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Cloudy Skys and Mondays

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Ever since her sister got engaged, Yang had found her depression acting up again.

And that sucked. You know, like, really...

Sucked.

And it wasn't because she didn't like her sister, or her future sister in law, or that she didn't want them to be married,  it was just- 

It kind of hurt to see someone so happy. 

Seeing someone she was close to, so happy.

Someone who had managed to pull herself out of the same circumstances Yang was still wallowing in.

And Yang was happy for her- really. Like, more than life (but not in like a suicidal way). 

But, now that she thought of it, maybe she had become resentful of her new soon-to-be sister-in-law, for whatever reason.

And that was terrible. What kind of person isn't happy for their sister getting engaged? That was so selfish. 

it wasn’t like she thought Ruby didn't deserve it, or that Yang deserved it more than her, or anything. 

It was just, Yang kind of felt... 

empty.

The bad empty, that fills you up, somehow, pushing out other emotions. 

And that was why she didn't actually get any sleep during the two hours she'd allocated for her nap. She hit snooze once her alarm started playing Taylor Swift.

See it was just, like, Yang was always really close with her half-sister. Since their respective mom's were out of both their lives, both Yang and Ruby could empathize with the weight of the world pushing down on both of them. And they were alike in a lot of other ways, too. Like, they were both left-handed and kind of silly and into somewhat of the same sort of women. Used to be, they'd talk about everything. They'd hang out often too- Yang had been pretty content just eating dinner with her sister, or watching her run though long hours of grindy video games on their living room couch. 

Not recently, though- neither of those things. Getting engaged kind of limited the conversations you were willing to have, apparently, at least at first. Same with the activities you did, and who you did them with. 

And Yang didn't want to bring down the mood, now. 

And knowing that Ruby would never think of that way- that somehow made Yang even more reluctant to bring it up. 

The alarm rang again. Yang hit snooze. She breathed. 

It was bad to stay in bed all day. 

Like, Ruby hardly did that anymore. No, wait, sometimes she did, but only if her fiance was in bed with her. Haha. 

And good for her, shacking up with a nice woman she really connected with who had all her issues sorted out and a stable career and a healthy 401k plan.

Maybe that was something Yang could work for; Her retirement. Give her a goal in life. And hey, since retirement was far enough away, Yang wouldn't get her hopes up for some sort of fulfillment only to have them dashed for like 40 years. 

Like back she won her high school triathlon senior year. That didn't give her any fulfillment.

She'd only really done that because people had told her it might help her get over her funk after the motorcycle accident that took her arm. But, looking back on it, Yang hadn't really had a focus in life before then, either. 

Having one arm wasn't the end of the world. She could still cook and drive and, like, dance, theoretically. Theoretically. She wasn't actually a dancer. 

But it did close off some paths, for her life. Back when she still went to the support group, they had told her not to let that get in the way of anything she wanted to do

so she didn't. It was just, Yang didn't really have anything she wanted to do

And no matter what she fought to overcome

she still wasn't happy. she didn't feel happy 

so maybe the problem was just with her 

maybe it was just, no matter what, Yang was, just, predisposed to be unhappy 

and Yang had felt so, so lost 

just

so

 

 

 

 

 

 just, who knows. 

 

 

 

 

 

The alarm rang a third time, and Yang mouthed along to the first verse, pondering whether or not to hit snooze the third time. 

She didn't. Yay, progress.

Yang yawned and, on the second try, sat up in her cot. She blinked drearily and rubbed her eyes with her fist.  

It was time to go to the gym. Well, technically, it was 30 minutes after she'd intended to start getting ready to go to the gym, but eh. 

And it wasn't because, like, she had to teach a class or anything. 

It was just always what she did, on Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays and every other Saturday, and sometimes when she was just feeling down. She was at the gym a lot.  

And Ruby had thought a gym membership would just be a waste. Haha. 

Ruby never liked working out. She did track and field during high school, but she never really trained for it. Natural talent. 

(And the last time Yang suggested that her sister join her at the gym, Ruby'd obnoxiously commented about getting her exercise a different way, and Yang never asked again.) 

But Yang had worked out most of her life. Ironically, most of her life hadn't worked out. Haha! Hahaha. Ha....

Even before she had to make up for only having one arm, she'd worked out a lot.

And, yeah, Yang did have a pretty great body, as a result

probably

like, from a certain point of view

Sometimes Yang managed to be proud of that. 

not that it, like, had gotten her anything

not that it, like, had gotten her a girlfriend or anything. Especially not a really hot one, with tenure and a dominant streak and a propensity to wax poetic. hahahaha.....

Yang got into her beat up Honda and stuck her keys in the ignition. 

So, provided you drove an automatic, if your car had the steering wheel on the left half of the car, you could drive mostly fine with just your right hand, but if you only had your left hand, you’d want a modification that put the clutch on the left. The split second it took you to reach around the wheel in an emergency could mean life or death.

However, Yang’s car didn’t have that modification. It just meant she had to be a bit more careful. Half the time, she walked places anyway, to procrastinate.

 

 


 

 

After Yang parked and pulled her bag out of her car, she took a short detour to a nearby bus stop. She didn't need to get on any sort of bus. This was the nearest bench, was all. 

Yang breathed. A deep breath; long inhale through the nose, holding it for a second, then release like a deflating balloon.

Yang tried to be aware of all the green in her view. The grass, the trees, the sprouts out of cracks in overused asphalt. And the- well, mostly just the foliage. 

Blue was easy. There was the sky. The reflections of certain windows in the brick-set architecture - but that was the reflection of the sky, too. 

Red was a little harder. Some cars. Maybe the bricks counted, in certain light.

And Yellow was her favorite colour- her hair was a particularly vibrant shade of yellow, and if the dry weeds in spotty backlots weren't prominent enough, Yang'd just stare at her hair.

Being cognitively aware of colours kind of helped Yang notice them, in her surroundings. It helped her try to be aware of her surroundings. Kept her out of her own head. 

