We Are The Lights

by ZoneTheory twt | dsc | fics

Chapter 1: Clues

“Stop staring so much,” the blonde chastised.

“I wasn’t staring…” the redhead grumbled back, but acquiesced, averting her gaze back to the blonde across from her.

The blonde sighed and pushed up her glasses from the bridge of her nose. “Alright, Bae, so let me get this straight. You want me to spy on and/or dig up info on this IRyS chick?”

Bae swallowed. “Y-yeah.” She flicked her eyes across the crowded cafeteria toward where the taller girl with maroon hair sat at another table, chatting with her group of friends. Completely unaware of the existence of the short redheaded girl fawning after her.

Amelia continued, “And, more specifically, you want me to try and figure out if this girl is gay, because you are extremely infatuated with her, but are too intimidated by her popular-girl aura to approach her yourself and find out?”

“I’m not infatuated with her! I’m just— It’s well… Fuck, alright, yeah.” Bae sighed, “I know it’s a shot in the dark, she’s probably straight, like every girl I get a crush on…”

“Hmmm, she does seem to be pretty interested in some of those boys she’s friends with,” Amelia noted, turning around in her seat to look toward where the maroon haired girl was laughing at a joke her one of guy friends, the one with bright green-dyed hair, had apparently just told.

Bae groaned and laid her head on the table. “I know… It’s just… here, look at this.” She lifted her head back up, pulled out her phone, and started tapping and scrolling until she found what she was looking for. She held it toward Ame so she could see.

On the screen was a group picture of IRyS with some other people neither of them knew. She was smiling and wearing a rainbow flag as a cape, a series of pride parade floats serving as the picture's backdrop. Clearly, the picture was taken at a pride parade of some sort.

“Oh… hmmm…”

“It’s from a couple years ago, before she transferred to our school, I found it on her Insta.”

“Damn, stalking her Insta too…”

“Shut up,” Bae snarked.

“Anyway, yeah. I kinda see what you’re saying. She could just be there to support her friends… or maybe…” Amelia bit into her thumb, thinking intently.

“Or maybe,” Bae reaffirmed. “So that’s the situation, think you’ll be able to handle this case?”

Amelia clapped her hands proudly. “Of course! For I am Holo-High’s number one detective, Amelia… Watson~!”

“Oh, that’s good to hear. Bae sighed with relief. “So, uh, how much are your services, detective?”

“Hmmm, for your case… Popular target, hard to follow, often with other people… it’s gonna be a tough one. Forty dollars.”

“Forty!?” Bae exclaimed.

“Forty,” The amateur detective confirmed.

“That’s almost my entire monthly allowance…” the short girl grumbled.

“Maybe if you got a crush on an easier girl, or maybe just a boy instead this would be cheaper for you.”

Bae scoffed, “Boys? No thanks. And other girls… maybe… but there’s something about her, just look at her…” she looked over at IRyS again, staring at her longingly, “That hair, that smile, and that body! Mmmmm.”

“Careful there, bucko, you’re gonna get drool on your rice balls!” Amelia gestured toward Bae’s opened, but untouched, bento box.

“Sometimes she uploads videos of her singing to her Insta story; have you heard her? She sounds like an angel, she…” Bae trailed off as the maroon-haired girl across the room, almost as if feeling the short girl's eyes on her, turned her head to look back at her. She smiled brightly and gave a small wave to Bae, before turning back toward the rest of her table, rejoining their conversation.

Bae flushed and looked down at her rice balls. She stabbed her plastic fork into one of them.

Amelia grinned. “I’m just saying, this would be easier if you weren’t so gay.”

“Oh, shut up! You can’t even talk, you are gay, you literally have a girlfriend!”

“Yeah, and she’s a massive pain in my ass,” Amelia said, leaning back in her chair.

Bae rolled her eyes and pulled out her wallet. She dug out forty dollars and slid the money across the table to the blonde. “So, when can I expect the intel?”

Amelia scooped up the money and sloppily shoved the bills into her sweater pocket. “It’s Monday now… so… should be able to have an answer for you by the end of the week, on Friday!”

Bae relaxed in her chair and sighed. “Thanks, Ame, you’re a hero.”

Amelia stood up and saluted the short girl. “Watson is on the case!” she declared. She grabbed her bag off the floor and sauntered towards the cafeteria exit.

A short, even shorter than Bae, light-haired girl wearing a blue hoodie stood waiting beside the exit. Upon seeing the approaching detective she perked up and ran toward her.

Bae listened idly to their conversation as they walked together out of the cafeteria.

“Got a new case, Watson?” The short girl asked.

Amelia reached her hand up and ruffled her hair. “Indeed, my dearest assistant!”

They continued walking out of Bae’s earshot, so she returned her attention to the lunch in front of her, stealing the occasional glance at the girl across the room.


“Hey,” an unknown voice said coolly.

Bae looked up from her half-picked apart rice balls; her eyes went wide with shock when she saw that the voice belonged to none other than IRyS, who hopped up to sit on the table beside her.

Why is she here!? At my table!?

Bae choked down the mini-hotdog she had in her mouth, forcing it down in a panic so she could respond. She screwed her face as the mostly-unchewed weiner slid down her throat. “Uuughh. Hi-hey.”

“Whatcha eatin’?” IRyS asked casually, politely ignoring Bae’s struggle to eat normally.

“Oh, um, this? It’s a bento!”

“I know.”

“O-oh. Uhh… umm…” Bae stammered nervously, not quite knowing why this situation was even happening.

“What’s in it!?” she asked, her voice eager and excited, “My parents never make me bento.”

“Right, um, I actually made this myself! It has rice balls, tako-wieners, and cherry ta-ma-toes! I would’ve added more, but I had to leave for school.”

“That’s really neat! Can I try one of your wieners?” IRyS leaned closer.

Why and how is this happening?

“Sure, you can grab that one.” She pointed at one of the two remaining wieners.

“The whole thing? I don’t want to be a bother…” the taller girl fretted.

“It’s fine, go ahead! Please!”

“Th-thank you.” She gingerly reached into the box and plucked out the sausage, before holding it over her mouth and dropping it in, crushing it between her teeth.

“So, uh, IRyS, isn’t it? What brings you to my lonely little table?”

IRyS swallowed the weiner. “Oishi~! Oh, I didn’t want to come over and bother you when your friend was here so I waited a bit, I just thought… you looked cute and I wanted to get to know you.”

She thought I looked cute??? Bae’s head swam. “Oh.”

“I-if that’s alright with you of course! I don’t want to intrude or anything!”

“N-n-n-no! It’s fine! Flattering really. Uh… right, my name is Baelz, but people only call me that when I’m in trouble, so you can just call me ‘Bae’!”

“ ‘Bae’, huh? Feels nice to say, like we’re a couple.”

It was like something fried inside Bae’s brain hearing those words come out of her mouth. “Ack— a-a-a-a couple?”

“Well, we’re not yet anyway.” IRyS’ cheeks began to darken. “We should probably get to know each other first, right?”

“Yeah, um, yeah, um, yeah,” Bae sputtered nervously.

IRyS opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by the school bell, informing them that their lunch period was over and that it was time for class.

“Shit. I’d skip class to hang out, but if I do that anymore, Ms. Choco will have my head. Quick, gimme your phone, I’ll add myself to your contacts!”

“Oh, sure!” Bae hurriedly pulled out her phone and navigated to the contacts screen before handing it over to IRyS.

IRyS hurriedly entered in her information before just as quickly handing it back; hopping off the table, and about to leave.

“Wait, why do you capitalize your name like that?” Bae asked, noticing the odd way her name was written, her Instagram name was written the same way too.

IRyS sighed, “You’ll have to ask my parents that one. Anyway, gotta go, I’ll see ya later, Bae!” She waved and walked out of the cafeteria, joining the flow of students making their way out as well.

Bae stared starstruck as she left. “What just happened?” she said out loud to no one in particular. She shook her head to reset herself and got up. Not willing to let her own brain rot hurt her grades, she joined the sea of students and headed to class as well.


“Oh, heeeeyy,” said the buttery smooth voice of Kronii, her close friend and seatmate, as she slid into the chair beside Bae.

“Hey,” Bae replied distractedly.

“So… any luck with Amelia?”

“Amelia?” Bae started, confused.

Kronii tilted her head towards the short girl, confused by her confusion. “Yeah… Amelia… my cousin, the school detective. The one who I recommended you talk to after I got tired of listening to your gay wingeing about that popular girl you have a crush on.”

Bae smacked her forehead, feeling stupid for forgetting about that so soon. “Riiiiight. Shit, do you know if she offers refunds?”

“No… I don’t know… Does that mean you talked to her and already paid her?”

“Yeah, I did.” A big smile spread across Bae’s face. “But, whatever, forget about that. Look at this!” She excitedly held up her phone with IRyS’ contact open.

“Is that…” Kronii’s mouth opened wide in shock.

“Mhmm” Bae affirmed proudly.

“You got her number!?” Kronii exclaimed loudly, alerting the rest of the class, who turned toward her to see the source of the outburst.

The pair of them ducked their heads down, attempting to deflect the attention Kronii had brought upon them.

“You got her number!?” Kronii repeated again in an excited whisper.

“Yeah, I did! And get this, she came up to me first and offered it to me! I didn’t even have to ask!”

“Shut up, there’s no way.”

“She said she ‘thought I was cute and wanted to get to know me’.”

“Well, fuck me. Sounds like you do need to get a refund from Amelia; I think IRyS might be into you.”

Bae bounced in her seat. “Right!? Oh man, I feel like I’m floating; promise you’ll hold me down if I start to float away?”

Kronii chuckled. “Nah, I think it’d be funny to watch you hang from the ceiling.”

A hand slammed on the desk in front of them. They both jumped and looked up to see a familiar brunette looking down at them.

Gwak!” Kronii yelped in reaction.

“And just what is it exactly that you two are giggling about over here huh?” the girl demanded.

“Hello, Mumeishi!” Bae cheerfully greeted her, immediately overcoming her surprise.

Ohh, heeeeeey.” Kronii said, pretending she didn’t just make an embarrassing sound. “Bae got a girl’s number!” Not even hesitating to loop her in.

“You did!?” Mumei exclaimed. She grabbed a nearby empty chair and pulled it over so that she could sit facing the other two girls. “Was it… it couldn’t be, could it? IRyS?”

“The one and only,” Bae confirmed.

Mumei slapped her hand on the table again. “No way! Bae!!!” She squealed excitedly, “Tell me everything!”

Bae clapped her hands together and began to retell the story, starting with her request of Ame, leading into IRyS approaching her at her lunch table, up to the point where she got her number.

Kronii and especially Mumei leaned in, listening intently to her story until the last word.

“Have you texted her yet?” Mumei asked, the first to speak.

“N-no, not yet.”

“You’ve gotta text her, like soon,” Kronii commented.

Bae looked at the two of them in confusion. “Wait, why? What’s the hurry? I have to like, mentally prepare to do something like that. Ya know?”

“Ugh, this is dating 101, Bae!” Mumei started, “She doesn’t have you in her contacts yet, how long it takes you to reach out to her is a test of how interested you are in her.”

“What?” Bae was unconvinced.

“It’s true,” Kronii agreed, “Wait too long, and it’ll seem like you aren’t that interested, or that maybe you have other, higher priority, girls lined up.”

“But, not too fast either, don’t wanna look desperate,” Mumei added.

Bae held her head in her hands. “Dating makes no sense, can’t we all just drop the pretenses and act like normal people, just talk things out, and not play guessing games?”

“You literally paid someone to spy on her because you were too afraid to ‘talk things out’,” Kronii commented, deadpan.

“Shut up,” Bae lightly punched her shoulder, then sighed, “Alright, fine, I’ll text her now. So, what should I say… ‘Hey, it’s Bae, remember me, from the cafeteria, you said I was cute,’ ”—she giggled—“ ‘The feeling is mutual, wanna smash?’ ”

“That might work if you want her not to reply back or talk to you ever again.” Kronii teased.

“You should ask her out! Take initiative!” Mumei exclaimed.

“A first date? This quick?” Bae looked at Mumei, unsure.

“Something simple, small, easy; something that, if for some reason we’re mistaken about the nature of the relationship she’s after, can be played off.”

“Like a movie? Could be a date, could just be friends…” Bae suggested.

Mumei shook her head. “Wouldn’t work, you don’t know her tastes yet.”

“How about studying together?” Kronii suggested.

Mumei pointed at Kronii. “Yes!” she exclaimed, “That’s perfect! Ask her to do some studying together!”

“Studying…? But we don’t share any classes…”

“That doesn’t matter, as long as you are together. It’s actually perfect, you can fill the dead air in conversation by focusing on your work!” Mumei said excitedly, “Text her now!”

“A-alright.” Bae nervously pulled out her phone and started drafting out the text.

Bae: hey IRyS, it’s me Bae from earlier! Wanted to know if you’re free after school to study at the library? xoxo

She held out the phone and showed it to the other two.

“Drop the ‘xoxo’,” Kronii stated.

Mumei nodded. “Yeah, don’t wanna come on too strongly; other than that, send it, Bae-by!”

Bae erased the last few characters and hit send. Immediately after seeing the ‘sent’ indication checkmark, she placed her phone face down on her desk.

At that moment the teacher finally walked into the classroom, probably 10 minutes late at this point.

“Good luck!” Mumei said as she reluctantly got up and returned back to her assigned seating across the room.

The teacher began their lesson and Bae rapidly tuned it out, her mind wandered to thoughts of IRyS. Things were accelerating so quickly.

Ever since the first day of the school year when she transferred to their high school, Bae had been obsessed with her, but unfortunately, they shared no classes together, so there were never any natural opportunities to approach her. Having IRyS approach her first sent her head spinning and her heart fluttering

Her phone buzzed and shook her desk, the sound pulled her out from her spiralling thoughts. She snatched up her phone in an instant and put it on her lap, so she could view the message without the teacher noticing her on her phone.

IRyS: I hate studying

Bae’s heart raced in a panic. She fucked up. She needed to fix this before she ruined it any further.

Bae: That’s okay! We can do something else if you’d like!

It was only a few moments before the next message came through.

IRyS: I’ll meet you by the main doors and we can walk to the library together :wink:
Bae: Oh, I drove to school today, I can drive up both there!
IRyS: Ok! Sounds good!

She leaned back in her seat and breathed a sigh of relief. Her mind had immediately jumped to the worst possible outcome, when in actuality it was just IRyS joking with her. She’d need to learn to lighten up some and let go of her nervousness if she was going to make this thing work.

Chapter 2: Affinity

Bae sat on the steps outside of the school, idly scrolling on her phone. She didn’t want to seem impatient, but she had been waiting for ten minutes already, and she really hoped that IRyS hadn’t decided to ghost her.

She was about to relent and just text her to see what was up, when as if one cue, a set of footsteps came running up behind her. Bae turned her head to see IRyS standing behind her panting, out of breath.

Bae quickly put her phone away and stood, turning to face the taller girl.

“I’m… sorry… class… ran late. Damn teacher…” IRyS panted out between breaths.

“Take it easy, is alright.”

IRyS rolled her shoulders. “Why does she have to make us stay to watch other people do their stupid presentations, like, I already did mine, let me gooooooooooo~”

“Heh, I feel ya there.” Bae gestured towards the parking lot. “Come on, I’m parked over there.” The pair started walking together. “What class was it? You mentioned Ms. Choco earlier, but I’ve never had her for a class.”

“Oh, Geography, it was some dumb assignment, 1800’s agricultural development, really riveting stuff.”

“I can imagine! You must’ve been on the edge of your seat! Hardly able to sit still!” Bae teased.

“Pffft, yeah, but not for that reason.” IRyS sweeped her hair over her shoulder. “I was actually really excited to hang out with you,” she admitted sheepishly.

Bae felt a faint heat start to crawl up her neck. “Y-yeah, me too… But uh, I’m curious, why me? You’re plenty popular, and I’m sure you’ve got plenty of friends to hang out with.”

“I already told you, didn’t I? You looked cute.”

Really? She's not wrong, but…

Bae swallowed. “T-thank you… you’re not so bad yourself.” Bae turned to her side to see a faint blush appear on the taller girl's cheeks as well.

Oh my god, she’s so cute… I’m gonna die.

They arrived at the spot Bae had led them to, a parking space occupied by an old rust-bucket of a pick-up truck.

“It’s my dad’s old truck…” Bae explained, embarrassed by the state of the vehicle she was inviting this girl into. “Sorry, it’s a bit of a mess.”

“Pffft— whatever,” she said dismissively, “At least you have something you can drive! I don’t even have my license.” She walked over to the passenger side door.

“Hang on, it’s got no remote unlock.” Bae jammed the key into the driver-side door, she popped it open and leaped inside the raised vehicle. “Gotta do this the hard way!”

She scrambled to reach the opposite door and hit the unlock button so IRyS could open the door on the passenger side. After, as if moving at the speed of light, she scooped up the empty fast food bags that she had let gather on the seat and tossed them into the back before IRyS could see.

IRyS pulled open the door and climbed inside. Timidly, she buckled her seat belt and sat her hands politely in her lap. “Thanks for driving us.”

“Don’t mention it!”

“So, um, tell me about yourself, Bae.”

“What do you want to know?” Bae asked as she stuck the key into the ignition and twisted it; the engine sputtered, but didn’t start. She twisted the key again, and the same thing occurred. She punched the wheel.

“Is it okay?”

“Come on, you bastard!” Bae cried. She twisted the key again and just as it seemed like the engine was going to choke once more, it grumbled, then roared to life.

“Yes!” Bae exclaimed. She looked over at IRyS who had a bewildered look on her face. She sheepishly settled herself down. “S-sorry, this ol’ rust bucket is on her last legs. It’s a miracle every time she starts.”

“I… see.”

Bae spun around to check for cars before backing the vehicle out of the parking space.

“Right, you were asking to know about me. Um…” She paused for a moment to think. “This is hard, it’s like those ice-breakers teachers make you do at the start of every school year.”

“Ohhhh my god, I hate those," IRyS agreed, "Like, I dunno anything interesting about myself, I’m just me! I’m boring!”

“You’re boring? You’re one of the most popular girls at school, and you’ve only been here for a month. Surely all of your friends must find something interesting about you.”

“Pfft— They hardly know me… Plus, I didn’t ask to be popular; I’d be much happier with some friends who actually cared about who I was as a person.” IRyS crossed her arms in frustration. “More than just a pretty face.”

But your face is so pretty…

Bae slowed down the car as they approached a red light. “Why don’t you open up to them more then?”

“They’re boring,” IRyS answered simply.

“Sounds like you fit right in then, Ms. Boring!” Bae teased.

IRyS giggled. “Shut up, that’s not what I meant.” She sighed. “I dunno, I guess this is just… I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone, make a real friend.” Bae saw from the corner of her eye IRyS turn toward her and smile.

“Well… I’d like to think you chose the right girl for the job; I’m a great friend!” Bae boasted proudly.

“I… you are okay with being my friend, right? I’m not being a bother or anything… Am I?”

“What? No. Of course not! I’m glad to be able to finally talk to you!”

“Finally…?”

“I— I mean— I just—” Bae shrunk into her seat. “I misspoke! Don’t read into that.”

“Hmmm, I will.”

“Geez, thanks.” Bae rolled her eyes and turned the wheel to bring the truck into the library parking lot. A faint smile pulled at the corners of her lips.

This is going surprisingly well.

<hr>

Studious as ever, Bae had her face buried in a textbook, lost in trying to absorb as much of the information in front of her as possible, as if this were an ordinary study session, oblivious to the bored girl across from her.

“So… what’re ya working on?” IRyS looked up from her worksheet across the table to her study partner.

“Chemistry.”

“And…?” IRyS pressed.

“And what…?” Bae replied, confused.

IRyS frustratingly put down her pencil with a clack. “And how is it going?”

“Oh, good. Um, s-sorry.” Bae sheepishly apologized, although she wasn’t sure what for. They did come here to study after all.

“Can we take a break from studying? I've been staring at these calculus problems for twenty minutes now and I think my head is about to pop like a balloon.”

“Yeah, sure.” Bae slid the textbook she had previously been absorbed in to the side. “What did you wanna do?”

“Not this,” IRyS grunted, then sighed, “Sorry, I know we came here to study, it’s just… I’m not good at… that.”

“I see… Let’s take a break then!” She looked around for a moment. “Well, we are in a library, do you read at all?”

“Y-yeah…” IRyS mumbled.

