Dating Hayley Park felt absolutely surreal to Shelby Cranscott. It had only been a total of like 3 days since the play had ended and Shelby still had butterflies every time Hayley texted her. It didn't take her very long to change her best friend's contact name to girlfriend and a pink heart to it. Girlfriend. Hayley Park and Shelby Cranscott were dating. An item. Going steady. A thing.
The two girls spent late nights video chatting while doing homework, talking about anything that crossed their mind. The transition from best friend to girlfriend felt so seamless, as if this was the natural progression of where their friendship would go...a relationship...love. Lovers. Gosh, the word lovers was always so odd to Shelby...girlfriends sounded much better.
In the sophomore hallway Shelby spotted Hayley at her locker, her friend Sarah standing at her side and chatting her up. Undoubtedly talking about Shelby due to their body language. Sarah had to laugh, patting Hayley's shoulder, "I'll leave you two love birds alone" She couldn't help but tease Hayley, her brows waggling much to Hayley's embarrassment at the word lovebirds.
Hayley had a larger circle of friends outside of the basketball team.
Brody Fernandez, Sarah Thompson, Preston Tien, and Calvin Maxwell though since Hayley's breakup with Calvin during freshman year the friendship group had never really been the same...with news of Sarah and Brody dating, they became the new it couple of their grade. A pressure that Hayley was more than happy to pass off to the soccer player. "She still wants to go on a double date"
Shelby's eyes widened, were they ready for a double date? They had barely gone on single dates. Was that what they were called? No, no just regular dates.
"Don't worry, I'm stalling" Hayley smiled, knowing that Shelby didn't quite mesh as easily into her 'popular' friend group. Hayley clearly found Shelby endearing but her other friends weren't...into the same stuff Shelby was. They didn't care about D&D or superheroes, or manga. Shelby only could connect with the boys when it came to video gaming...even then, they didn't quite have the same taste. Hayley knew her friends could be a bit intimidating, and she didn't ever want to make Shelby feel pressured or uncomfortable. "Are you free Saturday afternoon?"
Shelby jumped at what sounded like a date, a chance to spend time with Hayley before really knowing what Hayley was going to even ask of her. "I am super free. I have like no plans" ...Wow cool. Great pickings on this one Hayley, this girl has no social life outside of basketball and her online life. "Why whats up?" Shelby felt like she was running on a sugar high, having a Hayley Park as a girlfriend would have that effect.
"The Padres are playing and my mom has some awesome tickets" With it being fall, the baseball season was ending, which meant these were the best and hardest tickets to get. "I was wondering if you wanted to join us as my plus one"
Oh. A day of Shelby spending time with Mr. and Mrs. Park...which would have totally been super awesome. Tanya was literally the coolest woman Shelby had ever met and Adam was so so nice. No. The scary bit of this was now Shelby wasn't the best friend she was the girlfriend. "Yeahthat'dbesuperfun" Shelby was so quick to answer all of her words seemed to jumble together. Nerves were now at an all time high to make a good impression.
"Great we'll pick you up around noon" Hayley leaned down to capture Shelby's lips, calming the other girl almost instantly. "See you for lunch?" Since Shelby was in mostly honors classes, their class schedules never really interacted throughout the day. The only times the two girls shared was lunch, gym, Spanish and basketball after school.
"Can't wait" Shelby's smile was lopsided, dopey, this was her very first relationship and her heartstrings were tugged every time Hayley kissed her.
All she had to do was keep her cool and assure to Tanya and Adam Park that she was well suited to date their daughter.
No pressure at all.
The number one thing Shelby freaked out about was her outfit, she wanted to look cute while still being there for the event. A baseball game. The San Diego Padres. Navy and Vegas gold. Thankfully, due to Emma's mom being pretty high up in their marketing team, this wasn't the first game Shelby had gone to. Kimberly Gomez-Hart treated the basketball team to baseball games over the summer paired with sleepovers at their place, it was pretty freaking cool. Now, did Shelby like baseball? Not really, but she loved spending time with her friends. She had a white v-neck shirt with a navy Padres in script across the chest, a simple look to go with jeans. Shelby also had a pair of navy converse to go with the look, with Eastland's colors being navy and grey it was very easy to find the color navy around.
