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Take Your Last Shot You Know You're Gonna Hit It

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Dylan's a good Canadian girl. And what that means is when she was a kid she spent her summers at the cabin, swimming and boating, and her winters out on the pond, playing hockey against her brothers (and kicking their asses, no matter whether or not they'll admit it, Ryan). She grew up watching the same copy of the Mighty Ducks a thousand times until it wore out, and she always dreamed that one day she'd be the one standing at the Olympics, hearing the national anthem being played as she and all of her teammates skated around yelling wildly after winning gold medals.

Thing was, though, she'd always pictured that happening for hockey.

So when she works her way up through the provincial teams, she's getting attention and some buzz, there's scouts at games that aren't just there for the boys playing on the other sheet, and she figures she's close to making the national development squad.

It seems like everything was totally on track, and then… no invite. No phone calls asking her to attend training camps, and the attention she'd been getting starts to shift. Her parents try to soften the blow—she's seen Ryan deal with this kind of stuff already, too, so it's not exactly new to her, but all she can think is, well. She's just kind of gotten stuck. There are only so many spots for female hockey players, even in Canada, and as much as it burns, it seems like Dylan doesn't get to take one of them.

But Dylan never skips leg day and she never skipped arm day either, and she's had a hell of a bat ever since the first time her dad pitched a wiffle ball in their back yard.

And Dylan can fucking throw, too.

So, sure, if softball is what'll get her to the Olympics, then that's just fine with her. She's tall and athletic and a righty, so she's been going between first base and shortstop basically since Little League, when every coach she had on a mixed team was just thrilled to find out that not only was she not scared of the ball, she could also throw it fast and accurate. It felt like a natural step, a refocusing of her energies and ambition that felt just right, close to perfect, like she was only missing one tiny piece of the puzzle more.

And then she meets Connor.

They say love at first sight only happens in the movies and in a certain class of bubble gum pop song, but Dylan can walk and chew gum at the same time and she's pretty sure she fell in love with Connor about 0.2 seconds after the first time Connor gave her that sheepish grin that said "we both know this is kinda dumb but hey". And it wasn't even the grin so much as the way she was hiding her eyes behind bangs that needed a trim two weeks ago, but still managed to somehow communicate both rolling her eyes and a joke that she wanted Dylan to be in on with her, them against the world. Or, as she figured out later, it was kind of like Dylan just looked at Connor and felt something inside her stand straight up and say, "This one."

She'd have wondered if she was just going through a dramatic phase where she fell in love with every cute girl she saw, but she definitely didn't want to sing karaoke until 2am with Tay Raddysh, so it probably was just a Connor thing.

Of course, and then she saw Connor pitch.

If Dylan's gonna be good enough to make Worlds and probably good enough for the Olympics too, then Connor's good enough for, like, whatever the fast pitch version of fucking Space Jam is; she can't bat as well as Dyl but the way she can rip a fast ball to the catcher so hard that Dylan's seen people gasp is, well.

It's hot, okay. So Dylan's easy for a good arm and nice hands, it's not like that's news.

Conveniently enough, Connor seems to like her just as much, although they spend the first year they're on the national junior team together just aggressively being BFFs and singing Sara Barreilles songs on the bus and inching towards maybe cracking open a closet door or two but not wanting to actually go all the way and be clear they're really about this, that it's girls for sure and not just because everyone expects it from female athletes. That whole thing makes Dylan kind of want to be straight just out of spite, except straight girls don't feel the way she does about how cute Connor looks in a halter neck.

Summer is constant torment, honestly, and Dylan's on board to suffer as long as humanly possible.

They flame out of their first World Cup despite having, like, the top three scorers in North America, but sometimes shit happens and sometimes you have the bases loaded and you can't hit for shit and then it's all over but cleaning up the popcorn. That part definitely doesn't turn out how Dylan's always hoped.

Dylan goes home and tries to stretch out the last of the decent weather, reminds herself that at least they can skate until the snow's gone and the pitch is clear again, and if she has to body check Ryan onto his ass a few times to make herself feel better about being seventeen and single and tragically without any trophies to make herself feel better about it all, well, that's just tough. It's good for him anyway, she tells him, he needs to toughen up for the NHL.

