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The Bet (or: Team Rosales-Blackthorn are losers) (or: Disregard the previous statement; Team Carstairs-Blackthorn is the worst)

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Emma had finished her second serving of pasta and was planning on a third. Lucky that her husband was an amazing cook because boy, she loved to eat.

“Do you want more water?” Kit asked Ty so quietly, Emma barely heard him over the sound of Christina and Dru talking. The former sat next to her husband while the latter sat next to Perfect Diego, who was discussing with Julian the best way to gain the respect of merpeople (“you need to show them that you mean business”).

Ty nodded, and Kit poured him some more water.

It was weird, Emma thought. Kit seemed to always know when Ty needs something. Or maybe Ty always told him, but telepathically? Emma wouldn’t even be surprised if that turned out to be true. These two were so close, it’s as if they were meant to live as one.

Emma took a mouthful of pasta, slurping it down – manners were never her strong side – as Ty touched Kit’s hand gently. In response, Kit got up without a word and took both their plates to the kitchen. Ty followed him carrying their glasses and cutlery. Emma heard glass clashing and water running as they put their dishes in the sink and washed them.

They don’t even need to speak anymore, it must be telepathy, Emma decided.

They came out of the kitchen and Ty was smiling; actually smiling. From ear to ear. He seemed to find Kit hilarious; only he could make him laugh.

Kit put his hand on Ty’s shoulder. “We’re going to put on our gear and leave for our patrol.”

Emma gaped at him. No one was allowed to touch Ty; it was a universally known fact. Yet, Ty allowed Kit to keep a physical proximity, to put his hands on his shoulders, to take his hand.

Ty lifted his gaze and studied Kit’s face with clear fascination.

What’s so interesting about Kit? Emma snorted. Does he have a black eye or something? Because otherwise Emma could not understand why Ty would bother looking at him like that.

Kit turned his head and caught Ty looking at him. He blushed, and Ty quickly looked away.

Wait a minute.

“Stay safe. And don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do,” Julian told them.

“Yes sir.” Kit smiled at him as they left.

Emma stared at their backs as they walked away.

“We’re leaving too,” Dru said as she and Perfect Diego got up. “We’re going to the movies.”

They were all glad when Perfect Diego decided to stay at the institute. Ever since, he and Dru became good friends. They shared a passion for old horror films and books and seemed in general to get along well. Although, Emma wasn’t sure if Diego really liked spending so much time with Dru or if he was just afraid of her. She could be very persuasive (read: intimidating) when she wanted.

“Hey guys,” Emma said as Dru and Diego left. “Kit and Ty… they’re into each other, right?”

“Took you long enough to realize.” Christina snickered.

“Hey!” Emma threw a pillow at her. “Mean.”

“Sweetie, it is pretty obvious.” Julian smiled at her. “For us, at least. I’m pretty sure they don’t realize it themselves.”

“I bet I could –“ Emma started.

“No!” Julian cut her off.

“You didn’t even let me finish!”

“I know where this is going, and no. You are not getting involved.”

“But Julian,” Emma said, voice as sweet as honey. “Using my great matchmaking skills, I could set them up and they will be so happy and perfect.”

“You? Please,” Christina let out a half-suppressed laugh. “You might be the best fighter among us, but you are the worst when it comes to anything even slightly related to human emotions.”

“Oh, so you think you have a better chance at this than I do?”

“Are you seriously even asking? I have the sensitivity for these things. And tact, which you so desperately lack.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes, really.”

“It’s on.”

“What is on?” Christina was confused.

“The bet. You and Mark versus Julian and I. Whoever gets Kit and Ty together first – wins.”

“Emma!” Christina was scandalized. “We can’t have a bet on Kit and Ty’s love life!”

“With this attitude – you have already lost.”

“I haven’t lost anything because I’m not doing this ridiculous bet.”

“Julian, did you hear that?” Emma turned to her husband. “Sounds like there’s a chicken in the institute.”

“Emma,” Mark said lazily. “If you honestly believe that your childish taunting shall spur my wife into participating in this bet, then I must inform you that –“

“It’s on,” Christina declared. “First team to get them together without them knowing that we meddled - wins.”

“Great,” Emma replied. “I hope you enjoy losing.”

“Is what you tell yourself every morning when you wake up?” Christina smirked.

Julian turned to Mark. “Can you believe what we married into?”

“Please, do not speak to me.” Mark turned away from him. “I shall not fraternize with our opponents.”

“Seriously?!” Julian gaped at him.

“See Julian.” Emma gave him a pointed look. “This is what a supportive husband looks like.”

“Fine,” Julian sighed. “I’m in. But I want to make my reluctance very clear.”

“Your reluctance is noted,” Emma replied. “Now let’s get to work.”

 

Trial #1, Team Carstairs-Blackthorn

“Romance is all about spatial proximity,” Emma began. “We stage a game of hide and seek. I trick them into hiding together in a supply closet and we lock them inside. With the quiet, the darkness, and the physical proximity – things are bound to go down.”

“By the Angel, Emma,” Julian’s face wore a horrified expression. “It’s still my baby brother we’re talking about.”

“Repress that fact,” she advised.

***

“And why do we have to do this?” Kit asked.

“Because I’m the head of this institute and I say so,” Emma replied. “Julian, start counting. The rest of you – go hide. The last person to be found is exempted from patrols for the next two weeks.”

