~ Life Lessons ~
by Shea K.

Disclaimer: Welcome to another original story by this lunatic. The story and the characters are mine. Do not use them without my permission. Also, any and all characters, events, and situations found in these stories are fictional. If there are any similarities between these things and real people, events, and situations, it is purely a coincidence.

I'm sure you know there will be a sexual relationship between two women, but if you don't know this is me warning you. There will be a sexual relationship between two women in this story (starting at the very beginning actually).

Contact the lunatic at: starving.lunatic@gmail.com and lemme know what you think of the story. Thanks and enjoy. You can also find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SL-Kassidy/482097488469386

Many thanks to my beta - Rleef.

This story is going to be told in rather short chapters, snapshots showing Quinn's and Artie's growth together.


9: GPA

Students were moving back onto campus as spring term would be starting in a week. Quinn was already moved into her room, but Morgan still had to move in. She decided to get out of Morgan's way and go visit Artie. She wanted to show her tutor just how good her teaching skills were.

Artie's dorm was moved to a building across the parking lot from her. It was a new building and had more of a hotel feel to it than a dormitory, especially since each room had a balcony, a very tiny one, but a balcony nonetheless. Artie was on the third floor and her door was open. Quinn knocked anyway because Artie was pretty upfront about her lifestyle, so she could be in her room with a girl.

"Come in," Artie called.

"Hey," Quinn said as she stepped into the room. The taller woman was putting away her clothes.

"Oh, hey, Quinn. How are you?"

"I'm doing good. I thought this room would be bigger than your old room. Looks smaller," Quinn noted as she stared around the almost cell-like area. Artie seemed to be fully moved in and just had to put clothes away.

"Yeah, but, it's not bad. How's your room this term?"

"Pretty much the same as always. It's annoying getting shuffled around every semester."

Artie shrugged. "I guess for you, yeah. You're really moving. For me, it's not too tough because when I left for break I took everything with me. I'm sure most people do that."

"I suppose, but it's still annoying," Quinn huffed.

Artie offered her a slightly amused smile for her trouble as she put the last of her clothes away. She then stood up and took two steps over to Quinn. She looked down at the brunette with mirth dancing in her brandywine eyes.

"You still haven't told me what brings you by," Artie pointed out.

Quinn smiled brightly and pulled out a sheet of paper. "You, my friend, are one awesome tutor."

Artie raised an eyebrow as she accepted the paper. She looked down to see that it was Quinn's report card. She zeroed in on the math class and saw that Quinn had earned a B-plus. Quinn was surprised as Artie's mouth turned down in a frown.

"The dude gave you a B? What the hell? You killed that quiz and all the damned tests!" Artie pointed out.

Quinn chuckled. "You're outraged on my behalf." For some reason, that was very flattering and made her blood flare up.

"Damn right! I hope you complain to this bastard!"

Quinn laughed more and stepped closer to Artie. They were almost touching and Quinn was certain that she could feel heat coming off of the taller woman. Her heart sped up, but she tried to keep herself under control. She was trying to build a relationship with a new guy that Gavin introduced her to and while they had not said they were exclusive yet, she felt like they were on their way. She needed to hold it together.

"You seem to forget how I tanked in August and early September and plus I failed the first test. Not quiz, but test. Averaged into the rest of my grades, this is the right grade," Quinn stated, speaking in a low tone. She felt a bit breathless, making it hard to speak up.

Artie exhaled slowly. "Is it now? Well, since you're happy with it and I'm clearly brilliant, maybe we celebrate. I just unpacked your friend."

Quinn was about to object because she had a boyfriend. They had a relationship. Well, they were probably going to try to have a relationship, as soon as they discussed it, which would probably be soon. Oh, god, Artie's nibbling my earlobe! She melted against the taller woman as powerful arms embraced her and she could feel the press of breasts against her chest. The sensation made her groan as Artie nibbled her way down Quinn's neck.

"Oh, god," Quinn breathed, grabbing Artie by her broad shoulders.

The noise seemed to call attention to her mouth because Artie immediately nipped her way to Quinn's lips. Their lips moved against each other in a passionate frenzy and their tongues quickly joined in, caressing, devouring. Artie wasted no time groping Quinn, gently squeezing her breasts through her shirt. She moaned into Artie's mouth as hot, lightning bolts of pleasure burned through her and it echoed around the room. Artie hissed right after and pulled away.

"Strip," Artie ordered in a heavy breath that made Quinn ruin her underwear.

Quinn knew the routine and quickly disrobed while Artie shut and locked the door. Quinn moved onto the bed and watched Artie strip. Her whole body shivered as Artie's ripped, olive-toned muscles were revealed. Thoughts of running her tongue along the cuts actually made her mouth water. Whoa, calm down, tiger. You're not gay. But, then again, there's nothing really gay about wanting to touch such rippling muscles.

Her thoughts came to a complete halt as Artie suited up. Artie stalked over to the bed and just stared at Quinn. The burning gaze seemed to make demands, more than usual, on Quinn, but she did not understand fully. She went with what they typically did, getting on her hands and knees with her ass pointed at Artie.

Artie growled and the sound sent fire up Quinn's spine. The pale woman moaned in anticipation as she heard Artie move closer to her. Her heart felt like it was going to explode in her chest and she feared the whole building probably heard her wanton cry as Artie pressed into her. And, if not that, she was certain that the neighbors heard her as Artie began to move.

It was slow and delicious. Quinn felt pleasure from the roots of her hair to the ends of her toes. Artie leaned forward and she felt those wonderful, plump hardened nipples grazing her back. She felt dizzy and her eyes rolled into the back of her head. Kisses to the back of her neck helped keep her anchored in hot, electric reality, but then she realized something. I'm getting off on having her nipples against my back! I'm not gay!

As much as the thought bothered her, she could not stop herself from moving with Artie, trying to gain more pleasure. She wielded that thing with such precision, better than most men Quinn had been with. Still, Quinn was not gay and she needed to do something to keep her body from thinking otherwise.

"Wait," Quinn managed to say around as gasp.

Artie continued moving for a few seconds; her lust possibly blocking her ears. "Wait? What? Did I hurt you?" she asked through a series of heavy pants.

"No wanna try something new?"

"New?"

"Can I ride you?"

Artie chuckled. "You never have to ask."

Quinn smiled, groaning as Artie pulled out. She felt empty and as if her body was going to burst into flames. She quickly moved and Artie settled on the middle of the bed. Artie lounged against her pillows as Quinn straddled her, putting her back to Artie.

Artie did not complain, groaning and running a hand over Quinn's sweat-slicked back. The longhaired brunette threw her head back and moaned as she sank onto Artie. For a moment, she could not move, could not think. Her nerves were overloaded and it was not until she felt hands on her hips that she remembered to move.

Quinn exhaled loudly as she bounced on Artie. Putting her hands on Artie's thighs to stabilize herself, she moved with reckless abandon, trying to match Artie's mastery of the phallus. It was not until Artie's hips began to piston up and down that Quinn began moving toward the point of no return. She could hardly breath and then Artie grabbed her hands, pulling them back and giving Artie control of her. The muscular woman pushed into Quinn with more than enough force to send her over the edge.

Quinn collapsed forward and the next thing she knew she was being tucked away in bed. She felt lips on her own and there was a brief kiss. She fell asleep with a smile of her face with thoughts of good grades and even better orgasms dancing through her head.

-8-8-8-8-

10: Bruised

Artie checked her watch and was surprised that Quinn was ten minutes late. Quinn was never late for a tutoring session and Artie did not like it. She called Quinn's cell phone, only for the voicemail to pick up. She growled as a frown marred her smooth features. She waited another ten minutes before calling again and receiving the voicemail.