When the bus did stop by, that tipped Yang off to the fact that she was supposed to be working out or something.

 

 


 

 

 

Yang slung her bag over her shoulder and walked into the concrete building that was their most local gym. She shrugged her right shoulder to bump her bag against the card sensor. She always kept her membership card in a pouch on in her bag.

“Oh, hey Yang!” said a woman. Sometimes Yang counted her hair as blue, but sometimes she counted it as green. 

Then Yang remembered to make eye contact. "Hey Reese. How's it going?" 

“Pretty good. You’re a bit early." 

Yang checked the wall. “Am I?” She forced half a smile.

"Anyway, you're just in time. There’s a new prospective member here asking about sparring, and I was all, 'hey you're in luck, cause Yang comes in today and she's the best MMA fighter we've got, and I can ask her if she'd like to spar with you.'"

Yang hadn’t let the loss of her arm stop her from fighting. Recreationaly. Also, sometimes, drunkenly, in the bar she worked at. She was only half as good at boxing, now, but she’d learned some jiu-jitsu to make up for it.

Yang shrugged. "Sure. Might be fun."

"Excellent! I'll meet you in the sparring room."

Yang changed into her workout clothes. It pretty much meant just tying her hair back and stripping down to her sports bra, since she was already wearing gym shorts. 

Once Yang left the locker room and once Reese returned, she had a girl with her- or, you know, a really short woman. Not to disrespect the new gym member. It was just, she was, like, bite-sized. 

She had a white streak in the big pink streak in her brown hair, and her workout clothes were also white and pink and brown. Also, so were her eyes. Huh. 

And the short woman blinked two mismatched eyes at Yang, and then at Yang's stump, and then at Yang's abs. 

And then she smiled. Like, genuinely. 

Yang blinked twice before she remembered to smile back. 

The girl didn't say anything. 

Well, fine. 

Yang walked to one end of one of the sparring mats. She stretched. 

"You just wanna go until one of us taps out?" 

The girl titled her head to the side and smirked and shrugged. 

Well, fine. 

Yang sunk into a ready stance. 

And then they sparred.

Yang started with a left hook. It was her best hook.

she pulled her punch, a little. Didn't want to scare off a new member to the gym or something 

but her opponent grabbed her arm and managed a judo throw

and Yang landed on the ground. 

 

 

 

Yang blinked. Some of her back was sore, but not necessarily in a bad way. She was out of breath, also not necessarily in a bad way.

Yang flipped herself up.  

She readied her stance again. Ok, her opponent had a lower center of gravity, and more open palms, so she was fighting defensively, looking for an opening. 

So that just meant Yang just had to be a little more defensive.  

Yang feinted, careful to move her shoulder as well. 

The woman raised her arms, but it didn't look like she fully fell for it.

Yang's next blow was for real, but the woman dodged it handily.

It went on like that, until Yang jumped to knee her opponent after apparently gaining ground, but her opponent was ready for that. 

And Yang rolled and jumped back in, before she was ready, and she got kicked in the face. 

 

 

 

Yang snarled. 

She pulled herself up. 

She felt the mat against her feet, and the clothes on her skin, the hair on her back, and the coiled fury in her gut-

And, at some point, Yang jumped back into the fray, going all out, fist and knees and feet flying with the intent to really hurt someone_

And she saw the array of pink and brown and white, bob around her, just out of reach-

Yang felt flesh on her fist, but blows along her stomach and thighs started overwhelming her-

The swirl of colours ducked to her right. Yang rammed her shoulder into something bony-  

 

 

And then Yang ended up on the floor again. 

She breathed. 

And she felt terrible. Not for the loss, or for the bruises, but because she lost control, again, damnit. She hoped the girl was okay-

The girl seemed completely fine, though. She was standing over Yang, offering her a hand.

After Yang got to her feet she made a smile. "Good fight, yeah?"

The girl smiled back and shrugged and didn't say anything. 

Smug little bitch.

Yang stopped smiling.  She trudged towards some of the other exercise equipment.

A woman with blue or green hair intercepted her.

"Oh! I uh," Reese rubbed the back of her head, " I didn't really know how to bring this up, so I didn't, and I don't mean this in any negative way, but I also thought you might get along because of it, but, um."

"Neo's mute."

Yang blinked.

Oh.

She was such an asshole.  Neo wasn't being rude. Just disabled.  

"I- sorry," Yang held her hand out again. 

The girl smiled again, waving the air. 

She held up a finger, and half-skipped into the locker room. She returned with her phone. She held it out to Yang. 

So, Yang, right? Reese mentioned your name. 

"Yeah?"

Can I get your number?

Yang must have reacted somehow, because the woman immediately pulled her phone back and frantically tapped something on it.

So I can talk easier, I mean. Texting's easier than flipping my phone back and forth. 

Yang started pulling out her phone.

Not that I’d object to having your number :p

Yang blinked again. She handed her phone to the woman, who looked at it, quizzically, and then typed something into it. 

After Yang got her phone back, it buzzed. She had a text. Wonder from who, haha.  

The contact said 'Neo'. 

--So you’re the head honcho of the fight club here, huh? Pretty impressive :). 

"I guess," Yang said. The right half of her face grinned. "The gyms not very big, though. It’s a little out of the way,” Yang said, “A lot of the people here just do yoga or cardio. One of the local high schools has a track team that likes to practice here. The swimming pool’s popular.” Yang smiled, mouth closed. It'd been a while since she'd really talked to a stranger. Like, the patrons to her bar, maybe, but those conversations were usually 'what do you want to drink' or possibly 'go home, you're drunk.'  “Um. How about you? What're you looking for in a gym?"

--Mostly sparring. I was looking for a gym since I just moved here and don't know all the best local hotspots.

Yang nodded at her phone. then she wondered if she should be nodding at the person actually texting her. 

"So... you just moved here?"

--Yep, just moved here for a job. Don’t know anyone except my boss. But i’d like to :).

"Well, there's a few bars downtown that are pretty popular. I should know, since I work at one of them."