With a sigh, Julian turned around and started counting. There was no refusing his beautiful wife when she set her mind on something. “One… Two… Three…”

Emma followed Kit and Ty through the corridor.

“Why, here’s an idea! You can hide here,” she said as she shoved Kit and Ty forcefully into a supply closet, just as planned. She placed a sword in the handles, preventing the closet from being opened from inside and then ran away.

Twenty minutes later, the frustrated noise heard from inside the closet made it clear that Kit and Ty had realized that no one was looking for them and, more importantly, that they were locked.

“Emma, let us out or I swear to god that you will finish this day with less limbs than you have started it,” Kit’s muffled threat was heard through the door.

“It’s locked, we’re trying to figure out a way to open it,” she shouted back, ignoring Julian’s scolding stare.

“Kit wasted ninety percent of the oxygen here with his constant babbling,” Ty complained.

“Then I suggest you use this time for an activity that doesn’t require talking,” Emma advised.

“Emma!” Julian choked. “That’s my baby brother you’re trying to coax into performing indecent acts!”

“I told you to repress –“

Emma’s reply was interrupted by a loud bang. Kit had kicked the closet wall and broke it. He stepped outside, followed by a shriveled-looking Ty.

“What. The hell. WAS THAT?!” Kit yelled at her.

“An empowering experience for you?” Emma suggested, trying to keep a friendly smile.

 

Trial #2, Team Rosales-Blackthorn

“Romance is all about creating the right ambiance,” Christina explained after she had detailed her plan to Mark.

She had cooked dinner - okay, she ordered takeout, but it still counts – which included creamy rosé pasta with roasted tomatoes and chocolate tartes for dessert.

She set the dinner table to create a romantic setting: white tablecloth, candles, rose petals. In the background, Mark put on soft classical music.

“Everything is perfect,” he assured her. “They are supposed to get back from patrol any moment now.”

Indeed, two minutes later the institute front door opened.

“Hey guys,” Christina rushed to the door and came face to face with Kit and Ty. “Are you hungry?”

“Starving,” Kit replied.

“Great! There are some left overs from dinner waiting for you guys.” She led them to the dinner table. “I’ll just leave you two to it.”

Poor fools. You have been romanced.

“Oh no,” Kit said as he looked at the table and the rose petals scattered over it. “Why would you do that to Ty?”

“Do what?” Christina was confused.

“They’re dead!” Ty seemed on the verge of tears. “You killed those roses! And then you scattered their remains on the table!”

He ran out of the room.

“Really, Christina. That’s just cruel.” Kit shook his head and followed Ty.

After taking three steps he turned back around, grabbed a chocolate tarte, shook his head at Christina again, and walked out.

 

Trial #5, Team Carstairs-Blackthorn

“We’ve been addressing this thing entirely wrong,” Emma told her husband. “We should have used our words.”

Julian stared at her. “Your words? Your words?”

“That’s right. I’m going to have a little talk with Kit. Draw his attention to the fact that Ty is a handsome young man and make him realize that he is attracted to him. It’s simplicity itself.”

“You’re going to make Kit realize that he is attracted to Ty.” Julian repeated. “Using your words?”

“Yes. Simplicity itself.”

***

Emma found Kit in the training room lifting weights.

“Wow, you increased your weights again?” she said as she entered the room. “That’s impressive.”

“Oh no,” Kit furrowed his eyebrows. “What do you want?”

“Why would I want anything?” Emma feigned innocence.

“Because you’re being nice,” Kit didn’t falter. “Come on. Spill.”

“I don’t want anything! I just want to talk. It’s been a while since we had a good conversation, you know?”

“I guess it has,” Kit agreed. “So, what’s up?”

“Nothing much. I was just thinking,” she said.

“Yes?” Kit urged her on when it became clear that she wasn’t planning on finished that sentence.

“I was thinking… Ty is handsome, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Emma, do I need to remind you that are married?” Kit raised his eyebrows. “And to his brother, no less!”

“What? No!” Emma exclaimed. “I’m not interested in Ty like that!”

“If you say so.”

Emma pinched the bridge of her nose with her middle finger and thumb in exasperation.

“I was just wondering,” she said slowly. “Many people must… desire him, don't they?”

“And you’re one of them?” Kit raised his eyebrows again.

“No! Absolutely not!”

“Then why are we even having this conversation?” Kit stared at her. “I’m going on a run. Bye, weirdo.”

Emma was left speechless, gaping after him as he turned around and left.

***

That’s fine. I was just barking up the wrong tree, Emma told herself. Ty is more sensible, she decided and headed towards the library.

“Hey Ty-Ty,” she said merrily as she entered the room. “How is my favorite detective doing?”

“Is your favorite Sherlock Holmes as well? Because if so, you should probably know that he is a fictional character and thus he is not, technically, doing anyting.”

“No, I meant... Never mind. Can I sit down?”

Without waiting for an answer, she sat down on the couch next to him.

“I’ve been thinking… Kit is very handsome, is he not?” she wondered out loud.

“Emma, you are a married woman.”

“Why does everyone keep saying that?” she exclaimed.

“Because it’s a fact?” Ty suggested.

“I’m not into Kit!” Emma emphasized. “I was just wondering… Being so handsome, many people must hit on him, no?”

“Many people…” Ty repeated.

“Yes.” Emma nodded enthusiastically. “What do you think about that?”

“Oh,” Ty’s eyes lit up. “I see where you’re going with this. It might be a good idea.”