She's talking a big game, of course; Ryan's just fine and he's going to be great, and she's proud and worried all at the same time, for all that he's her big brother.

She's still his sister and that means that the only people allowed to beat up on him are her and Matt.

* * *

Connor lives up by Markham and that's barely an hour when Dylan's mom lets her borrow the car, which she does like every other time, and so at least the last winter of high school doesn't mean no Connor, either.

It's somehow easier to love her bundled up in six layers of wool and down, and it's easier to love her when all Dylan can see are green eyes dancing and the faintest curve of her grin under a scarf. Connor's hair is chopped short and ragged and looks effortlessly cool, and Dylan just tries to keep breathing and remind herself that it's just that it's thick and it gets too hot and a pixie cut doesn't actually mean that Connor's queer too, not necessarily.

Dylan's had a lot of practice not getting her hopes up.

It's something of a foregone conclusion that they both make their rep teams the next summer, too. Connor's been playing at the highest level essentially since she was old enough to even half consider being eligible for the teams, and Dylan's making up for lost time by going on one hell of a tear through the Ontario leagues.

By the time they make the Junior World Cup team a second time, Dylan's stopped hearing her name without Connor's paired automatically with it, the two of them a package deal in the eyes of their coaches and teammates and, by that point, their parents, who seem to have bonded almost as much, although mostly it seems to be about how nice it is that the girls have their licenses now and they don't have to drive them to and from practice and tournaments and all that sort of thing.

Most of Dylan's driving is to and from Connor's, or to whatever in-between point they're in the habit of meeting at, which if she's honest is usually just Timmy's. Or they go back to Dylan's house anyway, because they have the best video games and Dylan likes seeing Connor get wound up when she's not immediately perfect at something. She tells her it's character building, and Connor tries to suffocate her with a couch cushion, and they knock the bowl of popcorn Dylan had finessed out of the kitchen without asking all over the basement floor and basically, it's amazing. It's great.

(It's a hundred times better than remembering how hollow it'd felt to come home from the tournament wearing a bronze medal. At least they'd won their final game, but they hadn't won the one that mattered most, and that ate at Dylan, whenever she let it. So mostly she tries not to think about it.)

And however effective a distraction it is, Dylan only spends a little bit of time afterward guiltily recalling what it felt like to be sprawled on the floor with Connor on top of her, laughing hysterically as they tumbled around.

Dylan's been getting in play-fights—okay, and some real ones, but who's counting—with her brothers since she was old enough to pick up a bat or a puck or a ball, and wrestling with Connor feels nothing like that. Not that she's, you know. Comparing.

Dylan does miss Connor when she starts college, and she's never wished harder that she could skip her senior year, or test out, or maybe she should have done summer school, something like that. But she still has an unlimited data plan and they can face time and, like, worst at the worst, Connor's only three hours drive away.

It's not that Dylan doesn't have her own games and her own schoolwork, but she makes it out for most of Connor's games through the academic year, and by the end of the year she knows Connor's teammates almost as well as she knows her own.

And they're going to be her teammates soon, too, because this was always the plan: work their way up through their U18 teams and then tackle the NCAA, and then: Olympics here we come, baby.

There's a slowly growing professional league, too, down in the States, and Dylan's not gonna deny she's thought about, imagined what it might be like to finish college and then make this her career, at least to start. It's a fun daydream, even if half of that's because most of the scenarios involve her and Connor in, like, Chicago or Florida or something, in a tiny terrible apartment with a tiny adorable dog, and on the days when everything else is hard and dark and tough, well, Dylan just wishes extra hard to think they're going to get there some day.

They have another big test that summer, their last World Juniors tournament together, and it's not the biggest stage but it's still important, the chance to prove themselves in front of everyone, their last chance to do it at this level. Dylan doesn't even want to imagine what it'd be like to get so close three times and still not make it.