Neo raised an eyebrow.

--Oh? I'll have to check that out, then. :).

"And, uh," Yang rubbed the back of her head, "If you were looking something specifically for mute people, I think there's a sign language club at the community center. And some general support groups, too, if thatxs what you're looking for."

--Alright. Do you go to one of the the general disability groups?"

"Nnnn-not so much, lately." 

--Aw. :(

Neo smashed her mouth tougher and glanced around the room, swiveling her head as she did. 

--So.

After not getting a follow up text for four seconds Yang looked up. Neo bobed her head nervously, glancing to the lockers around her, and she hit send with the outstretched pointer finger her other hand. 

--Do you like ice cream?

--Cause I saw a 'Ben and Jerry's' on the way here.

--I have a gift card. 

“Aw, dang-” Yang winced, “I’d really love to, but I’m making dinner for my sister and her fiance tonight, and I really can't skip that."

--You cook? How cute!

“Yeah," Yang rubbed the back of her head. "But this was planned in advance, and I really would love to get ice cream, but I can't." 

--I understand.

"I'm not trying to blow you off or anything." 

(--It’s really fine)

Yang sighed. “It’s just, like, she's really the only person in my life. And she’s younger than me by two years, but she’s just so much better at the Adult thing than me. She’s getting her PhD this semester, she’s gotten engaged- 

and to someone well-put-together, you know? Like, with a life and hobbies and job security-  and-

and I've been single since

well, 

since I stopped going to college," 

Yang sighed. 

"And I still have the same job I got back then. 

It's just, that she knows what she’s gonna do with her life.

and I just

I just don't." 

Yang stared at the ground. 

Neo nodded, attentively.

Yang looked up when her phone buzzed. 

--Some people take a while to get going. No shame in that. 

“Heh, I’m not too broken up about it, though. She still can't cook for shit, so at least that's going for me."

Yang blinked a few times and exhaled. 

"Sorry for going all 'life-story' on ya. 

--It's cool. 

Neo typed something.

Then she scrunched her mouth to the side and tapped the back key, and wrote something different.

--So you're a bartender? Could you make me any drink I ask for?

"At the bar, maybe." Yang said. "And I forgot to ask, you said you were in town for a job? What as?"

Neo made a face. 

--Would you believe, 'Art manager'? 

"No way, really? That's really cool, that you managed to turn artistic pursuits into a career." Yang glanced around the gym, "Don't know what you're doing here, though. Not- not that I'd assume you wouldn't be athletic. Just, I figured you'd be in a classier gym than this."

--Well, they say that true art is made by poor people. :p. 

-- bad joke, sorry, I didn't mean to imply anything about you, or anyone here. 

 "Eh." 

--Anyway, I know what it's like to have only one person in your life. My boss is also, like, my oldest friend, so I spend a lot of time either working overtime or just alone.

"Yeah? You seem like you go out a lot."

--Out alone, I'm afraid.

"Hey, that's more than me. I have to remind myself to leave my house, on some of my days off."

--Maybe we can help each other out then?

"Sure." 

Yang didn't end up working out as much as she had originally intended, but she had more fun than she had thought she would have had, too.  

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Yang got back to the tiny apartment she shared with two other people at around 8:00 PM. 

A young woman with reddish hair flopped on the counter in front of her once Yang turned to face her.  Reddish, because parts of it look crimson, but Yang usually counts it as black.

"Oh woe," cried Ruby, "Sis, I have found archaeological evidence of a romance, long dead~. How horrible!"

"I said I was sorry," said a blonde, middle-aged woman with glasses. 

"And look," Ruby pulled out a construction paper heart, and held it upside down. "This piece of cellulose is adorned with some kind of writing, but it's flowery script and archaic language make it incomprehensible to me." 

"Haha, very amusing," said the woman, standing right besides her, becoming steadily less amused as the conversation went on.

"What's going on?" Yang asked, against all her better judgement and ignoring all past experiences. 

Ruby pouted. "Glynda forgot the anniversary of our first kiss." 

"I told you, I didn't forget, I just wasn't aware that we were celebrating that."

"That's even worse!" Ruby rolled onto her side, on the counter. "How can you neglect such an important part of our relationship?" Ruby pouted.

"Honestly, I don't actually remember our first kiss, because each subsequent one has been sweeter than the last."

Glynda wrapped her arms around her fiance's waist and nuzzled the younger woman on the neck. 

Ruby squeaked, and she blushed, but she pushed her fiance away and rolled on the counter again. "Your honeyed words will not sway me, vixen." 

The older woman frowned, and then she picked Ruby up by the waist. "Oh, c'mere, you little gremlin-"

"Ah! Noo~" 

Glynda deposited her fiance onto the living room couch.

"You forget, I know your tickle spots," Glynda said. She smirked.

"No!" Ruby yelled in feigned terror, "Nooooooooooo! 

After a few moments of struggling, Glynda managed to pull Ruby's hoodie up. She blew a raspberry on the younger woman's stomach. 

"Ahhahahah- no- ahhahah-" 

Yang put her stuff down and went into the kitchen, then, to prepare dinner.

"Red light!" gasped Ruby, in between two loud whimpering laughs. 

The panting and squealing and the sounds of struggle subsided. 

"Okay," Ruby said, her voice mostly steady, "Green light." 

And there was the sound of another stomach raspberry, and the panting and squealing and the sounds of struggle resumed. 

Yang started trying to look at the colours in the food. Noodles were yellow. Garlic was white. Tomatoes are red. Raw beef was pink- a rarer colour, but it was actually the second time Yang's seen it today.

 

 

 

 


 

 

A few moments after Yang announced dinner was ready, Ruby and Glynda came in, adjusting their clothes and hair. Everyone sat down. 

"Wow, that looks great sis!" Ruby said. She and her fiance started digging in. "It tastes great, too!" 

"Your cooking is great, as always, Yang," stated Glynda. She, in comtrast to Ruby, actually used a fork. 