“What do you read?”

“I don’t think you’d be into it…”

“Oh, come on now,” Bae said as she stood, “How bad could it be, Twilight? Vampire Diaries? I dunno what else are normal girls into, The Hunger Games?”

“Um… I don’t read stuff like that… I read, um… m-manga,” IRyS answered nervously as she stood up from her seat as well.

“Oh, like what?” Bae asked simply.

“Huh? Oh… there's one I've been really into recently, do you know Inuyasha?”

“I love Inuyasha!” Bae clapped her hands together. “Although I've only seen the anime; I haven’t read the manga yet, but I’ve been meaning to!” She started walking to the manga section of the library, with IRyS now excitedly following close behind.

“Really!? You should read the manga, it’s really good. The anime of course is amazing, but you really get to see more of Inuyasha’s mature side, which I really liked. Although, I will say, the music in the anime is good, I could spend all day talking about how good those songs are—”

Angelus?” Bae interrupted to mention the song from the series.

“Yes! Angelus is so good! Oh my god…” IRyS continued babbling on until they reached their destination bookshelves. All were lined with rows of various genres and styles of manga.

“I didn’t think you’d be into this stuff!” Bae said excitedly.

“Same! I thought you’d be into the big thick boring novels; you seemed bookish.”

“Bookish?” Bae pressed, seeking clarification on this slander she was hearing.

“You know, a big nerd.” IRyS smiled at her deviously.

Bae took a step towards the taller girl and looked up at her. “Hey! Just because I like to have good grades does not mean I’m a nerd!”

IRyS stepped closer as well, she had to look almost straight down now to maintain eye contact. “You take a girl out on a date and immediately bury your head in a textbook, you sure seem like a nerd to me!”

Bae felt her face heating up. She had no defense so she did the only thing she could think to do, she stuck out her tongue and blew a raspberry into IRyS’ face.

“Agh!” IRyS jumped back in reaction. “Gross!”

Bae let out a high-pitched almost kettle-like laugh. “Sorry, but also, oh my god, that’s funny.”

“It’s not,” IRyS insisted, despite the growing smirk on her face. She used her sleeve to wipe her face dry.

“Quiet down!” a loud whisper at the end of the aisle barked, startling them.

They both looked to see a stern-looking old woman peering at them, the light reflecting off of her glasses giving her a villain-like look.

“S-sorry!” Bae called back in a raised whisper.

The woman walked away in a huff. “Kids…”

“Come on,”—IRyS stepped forward and grabbed Bae’s sleeve—“Let’s get back to our table.”

The pair scurried back to where they had left their textbooks earlier and sat back down.

“We didn’t even get to look at any of the manga,” Bae pointed out.

IRyS shrugged. “Eh, whatever, was good to stretch my legs.”

“Yeah,” Bae agreed, rolling her shoulders and settling in to get back into her studies.

IRyS turned to the side and looked out at the rest of the library, when suddenly she perked up. “Oooh, look over there!” She pointed to the main doors.

Bae turned to see a taller boy with deep blue-dyed hair walking in. “Oh, that’s Krono isn’t it? I’m friends with his sister.”

“Mmmm, he’s hot.” IRyS remarked.

Bae frowned, although IRyS wasn’t looking at her to be able to see it. “Sure, whatever.”

“What? Don’t you agree?” IRyS asked, turning to look at the shorter girl.

“Oh, no. I’m not really… … into… that.” A blush crawled up her cheeks.

“Pfffft— Gay.”

“W—”

IRyS snickered. “I’m only teasing you.” She turned back to her person-watching, and Bae reluctantly turned her head as well. They watched a much shorter boy with tanned skin run up to meet Krono.

IRyS gasped then contorted her throat in some kind of primal desire noise. She brushed her hair out of her face, a blush clearly visible on her cheeks. “San~,” she said dreamily, “Now, he’s hot. Mmmmm.”

Did she just lick her lips? Gross…

“Isn’t he fifteen?” Bae asked.

“I dunno, probably.”

“And how old are you?” Bae continued pressing her.

“Eighteen. That’s fine, right? It’s only three years.”

Bae shook her head. “Nope. Half your age plus seven is the limit.”

“Half yo— what?”

“Half of eighteen is nine, plus seven is sixteen. That’s your limit. You can’t go below sixteen.”

IRyS looked at her aghast. “That’s a stupid rule.”

Bae chuckled. “Yeah, stupid if you’re trying to get thrown into jail.”

“Heh, yeah, whatever. I don’t think I’d be able to get with him anyway.”

“Why’s that?” Bae inquired, trying to keep the jealousy out of her voice.

IRyS nodded to where the two boys were standing once again. “Look. Aren’t they standing a bit close together? And their hands, just almost touching but not quite? I’m calling it with a 95% confidence rating. Gay.”

“You think they’re gay because they are standing kinda close together?” Bae peered at the taller girl like she had two heads.

IRyS turned back toward her with a knowing look. “Listen, I’ve got a really good eye for these things. My gaydar is on point. I pegged you, didn’t I?”

‘Pegged…’ heh. Heh heh.

A smile grew on Bae’s face, she couldn’t stop herself. “Well… I don’t think you’ve pegged me yet…”

IRyS rolled her eyes. “Oh my god…”

Bae giggled. “Sorry, it’s just… your phrasing.”

“Ugh… I am right though? You are gay,” IRyS pressed.

“W-well,” Bae started, about to deny it for no reason, it wasn’t even a secret, she was very out of the closet, “Yeah. Very.”

“Mmmm thought so. Told you,” IRyS shook her fingers and said, “Gaydar.”

Bae was nervous about pushing on this but now was the best possible time. “And you?”

“Me what?”

“Well, you’re obviously not just gay, but do you… ya know, when you swing… if you… are… do you go… both…?” Bae floundered her question.

“Heh, I asked you on this date, didn’t I? Take a wild guess.”

Bae flushed. “O-oh, yeah. Right… … … … Wait… No you didn’t! I asked you!”

“I mean, if that’s how you wanna see it, sure.”

“Pfft— You’re ridiculous.” Bae smiled at her.

IRyS smiled back.

“Alright, Bae, that’s enough boy-watching I think. We did come here to study, didn’t we? So we should probably do that.”

“You right.” Bae nodded.

Chapter 3: Choked

“Oh no, come on you stupid thing!” Bae twisted the key again, and the engine gave a pathetic cough before going silent. She desperately attempted to turn the key a few more times but the beast was completely dead now. “Shit.”

“That’s not good,” IRyS spoke timidly.

“No,” Bae said, starting to choke up, “It’s really not. Fuck.” She leaned forward and put her head against the steering wheel in defeat.

IRyS gently rubbed her hand on her back. “Hey, it’s alright.”

Bae took a shaky breath inward and released it. “Y-yeah, yeah it’ll be fine. I knew this would happen eventually, it’s just… why today… I just wanted us to be able to have a good time together.”

“Bae, I had a good time, don’t worry about that. Come on, let’s see what we can do about this ol’ rust bucket; do you know anything about cars? Maybe we can fix it!”

Bae sat up and IRyS withdrew her hand. She turned to IRyS. “I-I know some stuff about cars, but like, I don’t know how to fix them!”

IRyS unbuckled her seatbelt and popped open the door. “Well, let’s see if we can be mechanics!”

Bae had her doubts, but the other girl's confidence despite the situation eased her worries a bit, so she relented and unbuckled herself as well and exited the vehicle.

The night air bit into her bare legs, hardly covered by her short skirt. “We should’ve left earlier.” Bae clenched her teeth to stop them from chattering as she walked around to the front of the truck to join IRyS.

“Was I that bad of a study partner?” IRyS pouted at her.

“Shut up,”—Bae playfully shoved her shoulder—“You know that’s not what I mean. It’s cold as balls.”

“I thought that balls were warm?”

“Do you have much experience in that department?”

“No comment.”

Bae raised an eyebrow. “OoooooOOOooo, what have you been up to?”

“N-nothing!” She giggled. “Shut up, Bae! Shut up!”

“I’m dealing with an experienced woman, I see, I see.”

“Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps you’ll have the opportunity to find out.” IRyS put a hand on her hip in a suggestive manner, offset by the goofy grin on her face.

Bae rolled her eyes and turned her attention toward the truck. She attempted to lift the hood, but was too short and could only get it about halfway open.

“Here.” IRyS stepped forward and opened it the rest of the way, she grabbed the support rod and pulled it up so the hood was propped open.

“Thanks.” Bae put her hands on her hips. “Well, let’s see how much experience you have fixing engines.”

They both stood there staring at the mass of metal tubes and machinery.

“I think…” IRyS started, “That maybe…”--- She began to bring her hand closer to the machine. “...That’s the engine.” She pointed at it.

“Brilliant observation. Now fix it.”

“I dunno how.”

“Me neither.”

“Welp.” Bae motioned for IRyS to close the hood.

The taller girl moved the prop and closed it. “What now?”

Bae turned around and slid to be sitting on the ground, her back against the grill of the inert vehicle. “I don’t know. I gotta get us both home somehow.”

“Could we call a tow truck?” IRyS suggested, looking down at her.

Bae grimaced, it was a good idea but unfortunately for her, she was fresh out of cash thanks to a certain detective. “I… don’t really have any money right now.”

“Oh I see…” IRyS thought for a moment, “I know! Here,”—she pulled out her phone—“I can call my daddy to pick us up.”

“You can go ahead, I gotta find some way to get this thing home… Wait, did you just say ‘daddy’?”

“Yeah?”

Bae blinked several times. She calls her dad… daddy. Okay then.

“Nevermind,” Bae dismissed.

“Anyway, I’m not just gonna leave you here! What an awful way to end our first date!” IRyS asserted, “Listen, I’m gonna call him; he’s smart and will figure something out!”

“Alright… if you’re certain, I don’t want to inconvenience him or anything.

“Nonsense.” IRyS waved her hand dismissively at her, and brought the phone up to her ear. She paced around to the back of the truck out of Bae’s earshot from her position sitting on the ground, only able to make out the sound of her voice but not the individual words.

She closed her eyes and leaned back with a sigh. Why did you have to kick it today you old bastard? She groaned. I’m not looking forward to tellin’ pops about this.

“Hey,” IRyS spoke as she rounded back over to the front of the vehicle, then sat down beside Bae on the cold pavement, “He’s gonna be a little bit before he gets here. He said some car stuff, something about jumping I think, not really sure, but he thinks he can get it running again.”

Bae exhaled a sigh of relief. “I sure hope so. Thank you, IRyS.”

“Don’t mention it, that’s what friends are for.”

They sat there without speaking for a few moments, listening to the sounds of their small town around them, gusts of light wind, cars on a distant freeway, the steady hum of a nearby incandescent street light. It was just them in the empty parking lot, the library closed; its patrons and staff since departed.

“Bae…” “IRyS…” They both started at the same time, voices overlapping the other.

“Oh, sorry,” Bae apologized.

“No, it’s alright, you go ahead.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, it’s fine, I already forgot what I was going to say,” IRyS insisted.

“Alright, uh, yeah, um, I was just gonna say, uh, small apology for picking the library as a date choice, I kinda get absorbed in studying… I didn’t give us a lot of opportunities to chat.”

“Oh, Bae, it’s alright. You actually had me focused on school work for once, which is a miracle, trust me. I really appreciated that. I… I felt like I could relax and focus with you,” IRyS admitted sheepishly.

“Th-thanks…”

“I haven’t exactly been the teacher's favourite since moving here, I’m not the best student. I wish I had a work ethic like yours.”

Bae pumped her fist into the air. “Sounds like more study sessions are in order!”

“Perhaps…”

“Say, IRyS, if you don’t mind me asking, why did you move to our school…?” Bae probed. “If you don’t wanna say, that’s fine too of course,” she quickly amended.

“Divorce,” IRyS answered simply, "My parents split a few months ago."

“Ah. I see. Sorry to bring it up.”

“No, it’s fine, you couldn’t have known.” IRyS exhaled unevenly through her mouth. “Love doesn’t always work out… even when things look… perfect.”

IRyS continued, “Sorry, I shouldn’t drop that on you when we’ve only just met, things are mostly okay, it’s just a rough situation, you know?”

“Yeah, of course, don’t worry about it at all. I hope you’re doing alright.”

“I am. I hope I am.” IRyS sighed. “Alright, let’s lighten the mood a bit, you got any hobbies, Bae?”

“Oh, uh, yeah I guess, I dance…”

“Really?” IRyS turned toward her, eyes wide.

Blue… pretty.

“Yeah, I’m not good or anything, I just learned some stuff from Youtube. What about you?”

“I sing.”

Bae nodded. She knew that already, IRyS frequently uploaded singing clips to her Instagram story. “You’re really good.”

“Oh? You’ve heard me sing?”

“Yeah, on your Insta…”

“You follow me on Insta? Hold up…” IRyS pulled out her phone and opened the app. She scrolled through her follower list quickly, skimming through the names until—

“There you are! How did I not notice before?”

Bae grinned. “I am small and go easily undetected.”

“You’re like a rat.”

“Wow, okay, rude… but also like, accurate, yeah.”

IRyS stopped and thought for a moment. “You know, it’s not fair.”

Bae turned her head to look at the other girl. “What isn’t?”

“I told you something personal, you should have to tell me something personal, to make us even.”

“Ummm, okay… What do you want to know? I’m kinda an open book.”

“How did you figure out you were gay?”

Bae thought for a moment before responding. “Never liked men. Always liked women,” she answered easily, from her perspective it was that simple.

IRyS was befuddled. “Wait, really? Just like that?”

“I mean, yeah. Although, I think I should’ve done a better job at hiding it because my parents don’t let me have girls over.”

“Your parents know?”

“There’s no way they wouldn’t, I wear my heart on my sleeve now, and I certainly did when I was a kid. They figured it out real quick.”

“Huh.”

“What about you? Do your parents know that you are…? Sorry, I don’t know what you label yourself as,” Bae asked.

IRyS chuckled. “Me neither to be honest with you. I just like… people? Like whatever person catches my fancy I guess, I never really thought about it. Although it did take a bit of time before I realized cute girls were included in that list of people…

“Anyway, no, my parents don’t know, they aren’t like bigoted or anything, I just never felt like I had any reason to tell them. Plus, uh…” she trailed off, embarrassed.

“What?” Bae turned and saw that IRyS was starting to turn red.

“N-nothing.”

“Come on! What is it?” Bae pushed.

“It’s a bit easier to bring girls home when your parents don’t know that you… ya know…”—she paused, seeing Bae giving her a devilish smirk—“Not that I have been! Just… in concept…”

Bae belted out her high-pitched laugh, the joyful sound filling the empty space around them, but also reminding them of how alone they were, stuck in this parking lot.

“I like your laugh, Bae.”

“R-really?” Bae felt a heat crawling up her neck. “Most people don’t.”

“Yeah, it’s really cute, just like you.”

“Oh no, don’t start that…”

“Cute.”

Bae blushed hot, she couldn’t help it. She just hoped the other girl kept her head forward so she wouldn’t see her flustered like this.

But fate wouldn’t allow that, and IRyS turned, seeing the deep crimson of Bae’s face; she smiled. “You’re cute.”

“Stop saying it…”

“I can’t help it, it’s just something about you… makes me wanna be honest with you…”

Bae covered her face with her hands, she couldn’t handle this, right now, from her. “Stooooooop.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll stop, you gay mess.”

“Shuuut uppp,” Bae groaned back, her voice muffled in her hands.

They went back to being quiet, Bae kept her head buried while she calmed herself down. IRyS hummed a little tune to herself, evidently content with the destruction she’d caused.

Why is she so forward… I didn’t expect this at all…

Slowly Bae raised her head. “So…” she started.

“Yeah?”

“Maybe… second date?”

IRyS smiled wide, pulling at the corners of her eyes. “Name a time and place and I’ll be there.”

<hr>

They both stood when they heard the sound of rubber rolling over asphalt as a mid-sized family car drove into the parking lot and pulled up beside them.

A musical hum emanated from the vehicle, the radio turned up so loud that it could be heard from the outside.

I thought loud music was an asshole teenager thing; what kinda guy is IRyS’ dad anyway?

The headlights clicked off and the engine grumbled to a halt. The parking lot was quiet again; the music ceased. Bae watched quizzically as the driver-side door opened and a man stepped out.

“Hey, Daddy!” IRyS ran up and wrapped her arms around her father’s waist.

He hugged her back tightly. “Hello, sweetheart.” He released her and turned toward Bae, who stood awkwardly to the side of her broken vehicle. “And you must be her friend, she’s told me so much about you!”

“She has?”

We’ve only just met, just how long has she been…?

“Ugh, Dad…” IRyS sighed, noticeably rolling her eyes.

He clapped his hands together. “Nope! I’m just pullin’ your leg champ. Put ‘er there.” He stepped toward her and extended his hand.

“Ah, n-nice to meet you, sir,” Bae stuttered, reaching forward to shake his hand.

As her hand was about to meet his he quickly pulled it back and ran it through his hair. “Too slow.”

Bae’s brain lagged at this. She had fallen for the ultimate dad move; hook, line, and sinker. She just stood there with her arm extended, but no hand was there to meet hers. “No… you couldn’t… have possibly…”

“Oh my god, Dad, stoooooop,” IRyS whined.

He laughed . “Alright, alright, I’m just goofing around with you kids. It’s nice to meet you too, miss…?” He extended his hand once again to shake hers, his grip was firm but not painful.

“Baelz, Hakos Baelz, but just Bae is fine!”

“Nice to meet you, ‘just Bae!’ I’m sure I have a real name, but missy here likes to have her friends call me ‘PapaRyS’.”

“It’s cute!” IRyS interjected with a pout.

Bae blew air out of her nose, stifling a giggle.

“Alrighty ladies, let’s take a look at this truck of yours, shall we?”

“Sure thing, PapaRyS…” Bae stepped aside and allowed him to open the hood. She turned to her side and her eyes met IRyS’, who gave her a small thumbs up.


Bae held her hand on the key in the ignition. Through the windshield she saw the raised hood, and standing off to the side was IRyS, watching everything going down.

“Try it now!” PapaRyS called from where he stood out of sight in front of the truck.

She twisted the key and the engine grumbled, shook, then roared to life.

“YES! YEEEES!” Bae cried out and slammed her fists onto the wheel, making it emit a small honk that caused IRyS to jump in place. She turned the key back to shut off the engine and stepped out of the car.

“Well, looks like she’s running again!” PapaRyS said, closing the hood. “But I don’t think my patch job will hold for long, so make sure you get it to a shop.”

“Of course. Thank you so much!”

“You’re welcome!” He turned toward IRyS, “Do you need a ride back to your mothers place?”

“I was gonna ride home with Bae…”

He smiled at her. “Of course.” He nodded to Bae. “Take care of her, alright?”

Bae saluted him. “Yessir!”

He chuckled. “Good.”

IRyS ran over to him and hugged him. “See you this weekend?”

“Oh… was that this weekend…?” he started.

IRyS immediately deflated. “Dad…”

He immediately perked back up, hugging her back tighter. “I’m teasing you! Of course I’ll see you this weekend, sweetheart!” A reached a hand up to ruffle her hair.

“Gah, stop!” They released each other; IRyS took a step back and stuck her tongue out at him before running around the side of Bae’s truck and hopping inside.

He turned back to Bae. “Careful with that one.” He nodded toward where IRyS had gone. “She’s a menace,” he said, smiling.

I think it runs in the family…

Bae smiled back. “I can tell. Thank you again for your help. I don’t know how I can pay you back…”

“Don’t mention it, and as for paying me back… Come have dinner with us sometime! You seem like a nice young lady and we’d love to have you!”

“I’d like that.”

“Sounds good! I’ll talk to you ladies later.” He waved and walked to his own car. Once inside the familiar sound of blasting music emanated outwards.

Bae walked around and hopped into the truck beside IRyS. “Your dad is really nice!”

“Yeah, he really is.”

“Ready to get going?” Bae asked, clicking in her seatbelt.

IRyS nodded. “Yeah, let’s go, I’ll tell you how to get to my place, it’s not that far of a drive.”

Bae turned the key in the ignition and with only minimal complaints from the engine, they were off.

Chapter 4: Threat

“Muffin?” Mumei asked, as she was in the middle of an underhand toss, the item in question already half-way through the air toward Bae.

Bae, unfazed, easily caught the baked good Mumei had plucked off the breakfast cart and lobbed at her. “Thanks.”

“No problem, now spill,” Mumei demanded.