It's almost a Cinderella run, too; Dylan's working the infield the best she ever has and hitting steadily for her at-bats, Connor's right there ruthlessly annihilating every batter she sees, and they beat the US—and it doesn't matter what sport it's in, that's always satisfying—and it's right in their grasp, the trophy just ahead of them—

And then Japan pitch the comeback to end all comebacks and that's the tournament, they're done, and they're going home with silver.

Dylan's not sure whether she wants to cry or scream or let herself be even a little bit proud, and she compromises by trying to do all three at the same time. It kind of comes out sounding like a muffled high-pitched shriek, like a kettle that started boiling dry and then cracked from the pressure. Not that Dylan's overidentifying, or anything.

"Dylan," Connor says, her eyes wide, her usually flat tone picking up the most animation Dylan's heard all day, after a silent bus ride and an even more silent walk up to the room they're sharing. "I—are you okay?"

Dylan chews on her lip, horrified to feel tears welling up and her throat going all tight and choked, and she doesn't want to cry, she never cries, that's who she is, the girl who just keeps going, but right now it feels like she's hit a wall and everything hurts, and everything sucks, and Dylan wants to bawl.

And she can't do that right now, because Connor went through exactly the same shitty game she did, and Dylan wants to make her feel better, not worse.

Dylan takes a deep breath in, slowly, and it hitches a little, but she manages to steady herself. Takes another breath in. And then, when she thinks maybe she can speak again, she just says, "I'll be okay. How are you?"

Connor opens her mouth to say something brave and cool and above all of this petty mortal concern, Dylan can see it in the set of her jaw and the too-liquid shine of her eyes, but then something snaps and she shakes her head, lips pressed tight together to keep it in, and Dylan's stomach twists as she sees a tear slide down Connor's face, slow and unstoppable, as hard as she's fighting against it.

And, okay, Dylan talks a big game but as her brothers and anyone who's watched the Land Before Time with her knows, she's a sympathetic crier, and as hard as she's trying not to give in, once Connor cries, well, it's all over for Dylan.

"Fuck," she says, sniffing and trying not to to be gross, "this sucks."

"Yeah," Connor says, her voice small and wobbly and more vulnerable than Dylan's ever heard her. It makes Dylan want to sob more, it makes her want to yell at anyone who's ever hurt Connor, and it makes her want to kick the world in the shins for daring to be less than perfect for her.

And because Dylan's willpower is on its last legs, it also makes her think "actually, fuck it," and she wraps her arms tight around Connor, holds her close, and kisses her.

Dylan's heart nearly stops—she hadn't quite dared to let herself believe she was going to do it, after imagining this moment for so long—and then it starts beating double time, because Connor doesn't pull away or act shocked or any of the million and one things Dylan's imagined would ruin this for them; Connor sighs shakily and kisses her right back.

It's silly and messy and kind of gross, really; they're both sort of falling apart, but they're falling apart together, into each other. It doesn't take long until Dylan feels calmer, she's not shaking as much, not wound up so tight she wants to scream, and the best part is she no longer feels like she's about to burst into tears that would've been equal parts sad and angry about that fact.

That's not entirely true, though: the best part is that Dylan is kissing Connor.

She's kissed a couple of girls and a few boys as well, and it was fine, it was nice, it was fun. But this is Connor, and Dylan's never made out with someone she loved before, and it turns out that's on a whole other level.

They don't talk much more that night. Eventually, they break apart, but not by much, and they sit on Dylan's bed and lean into each other, just quietly existing in the same place, with a whole new set of hopes shimmering possible before them.

Connor's the one who gets them moving after that, pushes Dylan in the direction of her suitcase and gets her to change for bed while Connor does the same thing. They've been friends for years and shared locker rooms just as long, so it's not like they've never done this before, but there's a heightened sense to it now that Dylan's kissed Connor. Now that she can see the curve of Connor's hip and think that maybe someday she'll be allowed to put her hand there, brush over soft skin and firm muscle. One day maybe she'll be allowed to put her mouth there, and then Dylan goes very pink and more quiet and hides her face into her t-shirt for a second while she's changing, and this time it's not so no one sees her cry.