"No, Glynda," Ruby shook Glynda's shoulders, "I told you, you should start calling her 'sis', too!" 

Yang made a smile. Her eye twitched. "I- you don't have to do that-" 

"If you say so," Glynda said.

Yang tried to come up with a topic of conversation, but she got preempted by Glynda asking her lab assistant something about physics, and Yang didn't really have a lot to add, there.

And after that, they started talking weddings again.

Yang managed to keep up with wedding-planning talk for about five minutes before she made an excuse to tuck in. 

When she got out of the shower, Yang noticed Ruby and Glynda had also already adjoured to Ruby's bed. Yang could hear it, through the walls.

Yang pulled her phone from its charger. 

She pulled out her bottle of melatonin and sleep mask from the top drawer next to her bed and she opened her phone to set her alarm. 

And Yang had a text. Two, actually. And neither one was from Subway giving the weekly coupon. Huh. 

They were from Neo. 

--Hey, what bar did you say you worked at? I

--I mean, I remember what it was, I just wanted an excuse to text you. :p 

Yang couldn't help but smile.

Junior's, on 6th avenue, but I have the night off tonight.-- 

 

Yang waited for the response. 

--aw, so no crashing your workplace tonight? :(

afraid not. I work tomorrow night, though, if you're free then?--

--Sweet! it's a date. See ya then! ;D

Yang blinked at her phone. Then she opened her alarm app and set it to play some Sara Barielles at 10:00 AM, and she tried to go to bed, looking forward to work for the first time in a while. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Yang awoke to the sound of a woman singing about how she wanted her to be brave. Yang fumbled with her phone to swipe away the alarm.

And ten minutes later, she swiped her snooze icon again.

And ten minutes after that, Yang hit 'dismiss' rather than 'snooze' on her phone's alarm app, because she figured if she was still sleepy, she should actually try to get some sleep, and having it interrupted every ten minutes woudn't let her get any. Like, she shouldn't force herself to be awake, right?

At 11:26, Yang felt awake.

And at 11:58, she actually got out of bed. For real, This time.

So she had gotten up two hours later than she had wanted to- it was okay, no sense looking back, no sense beating herself up over it (she had a new friend to do that for her, haha) She still had a good amount of hours before Ruby would get home (though, that would also probably mean Glynda would be home too), so a good amount of time before she had to try to be productive for an audience, because doing that never worked.

(Not that, like, Ruby and Glynda ever pressured her to try to do things or anything. They were never less than understanding, and sometimes that was, just, the worst.)

You know, you could say that Yang had a lot of time on her hands, despite seemingly having only half the capacity. Haha! Hahaha. Ha....

Yang stretched. First thing you should do in the morning was brush your teeth. It's what people with good routines did.

Yang eyed the door to the bathroom. She smacked her mouth.

Dental hygiene was important. For her health, and she should care about that. Also, to avoid expensive dental surgury, which was also pretty important.

And she'd get right on that, after one more super-quick bout of rest. It'd only be as long as it took to hug her pillow to her chest and run through her default, nondescript fantasy; imagining said pillow was someone snuggly. (Not anyone in particular, just, someone who was nice to hug. And it wasn't like she really wanted that or anything, it was just what she ended up imagining whenever she had some time to kill and she was in her sleeping attire and near her bed and feeling a little sleepy). Yang just needed literally one more blink- just one- and she'd start the day. See, setting simple, achievable goals to help you get motivated to do things, for the entire day. And like, starting you day right was the first step to having a good day.

Yang leaned back on her bed, pulling her pillow out from under her head to press against her eyes. She wasn't going to sleep, just, you know, relax a bit.

Just, like, relax one final time before getting up.

 

 

 

At 12:31, Yang sat up again. She checked the time, and she tossed her pillow to the side and got out of bed and didn't just jump back in this time.

Ok, so, another half hour had passed. No sense feeling regret. And it wasn't all that bad; she still had time to do things.

And it wasn't like she didn't have anything to try to do. It wasn't like she didn't have enough stuff piling up (sometimes literally- she was a few days overdue on laundry) to do that she should really take advantage of this time off to do.

Like, she could finally read Maya Angelou's autobiography- it was sitting on her nightstand, so she wouldn't forget about it. Yang had been meaning to do that, since she wanted to be historically conscious, and also, one time, Yang saw a motivational speaker who quoted her. It was like, "If you don't like something, change it, and if you can't change it, change your attitude about it". And she had taken that to heart. Getting a positive attitude, getting to the point where she was able to change. The subsequent time Yang had accompanied her sister to the book store, Yang figured she'd grab the whole story, because she was ready to be inspired.

Right on top of the red paperback was Jeanette Winterson's autobiography, which Ruby had read recently (well, 'recently' had now turned into 'a month and a half ago') and had insisted Yang read it because it was now Ruby's favorite autobiography. And Yang had said 'sure, why not', and Ruby had mentioned something about a cool true life story about lifting yourself out of bad situations and stuff, and Yang didn't really take that as a personal attack or anything, but that kind of story was something Yang figured she'd be interested in. And it was like, she had time. She knew how to read.

Oooor, Yang could could continue the eternal crusade that was tidying up her room. Again, she was a few days late on laundry, though nobody seemed to notice that she'd worn the same jeans and tank-top like for three days in a row. But she'd shifted wardrobes today, to one of her last few sets of clean clothes, since she had reason to look halfway decent, tonight. 

And besides, she probably should get her stuff packed up for when her sister inevitably moved out and she could no longer afford this place. Like, Ruby hadn't mentioned anything about that at all, but Yang could see the writing on the wall; this was Ruby's last semester, and even though they hadn't set a date for the wedding they'd probably want, like, their own place to- to build a life together- and that meant moving out

Moving out, moving away, moving up, moving- moving on. And that was fine. Totally fine. Yang was proud of her sister. She really was. What kind of sister wouldn't be?