"Fuck this," Artie decided, tearing herself away from her desk. She grabbed her pants and hoodie to keep her somewhat warm in her mad dash across the parking lot to Quinn's dormitory. The chill nipped at her heels, even though she had sneakers on.

She did not make it into the building, spotting Quinn just outside in the fading daylight. She was not alone. There was some guy with her, probably her boyfriend, Artie concluded. They looked like they were arguing and he put his finger in Quinn's face, which gave Artie some pause, but things did not seem awful. She would have returned to her room if only Quinn was not gesturing wildly and the guy had not grabbed her wrist. Artie was between them before any of them realized it and had her hand on his wrist.

"I suggest you let her go," Artie said with a deadly calm.

"Mind your own business," the guy growled, trying to yank his hand back. She only tightened her grip. His dark face grimaced slightly, but he managed to keep in a hiss. She doubted he would be able to do that again when she got really serious with him.

"Oh, believe me. I am. Now, let her go," Artie ordered once more before applying some pressure to his wrist. He hissed and grimaced, crouching just a bit, bringing him slightly under Artie's height.

"Artie, please, don't hurt him," Quinn implored, clutching Artie's shoulders in desperation.

The plea made a furious scowl cut through Artie's face. Breathing heavily through her nose, Artie glanced back at Quinn. Chocolate eyes begged in a way that Artie disliked and she realized that she also did not like the way Quinn held her. It was all so different than what she was used to. There was no lustful passion or smoldering lasciviousness. There was concern and worry. Concern and worry for the wrong person and it gnawed at Artie's intestines.

"Fine," Artie huffed, flaring her nostrils as she flung him away from her. He clutched his wrist and glared at her.

"Artie," Quinn said, voice somewhat raw.

"Sorry for interfering." Artie stepped away, but she did not leave. She could not leave.

She watched the couple speak, but she was now too far to overhear them. She noted that the boyfriend's body language did not improve, but he was keeping his hands to himself. He did not even put his finger in Quinn's face again. Then his shoulders slumped, as if defeated. He hugged Quinn, which appeared somewhat awkward, but she hugged him back. He then went back inside. Quinn turned her attention to Artie.

"I'm sorry you had to see," Quinn said, sounding almost normal. A dark blush settled on already rosy cheeks.

Artie shrugged and turned to leave. Her thoughts were swirling and quickly became a torrent of boiling fury. Fuck, of course, I'm wrong for trying to help. Fucking women like that macho bullshit from men. What the fuck made me think she'd be different? Why the hell did I start fucking with her?

"Artie," Quinn called, trotting after the fuming tutor. "Artie, wait!" She jogged up to the taller woman.

"You might as well go back inside. You only have fifteen minutes left in your session and I have work to do anyway," Artie stated through a tense jaw, doing her best not to stomp while she walked.

"Artie, what's wrong? Why are you so upset?"

She glared at the pale woman. "Are you fucking kidding? You're late by over thirty minutes and then you pled with me not to hurt some ass-hat while he's fucking manhandling you right in front of me!"

"Artie, it wasn't like that and it really wasn't any of your business."

Snorting, she kept walking, but now she was stomping, as if she was trying to go through the pavement of the parking lot. "I understand that. It's your fucked up relationship, your fucked up problem."

"Artie!" Quinn yanked her by the hand, forcing her to stop. "You don't even know what happened!"

Artie spun around and all she could see was red. "I know he put his hands on you and you protected him! There's no fucking reason for that! No fucking excuse! So, save it!"

Quinn blinked, but did not let go of her tutor. "It wasn't as bad as it looked. I promise."

Artie growled. "Bullshit! Your wrist is bruised."

"I bruise easily, but it was no worse than how I grabbed you, except he caught me by the wrist instead of by the hand. He wasn't trying to hurt me. He just didn't want me to walk away from the argument."

"He still shouldn't have touched you."

"No, he shouldn't have, but we all have moments where we're not ready to end the argument, like now. So, can we get out of the cold and talk about this in your room?"

Artie wanted to refuse her, but it was cold and they needed to reschedule Quinn's session. She wanted to make sure she had a spot open in front of someone, so she would not be tempted to fuck Quinn after. She was pretty sure that she would never be the mood to do that again now, but she wanted assurances in place.

They went to Artie's room. They both stood. Artie folded her arms across her chest while Quinn sighed, focusing on her feet.

"You're the one that wanted to talk, so talk," Artie huffed. Quinn flinched slightly and Artie almost felt bad, but was able to beat that feeling down.

Sighing again, Quinn ran her hand through her long hair. "I just I don't like that you're upset over this. I swear, Kavi only wanted to keep me from walking away. He was angry over some of his friends telling him that they saw me in a club hugged up with some guy. They were exaggerating, but the fact that I was out at the club without him and with my friends made him think that there might have been some truth to it. I told him he was too upset to talk about rationally and we could continue when he calmed down. It was then that I decided to walk away and he wasn't ready to let it go."

She ground her teeth together briefly. "That could've become serious."

Quinn nodded, but shrugged. "Many things have the potential to become serious. Kavi's not that type of guy, though. You have to just trust people, sometimes. Trust they won't hurt you."

Artie scowled. "I've seen that trust come back to bite people in the ass."

"Is that why you got so upset?" There was no answer. "Artie, I don't know what you've seen or been through, but I'd never let a man hit me or hurt me and I damn sure wouldn't protect him if he did."

Artie continued to frown, but internally she felt her muscles relaxing. The tension in her belly eased because everything that Quinn said made sense, as much as she loathed admitting it, even to herself. All of that fury and animosity left with the tension. The respect that she sure she would never have again for Quinn returned with barely a five minute absence. But, this actually one of the reasons why I respect her. She can put together a coherent sentence and she doesn't back down.

"Sorry for butting in back there, but as you can imagine, I don't like seeing women treated roughly or rudely. I'm sorry if I overreacted," Artie said. I can admit fault if she can give me an explanation I don't really have any rights to.

"It's okay. It's nice to know that there's someone that has my back," Quinn said with a smile.

"Well, it is a nice back," Artie commented.

"Now, about my tutoring session. I need all the help I'm going to get to pass statistics."

That much was true. Quinn had come to her after her first statistics class and hoped that Artie tutored for the class. She lucked out. Artie did reschedule Quinn's tutoring time. She stuck with the plan of putting Quinn ahead of someone else. She needed to be sure that she still respected Quinn completely before they could do anything beyond study.

-8-8-8-8-

11: Cookies

Quinn was sitting on a desk chair in Artie's room, eating cookies and complaining. Artie was sitting on the floor, enjoying cookies, too, and listening. Quinn briefly wondered how often someone built like Artie ate junk food, even though Artie was the one to supply her with the cookies in the first place. She also wondered why Artie had allowed her to derail her statistics tutoring with her relationship troubles, even though she suspected it had something to do with her being distracted.

"I should've let you hit him when you were making the offer. I mean, why the hell does he keep listening to his stupid friends? Just because I go out with my friends and dance with people at a club doesn't mean I'm cheating on him!" Quinn huffed, glaring at her cookie before devouring it.

"He's either insecure or he's got a large number of jealous friends squawking in his ears. Sometimes, friends sabotage things, by accident or on purpose depending on the level of asshole they are," Artie replied.

"Why? Why would they do that?" Quinn's voice cracked. She was about to follow her voice's example if the burning in her eyes and the churning in her stomach meant anything. She doubted it was safe to cry in front of Artie since she seemed more like a guy and guys did not do the emotional thing, as far as she knew.

"Jealousy for one thing," Artie answered and she happened to glance up. "Aw, don't cry!"

