In the spring at the Dubois house, Dave sat in a kitchen hair with a powder-green towel wrapped around his head. Violet had set the timer for twenty minutes while the dye sat on his frosted tips—Catherine was beside herself waiting to see how it had come out. She had no clue how Violet had convinced Dave to make his frosted tips pink, but there Dave Dubois was, playing Tetris on a GameBoy with a towel wrapped around his head the way a girl would have it when she exited the shower.

"You gonna go to school like this, Dave?" Catherine asked.

"Obviously," Dave said, cracking a small grin. "And if people give me shit, I'll just have to borrow your beanie."

"You can have my beanie when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."

Bennett laughed from the seat next to Catherine. Neither of them had mentioned to Dave that they had kissed, though Catherine suspected that Dave would figure it out on his own. He was like a bloodhound when it came to sniffing out information, and Catherine had a feeling Dave would pick up on whatever change happened between Bennett and Catherine, however miniscule.

"It should look fine when it's done," Violet assured, checking the timer resting next to the stove. "You agreed to this."

"Yeah," Dave said. "Need some change in my life anyway."

When the timer went off, Violet stepped behind Dave, her hands hovering over the towel. "Can I get a drumroll, please?" she asked, and both Bennett and Catherine started drumming their hands against the table as Violet unwrapped the towel from around Dave's head. When Violet pulled the towel away, Dave's frosted tips were that nice shade of pink that Violet seemed to like best.

"Oh shit, Dave," Catherine said, a big smile plastered across her face.

Moments after Violet removed the towel from Dave's head, Louise Dubois entered the room carrying a basket full of laundry, and stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of her son.

She gasped. "David Lee," she said, stressing his middle name in a disappointed fashion.

Catherine turned her head to Dave, her brow furrowed. "Your middle name is Lee?"

"Yep," Dave answered, and then turned to address his mother. "Hi, Mom. Violet dyed my frosted tips."

"I can see that," Louise said, mustering up a calm tone of voice. Her eyes gave her away; Catherine could tell that despite her calm disposition, on the inside she was screaming. Having a pansexual son was one thing—sexuality wasn't something one wore on their sleeve, but having a son with pink hair was another. If he wasn't getting picked on before, he definitely would be now. Louise could only sigh and continue on to the laundry room with her basket of dirty clothes.

"Yeah, now we match," Violet said as she slung her arm around Dave's shoulders.

Bennett stuck his finger in his mouth, pretending to gag.

"You guys are cute," Catherine said, glancing over at Violet and Dave. After a beat, she added, "Makes me sick."

"Hey, you know what, Ms. Chasen?" Dave said, pointing at her. "One day you're gonna be so in love that it'll make the rest of us sick, and what are you gonna do then? Huh? Huh?"

"Relax," Catherine said, swivelling in her chair to face Bennett. "I know what I'd do."

Bennett gave a breathy laugh and covered his eyes with his hands, shaking his head. Dave eyed him and Catherine suspiciously for a moment, but quickly dismissed it and returned his attention to Violet.

"Hey, babe," Dave said, placing his hand on top of Violet's. "Did you hear about that guy that got his entire left side cut off?"

"What?" Violet's eyebrows crinkled in concern. "No, I didn't."

"Yeah," Dave said. "He's all right now." Dave broke into a grin, waiting for Violet's response.

Catherine closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger. "Dave, I hate you."

"No you don't." Dave grinned at Catherine as Violet slapped him on the shoulder, realizing his joke.

Dave pulled Violet into his lap, which looked almost comical because Violet was nearly taller than he was. Violet smiled and wrapped her arms around Dave's neck, planting a kiss on his cheek. Catherine grimaced at the two of them—they were definitely dating now.

"Dave, you've let up on the morbid jokes," Bennett commented. "I'm impressed. Hell, you haven't even tried to sneak a Jewish one past me. They've all been puns."

Dave shrugged his shoulders. "What can I say? Puns get better results."

Eventually, Mrs. Dubois wanted all the kids out of her house, so they all piled into Dave's car and drove around the neighborhood. At the wheel, Dave kept running his fingers over his newly-pink frosted tips. Violet had her hand resting on his thigh as he drove, tracing circles into it with her fingertips. Dave dropped off Catherine in front of her house, and once she was inside he drove off.