 

 

 

 

 

At- you know, staring at a clock all day just made you anxious, so Yang figured she'd try to break the habit- but at some point, Yang looked at her laptop, on her desk, with her previous browsing session still open because she had been too lazy to formally put her computer to sleep and anyway it was set to turn off the screen after 15 minutes of inactivity, so she had just left it on.

There was a small pile of beginner's coding books there, some helping prop up her computer to give a ventway for the fan. Like, Yang didn't really want to be a bartender forever (but it wasn't, like, a disagreeable job), and apparently there was always demand for code monkeys, and Ruby had to learn Python for some of her thesis and she attested that it was easy and fun and stuff, so Yang figured, she might as well take Ruby's old books. Even if Yang got around to it she'd only be half as fast as most coders (hahaha...), and most of them nowadays started at, like, what, eight years old?- so she'd be like nineteen years behind the curve, but like, she wasn't aiming to be world-class or anything. Just like, be good enough to hold down a better job.

And it wasn't like she was disinterested in learning how to code. Ruby had told her about, like, automating her email reposes and stuff, and that sounded cool, Yang guessed.

Well, a lot of stuff sounded 'cool, she guessed' to her, though. Like, somewhere in her room was a book about one-handed card tricks, which she'd opened like three times and completely failed to learn any trick from. She could do that. She had a deck of cards around somewhere....

But Yang didnt do any of that. And besides, having Netflix open on computer was too much of a temptation. She stepped into the living room and the kitchenette. She was a little hungry, and she figured, well, maybe eating something would help her get out of her rut. Besides, she should probably start getting dinner ready for her roommates. 

Yang walked over to the couch and jumped backwards into it. It was really soft, and the pillows were arranged in just the right way for someone to recline on it, lengthwise, so it was like Yang's bed away from bed. Like, the living room was brighter, because the curtains usually weren't drawn and it was a lot cleaner, so sometimes Yang preferred to laze around in this room. 

Yang stared at the reflective glass of the TV. She hadn't really used it as a TV for a while, but it was there to plug into a laptop or their Xbox if anyone wanted to play games or stuff. It was usually Ruby that did stuff there, during the miniscule amounts of free time she had- well, now she had more free time, but like, she didnt used to. (Ruby had gotten her a one-handed controller a while back, so, like, even if Yang would never be a competitive gamer, she could still partake in the same hobby as her sister. Mostly, though, Yang just liked watching Ruby play.) 

Speaking of free time, Ruby had once told her that having free time to worry about shit was a luxury and that was something to be grateful for, at least. Sometimes Yang believed that. 

But Ruby had also said that being busy helped keep away the existential dread.

And that was part of the reason Ruby decided to get a PHD. That way, she'd have no time to worry about the creeping existential emptyness, or about the death of her mother, or about being alone in the cruel uncaring world, etc etc.

Well, obviously, that wasn't really the reason her sister decided to stick in school for another six years, but Ruby joked about that sometimes. It was just, Yang couldn't remember any of the specific jokes, or why she had thought they were funny. 

Yang had had a bit of sadistic glee that Ruby had just seemed drained and exhausted every day when she got back from the university. Served her right for trying to go to school so hard, she'd think, and then she'd hate herself for that, because really, what kind of good sister wanted to see her little sister suffer like that? And besides, Ruby had started to depend on her for like cooking and stuff, so that was a bit of an ego-boost.

But on the other hand, Yang was a little miffed that Ruby started doing research or homework or thesis prep for 15 hours a day. Like, what time they were able to spend together was spent keeping her sister fed, calm, and destressed. And Yang was happy to be that, for her sister, but like, that wasnt really, like, family time or anything.

And now, apparently, spending 15 hours a day doing research or homework or thesis prep eventually got her a piece of paper that entitled her to like 12% more lifetime earnings and also led Ruby to the woman she'd eventually propose to, so maybe she got the better end of the stick. 

And six years of Yang spending 15 hours a day doing her best to waste it in the least productive way possible had gotten her-

well. You know. Nothing really.

that kind of made her feel bad. 

like she'd made the wrong choice, years back

and, like, how were you supposed to catch up on six wasted years? 

And like, that Ruby hadn't been the one to waste her life that six year period

so that meant

it was Yang who wasted all that time

just

 

what did she accomplish, so far? Personally, objectively, 

emotionally?

Not really anything, in any of those-

She had no degree and no career and no girlfriend and

These last six years went by like these last six hours.

 

 

 

 


 

 

Yang tried napping again. She figured it might make her feel better. It didn't.

 

 


 

 

Eventually, Yang managed to run out of free time without having really accomplished anything. Ruby and Glynda came home, and Yang cooked them all a quick dinner before she had to go out to work, and they started to get to work, aha.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Yang walked into the bar, shortly after opening time. They had an afternoon bartender, but he was less practiced and had less seniority. Well, that was one thing going for Yang at this gig; just existing for a time. And hey, if she waited long enough, she'd be the most senior person at the bar, and they'd make her, what, a manager? That was sort of a career path. And on the plus side, all she had to do was wait. That was something she was good at. It just took a little time. aha. 

 

 

 

Today it was sparse. It usually was at the start of her shift, so, everything normal there. 

It was sparse, but one of the customers waved at her; a short woman with half her hair dyed pink waved at her. Neo, obviously. 

 Yang's phone buzzed. 

--He~ey~ ;) 

"Honestly, I kind of got that exact impression from your facial expressions, so you didn't need to text me that." Yang said. Then she remembered to smile, because she was happy to see Neo, and that's what you did when you were happy. 

Neo stuck her tongue out of the corner of her mouth and looked up at the ceiling. Yang chuckled and didn't need to force her next smile. 

"Just one moment," Yang said. 

Neo winked and clicked her mouth and pointed at her, encouragingly.  

 


 

 

 

Yang ducked into the back room to put on her apron that doubled as her uniform. And when she stepped out, she glanced over the bar, to take in the colours. 

Of course, she could just turn around and look at all the different coloured drinks and drink additives. And like, the ice machine had a old wooden carving of a penguin- blue and white with an orange beak- above the dispenser, and their bottles of cream and tje jar of cherries and their container of chocolate syrup were obvious colours. But tonight that seemed like cheating, so Yang decided to only count colours in the room at large.