Ah! Jackpot. Take that, Team Rosales-Blackthorn, i.e. Team Loser.

“You want me to help you with the statistical analysis!” Ty seemed excited.

“I want help with what?”

“You want me to help you find the probability distribution function describing the number of people hitting on Kit per day,” Ty said. “How much data points have you gathered so far? Have you already calculated the moments? Have you calculated the mean? Although I prefer to report the median as I find it more reliable since it is not strongly affected by a few outliers, and obviously you can’t assume the distribution is symmetric. That’s how they get you.”

Emma gaped at him. Without a word, she turned on her heels and walked out.

 

Trial #9, Team Rosales-Blackthorn

It was a lazy Sunday. Julian and Emma had prepared coffee and sat down to enjoy a quiet morning with Mark and Christina when the institute front door burst open.

The sound of steps taken by someone wearing thin high heels echoed from the hallway.

“Good morning.”

Emma turned around to find that the origin of the high-pitched noise was no other than Paige Ashdown. She stared at the strawberry-haired girl.

“Good morning sweetie,” Christina replied fondly. “Kit and Ty are in the training room, why don’t you join them?”

“I will.” Paige turned on her heels and left.

“What is she doing here?” Emma seemed dumbfounded.

“We invited her.” Christina gave her an angelic smile. “Last time she came here I noticed that she had a little crush on Kit. So, while you and I are taking here, Paige is in the training room over there, hitting on Kit.”

“Ty shall observe their behavior,” Mark continued. “It will spark his jealousy and make him realize that he has desired Kit all along.”

“Damn it,” Emma turned to Julian. “That’s a brilliant plan, how come we didn’t think about it?”

Julian gave her a discreet wink.

They returned to their coffee – Mark and Christina sipping it with pleased expressions plastered on their faces – when half a minute later, Kit came to the kitchen looking distraught.

“Why is the she-devil here?!” He yelled. “I swear to god, if you don’t kick her out this instant, I will set this whole place on fire!”

With that, he headed in the direction opposite from the training room.

“Oh no, did we forget to mention?” Emma said in a sweet, innocent tone. “Kit despises Paige.”

 

Trial #12, Team Carstairs-Blackthorn

Emma entered the institute carrying a gigantic and colorful flower bouquet.

“What is that?” Christina raised an eyebrow at her.

“That, my dear Christina,” Emma replied, dignified. “Is how I win this bet.”

“How we win this bet,” Julian corrected her.

“Yes, yes, we are married, my victories are your victories.” Emma dismissed him casually.

“I love you Emma, I do, but if you forget that I’m part of this team one more time I swear to every angel out there that I’m going to –“

“Yes?” Emma looked at him expectantly.

“To kiss you and tell you how much you mean to me,” Julian finished sheepishly.

Christina let out a snort. “And how exactly are you going to win with a bouquet? Do you plan to smack Kit over the head with it until he asks Ty out?”

“Oh Christina. Poor, naïve Christina,” Julian looked at her with pity in his eyes. “We merely took your original idea and perfected it. See, we are going to give Ty those flowers and tell him that they were sent by a secret admirer. Kit will see them, get jealous, and realize that he had a crush on Ty all along.”

“Darn it,” Christina mumbled. “It’s such a clever plan, how come we didn’t think about it?”

“Because you’re both losers, obviously.” Emma stuck out her tongue.

“Hey guys,” Kit had just come downstairs with Ty. “What’s up?”

“Ty! This just came in for you!” Emma feigned surprise as she handed him the bouquet. “There’s even a note – looks like you have a secret admirer!”

Ty stared at the bouquet, a horrified expression on his face. “I live in house of plant murderers!” he wept and ran outside.

“What is wrong with people?” Kit shook his head and followed Ty.

Emma turned around, looking lost. “What… the hell?”

“Oh no, did we forget to mention?” Christina said in a sweet, innocent tone. “Ty is opposed to killing flowers.”

 

Trial #15, Team Carstairs-Blackthorn

“Kit, Ty! Head of Institute office, now!” Emma called.

They followed her obediently.

“I have a lead about demon drugs being sold at a local coffee shop. I need you both to go there undercover.”

“And do what?” Kit’s eyes sparked determination.

“Just be there, undercover.”

“Just be there?” Ty was confused by her request.

“Yes, I want the owners to think that you are regular customers. By the time we have enough intel to run an operation, your cover will be established.”

“Okay…” Kit had already learned that there was no questioning Emma.

“Good. Now go put on mundane clothes. I sent you the address by text. I want you to go there and pretend you’re on a date.”

Emma and Julian’s plan was simple: get Kit and Ty to go on a date by sending them on a made up mission and telling them they need to pretend to be on a date.

This was, without a doubt, the cleverest plan anyone had ever had throughout the entire history of mankind. Julian and Emma had high-fived about it at least ten times.

***

“Team Rosales-Blackthorn, we regret to inform you that you have lost,” Emma announced as she walked into the living room.

“What do you mean?” Christina tried to hide the concern in her voice, without much success.

“Our dearest Kit and Ty are on a date now. Hence: we win. Pay up.”

“We shall do no such a thing,” Mark declared. “I require proof.”

“Then you shall have it,” Julian answered immediately. “Let’s go. You drive.”

***

The four of them reached the front door of the coffee shop and looked through the window. Sure enough, there was Kit in his mundane clothes, sitting at a small table, sipping Frappuccino. In front of him sat –

“What the hell?” Emma cried out.