The house was strangely quiet when Catherine arrived; it was usually only like that when Joe had passed out on the couch, so Catherine took the time to get some things done. Joe's shithole of a house didn't have a washing machine or a dryer, so every time Catherine washed her clothes she had to fill up the bath and scrub them with ivory soap. She hung them over the shower curtain rod overnight to dry, but if she was in a hurry she used the hair dryer. She sat in front of the bath for half an hour or so, scrubbing down her rotation of t-shirts and a few pairs of jeans before hanging them on the curtain rod to dry and draining the bath.

Only Joe wasn't on the couch. He was nowhere to be seen. His truck had gone from the driveway and his shoes weren't lying on the floor where he usually kicked them off. This only happened when Joe went on a drug run, which meant one thing—Joe was on a drug run. Those lasted days, and Catherine could wander around the house doing whatever she pleased. Her heart jumped a little at the realization—she was going to call Bennett.

Despite all the things that Joe did not have in his house, the one thing he did have was a phone hooked to the wall. Catherine dialed the number to the Pasternak house and bit her lip while it rang; she prayed they were home and someone would answer.

"Hello?" came a voice that was not Bennett's, but Mr. Pasternak's.

"Hello, Mr. Pasternak." Catherine put on a friendly voice to address him. "Is Bennett home?"

"Hello, Catherine," Mr. Pasternak greeted warmly. "Yes, he's in the other room. Hold on a minute, let me get him for you."

Catherine waited a bit anxiously for Bennett to come to the phone. She could hear the muffled words of Mr. Pasternak and then Bennett's heavy footsteps as he came into the kitchen, then the noise of the phone being passed over.

"Hello?" Bennett's voice came over the line.

"It's me," Catherine said. "Come over. My uncle isn't home."

Bennett was silent for a few beats, as if he was processing the information. "Okay," he said. "Just to make sure we're on the same page: what exactly are we doing?"

"Sex, Bennett. We're gonna have sex." The tone of Catherine's voice suggested the answer was obvious.

"Alright, alright, yep, okay, got it. I'll be right over." He hung up the phone, and Catherine rolled her eyes, a grin on her face. He was such a dork.

Twenty minutes later Bennett arrived at the front door, shifting from foot to foot nervously. Catherine pulled open the door and stood aside so he could enter the house, which he did, though his movements seemed hesitant. He'd never been in Catherine's house; Shady Oak Lane was a shithole, and the houses there tended to be a little run down. Catherine's home was no exception. She hated the fact that this would be the place, of all places, that they got to be alone together. The only room in the house that didn't reek of pot and tobacco was her own, as Catherine had spent many hours burning candles and spraying lemon-scented Lysol around the room in order to eliminate the stench.

"Hey," he greeted, his voice a whisper.

Catherine laughed a bit. "We're alone. You don't have to whisper."

Bennett grinned. "Right."

Catherine reached out and gently took hold of Bennett's left hand; he wore the fingerless gloves. Catherine tugged at the finger holes, pulling the glove off his hand and revealing the scars on his knuckles. Bennett's eyebrows rose; he hadn't known Catherine had seen his scars. Catherine ran her thumb over them, and then met Bennett's gaze. He squeezed her hand, almost as a sign of reassurance, and Catherine led him by the hand to her room.

Catherine's room, essentially, was plain. White walls with a beige-colored carpet and a sofa that pulled out into a bed—though Catherine never folded the bed back into a sofa. The room smelled faintly of lemons, which was a welcome change from the foul stench in the rest of the house. When they were in the room, Catherine turned around to face him.

"Close the door," she said.

Bennett furrowed his eyebrows. "But we're alone."

"I know," Catherine said. "But close the door."

Bennett took a step backwards and closed the door, instinctively turning the lock. When he turned back around, she reached up to grab his cheeks and kissed him on the lips. It startled him for a brief moment, but he soon responded, closing his eyes and sliding his hands down to her hips. He pulled her hips to his, having to lean forwards while he kissed her because of their height difference. Catherine ran her fingers through his hair, trailing them down the nape of his neck until she wrapped her arms around his neck. Bennett pulled away for a moment, looking Catherine in the eyes.

"Are you gonna be okay?" he asked, his voice laced with concern. "If you ever wanna stop, just… just say so, okay?"

Catherine tilted her head to the side and ran a hand down Bennett's cheek. "I'll be fine," she said softly. "You're not him."

"You sure?" Bennett asked.

Catherine nodded. "This is different. I want this."