Brown was everywhere- aged mahogany made up most of the furniture in the bar. 

There was green on the felt of the two pool tables they had in the background- faded green so it was a dark green. 

The hanging lights were yellow- the conical glass casings or whatever they were called were aged enough to be a colour Yang considered yellow. (Was that how that worked? Aged glass turned yellow? Maybe it was just the buildup of dust.) Like, not yellow like, canary yellow, or the colour of her hair, but yellow enough that Yang counted it. 

The leather coverings of the barstools were red, though pink and then white along the creases that eroded through their use. 

They had a TV, with a football game on, which meant there was green and white flashing across there, but Yang always thought colours on a screen didn't look as real as colours on solid things. And the colours changed a lot, on a TV screen- that was the whole point of this new-fangled 'moving pictures' fad, haha. Yang considered the television Black, since that was what an empty screen looked like. If she focused, she could sort of make out the glass screen overlayed over whatever the television showed. 

Except actual glassware was Clear, which wasn't technically a colour but Yang looked for it as a distinct... 'colour', was probably how she'd describe it. See, when you looked at something that was clear, it had a distinct visual texture that make you think' oh, this is a clear object', in the same way you think of something as being red or yellow. 

And, funny enough, there was a bright pink here, because of half of Neo's hair. That also had a nice shade of Brown, and Neo's eyes were- well, they were pretty good examples of their specific colours, too.  

 

Yang then breathed. She was in her element here, what with the small talk and all. Granted, this was a dive bar, not one of the more social bars, but she had mastered asking people about their days in an approachable way and then nodding along when they regaled her of their troubles- imagined or otherwise. She spent a lot of time opining about troubles with drunk patrons, though hopefully with Neo it'd be a little less heavy, today. 

Yang sidled up across from her new- friend? Acquaintance, at the very least. "So," she began, to the bite-sized woman, "What do you like to drink?" 

Neo blinked. 

Yang's phone buzzed. 

-- Um

--What would you recommend 

"Do you drink a lot? 

Neo shook her head. 

"Do you like the taste of alcohol?" 

Neo smiled with gritted teeth and glanced to the side. She then shrugged. 

"It's okay if you don't," Yang said, "We've got plenty of drinks for people who don't like the taste of alcohol. We can get you a White Russian. It basically tastes like coffee."

--Surprisingly enough i don't actually drink coffee. 

"No? You're not dependent on caffeine to get thorough the day?" 

Neo scrunched her mouth to the side and made a guilty face. 

--Usually i  just get a good nights rest and let the existential pressure of modern life motivate me :p

Yang hid the inexplicable feeling of annoyance that clutched at her gut. Like, good for Neo that she was so cheerful and productive and stuff. Like, good for her. Yang could be happy for her. And she was.

"Honestly, I don't really drink coffee that much either," Yang said, "Even though I could use the productivity boost, aha. " Yang laughed, because if she didn't laugh, she'd cry. 

Neo made a smile. 

Yang looked into the distance. "My sister drinks a lot of coffee, though, and she's been a bit of a coffee liqueur connoisseur. So like, if you liked coffee, I could repeat her findings." 

--Well, I could just get a beer I guess. 

"No sense getting something you don't like," Yang said, "Especially since a lot of people don't like the taste of alcohol. We've got a lot of stuff for people like that." Yang blinked, and she had one of those moments of inspiration, "So, you like ice cream?" 

Neo made a smirk. 

--What possibly gave you that idea ;P

--Yeah, I like ice cream; you got some alcoholic ice cream shakes or something?" 

"Something like that. I'll get you an Irish whiskey float," Yang said. She remembered to smile, and she had another moment of inspiration. "My treat." 

Bam; that was flirting. Yang had this down. 

Neo smiled and glanced down in a gesture Yang figured was favorable.

-- Awesome <3.  

 

 

 


 

 

And Yang got Neo her drink, and Neo relayed her compliments, and she nursed her drink as they talked via that unconventional manner, about an assortment of things. It was nice. 

Yang detailed her history of employment ,and how much bar-tending she had, and one story where she had also been the bar's bouncer, where she punched out a trio of truckers who tried to start something right before game night. 

But as the night went on and more customers came by, it turned out that checking her phone for Neo's replies was kind of mutually exclusive with taking orders and making drinks for customers. So the delays in their conversation got longer and longer, and even though Neo always smiled and junk Yang couldn't help but feel deeply guilty, like a burrowing in her gut, every time she had to put her phone down and delay her response longer and longer, as the night got busier.

And eventually, some of the patrons decided to chat up Neo, and she waved at them. They sat down next to her. 

She seemed to get along with them, and she seemed to quickly explain that she was mute.

And eventually Neo wasn't flipping her phone back and forth, so Yang deduced that she must have given them her number at some point. You know, good for her, making new friends.

 

 

 

 

 

And eventually, Neo stopped trying to talk to Yang at all. 

 Oh well. Easy come easy go, then.  Yang figured something probably like this would have happened, eventually- like aftef Neo gog to know her, and how boring she really was-, so better sooner than later to avoid wasting Neo's time. 

Like, Neo was super upbeat and had like a real job and shit, so like, not a match for Yang at all. 

Yang sighed. Yeah. She was fine 

She was fine. 

She was 

 

 

fine 

 

yeah

 

she was used to being alone

or you know, only having her sister, in her life

her sister who was going to get married

and move out

move away

so like, she'd better get used to being alone

so she was fine

just

 

 

 

 

who knows

 


 

 

As her shift ended, Yang pulled her jacket on and exited out the back door. 

She got a few steps towards her car before her phone buzzed. 

--He~ey trying to sneak out without me? :P 

And right above that was Neo's response to the last part of their conversation that night. 

Oh. Yang just have missed that. She was such an idiot. 

Obviously Neo hadn't, just, ignored Yang's joke about pool tables 

Damnit, why didn't Yang check her phone again after that? 