"I'm not!" Of course, the way her voice broke, she could be wrong. She wiped her cheeks and realized they were wet. For some reason, knowing that she was crying made her begin bawling.

"Crap," Artie muttered as she climbed to her feet. She marched over to the desk and gathered Quinn in her arms. Quinn did not object, weeping into her chest as she settled them both on the bed.

"I like Kavi so much. He's the first guy I've dated that I like. Why are his friends doing this?" Quinn sniffled.

"Have you met his friends?" Artie asked while gently rocking Quinn. The movement was surprising and soothing.

"Some of them. We share a friend, Gavin. He introduced me to Kavi, but they're not very close friends, it turns out. I wish that Gavin did hang out with Kavi more, but I have met his close group of friends. They're really nice to me. We've gone to parties or just hung out in the student union. They're not mean or anything."

"They sound fake and possibly they either want you or they just can't stand to see their friend with a good woman."

"I want things to work, but I'm scared they won't because of his friends. I even had Gavin talk to him, but again, they're not close friends, so he's more likely to listen to his core group of friends instead of Gavin. Hell, Gavin's scared to try again, but he thinks Kavi might assume I'm cheating with him. I don't know what to do and he keeps bringing up this bullshit. What am I supposed to do?"

Artie sighed. "I hate to tell you this, but he has to decide who he believes because there's no real way for you to prove you're not cheating unless he follows you around all day and I don't think you want him to become a stalker."

Quinn opened her mouth, but she was cut off by Artie's phone ringing. The tall woman did not even move to check it. Quinn took a moment to try to pull herself together, breathing deeply.

"You okay now?" Artie asked in a low tone as her phone went off again.

"Shouldn't you answer that?"

"Nah, I know who it is and she can wait. It's not everyday someone has a breakdown in my dorm."

Quinn sniffled, but laughed. "I did not breakdown."

"So, what do you call it when in the middle of a stats problem you start asking over and over again 'why does he think I'm cheating on him' for five minutes straight and then inhale a bag of cookies?" There was a teasing smirk on her face.

Quinn pouted because that was a highly accurate description of what happened. It had been bugging her all day, even though the argument had happened last night. She needed to talk to him, but she was thankful that Artie helped calm her down.

"I'm sorry for all of this," Quinn apologized. "You have gone above and beyond in your tutor duties once more."

"It's okay. I can't really do the tutor thing if you're not listening anyway."

"Sorry still." The phone interrupted them again. It was the same ring tone, so Quinn knew it was the same person. "Are you sure you don't want to get that?"

"No, I'm trying to train the person to realize that the world doesn't revolve around her. She seems to be under the impression that I should jump when she snaps."

"Why?"

Artie shrugged. "Because I'm paid help."

"That's awful."

"That's also why she gets charged full price."

Quinn snickered a bit, even though she did not mean to. Artie hugged her, which put a smile to her face. She dared to think that things might work out.

-8-8-8-8-

Quinn was a little early for her tutoring session with a tote bag along with her usual messenger bag. She wanted to thank Artie for all of the help during her "breakdown." She bought Artie replacement cookies and a few other items to show her gratitude. She knocked before she realized she could hear voices inside.

"Yeah?" Artie barked as opened the door with a tense frown on her face. Her face softened as she focused on Quinn. "Oh, hey," she said in a much softer tone than before. "You're early."

Quinn was dumbstruck for a moment, which was fine because she would not have been able to speak around the lump in her throat. Once her heart rate returned to normal, the lump vanished. She relaxed as Artie leaned in closer, invading her space in a nonthreatening way.

"You okay? Sorry for scaring you," the taller woman apologized.

Quinn exhaled. "No, it's fine. I can come back later if you want." She noted that Artie was completely dressed, as if she was going somewhere. Usually, in the dorms, Artie wore white sleeveless undershirts and basketball shorts.

"No, no. It's fine and you're here now, anyway. Come in." Artie stepped out of the way.

Quinn moved inside to see the owner of the other voice in the room. She was a leggy blond with tanned skin that looked like it was the sun's doing and not a tanning booth. Her tropical blue eyes glared at Quinn the second that she stepped inside. Quinn felt butterflies in her stomach as the blond scrutinized her.

"Misty, Quinn. Quinn, Misty. Misty was just leaving," Artie said briskly, holding the door open.

Misty scowled at Quinn before leaving, swaying her hips and ass all the way out. Artie shut the door without saying a word and glared at the closed door for a moment. She then threw herself on her bed and sighed.

"Gimme a minute to just get my head together," Artie requested in a low, somewhat gruff tone.

"Take all the time you need. I have something that might help," Quinn grinned as she went into her tote bag and pulled out the cookies.

Artie chuckled. "I might need something stronger than that. Got any tequila in there?"

"No, it doesn't help me study and it makes my clothes fall off. And while my clothes like to flee the scene when you're around anyway, I'm being a good girl because I have a boyfriend."

Artie snorted and her reddish brown eyes rolled. "Boyfriends and relationships are overrated."

"I beg to differ. Now, are we eating these cookies or what?"

Artie laughed, but got a paper towel as Quinn opened the cookies. The snack was poured onto the paper towel and Quinn ate straight from the box. Artie sat on the floor propped up against the bed.

"So, what happened?" the pale woman inquired.

Artie shook her head and had to push her hair out of her face. "I need to go get a haircut. Misty is just annoying and it's draining whenever I see her. She doesn't listen and seems to live in her own bizarre version of reality."

"You tutor her?"

Artie grunted. "Unfortunately."

"Cookies will make you feel better."

The tutor grunted again and shoved a cookie in her mouth. Once she was done with her cookies, she did not look much better. Quinn settled in next her, putting another cookie into Artie's mouth. Artie chewed and when she was done, Quinn put another cookie to her lips. They carried on like that until Artie finally smiled, five cookies later.

"Thanks for that," the taller woman actually cooed.

"Artie, I cried on you a couple of day ago! This is the least I could do. Hell, I can bring you more cookies tomorrow."

Artie smiled. "I can't keep eating cookies. I need to keep my guns sharp." She flexed her bicep. It was huge and rock solid as always. "Besides, cookies aren't my favorite comfort food anyway. Now, onto statistics."

Quinn groaned. "I'd rather eat cookies."

"Most people would. Stats is rarely a favorite subject."

Quinn could not argue that. She opened her notebook and textbook. She definitely hated statistics. Throughout it all, Artie's phone went off every few minutes and she did not answer it. She wished that Artie had just answered it, so that she could take a minute to not have to look at stats problem.

-8-8-8-8-

12: Boifriend

Artie huffed as she tried to ditch Misty without being rude about it, but that seemed utterly impossible. They had a class together in ten minutes, although she did not understand how a head as empty as Misty's could possibly grasp any college level work of any kind. Of course, that did work in her favor as she did get a tutoring gig out of it and possibly driven insane. She was definitely going to need a drink later on if Misty kept chatting her up, though.

Part of her supposed that she was not giving Misty enough credit because she seemed to have something that resembled thoughts when it came to things that she wanted. She seemed to always know how to find Artie around campus, after all. Much to my dismay, she groaned mentally.

"We should totally go out tonight," Misty grinned, taking hold of Artie's forearm.

"I have work." That work involved calling Vega and Ortega to go out for buckets of alcohol if she had to listen to Misty chatter. She would have to go out and buy more comfort food, too.

"You can't work all day, babe," Misty cooed, squeezing Artie's meaty forearm.

"Don't call me 'babe,'" Artie requested in a tight voice and, as they turned the corner, her day got infinitely worse. Quinn almost walked right into her, but she put her hand out just in time to save the pale woman. "Whoa," Artie muttered as she righted Quinn.

