Freelancers Excerpt – Kat and Coretta

Art by @spacegarbage

Pretty much the entire novel is being changed on the Freelancer’s second draft, but one thing I’m pretty sure I got right is the moment Coretta and Kat start dating. It is a pretty good balance of cheese and fluff, in my opinion, and other than changing it to first person, it’s probably going to still go like like this. So here’s a peek!

Coretta offered to take Kat home. The two girls walked through the deserted nighttime streets. Streetlamps shone on the snow, which had settled into a light, windless fall after the group’s encounter. Kat hardly spoke the entire walk. Coretta wasn’t sure why.

They finally arrived at the gate to Kat’s house.

“Alright…see you,” Coretta said.

“Yeah.” Kat walked through the gate, locking it shut behind her.

Coretta pushed past the dumbbells weighing on her chest to say something. As far as she could remember, she had never fought with Kat before. At least, not like this. They had bickered about stupid things, yes – but this was a Fight, with a capital F. And it scared her.

“Hey, um…did I, do something?” Coretta asked, twirling a finger through her hair as she did so.

Kat turned and stared at the girl for what felt like an eternity. It was a look Coretta had never gotten before.

Still scared.

Kat opened the gate again, letting herself through to stand in front of Coretta. Finally, she spoke.

“What you said to that old man, Coretta? I didn’t expect it from you. Are you sarcastic and kind of a grump? Yeah, no one will dispute that. I like that part about you. You’re to-the-point. You like the things you like and hate the things you don’t. Sometimes I wish I were the same. But I didn’t take you to be selfish.”

Despite herself, Coretta flinched at the use of her full first name.

“Selfish?” Coretta asked, digging her feet into the cement. “I’m selfish for not wanting to get hurt in some fight that has nothing to do with me, for people that don’t care about me, with powers I didn’t even ask for? That makes me selfish?”

“Yes, Coretta, I’m sorry, but it does. I get it. You hate this town. I know better than anyone what that feels like, and you know that. But you know something else?”

Kat balled her hands into small fists.

“At least I try. I try to look on the bright side of things. I try to get through, day-by-day, even when it feels like throwing myself off a building would be a million times easier. I try to climb over this garbage dump of a town to see the sky every once and a while.”

Kat took a step forward, looking up at Coretta.

“And you help me do that, Cora. Sometimes you’re the only thing keeping me going. Seeing your goofy, perpetual frown – or better yet, your even goofier smile – is one of my favorite parts of the day.”

“It…it is?” Coretta had turned beet red. She didn’t even know she could do that. Kat giggled.

“Yes, dummy, it is.” The girl turned her gaze downward. “But after hearing what you said back there…I can’t help but wonder if you don’t feel the same way about me.”


“Because it feels like you’ve given up. On everything. You want to turn your back on saving this town. But what if we could do something to make it better? What if we could turn it into a place that accepts us?”

Coretta looked down at Kat. She had never noticed the green tinge in her eyes before today.

“I don’t know if it will, Kat. Change doesn’t happen that easily.”

Kat took another step closer, a mischievous grin spread across her face. “We’ll make things change.”

Coretta scratched her nose, eyes darting in either direction. “I, uh, I don’t know if I need it to change. It’d be great, and you got me, I’m onboard for Operation: Save the Town. But I’m just saying. It’s not a hard requirement for me.”

Kat’s eyes widened. “Why not?”

Coretta shut her eyes tightly. “Because…I have…you.”

Saying each word aloud felt like pushing a boulder up a flight of stairs. Coretta’s eyes remained closed. She was too afraid to open them back up to see Kat laughing in her face. The silence and stillness of the air made it feel like she had drifted off into space.

Coretta was about to open her eyes again, to take back everything she had just said, when she felt the touch of Kat’s lips against hers.

It was so brief, she thought she had imagined it. Coretta’s eyes shot open. Before she could process it, Kat was already closing the door of her house behind her. Coretta stood on the sidewalk, the wind suddenly whipping up, causing snow to stick into her afro.

“…Did that just happen?” she asked, to no one in particular.

If Coretta stared at her phone any longer, it might have snapped in two out of sheer performance anxiety.

A text appeared on the girl’s phone. She swiped it up, eager to see what Kat had said in the group chat.

Except, the message wasn’t for the group.

It was for her.

Coretta felt her heart pounding in her chest, her finger hovering over the message icon. Finally, she tapped it open.

“Can we meet up?”

That…wasn’t as earth-shattering as Coretta thought it was going to be. But it still made her incredibly nervous. There was none of Kat’s usual exclamation points and smiley faces. They were still in “Serious Mode.” Coretta chose her words carefully.

“Yeah, of course. Where at?”

Another minute of anticipation.

“My place. Parents are on business again.”

Coretta’s heart jumped up into her throat. She’d been to Kat’s place before, of course. But things were different now. The rules had changed.

“Alright. Be there in 15,” she responded after a few deep breaths.

“Coretta and I will be there,” Kat responded to the group chat, a few seconds later. “We’ll be a little late.”

Coretta rose to leave. Her mom cleared her throat as she busied herself in the kitchen.

“Are you going to go see Kat?” she asked.

Coretta did her best to hide her blush. “Y-yeah.”

Anne looked the girl up and down, before smirking.

“She finally told you how she feels for real, huh?”

Coretta nearly tripped over her seat.

“Wh-what are you talking about, ma?”

Anne tapped her daughter on the nose with a swift boop. “Sweet child. I am your mother. I held you in my belly for months, and I’ve been taking care of you for four presidential terms since. There is literally nothing on this green earth that I can’t tell about you. Crushes included.”

The burden of her secret turmoil finally lifted, Coretta let out a deep sigh. “It’s weird, mom…it’s like, things have changed. We’ve been friends for so long. I don’t know if we can go back to that now.”