They get into the same bed, and there's not a whole lot of communication needed for Connor to carefully fit her arm over Dylan, snuggled up against her, or for their breathing to slow to match as they both fall asleep.

* * *

It changes more and less than Dylan had ever thought it would, being more than just friends.

Being Connor's girlfriend is pretty much a whole lot like being Connor's best friend, except now getting off involves two sets of hands instead of just one, and half the bruises Dylan's wearing are from Connor's mouth instead of from softball or working out.

Dylan's giving as good as she gets with that, too: Connor's got a trail of bruises from her hip to her ass, because Dylan's competitive and she likes to leave a record of where she's been, and with Connor, very quickly, the answer to that is 'everywhere'.

They live in each other's pockets even more than they had done before then, and as long as they don't tell their parents—although Dylan thinks hers, at least, might have some suspicions—they can stay over at each other's houses through the end of summer without anyone blinking an eye. Half of Dylan's workout clothes wind up in Connor's drawers, and a full third of the sneakers in her closet are a size bigger than she wears because Connor's never found a reason to not go barefoot wherever possible.

It's glorious and easy and the most fun Dylan's ever had that's not sports, and she doesn't think anyone could blame her for dreading what would happen if things change when they go back to school. It's Dylan's freshman year, so college is going to be an adjustment all on its own, but of course she just followed Connor right on down to Erie, because the second she knew where Connor was going, Dylan knew that was where she wants to be, too. At least she already knows most of the team even before their first practice, and that helps, that makes it easier to adjust to life doing her own laundry and finding her own classes around the campus, and making the most of her meal plan by figuring out where the best snacks on campus are.

It doesn't quite stop her wondering if a college relationship is gonna be different to a summer one.

She's never really seen Connor date anyone else before, so Dylan's not sure what to expect from her, or what their teammates will say, although at least half the rest of the team are openly queer anyway, so it's probably not going to be an issue on that front.

But there's a tiny sick, sad worry that lingers in the back of her mind that they'll get to college and Connor will find someone else, or Connor will decide she's too busy to date, that they should just be friends, that it was just summer and hormones and being overwhelmed at coming so close to a title and falling short.

The one thing that Dylan doesn't think to worry about is that Connor will do none of those things and Dylan's the one who'll have a problem.

And she doesn't mean to, and it's the last thing she wanted or expected to happen, but a week into the second semester, they get told there's a transfer student coming over from Michigan, a catcher who committed at the last minute because she thought the team in Erie would be a better fit. And Alex Debrincat is a problem.

It would be one thing if she was snobby, or rude, or entitled and up her own ass about how good she was, but she's not.

She's sweet and fun and fucking pocket-sized, and her and Dylan click just like that, syncing up on the field immediately, and meshing just as well off it, their sense of humor calibrated exactly right to gel together.

She and Connor get on just fine, too, but Dylan's uncomfortably aware of just how fast Alex becomes part of their daily life, how often she invites Dylan and Connor—always both of them, she's scrupulous about that—to hang out in her dorm, or how often they get her to hang out in theirs.

Dylan doesn't want to disrupt the connection they're building. She's never played with a catcher who can read her body language this well before, and they're dynamite on the field. Dylan hits a homer their first game of the season and feels her heart soaring with the ball at how good, how deep down to the bottom of her soul right all of this feels.

Except quietly at home she frets about it, checks in with herself again and again because she still loves Connor, but she's so drawn to Alex, too.

Connor's not the first best friend Dylan's had, even if she's the first one that Dylan's slept with, but she's never had two of her close friends get on this well before either, and as nice as it is, it also puts her a little off balance. Connor doesn't seem jealous of Alex, which is annoyingly well-adjusted of her, however much Dylan appreciates that fact. And even though it feels dangerous to even have this thought: Alex doesn't seem jealous of Connor, either.