"You should watch where you're going," Misty huffed, glaring at Quinn. Thankfully, Quinn was not paying her any mind.

"You okay?" Artie asked Quinn.

Quinn nodded. "Yes, thank you." A light blush colored her cheeks. Artie hoped it was not from embarrassment since they were both at fault.

Artie smiled. "You know, I don't see you around campus often and then when I do, I almost run you right over."

"Well, we do attend very different classes," Quinn pointed out with a teasing smile.

Artie chuckled a bit. "I'd have expected you to be a little more graceful than that, Princess."

Quinn smiled, but mock-glared and put her hand on her hip. "I told you not to call me that and this was all your fault anyway."

The taller woman let an amused smile settle on her face. "Can't call you a liar there, Princess."

Quinn continued to glower and then Artie felt pressure on her forearm. She glanced down to see Misty frowning and glowering as if she was trying to burn a hole in the middle of Quinn's forehead. And the day just got worse and worse.

"We should go to class," Misty said, pulling the taller woman away.

Artie would rather go if Misty planned to continue giving Quinn the evil eye. She tipped her bowler hat to Quinn before allowing Misty to take her away. Quinn offered her a small wave, but she looked bewildered. That made two of them. Artie felt a jolt in her stomach as she noticed Quinn's eyes drift to where Misty was holding her.

"The nerve of her, running into us and not apologizing. Some people," Misty huffed, putting her nose in the air.

"We ran into each other. There was no reason for her to apologize. Now, let go of my arm," Artie replied calmly, resisting the urge to yank her limb back. She feared that she might do it too roughly and end up hurting the thin blond.

"But, I love holding you and I know you like it, too, but you have to act all macho," Misty giggled, holding tighter.

"It's not an act." She could not wait to ditch Misty, but for now, she was stuck with the blond because they had classes near each other. At least she would be safe in class.

Ever the gentleman, Artie did walk Misty to her class. It was also the only way to make sure she was about to be rid of the blond. Misty kissed her on the cheek and caressed her forearm before disappearing into the lecture hall. Artie all but ran to her class once she was free of Misty. She also ducked out of class a couple of minutes early to avoid having Misty wait for her.

"I can't live like this," Artie muttered to herself, rubbing her forehead. Of course, when her phone started ringing, she began wondering how she could hide for the rest of her life. She hoped that Misty did not know where her next class was. After class, she found out that it was too much to hope. She figured that she had done something wrong in a past life and Misty was karma paying her back.

"Let's go have dinner together, babe," Misty proposed, taking Artie's hand and holding it tightly. Artie figured that she now knew what it was like to be handcuffed to a bomb. "Oh, and I was thinking that maybe you should have a nickname for me. We'll figure it out at dinner." Artie planned to escape before that happened.

-8-8-8-8-

Quinn thought that Artie was acting weird. For once, the tutor could not keep her focus. It was probably because her phone was going off every couple of minutes. The ringtone was the same, so Quinn assumed it was the same person.

"Why not just turn it off if it's bothering you? Or at least put it on silent?" Quinn suggested.

Artie rubbed her face and sighed. "That wouldn't help. I need to hear it go off in case it's something important."

"All right. Who's calling, anyway?"

"Nobody. Don't worry about it."

Quinn nodded, but she was starting to think that Artie was hiding something from her. She dismissed it as none of her business. She turned her attention to her work and tried to drown out the sound of the phone. It was hard to focus, though, and the sound started cutting through her nerves and scratching at the raw ends. After a half hour of it, she tossed her pencil down.

"Can you please just turn it off?" Quinn huffed, scowling at Artie.

"I'm so sorry about this," Artie apologized and moved to her cell phone.

At first, Quinn thought the phone was off, but she could hear it buzzing every few minutes. It was nearly as annoying as the phone ringing and it cut through her with almost the same jagged edge. She was actually happy when their time was over. She packed her things away fairly quickly.

"I'm sorry. Do you want to stay for a while?" Artie offered in a low voice with a smoky look in her eyes as she moved closer to the shorter woman.

Quinn glared at Artie. "I'm in a relationship. I know you don't do them, but some of us do and respect what that means!"

Artie winced and stepped back. "I didn't mean it like that! I'm sorry. God, I'm just a fucking mess today."

Quinn's jaw tightened. "No argument there." She was not sure if she believed that Artie did not mean her invitation the way that Quinn took it because Artie was just acting weird. Besides, it was not like she and Artie often just hung out, especially not in Artie's dorm.

The words seemed to knock the wind out of Artie. She dropped onto her bed and Quinn made her way out. Shutting the door, she almost ran into Misty. She was in no mood to be glared at, so she tried to sidestep the blond. Misty had business with her, though, and grabbed her by the arm.

"Hey, let me go," Quinn ordered in a rough tone, glaring up at the blond. She was tempted to open Artie's door and let her tutor see Misty manhandling her, as she knew just how the taller woman felt about that.

Misty gave her a little shove upon releasing her. "Don't think I don't know what you're doing with my Artie. You accidentally bump into her to shove your tits into her chest and bat your big ugly eyes at her, trying to get her attention. You giggle at her stupid little nickname for you and everything. Stop flirting with my boifriend."

Quinn opened her mouth and then shut it because she was certain that she heard wrong. Or maybe she was in the wrong conversation. Or maybe Misty was just bat-shit crazy.

"Are we talking about Artie still?" Quinn asked to be sure.

"Yes, she's my boifriend," Misty declared.

Quinn tried to figure out where she got lost. She was pretty sure that Artie, despite her masculine facade, still identified as a woman. She did not understand why Artie would allow someone to call her "boyfriend." Wait, does this mean Artie's in a relationship? And she was still trying to proposition me? What the hell does she take me for? Anger knotted around her stomach and spread through her body.

"I'm not after Artie. She's my tutor, nothing more," Quinn stated through a tense jaw.

Misty scoffed. "Yeah, right. I see the way you look at her, like you want to eat her alive or better still have her eat you. Well, you can't have her. She's mine. I'm her little muffin and I'm the only one she'll be eating. Stay away from her," she ordered, her face twisting in a sneer.

Quinn did not answer and just tore away. She really did not know what to say and she was sure that she if she opened her mouth, she would only insult the blond and Artie. She was learning too much about Artie all at once and was still quite annoyed - annoyed with Artie's lack of focus, annoyed with that damned phone, and now this damned woman Misty claiming Artie as her own. It was too just much.

She retreated to her dorm room and tried to put it all out of her head. She did not want to be part of Artie's drama and anything involving Misty seemed to mean drama. She had her own drama to deal with.

-8-8-8-8-

13: Fury

Artie checked her phone and was bewildered as to why Quinn had not called. They had not had a tutoring session in over a week. She had tried several times to apologize for her behavior, recognizing the number of bad moves that she made when they last saw each other. Her voicemails went unanswered.

"Shit," Artie hissed, slamming her phone down on her bed. A scowl settled on her face and her stomach twisted as she racked her brain to come up with a way to make things up to Quinn.

She could not remember the last time that she had messed up with a woman as she had done with Quinn. Nor could she remember messing up with a student so much either. She felt like she was going crazy and she knew why, but shook it away. She needed to worry about Quinn first and foremost because of her behavior toward the smaller woman.

"I guess I can be an ass and go to her dorm room. I have a feeling that's just another dumb move, but can't be any dumber than letting my phone go off the whole session while seeing how pissed she was over it. Hopefully, she doesn't slap me."

