurted, pushing off him and running for her purse. "And you know, it's probably Kelsey because she was texting me earlier and I never got back to her, and you know how Kelsey gets if you don't get back to her right away, she panics and thinks that you hate her forever, and-oh, see it is Kelsey. I should call her, like now, before she gets worried, and in general I probably should have been gone an hour ago anyway, I still have to finish up my thesis and my defence is next week and I-" she realized she was rambling and forced herself to stop, inhaling deeply. "Sorry. Thesis stress strikes unexpectedly sometimes."

"No worries. Happens to the best of us."

Resolutely not looking his way, Mina gathered her purse, jacket, and running shoes, which had somehow ended up on different ends of the kitchen.

"See you around," she said, reaching for the doorknob. It sounded callous even to her own ears. She winced.

"Are you really going to leave me like this?"

Mina paused to look at him. He was still lounged on the sofa, completely naked and (godohgawd) fully aroused. Despite that… very obvious fact, he looked completely at ease, one eyebrow lifted and the corner of his mouth quirked questioningly.

And it took every last reserve of willpower she didn't know she had to turn and leave, instead of tying him to something and touching him and teasing him until he literally lost his mind, the way she wanted to.

"Like fate, I am a cruel mistress," she called over her shoulder as she ran for it.

It was miserable outside, with the kind of ambiguous precipitation that can't decide whether it wants to be rain or snow. Mina pulled her hood over her head and shoved her hands into her pockets.

"April showers bring May flowers, my foot," she muttered.

The walk home had never seemed longer. She was alone with her thoughts and the ice rain and the chill wind, none of which were particularly appealing. Right now she needed distraction, some kind of distance from her thoughts, before she could return to them with proper perspective.

Arriving home at last, Mina found Darcy in the kitchen making a cup of that lame ass herbal tea she liked to drink. Darcy wasn't into putting chemicals in her body, and that included caffeine.

"Well what's up, buttercup? The Kelse machine was here looking for you. I threw her off your scent, in case you were still in the middle of sexytimes. Were you?"

Mina dropped her bag on a chair and tugged one of Darcy's pigtails in greeting. "Well, hello to you too."

Darcy waved her away impatiently. "Oh, come on. I know you have sexytime stories for me. Might as well share them now before the Kelse monster follows your trail."

"Stop making fun of Kelsey. She's a good person."

"You're stalling. Just give me deets, woman!"

"Fine. Okay? Fine. There were sexytimes. They were fucking hot. And then this morning I found out his name and looked into his eyes and all that shit, which was not part of the plan, and so I left. Abruptly."

"Again?" Darcy set her cup down hard. "Seriously, honey bunches of oats. You know there's a little monogamous person deep inside your sexytime-loving soul, screaming to get out, so you're going to have to deal with all of this commitment-phobia bullcrap."

"There is not a little monogamous person deep inside my soul," muttered Mina. "And anyway, I'm not commitment phobic. I just don't trust most men."

"Well, you know that I could introduce you to a great number of women who are in for a little lady-loving," Darcy offered.

"Oh, I know you could. Hell, I'm in gender studies, I could pick up at departmental socials if I wanted to. Unfortunately, I'm rather a fan of the penis."

"Kendra technically has a penis."

Mina rolled her eyes. "Penises and male energy, then. Okay?"

Shrugging, Darcy picked up her cup again. "Suit yourself. I guess not everyone appreciates a delicately moist labia minora the way I do. Ain't no countin' for some people's tastes, as my old great-aunt Sal used to say."

"Oh, Darcy. Don't ever change."

"Oh, cherry piecrust, I wish I could say the same to you."

One month later

It was one of the first truly warm days of May, and God damn it all, Mina was going to feel the fresh air on her legs.

So she shaved her legs-and damned if she didn't forget the first rule of spring, Change your razor blade before you shave off your winter-weight leg-hair, because the stupid thing was fairly dull to begin with and ended up nicking her left knee and around both ankles. Femininity wasn't something she did particularly well.

Oh well, at least her legs were respectable-looking now, and she swished the swirly skirt of her springy green sundress around them as she walked.

The daffodils were yellow and the tulips blooming red-pink-orange, and the lilac bushes looked like they just needed one more good day of sunshine before the buds came out. Mina whistled jauntily as she sauntered down the street, smiling when she felt the breeze pull her skirt against her leg. Oh, this was spring, and she was going to fucking enjoy it for the three weeks before summer's heat and humidity became unbearable.

Rolling her shoulders back, she tipped her face up to the sun-

-and stopped abruptly when she saw him standing across the street, watching her with one eyebrow raised.

"Oh," she said, feeling stupid. "Hey. Gavin."

The corner of his lip quirked. "Hi."

"Beautiful day out, eh?"

"Oh ya." Silence for a moment, and then he cleared his throat. "How'd your thesis go?"

"Successfully defended. What about you? Have all your marks back yet?"

"Passed everything. I'm officially graduated now."

"Scary feeling, eh?"

"Oh, yeah."

He looked uncomfortable, and lanky, and not threatening in the least. Mina's mind began to whirl.

What kind of horseshit mumbo-jumbo claptrap excuse had she given Darcy last month? "I'm not commitment phobic, I just don't trust most men." Was she allowed to call BS on herself? Because that was literally the stupidest thing she'd ever said in her life. Judith Butler would be kicking her in the teeth if she were here right now.