Alex cuddles up to Dylan on the couch when they're watching Saturday Night Live or just sitting around sending Vine compilations to each other, both of them snickering at their phones while Connor does homework at the desk and occasionally adds a punchline of her own—or throws pencils at them when they get too rowdy. And Alex sprawls out with her feet in Connor's lap when they're watching movies in one of the lounges, shamelessly using her as a pillow and stealing her candy. Dylan gets used to waking up to snaps from Alex, out running before the sun's even come up, sweaty and smiling, coffee in hand.

That only takes a week or two more to turn into Alex showing up at their dorm room first thing in the morning every other day with a tray full of coffees, her order and Connor's and Dylan's all carefully marked on there.

They hit the mid-semester break and Dylan goes home for a week, spends a couple days just catching up on sleep and harassing her brothers—texting Ryan a laundry list of all the things he did wrong on his shifts the night before because that's easier than saying "I love you", racing Matty around the ice after he's done with his practice and she can sneak onto the ice for some skating time too, and fuck, Dylan might be focused more on her summer sports these days, but she still loves hockey, too.

It's at home that she has to really start coming to grips with what it means that her life these days is pretty much Connor and Alex and Connor-and-Alex, because the three of them go together like a full sentence, like any two of them are going to feel the absence of the third and ache for it, and that's—

Well, Dylan's pretty sure that's not normal.

That's not just friendship, is it?

It should be more familiar after how she and Connor got together, but it turns out that falling in love with Alex Debrincat feels like turning everything up to a twelve when the dial only goes to ten, and all Dylan can really do is try to hold on to her self control and not act like a complete idiot in front of her.

She's maybe still a little in denial about it when Connor catches her making a Pinterest board that has a bunch of tiny cute dogs and otters and tiny cute dogs wearing baseball jerseys and—okay, so sometimes Dylan processes her feelings through the internet, okay. She's practically a millennial, that's basically her right, isn't it?

"Stromer," Connor says, squishing onto the chair with her—it's really not big enough for both of them, especially since they're both tall, although Dylan's brain traitorously points out that Alex would fit, too, tucked under her arm, but--whatever, they're making it work. "Stromer, babe, you know you can tell me stuff, right?"

"Uh, yeah," Dylan says, closing her laptop and not entirely sure what Connor's getting at, or why she feels vaguely guilty about it anyway. "Like what?"

"Well," Connor says. "If, for example, I kind of thought a girl was cute but also didn't want you to feel bad about it, I would maybe say, 'hey, Dylan, that girl's pretty cute, huh?' and then we could both appreciate it."

Dylan doesn't want to jump to conclusions, but she's starting to get an idea of where Connor might be going with this.

"So what you're saying is—?"

"So hey, Dylan," Connor says, rolling her eyes a little but going with it anyway. "I think Alex is cute, don't you? Kinda hard not to notice with how often she's here."

"Do you not want her around so much?" Dylan asks carefully. She doesn't want to misread this.

Connor kicks her in the shin. "Dyls, no. I meant what I said. Exactly what I said."

"Oh, so you wanna make out with her too," Dylan says, relieved. She'd been hoping, but it seemed like that would've been too good to be true, and Dylan's always worried about finding the—whatever the opposite of a silver lining would be. The fatal flaw, maybe? Or the be-careful-what-you-wish-for.

Dylan's been pretty lucky about getting most things she wishes for, but she doesn't want to push her luck. Not with something this important.

She steels herself, turns her head to look at Connor directly, reading her expression. Connor looks fond, and a tiny bit resigned, but mostly cheerful so yeah, maybe Dylan can take this at face value.

"Would it be okay, if we did?" she asks. "I mean, obviously you're, you know, you, and I'm not quitting on that, just—"

"You're saying yes and to Alex," Connor finishes. "No, yeah, I get it, and, you know, me too."

"Yes and," Dylan mutters, "we should never had done that improv thing, you're not doing it right."

"I was agreeing with you," Connor argues. "Don't change the subject."

"Right, the subject. Of kissing. Our teammate. If she's into it."

"She's into it," Connor says, decisively. "For you at least, she keeps looking at me like she's not sure about that."