Artie tore herself from her bed and got dressed in her usual vintage gear, topping her outfit with her bowler hat. She put on a brown blazer and went out to find an apology gift. Something that said, "Forgive me for being an ass and I wasn't trying to belittle your relationship." Does such a gift exist? She hoped so, but she doubted it.

Finding something that she thought Quinn would enjoy was easier than she would have believed. She then made her way to Quinn's dorm room. Knocking, Quinn's roommate, Morgan answered. Morgan gave her an odd look.

"What are you doing here?" Morgan inquired with an arched eyebrow.

"I'm looking for Quinn," Artie answered the obvious.

"Yeah, she's at tutoring, which I guess isn't with you. What the hell?"

Artie groaned. "I think I insulted her in a couple of different ways. I want to apologize to her face to face."

Morgan nodded. "She can be stubborn. Come on in. She always comes back after tutoring to drop her stuff off. I guess this helps explain her pissy attitude. What did you do?"

Artie shook her head as she stepped in. She was not interested in sharing her fuck-ups, especially when one involved her making light of Quinn's relationship. So, she sat at Quinn's desk and waited.

"So, you're not going to tell me what happened. Why did you insult her?" Morgan asked curiously as she sat down on her bed.

"Because I'm an idiot. I really don't want to talk about this. It's between me and her and I want to set it right with her."

Morgan smiled as she nodded. "All right. Fair enough. So, are you really as good in bed as girls claim?"

Artie laughed at the way Morgan jumped subjects without a breath in between. "Why don't you come to my room and find out later?" she playfully offered.

Morgan giggled as if that was hilarious. "Does that work?"

Artie gave her a nonchalant shrug. "You'd be surprised what types of things work on girls. Most of them, if they don't work, you can laugh them off and survive looking like an ass, but when they do work, it's fucking awesome. I don't go for girls that fall for it much, but sometimes, temptation can't be ignored."

Morgan giggled more. "Okay, what if I tell you I'm strickly-dickly?"

"I have several. We could go through them and you could find a favorite," Artie replied with exaggerated suaveness.

Morgan seemed to find her extremely funny and she went through several lines and such for the blond. All too soon, but also what seemed like an eternity, the doorknob turned announcing that Quinn was home. Chocolate eyes narrowed as soon as she saw Artie at her desk.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Quinn demand, dropping her book bag right at the door.

Artie stood. "Firstly, I fucked up so hard! I've been trying to apologize, but you haven't answered my calls and you didn't show up for our sessions. Please, just hear me out."

Before Quinn could respond, Morgan jumped to her feet. "Look at the time!" She glanced at a watch that she was not wearing. "Gotta get to that thing! Bye!" she chirped as she dashed out the door.

"She let you in, didn't she?" Quinn hissed, glaring at the closed door.

"I didn't break in, if that's what you mean," Artie said.

"I wasn't implying Look, it doesn't matter. Can you just leave?" Quinn motioned to the door with one tired hand.

"Please, just hear me out. First, I'm sorry about the phone, but I really do need to keep it on at all times. My sisters call me at all hours for all sorts of things. They're only spuds. The oldest pair just turned thirteen. The phone is the only way for them to reach me."

"You're two hours away. Not like you can be there if there's an emergency," Quinn snapped.

Artie flinched. She wished that Quinn had slapped her instead of saying that. "Okay, fine, clearly this is the end of things. So, here's a shitty gift that won't fix a fucking thing and good luck in your stats class." She shoved a small box into Quinn's chest, making sure to not hurt her, but with enough force to move her.

Quinn blinked as she put her hands around the box and glanced down to see that it was wrapped. Artie yanked the door open only for Quinn to put her palm on it to keep Artie from escaping. Stormy brandywine eyes glared down at Quinn.

"What the hell?" Artie growled.

"What the hell indeed? You're a piece of work. You give another woman a gift when you have a girlfriend? Do you have no fucking respect for relationships at all?" Quinn screamed, shoving the gift back at her.

Tension ripped through Artie's face and the words throw her for such a loop that she did not even realize her gift had hit her square in the chest several times. "Girlfriend?" Her voice boomed. "Who the fuck said I had a girlfriend?" she demanded.

"You're fucking girlfriend - Misty! You disrespected my relationship and your own with your disgusting request for me to stay!"

Artie paused and took a breath. "Okay, wait, Misty told you that she was my girlfriend?"

"Yes! How could you do this to her?"

The question made her smile and she felt a little warm on the inside. "Really? You're pissed on her behalf? God, you're one of a kind, being pissed for a fucking liar. Damn, it's practically cute."

Quinn snarled. "Don't be a patronizing asshole!"

"Sorry. Look, I'm sorry for asking you to stay when we both know what that means and you're in a committed relationship. That was fucked up of me, but I've been under stress thanks to Misty and she's just fucking with my head. She's not my girlfriend. She acts like she is, but she's not. She wants to be and she will lie to people and say she is, but I don't do relationships. I told you that in the beginning and I didn't lie. I don't do relationships, especially with a woman who barely knows what end to put her shoes on. I just tutor her and try to avoid her when possible. I haven't even slept with her."

"Why do you tutor her then?"

"Money. I need the money."

Chocolate eyes squinted, searching Artie's face. "For what? Why do you need money to the point that you're willing to put up with a stalker?"

Artie cocked an eyebrow. "Did it ever occur to you that I might have to pay tuition?"

Quinn yelped. "I'm sorry. That didn't occur to me!"

Artie sighed because she was not trying to make Quinn feel bad. She just wanted things to go back to normal. She stepped back and sat down at the desk. Quinn's eyes softened and she went to sit on her bed.

"Is it worth it?" Quinn asked in a quiet tone.

"Honestly, no, but she's there now and she knows my schedule. Next term, I'll be sure to start lying to her and doing everything in my power to avoid her. Actually, I might just blow up at her now and threaten the police if she keeps this up. You're not the only person she's scared away."

"Wait, what?"

"I've lost a couple of tutoring clients since taking her on. One was a woman that I messed around with. She looked at me with such disgust and contempt when I last saw her and I wondered what the hell I had done. I'm guessing Misty told her also that she's my girlfriend, but fuck that. I don't date and I sure as fuck wouldn't start with Misty."

Quinn sighed and stared at the floor. "She's crazy and I fell for it."

"Well, she's crazy. That's for sure. We both fell for it. Hell, I introduced her to you."

"Is she the one that calls you every two minutes?"

Artie nodded. "Unfortunately, she is. I thought I could handle it, handle her, when I figured out that she was a little off. So far, she's proving me very wrong. I'll do something. I'll just have to pick up more papers to make up for the money and probably up my price for any new clients," she sighed.

"I don't know how you do it. I can't imagine writing more than my own work."

The taller woman shrugged. "I've been doing it since high school."

"Why? Is it easier than a real job?"

"I have no idea. I've never worked a real job. This is all I've ever done. I get to make my own hours and work at my own pace. It also allowed me to be home with the girls, which was really important."

Quinn smiled softly. "Your sisters are important to you, huh?"

"More than I can put into words. This might sound bad, but they're also one of the reasons why I don't do relationships. If I have spare time, I like spending it with them. I just don't have time for a girlfriend."

Quinn nodded. "Sorry I jumped on you like I did. Think you can take me back as a client? The new guy I'm seeing can't really get through to me. I understand stats less after I see him."

"How many times have you seen this clown?"

"Twice."

Artie snorted. "What's his name?"

"Alan Steinbeck. Morgan told me about him."

"I know him. Smart guy. One of those smart guys that just expects you to get because he gets it."

Quinn nodded rapidly. "Exactly! Morgan should've warned me that he's just like her!" Artie arched an eyebrow to that, so Quinn explained. "Morgan is smarter than her bubbliness suggests. She's pre-med and loves math. I tried to get her to help me with math at first and I had no idea what she was talking about and she seemed to be at a loss for why I didn't get it. Alan's the same way."