No sense dwelling on it. Yang started typing out an explanation

and a goodbye

but it was hard

one more thing she couldn't do

 

 

but then the bar's front door opened, and a familiar woman stepped out. 

And Yang didn't exactly blend in against the parking lot. Neo found her imediately, and skipped over. 

"Hey," Yang said, lamely, awkardly, "I just- I didn't want to bother you...."

Neo shot her a look, like Yang was the dumbest person she'd ever met. Yeah, Yang probably deserved that. 

--If anything it'd me *me who should be worried about bothering *you.  Sorry if I messed up your shift

Yang scrunched her mouth to the side, "I- guess. But it's not like my time was valuable or anything. You didn't have to come say goodbye." 

Neo frowned. 

 -- So it's like 1:33

Neo pulled a golden watch our of her pocket, flashing it to Yang. It did, indeed, say that it was 1:33. 

--Are you worn out after your job or do you want to get some icre cream or somethin

Yang froze. "What?" 

--Well there's a 24 hour McDonald's a few blocks away if you're okay with softserve? 

 --Next time, I'll make sure to get you something fancier :)

 Yang froze, every muscle in her body tensing. Her head felt cottony, and her next breath took effort and her voice nearly cracked when she next spoke.   

 " Why?" Yang managed to say.

Neo texted out her response.

--Well I don't think any other ice cream stores are open :P

 "No, I mean," Yang parsed. She took another labored, painful breath, and her voice actually did crack this time. "Why do you- why do you still want to hang out with me?" 

Neo typed something on her phone

and then some more

and she stuck her tongue out the side of her mouth as she hit backspace a bunch of times 

and then

--Do you not want me to? 

Yang blinked away some moisture in the corner of her eyes. "You - shouldn't waste your time with me." 

Neo smushed her lips together and she leaned up on the tips of her toes and she brought her right hand up, theatrically-

and she gently bopped Yang on the forehead. 

Yang blinked. And then her phone buzzed. 

--Im not wasting time. I wanted to hang out with you, silly

--And I do apologize if this was too intrusive or too personal or too soon. I

--Like, if hanging out when you were working didn't work for you

--pun unintended

--You should have just said so.

--I wouldnt have minded. 

Yang took some time to parse that information. 

--And like 

-- If this was kind of forward of me I can back off for a few days, if you want 

-- or like, if you don't want to like

Neo paused typing. She bit her tongue, visibly, and broke eye contact. 

-- do this whole thing

-- Like if i'm just annoying you

-- you can just tell me to fuck off 

-- It's fine if so

Neo turned to the nearby street and did indecisive things with her arms. She glanced up at Yang, occasionally, expectantly.

"Um-" Yang said.

Truth be told, Yang did kind of want some time to process tings. Maybe improve herself a little more so that Neo would have some sort of reason to actually like her. 

But what would make that different from every other opportunity she'd sabotaged for herself 

Like, she could see herself telling Neo that she'd need some time, that she'd take a raincheck 

And Neo'd text her, at some point, all happy and accommodating  and oblivious that she was clearly too good for a mess like Yang

and like, Yang would want to do something productive, like just real quick, before she responded- like maybe do her laundry

And for one reason or another, she'd never actually get around to it

and Neo'd text her again, and 

Yang'd never respond

because she'd never feel like she deserved to

And

Yang could see that whole sequence of events- like some kind of clairvoyance based on her knowledge of herself, she could picture, precisely, how she'd go down that road again

And where she'd end up

And

and you know what?

Fuck that

 

"Actually? Sure," Yang said. She stuffed her keys back into her pocket and made a smile. "Let's go to McDonalds." 

 


 

 

 

 

 

So they walked three blocks to the 24 hour McDonalds. The quite hum of florescent lighting in the cold emptiness of the late night. It was quiet and lonely, but comfortable. 

And Yang claimed a secluded booth- cozy, in the back of the restauraunt- while Neo retrieved two medium McFlurries. 

Neo's ice cream had a bite out of it when she sat down, and she pulled out her phone after passing Yang her treat. 

Yang kept her phone on the table, because she was planning ahead. Not because she was trying to distract herself with the internet or anything. 

--So, let's try this conversation thing again, why don't we?

"Oh, Ok. Yeah. Um," Yang said, lamely, 

--Did you ahve anything you wanted to ask me? ;0

--*have

 "Well, tell me about Art," Yang said. She looked over her McFlurry, picking it up for the first time. "I took an art history class once. Well. the first six weeks of one. And my sister's got a deviantart that she used to update."

Yang sighed, slightly. She took her time licking off edges of her ice cream. "But also like, you saw what I did when I worked, so why don't you tell me about your job?" 

Neo pulled her ice cream to the table, unde her nose, and she ate it without hands as she texted furiously

--Well it's like this; 

--Every piece of art has two components; the artist and the audience 

--What a piece means depends as much on how the audience interprets it as what the artist intended it to be

--The thing is, human psychology isn't too incomprehensible nor the human experience too unique that we can't generalize, so that's how we have Art Theory

-- We can say that people with certain common experiences from certain cultures will react a certain way to a certain sumbol or colour

-- but t the end off the day what a piece of art means is what the viewer *feels it means. 

-- And that's what being an Art Manager is 

-- One of the most lucrative thigs I do is connect people to art

-- I meet with clients, to determine what they want

-- Some people want art by a specific person, because it makes them look wealthy

-- some people want a painting that makes them feel unshakably disqueited

-- Some people want nice pictures of evil clowns 

-- true story, btw

Yang chuckled. Her phone's screen shut off, so she put her ice cream down to unlock it again. 

-- And I also end up looking up lots different art

-- Different museums, different artists, other collectors who might be willing to part with certain pieces 

-- Seing what kinds of art typically satisfy what needs

-- And we work to figure out what specific piece a client wants

-- then we arrange to procure it for them, for a fee. 

"And, no offense, but that's like a real job?" Yang mentally smacked herself. "I mean, like, you make enough to live off that? I didn't mean that I didn't think it took work, it's just. That seems like kind of a specific niche." 

