women waiting.

They were in math class the next day and she was talking to Honora.

" Hey, Vida, can we be serious for a minute?" Honora suddenly asked.

Vida did a double-take and paused.

" Yeah, what is it? What's wrong? Did I fuck up that bad?"

Honora was grading her paper.

" No, um, it's not the paper. It's just. You and Klaude were like, alone in the office yesterday and I was... Well. Maybe it was a bad fuck-up? I don't know exactly how grieving works or anything and I'm trying not to make assumptions but. You know that that replacement goldfish stuff is unhealthy, right. I don't want to sound like a dick because you know I love him, he's basically my brother, we always look out for each other. But I don't... I mean, I get that maybe it's a mutualish thing? Because you lost somebody? But he's your dead brother's boyfriend. That's. Kind of uncomfortable for me. And-"

Vida had been paralyzed with shock and embarrassment halfway through what Honora had been saying and she barely managed to cut her off.

" I? What? No, no, no, no, no, no, he was only in there because he wanted something from the teacher break room, I just wanted to talk to him about when I was in the hospital, oh my God, Honora," she stammered through her reply because holy fucking shit what a thing to hear in the middle of Algebra III.

Honora sighed with deep relief and sunk down in her chair.

" Fuck. Fuck. I'm sorry. That was awkward. But I was just worried. Like, at first I was worried that you might blame him, and then once you two were getting along so well, I was worried you were going to be like. Oh my God, that was really shitty of me, wasn't it. I guess I just never noticed you two being close before because he spent all of his time with or thinking about... Him. Just sort of left us girls at the sidelines, ay?"

The last question was a gentle sort of jibe, that she said with a tired smile.

" You made a seventy-six, Vida. What'd I get?"

Vida looked down at the crinkled paper. It was the one Honora had been working on in the train the previous day.

" Ninety-two."

Honora held out her hand.

" I'll turn them in. I'm so sorry I was saying weird shit. I'm sort of embarrassed now."

Vida handed her her paper.

" It's cool. I'm not... offended or anything."

She thought about the shirt that the ghost Klaude had given her in River Hell.

Not real, she chided herself.

Not real.