The insecure girl of the household stood in front of the tv, very much to the boys irritation. "How does this look?" Shelby bit her lip, "How should I wear my hat? I don't want the Parks to think I'm an idiot"
"Boy will they be in for a surprise!" Ethan joked, earning a glare from both of his dads, "I'm kidding. I'm kidding. Shelby you're going to a baseball game, you look fine." He couldn't call his sister cute"
"Just wear it forwards?" Jason wasn't sure why this was even a question. It seemed straightforward to him, that was how he wore his baseball caps. He was still jealous that Tanya and Adam didn't invite him and Billy to the game with amazing seats.
"Is that like... too expected?" The boys squinted, what?
"Then wear it backwards?" Billy suggested, trying to be as helpful as he could with his daughter...but when it came to fashion he and his husband just weren't the best people to ask.
Shelby laughed, knowing that was easily the way someone like Tori or Serena would wear their hats, it didn't seem to fit her personality. She wasn't the tomboy. "I don't want to seem like...I dunno...how to put it" That kinda gay. She didn’t qualify herself as a sporty bi.
"I know, just wear it to the side. Best of both worlds" Ethan helpfully suggested with a smile on his face, really he just wanted to get back to the episode of Star Trek.
"Ugh! You guys are no help" Shelby stepped forward to slap her brother's arm, "I just won't wear it" She decided with a heavy sigh, setting it aside.
Jason could sense the nerves coming off of his daughter, "You have nothing to be anxious about, this is just like any other time the Parks invited you out"
"Yeah, well, before I didn't have Hayley's tongue in my mouth so" Shelby realized she was very much oversharing her first base experiences.
"Wait, what?" Jason sat up wanting to talk about that little tidbit for a little longer.
Shelby's jaw dropped, her eyes darting around in panic, "Uhhhhh" Ethan...honestly looked impressed and a little bit sad that Shelby was getting more action from the ladies than he was. Billy tilted his head, his brows furrowing. She really did say that out loud.
Saved by the Parks. "Oh gotta go byeeeee" Shelby darted out of the room as quickly as possible, she would pick going to a baseball game with the parks over having the talk with her dads in the living room. God. She couldn't believe she let that slip so easily.
The Parks represented the upper crust of Eastland Academy. Tanya was a famed radio personality, a woman who retired from the nightclub scene when she had her daughter, and Adam's job as an accountant paid very nicely. The Parks had money and could easily afford to send Hayley to the esteemed school. In comparison, Shelby was upper middle class, with Billy high up at Zordon Tech he had a nice paying job...one that could allow Jason to stay at home. Their income was high but Shelby never saw herself on the same level as Hayley, especially as her mother was treated like a celebrity. It made it a bit intimidating getting into the back seat of Tanya's silver Mercedes Benz. The title change from best friend to girlfriend weighed heavy on Shelby, everything changed. After all she could be the future Mrs. Park...Cranscott-Park, Park-Cranscott, Pranscott. Now Shelby was getting far too ahead of herself.
"Alright, gangs all here, let's get this show on the road" Tanya was easily the coolest mother around, she carried herself with such confidence, such fun energy. She had the style, she had the class and the personality. Mrs. Aisha Landsdown may've had more money, but she carried herself like a school teacher, Summer a business woman; but Tanya was an entertainer at her heart. There were many nights of a young Shelby, jealous that Hayley had such a cool mom...or a mom at all. As much as she loved her dads with all of her heart, a part of her missed out on a relationship with an older woman, Ethan had it much easier. Jason and Billy understood him more...
Adam on the other hand was the perfect balance to Tanya's high energy. He was always much quieter, he let her run whatever show and support her dreams from behind the scene. He managed her numbers, he made her stay humble and never let her head get too big. Adam kept Tanya grounded, and was a strong anchor for the Park family model. He was the one to smile and turn to the girls in the backseat, asking the most parent related question, "How's school going?"
Shelby wasn't like Tanya, she wasn't like Hayley, she could relate most to Mr. Park. The nerd. The one who liked math and doing well in school. Talking to him didn't intimidate her as much, they simply had more in common, "It's going great. AP can get a little overwhelming but I stay on top of my projects best I can" Shelby was often doing homework on bus trips back from away games, it took a great deal to pull her away from her studies. "I'm thinking about joining mathletes and competing but Ethan says its social suicide"
Hayley reached over to try and hold her hand, but Shelby avoided that entirely by making sure her hands stayed in her lap. Was Hayley serious right now? Holding hands!? Her parents were right there. That was too scandalous for Shelby whose nerves were at an all time high.