“Do you want to?” Anne asked.

“Yes. No. I don’t know!” Coretta said, throwing her hands in the air. Her siblings giggled at her yet again. Anne hushed them, before lifting Coretta’s chin up to look her in the eye. “Listen to me, kid. If you don’t feel for Kat the same way she does as you, then you shouldn’t lie to her, or yourself. You’ve been stuck to each other like glue for ages now. I don’t think this would be enough to break you two. But. This is something that you can’t take back easily. Be honest with yourself. You have to choose.”

Anne winked. “Plus, Kat’s very cute. You could certainly do worse.”

Coretta ducked her way out of her mom’s embrace, groaning. “I’m going to go before I die of embarrassment.”

“Good luck sweetie! We’re rooting for you!” Anne and the twins waved at Coretta as she closed the door behind her.

Coretta knocked on Kat’s door, gulping as she did so. No response. She was probably in the garden behind the house. Coretta steeled herself, taking one shaky step after another towards the backyard.

She was always so surefooted, so certain of herself. But now it was like Coretta’s whole world was turned upside down. Why was this happening?

Coretta turned the corner. There she found Kat, sitting on the swing chair her parents had built for them when they were kids. Her eyes were closed, her headphones clamping down on her unruly blonde hair. Coretta could see flecks of paint on Kat’s fingers, and in the frilly white blouse the girl was wearing underneath her scarf and coat. Coretta took a few steps towards the chair, gulping. Sensing the girl’s approach, Kat opened her eyes. She gave Coretta a small smile.

“Hey,” she said. It was quite possibly the quietest the girl had ever been. Coretta didn’t know if she wanted to hug her or hop the fence and sprint away, never to return.

“Hey,” Coretta managed to say back. Kat patted the spot next to her. Coretta hopped in, letting the swing carry the two of them backwards, before settling into a comfortable rhythm. Kat turned to her friend.

“We probably…have a lot to talk about, don’t we?” she said, letting out a nervous giggle. Coretta nodded. Kat looked out at the snow-covered garden.

“I…um. I guess I should say I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have just sprung up on you like that.”

“Oh. It’s okay.”

Kat propped herself on one elbow, her hand over her eyes. Her face was red, an embarrassed smile unable to hide itself. “I just couldn’t help myself. I think…I guess I really wanted to do that, for a long time.”

Coretta shifted from one leg to the next. “How long have you felt this way?” she asked.

“When I turned thirteen. I had told you the week before my birthday that I really wanted that poster of Sailor Moon. You know, the one at the place we used to buy comics from? You couldn’t afford it, obviously, because it was limited edition and you were fourteen. You didn’t have any money. But you were too proud to ask your mom for help. So you drew it yourself. From memory.”

Coretta remembered. “It was awful. I’m pretty sure it was the first and last time I ever picked up a paintbrush.”

Kat choked back a laugh. “It was beautiful. It was the nicest, cutest thing anyone outside of my parents had ever done for me. I don’t remember a single other gift I got that day. All I cared about was that stick-figure Sailor Moon poster.”

The wind blew through the swing chair, tousling Kat’s hair.

“I still have that poster,” she said. It was true, displayed prominently above Kat’s mirror, its own special spot free of any other wall decorations.

“You really couldn’t tell I had feelings for you?” Kat asked.

“I dunno…my mom made jokes sometimes, but I thought she was just being her usual self. I’m really bad at this sort of thing, Kat. You could wear a neon sign that said “I Like You” and I’d still question if you were being for real.”

Kat turned her whole body towards Coretta, now looking her directly in the eye.

“I’m being for real,” she said.

Coretta scratched her cheek, unable to meet Kat’s gaze. “Yeah, I can see that now, haha…”

“Are you mad that I kissed you?” Kat asked.

“What? No, of course not.”

“Do you…like that I kissed you?”

“I…I think so?”

“Can I kiss you again?”

Coretta’s heart felt like it was about to burst out of her chest. She came to the sudden realization that she hated being sixteen.


Kat pushed herself over to Coretta. She lay a delicate hand against the girl’s cheek, before leaning in to kiss her again.

Coretta thought she was prepared, now free of the element of surprise. She wasn’t. Even if one were to not count yesterday’s events, this would still be her first kiss. She wasn’t even sure if she was doing it right. But she knew she was enjoying it.

Kat pushed herself back, her eyes trained on Coretta.

“Is this okay?” she asked.

“I…I don’t know, Kat. I really like you. Like, a lot. And I do feel like this is something that could work.” “


“But what if it doesn’t?” Coretta said, rubbing her face in exasperation. “We’ve been friends for five years now, almost six. What if this doesn’t work? What if this – us – what if it ruins that? I don’t want to lose my best friend.”

Coretta expected Kat to be upset, or at least to frown. But she was smiling. “Can I be honest with you?” she asked.

“We just kissed in your backyard. I would like you to be honest for this entire conversation.”

“I honestly can’t picture any part of my life without you, Coretta. Whether we’re a couple or not. I have these feelings for you because we’re so close, you know. Even if you didn’t feel the same. But after what that old man told us yesterday, I just knew I couldn’t go any longer without telling you how I really felt. What with the world ending and all, heh.”

Coretta stared at her childhood friend. The person that seemed to understand her more than anyone else. The one that shared her deepest secrets, and who Coretta could confide to in kind. Who had stuck with her for as long as Coretta could remember. They were partners, a team that could take on anything their crappy town threw at them. And Coretta realized she couldn’t picture a life without her either. “Cora?” Kat asked, waiting for her response. Coretta leaned forward.

This time she was the one that kissed Kat.

Thanks for reading, hope you liked the gay!!!

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