Bae scoffed. “I already told you, I’m waiting until Kronii gets here so I don’t have to repeat myself.”

“You suck,” Mumei said as she plucked three additional muffins off of the cart, conveniently ignoring the sign labeled ‘take one’.

The pair continued walking down the halls of their school; around them students mingled around lockers, classrooms, and pretty much anywhere a gaggle of teenagers could arrange themselves to take up as much space as possible, enjoying the brief time they had before the first bell rang to signify the start of the school day.

“You know, Mumei, if you keep taking that many muffins, a poor kid whose parents can’t feed them might end up going hungry.”

“Good.”

“Bruh.”

“It’ll toughen them up, the real world won’t give you free muffins.”

Bae put her hands behind her head. “She says, taking a fuck load of free muffins, the irony completely lost on her,” she narrated dramatically.

Mumei stopped walking abruptly and Bae quickly halted herself to match.

“Hey, Fauna!” Mumei turned and said.

Bae followed Mumei’s gaze and saw a person who was almost unnoticeable to anyone passing by. She stood in the corner leaning against a row of lockers, scowling out at the students passing in the hall.

“Oh, hey, Mumei,” she brushed her hair, jet black with streaks of bright green, out of the way of her eyes. Despite her intimidating initial appearance and punk outfit, her dark expression softened when Mumei spoke to her.

“Muffin?” Mumei extended one of her many muffins toward her.

Fauna reached out and plucked it gingerly from her hand with a surprising amount of gentleness. “Thank you, Mumei.” She turned her attention to Bae. “Hello, who are you?”

“Oh, uh, I’m Bae, nice to meet you. Are you Mumei’s friend?”

“Umm—” she started.

“Yes!”

Fauna sheepishly dipped her head. “Ah, ah, yes, Mumei is my friend, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” She turned back to Mumei. “Thank you for the muffin… I’ll be going now…” Before either could get in another word, Fauna fled down the hall, filtering into the crowds of students.

Bae looked to Mumei. “What’s up with her?”

“Oh, she was randomly assigned as my history partner, she looks scary at first, but really she’s sweet as a cherry.”

“You should invite her to hang out with us at lunch sometime.”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea…” she said, turning around to be facing the direction they were originally headed, when together they spotted a familiar face walking down the hall toward them. “KRONII!”

Mumei pulled back her arm and like a baseball pitcher fired a muffin into the tall girl’s direction.

“GWAK!” Kronii squawked and froze as the missile flew toward her, and unfortunately for her, Mumei’s aim was true, and it collided squarely between her eyes. “AH!” She stumbled backward, dazed.

“Jesus Christ, Mumei, chill!” Bae chastised.

Mumei ignored this, and happily skipped over to Kronii, and held out her hand, offering the last remaining muffin, the other now rolling away on the floor. “Muffin?”

Kronii rubbed between her eyes before pinching the bridge of her nose and sighing. She glared at the excitable brown-haired girl for a moment; Bae watched her consider scolding Mumei, like clockwork gears behind her eyes, and eventually decide against it.

Kronii snatched the muffin out of her hand. “Thanks, Mumei.”

“Don’t mention it!” Mumei replied, cheerful as ever.

“And hey, Bae,” she greeted with a nod.

“Wazzup,” Bae greeted back casually.

Together, the trio walked to their typical morning meeting spot, sitting on the floor beside a juice-themed vending machine positioned a short distance away from the entrance to the school gymnasium. This particular machine went largely unused in comparison to the more popular soda machines in the main lobby, which made this a good hang-out spot for them as there was usually low traffic to the area.

They dropped their school bags onto the ground next to the machine and arranged themselves into a circle sitting on the floor.

“So, Bae, how did the date with IRyS go?” Kronii asked.

Mumei nodded enthusiastically, leaning forward on her hands, staring at Bae with large eyes.

“It… went well.”

“Well?” Kronii asked.

“It was, well, I… hold on, lemme just start from the beginning, alright. So, IRyS, yeah, she’s fantastic, amazing, hot AF, all that jazz. We studied together, and we chatted a bit about manga, turns out she’s a huge manga nerd like me!”

“Mhm, I see.”

Mumei’s eyes glittered innocently. “Did you kiss her?”

“What? Mumei, you're jumping ahead, lemme just say what happened. And for the record, no I didn't kiss her, this was the first date!”

“I’d kiss on the first date if I liked the person a lot,” Kronii stated.

“I thought your lips were only reserved for Kronii.” Bae grinned evilly back at her.

“That was one time! You can’t tell me you’ve never tried to practice it in the mirror!”

“I’ll help you next time if you want Kronii,” Mumei offered casually.

“Uhhhhhhhh…” Kronii lagged. “No, no, no, I’m good, I’m fine, yeah.”

Bae rolled her eyes. “Come on now, Mumei, we both know she’s saving her first kiss for Kronii.”

“Keep joking about it and I just might,” Kronii huffed.

“Anyway, as I was saying,” Bae continued, “Studying went okay, I think I spent too much time focused on the work instead of her though.”

Mumei flopped backwards, now lying against her school bag. “Ugh, Bae, why are you like this?”

“Because I’m a good noodle who study lots!” Bae responded in an over-exaggerated cutesy voice.

Kronii shook her head disapprovingly.

“So yeah, we did that, and then, and this is the bad part, I went to drive us home, and my dads fucking shitty-ass truck decided that would be the perfect time to break down and stop working!”

Mumei sat back up. “Oh no, Bae…”

“That’s a massive L dude. That really sucks. How did you two get home?”

“She suggested we try and fix it, obviously wasn’t going to happen, so she called her dad and he came and fixed up the truck enough that I could drive us home.”

Kronii nodded. “Sounds like a decent enough resolution.”

“Uhh, I think you glossed over some details…” Mumei pressed.

“Did I?”

Mumei nodded. “What else did you guys talk about, what did you learn about her!?”

Kronii rolled her eyes. “Yeah, Bae, you gotta fill us in so we can study for the test.”

“Can’t a girl keep the conversations had between her and her date to herself?”

“No. Spill,” Mumei demanded.

“Okay, listen, all I’ll say is this. I think she really likes me, like actually, like, really like romantically is into me.”

“Ayo?” Kronii leaned in.

“Yeah, she said she wants to have a second date!”

“Bae!” Mumei excitedly cried, grabbing Bae’s shoulders and shaking her. “Let’s gooo!”

“Gah!” Bae cried as her brain rattled. “Where are we going?”

“Straight to first base, it sounds like,” Kronii commented.

“Pfft. whatever Kronii. Tell me when you and Mumei get there, then we’ll talk.” She brushed Mumei's hands off her shoulders as the girl looked away sheepishly.

Kronii’s voice jumped an octave. “Huh? What are you talking about? Me and Mumei aren’t… Huh!?”

Bae chuckled to herself. “Glass cannon.”

“Whatever, shut up.”

Bae settled back and pulled out her phone, she saw that it was only five minutes until the first bell rang to tell them to get to class. She sighed.

“Sorry guys, gotta go to my locker before class today and I am not getting caught doing that in the flood.”

Kronii nodded. “Alright, see you around, Bae. Keep us posted on what happens with you and your special lady.”


Bae walked down the familiar school hallway where she knew she would pass a familiar person at a familiar locker. 116 was IRyS’ locker, she had it memorized. Occasionally as she walked down the hall she would spy that girl at that locker, getting or storing her things. That was before they had met properly.

Obviously, back then, Bae never said anything to her; just secretly observed her as she passed by, trying to collect and analyze all of the small details that she couldn’t glean from the pictures on her Instagram, or the fleeting videos on her story.

She didn’t need to be so subtle and secretive though, this wasn’t just some secret crush anymore, this was… what really was it? The murky grey area of two people testing the waters, that weird spot when you are going on dates, but not yet dating. Could she call them ‘friends’? It couldn’t be that, they had only been together once. And yet even still, it was undeniable that there was a connection between them.

She arrived at her destination, not the one she had told her friends about before leaving them, but the one where she might find a certain someone. And find that someone she did, however, not quite in the scenario she was expecting.

IRyS had her locker open and she was digging around inside of it, that part was fine, however, leaning against the locker next to her was that tall green-haired boy she had seen her with in the cafeteria yesterday, a member of her friend group.

Bae remembered how she had watched IRyS laugh at something he had said, and a flare of jealousy welled up within her chest. She didn’t like the thought of this boy making her laugh. And right now, she certainly didn’t like the way he was so close, so forward with his positioning beside her. Bae could read his intentions clearly.

Not if I can fucking help it.

She walked closer, now within earshot of the pair's conversation.

“Sana’s having a party at her place this Saturday, says her parents are leaving on Friday and are gonna be gone the whole week. It’s gonna be a helluva time!”

IRyS closed her locker. “Hmmm, I dunno, Faun, I don’t really go to parties.”

The boy, evidently named Faun, continued to try and convince her, “Come on, IRyS! The whole squad is gonna be there! We’ll have a good time, trust me!”

A party? Oh no… Bae loved to party. And the thought of being able to go to one with IRyS…

Bae chose this moment to approach them. “Hey!” she called out.

IRyS whipped her head toward the newcomer. “Oh! Hey, Bae!”

Bae?” Faun raised an eyebrow, asking an unsaid question that she was quite used to at this point. She had become accustomed to the fact that her name also happened to be a term of endearment often used between couples, and she could see the gears already turning in this dude’s head.

He looked down at her, and not-at-all-subtly checked her out. Without a hint of any tact at all he dismissed her appearance with a quiet click of the tongue. IRyS didn’t react, she must not have heard, but Bae certainly did.

She didn’t like this guy, she viewed him as a bit of a threat, and clearly he was also an asshole. Despite that, she had seen first hand IRyS’ weakness to cute boys, and while she certainly wasn’t interested in him herself, she wasn’t blind either. She had to do whatever she could possibly do to keep IRyS to herself; a selfish thought, but she was a bit of a selfish girl when push came to shove.

“At your service! Nice to meet you, Faun was it?”

“Y-yeah.” He looked to IRyS, seeking backup.

“Faun, this is my new friend, Bae. We met just recently!” She gestured from Faun to Bae.

“Wait, so your name is Bae? You’re not…?”

Bae was backed into a corner here, she wanted to press it, to imply that they perhaps ‘were’, but she didn’t want to risk anything with IRyS here, she couldn’t overstep her bounds. She would play it safe.

“My name is actually Baelz, but for a number of reasons, including people mispronouncing it as ‘Balls’, I shorten it to ‘Bae’.”

IRyS nodded. “Bae sounds way cuter.”

She blushed a little at that. “Ehem, anyway, I don’t mean to intrude, but I hear tell through the grapevine—and by grapevine I do mean eavesdropping as I approached—that there’s a party this weekend. You wouldn’t possibly have room to squeeze one more girl onto the invite list, would you? I love to party.”

She watched Faun consider this, she could clearly follow his simple-minded thought process, ‘more girls at the party? Hell yeah!’ he had to be thinking.

“Sure, if IRyS says you’re cool, it’s cool with me.”

“Well if Bae is going… I guess I’ll go too. You’ve twisted my arm!”

The bell rang, telling them it was time to get to class.

“Alright ladies, gotta get to class, I’ll save you a seat at the lunch table, IRyS,” Faun said, clearly omitting Bae.

IRyS hurriedly turned toward her. “You wanna join us too, Bae? We can save an extra seat…”

Bae was quick to dismiss her. “No, no, it’s fine. I’m having lunch with my other friends.”

She could tell that even though he was okay with her at the party, he clearly wasn’t inviting her into their friend group. That was fine with her, she didn’t want in. Although, she had actually wanted to invite IRyS to have lunch with her friends, but it would be totally rude to do that now. She’d have to be faster next time.

Faun seemed to relax, seeing he didn’t have to try and dissuade or deal with her today, and turned and walked away with a wave, leaving the two of them together.

“Oh, okay, alright.” With Faun out of earshot, IRyS continued. “I see you made it home okay.”

“Yeah, thanks again for the help.”

“Don’t mention it. Say, have you put any thought into our next date?”

“Oh, that, yeah, some… do you like coffee?”

IRyS thought for a moment. “I don’t dislike coffee.”

Bae deflated a bit at this. She was planning to suggest going out to a local cafe she had found. She was looking forward to showing off this place to IRyS, but with the way she had responded, with that tone, clearly implied that she didn’t like coffee either.

IRyS saw Bae’s reaction, and tried to lift her spirits back up. “But, if it’s with you, I’d be happy to… what was it you wanted to do? Go for coffee?”

Bae perked back up. “Yeah, if you want to… there’s a really good cafe nearby…”

IRyS clapped her hands together. “It’s settled then, coffee it is. When are we going?”

“Is after school okay?”

“After school it is. I’ll meet you at the same place as last time; luckily, I don’t have any presentations to sit through at the end of the day, so I shouldn’t keep you waiting.” IRyS smiled warmly at her, and her heart fluttered annoyingly into her throat.

“Y-yeah, sounds good IRyS! I’ll see you then!” she squeaked out, “I gotta get to class, bye!” Before IRyS could get a word in, she turned and jogged away down the hall.

Another win for Hakos Baelz.

Chapter 5: Social

Bae watched the girl across from her glance apprehensively at the five coffee cups in front of her. Each one holding a slightly different blend of that good-good bean juice. Her own mouth was already watering at the thought of drinking them, and the aroma of the cafe wasn’t helping much either.

“Say… Bae… Remind me again why you needed to buy me FIVE cups of coffee.”

Bae crossed her arms. “It’s a taste test, you don’t like coffee; I’m going to change your mind.”

“I never said I don’t like coffee, I’m just not the biggest fan. I prefer soda.”

Bae looked aghast. It was as if IRyS had just said a horrible slur, she was so offended by what she heard. She gagged dramatically and shuddered. “Soda over coffee… girl you got issues.”

IRyS rolled her eyes. “Alright, alright, enough of the theatrics you rat.”

“Rat!?” Bae exclaimed.

“Yeah, because you are cute and small—”

“Hehehe,” Bae giggled.

“—and also a pest.”

“HEY! Oh mah gawd, who did I take on a date this afternoon, she is so mean.”

“That would be me, IRyS, second cutest girl in the school.”

“Wait, then who’s first?”

IRyS just stared at her.

“Wait, you don’t mean? It’s me!? Let’s goooooo!”

IRyS scrunched her face. “When did I say it was you?” she mocked a disgusted tone.

“I’m beautiful and you know it, that’s why you came crawling back, just couldn’t stand to be without me.”

“That’s why I’m going to swallow my pride and drink this dirty bean water. Speaking of, I thought you were the one who liked coffee, why didn’t you order any for yourself when you were ordering my FIVE cups?”

Bae sat up in her chair. “It’s not dirty bean water, it’s… okay maybe it is, but it’s good dirty bean water. And I’ll just drink the four of these that you don’t like.” She gestured at the spread of cups. “Each of these is a different coffee flavour profile, from different ranges of bitterness, sweetness, and acidity.

IRyS blinked several times at her. “You’re going to drink four cups, right now?”

“Well, not right now, but yeah, I can do four pretty easily.”

“Do you maybe need to see a doctor?”

Bae rolled her eyes. “Go on, give one a try!”

“You aren’t going to tell me which is which?”

Bae bounced in her seat. “Nope! That’s the exciting part, each one is a unique taste experience! Pick one and tell me your thoughts!”

“Okay…” Her hand floated between the drinks. “I’ll try… this one!” She grabbed the second cup in front of her.

Bae watched with eager anticipation as she brought it up to her lips and gingerly sipped at the hot liquid. She scrunched her face a bit and made some exaggerated expressions as she moved the fluid around in her mouth, making an effort to truly and fully taste it, which Bae appreciated.

IRyS swallowed it, and let out an audible “ah~” for effect.

“So…?” Bae started.

“That one was… kinda sweet, but like, really bitter. Almost overwhelmingly so.”

Bae nodded in agreement. “I’m assuming you don’t like it?”

“Yeah… that’s not for me… too—”

“Bitter? I figured you wouldn’t like the strong bitterness, it’s an acquired taste.” She reached over the table and took the cup of coffee. “Personally, I’m a big fan of this blend, it works really well for iced coffee. I enjoy the bitterness of coffee normally, but I’m not really a fan of sweets, so this provides a good balance for me.”

“Huh, I see… I never thought coffee could be that deep.”

Bae sipped her newly acquired cup of coffee, and maybe she did intentionally spin the cup so she would drink from the same spot on the cup IRyS had drunk from, who’s to say for certain? “Go for another one.”

IRyS grabbed the last one in the line-up this time, tasted it, and reported her observations. “This one is kinda like… candied wood? Like someone took the bark off a tree and made it sweet.”

“Well, that’s certainly one way to describe the flavour. How do you like it?”

“Better than the last, I like that it’s sweeter, but I still don’t really like it.”

Like that, they continued to work through the remaining cups of coffee, before finally settling on a cup that IRyS actually liked. It was one that had a hint of bitterness, a hint of sweetness, but a really sharp acidic note that was almost comparable to the soda that IRyS was so fond of.

Secretly, before IRyS had even told her about liking soda, she figured this one would be her favourite of the bunch. If IRyS’ super power was her gaydar, then Bae’s was her ability to know what type of coffee a person would like.

Now they sat together with their drinks, Bae with the four IRyS didn’t like, and IRyS with her chosen blend.

“So, are you excited for the party this weekend?” Bae asked.

“Uh, yeah I guess so, more nervous than anything, like I said I’m not really a party kinda person.”

“Why not? You’re a lot of fun to be around, you’re funny, cute, all that jazz. You seem like you’d do great at a party!”

IRyS blushed at the torrent of compliments. “Oh, hehe thanks, um, it’s just that… I never used to get invited to parties. Before I moved here all my friends were kinda quiet and nerdy, the most we got up to was when our trans friend convinced us to go to pride with her.”

“Man, how did you go from the quiet nerdy crew to hangin’ with the most popular crew in the school?”

IRyS scratched her chin in thought. “Hmmm, I don’t really know why, but on my first day here I introduced myself to the class and sat down, and then Faun switched seats to sit beside me. We hit it off immediately and he introduced me to the rest of his friends, we’ve been hanging out together ever since.”

Bae grimaced internally, but managed to keep her outward reaction to a simple purse of her lips. “I… see,” she spoke in a measured tone, not wanting to convey the full depths of her displeasure.

The way she spoke about Faun, with such a level of closeness, perhaps even fondness… Jealousy was welling up inside her again. She grew up in Australia, so she knew a snake when she saw one. Faun was no good.

“Is something wrong?”

“I don’t like him,” Bae said honestly.

IRyS looked at her, concerned. “Why is that? He’s been nothing but nice to me, and you’ve barely met him.”

Bae searched for words, but couldn’t find a way to articulate her feelings without coming out of this looking worse. “Nevermind… forget I said anything.”

“Awwww, Bae, are you perhaps a little bit jealous?”

“W-w-what!? No! I’m the one on a date with you, not him!”

“Mhm, and don’t you forget that. Faun is a nice guy, but I’m not interested in him like that. Honestly, maybe I would’ve been if more time had passed, but I saw you and I…” IRyS trailed off, embarrassed.

“Hm?”

“Bae…” IRyS started.

“Yeah?”

IRyS stopped and thought about what to say next, her tongue poked out cutely as she concentrated. After a few moments her eyes shot open.

“Bae, are you mixed?”

What? M-mixed? Mixed what? What?

“Huh!?”

“Because, you’re looking half-fine and half-mine.” IRyS pointed finger guns at her as she delivered the worst pick-up line imaginable, because of course she did.

Bae groaned and put her head in her hands. Why am I so into you, you absolute dork. “That was horrible.” And probably not what she was originally going to say… “What does that even mean? Are you saying that I’m only half-fine? Am I not 100% fine? Huh!?”

“W-w-well…”

“And half-yours? Excuse me, but I am currently an independent rat!” she proclaimed, reusing the nickname IRyS had given her. “I don’t remember us getting married. I ain’t see no ring!”