Kit was sitting opposite a girl with black hair and olive skin. Another glance revealed Ty sitting at another table at the far corner of the shop and sharing a milkshake with a brown-haired young man.

She stormed inside the coffee shop. “Kit, come here, now!” She turned to Ty. “You too!”

They got outside the coffee shop. “What the hell, Emma?” Kit stared at her. “You just blew our cover!”

“What cover?! I told you to pretend to be on a date!”

“We did!” Ty seemed puzzled. “I found this guy sitting alone. I asked him if he comes here often – classic pick-up line, from what I gather – and I suggested we share a milkshake. It was a wonderful pretense-date.”

“And I hit on this girl. She was super into it, believe me,” Kit added. “So, where’s the problem?”

Christina and Mark burst into laughter.

“I meant, pretend to date each other,” Emma said, exasperated.

“How is that a better cover?” Ty asked.

“I don’t know,” Emma mumbled. “I don’t know anything anymore.”

Christina smiled in an irritatingly smug way. “Best. Day. Ever.”

 

Trial #19, Team Rosales-Blackthorn

It was a quiet Saturday evening, and the institute inhabitants were all gathered in the living room. Emma was sprawled on the couch, her head in Julian’s lap and her feet on Dru’s. Julian was stroking her hair and making casual conversation with Mark while Dru was scrolling lazily through her phone, and Perfect Diego was reading the newspaper – because this was just the kind of things that Perfect Diego would do. Meanwhile, Kit and Ty were in the middle of a heated game of poker. Kit was clearly losing; Ty was better at calculating the odds of getting different hand configurations.

“Let’s play a drinking game,” Christina suggested.

“Fun! I’m in,” Emma announced.

“Me too,” Dru looked up from her phone.

Julian, Mark and Kit agreed as well.

“Am I obliged?” Perfect Diego asked hesitantly.

“Perfect Diego, I swear to God,” Emma said in her most menacing voice.

“Okay I’m in, I’m in.” Sweat was running down Perfect Diego’s forehead. “But also – can you guys please stop calling me that? It has been five yea-“

“Awesome,” Christina cut him off. “I’m going to make some margaritas.”

“And I’ll make mojitos,” Mark volunteered.

Mark and Christina’s new plan relied on the power of alcohol.

“Alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions,” Mark had told her.

“But Ty doesn’t drink,” Christina pointed out.

“Lowering Kit’s inhibitions should be enough.”

“Okay. We can make a drinking game out of it.”

And so, there they were.

***

“I got you some apple cider,” Kit said as he handed a glass to Ty. “So you can participate as well.”

They are so adorable together, Christina’s heart melted.

“We’re playing ‘most likely’ combined with ‘attached at the hip’,” she announced as she showed everyone a bowl filled with folded slips of paper.

“Awesome.” Emma took a sip of her margarita.

“Babe, we haven’t even started yet,” Julian said as he took her glass away.

“Can you please explain the rules?” Perfect Diego asked.

“Sure,” Christina replied. “We’ll start with ‘attached by the hip’. I have written different body parts on slips of paper and placed them in the bowl. We break up into pairs and each duo gets a slip of paper. Everyone must stay “attached” to their partner by the body part they were assigned for throughout the evening. Every time someone separates, they have to take a shot.”

“I’m with Christina,” Mark continued. “Emma is with Julian, Kit is with Ty, and Dru is with Perfect Diego.”

Christina handed each pair a piece of paper.

“Ankle,” Dru read hers out loud. “Come here Perfect Diego.”

Diego sat next to her obediently and put his ankle on hers.

“Elbow,” Emma said. “Bring that gorgeous elbow of yours here, babe.”

Julian touched his elbow to hers.

“Knee,” Mark said, and Christina sat grinning beside him, their knees touching.

“Hand,” Kit read out loud, then immediately blushed. He glanced shyly at Ty, and Christina and Mark exchanged sly smiles.

“Is – is that okay?” Kit asked Ty, unsure.

“It is,” Ty replied and held out his hand trustingly.

Slowly, Kit took it, averting his gaze and still blushing.

“Remember, you have to hold Ty’s hand for the entire evening!” Christina told him.

At that, Emma turned around abruptly to look at her, then exchanged a knowing glance with Julian.

“They’re on to us,” Christina muttered to Mark.

“Let us begin with ‘Most Likely’,” Mark said quickly.

“The rules are as follows,” Christina began. “We sit in a circle and asks a 'most likely' question. For example, "Most likely to become addicted to chocolate?" After counting to three, everyone points at a person who they think are most likely to do so. The person who has the maximum number of fingers pointed at them has to finish his drink.”

She then muttered quietly to Mark “Try to make Kit lose, we need him drunk by the time we start playing ‘Paranoia’”.

“I’ll start,” Emma said. “Most likely to run naked in public?”

All fingers pointed at Mark.

“Nakedness is natural,” he said as he chugged down his drink.

Julian was next. “Most likely to pick their nose and put it in their mouth?”

Most fingers pointed to Perfect Diego.

“Why?” he exclaimed, before taking a sip. “Why would you think that?”

“You’re so perfect all the time, you must have your dirty little secrets when you’re alone,” Dru said.

“Most likely to run away to join the circus?” Kit asked.

Julian was voted unanimously.

He took his drink in resignation. “It does sound like me.”