Artie chuckled. "They're clearly only children."

"So, you learned your tutoring skills from helping your sisters?"

"They taught me everything I know," Artie remarked and Quinn laughed. "So, you gonna open that gift or what?"

Quinn giggled again and turned her attention to the wrapped box. "You didn't have to. I fucked up, too, after all."

Artie shook it away. "I fucked up more. The phone was stupid, but my suggestion was just plain foul. So, just open the damn thing."

Quinn nodded and did as ordered. She carefully opened the paper at the seams, which made Artie a bit self-conscious because she did not know how to wrap very well. A black box greeted her and she opened it to find a leather-bound journal. The cover was thick, but flexible with straps to tie it closed. Quinn's mouth hung open slightly and she twisted and turned the weighty book in her hands.

"Open it," Artie gently ordered.

Quinn nodded slowly and untied the straps to open the book. Artie had written, "Forgive me now and for the next screw up. Please." Quinn whimpered.

"Oh, Artie!" Quinn flung herself onto the olive-skinned woman. "I've never gotten such a lovely book as a gift. Of course, I forgive you!"

Artie smiled. "So, when's our next tutoring session?" Quinn laughed and set up her next appointment.

-8-8-8-8-

Artie waited for Misty outside of her class and Misty's face split into a grin as soon as she noticed Artie. Artie scowled at the blond as she practically bounced over to Artie and tried to take her hand. Artie yanked away for the first time.

"Follow me," Artie commanded.

Misty's forehead wrinkled, but she continued smiling for some reason. Artie assumed that Misty thought that they were going to have the tryst that she had been pressuring the tutor for since they met. She was in for a surprise as Artie led her to a quiet spot near a building. They were out of the view of people, but they were out in the open for Misty to get a better idea that they were not about to do anything remotely romantic.

"Listen to me very careful, Misty. Our business is done. Concluded. Finished," Artie stated, believing that she needed to use synonyms to make sure Misty got the idea.

"What do you mean? You're breaking up with me?" Misty asked in a trembling voice.

"That's just the thing. We're not together. Stop telling people I'm your boifriend or that you're my girlfriend. We were never dating. I was tutoring you and you kept coming to me outside of that," Artie pointed out.

Misty's eyes watered. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, I don't want you coming for tutoring anymore. I know a bunch of people that I can set you up with, but I won't be doing it anymore. I don't want you coming up to me anymore for anything and I don't want you talking to anyone I know because you're spreading lies about me," Artie declared.

"But, I don't want other women to be with you because you're mine."

"No, Misty, I'm not. We're not together. We were never together. This is all done."

"Is this about that skinny, mousy, pale bitch or that other bitch you look at that you think I don't know about?" Misty demanded.

"No, this isn't about anything beyond you making things up. If you keep this up, I'm going to learn to hate you and get a restraining order. I don't have girlfriends. I will never be someone's boifriend. Hell, I wouldn't even call myself that. I don't date. Even if I did date, I don't like you-" Artie was surprised that she heard the slap before she felt it. Her cheek stung and Misty ran off in tears.

"Go be with one of your whores, you asshole," Misty bawled as she fled the scene. It was not the ending that Artie imagined, but she would take it if it worked. She did not want to see Misty again.

-8-8-8-8-

14: Lilac

Quinn felt silly as she tugged a cap on her head, making sure all of her hair was tucked underneath the hat. Added to that, she was wearing a hood. She rushed to Artie's dorm and knocked on the door like a madwoman, not wanting anyone to see her. She practically shoved her way into the room before the door was barely cracked and slammed the door shut for Artie.

"Hey, are you all right?" Artie asked curiously.

Quinn's head snapped up, surprised that Artie was so close. She could feel that her eyes were as wide as dinner plates while Artie's forehead wrinkled and her eyes narrowed. Quinn gulped and suddenly thought coming to tutoring was not the best idea.

"Um " Quinn backed up, hitting the door before she even took a full step.

"Okay, clearly, you're not okay. What happened?" Artie inquired in a gentle tone while a placing a hand on Quinn's shoulder.

Chocolate eyes fell to the floor. Quinn shook her head and tried her best to ignore how comforting that hand felt. When that hand moved to her cheek, her head snapped up. She practically melted under the soft reddish brown gaze examined her.

"We both know we suck at studying when we're distracted. Something's wrong with you and I'm concerned. We're not going to get anything done until you tell me what's wrong," Artie stated, her thumb tenderly caressing Quinn's cheek.

Quinn sighed in defeat, as well as a way to keep her body calm. She could not tremble under Artie's touch, not while she had a boyfriend. Reaching up, she slowly removed her hood and then cap while making sure to keep her eyes on the floor. Her hair fell down in dark tresses that were shorter than they used to be and that were tipped a frosty lilac. Artie's free hand flowed through her hair.

"You cut your hair and dyed it your favorite color. Cute," Artie chuckled.

Quinn's jaw trembled. "Great, even you're making fun of me."

"What? I'm not making fun of you. It's cute," Artie insisted.

"You laughed," she whimpered.

"Not to be hurtful. I laughed because it's cute. Look at me," Artie ordered in a soft tone. Slowly, chocolate eyes found their way to Artie's face. The taller woman appeared very serious. "Your hair is cute. It's also great that you're trying new things. If someone's told you different, they're an asshole."

"He laughed "

Artie's forehead wrinkled. "He who?"

"Kavi " Quinn sniffled.

"Your boyfriend laughed at your hair? But, it's cute on you. The way it matches your eye shadow is sexy," Artie insisted with a smirk and she ran her fingers through the shorter, dark brown locks.

That got a small, almost amused smile out of Quinn. "I'm surprised you notice." Artie did not wear makeup, after all.

"I notice what makes chicks hot. You're hot and the color you put in your hair adds to that. Plus, I understand this desire to be a little daring. A couple of years ago, I got my hair done in a blond mohawk with bright green tips. My mother almost swallowed tongue when she saw it."

Quinn blinked. "A mohawk? A blond mohawk?" she giggled as she tried to imagine it. In her head, it was hilarious. Artie had a short cut with the sides of her head shaved now. It was very masculine style, which she was sure was her tutor's intent.

"Yes, a blond mohawk. I left the sides black, too, when my hair started growing back. Laugh if you want, but I got tons of girls with that damn mohawk. You couldn't tell me nothing. I was the fucking man," Artie boasted. It would not have been surprising if she beat her chest a couple of times.

Quinn chuckled. "I don't doubt that."

"You shouldn't. You also shouldn't doubt that your hair is awesome. I don't know Kavi's problem with it, but it's great. Don't cover your head and hold your chin up high. Your hair looks good," Artie proclaimed, running her fingers through Quinn's hair once more.

Quinn moved her head a bit, but was not very convinced. "He said I looked like I was trying to be a punk or something."

Artie snorted. "Just because you dyed the ends of your hair? Does he know what a punk looks like? And even if he does, so the fuck what?"

"Kavi is really proper. I mean, he's a regular guy and all, but he was raised a certain way. Dying my hair sort of I dunno " Quinn shrugged. She was not sure how to explain it. "It's just not proper."

"You're nineteen, not thirty-nine. You're not supposed to be proper. What the hell?"

Quinn chuckled. "He doesn't see it that way. He can't take me to meet his parents or anything with my hair like this, he claimed."

"Was he planning to take you to meet his parents soon? I didn't know your relationship was that serious yet."

"It's not and he wasn't I don't think anyway. You know, I don't understand why he was so upset now that you put it like that," Quinn admitted.