Like they were quickly becoming accustomed to, they both broke down into bickering with each other, perhaps as if they were already married.*


IRyS: Hey rat
Bae: Hey devil
IRyS: devil? No way I’m an angel
Bae: in your dreams
IRyS: what u up to?
Bae: just chillin reading manga
IRyS: ooo anything good
Bae: nope some shitty isekai i picked up a while back
IRyS: i see
Bae: say irys, did you wanna sit together at lunch tomorrow? I could introduce you to my friends
Bae: they’re much cooler than your friends
IRyS: well I’ll just have to come and see that for myself, won’t I?
Bae: hehe see u tomorrow <3
IRyS: <3


Bae: guys im bringing a friend to sit with us at lunch tmrw
Kronii: your girlfriend?
Bae: 🙄
Mumei: i invited fauna to join us as well if you dont mind
Kronii: who?
Bae: sounds good to me
Mumei: alright cool
Kronii: who???
Bae: see you guys in class tmrw o/
Mumei: night bae!
Kronii: WHO?
Mumei: fauna
Kronii: who is fauna
Mumei: girl
Kronii: im going to strangle you
Bae: *watches from distance*
Kronii: both of you are going to die
Bae: lol
Kronii: YOU STILL HAVEN’T ANSWERED MY QUESTION


“Asshole teacher…” Bae muttered as she left the classroom, already—she checked her phone—8 minutes into her lunch period.

The entire class was forced to stay into their lunch period because some rowdy kid decided to make a scene and throw some paper across the room. Bae thought it was just some harmless fun, but the old-ass teacher clearly thought differently and used collective punishment on the entire class.

Not only did this violate the geneva convention, it also fucked up her plans to have IRyS join her friends for lunch. She was surprised she hadn’t received a message from the girl asking where she was.

She hurried to the cafeteria, as she speed-walked there, she quickly shot off a text to IRyS

Bae: hey, the teacher kept us late, on my way to the cafeteria now. You still there?

It was only took about a minute and a half for her to reach her destination, in that time she hadn’t received anything back from IRyS. She stepped into the cafeteria and scanned the room. Her eyes were first drawn to what had become the popular kids table.

She was somewhat relieved to see that IRyS hadn’t decided to just sit with them instead. She was going to continue scanning the room, when she noticed that at that table Faun was sitting with a glare on his face, she followed his eyeline and saw a table filled with familiar girls.

All her friends were already gathered there, including the new addition, Fauna. But to her surprise, she saw that IRyS was already there, sitting with them as well.

Bae immediately forgot about Faun, and made a bee-line to the table where her friends sat.

“Hey!” she called out as she walked up to them.

“Oh, Bae, you’re here!” IRyS replied, she lifted her bag off of the chair next to her and put it on the ground. “I saved you a seat!”

“Thanks! I thought I was gonna have to introduce you to my friends, but I guess that’s already happened, huh?” Bae noted.

Kronii spoke up, “Yeah, Mumei found her outside the cafeteria waiting for you, so she invited her to come sit down.”

“She looked so lonely without you!” Mumei piped up.

“Hey! I did not!” IRyS pouted.

“Hey now, it’s okay if you missed me, angel.” Bae put her hand on IRyS’ shoulder before sitting down.

Kronii whistled. “Smooth.”

IRyS shoved Bae’s hand off her. “You’ll have to try a little harder than that, rat.”

Fauna spoke up next. “Uuuuuuu, you guys are such a cute couple!”

Bae felt her face start to burn, but it was IRyS who spoke first. “Oh, um, we’re not… well… we…”

“We’re getting there,” Bae interrupted IRyS’ struggle for words.

“I see…” Fauna said.

“Bae!” Mumei jumped in, “You should’ve been here earlier! I introduced everyone to Fauna here as well, she looks so scary at first but she’s actually super cute!”

Fauna blushed and ducked her head. “Ah… um…”

“See what I mean?”

Fauna looked up, it was as if a shadow had crossed over her smiling flushed complexion. “You think I’m scary?”

Bae almost shivered from how cold and intimidating her tone was.

“Nope,” Mumei answered easily, and as she said it she reached over the table and booped her on the nose, just to run the point home. “I’m not scared of anything.”

Fauna pouted. “I put a lot of effort into my appearance though!”

Kronii nodded. “Oh, I can tell. You’re just not scary as far as your appearance goes. You’re really cute.”

Bae saw Mumei give Kronii half a side-eye for just a moment.

Are these two idiots both trying to compete for Fauna right now?

“Th-thank you Kronii, Mumei, you’re both very cute too. And also you too, IRyS… Bae…” Fauna looked between all of them, then she looked upwards. “And thank you, God, for allowing me to be surrounded by so many cute girls.”

“Wait, are you religious?” Bae asked.

Fauna shrugged. “No, but just in case…”

Bae rolled her eyes.

“I like your voice, Fauna, you have a kind of… mommy aura,” IRyS commented.

Fauna cleared her throat, and when she spoke, her vocal change had dropped in pitch and was laced with a velvety texture, “Oh, IRyS? Do you like the mommy types? I can be the mommy type, just for you~

“Ohh!~” IRyS reacted in ecstasy as if she had been shot by a pleasure bullet. “Oh my, oh my.” She fanned herself with her hands.

Kronii groaned. “Oh god…”

“IRyS, calm down… IRyS… IRyS…” Bae put one had on her shoulder and waved the other in front of her face.

“What? Huh, oh. I’m good. I’m good. It’s uh… it was her fault.” IRyS pointed at Fauna across the table.

Fauna just smirked smuggly.

“Damn, IRyS, you are super weak to the mommy types, huh?” Bae commented. “I’ll have to remember that

“It’s okay, Fauna, you can be my mommy if you want,” Mumei said, “I expect supper to be ready every night at five, I want an allowance of at least fifty dollars a week, and I expect my laundry to be done every weekend.”

The rest of the table continued talking about Fauna’s incredible dommy-mommy vocal ability, and Bae let her mind and eyes wander around the cafeteria as she idly chewed on the sandwich she had brought with her for lunch.

Her eyes glanced upon the popular-kids table once again, and there she still saw Faun staring toward their table with a nasty look on his face.

The fuck is his problem? Bae felt her mood souring, but she didn’t really know what to do about it.

“Hey, Bae,” IRyS pulled her out of her thoughts, “Why just a sandwich today? You had a really fancy bento last time!”

Bae smiled and opened her mouth to respond. Honestly, fuck that guy, she didn’t care about him and didn’t need to worry about him; he wasn’t the one going on dates with IRyS. He’s probably jealous right now. Piece of shit.

“Well…”

Chapter 6: Flare

Bae stepped into the cafeteria and scanned the room. Her eyes immediately jumped between the usual places. Over at the popular kids table she saw IRyS with Faun and her other friends, she wouldn’t be bothering her today.

She was sure IRyS wouldn’t mind her company, especially considering that they both had been so busy with school work over the course of the week that they hadn’t gotten to hang out at all, but she really didn’t want to deal with Faun’s icy glares right now. She would see plenty of IRyS at the party tomorrow anyway.

She saw her friends together at their usual table, and was happy to see that Fauna was there as well, having become a recent addition to their friend circle. She selfishly wondered if she might be able to get IRyS into their circle as well and spend less time with her—In Bae’s opinion—shittier other friends.

She started to make her way over to them, when at a different table she saw a familiar blonde detective and her tiny gray-haired girlfriend waving at her to get her attention.

Oh shit, I totally forgot I hired Amelia to dig up information on IRyS… lotta good that did.

Bae altered course and made a bee-line to their table.

“Wazzup!” Bae greeted them as she pulled out a chair across from the pair and sat down.

“Good afternoon, Bae!” Amelia greeted back, “We’ve got the results of your investigation!”

Bae chuckled. “Is it too late to ask for a refund?”

Amelia furrowed her brow at that. “There’s no refund for a service already rendered.”

“Well I don’t really need the info anymore, so…”

Gura piped up, “What, did you lose interest in IRyS or something?”

Bae shook her head, confused. “No.”

“That’s unfortunate,” Amelia said, “But I can’t think of any other reason you’d have for wanting a refund, I did the job just like you requested. I can tell you that the information I gathered won’t exactly be what you want to hear.”

Bae was befuddled by this; her and IRyS were practically dating at this point.

What on Earth did she dig up on her?

“Continue…” Bae said.

Amelia cracked her fingers and rolled her shoulders. “Alright, here’s the run-down. Me and goober here observed IRyS across several days at different times, such as during lunch, between classes, or as she was leaving or arriving at school.

“She spends a lot of time with her friend group, those popular kids she is with right now.” She nodded toward their table. “And one of them in particular, she seems to have a certain affinity toward, F—”

“Faun. Yeah I know,” Bae interrupted.

“Ah, I see you’re aware of that part. Yeah, she and Faun seem to be really close, extremely close. They spend the majority of their time together, and pretty much every time I watched her she would be with him already, or he would show up.”

Bae furrowed her brow and bit her tongue, letting Ame continue.

“Now, you said to figure out if she was gay, and I don’t have much evidence that she could be beyond that one image from her Instagram you showed me.

“There was one occurrence when she stopped in the hall to chat with a girl I think you know, the one with the black hair and green streaks, I noticed that she often sits at your table at lunch.

“Just a single interaction with a girl isn’t a great vote of confidence toward her being gay, and there is a lot of evidence pointing toward her being straight. Now, she could be bi or pan or something, but I have nothing to support that conclusion.

“We didn’t just do spying though, we covertly talked with some other students to see what they knew, and basically the word in the rumor mill is that IRyS and Faun are either dating, or both are crushing hard on each other. I don’t know which it is, but from what I’ve seen myself, it checks out.

“I guess the only thing I have left to offer you is that if you maybe want to try and pursue a friendship of some sort with this girl, you should ask your emo friend to introduce you.”

With that, Ame clasped her hands together and awaited Bae’s response.

Bae stared through her and blinked several times. “I think… I’d like that refund.”

Gura nearly jumped out of her seat and slams her handed on the table. “You can’t just ask for a refund because you aren’t happy with the results of the investigation! I’ll have you know that stinky and I worked very hard on this and it took a lot of time!”

Bae crossed her arms. “Oh, Gura went with you? Are you sure while you two were out and about together that you didn’t, I don’t know… get distracted at all?”

Bae knew she was right when she saw a blush start crawling its way onto both of their faces and they refused to make eye contact with her. Suddenly Gura blurted out, “How did you know we were making out?”

Bae laughed. “I know how us gays be, alright.”

Gura rolled her eyes. “Whatever, no refunds.”

Bae cracked her fingers and rolled her shoulders, mirroring Ame’s earlier actions. “Lemme lay it out for you, because I think you’ve missed some things, detective. For starters: IRyS isn’t straight.”

“What?” Ame tilted her head at her in confusion.

“We’ve gone on a couple dates actually. She’s very into girls, and boys too, but we don’t need to talk about that part. In fact, I feel fairly confident in saying that I am one of those girls that she is very into!”

“So wait, you already knew she wasn’t straight and were actively going on dates with her…? Were you just trying to test my detective skills? I don’t appreciate being made to look like a fool, Baelz,” Ame glowered.

Bae shook her head. “Don’t misunderstand me, this wasn’t a setup. It’s kinda amazing the timing really, right after I paid you and you left, IRyS came over to me and introduced herself, she gave me her number and things accelerated from there.

“For the life of me, I have no idea how you didn’t figure this out over the week though, we— or at least, I haven’t been trying to hide it or anything.”

Bae watched the gears spin inside Ame’s head. “When exactly have you two been together…?” she asked.

“Monday at lunch after you left, and then after school, Tuesday in the morning, but also at lunch and after school. Wednesday until now we’ve only had a brief interaction as we passed each other in the hallway… I think that was yesterday. And it’s Friday now, but I haven’t spoken to her in person.

“School has been hell in the latter half of this week, so I haven’t gotten to chat with her much or go on any more dates. We have been texting regularly though!”

Ame nodded. “That… checks out… with when we were… distracted…” she noted guiltily.

“So, is she your girlfriend now?” Gura asked.

Bae sighed. “No, not yet, we’re still just going on dates and testing the waters.”

Gura scoffed at this. “Sounds to me like the waters have been thoroughly tested, take your shot and ask her!”

“I don’t know… I’m bad at asking things like that.”

“So is Watson. I guess I shouldn’t have told Ina about our findings though, since we ended up being wrong.”

Bae face-palmed. “Why are you gossiping about this?”

“I only told Ina! And she would never tell anyone else… probably.”

“Ugh,” Bar groaned.

Ame cleared her throat, her voice was quiet when she spoke, “I… I’ll give you a refund. It’s my fault we missed all those obvious details, I’m sorry. It’s just… you’ll need to give me some time to pay you back, I already spent the money you paid me to take Gura to the local fair yesterday…”

Bae thought about how she was annoyed that she wasn’t able to take IRyS to that fair because of how busy both of them had become.

Ame continued, “My parents don’t give me an allowance and not a lot of people want to buy the services of the school detective, but I’ll try and scrounge up the money to pay you back, I promise!”

“Watson…” Gura’s eyes flicked between Bae and Amelia.

Bae’s heart was torn hearing Ame like this, it was true she got nothing out of the investigation she paid for and Ame did kinda slack on the job, but she pitied the girl, she was just trying to make some money so she could treat her girlfriend.

“Alright, Ame, I’ll tell you what. You don’t need to give me a refund.”

“Really? Are you sure?”

“On two conditions! Number one: You either leave Gura behind, or you agree not to engage in any PDA while working a case. No distractions.”

“Awwww, but I like PDA!” Gura exclaimed.

Ame giggled at her girlfriend’s display. “Settle down, sharky.” She turned back to Bae. “Deal. What’s your second condition?”

“Simple, you owe me one. I don’t know what else I want yet, but I wanna get something out of this.”

“A favor to call in later? I think I can do that, just don’t ask me to do anything illegal. I can’t go back to juvie!”

“You went to juvie?” Bae asked, astonished.

“No.”

“Pffft—”


Bae: hey hayko, can I borrow your car tmrw?
Hayko: oh? what for?
Bae: taking a date to a party
Hayko: she cute?
Bae: extremely
Hayko: well what’s in it for me if I agree?
Bae: I’ll let you sniff the seat she sits on
Hayko: damn cuz, do you really think im that desperate?
Bae: yes
Hayko 🙄 who else is gonna be at the party?
Hayko: do you know if calvin is going?
Bae: i don’t really know anyone who is going, i got in through my date.
Bae: i wouldn’t be able to get you into the party even if i wanted to (i don’t want to lol)
Bae: wait who’s calvin?
Hayko: dw abt it
Bae: is that your crush?
Hayko: shut your trap hakotaro
Bae: my lips are sealed… if you let me take your car, ill be good to her i promise
Hayko: the car or your date?
Bae: yes
Hayko: are you blackmailing me hakos?
Bae: only a little
Hayko: fine you can take the car
Bae: yay! Ty shit ass
Bae: to make it up to you, here’s a little intel for ya, if you need any covert spying done to dig up info on anyone in particular (no judgement), seek out a girl named amelia watson and tell her bae sent you
Bae: she’s something like a school detective
Hayko: huh ill keep that in mind
Hayko: now enjoy your date dumbass, car is parked in the driveway, ill hide the keys under the bbq, swing by and grab it whenever


Bae pulled up outside IRyS’ house and shut off her borrowed car, Hayko’s admittedly impressive 1991 Dodge Viper. She grabbed her phone out from where it was propped up in the cup-holder, showing GPS directions. Even though she had already been here once before when she dropped IRyS off after their first date, that was at night and with IRyS giving her directions, so she needed a little technological guidance on this return trip. She shot off a text to let IRyS know that she was waiting outside.

She quickly checked out her reflection in the side mirror to make sure her hair was still good. It was, just like the dozen or so times she had double checked it and her outfit in every source of a reflection she had encountered on her way from her bedroom all the way to where she was now.

Looking up from her own vanity she saw her partner in crime emerging from her house, she was turned away from her and waving back into her house through the front door she held open. Bae took this opportunity to get a good look at IRyS’ outfit, it was a dress made of a light flowy black fabric that stopped tantalizingly just above her thighs, giving a clear view of her (comparatively) long legs.

She closed the door and started making her way toward the waiting vehicle. She moved as quickly as her white heals could carry her. As she moved out of the shadow of her house and was illuminated by the evening sun, Bae was treated to the mouth-watering view of the slight transparency of her dress leading to a perfect view of IRyS’ figure.

IRyS pulled open the passenger side door and Bae snapped her mouth shut, realizing that it was hanging open like she was some kind of simpleton.

“HiRyS!” IRyS greeted her as she climbed into her seat.

“Wazzup, cutie.”

IRyS smiled at her. “Oh, nothing much, just going to a party with my rat.”

“Mhm. You look good by the way, I like your dress.”

IRyS giggled. “I thought you did by the way your mouth was hanging open. You look cute too, that jacket is super stylish.”

Bae blushed upon hearing that IRyS noticed her earlier slack-jawed expression. “Thank you.”

“And nice car, is it yours?”

“Nah, I borrowed it from my asshole cousin,” as she spoke she kicked the car into gear and started driving. “Oh right, I got no idea where we are going, can you throw the address into my phone?” She passed the device over to her.

“Sure. How is your cousin able to afford a car like this? Must’ve been pretty expensive.”

“Ah yeah, it was actually his dad’s, but uh, he unfortunately passed away a couple years ago, the car was left to him. He could never afford something like this on his own, he’s still in high school too, same school as us, his name’s Hayko, you’ve probably seen him around.”

“Oh yeah, now that you mention it I have Com-Tech with him, now that I know you’re related it makes sense, especially the—”

“The hair? Yeah. Red-head blood is strong in our family.”

IRyS passed the phone back as they rolled up to a stop sign and Bae propped it back up in her cup-holder.

“Exactly.” IRyS nodded.

“You know, he could pay for his entire college tuition and then some if he sold this thing, quite a few people in our family told him as much, I think a distant relative even offered to buy it themselves. But he’s refused them all, he’s hanging onto it, too much sentimental value.”

“That’s… sweet.”

Bae scoffed. “Yeah, that’s probably the only wholesome thing about him. He’s a massive dick.”

“He has a massive dick?” IRyS asked in confusion.

“What no? How would I know? Also, gross. I said he is one, not that he has one.” Bae cackled.

IRyS shrugged. “I dunno, maybe he’s packing and you really wanted me to know.”

Bae groaned. “Oh my god, stop, you idiot.”

The two giggled at their nonsense. Bae pulled them onto the highway.

“You wanna find some music to put on? My phone’s connected to the bluetooth and I don’t need to see the map on the highway,” Bae asked and passed the phone back over to IRyS.

“Sure.”

“You can find something you like on Spotify or just hit shuffle on my playlist, I promise I got good taste.”

“Hmm, I like that challenge.” IRyS tapped something on the phone and a song familiar to Bae started playing. “Oh, you do have good taste! I love this song.”

IRyS immediately jumped into singing along with the song, and Bae wasted no time joining in with her, together as they cruised down the highway they belted out the lines of the song, their contrasting voices joined together to form beautiful harmonies.

Bae couldn’t help but notice how talented of a singer IRyS was, she had the voice of a pop-star, and definitely the looks to back it up. “Oh my god, IRyS I know I’ve heard you sing before on your Insta story, but like, gawd damn, you are straight up gifted!”

“Oh… I dunno about all that, I haven’t had any vocal training or anything, I don’t know any of the right techniques.”

“Psssh, who cares, you clearly don’t need ‘em!”

“Hey now, you’re really good as well!”

“Yeah, but nothing like you! You know, you could probably get into the Cover University singing program with your level of skill.”

“I, uh, actually was planning on trying to get in…” IRyS confirmed.

“See! I’m so smart!”

“Well, what about you? Are you going to try to get into Cover U?” IRyS asked her.

Bae thought back to her sister for a moment. “Oh, I dunno, I’d like to, I guess, but I’m not really all that sure yet.”

“Were you going to try the singing program?”

“Oh heavens no, I’m a decent enough singer, I’d probably take it as a minor, but my real passion is dancing! I’d try to get into the dance program, if anything.”

IRyS nodded. “I remember you mentioning dancing, I’d like to see you dance one of these days. Honestly, I think I have two left feet, so I’d just fall on my face if I tried.”

“Aw, come on, anyone can learn to dance.”

“What about kids in wheelchairs?”

“What the fuck, IRyS?” Bae glanced over at her bewildered.

IRyS giggled. “What?”

Bae shook her head. “You’re hopeless.”

“You fool I am anything but. I am the most hope-filled. I am hope incarnate!”

Bae scoffed. “Yeah, okay, Hope. I’ll believe it when I see it.”


The sun had just dipped below the horizon when they exited their car outside of Sana’s place, it was a large beautiful three-story home. Bae wrinkled her nose at the place, thinking back to her elementary school bullies, the typical filthy-rich snobs who think that they are better than you.