“In an alternate universe, you’re an animal trainer,” Dru said.

“Most likely to eat something off the ground?” Ty asked, still holding Kit’s hand and seeming to ease into his touch.

Most fingers pointed to Mark.

“We are one with nature!” he argued.

“You are one with germs, you mean,” Dru retorted. “Most likely to crash an ex’s wedding?”

They all laughed at that, remembering Julian and Emma’s wedding, and the way Cameron Ashdown rushed into the hall, held Emma’s hand and declared his undying love. He was kicked out. By Emma. Apparently, wearing a puffy golden wedding dress does not limit her fighting skills whatsoever.

“Cameron, wherever you may be right now -” Emma began.

“Probably in his mother’s basement,” Kit mumbled and they all burst into laughter again.

“Whoever’s basement you are in right now - you need to finish your drink,” Emma concluded.

 

And so, the game went on:

Most likely to queue behind a mannequin? (Christina. “You’re just too polite,” Emma told her)

Most likely to accidentally send a text to someone that was meant for someone else? (Dru. “I actually did do that once – I sent a text to Kit complaining about how annoying Paige is and sent it to her,” she said. “Excellent,” Kit replied.)

Most likely to build a science lab? (Ty)

Most likely to eat spaghetti with chocolate syrup? (Kit)

Most likely to cause a mass extinction? (Ty, by accidently creating a flesh-eating virus in his lab)

Most likely to bite their disgusting toenail? (Diego. “Why do you think I’m so disgusting?!” he asked, exasperated.)

Most likely to have weird phobias? (Kit. “You’re afraid of ducks,” Ty reminded him. “Have you even seen a duck up close? They’re like little dinosaurs!” Kit retorted while waving the hand that was holding Ty’s.)

Most likely to die and haunt their friends? (Dru. “Yeah, I would totally do that,” she agreed.)

Most likely to help a friend bury a body? (Tie between Christina and Emma)

Most likely to kill their crush’s crush? (Kit. “You just seem like the jealous type,” Dru told him.)

Most likely to bark in the middle of an important clave meeting? (Dru)

Most likely to brush their teeth with toilet water? (Diego. “Okay now you’re just being mean,” he said as he chugged down his drink.)

Most likely to smile at a stranger as they walk past him? (Christina)

Most likely to look good in a kilt? (Julian. “I’m not sure why, but I totally see it,” Christian said.)

***

Two hours later, Emma was blind drunk, sprawled on Julian and talking to herself. Mark was unsure if he was seeing double or if the gods have granted his wishes and duplicated Christina. Dru entered a giggling fit, Julian claimed he is the reincarnation of Jonatan Shadhowhunter, and Diego argued that it’s not a possibility since he is the reincarnation.

“Hey Mark,” Christina muttered. “Didn’t we have something to do? I feel like we planned to do something, but I don’t remember what.”

“It had something to do with that lovely blonde individual, I forget his name,” he mumbled back.

Christina narrowed her eyes, trying to remember. “I think his name is Pitt.”

“That’s a weird name, Pitt. What a sad life he must lead with a name like that,” Mark commented.

“But where is Pitt anyway?” Christina looked around the room, which was a mistake since it made her head spin.

“He was half passed-out. I saw my bother carry him to bed,” Mark said, then felt the need to specify. “Not the brother that is over there, making a fool of himself,” he nodded towards Julian’s direction. “The other brother, the one who plans to annihilate humanity with a flesh-eating virus.”

“Lovely,” Christina put her face in her hands. “I think I’ll go throw up now.”

 

Player 3 has entered the game

“We have made literally zero progress,” Emma said as she sat down at the dining table with a cup of much-needed coffee.

“Same,” Christina replied. “I really thought this was going to be so much easier.”

“Why are they so stupid?” Emma complained.

Julian turned to her. “Emma!”

“What? It’s true!” she replied, dignified. “We need some divine intervention, because else I don’t see them dating anytime soon.”

“What are you guys talking about?” Dru asked as she entered the room followed by Diego.

“Nothing!” Emma said hastily.

“Don’t you nothing me!” Dru gave her a pointed look. “You guys are trying to play matchmakers on Kit and Ty, aren’t you?”

“No!”

“You truly are the worst liar I have ever met.” Dru snorted. “Did you succeed?”

“Not even a little bit,” Mark replied tiredly.

“How many different tactics have you tried so far?

“About twenty, combined,” Emma muttered.

“Amateurs,” Dru sneered. “Let me show you how it’s done. Let’s go, Perfect Diego.”

Diego gathered all his courage and mumbled “I don’t want to be part of this.”

“I don’t know what to tell you. This is happening,” Dru did not falter. “Now, let’s go.”

“I don’t think I’m a very good matchmaker,” he objected.

“That’s loser talk,” Dru scolded him. “You have now been officially demoted from being Perfect Diego, to being called Mediocre Diego. And I’m warning you: you keep this up and you’ll henceforth be called Subpar Diego.”

 

Trial #20, Team Awesome Dru and Mediocre Diego

“All the classic romantic comedies have a ‘makeover’ scene,” Dru explained. “We’ll give Kit a makeover. Ty will see him, drool, and realize he was in love with him all along. It’s brilliant.”

“But –“

“Don’t question yourself, Mediocre Diego. It’s brilliant.”

Diego opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again, resigned.

***

“Why are we doing this again?” Kit lifted an eybrow.