Neo stuck her tongue out of the corner of her mouth. 

-- It was kind of hard to break into

-- aha

-- Mostly I got into it because of a friend

-- But I think I'm pretty good at it. And if it goes well, I should be here for a while, to get through all the possibilities here

"It sounds awesome, definitely," Yang said. "And like, it's so great that your'e able to making a living with something you're passionate about. My sister's managed to do that and she says that it's really fulfilling, getting to do something your'e passionate about every day."

Neo blinked two mismatched eyes. She didn't move to text anything. 

Yang cleared her throat. "And being knowledgeable at art is pretty charming, if I might say so." 

Neo smiled. 

-- Not as charming as bartending, though ;)

"I guess some bartenders are charming," Yang lamented. "I don't know if I want to do it long enough to get there, though." 

Neo raised an eyebrow.

"Like, my sister's field is engineering, so like, she's going to be so employable. And my future sister-in-law's got tenure, so like, shell never need to look for a job again.

Neo smiled and blinked. 

--Well, enough about your sister; why don't tell me more about yourself? 

There was a gnawing in Yang's gut, right where her ribcage ended, as old doubts and despondency resurfaced

"I don't know," Yang said to her ice cream, "I'm not really that interesting...."

-- You sure? You seem pretty interesting to me ;)

Yang put her ice cream down. "No, see, I appear interesting, because I don't outwardly look like I have anything going on, so people are like, 'oh, nobody's that bland, I wonder what mysteries she holds~' but its just," Yang waved her arm, "That's just it; I don't have anything interesting about me. What you see is what you get."   

Neo's smile wavered, just a bit, right then. She tapped at her phone, and then erased what she wrote, before writing again. 

-- You sure seemed interesting during our sparring match yesterday  

"I- Oh. That's- true, I guess." 

--Why don't you tell me the mystery of how you got so good at fighting?

Yang couldn't think of a reason not to, so she did. 

 

 


 

 

And a few stories later, once Yang finished her ice cream (Neo had devoured her's pretty quickly), Yang figured she should probably get back home. 

"So," Yang said, standing up and stretching, "Do you need a ride home?" 

Bam; even more flirting. 

Neo looked up at her, smiling without showing her teeth and fluttering her mismatched eyes. 

Yang stared, for just a moment, before she looked at her phone. 

--That'd be lovely :). 

 


 

 

Yang didn't think that entirely through, though, because since she couldn't read texts while driving (or like, she could, but losing an arm in one motor vehicle accident sort of made you take vehicular safety serious, aha) 

But like, maybe sitting in silence next to each other as they drove through empty nighttime suburbs wasn't so bad. 

And Neo squeezed Yang's hand right before she exited the car, and later Yang'd get a text with a smiley emoticon. 

--Thanks for tonight! I had a lot of fun, :) :)

 

 


 

Yang got back home at around 2:30, feeling a little groggy, but contented. 

Yeah. Yang had a genuine smile. Like, she smiled, genuinely, a lot, but this time it wasn't because she'd seen a funny youtube video or something; she could be happy at one of her personal experiences. 

Yang took one last break of the chill nighttime atmosphere before she unlocked the door to the small apartment she shared with two other people and stepped int side-

"Ah!" Yang shielded her eyes with her forearm. "Ruby Jesus shit- what are you doing?"

After a moment, Ruby spit out her ball gag. Glynda caught it before it hit the floor. "Well, I got Mass Effect: Andromeda on sale but Glynda hadn't seen the original series so we're going a runthrough-" 

"Oh my god- what- why would you possibly think I was talking about- I meant, why are you naked."  

Ruby frowned. "I'm wearing rope-"

"Rope isn't clothes!"

"Well, technically-"

"We are not revisiting that argument," Yang said. She rubbed her brow and sighed in exasperation. "So let me rephrase; why are you playing video games, while only wearing rope, on the couch- on your girlfriend's lap, where she's sitting on the couch, so, technically you are both on the couch, so don't even try to argue that." 

Ruby poked her fingers as best she could considering the position of rope around her wrists, "Well, since it's a single player game, I wanted Glynda to have something- like, a couple of things- to play with, too...." 

Glynda blushed- she looked like sje was hoping that if she sat still and didnt say anything ahed get away without getting yelled at. 

Yang had, very soon after entering the apartment, decided to stare very hard at the refrigerator, but she couldn't miss such a brilliant shade of scarlet in the corner of her vision. "But- this is our couch." 

Ruby made an expression that was halfway between a smile and a grimace and she bobbed her head, slightly, indecisively. "Well, we were going to clean up after...." 

"I- you didn't veto this, Glynda?" Yang said, trying a different approach. 

Glynda coughed, quietly, "What can I say? Love makes you young." 

Or stupid. But Yang didn't say that. Yang took one more deep breath, for herself. 

"Also," Glynda interjected, trying to sound adult, since Yang didn't say anything, "We were kind of celebrating, since our last paper got through the review process and is getting published next month." 

"Oh, awesome." Yang said. She blinked, and she fully processed, "That'd be your first joint publication, huh?'

Ruby smiled and nodded. "Yeah!" 

Yang smiled. "That's great, Ruby! And Glynda." 

And it was such a relief that that smile wasn't forced. She genuinely felt happy for her sister. 

But then she remembered that she very frequently took naps on that couch-

 

"So did you have a good time, sis?" Ruby asked. 

Yang blinked. She took a breth and reminisced. The color pink and mismatched eyes and the only available softserve at 1:30 AM. That odd feeling of contentment had returned. 

"Yeah," Yang said, wistlessly, "Yeah, it was pretty great." 

"Oooo," Ruby said, "That sounds like a story~." 

"You know what?" Yang said. She took off her jacket hung it up on the rack as she resolved to just head to bed.. "I'll tell you when you're wearing clothes." 

"No, see, rope is made from fibers, so-" 

"Goodnight, Ruby," Yang said.