"Upset? What exactly did he say to you?" Artie inquired with an intense stare.

Quinn shifted a bit, shuffling from one foot to the next. "He said a lot of things."

Artie appeared unmoved and folded her arms across her chest. "Well, tell me the most hurtful few."

"Hurtful?"

"You didn't come here with a hat and a hood and your head bent down just because your hair wasn't proper. So, what else did he say?"

A tightness formed in Quinn's throat. She swallowed, hoping to ease it, but it was not working. She had a feeling it had to do with the piercing gaze of Artie.

"He asked if I was trying to get attention " Quinn had to look down as she continued, "by looking like a whore."

Artie growled and made a fist. "What?"

"He didn't mean it, I'm sure. He was just shocked by the change and he can't understand why I did it. Plus, his friends are still whispering in his ears about me possibly cheating on him. It didn't help that I went with Gavin to get this done and he doesn't even want me hanging out with Gavin anymore. He thinks I'm trying to get male attention."

"Even if you were, he has no right to say some shit like that to you! What the fuck? Tell me you told him off because if you didn't, I'll go do it for you!"

Quinn shook her head. "You don't have to do that. I called him an asshole and some other things. Sure, I was crying at the time, but I let him have it." She had given herself a headache from all of the yelling that she did with Kavi and all of the crying that she had done, but she made sure he knew how she felt about things.

Artie smiled. "Good. Don't let him talk to you any way he wants. I know you like him and all, but he shouldn't talk to you like that, especially if he likes you, too."

Quinn nodded and smiled, too, more pleased that Artie was calm than anything else. Kavi had said a lot of hurtful things to her, things that she was certain had nothing to do with her hair. If she shared those, Artie would probably go kick Kavi's ass and Quinn might just watch. Instead, she just wanted to get on with her day, especially since she now knew her hair was cute and made her look sexy and not like a whore.

-8-8-8-8-

15: Exhaustion

Quinn was not surprised by the tons of books and papers covering Artie's desk, along with a curious bag of gummi bears. Briefly, she wondered if Artie had some thing with bears because she had noticed teddy bears stuffed under the bed sometimes. She shook that away as she noticed her tutor. She was surprised by how ragged Artie appeared standing near the door. Her usually glowing olive tone was dull and her pallor was close to chalk white. Even her hair seemed limp and wild, like she had not bothered to brush it. She actually wobbled as she closed the door.

"Artie, are you okay?" Quinn asked, reaching out to help keep Artie on her feet. Of course, Artie outweighed her by about forty pounds, so if the muscular woman were to fall, they would both go down.

"Fine," was the mumbled response. Brandywine eyes blinked several times, but did not open fully afterwards and maintained a haze to them.

"You don't look fine. How do you feel?" Quinn asked, placing a hand to Artie's forehead. She was cold and clammy.

"Fine," Artie insisted, reaching for her desk chair and missing several times. She growled and snatched the elusive seat with both hands, ensuring that it would not escape again.

"You don't feel fine. I think you need to lie down."

"Nonsense. I fine," Artie grumbled, swaying again.

"No, you're really not. Go get in bed. I'll get you some tea. Have you eaten anything today?"

Artie squinted, staring off into the distance, her forehead furrowed in concentration. "Uh today?"

"Yes, today," Quinn said, now leading Artie to the bed. Artie was so out of if that she did not even put up a fight until she was already down.

"No, tutoring stats," Artie moaned, trying to sit up. Quinn put her hand on her chest, which actually halted the taller woman.

"No tutoring. Rest," Quinn ordered in a stern tone. "Now, you stay in bed while I go get you some tea and some food." She glared at Artie with the hope that would keep her in bed.

She pulled the blankets back and put them over Artie. The taller woman tried to lean forward, but then fell back against the pillows. Quinn was satisfied that Artie would not be going anywhere and left to fetch some supplies.

When she returned, Artie was asleep. She put the tea, which was in a thermo mug, down on the bedside table. She had also purchased a hero sandwich at the student union. She bought a few cans of soup just in case Artie truly was sick, but she believed the tutor was merely exhausted.

She looked over the desk again and figured everything littering it was work for Artie, except the giant bag of gummi bears anyway. The books suggested she was researching several different subjects. But, Artie had to be doing something that had worn her out. She did not have time to think on it because Artie mumbled as she began to wake up.

"Quinn?" the taller woman muttered.

"I'm right here, Art. You should drink some tea," Quinn gently urged before picking up the mug.

Artie yawned loudly, mouth wide open. Quinn oddly found it adorable instead of rude. She pressed the mug into Artie's hand and the tutor sipped it after a bit of a stare from Quinn. Her eyes appeared clearer than they were earlier. She moved over in the bed, as if she wanted Quinn to sit down.

"I got you a sandwich, too," Quinn said, holding up her bounty.

"Thank you. I haven't eaten anything today beyond gummi bears," Artie admitted.

"I gathered as much. Have you been holed up in here, working all day?"

"Sit down," Artie requested, patting the space by her.

Quinn nodded and did so. She handed the wrapped sandwich over to Artie. The tutor smiled in appreciation and tore into the roast beef sub with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, and mayo. She moaned as if it was the greatest thing that she had ever eaten.

"Okay, when was the last time you ate and what was it?" Quinn demanded because there was no reason for Artie to sound like she needed time alone with the hero.

Artie was silent for a long moment. "Probably early yesterday. I think it was a candy bar. I might have had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but that could've been a couple of days ago."

"Artie, what the hell? Why aren't you taking care of yourself?" Quinn demanded.

The tutor took another giant bite of her sandwich. "I just got wrapped up in both school work and regular work. I took on a bunch of papers after I dropped Misty. Thankfully, she's still pissed at me and I haven't had to deal with her."

"Do you really need money like that? You're going to burn yourself out."

"Yeah, but the twins want to play softball and they need a butt load of equipment."

"Oh, you're helping them pay for the equipment."

"No, I'm paying for it. They're thirteen. They don't have any disposable income," Artie remarked with a laugh.

Quinn chuckled. "I suppose that much is true. You help out like that a lot?"

"Yup." Artie gulped down some tea and inhaled more of her sandwich. There were more pleased moans. "This is so good. Thank you for this."

Quinn smiled. "It was the least I can do. You've helped me a bunch of times. You feel better?"

Artie nodded. "I'm probably going to need more sleep. I definitely am better because I was so messed up when you showed up that I don't actually remember you showing up."

"Wow. You did seem out if it. How much sleep have you gotten in the past few days?" Artie seemed fine when she saw her last, but that was four days ago. Usually, they saw each other every couple of days, but she had to cancel one tutoring session after a prolonged discussion with her boyfriend over several issues they continued to have.

The tutor shrugged. "A few hours. I didn't realize how many papers I had taken on until I sat down to do them. Most of the time, I have a paper that I just need to tweak, but every now and then, I have to actually write a new paper. I ended up having to actually write three new seven-page papers."

"Is that why you have those open books on the desk?" Quinn asked and then she noticed that Artie had stopped drinking her tea in favor of inhaling her sandwich. "Drink the tea, too. It'll help."

Artie nodded and obeyed. "Yeah, the books are for citing and quotes and junk." She opened her mouth like she was going to keep explaining, but then her phone went off. She reached for it.

"If that's work related, you tell them you're unavailable."

Artie smiled. "These duties I have to handle," she replied and then turned her attention to her phone. "Hey, sweetheart," she cooed.

Quinn would have thought Artie was speaking with a girlfriend or lover, but Artie's whole demeanor suggested something more. Quinn could hardly believe the change that she witnessed as Artie spoke on the phone. Artie could be gentle and light, she knew, but Artie was beyond that now. Her tenderness was almost maternal. Despite only hearing one side of the conversation and not knowing any names, Quinn was aware that Artie was speaking with her sisters.