"Well, you are a lot," Dylan says, and then has to fend off Connor's hands as she adds, "I think she's into you too, Connor, she fell asleep on you on the bus ride home last week." And Dylan had been kind of jealous, because she doesn't get to slouch in a bus seat and accidentally-on-purpose rest her head on Connor's extremely nice breasts without getting a killer neck strain, because the world is not fair and there is, apparently, a downside to being tall after all.

"And unlike you she doesn't snore," Connor adds promptly, which Dylan is going to be a grown-up and just ignore entirely.

"Anyway," Dylan says, hardly believing they're even having this conversation. "If you think that—it's a good idea, then yeah, we should. We should maybe ask her out, or something."

"We can ease into it," Connor says, and then she gets distracted kissing Dylan some more, and they don't get a whole lot of talking done after that. Or much homework, for that matter.

* * *

"Do you ever think about what we're going to do after graduation," Dylan asks the next morning, curled up in her bed and acting as the big spoon to Connor. It's been preying on her mind again, the way it does sometimes. She doesn't want to quit playing after college, or even after the Olympics, if they make it and everything goes okay, and Dylan has to reach up to the headboard and rap her knuckles on wood just thinking that much about it.

They're going to make it, she's determined of that; it's going to be the two of them together, because Dylan's never wanted to play on a team that Connor wasn't also a part of.

Except she tries to add Alex to that equation and stops, because—Alex can play with them at school, and if they get drafted after then sure, in that perfect future Dylan can keep throwing to her until her arms give out, can jog over to fistbump Connor when she comes out of the bullpen and heads out to pitch, but Alex can't go to Worlds with them because Alex isn't Canadian.

And it's not that Dylan doesn't want her to go to Worlds too, it's just—Dylan knows she's competitive, and Alex is just as competitive, and Connor might try to act like a good sport but is secretly even more over the top about winning than Connor is, and if they start something with Alex, if she's even interested—then what happens?

Losing together had sucked, even if it had gotten her Connor, properly and for real, forever, but—Dylan's not sure what it would've been like if she'd lost to Connor, in a game that counted for more than bragging rights in the summer.

Or what it would be like if Connor had lost to her, because Dylan knows herself, and she's never going to let up just because she loves the person on the other side of the field to her.

And—fuck, the fact she's even worried about that—

"Um, and also I think I might be kind of in love with her too?" she blurts out, hearing those words put together for the first time and feeling the ring of absolute truth in them. Goddammit, Dylan didn't ask for her life to be this complicated.

"Wow, you didn't even wait for me to answer, huh?" Connor says, but she doesn't tense against Dylan, or pull away, or act in any way like this is a surprise or something she doesn't want.

Fuck, Dylan is the luckiest girl in the world.

"I think," Connor went on, "that first we gotta see what Alex wants, but if it's this, then hey, we're a package deal, and some team's gonna want in on that."

"That'd be a hell of a contract," Dylan jokes, but she can see it in her mind's eye, too; a future where the three of them are wearing the same uniform still but getting paid for it. A future where it's their life and not just a hobby, not something they have to fit around English class and Stats and the class Ryan kept calling 'rocks for jocks' when he'd seen her schedule even though Dylan has actually thought geology was kind of cool ever since her elementary school teachers showed them fossils stuck in rocks and all the cool ways that they changed over time.

Connor shrugs.

"So that's what we work for," she says. "If Alex wants it too, then—we go from there."

"Why do I feel like you have a plan," Dylan asks, and she twists around, jabs her finger into Connor's stomach—goddamn, her abs are good—and adds, "Wait, did you make a pinterest board about this?"

"No, Stromer, that's all you," Connor says, with a mock-heavy sigh. She looks slightly sheepish for a second as she adds, "I maybe made a flowchart though."

"Fuck, I love you so much," Dylan says fervently, and then she rolls over and swings her legs out of bed, getting up and going to dig through a pile of mostly clean laundry to find clothes for the day. "Now let's go get the girl."

"That's the spirit," Connor says, and follows suit.

* * *

Tracking down Alex is as easy as camping out in her favorite coffee shop and waiting for her to come loping in, early morning fresh and pink from her run, a little sweaty with her hair standing on end.