Because, really, what was there about men that made Mina not trust them? The couple douchebag asshats who had broken her heart and her trust in the past? The undercurrent of sexual threat? And really, what was the difference between so-called men and so-called women but these socially constructed genders? Ergo, what she feared was not men, per se, but a particular performance of masculinity…

And Gavin was bad at masculinity, in the alpha-male sense. Even what those evo-psych crazybrains called "beta-male". Maybe he was performing a geek-ideal of masculinity, but there was nothing in there to make her explicitly distrust him.

Which led her back to… her. Mina. She was the problem. Commitment-phobic, which really amounted to fear of trusting others born of her inability to trust herself…

But she realized that she had been staring at Gavin in complete silence for a good few minutes, and he was shifting restlessly on the sidewalk.

"I should probably let you get going. It was… it was good to see you, Mina."

She nodded almost mechanically as he threw her one last look and started to walk away. For a moment she stood rooted to the spot, and then, coming to herself, she took off after him like a madwoman.

"Gavin! Wait!"

He turned just as she caught up to him, dropping to the soft green grass at his feet, far more out of breath than she probably should have been from that run. Then again, her heart was in her throat, and she wasn't sure she'd ever run that fast in her life.

Still half-slumped on the grass, she said all in one breath, "I'm an asshat who's afraid to trust people because I can't trust myself and a terrible gender studies major who deserves to be kicked in the face by Judith Butler."

Gavin sat heavily next to her. "What?"

Rolling her eyes, Mina gestured towards herself. "Me. Asshat. Trust issues. Judith Butler. Kick in face."

"Yeah, got that part the first time. I was looking for some exposition."

Ah. That was the hard part. Mina looked away, twirling some blades of grass between her fingers. "I'm sorry for pulling a disappearing act on you. And, you know, the extraneous amount of effort I've been putting in to avoid you the past month. It's not you, it's me trying to hide from my own issues."

He remained silent. After a moment she risked a glance up, but his face was inscrutable.

"I mean, I even fell down the rabbit hole of gender essentialism to hide from my problems," she continued when it was clear he wasn't going to respond. "That's terrible. I just spent four years tearing gender essentialism to tiny little pieces, one 0.5-credit course at a time. I don't just deserve to be kicked in the face by Judith Butler, I feel like I should be beat up by all of third-wave feminism, except they're all fighting violence against women so I suppose that would be a little bit counterproductive. I mean, not that there's anything wrong with-"

She was interrupted by Gavin flopping to his back on the grass and letting out a gusty sigh.

"Why do I always fall for the girls who are crazy and afraid to commit?"

Now it was Mina's turn. "What?"

"Maybe I'm just a masochist."

"Maybe," Mina agreed, taking that as her cue to action. "We should probably check."

Quick as a flash, she was on top of him, grabbing his hands and holding them above his head so that his arms were just barely twisted to the point of discomfort.

"What are you-"


Dipping her head, she nuzzled, kissed, nipped his neck, revelling in the warm, spicy scent of him. When his breath started coming in short gasps, she shifted, rubbing her knee up and down against him beneath her skirt. Finding the right spot on his neck, she nipped at it playfully, and then bit down until she drew blood.

Gavin groaned, and finally-finally-she brought her mouth down to his, teeth and tongues and lips clashing around the taste of his blood. She picked up the pace of her knee, and just when he started to stiffen, twisted his arms that tiny, excruciating, extra bit.

That sent him over the edge, and he closed his eyes, muffling an exclamation in her hair, as his body stiffened and then went lax.

Carefully, Mina released his arms and rolled onto her side, wiggling until she had her head on his shoulder, one arm slung across his chest. After a moment he brought an arm down around her.

"Never do that to me in public again."

She tilted her face up to look into his eyes. "But the public part was half the fun."

"Well. At least maybe not this public. We're on someone's lawn and I'm pretty sure he was watching the whole thing, considering the way he's looking at us through the blinds right now."

Mina glanced up at the house. Sure enough, a balding, middle-aged man was in the front window, eyes popping.

"Fair point. But at least admit that it's the single hottest thing that's ever happened to you."

"You're the single hottest thing that's ever happened to me."

She huffed. "I'm a person, not an event."

"Yes, but the advent of your arrival in my life has made it so. Fucking. Much. Better."


His answer to that was non-verbal, and they made out like horny teenagers until the guy who owned the house came onto the lawn threatening to have them arrested for public indecency.

AN: Hello world! I still exist.

That was... interesting. I kept on trying to make them cute and they kept on trying to have vaguely kinky sexytime happenings. Damn them. I think I may actually have to rate this M, even though I've been trying to avoid doing that... Hopefully you like?

You may recognize Gavin as a minor character in "Of Love and Animal Crackers," but if you don't this is not a suggestion for you to do so, because I wrote it when I was 16 and it is therefore definitionally terrible! However. The plan for this summer involves completely redoing it at some point (I will let you know when this is done if you are curious) as well as more one-shots involving other secondary and minor characters. Because when I intend to write someone's story and then don't, they keep hounding me until I get it out.

Anyway. Love it? Hate it? LET ME KNOW! And I will try to write things soon!