“Emma says it’s pertinent for the mission,” Dru replied hastily.

“She has been giving me weird assignments lately,” Kit commented.

“Oh well, Emma works in mysterious ways. Now come on.” She pulled him by the arm and stirred him towards the bed, on which lay piles of folded clothes. “Try these on.” She handed him a pair of blue ripped jeans and a dark green t-shirt.

Kit went into the bathroom and put on the clothes Dru picked for him. He came out a minute later and did a little twirl for Dru’s sake. “How do I look?”

“Sexy as hell,” Dru replied. “Mediocre Diego, tell him he looks sexy as hell.”

“I most certainly won’t,” Diego replied. “Not until he puts on the black jeans instead. Now these are sexy.”

“By the Angel, you’re right. “Dru smiled at him. “See, this is why you were called Perfect Diego.”

Kit looked at them with disgust.

“Wait,” Diego called after him as he opened the bathroom door. “Try on this shirt instead.” He threw a buttoned blue shirt at him. Kit caught it and slammed the door.

After Dru and Diego were satisfied with Kit’s outfit (they added a vest) (“Now you’re sexy as hell” Diego confirmed), Dru set out to do Kit’s hair. She blow dried it and styled it with some mousse to give it volume and polish, sculpting Kit’s loose blond curls into a more groomed, gentleman-like appearance.

When she finished, Kit looked practically like a model taken out from the front page of a magazine.

“Ah, you actually look nice. It’s a miracle.” Dru clapped her hands together.

“Wow, thanks,” Kit mumbled sarcastically.

Dru ignored him. “Diego, call Ty in here please.”

“Why?” Kit asked her suspiciously.

“To get a second opinion, of course. As I said, it’s pertinent for the mission.”

Diego walked out of the room and then came back with Ty, who stopped in the doorway and gaped at Kit. His gray eyes scanned Kit from top to bottom and back again and his lips were slightly parted.

We’re so going to win this bet, Dru thought. In your face Emma and –

“What happened to you?” Ty finally asked.

“He looks nice, doesn’t he?” Dru beamed.

Ty shook his head. “No. I liked you better when you looked like you.” He told Kit and then put his headphones on and walked out of the room.

Kit turned to Dru. “So, about the mission?”

The mission? Oh crap, I told him there was a mission.

“Yes of course, go ask Emma, she’ll give you the details.”

Let her deal with this.

Dru still stared for a few moments at the doorframe after Kit walked out of the room. “I can’t believe that it didn’t work!” she exclaimed.

Diego was silent for a few moments before responding.

“I understand that,” he said quietly. “I wouldn’t want you to change either.”

“What?” Dru turned to look at him.

“I just mean, that you – that I…” he mumbled. “I wouldn’t change anything about you. I like you just the way you are.”

“Really, Diego? You’re trying to flatter me? That’s not going to work.” She narrowed her eyes. “Now come on, let’s go. My genius mind formed another plan.”

She reached the doorway when she realized that Diego did not follow her. She turned back around and saw him staring down at his shoes, a dejected expression on his face.

“Diego? What’s going on?”

He lifted his gaze but didn’t say anything which was disconcerting because Diego always had something to say. Then Dru realized.

“You…” she said slowly. “You were being serious?”

“I was,” he replied quietly. “I like you.”

“You do?” She stared at him.

Diego took a deep breath. “Why else do you think I chose to stay in the LA institute?”

Why indeed? Dru had asked herself that very question a couple of times during the last few months. Almost five years ago, Diego had left the LA institute. Three years later he came back, invited by Christina, for a two-week visit. That visit had extended to two-months, then another six months, and then Diego had officially made the LA institute his home.

Dru and he became friends; they trained together, they patrolled together, they watched movies together, they went to the beach together. They had spent countless nights awake, talking about nothing and everything.

While she had dated other guys and even had one serious boyfriend, Diego remained perpetually single. She once asked him about it, but he avoided a direct answer and so she didn’t pressure him.

“I spent my life relocating from one institute to another, never feeling like I belong,” Diego said. “Then I came back here to visit Christina, and suddenly everything just clicked. I was happy. It took me a while to understand - but now I know. It’s all because of you.

“You ground me, you calm me, you make me laugh. You taught me how to embrace life. I can talk to you for hours and we never run out of things to say. You’re my best friend, you’re the one I go to when I’m happy and want someone to share it with, and you’re the one I go to when I’m sad because you always make everything seem so easy.

“And honestly, I wouldn’t change anything about you. You’re the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I love your eyes, I love your smile, I love your hair. I love your laugh, I love your twisted sense of humor, and I love that you don’t care about what other people think. It’s weird, I know, but I love the fact that you really are the most likely out of us all to bark in the middle of an important clave meeting.

“And I know you only see me as a friend, and I don’t want you to feel awkward around me now but I just had –“

Dru shut him up with a kiss.

She had never thought about Diego that way, he was her best friend. So, she had been dating other guys and breaking up with them because nothing had ever felt quiet right. And now she knew why – everything she had wanted was there all along, she was simply too blind to see it.

She could feel her heat pounding as Diego wounded his arms around her and deepened the kiss. Her whole body tingled as she felt Diego’s tongue tangle with her own and pressed herself closer to him – as close as she could. He ran his fingers through her hair, making her whole body tingle. She had never been kissed like that.

“So, you like me, huh?” she asked when they finally broke away from each other.

Diego caressed her cheek gently.