Dylan wants to mess it up even more, but that's about four steps ahead of where they're at right then, so she squelches the urge long enough to wave like a giant dork and say, "Hey, Alex, over here."

Alex's face lights up with a giant smile as she sees them, and Dylan's feeling two hundred percent more certain that this is all gonna work out after all. No one's that glad to see someone they're just good buds with, however happy a person Alex is in general.

"Guys, hey," she says, and drops down onto the bench between them, right where they've made space for her, her thigh pressed warm against Dylan's on one side and—Dylan takes a quick glance down to confirm—against Connor's on the other.

"So we wanted to get dinner tonight," Connor says, and Dylan's eyes widen because that's even more direct than she was imagining. She was going to try and ease into it, at least.

Connor's got good instincts, though, and Dylan trusts her.

"Sure, like pizza or something?" Alex says, bright and casual, but Dylan can feel the way her leg jiggles, like she's trying to shake off tension that way alone, something that's not showing up in her face at all.

"Connor means like dinner, dinner," Dylan clarifies. She can't let Connor do all of the heavy lifting. Teamwork makes the dream work, and all that.

Alex stills, goes very quiet for a moment, like she's shrinking inside herself, and Dylan wonders with raw horror if they're making a terrible mistake after all.

She can do the vaguely pining but totally respectful thing with Alex if she has to, she was prepared to do it for Connor forever, so how could this be any worse or different? She can't do 'Alex running away and never talking to them again', although that'd be pretty awkward and kind of hard to do what with that whole teammates angle.

"Please be more specific," Alex says after they've all sat there for a minute or so, freaking out in their own individual ways.

"Like we want to go out for a nice dinner of whatever type of food you like?" Connor tries, and Connor's brilliant and means well but sometimes she overthinks things worse than even Dylan does.

Dylan thinks, not for the first time, 'fuck it', and takes a wild leap out into the unknown, and towards a better future.

"Like we want to take you out on a date type of dinner," she clarifies. "Except of course if you're not into it we can just never speak of this again and pretend it didn't happen."

"Oh," Alex says. "I—I mean, I can't pretend it didn't happen," and Dylan's holding her breath. She's pretty sure Connor is too. "But I definitely want to try that date thing. If you guys are really sure and not just letting me hang around like a third wheel or whatever."

"We're really sure," Connor says, grinning hugely, all straight white teeth and sparkling eyes, and Dylan loves them both so, so much, oh fuck.

"Also you're really hot and you hang out with us even when you get better offers," Dylan says. "So, like, basically you're perfect. Fuck, was that too desperate?"

"It was just right," Alex assures her, grinning just as big.

Dylan could fall right into her big blue eyes, and this time she does give into the urge to reach up and mess up her hair, shivering a little at how good it feels to rub her palm over the undercut that Alex is currently rocking.

"I really want to kiss you right now," Dylan says, too fast and a little frantic. "Except I don't know if this is the right place for that."

The coffee shop isn't exactly quiet, but it's small enough that someone would notice if they started any kind of PDA there, and the campus is definitely small enough that someone who knows one or all three of them would inevitably witness it, and Dylan might be theoretically very much on board with dating two of her friends, but she's definitely not ready yet to get chirped within an inch of her life by the rest of their team about it. So they definitely need a change of scenery before anything more than extremely sexually charged glances get exchanged.

"Yeah, we should—go," Alex says, standing up fast, and barely waiting long enough for Connor and Dylan to follow suit. "Actually, hey, I've got an idea—"

Dylan's expecting her to head back to the dorms, to go to one of the few private spaces around campus that's accessible to them, but she starts walking fast—quick enough that even Dylan has to lengthen her own stride to keep up, for all that she's got a good six or seven inches on Alex.

"Oh—good idea," Connor says, putting it together just before Dylan does, and she has to laugh, breathless and joyous, because of course, the only way this could get more perfect—

And that's how the first time Dylan kisses Alex ends up being under the bleachers of the softball field, and the first time Dylan gets to watch Connor kiss Alex happens about thirty seconds later, and honestly, whatever happens from there, Dylan wouldn't change it for the world.