Bae sped up to walk alongside IRyS as they approached the house. “Hey, IRyS?”

“Hm?”

“What kind of person is Sana anyway, I’ve never met her.”

“Oh, Sana? She’s well… like a giant marshmallow of a person!” IRyS said, smiling. “You’ll like her, trust me, everyone does.”

“Alright…” She was still skeptical.

They reached the door and IRyS opened it. “After you, Miss Hakos.”

Bae politely bowed and stepped inside. There was a decent amount of people there but it wasn’t overly crowded either, maybe a couple dozen. She recognized a lot of people from school, and she could pretty much pick out the majority of the kids from the popular table among them. She knew none of her own friends would be here because they were all nerds who never put themselves into a situation where they could actually end up invited to parties, which had a tendency to put a serious damper on Bae’s idealic party animal lifestyle.

“Have you been to her house before?” Bae asked.

IRyS shook her head. “No, this is my first time here.”

“Then let’s get a lay of the land! Come on!” She grabbed her wrist and pulled her deeper into the home. Weaving them between and around the other party-goers to see whatever interesting things they could find.

“First rule of parties, IRyS, is this: Locate the bathrooms,” she instructed as she dragged the taller girl down a hallway.

“Oh, okay.”

“There is one here…” she said as they passed by an unoccupied washroom. She spotted a staircase leading upstairs. “Oh, there’s probably more upstairs, let’s go check.”

“Did we really come to this party to go toilet spotting?” IRyS asked incredulously.

They started climbing the stairs, Bae realized she was still holding onto IRyS’ wrist and abashedly released it. “Listen, would you rather vomit into an antique vase or a toilet?”

“I’d rather not vomit at all.”

Bae rolled her eyes. “That’s what everyone says until they get six cans deep into the whiteclaw's and need a porcelain bowl to dump their guts into and someone to hold back their hair.”

“This sounds like it’s from experience…”

Bae giggled as they reached the top of the steps. “You don’t even know the half of it.”

IRyS was about to speak when they were interrupted by the sound of what appeared to be repeated metallic bangs echoing up at them from the ground floor. “What the…?”

“Get over ‘er! Come on, all of you! Over here, now! Come on! Move it!” a voice yelled from the same origin as the banging sound, Bae noted that the voice was distinctly Aussie, one of her own.

“Oh, that’s Sana. We should go see what she wants.”

“Right.” Bae nodded and they went back down the stairs toward the disturbance. They trailed behind some other guests and made their way into the kitchen.

The guests all packed into the room where a taller dark-skinned student was standing on a chair wielding a wooden spoon and metal pan. Bae instantly recognized her from seeing her occasionally sit with IRyS at lunch.

“Alright everyone, listen up! We got booze,”—she gestures at the makeshift bar she has set up behind her—“We knowing drinking underage is irresponsible and all that but we’re gonna do it anyway, however, if I catch any of you behind the wheel after drinking I’m going to literally call your parents and tell them, you can crash here if you need to.

“Now, one of you, there.” She pointed at San, who Bae was just connecting the dots on them being related, and also realized that he was at the party as well. “If I catch you drinking I’m going to kick your ass to the moon.”

The other guests laughed and San hung his head in embarrassment, Krono who was standing next to him, patted him on the back reassuringly, Bae noted how his hand seemed to… linger… for just a few extra moments.

Oh, IRyS was totally right… gay…

“Other than that, enjoy the party!” Sana called and the guests cheered. From somewhere inside the home, someone turned on the stereo system and loud dance music began to play.

A large number of people made a bee-line toward Sana’s makeshift bar, but Bae wasn’t about to get caught in that so she took IRyS’ arm and started to pull them out of the kitchen.

“Come on, let’s go find somewhere to dance for a bit,” she said.

“D-dance? I don’t dance.”

Bae rolled her eyes. “It’s easy, trust me.”

IRyS grumbled something, but Bae ignored it. She pulled them into the living room where space had been cleared for a small dance area. The room was playing music from the impressive surround sound system, and had even been set up with some rainbow lights to really sell the rave aesthetic.

Over the loud music from in between the vibing bodies of the other dancers, Bae began to give IRyS instructions. “Okay, for starters, just vibe with your head to the sound, just enjoy it for a bit.”

They started simple, and from there Bae helped IRyS work through incorporating her entire body into just dancing along with the music, and getting over what other people thought and just having fun. It didn’t take too long before they were both weaving their bodies to the music without a care in the world.

“Having fun?” Bae asked, flashing IRyS a toothy grin.

“What!?” IRyS called back over the music.

“I said—” From behind, someone bumped into Bae and she stumbled forward into IRyS.

“Woah,” IRyS said as she caught her. “Careful, babe…” she said with an amount of warmness that disarmed Bae completely, and tinted her face a glorious shade of crimson.

“Ehem, sorry… Let’s get off the dance floor for now.”

“Sure.” IRyS nodded, still holding her.

Bae retracted herself out of the taller girl's grip and they made their way out and away from the music. “I’ll go grab you a drink, I can't drink because I’m your driver, but I wanna make sure you have fun.”

“Awww, you’re so sweet, Bae.”

“Any preference?”

“Surprise me.”

Bae nodded and made her way to the kitchen bar. Once inside she thankfully found that it was a lot less crowded, just a few people holding drinks and mingling, and Sana, their host, alone at the bar, standing in front of a large assortment of bottles and red solo cups.

“Hey,” Bae started, “Can you get me a rum and coke and also just a normal Coke. Make sure you don’t mix them up because I get fucked up real easy and I’m the pretty girls designated driver.”

Sana chuckles at her. “One rum and coke and Coke, coming up.” She started grabbing the necessary cups and bottles and pouring the drinks. “You from ‘straya?”

“I am. Born and raised,” Bae confirmed.

Sana nodded. “What made you move out here?”

“I moved with my family, we came here because my sister had an opportunity to get into Cover U, that ended up falling through, but we had already picked up our lives and moved here, so we couldn’t just go back.”

“I see, that’s unfortunate.”

“It’s not all bad, I’ve made a lot of friends here and I wouldn’t leave them for the world. What about you, why did you move out here?”

“Sounds like the same reason as your sister, I’m trying to get into the Cover U art program.” She slides the two cups toward Bae. “This one is yours… and this one is for ‘the pretty girl’, enjoy.”

“Thanks! And good luck with Cover U!” Bae took the cups and walked out of the kitchen back toward where she had left her date. Her eyebrows twitched upon turning the corner to where she expected to just see IRyS waiting for her, however instead she was greeted by the sight of Faun there as well standing over her with one arm against the wall and a drink in his other hand, chatting her up.

Bae pursed her lips in annoyance, and as she got closer she could actually tell that IRyS looked a bit uncomfortable, which was new for her, usually IRyS never had any issue with Faun, they were friends after all.

“Come on, cutie, let’s head out to the dance floor, I’ll show you some moves.”

“N-no thanks, I already said I’m waiting for—” she looked over and a wave of relief passed over her as she saw that familiar bob of red hair approaching her, “—Bae!” She quickly ducked out from under Faun’s arm on the wall and made her way over to her approaching saviour.

Bae held out her drink and she took it graciously. “Here, one rum and coke, my lady.”

“Thank you, Bae!” she thanked sweetly, Bae could tell that she meant it in more ways than one.

Seeing that he had been clearly sidelined, Faun huffed and pushed himself up off the wall, when he moved Bae got a whiff off him and she could tell that he was already a few drinks deep. Probably pre-gaming by the looks of it. He downed the rest of his drink in one go then mumbled something about getting a refill before wandering off in the same direction Bae had come from.

Once out of eachshot Bae asked “You alright?” Her voice showed her concern.

“Y-yeah, thanks. I don’t know what’s up with him, he’s usually not like… that.”

Bae sighed. “I hate to tell you this, but he is always like this around you, he’s just usually more subtle about it. It’s probably because he’s been drinking that he’s this forward with you.”

IRyS nodded. “Yeah, you’re probably right. I just… I really don’t want to have to go through the pressure of turning him down.”

A look of annoyance must have flashed across Bae’s face, because IRyS quickly added “But I think I will after the party tonight, when he’s sober, let him know I just wanna be friends.”

Bae nodded approvingly. “Good. I don’t want anyone else stealing you from me…”

She realized what she just said and her face started to flush with embarrassment. She sipped her drink quickly to try and hide her reaction.

Luckily for her, she was saved from the teasing IRyS was almost certainly about to unleash by the sound of the music in the living room being turned down. They were then assailed by the now-familiar sound of a wooden spoon banging against a metal pot.

“Uh, let’s go see what’s up,” Bae suggested.

Together, they made their way into the living room where the other party guests were gathering.

“Alright, listen up, we’re gonna play some truth or dare before you all get too smashed to think! So grab a chair or you’ll have to sit on the floor!” Sana announced.

Bae heard this and sprung into action, she grabbed IRyS’ arm and quickly pulled her to the recliner, where she sat down before any of the other guests could claim it; she then scooched to the side to make room for IRyS to sit with her. It was a cramped seating arrangement for the two of them, but it was one that Bae didn’t really mind, seeing as she was pressed tightly up against a cute girl.

The other party guests piled onto the other two couches and some grabbed chairs from the dining room to sit on. Not everyone was playing, a few were just watching from the edges of the room, and some were not-present, probably off elsewhere in the home, not wanting to participate, or maybe even getting up to some other… activities.

The game began with Sana, who picked some guy that Bae didn’t know. She watched the proceedings with excitement, yelling and cheering at the silly moments of the game as who’s turn it was bounced around.

Eventually, someone looked toward her and asked the question: “Truth or Dare?”

“Truth,” Bae answered. She had been around this block before, truth was always the safer bet unless you had drunk enough to completely overcome your inhibitions enough to willingly do some really stupid shit.

“Who is the hottest person at this party?” they asked her.

Bae hesitated a moment before answering. She knew the answer. But… “IRyS.”

A resounding “oooooo” rang out from the crowd. Bae felt IRyS squirming beside her, ducking and hiding her face in embarrassment. Bae was distracted however, by the icy glare she saw being drilled into her from Faun out of the corner of her eye from where he stood at the edge of the room, not participating in the game.

Bae didn’t want to let the focus of the room sit on her for too long, so she hurriedly singled out another guest, some random person she didn’t know or recognize. She asked them the question and they chose dare, so she made them stand on their head and attempt to chug their drink. It was quite the spectacle and got the heat off of her back.

The game continued on, bouncing between the other guests, until it made its way back over to their side of the room. “IRyS, truth or dare?” a broad-shouldered glasses-wearing brown-haired guest asked, Bae recognized him as Muman, one of Faun’s closest friends. When Faun wasn’t doting after IRyS, Bae would usually see those two together.

“Dare,” IRyS chose confidently. Bae cringed, knowing that dare was almost always the wrong answer.

Mooman smirked, clearly this was what he had hoped she would pick. “I dare you… to kiss Faun.”

Bae froze, and she was sure IRyS did as well. She felt her face draining of colour, and to her side she saw IRyS’ flood with it. At the edge of the room Faun stepped forward with a smirk on his face.

“T-truth,” IRyS stuttered out.

Muman furrowed his brow. “You can’t back out now, you already picked dare.”

“Yeah, come on, IRyS, you can do it! Come on!” Sana excitedly encouraged her.

“I… I d— I…” IRyS stuttered more.

Soon the room was filled with voices egging her on, overlapping into a cacophony of peer-pressure. She felt IRyS tensing up beside her.

Bae couldn’t take it anymore. She stood suddenly. “SHE SAID SHE DOESN’T WANT TO!” she yelled out, silencing the room.

Everyone looked at her awkwardly. The room was tense.

Sana spoke up, “Okay, guys let’s skip her for now…”

“S-sorry… I’m going to step out for a minute…” Bae muttered and ran out of the room, her face flushed with embarrassment and shame, yet still bristling with anger.

As she fled, she heard IRyS quietly excuse herself and trail behind her. IRyS sped up to be beside her and they exited into the hallway.

“Let’s go somewhere private,” Bae suggested quietly. IRyS nodded in agreement.

They walked down the hall and Bae opened a door to a random room, hoping to sneak them inside. Instead she was met with a sight she wasn’t expecting. Inside the room San had Krono pressed against the wall, neither had a shirt on, and both had very clearly been making out moments prior.

“Oh my god!” IRyS exclaimed.

The pair in the room look equally as surprised. “D-don’t tell anyone, please!” San begged in a panic.

Bae motioned sealing her lips. “We were never here, enjoy yourselves and be safe.” She pulled the door closed.

IRyS whispered. “Told ya. Gay~”

Bae elbowed her side. “Shut up. Let’s find somewhere else.”

“I saw a balcony on the top floor when we arrived earlier, let’s go there.”

They found the staircase from earlier and climbed up it until they reached the top floor, from there they walked around until they found their way out onto the balcony.

“It’s warm out,” Bae commented.

“Yeah…”

They both leaned on the railing and looked out at the night sky. It was a beautiful cloudless night, and they must’ve been far enough out of the city to avoid the worst effects of light pollution, because it seemed like every inch of sky was covered in dots of lights.

“It’s beautiful out here…” Bae said, looking out in awe at the stars.

“Thank you, Bae.”

“Huh?”

“For standing up for me… I… I really didn’t know what to do there, I didn’t want to just go and kiss him, I couldn’t betray you like that.”

Bae turned her head toward her. “I couldn’t stand to see you distressed like that, and honestly, I don’t think I could’ve stood to watch you kiss Faun, I like you too much for that.” She looked away before IRyS could turn toward her, she would surely break down in embarrassment if they made eye contact right now.

They stood in silence for some time, staring out into the night sky. IRyS touched her hand gently. “Bae…” She hooked their pinkies together and turned to face her.

Bae looked back toward her, her head started to feel fuzzy and her heart raced. A breeze blew over them that ruffled IRyS’ hair and fuck did that do things to Bae she didn’t expect. The wind carried the scent of her floral shampoo as well, which made her weak in the knees. It all combined to turn her into an infatuated puddle, and looking into IRyS’ blue eyes certainly wasn’t helping her situation.

IRyS gently ran her thumb over the back of Bae’s hand, which was still holding the railing. “Bae, I wanted to ask you… I think… I think it’s time we made this official. Would… would you like to become my girlfriend?”

Bae felt her eyes fill with joyful tears that threatened to spill over. “Yes, oh my god, yes.”

IRyS extended her hand to the side of Bae’s head, running her fingers through her hair, and started to bring her head ever-so-subtly closer.

Bae sucked in a breath with nervous anticipation.

“Can I… kiss you?”

Yes,” Bae answered in a small, almost in-audible voice. She moved her hands onto IRyS’ hips to steady herself as they drew closer to each other.

IRyS lips slightly parted as they approached hers, it was like time was slowing the closer they drew together. Around them, it was like the infinite number of stars in the sky began to blink out of existence, one by one, until eventually, there were no stars left, and no lights, the world ceased to exist. It was just them.

Finally, after an infinitesimally small forever, their lips connected, and the light exploded outwards. Their eyes fluttered closed, and any tenseness they felt before this moment vanished as the melted into one. Everything that came before was swept away in the darkness, and everything going forward would be illuminated by their light.

And they parted, eyes lazily floating back open. Blue to blue, matching gazes. Bae felt like she had to speak, to say something, but IRyS didn’t let her, she pulled them back together into a deeper kiss. Bae melted back into her all the same, she wrapped her arms tightly around the other girl, just enjoying being washed in her light.

She felt her maroon hair brushing against her face, smelled her shampoo as the wind hit their bodies, felt how soft her body felt under her hands, how calming the fingers through her hair were. It was like they fit perfectly together.

Nothing could ruin this moment.

“You bitch!” an angry voice shouted.

They seperated in a gasp, untangling each other from their arms. They looked back inside the home from where they stood on the balcony to see Faun. He was red in the face with an equally red solo cup clutched in his fist.

“Faun?” IRyS faltered.

He stepped forward onto the open balcony, the whole while glaring daggers and pointing an accusatory finger toward them.

“You bitch!” he repeated, “You led me on, made me think you were interested, when this whole time you were some dyke!”

“W-w— Faun, I— bu—” IRyS stuttered. Her voice wavered, betraying how close she was to tears. Her friend, one of her closest friends, was yelling at her and calling her horrible names.

Bae took an aggressive step toward Faun. “You can back the fuck off, cunt.”

Faun looked at her with complete disdain and shoved her hard. Bae stumbled backward and struggled to keep her footing as she. She wasn’t one to take shit like that though, she steeled herself, took a step forward, and slapped him across the face as hard as she could.

The sound rang out into the empty night air. Faun looked back at her with astonishment, the side of his face now branded a deep crimson. Bae was frozen, her body flooded with adrenaline that sent her heart racing, she had just acted on instinct, not thinking.

Faun twisted his jaw and his eye betrayed his rage. His next action was slow, and calm. He raised his cup, full to the brim with some cheap piss-coloured booze, held it over her head, and slowly began to empty it over top of her. The liquid poured all over her head, her hair, and her nice clothes.

Behind her, IRyS sucked in an astonished breath, but neither of the girls were able to move, both frozen from the shock.

Once the cup was fully emptied and Bae completely drenched from head to toe, he tossed the cup off the balcony somewhere into the yard.

“Take your bitch and leave,” he snarled at IRyS. That broke her, tears started pouring down her face, she quickly ran over and grabbed Bae’s arm and started to run out of the house, pulling the smaller girl with her. Bae hardly realized what was happening over the sound of blood roaring in her ears.

She pulled them through the other party guests in the halls who looked at them with concern as they passed, but they paid them no mind in their frantic dash to escape. Just as they reached the front door a distant voice from behind them called out to them.

“IRyS? Where are you going? Is everything okay?” came Sana’s worried call.

They didn’t stop, quickly opening the door and running out into the night air. They didn’t stop until they were in Bae’s borrowed car and closed the door. Immediately, Bae put the key in the ignition and tore out of the neighborhood. She held the wheel with an iron grip that turned her knuckles white, barely processing what had just happened, ignoring how soaked she was, ignoring what Faun had said, ignoring IRyS…

IRyS sobbed beside her.

IRyS…

Bae slowed the car and pulled them over onto the side of the—thankfully empty—road.

“Hey… Are you alright?” Bae asked, it was hardly anything, but it was all she could think to ask,

“I… I…” she choked out between sobs, “I don’t understand… Why was he like that? Why did he say those things?”

“I don’t know…”

“Is… is what we did wrong?”

Bae hated that IRyS asked that, she hated the dark places it pulled her mind, places she had fought hard to escape. “Maybe… maybe it is…” she answered quietly, too quiet for IRyS to hear her.

“I just… liked him as a friend…”

Bae stayed stiff in her seat, afraid to make any comforting physical gestures for fear that they were unwanted. “Clearly, he didn’t see it that way.”

“I want to go home, Bae,” IRyS whimpered.

“O-okay, I think I know my way back there now.”

“No. I want to see my daddy.”

Bae nodded. “I can take you to your dad’s, but I don’t know the address, can you put it into my phone.” She passed it over to her, and she quickly put in the address before handing it back.

They wordlessly set back off. Bae stayed quiet, afraid to talk, while silently listening to IRyS attempt to stifle her cries.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, say something, anything, come on!

But she didn’t, couldn’t.

They arrived and Bae got out to help IRyS to the door, who was having trouble walking right in her slightly intoxicated and extremely emotional state. Bae knocked on the front door and waited.

The familiar sight of ‘DadRyS’ answered the door. He looked down at the two of them with a mix of emotion on his face. He saw that IRyS was crying, and then he smelled the thick scent of cheap booze rolling off of Bae, and his mouth opened, about to accuse her of something, but she cut him off before he could.

“Someone spilled a drink on me, I’m sober,” she quickly explained, “She asked me to bring her here. Take care of her… please…”

DadRyS nodded. “I see, thank you for bringing her home safely.” He turned toward his daughter, who closed the distance between the two of them and clutched onto him, burying her face into his chest. “Come on sweety, let’s get you inside.” He looked back at Bae. “You can come in and get yourself cleaned up too.”

Bae shook her head. “I don’t think I’m welcome anymore. Sorry, I should go.”

Before he could try to convince her, before she could cause anymore trouble, she turned and ran back into the car. She threw it into drive and quickly sped away.

She slowed once she reached a stop sign, and stopped, stopped driving and stopped running, she turned off the car.