Bennett nodded in understanding, and brought his lips back to hers. Catherine ran her hands down his shoulder blades to his back, sliding them around his sides and up his chest. He wasn't particularly muscular—but he was Bennett.

Catherine broke away from Bennett, taking a step back before pulling her shirt over the top of her head. Bennett did the same, tugging off his shirt in one swift motion and tossing it to the side before kicking off his shoes. Catherine took his hands in hers and lead him over to her bed, where he climbed on and sat on his knees.

"You ever done this before?" Bennett asked as Catherine sat on the edge of the bed.

Catherine shook her head. "No. What about you?"

Bennett shook his head as well. "You nervous?" he asked.

"Of course," Catherine said. "But it's you."

Catherine reached behind her back and undid the hooks of her bra before sliding the straps down her shoulders and revealing her breasts to Bennett. His eyes fell to them without meaning to, and his jaw slackened in the slightest. Catherine took hold of his hand and brought it to her chest, running her thumb over the back of his hand. Bennett cupped her breasts in his hands and leaned in to kiss her. Catherine pulled him closer to her, their hips pressed against each other; she could feel his erection against her leg.

Bennett ran his hands up and down Catherine's chest, leaning in to plant kisses on her cheeks, moving down her neck to her breasts until he reached her stomach. Catherine fisted her hands into his hair, his breath warm against her stomach.

"Come here," Catherine said, pulling him close to her, her lips crashing against his. He kissed her back eagerly, his teeth grazing against her lower lip. She kissed his jaw, his neck, and his chest. It was different, having him under her hands this way, being able to explore his body with her fingertips. Her hands slid down his abdomen until she reached his belt buckle, and he stilled so she could undo it.

Catherine pulled his belt from the loops and tossed it aside, her fingers fumbling to undo his fly and the button of his jeans. Upon undoing them she shucked the jeans down his hips, revealing his white underwear. He gave a small groan of relief at having his jeans out of the way, and awkwardly tugged them the rest of the way down his legs, leaving him in just his underwear. While he did this, Catherine pulled her own jeans down her legs and kicked them off when they reached her ankles. Bennett looked at her before leaning forwards and hooking his thumbs in the edges of her underwear, slowly pulling them down her thighs and shins until they were over her feet and he tossed them aside. He placed his palms to her shins and ran them up her thighs. He met her gaze as he dipped his hand between her legs. Catherine sucked in a sharp breath, tilting back her head. This didn't last long before he pulled his hand away and Catherine was able to tug his underwear down his thighs and take him in her hands.

Bennett breathed in deep through his nose and pursed his lips. "Catherine," he said in a quiet voice.

She let go of him before wrapping her arms around his back, pulling him close enough for her breasts to press against his chest. Bennett placed a hand underneath her knee, pulling her leg over his hip as he looked her in the eyes.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Yes," she said.

Bennett angled his hips carefully before pushing into her with one slow thrust. It was awkward and clumsy at first; they couldn't find a good rhythm and he accidentally leaned on her hair. Their kisses were a bit too messy and he winced when she touched a sensitive spot. Eventually, they set a pace and stuck to it. His breath was hot on her neck as he panted, and she moaned quietly in his ear. He stilled for a moment or two, breathing heavily, to brush the hair from Catherine's face and plant a few kisses to her mouth and her breasts before starting again.

Catherine didn't keep track of how long it lasted; it didn't feel long. Bennett's arms trembled slightly and Catherine felt like she needed to hang onto him for dear life. She didn't realize how much she loved to run her fingers through his hair until then, which she did as she kissed his lips until hers were numb. Finally, Bennett gave a shuddering groan, coming over the sheets and collapsing, his head resting on Catherine's chest.

Catherine had one hand resting on his head and the other on his back. His hair was slightly damp and his skin was clammy with sweat, but she didn't care. She twirled her finger around a curl in his hair until he rolled onto his back, lying next to her. She watched his ribcage rise and fall as he caught his breath, his blue-gray eyes fixed on the ceiling. Catherine turned her head to look at him, and after a moment or so he turned to face her, a small grin pulling at his lips.

"I love you," he said in a breathless tone of voice.

Catherine was taken aback by his declaration at first—but of course, she smiled at him and leaned over to kiss him on the lips. "I love you, too," she said back, placing the palm of her hand to his cheek and caressing it with her thumb.

Catherine slung her arm over his chest and laid her head on his shoulder. That was where they would stay until they found a reason the leave.