“Actually, no. I don’t like you,” he admitted. “I’m in love with you.”

For the first time in her life, Dru was left speechless.

Diego laughed and kissed her temple. “You can say it back whenever you’re ready. After all, I waited two years for this kiss. I can wait a little longer.”

***

Emma was taking out her anger out on a punching bag in the training room when she spotted Dru and Perfect – no, he was demoted – Dru and Mediocre Diego walk in, grinning like mad.

“Oh no, why are you two smiling like that? ” she cried out. “You won the bet? You did? By the Angel, you did! How? HOW?!”

“Babe,” Julian whispered discreetly. “Look at their hands.”

They were holding hands. Who gives a damn? Seriously, Julian can sometimes focus on the most insignificant details.

“Who cares about their hands?!” She yelled. “Look at their stupid, bet-winning smiles!”

“What’s going on?” Mark and Christina came up to them. “Why is Emma having a fit? Again?”

They stared at Dru and Diego expectantly.

“We’re… Um…” Diego mumbled, giving Dru an anxious glance.

“Diego has been promoted,” Dru told them. “To being my boyfriend. Henceforth he shall be known as Dru’s Diego.”

“It’s about time,” Christina said with a smiled. She, Mark and Julian hugged and congratulated them.

“So, you didn’t win the bet,” Emma smiled smugly.

Dru laughed. “Come here, crazy,” she said as she hugged her.

“I really am happy for you guys though.” Emma grinned at her before getting back to her punching bag. Mark and Christina resumed their knife throwing and Julian set up to do pushups.

“Dru’s Diego,” Diego whispered when they were alone. “I like that.”

 

Trial #24, Team Rosales-Blackthorn

“Dru’s failed plan gave me an idea,” Christina told her husband. “We’ll show them a romantic movie about two best friends falling in love. They will relate to the movie, and then apply the lesson they have learned to their own lives.”

After a heated debate, they decided on “A Lot Like Love” (with “When Harry Met Sally” coming in second, and “Just Go with It” coming in third place because while slightly off-topic, Mark thinks it’s a masterpiece and he wanted to make it clear).

***

When Christina came back into the living room with two large bowls of popcorn, Mark had already put the movie on, Emma and Julian shared a loveseat and Dru was cuddled on the couch with Perfect – no, he was demoted – with Mediocre – no he was promoted again – with Dru’s Diego. Kit and Ty sat next to each other at the opposite side of the couch. As usual, Kit sat at a proximity that only he was allowed to keep from Ty.

“Do you want a blanket?” he asked Ty quietly. Ty nodded, and so Kit got up to get a fluffy blanket and laid it on him.

After dimming the lights, Christina passed the popcorn around and sat down on the floor. This was Mark’s preferred spot - having spent years with the wild hunt he felt most comfortable there. Mark played the movie and leaned back into her arms.

“I love you,” he whispered as she kissed his cheek.

“I love you too. So, so much.”

She couldn’t help but glance at Kit and Ty; they were both covered in the blanket Kit had brought, and she hoped that by the end of the movie they would be holding hands underneath it. She wanted to win the bet, of course she did, but more so - she truly believed they deserve each other.

She had been observing them for years. Kit identified as bisexual, and he used to date a lot. He even brought his serious relationships home to meet the family; they were two girls of who’s Christina had already forgotten the names, and one emo-looking guy named Jesse.

Then, about a year ago, Kit stopped dating altogether. Tactless as she is, Emma asked him if he “can’t pull anymore” and if he “lost his Herondale charm”. Kit blushed and mumbled something about not “feeling like dating right now”, to which Emma replied, “because no one wants you?". Absolutely tactless. Christina cringed internally.

It was clear to the rest, however, that even if Kit wasn’t aware of it himself, the reason he didn’t want to date anyone was because no one would ever compare to Ty. He was never able to develop a real connection, even with the people he had brought home. He and Ty had become so close, sometimes Christina believed they lived for each other.

Even when Kit had brought dates home, Christina noticed that he kept asking Ty if he needs anything – just small things, like a glass of water or a napkin - and study his expressions to see if he’s feeling okay.

This plan will work, she thought. This movie is romantic as hell, there’s no way they can remain unmoved by it.

She risked another glance at the potential love-birds. Obviously, she should find them teary-eyed, having realized that what they had was true love. Naturally, they would soon excuse themselves and go talk somewhere private.

Oh.

They fell asleep.

Kit even went as far as to drool on Ty’s shoulder.

Damn it.

 

Trial #32, Team Carstairs-Blackthorn

Emma looked gravely at her husband. “I’m going to try using words again.”

Julian looked at her warily. “Please don’t.”

“I don’t know what to tell you, this is happening,” she said decisively as she walked away.

Julian stared after her.

She’s my complete opposite, he thought. Yet I love her more than I love myself.

***

“Kit!” Emma practically yelled at him when she found him in the kitchen.

“I only took one apple!” he said defensively, waving a Pink Lady in her face. “Why do I feel like you are about to execute me?”

“Another day, maybe,” she replied. “But for now, let’s talk.”

“Oh no,” Kit mumbled.

“Oh yes.” She looked at him pointedly. “Sit.”

Kit sat down at the counter, mumbling something that sounded a lot like “who decided to assign an insane person as the head of an institute”.

“So,” Emma began. “Ty. He is hot. I know it and you know it.”