She let the events of the night wash over her, she didn’t know why but this all felt like it was her fault. IRyS would hate her for dragging her to that stupid party, for ruining her friendship with Faun, destroying any chance she had at a relationship with IRyS. It was all crumbling now.

And so Bae screamed, she slammed her fists on the steering wheel and screamed until her throat was raw. And then she cried, until her makeup ran down her face and her eyes couldn’t make anymore tears.

Completely spent and broken, she turned the car back on and drove home.

Chapter 7: Desire

Bae blinked hazily at her phone’s screen; lit up with an incoming call from a certain someone, IRyS. Her mind still fogged with the haze of sleep, and her eyes irritated by the seemingly pointed sunlight blasting in through her half-closed blinds, she hovered her finger over the decline button, a simple escape to allow herself just a few more seconds, minutes, hours of sleep.

But her conscious mind wouldn’t allow her to make such a stupidly impulsive decision. It pulled forth memories of the previous night, and with those came the emotions. It made her finally realize the dryness of her eyes and the tightness of her throat, sore from crying herself to sleep.

And as she went down that road she was once again brought back to the very present as her phone shook and rang out in her hand. Incoming call staring back at her.

“Shit.”

“Hello.”

Why is she calling me? I just… I ruined her friendship with… Even as she thought it, the memory of Faun, that fucking asshole, caused a spike of anger through her.

“Hey, Bae~” IRyS sleepily greeted her. It caused a flutter in Bae’s chest that stamped out the enraged flame that had roared into her heart.

“You sound like you just woke up.”

“Mmhmm, so do you.”

“Heh, yeah. So, uh, what’s up?” Bae asked hesitantly, memories of the night past lingering in her mind. She doesn’t sound upset, but she was so distraught last night…

IRyS exhaled into the receiver; even though it was just the sound, it still sent a jolt through her, like IRyS was breathing right into her ear.

“Can you come over?”

“Huh?” Bae pulled back. Confusion, relief, and finally, joy. IRyS still wanted to see her. She brought the phone back to her ear. “I-I thought you wouldn’t want to see me again after last night, I ruined your friendship with Faun, you two were so close…”

IRyS chuckled dryly back at her. “I don’t ever wanna talk to that asshole again. You were right about him.”

“Really?”

“What do you mean ‘really’? You were there. He poured a drink on your head, he called me something I don’t even wanna repeat. I don’t wanna be friends with anyone like that. Besides, I couldn’t even if I wanted to…”

“Oh? Why’s that?” Bae questioned.

“They… all of them, the entire group, they’ve kicked me out. Blocked me everywhere and removed me from our group chat. I— You’re all I have left, Bae.”

“Fuck, IRyS, I’m sorry, this is all my fault…”

“Bae, you idiot, I don’t care about that anymore, I want to see my girlfriend. Come over, please?”

Girlfriend… The thought, the realization, and the memory of their confession on that starlit balcony filled her heart.

Girlfriend… IRyS… is my girlfriend… Hehe… hehehe… Girlfriend…

“Girlfriend… hehe…” Bae babbled.

IRyS snorted. “Yes, girlfriend. Or did you forget?” she teased.

“Hehe… honestly yeah, kinda. Last night was a lot… I can’t believe I forgot the best part of it.”

“So, will you come over?”

“I’m already on my way.”


Bae took in a big breath of air, and shook out her arms out before rapping her knuckle quickly against the door. She stepped back a couple of steps to make some space.

All of a sudden, a thought burst into her head. FLOWERS! I should’ve gotten some flowers for her! I’m an idiot.

Bae threw her head side to side, scanning her immediate surroundings for anything she could use. Not only was there nothing of interest in their yard, she quickly realized it would be incredibly stupid to try and give IRyS flowers from her own yard.

She wanted to quickly smack some sense into herself, but the opportunity faded as the door before her swung open. The semi-imposing figure of PapaRyS stood before her.

Right… probably not a good idea to bring flowers if her dad is the one answering the door…

“Hello!” Bae greeted.

“Oh, hey there! I didn’t realize IRyS was having anyone over. Come on in.”

He turned and led her into their home.

“Thank you,” Bae said politely as she followed him in.

“She’s in the shower now, but she’s already been in there for forty-five minutes or so, so she shouldn’t be too much longer.”

“Oh, the hair isn’t it?”

He nodded. “Yup. You want any coffee? I just finished making a pot.”

“Ooo, yes please!” Bae said excitedly.

He poured them both a cup and set them onto the table, where he gestured for her to sit.

“So…” Bae started as she sat, “About last night…”

“Oh, it’s quite alright, IRyS already explained everything.” He sipped his drink.

Bae had to force down the mouthful of the scalding drink she had in her mouth to be able to respond. She did!?

“W-w-w-wait, she did? So that means you know about…” Bae stammered, beginning to blush. She didn’t think IRyS would tell her parents about them so quickly.

However, the solemn expression that came over his face confused and kinda frightened her. He gave a small nod. “I had no idea she was being bullied at school…”

Bae bit her tongue to stop herself from saying something stupid. Bullied? Huh?

He began to explain to her an entirely fictitious story where IRyS was bullied and these bullies were at the party and Bae stood up to them valiantly. Bae completely zoned out as he recalled the events as they were told to him.

IRyS gave him a fake story…

“...and you know it can’t be helped because she’s always chasing after bad boys!” PapaRyS exasperatedly accompanied by a tired eye roll.

“She is?” Bae asked, pulling herself back into the conversation.

“Oh yes…” He sighed. “Just, keep an eye on her, will you, Bae? She’s had her heart broken too many times by enough assholes.”

Bae put her cup down more forcefully than she intended to. “I won’t let anything happen to her.” She met his eyes fiercely.

He seemed a bit taken aback by her vigor, but accepted it nonetheless. “Thank you, Bae. It’s nice to know she has a good friend looking out for her.”

Just then, a voice called out from above them, “Daddy, have you seen my hair-dryer?”

Wet footsteps tapped down the staircase behind her. Bae turned and looked over her shoulder to see IRyS partially down the stairs. Her body wrapped in only a towel, and her long flowing locks positively soaking and dripping all over.

Bae was near drooling, seeing her girlfriend so scantily clad.

“You left it by the sink again so I put it away in your closet.”

“Thank you~” She peaked further over the railing and noticed Bae sitting at the table. “Oh! Hi, Bae!” IRyS gave a small wave and a sweet smile to her.

The taller-girl’s sweet smile dashed away her lust and crushed her heart like tinfoil.

“Hey…” Bae squeaked.

“I’ll just be a couple minutes! Gotta dry off!”

PapaRyS interjected, “Yes. You do. You’re getting water everywhere.”

“Hehe…” IRyS giggled as she skipped back up the stairs and out of sight.


“IRyS! Descending!” IRyS happily bounded half-way down the steps, expertly skipping every second step to travel faster. “Come on, Bae!” she called to the red-head.

Bae took her in; like a crisp breath of fresh air. Her long hair was tied into a high ponytail, and she wore a casual flannel that looked surprisingly good on her, along with a pair of sweat shorts. Cute…

She gulped down the last of her coffee and stood. “Coming!~”

Bae moved from the table, leaving her empty mug behind, and bounded up the stairs behind the taller girl.

She tried to be a polite and well behaved girl, but she’d be lying if she said she didn’t spend a little time appreciating her girlfriend from behind. As was her right… right?

Bae was led upstairs and down the hall, to a room with a glitter covered sign that read IRyS. It looked like it was made by a much younger IRyS, although, Bae comically thought, maybe it was more recent. She bit her lip to hold back a chuckle at the thought of her IRyS, sweatband adorning her brow, a fierce expression of concentration on her face attempting to do the arts and crafts exercise of making this silly little sign.

“And this is where the magic happens!” IRyS announced as she opened the door and stepped inside.

“Oh?” Bae stepped in behind het and closed the door behind herself. “What kind of magic happens here?”

Bae hardly had any time to take in the room. IRyS turned around and grabbed her by the shoulders.

“Eh!?”

Bae…” IRyS’ voice, airy, hazy.

A breath was forced from Bae’s mouth as her back was somewhat-roughly pressed against the wall. IRyS captured that wisp of air between their mouths as she sealed their lips together in a desperate kiss.

The emotions rolled off of IRyS and into Bae. IRyS had a want, a need, a desperate clingy need. A terrible emotional rawness, expressed without words, without tears. Concealed before, but now expressed freely.

Bae could feel it from the way IRyS’ bottom lip quivered against hers, from the way her hands clawed into her shoulders, needing her to stay. Bae could tell, despite this, she was still uncertain, still standing a step back, leaning forward, able to pull back should the shorter girl not accept her advance.

Bae would put her to ease. She grabbed onto the taller girls hips and pulled them flush with hers. She tilted her head, furthering their connection. A pain gripped her chest, telling her to breathe, but she knew that she couldn’t, wouldn’t, IRyS needed her right now.

Bae didn’t even realize that her eyes had fluttered closed until she felt a tear roll onto her cheek. At first, she thought it was her own, that she let her own emotions get the better of her, but when she opened her eyes she saw wet trails staining IRyS’ cheeks.

Bae had to lightly push at her girlfriend’s shoulders to finally separate them; to allow them both the air they desperately needed. After several deep breaths from both of them, Bae finally managed to speak, “IRyS?”

“S-sorry… Was I too forward?” IRyS asked sheepishly as she used her sleeve to wipe the tear stains from her cheeks.

“No, I was just surprised is all. Are you okay? You started crying…”

“Y-yeah, I’m okay. These are happy tears, I promise. I really needed to see you, to be here with you.”

“Of course, anything for you.”

IRyS leaned forward and gave her a light peck on the lips. “Anything?”

“Let’s not go testing it,” Bae teased.

IRyS giggled and stepped backwards. She toppled onto her bed lazily, sprawling herself out onto the plush comforter amongst a pile of plushies.

Bae sat next to her on the edge of the bed. She looked down lovingly over her shoulder.

IRyS looked back up at her and kicked her legs childishly. “I have a girlfriend.”

Bae can’t help but give a goofy smile at that. “Yeah, you do.”

IRyS giggled. “I love my girlfriend.”

“You’re such a dork.”

IRyS grabbed one of the dolls next to her and clutched it to her chest. “I should probably be feeling bad right now, shouldn’t I?” she took on a more serious, somber tone.

“Huh?”

“I just lost my entire friend group, they blocked me and cast me aside, but… I don’t, because I remember what happened last night, between us—”

IRyS’ voice hitched as Bae moved her hand overtop of her’s. Bae crawled further onto the bed so that she was kneeling beside IRyS. She brushed the strands of maroon hair out of the taller girl’s face and looked into her sad eyes, one a brilliant sparkling purple, and the other, a deep beautiful blue. They enchanted her, urged her closer. She started to lean her head in when something clicked.

Her eyes don’t match…

“Your eyes…”

“What?” IRyS looked back at her in confusion.

Bae pulled back in surprise. “Your eyes are different colours, the right eye… it’s—”

“What!?” IRyS yelped in a panic. She slapped her hands over her right, purple eye. “Fuck… you weren’t supposed to see…”

Bae looked at her, bursting with concern, she wasn’t used to seeing IRyS like this.

“What’s wrong, IRyS? Why wasn’t I supposed to see?” She brought her hand up to the ones covering IRyS’ eye. “Come on, move your hands, it’s alright.”

IRyS slowly brought her hands away at Bae’s insistence, and that purple eye sparkled back at her with an unclear emotion. Was it fear? Shame?

“It’s horrible, unnatural.”

“It’s beautiful.

“It’s n—”

“It is. You’re beautiful,” Bae insisted. “I just… don’t understand, where did this come from?”

“I-I’ve always been like this, since I was born. I normally wear colored contacts,” IRyS explained.

“I love it… like this.”

“You do?”

“With all my heart. I love everything about you.”

“Thank you, Bae…” IRyS whispered.

“I can’t believe I got you…” Bae whispered back. She ran her hand down IRyS’ shoulder and looked along her body. “I had a crush on you for so long you know…”

“Really?”

“Yeah.” She looked back into IRyS’ face. “IRyS, something like your eyes being different colours would never make me stop wanting you.”

IRyS flushed under Bae’s loving eyes and heartfelt words.

“I really want you…” Bae crawled up to IRyS’ face and lightly kissed her.

As she pulled away IRyS asked, “Is that i—?” before Bae swung her legs overtop of the taller girl to straddle her waist. “Oh.

Bae leaned forward, laying overtop of IRyS to connect them once more. Fire filled them both as they roughly mashed their lips together, like two passionate horny teenagers; overcome with hormones… which they were.

IRyS gripped onto Bae’s waist tightly, the sudden action causing Bae’s hips to buck against her will, if IRyS noticed or cared about her animalistic display, she didn’t comment. Maybe she would've if Bae’s face wasn't pressed against her own.

IRyS sucked in a sharp breath through her nose and broke off their kiss. Bae’s eyes fluttered open to meet IRyS’ hungry mismatched gaze.

“You’re adorable, Bae…”

In a flurry of motion, Bae felt herself being practically tossed as IRyS spun the both of them into a new position, with Bae instead being the one laying on her back with IRyS towering over her.

“...but I prefer to be on top,” IRyS stated devilishly.

She rolled back her shoulders, and almost sensually began to undo the buttons on her flannel, one… at… a… time…

Bae was helpless to do anything but stare at her girlfriend underdressing above her. Each button taking an infuriatingly long time, IRyS easily teasing her ember into a frustrated little flame beneath her.

IRyS…” Bae whimpered.

“Patience, little rat.”

The nickname sent a shiver up her spine. Most girls wouldn’t like to be called a rat, but come on, rats are cute! And hearing it come from IRyS in such a way, in such a situation, absolutely did things to her that she was not expecting.

IRyS finally pulled the last button free and pulled off the article. Leaving her sizable chest only concealed by a black bra.

“Is this actually happening? Are we doing this?” Bae exhaled.

“Only if you want it to.”

“I do… have you ever done this before?”

“Never with a girl…” IRyS admitted. “Have you?”

“No, never… Wait, so you've done this with a boy before?”

IRyS started becoming flustered, “W-w-well, kinda… I once gave a guy a blowjob…”

“Really? It wasn't Faun was it…?”

“NO!” IRyS defended.

“Alright, alright… … …did you enjoy it?”

“I… did. It was nice, it was fun, it was pretty spicy.”

“The dick was spicy?” Bae asked, “Or do you mean… his… you know…?”

“What, no! That's not what I meant at all!”

Bae laughed beneath her. “You have such a way with words.”

IRyS rolled her eyes. “Alright, that’s enough, cutie. Where were we?”

“I think you were about to kiss me again?”

“Hmmm…” IRyS ran her hands over top of Bae's chest, feeling her through her shirt. “How did you know?”

“Hah~” Bae exhaled.

IRyS leaned down, her lips barely brushing against Bae’s, the small girl acutely aware of all the ways they were pressed together, with her impressive girlfriend laying over top of her.

Knock knock knock. The rapping of knuckle against door pulled them from their lustful haze.

“IRyS?” PapaRyS called from the other side.

Bae’s mind immediately spun into a panic, if her dad walked in right now, and saw them like this, she had no idea what could happen.

IRyS gave her a light peck on the lips and pulled back. “Wait here.” She crawled off the bed and picked up her flannel from the floor nonchalantly.

Bae was left laying on the bed, breathing heavily, all the romantic tension in her body immediately converted to anxiety. She looked toward the single window in the room, and for a moment she contemplated jumping out of it to flee the potential embarrassment.

IRyS seemed relatively unphased as she took a moment to do up most of the crucial buttons of her shirt. “Just a sec, daddy!”

Bae scrambled to be sitting on the bed normally and smoothed her clothes to be somewhat presentable.

IRyS opened the door partway, but not enough for Bae to see PapaRyS on the other side.

“What’s up?” IRyS asked.

A hand stretched into the room holding a hair dryer. “You left this by the sink… again.

“Oh, sorry, hehe.”

IRyS took the item and closed the door.

“Ugh,” IRyS grumbled as she took it over to her closet and chucked it inside. She looked over at Bae sitting on the edge of the bed. “I thought I asked you to stay where you were, I wanted to continue where we left off…”

Bae’s heart rate was still racing, the panic not quite leaving her yet. “I, uh, honestly kinda panicked there. I don’t think I can continue… that…

“Are you alright?” IRyS asked with concern.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m alright. I just, I guess I don’t really know how your parents are, but mine are a bit ‘helicopter’, and if they caught me doing that with another girl… there would be hell raised.”

“That’s why you don’t get caught.” IRyS sat on the bed next to her and grabbed Bae’s hand, holding it in her lap.

“Pffft— yeah sure. Easy for you to say. I’m not even allowed to have girls over and I’m eighteen! Ridiculous!”

“Maybe you should try having some boys over instead, have a good time with them instead, parentally approved: no girls!”

Bae rolled her eyes. “Firstly, I’m not into boys. Secondly, I would never cheat on you!”

IRyS shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind if it made you happy.”

“Huh?”

“I just want what would make you happiest,” IRyS said like it was the simplest thing in the world.

“Wait, would you sleep with someone else, someone other than me if it made you happy?” Bae asked, keeping her voice measured, despite her blood pressure rising.

“I haven’t really thought about it.” IRyS looked at Bae and saw the fire in her eyes.

“You better not sleep with anyone else!” Bae glowered.

She turned and gave IRyS an unexpected kiss, an angry kiss. It seemed silly, but she felt like this was a way they understood each other, a way to make IRyS feel her emotions physically. Her frustration rolled off of her into the other girl. It helped her calm, and it helped her get her point across.

Bae pulled back and looked into IRyS’ eyes again.

“Bae, I wouldn’t ever do that without your permission! You’re my number one…”

“IRyS! I don’t want you to even think about having number twos, or threes, or anyone else!”

“Alright, alright…” IRyS dismissed her, attempting to deescalate the situation.

Bae sighed with frustration and pinched the bridge of nose. “You’re too much, you know that.”

“You still love me?”

Bae rolled her eyes. “How could I not…?” She softly kissed IRyS again.

“Mmm~” IRyS pulled back. “Sorry that I made you mad, but you kiss really well and look really hot when you are.”

Bae shoved IRyS’ shoulder. “Shut up, dummy.” A smile cracked through as her anger subsided. “Do you wanna, just, I dunno, watch a movie and cuddle?”

“That sounds lovely, I’ll go grab my iPad; I think I left it downstairs.”

Bae watched as IRyS walked out of the room. Her enigma of torment, of conflicted emotions and complex wills. She was left to ponder her, IRyS, her new girlfriend and apparently, a woman of many desires.

She’ll be the death of me, I’m sure of it.

Chapter 8: Hearsay

MyRyS: You up yet?
Bae: unfortunately so
MyRyS: well good morning anyway beautiful
Bae: hehe lub u
MyRyS: honestly im feelin kinda weird rn
Bae: oh? why’s that?
MyRyS: i just dunno how things are gonna be at school today
Bae: don’t worry, you got me, and if any of those goons try and start anything with you I’ll show em who’s boss
MyRyS: my hero!
Bae: oh god i just realized
MyRyS: what?
Bae: I haven’t told any of my friends about us
MyRyS: this should be fun to witness ;)
Bae: huh!?
MyRyS: :p see you at school cutie
Bae: whatever .///_///.


A familiar yet unexpected chill breeze blew across the school courtyard. The leaves dangling on the trees above her were already starting to twinge with that tell-tale hint of orange. She didn't want it to be true, but she couldn't deny it, autumn was approaching.

Bae clenched her teeth against the cold air, her typical showy summer clothing doing absolutely nothing to shield her. Back in ‘straya it was around the time of year she could finally start showing some skin again, but in this hemisphere things were unfortunately the opposite. Even after her years spent over here, she still didn't want to believe that the seasons were different.

She scanned the yard looking for the familiar face of her girlfriend waiting for her, but was disappointed not to see her. Her emotions read clear as day in her body language as she slouched forward and slowly inched her way toward the drab brick building that was the school.

“Looking for someone?” an all-too-familiar voice breathed into her ear, causing her to nearly jump out of her skin.

“Aaa!” Bae spun around in an instant. “What are you doing!?”

IRyS laughed that beautiful airy laugh. “Just trying to get closer to you; it’s freezing!”

“I’ll say, look at how much skin I got showing!”

“Oh, I’m lookin’.” IRyS nodded sagely.

“Shut it, you,” Bae teased as she shoved IRyS’ shoulder.

IRyS smiled back at her, eyes glowing with love.