"Wow, congratulations on such a good test grade. I owe somebody five dollars!" Artie grinned.

Quinn could actually hear the delighted squeal from someone that clearly believed five dollars were great riches. The idea brought a smile to her face. Artie gave her a wink while continuing her phone conversation. After a while, Artie's expression became a little more serious.

"I'm fine," she insisted. "No, Dite, I'm fine. I'm going to sleep as soon as I get off the phone. Make sure you put the baby to bed. She's tired. I can hear it in her voice like you can hear it in mine. Okay, put it on speaker." There was a pause. "I love you all. Be good and I'll see you soon. Bye." She put the phone down then.

A chocolate eyebrow arched. "So, you're going to bed?"

"The twins could hear the exhaustion in my voice. They're maturing so much. I should go to bed."

"Yes, you should. So, finish your tea and then go back to sleep."

Artie nodded and glanced at Quinn. "Will you stay for a bit?"

"I was staying whether you liked it or not. I have to make sure you actually get some sleep instead of going back to work."

Artie chuckled a bit before finishing her food and tea. Her head then dropped to her pillow while Quinn lay down next to her. She was asleep in no time, an arm draped over Quinn. The pale woman tried to move, but each time she did, Artie groaned in complaint. Quinn ended up spending the night. She had a great sleep.

-8-8-8-8-

16: Vision

Artie tried to clean up her desk because Quinn due in a couple of minutes. She did not want Quinn to think she was overworking herself again. It had only been a couple of days since Quinn had to practically babysit her. While it was oddly comforting, it disturbed her to want Quinn to stay. Even more off putting was waking with Quinn in her arms and feeling so much better.

"What the hell is wrong with me? Am I getting attached?" she mused and then shrugged. "Well, I guess, it's okay. She's cool. Nice, intelligent, a little insecure, and cute. No problem with being attached. We can be friends or we're already friends. Something like that."

While she did not do relationships, she could easily get attached to people, the right type of people anyway. She had plenty of friends, after all. Sure, she had not slept with all of them, but she had slept with some of them. In fact, she continued to sleep with some of them.

A knocking at her door interrupted her thoughts. Knowing it was Quinn, she opened the door and they got right to business. Everything seemed normal until at the end of the session when Quinn ordered her to get dressed.

"Huh?" Artie inquired because she was certain that she misheard. She was definitely not used to women telling her to put clothes on, except Vega anyway.

"Get dressed. We're going out," Quinn informed her.

Now, her head was spinning. "What, wait? Going out? Since when?"

"Since now. Get dressed," the pale woman ordered once more.

"Where are we going?"

"Out. Now, stop asking so many questions and get dressed so we can go out."

Artie was confused, but she got up to do as commanded. "Um casual or formal?"

"Casual is fine. Now, quickly. Quickly." Quinn made a shooing motion with her hands.

The taller woman went to her wardrobe to pull out her clothing. She got dressed as if she was alone in the room. She glanced at Quinn a couple of times, just to revel in the fact that the pale woman was trying to look everywhere but her body. She smiled to herself and flexed her muscles, just to show off. She especially wanted Quinn to see her back. She wanted Quinn to see what she was missing out on clutching since they only had sex with Quinn's back to Artie.

The thought of Quinn digging her nails in Artie's back made the broad woman shudder. She could practically hear Quinn moaning and panting. She realized that she had not had sex in a couple of weeks. She had allowed her sisters, work, school, and that crap with Misty to get the better of her.

"Hey, let's go. Get dressed," Quinn ordered again, tapping her toe against the floor.

Artie shook away thoughts of sex since Quinn seemed to be losing patience with her. She put on black knickerbockers with a red long-sleeve shirt and matching thick wool socks. Next were black suspenders, her bowler hat, and shoes. She then stood before Quinn to see if she was up to standards.

"Put on some cologne. We're going to the movies and then dancing," Quinn told her.

"You're bossy." The smile let Quinn know she was teasing, but she was serious, too. Quinn had gotten quite bossy with her. She assumed that it meant Quinn was comfortable with her and she did not mind. It meant they would be good friends.

She put on cologne as commanded and grabbed her wallet. Quinn yanked her out of the room and they were off. They went to an early movie first and Quinn insisted that she pick the movie. Artie actually had no idea what was playing.

"You can pick. The last time I saw a movie, it had a talking rabbit in it," Artie chuckled.

Quinn smiled. "I hope you had a child with you."

"A couple."

Quinn laughed a bit before buying tickets for the movie. Artie was not pleased with being paid for and insisted on buying the refreshments. Quinn did not put up any resistance as Artie purchased the popcorn and sodas. They found some seats and then enjoyed a darling piece of historical fiction. Artie might have to go to the movies more often with adult company, but that might seem like a date and she did not want to give a girl the wrong idea. She knew this was not a date because Quinn was in a relationship and she respected and liked her boy friend, not that Artie understood why.

"That was so great," Artie grinned as they left the movie. "It was like historical fantasy."

Quinn chuckled. "You're actually a nerd. It's cute."

"I am not cute. No one with muscles like mine can be a nerd or cute. It's against the laws of physics. Now, what are we doing next?"

"Going to get something to eat and then we'll hit a club or two."

Artie nodded. "Why?" She could not figure why they were doing all of this stuff. If Quinn needed an escape from her boyfriend, typically she would have said something by now.

"Because you worked yourself sick. You need a break. I don't know how often you go out, but you should do it more often. I understand you have these responsibilities to your sisters that I actually don't totally get because you haven't really explained, but working yourself to death won't help anyone."

Artie was dumbfounded and only nodded. She had not taken much time for herself since the start of the new semester. Vega and Yvonne had not pestered her about going out, usually just coming to her room to hang out. Hanging out consisted of doing work or studying. They had not pressured her into anything else since they seemed to have more than enough schoolwork for the moment. She was silent all the way to the restaurant.

"Me and my sisters only have our mom," Artie said out of the blue.

"What?" Quinn asked, probably wondering what her tutor was rambling about.

"There's only my mom as far as income is concerned. She makes a good wage and all, but she has six kids. She needs help. My grandparents helped when it was just me, but after a while they got fed up and now they just pay tuition for private school for the girls, which is really more than enough. My mom just keeps having kids and all. But, I want the girls to have nice things growing up. I get nice things from our grandparents and the girls get nice things from me. So, if the twins want to play softball, then I'm buying the gear. If 'Tia wants to play soccer or get a chemistry set, that's on me. I want them to have stuff," Artie explained.

Quinn nodded. "Okay, I get why you work so hard, but you can't wear yourself out or you won't be able to make any money at all. You need to slow down."

A smile spread across Artie's face. She was surprised at how nice she felt from something so simple. "Thanks for caring."

"You'd do the same for me."

Artie nodded because she would. They had a lovely dinner and then went out clubbing until midnight, which was Artie's bedtime. She actually fell asleep on the ride home. Thankfully, Quinn was driving. When they got back to the school, she walked Quinn to her dorm and earned a kiss on the cheek. She chuckled.

"What's so funny?" Quinn asked.

"I should kiss you. You just showed me a good time. It was awesome. You're awesome," Artie replied with a bright, sincere smile.

Quinn's porcelain cheeks colored a nice pink. "I'm glad you had a good time. Just think about that and take some time for yourself, and that doesn't mean just going to the gym. Just chill every now and then."

Artie nodded. "I will. Thank you."

-8-8-8-8-

Next time: Artie benefits from Kavi's stupidity.




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