“This again?” Kit gaped at her. “Do you want me to find you and Julian a good couples therapist?”

Emma cupped his face with her hands and stared at him ominously. Kit looked at her, wide-eyed and terrified.

“Emma, what –“

“Shhhh,” she said as she held his face tighter, not letting him escape. “YOU. THINK. THAT. TY. IS. HOT.” She emphasized every word.

“You lost it, Emma, I sw –“

“WHY. ARE. YOU. SO. DAFT.” She yelled as she shook his head violently. “Just say Ty is hot already!”

“Emma! That’s cheating!” Christina had just walked into the kitchen.

“That’s what I keep telling her!” Kit exclaimed. “Emma you are married, you can’t try to make out with your husband’s brother, that's cheating!”

“Emma, let the poor guy go,” Christina commanded her.

Kit took advantage of Emma’s momentarily distraction to release himself from her iron grip. “Listen, I have no idea what’s going on here – clearly you have all lost your minds – but I’m leaving.”

He took his apple and left.

“They are not supposed to know that we meddled!” Christina said quietly after Kit was out of earshot. “Cheater!”

“I can’t help it! They’re so daft, it’s maddening!” Emma said in exasperation.

“I know,” Christina said emphatically. “Look at how many new gray hairs I got during the past month. And I have them to blame.”

 

One minute later

Kit knocked on Ty’s door.

“Come in,” Ty’s deep voice came from inside the room.

Kit opened the door to find Ty reading on his bed.

“There’s your Pink Lady,” he said as he closed the door behind him. Ty took the apple from Kit’s hand Kit sat down next to him.

“Emma tried to get me to say that you’re hot again,” he told him. “I reminded her that she’s married and informed her that she lost her mind.”

Ty shook his head. “You are evil.”

Kit shoved him playfully. “You love it,” he said. “And you love me.” He looked at Ty mischievously.

Ty’s eyes, shining like rays of sun reflecting off a polished dagger, scanned Kit’s face. “I do,” he smiled. “I love you more than anything.”

Gently, Kit placed his hand on the nape of Ty’s neck and pulled him into a kiss. It was gentle and warm and right, like everything was with Ty.

“You are the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Kit whispered. “I never thought that it is possible to love so much, but every day you prove me wrong.”

They held each other for a minute, relishing on the closeness, and then they kissed again. It was soft and tender, and Kit’s heart melted – as it always did when Ty kissed him like that.

Kit had never thought that it is possible to love so much, that was true, but even more than that; he had never realized that it is possible to be loved so much. But Ty took care of him, he looked after him, he made him feel cherished and needed. He made Kit so insanely happy, sometimes Kit thought that if he had died and reached heaven – he wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.

“Kit?” Ty asked suddenly.

“Yes, epitome of perfection?” Kit wiggled his eyebrows at him in a seductive gesture.

“Stop it!” Ty laughed and shoved him. “When are we going to tell them? We’ve been together for four months, and they have spent the last one trying to come up with these insane plans. We can’t let them keep ridiculing themselves like that.”

“But Tyyyy,” Kit whined. “It’s so much fuuuun!”

Ty shook his head, exasperated.

“Oh, come on. You know you like it too!” Kit smiled at him. “Remember when we made out in the supply closet for twenty minutes and then broke it?”

The corners of Ty’s mouth curved up. “I liked it when Emma sent us on a date and we sat down with other people.” He laughed. “Remember how upset she got?”

“Her face was all red,” Kit grinned as he reminisced about that moment. “And remember how you fake-cried when Christina scattered those rose petals on the table?”

“And then again when Emma gave me the bouquet,” Ty chuckled. “Was I supposed to think that it was from you?”

“No, I think that was meant to make me jealous,” Kit theorized.

“Did it work?”

“Absolutely. I won’t have you going near bouquets in the future,” Kit replied.

“I think the whole family won’t ever bring flowers home again,” Ty commented.

“Oh well, small price to pay.” Kit smiled. “Remember when you suggested to help Emma with the statistical analysis of how many people hit on me?”

“I certainly hope that what she took from this conversation was that the median is more reliable than the mean.”

“I can assure you that she didn’t,” Kit said. “Hey, did you know that Dru and Diego became a couple after the failed makeover? So technically, I think we won their bet because thanks to us a new couple was formed.”

“You looked beautiful then,” Ty said quietly. “Though I really do prefer you just as you are. You are perfect to me.”

“And you to me, baby.” Kit kissed him again. His hands traveled to the hem of Ty’s t-shirt, and he panted slightly as he took it off.

“We do have to tell them though.” Ty breathed heavily as Kit licked his nipples.

“Just one more week?” Kit asked as he unbuttoned Ty’s jeans and slipped his hand into his underwear.

Ty let out a small moan. “Okay… Fuck, it’s so good… Just one more week.” He bit Kit’s neck and let out another moan as Kit stroked him faster. “Will I… ever be… able to refuse you?” He panted.

“I hope not,” Kit replied with a sly smile.

He pushed Ty back to a lying position and straddled him. He kissed his neck and then went down, down, down.

“Fuck, Kit,” Ty panted as he grabbed Kit’s hair and pulled gently.

“Now be a good boy,” Kit whispered. “Lay back and let me take care of you.”

Ty laid back obediently.

“But then it’s my turn,” he panted as Kit licked him from shaft to slit. “And I warn you, I put a silencing charm on the door. Tonight, I plan to see how loud I can make you get.”