Bae smiled back, but her heart tightened a bit to see that IRyS’ eyes were back to being the same colour.

I guess she isn’t ready to take that step yet…

She bit her tongue to stop herself from saying anything. She meant well, but she was sure her insistence wouldn’t be received the way she wanted it to be.

Bae started to reach for IRyS’ hand. “Come on, let’s—”

“There you are!” a non-Bae Australian voice bellowed from behind. Bae felt herself being forcefully pulled away from IRyS by a surprisingly strong force.

“Eh!?” Bae exclaimed as she spun around once again.

“Sana!?”

“You and I gotta talk, IRyS,” Sana said pointedly as she towered over the two of them.

“T-talk…? What do we gotta talk about?” IRyS stammered.

Sana opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted as Bae forced herself between the two girls, her arms held out to her sides protecting IRyS.

“Back off! I’m not gonna let you touch her!” Bae dictated.

“Eh?” Sana looked taken aback. “I’m not gonna hurt her, I really do just wanna talk! The others kicked you from the group chat before I got your side of what happened.”

“Why not just text her then, huh!? Or what, you couldn’t because you blocked her! Right!?”

“No, that’s not it! I don’t have her number, and she privated her Instagram. Please, let’s just talk!”

“It’s alright, Bae…” IRyS quietly reassured Bae before addressing Sana. “What do you want to say?”

Bae stepped aside and stood beside IRyS.

“So, IRyS, is it true what I’ve heard, that you’ve gotten yourself into a relationship?”

IRyS looked at her feet. “Y-yes…”

“That spread fast, didn’t even have to tell anyone…” Bae grumbled.

Sana continued, “And did Faun actually catch you engaging in… ‘romantic’ activities at my party?”

IRyS’ body tightened at the thought. She nodded silently.

Sana took a step forward. “IRyS! How could you!?”

“B-b-bu—”

Bae was about to dive back in to protect her girlfriend, but Sana continued.

“San is only fifteen! He’s too young for you! My own brother… The nerve…”

Bae and IRyS both froze, both of them extremely slowly looked up toward Sana with dumbstruck expressions.

“Eh?” Bae squeaked.

“S-San?” IRyS stammered.

“Wait…” Sana paused. “I didn’t want to believe the rumours so I came to confirm with you… Faun said you were caught giving a guy a blowjob at the party, and I heard San’s name come up, and he won’t talk to me about his supposed relationship…”

Bae cleared her throat. “Ehem, Sana, I think, uh, I think you got played.”

Bae interlaced her fingers with IRyS’ and held up their hands for Sana to see. Sana blinked back dumbly.

A smile cracked onto IRyS’ face. “I did get into a relationship recently… just… not with San, not that I would mind, I mean, have you seen him… Well obviously you have, he’s your brother, but I mean, holy moly! Come on, if you weren’t related you would totally be into him too, I know I—OW!” IRyS exclaimed as Bae flicked her forehead with her free hand.

“Wait? Ignoring those comments about my brother for a minute… You two are together?”

IRyS nodded. “Yeah, we kinda were testing the waters for a bit, but then at your party tensions got a little bit high and I asked her out.”

“So… you weren’t giving out blowjobs at the party?”

Bae stifled a laugh. “No, at least, you weren’t, were you? I think there was a couple minute window where I let you out of my sight…”

“No!” IRyS exclaimed.

“I… think I need to go talk to some people…” Sana puttered, “Congrats you two…”

Sana walked around them and continued toward the school. Just before she moved out of earshot, they heard her mutter, “So who is San dating…?”

The two of them smirked as they exchanged knowing glances with each other.


Bae noticed the first signs that something was up during her second period economics class, when she faintly overheard a gaggle of girls mention the name “IRyS” as they gossiped away. Her heart sank into the pit of her stomach. What were they saying about her girlfriend? Was this really going to turn into a whole thing? Was Faun really that much of a bitter asshole?

“What’re y’all talking about?” Bae asked as she inserted herself into their conversation as slyly as she could. She wasn’t friends with any of these girls, but she had idly chatted with them a small amount during class.

A girl with hair so red it rivalled Bae’s responded to the query, “Okay, keep quiet about this, don’t spread it around or anything…” The girl, named Ollie if Bae remembered correctly, began to gossip hypocritically, “...I heard that that popular girl, you know the one, IRyS?”

Bae swallowed and nodded. “Yeah.”

“I heard that she was at some party on the weekend and totally got caught sucking a dude off, right in the open!”

A serious looking girl with purplish dyed hair looked back at Ollie with a blank expression. “Are you sure? Just sounds like a made up rumour…”

“Oh I’m sure, my source is very reliable,” Ollie assured with a wink.

Bae felt her eyebrow give a slight twitch as Ollie so joyfully delivered the most deceitful bullshit with complete confidence in its legitimacy.

“Oh,” Bae started, trying to keep her voice level, “Who’s your source anyway?”

Ollie giggled. “I don’t kiss and tell.”

“Yes you do,” the solemn girl refuted.

“Shut up, Moona.” Ollie stuck her tongue out at her. “He asked me to keep quiet about this, that’s why I’m only telling you guys!”

‘He’… noted.

“I dunno, this all sounds kinda made up,” Bae continued to try and deny the accusations, “IRyS didn’t— uh, I mean, she doesn’t seem like the type to just go and do that, right?”

Moona shrugged. “I could see it.”

A short brown-haired girl jumped in, “I bet she was with that green-haired boy she’s always hangin’ around!”

Ollie snickered at that, pulling their attention. “Oh, I can assure you, even though I don’t know who it was, I can say for certain it wasn’t Faun.”

The brown-haired girl nodded. “Right, his name was Faun…”

Bae could see she was getting nowhere with this bunch, so she wordlessly retreated back to her desk to pretend to get back to work while she ruminated on what she had heard.


IRyS stood waiting for Bae outside the cafeteria. She beamed down at her shorter girlfriend when she saw her approaching.

“HiRyS!”

“Hey~” Bae smiled at her silly greeting, despite the thoughts of the gossip she’d heard floating around inside her head. She hoped that it hadn’t reached IRyS’ ears yet. “So… How’s your day been so far…?”

IRyS shrugged. “Kinda weird.” She took Bae’s hand and they walked into the cafeteria, heading toward the typical table. There was obviously no world where IRyS would be spending lunch with her old friends, so Bae had extended a permanent invite to join her circle at lunch.

“Weird how?” Bae’s grip tightened slightly around IRyS’, acutely aware of how some of the students sitting at the various tables spotted the pair of them holding hands.

Easy, Bae, you’ve dealt with these looks before.

“I dunno. My first period class today was actually the class I have with Faun. Usually he’d sit up front next to me, but when I came into the class he was sitting in the very back with his head down, not that I mind or care, I would’ve sat somewhere else if he sat in our usual spot.”

“Mhm. I’m glad he didn’t give you any trouble.”

“Yeah… and then in my second class, something weird happened, I’m not sure what she meant by it, but this tall girl, really hot, has the hair that’s like bleached white but it still looks good, you know the one?”

“Yeah, I think I do.”

“Yeah, her. We haven’t spoken much, but she was leaving from the previous class as I came in, and she said ‘Hey, angel lips~’ to me. I have no idea what she meant by that, do you think she was flirting with me?”

“I don’t think—”

Ayo?” Kronii said, raising an eyebrow as they approached the table. “This is new.”

Bae realized that she was still holding IRyS’ hand. “Oh, uh, haha… yeah.”

Uuuuuuu~” Fauna uuu’d. “You finally went for it! You gotta tell us all about it! Who asked out who? Did you light candles? Was it over a romantic dinner? How did it happen? Uuuuuuu~”

Bae noted that Mumei wasn’t present yet. “Yeah, yeah, I finally got a girlfriend, are you guys proud of me, yadda yadda, I’ll tell you the details once Moomers arrives.”

“Oh, alright,” Fauna resigned, “Congrats though! You two are so cute together.”

IRyS pushed herself up against her smaller girlfriend as they sat down together. “Thank you, Fauna~”

Bae blushed and Fauna emitted another signature yet muted “uuu~”.

Bae pulled out two bentos today and gave the second one to IRyS. Fauna continued her silent fan-girling and Kronii smirked slyly at the romantic duo.

“Oh~ the honey-moon period~” Kronii prattled wistfully.

Bae scoffed, “Ha! As if you’d know anything about that, all you can do is stare ever-so-lovingly at your secret little crush.”

“Bae…” Kronii started.

The one-and-only Na—OW! Fuck!” Bae cried out as Kronii stabbed her hand with a plastic fork. “What the fuck!?”

IRyS and Fauna looked taken aback by the whole exchange. Bae and Kronii glaring daggers into each other up until the moment when a familiar brunette sauntered into the cafeteria and to the table.

“Oh, hey, Mumei!” Kronii immediately sweetened.

“Oh, hi.”

“Guess what?” Kronii asked, side eyeing Bae and IRyS.

“What?”

“Hey!” Bae interjected, “That’s my news to share, get your own!”

“Oh?” Mumei turned to look at Bae and IRyS as she sat down. “What’s the news?”

“I… uh… hehe… I got a girlfriend.”

Mumei’s eyes went wide. “Really!? That’s amazing, Bae! Who is she?”

“Huh?” Bae blinked back at her.

Mumei continued looking at her with her large sparkling honest eyes. Bae sighed internally, having forgotten the brunette's occasional issues with connecting certain details when they might seem obvious to other people.

“It’s… it’s IRyS… this one,” she lightly bumped IRyS’ shoulder.

“Uh, HiRyS!”

“Oh my god!” Mumei exclaimed, “You finally asked her out? Or did she ask you out? Which was it?”

“Alright, settle down and we’ll tell y’all what happened. Some real shit went down that night, so you better listen.”

“Uuuuu~, I’m hanging onto every word.”

And so the couple recounted the events of that night. Briefly describing the moment that they got together, before diving head-first into the drama that was Faun’s reaction.

They explained in tandem, Bae would switch in whenever IRyS started to describe any of the more painful occurrences. As she talked about Faun’s reaction to their kiss, Bae watched her audience. She noted how intensely Fauna’s expression turned from joy to despair, for some reason this part of the story really pained her, which Bae supposed made sense, it was a dark mark on an otherwise picturesque moment.

They pressed through, and told them about the fallout, the escape from the party, and how IRyS was cut off completely from her former friends.

“Fuck, man…” Kronii started, “Like I’m happy for you two, but jeez, that’s all really rough that it had to go down like that.”

“Yeah…” Bae sighed.

I…” Fauna started quietly, going almost completely unheard, except to Bae, who was sitting next to her.

“I’ll be okay, I’ve got Bae to protect me! I don’t need anyone else!” IRyS hugged Bae.

“Uey~” the small girl squeaked.

I…” Fauna attempted to speak again.

“You have us as well!” Mumei assured her, “Bae, you can add her to our group chat. From this day forth, we’re your friends now! Forget about those other assholes!”

“I’m sorry!” Fauna blurted, and everyone turned to look at her.

“Eh?” Bae blinked at her in confusion.

“Faun… it’s… he’s… he’s my twin brother…”

“Eh!?” the entire table stared at her.

“Oh my god…” Kronii blurted.

“I-I-I’m sorry, that it’s… he’s…

“Fauna, I feel so bad for you! Having to live with such a jerk like him!” Mumei comforted.

“Fauna, I’m so sorry for you! When you go home today you better give that jerk a piece of my mind!” Bae fumed.

“I thought you’d all be upset at me because we’re related…”

“What!?” IRyS looked at her with confusion, “You don’t pick your siblings, we’d never be mad at you over that, besides, you’re such a sweetheart I’d forgive you for anything!”

Uuuuu~ really? Thank you, IRyS.”

“I’m surprised I didn’t know about this though, seeing as I used to spend a lot of time around him, I figured he’d mention that he had a sister,” IRyS noted.

Fauna found confidence in her voice as everyone came to her side. “It’s a bit complicated, we don’t like each other at all, and a few years ago he disowned himself from our parents…”

“Eh? He disowned himself?” IRyS looked confused.

“I didn’t even know you could do that,” Kronii stated.

“Yeah, our parents didn’t spoil him enough, so he went to go live with our uncle, who definitely spoils him plenty.”

“What the fuck,” Bae said simply.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s not even your brother anymore if he disowned himself,” Mumei pointed out.

“She has a point,” Bae agreed, “Any negativity I feel toward that dickwad will be spared from you, trust me…” She sighed and stabbed into a rice ball idly with her plastic fork. “Speaking of negativity, I fear the next page of this story is beginning to unfold.”

“What?” IRyS looked at her girlfriend with confusion, not knowing where Bae was going.

“Rumours are starting to spread about you, IRyS.”

“About me? Why?”

“Because Faun is clearly a vengeful bastard who got his feelings hurt. I talked to some girls in class today and they said that, uh… that you, uh… at the party, you…”

Kronii tapped the table. “Spit it out, Bae.”

“There’s a rumour spreading that you were giving blowjobs at the party!” Bae exclaimed.

“Eh!!!???” IRyS recoiled, “B-b-b-but I wasn’t doing that! You know that, right, Bae?” She looked worried that Bae would be upset with her.

“Oh, I know it’s a bold-faced lie, but look at all these people…” She gestured to the cafeteria full of students, “They’re ravenous, always ready to consume and regurgitate whatever gossip they hear, it doesn't matter if it’s true or not.”

“Wait, is that why that girl called me ‘angel lips’?”

“I think so, probably a shitty nickname they came up with.”

“I-I-I don’t know. What should I do? I don’t want them spreading lies about me…” IRyS appeared to deflate before them.

“Hey, hey, hey now…” Bae’s tone softened and she hugged IRyS from the side. “I got you, alright? People will talk, sure. But you know what? We have an ace up our sleeve.”

“We do?”

“We do!” Bae confirmed. “We’re gay as shit! Nothing will confuse the gossip mill quite like them finding out that the girl that was supposedly giving out blowjobs has a girlfriend!”

Kronii chuckled at that. “That’s funny, Bae kinda has a point.”

“But I don’t just like girls, I do like boys too, how will this stop them from lying?”

Mumei jumped in, “The masses are too simple to understand the complexities of bisexuality.”

“So is the plan just…” Fauna gestured into the air with her hand as she trailed off.

And Kronii picked up where she left off, “...to be as gay as possible in front of everyone?”

Bae smiled wide. “You bet your ass it is!”

As if on cue, the lunch bell rang, telling them to get to class.

Bae grabbed IRyS’ hand. “Come on now, cutie, we’ve gotta go be gay as shit!”

Chapter 9: Seize

Bae walked with IRyS down the busy school corridors, safely escorting her girlfriend to the next class. Their hands were happily clasped together, and Bae made sure to swing them with a little extra ‘oomph’ to really sell the whole thing.

Few paid the couple any mind, probably a mixture of factors, such as them all being more concerned with their own little worlds, or the fact that girls are just often a bit more platonically romantic with each other.

She could tell that IRyS was still a bit wary, constantly looking around them to see if anyone was looking at her or talking about her, and unfortunately some of them were. Bae wanted to believe that the gossip was of the ‘oh my god are those two lesbians, that’s so hot!’ variety, but she had serious doubts about that.

Doubts that were pulled to the forefront when a gaggle of boys they were passing jeered at IRyS, a few of them made exaggerated kissing faces, some of them did hand motions that alluded to ‘lending a helping hand’, one even went as far as to mime the action of fellatio, complete with throat sounds and all.

IRyS froze up at their mocking, while Bae tried to tug at her arm to keep her moving. Some of the students around them turned to witness the scene. The boys laughed and continued on past them in the opposite direction, evidently satisfied.

“IRyS, come on.” Bae tugged her arm.

“Yeah… yeah… okay.” IRyS resolved herself and started moving again.

Blood boiled in Bae’s ears, she had to do something, she didn’t want to just have IRyS endure their ridicule. She yanked IRyS’ arm and spun them around, in a quick motion Bae had IRyS up against a locker.

IRyS’ eyes blew wide in surprise and confusion, which quickly turned into a certain brand of panic as Bae closed the distance between them, their bodies pressed flush together.

“Bae! What are you doing!?”

“Being gay, what does it look like?”

“I—” Her rebuttal was silenced as Bae leaned up to press their lips together. “Mmph!”

Bae’s eyes were closed, but she could definitely tell that people around them were stopping to witness the scene. Who doesn’t want to watch two girls kiss?

“Ayo?” “Is that IRyS?” “Damn, she really is slutty, huh?”

That last comment she heard bit, but she elected to ignore it and preferred to enjoy the soft feeling of her girlfriend's lips against her own.

“Bae~” IRyS parted her lips to breathe her name, but Bae pressed back at her forcing them to stay locked together in an almost voyeuristic kiss.

“Mmph—” IRyS gave Bae a light push to the shoulders, forcing her smaller girlfriend to separate from her lips. “Bae!” IRyS hissed.

Bae’s eyes fluttered open and she saw IRyS looking over to the side, she pulled back to follow her gaze and saw one very stern looking Ms. Shuba glaring icy daggers through them.

“Oh… Ms. Shuba…” Bae sheepishly started, feeling the hot blush from publicly kissing her girlfriend erupt into an inferno as she was confronted by a teacher unexpectedly.

“Oohhhhh…” The crowd around them uttered in anticipation.

“If you two would accompany me, please…” the teacher spoke sternly.

IRyS hung her head slightly. “Y-yes ma’am.”

The pair shuffled along as they left the crowd behind, some giggled and pointed, some whispered among themselves, and there was one excited “yeah!” that rang out behind them, which was an attitude Bae appreciated in the moment.

“Nice going, Bae!” IRyS hissed into her ear.

“Wha— I didn’t mean to get caught like that!”

“You know when you said we had to be gay I thought you just meant holding hands and stuff! Not trying to stuff your tongue down my throat in the middle of the hall!” IRyS argued in a harsh whisper.

“Well, they certainly won’t be questioning our intentions now!” Bae bit back.

“Yeah,” IRyS huffed and crossed her arms, “I guess not.”


The pair stood in front of the school’s counselor, who was an older man with long white hair and round glasses. He sat at a cluttered desk adorned with various office clutter and documents. The atmosphere of the room was meant to feel calm, with dimmed lighting, some bean bag chairs, and a small sofa, but considering the reasoning they were there, Bae couldn’t help but feel a sense of apprehensiveness and dread.

“Now, I’m sure the two of you understand what you did wrong.”

“Yes, Mr. Noir,” the pair grumbled in unison.

“I want to make myself absolutely clear, the school nor I have any issue with you two young ladies being in a relationship. However, as with any relationship, same sex or otherwise, we ask that you keep such gratuitous displays of affection off of school grounds. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mr. Noir…”

“Good. Now, Baelz,” Bae perked up slightly upon being singled out, “I’ve reviewed your record, you’ve had no infractions during your years at this school, and you are a constant high honours student. I even see that you used to participate in several of our school clubs…” His eyes flicked down to her record for a moment. “You were on the basketball team?” He glanced back at her, clearly noting her short stature, and wordlessly concluded on why she had elected to drop that particular sport. “Regardless, because of your excellent behaviour up until this point, I will let you off with a verbal warning, without leaving any marks on your record.”

Bae breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

“And IRyS… I hate to say it, but you’re not looking as good here. You’ve wracked up unexcused absences to an obscene degree, there are several notes in your file mentioning tardiness, lack of focus, and a general apathy towards learning.”

IRyS hung her head in embarrassment.

“I don’t think you are a bad student, but it seems you are having difficulty learning. I’m going to ask you to stay awhile here with me so we can try and get to the bottom of what’s going on here, and get you on a plan to refocus your learning! How does that sound?”

IRyS grumbled something roughly resembling an affirmative.

“Good. Baelz, you are free to go. I’ve let Ms. Usada know that you’ll be on your way shortly.” Mr. Noir directed, and at the same time he gestured for IRyS to take a seat in the chair positioned opposite the desk, which she dejectedly complied with.

Bae laid a hand on her shoulder. “It’s alright, I’ll see you after school?”

“Mhm, thanks, Bae.”

She let her hand fall, and turned away, leaving IRyS alone with Mr. Noir. Guilt pulled at her chest, it didn’t feel fair that only one of them was being punished when it was both of them who were responsible. It also came as a bit of a shock to learn the lengths at which IRyS went to avoid doing work. Bae couldn’t even imagine skipping a class.

She shuffled off to her class, significantly late, full of conflicting emotions at the predicament and situation they had fallen into.