"You know I was in mathletes" Adam reminisced back to his high school days, a smile forming on his face. Crap. This meant in order to impress him, Shelby had to go ahead and join. "Some of the best years of my life"
"Hey I don't want to lose my girlfriend to math" Hayley chimed in, lightly laughing. Shelby already took so many honors classes, the girls didn't spend much time together at school as it was. She made the decision more complicated...so no mathletes? "But seriously, if that's something you want to do...I'll be your biggest fan"
Shelby glanced in Hayley's direction, "I wouldn't make you go to those meets" To anyone who wasn't competing, an academic decathlon wasn't exactly the most entertaining...not in the slightest.
"And I love you for that" Hayley said the L-word so easily that it just flowed off the tongue naturally. Shelby glanced from Tanya, to Adam to Tanya. It was hard to guess what Mrs. Park was thinking, her sunglasses covered her eyes.
As much as Shelby wasn't a huge fan of baseball, through Emma and Hayley she was treated to some of the greatest seats in the ballpark. When Kimberly treated, the girls basketball team were in one of the private suites, practically their own private party, it was such a blast! While Tanya didn't get free suite seats she still was in a club VIP area. Hayley flowed into this lifestyle easily, when they got to their seats she draped an arm around Shelby's shoulders. Once she came to terms with being out and being girlfriends, the popular girl relaxed. What mattered to her was that she had her parents love and support. Tanya carried it well, her social media accounts bursted with pride, with a gay best friend and a bi daughter she was nothing but vocal to any trolls that even attempted to try to bring her down. It was extremely reassuring to have someone like Tanya fighting in their corner.
"You girls want anything from concessions?" Tanya asked, standing up, she wasn't going to have a ballgame experience without snacks. "My treat" She wanted to make it very clear that Shelby Cranscott wasn't going to have to pay for a damn thing this outing.
"Triple threat pork sandwich?" Adam asked hopefully, not wanting to miss out on the game, he knew that Tanya took this time to walk around and socialize.
"Pizza?" Hayley wasn't big on eating meat so she tended to avoid stadium hot dogs and burgers.
"I'll help carry" Shelby offered, jumping at the opportunity to be the perfect potential daughter in law. She didn't want to give Tanya or Adam any reason to doubt that Shelby would be the perfect match for their daughter. That and she was still a little skittish when it came to Hayley's arm around her, or trying to hold her hand in her parents presence...she didn't want to give them ideas. Jason and Billy already knew of their level of intimacy.
It was no secret to anyone who went to Eastland Academy. When it came to the Park family, Tanya Park was the one who called the shots. If she didn't like something, she was the one that was going to handle it herself. She was the one Shelby had to work on to impress. As she followed the older woman up the stairs all that rang through her mind was one very important question. She hadn't gotten the shovel talk, the what do you plan to do with my daughter? What are your intentions? Shelby didn't get the intimidation shake down. Tanya was being nothing but nice and pleasant and offering her free food was it all a trap to get her alone?
Tanya stood in line, looking at the options on the sign for what to pick up for her family when she asked Shelby beside her, "What're you thinking about getting?"
"I care about Hayley very much and I'm not going to do anything to hurt her...she's the best" Tanya had to lower her sunglasses to make sure this child was okay. She definitely did not answer her question. Shelby stared at the older woman in realization, "A hot dog sounds nice"
Idiot. Stupid idiot. Now she absolutely blew it. In front of Tanya. THE Tanya Park.
"You're a good kid" Tanya rested her hands in her pocket, the two were still pretty far back in line. "When Hayley told me she wanted to date you, I didn't have a worry in the world. You don't drink, you don't smoke, you're on top of your school work, you've got a bright future ahead. If anyone's a good influence on my girl it's you" She laughed, "You're definitely Billy's daughter, that's for sure." She lifted her sunglasses so Shelby could look into the older woman's eyes, "Kid I've known you since you were five, and your daddy jacked up your hair...you're good people, your family are good people. So relax. " Tanya made sure not to order Shelby anything with sugar in it.
Upon their return Shelby had taken her moment to reflect...not only was she Hayley's girlfriend, but the Parks were totally on board with her dating their only daughter. Awh yeah. With Hayley's arm draped around her shoulder, Shelby felt a bit more at ease, there really wasn't anything to worry about. Except for fly balls coming into the stands. Nothing stopped Shelby from embarrassing herself, ducking into Hayley every time a ball was remotely hit in their direction only to land nowhere close.
Shelby wasn't perfect, but that was what Hayley fell in love with in the first place.