Bae exhaled comfortably as her mother ran the hairbrush through her long cherry strands. It was something they often did together when Bae needed to unwind and destress, she’d ask her mom to help brush her hair. It was relaxing for both of them and gave them an opportunity to talk openly with each other.

“Were you thinking about redyeing your bangs? I think some of the red is starting to bleed through.”

“Hmm,” Bae pondered for a moment, “I probably should soon. Maybe I’ll hit the salon up on Friday.”

“That’s a good idea.” Her mom ruffled her bangs for a minute. “I don’t know how you pull it off, but you look so cute with it dyed like this.”

“Aw, mom! C’mon…” A flustered Bae shook the hand off her head.

“I’m just teasing you.” Her mom ran the brush down through Bae’s hair and accidentally tugged it as it got caught on a tangled knot.

“Ow!”

“Sorry!” she apologized and continued to work through the hair. “So… How are things going with school? Doing well in all of your classes.”

Bae sighed. “I always am.”

“Something else on your mind then?”

Bae steeled herself. “Yeah, I think I need some advice.”

Her mom stopped brushing and pulled a nearby chair over and sat with her daughter. “What’s up?”

“I… have a friend… She’s going through a rough spot right now, and things are just going to keep getting worse. Some jerks have been spreading rumours about her, it’s all just lies, but I’m worried because I have no way to stop them from spreading. I don’t want to see her get hurt.”

Her mom scratched her chin and brushed her slightly-frizzier locks of red hair away from her face. “Hmm… I don’t think I ever told you this, but I was bullied in high school.”

“Really?” Bae blinked at her in surprise. She couldn’t imagine stoic Mrs. Hakos ever being bullied.

“Yup. I was basically an outcast, nobody wanted to talk to me, or be my friend. I don’t think there was any reason for it, but it made me an easy target.” She chuckled to herself. “It wasn’t until this giant of man, gods he was so shy back then, you should’ve seen him, his face was beet red and he could barely keep himself together enough to ask me out on a date!”

“Wait…! Dad!?” Bae gasped.

“Mhm. Your father was my saviour, once he came into the picture everyone was too afraid to mess with me, even though between the both of us, I think we know which one of us is really stronger.” Her mom winked at her. “As much as I hate to admit it, we both know you take after your father. You may have gotten my looks, but you have his heart. Be there for your friend, let her anchor onto you, and lift her through the storm.”

Bae let her mother’s words echo in her mind. She could do that, supporting IRyS however she needed it. That was basically already her job as her girlfriend anyway.

“I can do that…”

“Make sure your friend knows it too! There’s no point in ‘being there’ if she doesn’t know that you’re there!”

Bae smiled. “I think she knows, but I’ll make sure to hammer the point home.”

Her mom leaned forward and put her hand on the back of Bae’s head, pulling her forward. She lightly kissed on top of her forehead. “And if all else fails, I’ll send your dad to go beat up all of the bullies himself!”

Bae giggled. “I’m not sure he could manage that.”

Her mom laughed too. “Me neither, but it’d be fun to watch.”

Her mom stood, and walked back around behind her, resuming her earlier hair brushing. The two continued chatting as the advice continued to stir within Bae’s mind.


Bae slid into the family room where her father sat on the sofa, busy with his nose buried in a newspaper.

“Hey, pops!” Bae greeted him.

“Oh! Hello, sweetheart!” He put down the paper to look up at her.

Bae ran over and plopped herself down on the sofa next to him and snuggled up.

He chuckled to himself. “It’s been awhile since my daughters came and cuddled with me.”

“Hehe~”

“You aren’t just doing this to win a favour are you? Planning to go to the mall?” he questioned.

“Um… No~ I would never~

“Psht— brat.” He playfully shoved her. “What do you need?”

“Just wanted to talk.”

He straightened his back slightly, and looked at her more seriously. “Something important?”

“Kinda, yeah. I need advice.”

“Shoot. I’m all ears.”

“Okay, well, I talked to mom, and she told me about how she was bullied in school—”

Her dad interrupted her immediately. “—Are you being bullied?”

“No, no, not me. A friend. Well she isn’t exactly being bullied either, but I’m worried it might get to that point. People are talking about her and spreading lies, none of it is true.”

“Have you tried talking to a teacher or the principal about this?”

Bae sighed in annoyance. “No. Why bother? Not like they could do shit—”

“Language,” he chastised.

“—about it! You can’t punish the entire school, and it’s not like we’d have any proof anyway.”

“Hmmm.” He chuckled to himself. “Y’know when she tells the story about how I stopped her bullies, she always says how everyone was just threatened by my stature, even though I’m actually a big softie at heart?”

“I mean, is she wrong?” Bae tilted her head.

“Ha, no not exactly. But there’s a part of the story that I’ve never told her, or anyone else. My side of the story.”

“Oh?” Bae was intrigued now.

He scratched the back of his head. “Now… I don’t advocate violence, but I did stand up to those bullies without your mothers knowledge. I made sure they understood in no uncertain terms that they weren’t to mess with her.”

Bae was taken aback. She had always seen her father as a sweet and gentle man. He hadn’t even gone as far as raising his voice when she and Calli were being little shits as kids. He was always cool and even tempered. Knowing that there was a side of him that would discard the calm persona was a massive shock.

“What!? Really!?” Bae said loudly.

“Come on, keep it down. I’ve managed to keep it secret thus far; don’t go giving it away. It’ll ruin all the fun she has retelling the story!”

“Sorry, sorry. It’s just… I never thought of you as being like that.”

“I don’t like to be like that, and I don’t want you to be like that either. I think I’ve done a good job at raising you to be fairly even tempered most of the time. Although, I will say, I think you got your mothers fire.”

“So what are you saying I should do here?”

“Anger and force are powerful tools, but easily mishandled. Do what you can to manage and mitigate the situation, but if you need to let a little fire out to protect your friend, I’ll support you in that.”

Bae pondered for a moment. “I’ll… keep that in mind. Thanks, dad.”

“Of course. I’m always happy to help my adorable daughters whenever they come to me for help!” He ruffled her hair roughly, but not unkindly.

“Gah, dad stop!” She wrestled herself away from him and stood from the couch with a fake huff.

“Let me know how it goes with you and your girlfriend.”

“My wha— but you— I never said—” Bae stuttered.

“Relax. I’m just teasing you.” He grinned at her.

Bae sighed in defeat and her posture deflated. “Good night, dad.”

“Sleep well, kiddo!”

Chapter 10: Bokeh

Their usual group all sat together at their usual table in the cafeteria, a cloud hung over the table. It was Thursday and the whole situation they had been dealing with the entire week was weighing heavily on all of them, but on IRyS especially. She did her best to put on a strong face, even when kids in the halls would say dumb shit to her, but in private she was a wreck.

The whole plan to act gay and divert attention had been a complete bust, people didn’t seem to care about it. The rumours shifted from ‘IRyS was a slut at the party’ to ‘IRyS is a slut, always’. Bae had no doubt that this was in no way accidental, she was certain that behind the scenes Faun and his crew of invalids were massaging the narrative.

Bae was starting to catch some of the heat too, but she knew how to handle being burned and it didn’t bother her at all. What stung her was how it all hurt IRyS. She was too sweet and too pure for all this. Bae recalled when she had gone over to IRyS’ house yesterday and held her while she cried; apparently she had been holding it in all week and couldn’t hold back anymore.

The rest of their friends tried to be supportive, but some of the scorn was already being thrown their way for interacting with her and IRyS, and as close as they all were, they were reluctant to stick their hands into the fire. Bae understood, and didn’t blame them too much, what could they really do to help anyway beyond being her friends?

“Ehem.”

The members of the table looked up from silently poking at their food. A familiar tall girl with cream-coloured hair towered over the table; Sana.

“Can we help you?” Bae asked with a sharp tone, clearly done with maintaining a pleasant facade at this point.

“Um, mind if I sit down? I wanted to talk to you about some stuff… and apologize.”

Bae’s eyes swept over her friends and lingered on IRyS, waiting to see if she’d be okay with it most of all. Sana had been a part of Faun’s group, but she didn’t actually know if she was still with them, especially after the revelation when they had encountered each other outside the school on Monday.

IRyS looked at Bae and nodded. “She was always nice to me,” she said quietly.

The others at the table nodded as well.

“Alright, let’s hear it then.” Bae gestured toward the open seat beside Mumei and across from Fauna.

Sana took the seat and started to explain, “I guess I’ll start with an apology. IRyS, at the party I egged you on, telling you to kiss Faun during that truth or dare. I, uh… at the time, thought I had it on good intel from my friend Ina that you two were crushing big time on eachother. I thought I’d help him and you as well to encourage you both to take the next step.”

Sana smiled as she looked between Bae and IRyS. “Well, as you can tell I screwed that one up a bit, didn’t I? I'm sorry that I did that, even if what I heard was true, that was immature of me. I want to be a better friend in the future!”

Bae’s sour mood started to evaporate, despite the cloud hanging over them, Sana had a sunny demeanor and her smile was so bright that it was hard to stay in a bad mood around her, especially when she was apologizing so earnestly.

IRyS seemed to brighten a little too. “Thank you, Sana. It’s water under the bridge; apology accepted.”

“And the other thing… I was already pretty done with their shit when they kicked you from the group chat and started claiming that you were giving BJ’s at the party. Like, if that was what actually happened, kicking you from our group has to be the stupidest reaction imaginable, right?”

Kronii piped up here, “Yeah, you’d think all those dudes would be like, ‘oh wow a slutty girl who’s giving out BJ’s, let’s keep her around for… y’know… reasons’.”

Sana rolled her eyes. “I know! Especially those guys! I should’ve realized way sooner that something was up. Talking with you two, Bae and IRyS, made me realize that I was basically a fool for going along with all their crap this whole time.”

Bae smiled. “Glad you’re finally coming over to the light side!”

“That is actually part of why I’m here. I, um, don’t really have a friend-group anymore since I left them. I was wondering if you’d be willing to take in another refugee like you did with IRyS…”

Mumei quipped, “Sorry, the only way to join the group is by dating one of the core members. That’s the rule.”

“What? Really?” Sana looked taken aback.

“Yeah, I brought in Fauna, and Bae brought in IRyS, and Kronii brought in herself.”

Kronii’s eyes blew wide open and her mouth hung open agape. “Since when were you and Fauna…!? What!?”

Fauna looked equally as shocked. “Huh!? We’re not… we…”

Bae glared at Mumei, but there was no malice in her eyes. “Mumei, please stop tormenting your girlfriends.”

That was enough to set off the three of them, all sputtering and blubbering. It was too easy.

“You can join us, Sana!” IRyS interjected, “Mumei was kidding about that rule! They accepted me before Bae and I even started dating anyway.”

“Really? I’m glad to hear it, and happy to still have you around in my friend group. You were always my favourite from that old bunch. Super down to earth kinda girl, I like it.”

IRyS blushed a little. “Thanks, Sana~”

Sana easily melded into the group and her very presence and positive attitude started to shine through the overcast sky that hung over them. They started to return to their old selves, especially IRyS, who was back to teasing Bae and laughing with the group at their silly in-jokes, which thankfully Sana was quick to pick up on.

Things weren’t looking so bad now.


Bae walked alongside IRyS out of the cafeteria, the two weren’t talking at the moment but that was okay, they didn’t need to be chattering all the time, if they did that they might run out of things to talk about. Instead, Bae just enjoyed the feeling of having IRyS’ left hand clasped in her right one while her partner stared down at her phone, expertly one-handed texting someone. Bae wasn’t sure who she was texting, but she also didn’t bother to ask.

IRyS wasn’t paying attention to her surroundings, so Bae was paying enough attention for the both of them. They had left the cafeteria early to avoid the student rush after their lunch period ended, but there were still a few students milling about in the halls. Bae glared daggers through all of them, letting them know with her eyes alone not to fuck with her.

As they were walking down the hall with IRyS’ locker, Bae noticed a few students whispering among themselves and taking glances at it. She sighed, not liking where this was going.

Then one of them moved slightly and she got a clear view of exactly what had happened. In black marker, someone had written the word “SLUT” on IRyS’ locker. Her mind kicked into overdrive immediately, anger, sadness, empathy, all of it. Her fathers advice echoed in her head, telling her to take a hold of the flame in her soul, willing her to run over there and kick the shit out of all of those kids, even though she knew that she would surely lose that fight.

She calmed herself down and instead thought of her mothers advice. Support her and be there for her. Bae had been doing that, but now was a real moment where she had an opportunity to make it count.

“Hey, IRyS!” Bae released IRyS’ hand and jumped in front of her, attempting to block the view of her locker despite her tiny form. She stared directly into her girlfriend’s unnaturally homochromatic eyes, forcing them into an almost awkward eye contact.

IRyS looked up from her phone into Bae’s unusually piercing gaze, saw her devious smirk, and knew something was going on.

“Uh, what’s up?”

“Wanna skip class?” Bae suggested.

IRyS was so taken aback she had to grab onto Bae’s shoulders to steady herself. This was enough of a distraction that a bomb could’ve gone off behind her and she wouldn’t have dropped focus, exactly what Bae wanted. “Am I hearing you correctly?”

Bae continued to grin and brushed IRyS’ hands off her shoulders, starting to walk back the way they came, and IRyS hurried to follow.

“But, you never skip class… That’s my thing! What’s going on!?” IRyS challenged.

“Oh, you know, I’m always such a stick in the mud, school this, work that, blah blah blah. I figured I could learn a thing of two from my delinquent girlfriend!”

“Do you even hear yourself right now?”

Bae laughed loudly. “Are you saying no? Imagine all the things we could get up to, just the two of us~”

“If Vesper finds out I’ve been skipping class again he’s going to have my head! I promised him I wouldn’t!”

“Vesper? You mean Mr. Noir.”

“Yeah, he wanted me to call him by his first name to make me more comfortable. You know how I’ve been having meetings with him to talk about stuff, it’s been nice to have someone to talk to about everything that’s been happening,” IRyS explained.

Bae turned toward IRyS and looked a little bit hurt. IRyS picked up on this and added, “I know I have you! And I love you for that, but it’s nice to have an adult with an outside perspective.”

“I see. But do you really care that much about what he’ll think?”

“He’s nice!” IRyS defended herself.

“Come on, IRyS! Just this once, for me?”

IRyS sighed in defeat and shook her head. “God, I can’t with you. Alright, let’s get out of here.”

Crisis averted.


Bae: yo, need help quick, you round?
Mumei: hi!!!
Bae: someone vandalized irys’ locker, it was pretty bad
Mumei: oh no! Is she okay?
Bae: I didn’t let her see it, we cut class
Mumei: you cut class?
Mumei: is this really bae im speaking with right now?
Bae: forget about that for now, could you see if you could do something about the locker? Maybe get the janitor to clean it?
Bae: i don’t want her to have to see that, she’s stressed enough
Mumei: leave it to me
Mumei: enjoy playing hooky with your gf 😉

Bae clutched her phone to her chest, happy to have such supportive friends.

She sat with IRyS on a boulder near the edge of the school grounds, just sitting around watching the chill autumn wind sweep through the trees and pluck the beautifully decaying leaves and whisk them up and away, although always eventually falling to rest on the ground.

“Who are you texting to get you smiling like that?” IRyS asked curiously, with a hint of accusation in her voice.

“Mumei,” Bae said simply.

“Oh, okay.” IRyS immediately perked up, clearly sensing no competition from the brunette.

“I could ask you the same thing you know! You were so absorbed in your phone when we were walking down the hall that you would’ve run into dozens of people if I wasn’t there!”

“Hey! I’m not that oblivious.”

“IRyS, darling, you absolutely are.”

“Don’t call me darling!” IRyS stuck out her tongue at Bae childishly.

“Darling, honey, sweetie, sugar~”

“Shut up!” IRyS whined.

“So, who were you textin’?” Bae asked again.

“Oh, Kronii. We’re planning on playing Splatoon together after school.”

Bae was a little hurt at the fact that she hadn’t heard anything about this.

“Oh?” she asked with a note of accusation clearly present in her voice.

IRyS rolled her eyes. “Don’t give me that, I asked you if you had a Switch and you said no.”

“Umm, oh yeah…” Bae accepted awkwardly.

While IRyS seemed perfectly fine with her happily texting Mumei, the thought of IRyS hanging out with her friends when she wasn’t around gave her conflicting emotions. She of course was happy that IRyS got along with her friend-group, especially in the wake of everything that happened, but it was just a natural fact that she was the jealous type, even more so when the drop-dead gorgeous Kronii was involved.

She swallowed those feelings and set them aside for now, she’d process those thoughts later.

“So, uh, what do you usually do when you skip class?” Bae asked.

“When I was with the old group we would sometimes skip together and all hang out, but clearly that’s not relevant now. And sometimes when I would skip alone I’d just find somewhere to sit on my phone, walk around, sometimes skate—”

“Skate?”

“Yeah, skateboard,” IRyS answered simply.

“You can skate!? What!?” Bae shouted. In no world did she expect that her lazy and spoiled girlfriend would do something as cool and active as skateboarding.

“Mhm. I’m not the best, but I can do some tricks and stuff. Ollies and kickflips.”

“I can’t believe you never mentioned it!”

“You never asked, silly!” IRyS teased, “But I guess that would be a weird thing to randomly ask.”

“That’s so cool! I wish I could skate. I tried once as a kid but I was too scared of falling,” Bae admitted, rubbing the back of her head.

IRyS grinned. “Yeah, it takes a bit of practice. I could teach you the basics.”

“Oh, please no! Have you met me? As soon as I try to do something I have to be the absolute best at it! You wouldn’t see me for weeks and when you did, I’d be covered in bruises from falling on my ass!”

IRyS laughed at Bae’s refusal. “Alright, alright. I imagine your ass would make a pretty good cushion though, I mean, damn.”

“Oh, shut it, you.” Bae blushed.

“Maybe when we’re out of this god-awful high school we’ll have the time.”

“If we aren’t too busy with college,” Bae noted.

IRyS groaned and held her head in her hands. “Please don’t remind me.”

Bae giggled. “I’ll let it slide for now, because of… well, y’know. But you’ll have to think about your future sooner or later.”

“God, are you my girlfriend or my mom?” IRyS complained.

“That depends, does your mom let you put your tongue in her mouth?”

IRyS rolled her eyes and chose not to answer that particular question.

“Can I watch you skate? I want to see your moves! Oh wait, I guess you don’t have your board… Nevermind.”

IRyS perked up. “Um, I actually hid it in the woods back there”—She gestured behind her—“Not enough room in my locker for it.”

“Oh?” Bae raised an eyebrow.

IRyS stood and stretched. “Let’s go get it and I’ll show you my moves!”


Now, it wasn’t exactly a surprise that it took them a bit longer to exit the woods than one would expect if they were just going in to retrieve a single item. However, the pair who entered were the type to become easily side-tracked with… other matters. Matters such as one girl’s tongue shoving itself lovingly down the others throat.

IRyS had Bae pressed against a tree, the smaller girls were pinned over her head by one of her girlfriend’s hands, while the other hand wandered under her shirt, sliding over the small of her back.

Their lips joyfully mashed together in an intense makeout session, barely hidden away among the trees from wandering eyes or roaming students, however unlikely that may be.

IRyS let her hands wander more and put her hand on Bae’s behind, giving it a hefty squeeze.

“Ee!~” Bae practically squeaked in response.

IRyS pulled back her tongue. “Can I take these off?” she breathed against Bae’s lips as she tugged at her pants.

“What is wrong with you, we’re outside!” Bae heaved.

“I really want you…” IRyS started trying to kiss Bae some more.

Bae pulled back enough to put a stop to it. “And I would prefer to be in a nice cozy bed before you fuck me silly for the first time. I’m not doing it in the woods behind our school”

IRyS rolled her eyes. She kissed Bae a few more times before responding, clearly still intoxicated from their earlier making out. “You better not keep me waiting.”

“Can you—” kiss “—Shut up—” kiss “—And just kiss—” kiss “ —Me some more.”

She grinned against Bae’s lips. “I’m trying, but you won’t stop talking~” IRyS teased.

Bae wrestled her arms free of IRyS’ weak grip and grabbed her girlfriend’s face. “Dumbass~” she berated lovingly, before diving back into her.

In the end, Bae didn’t get to see any of IRyS’ sick skating tricks, but neither of them really minded.

to be continued

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Edit
Pub: 11 Jul 2023 13:43 UTC
Edit: 11 Jul 2023 15:19 UTC
Views: 80