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They were roommates

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She was ten when she found the brochure for boarding school. Before her eleventh birthday, she received notice of her acceptance and admission. She organized her own application and entry to said school. Her parents had seemed surprised but lauded her independence and willingness and focus in pursuing her education at such a prestigious institution. She had basked in the pride and happiness her parents had shown her that day she announced her plans. A few months after her eleventh birthday, she packed her belongings and left home.

And so began Beatrice’s life in Catholic boarding school.

 

Beatrice has long been aware of the expectations placed upon her: from her family, from her peers, from her teachers, and even Mother Superion. And so it was of no surprise to everyone who knew her—who know of her—that she strove to be as perfect as perfect can get.

She excelled in her academics and is often found during breaks to be settled somewhere with a book or two in front of her. Consequently, her teachers and instructors loved her. Beatrice essentially became the standard with which other students often found themselves compared against. And if anyone was ignorant enough to imply that Beatrice was simply a nerd or a geek whose grades were nothing but numbers, well anyone could also tell said ignorant party of the star student’s accomplishments and interests outside the four walls of the classroom.

Culinary? Check. There was never a lack for volunteers when it came to food tasting whenever they learned Beatrice was in line for showcasing her project.

Needlework? Check. She rocked that crocheting like no one should be able to.

Football? Focused player was a hell of a sight on Beatrice while on the field. A certain number of girls certainly made that known during every game, which often led to a somewhat red-faced Beatrice who overheard them every time.

Lacrosse? Check. The same “fans” from football often followed her there as well.

Chess? Is that even a question? Beatrice was a master strategist.

Fencing? Of course. And yes, her football and lacrosse fans found her there as well.

Carpentry? Why not.

Although Beatrice’s friend Mary liked to joke and call her Joseph. It was a stupid Catholic joke and it wasn’t even funny. Her name was Mary for crying out loud. Did she not hear herself?

Swimming? Done. Beatrice might argue she wasn’t as good in swimming like the others but her “fans” begged to differ from the sidelines whenever she got out of the pool. Even the nuns were tired of berating them and would just shake their head, often claiming to including them in her prayers instead.

Cello? It was harder than some of the things she'd taken up, but Beatrice seemed to like it. In fact, of all the lessons she had been required to take, music was one of the few she actually enjoyed.

 

Beatrice is the model student.

Always kind and generous with anyone who needed anything. She was patient and ready to help any fellow student who may have problems with their lessons. She was rarely heard to say a single bad word against anyone.

But the model student was often alone.

One would presume that for someone who had all the qualities of a genial and likable person, she wouldn’t be lacking for friends or even companions.

Unfortunately, such wasn’t the case. It often started out the same. A few would approach and make her acquaintance and they would find something in common upon which they’d build on the next few times they would hang out together. But after a few times of spending time outside of class, even if it were to share meals, they always drew away eventually. They would start coming up with excuses when Beatrice would extend an invite to share a meal. Crossing paths that lead to short conversations would eventually taper off to a barely-there smile and nod. When she began to take notice of the pattern, Beatrice found the process shortened even further. Initially genial and excited fellow students who seemed interested in her company would simply stop. And it hurt to see them lumped together somewhere in the vast grounds of the school, laughing and sharing in an activity.

Beatrice couldn’t help but convince herself that the problem was her. Perhaps something was wrong with her. After all, with some many instances like so, the common factor throughout was her.

And so Beatrice stopped trying. She forestalled and graciously said “no, thank you” to future invitations to hang out or anything else. She was only thankful she at least had Mary, who was the daughter of one of the school’s staff on hand. Mary wasn’t a student but she helped out her mother and the nuns when the situation called for it. Unfortunately, that meant they rarely had time to chat and catch up.

Beatrice knew that her social standing amongst her peers was to be envied. She was a legacy. One of the oldest families, in fact.

And envy her they did. She knew not all of her peers were bound to like her or even appreciated her. To speak of absolutes was a mistake after all.

True to form, one such individual was her roommate.

Or former roommate...

 

Allison was a fellow legacy. Her parents have had a number of business-related interactions with her own parents. Whenever they had a chance to interact in public, particularly in front of fellow students and their parents, they had always been pleasant if not cordial enough with each other.

However, behind everyone’s backs, behind the walls of the room they shared, Allison was every bit as ruthless as she was on the field. Allison was known to have "accidentally" checked opponents mid-play. Sometimes, even fellow team members. 

Worse than that, it seemed as if her roommate knew every button to push. Every insecurity. Every wound. Every metaphorical scar. She lived to torment Beatrice with subtle digs. 

 

Did your invite to your parents’ party get lost in the mail?

That was some play earlier on the field. Too bad your parents weren’t there to see it.

My parents and I saw your mom last weekend. She says ‘hi’.

I thought you were friends with that girl in PE. She was hanging out with her fellow nerds. Was surprised you weren’t there.

And Allison loved every reaction she got to squeeze out of her.

Imagine their surprise, when Mother Superion announced that Allison's parents had made certain requests and thus she was moving out and into a different room. A room all of her own.

Which meant she was leaving Beatrice to finally have her own and peaceful space. Of course, Beatrice knew there was a chance Allison could torment her further outside of their rooms, but...at least now she had her own space to take solace in.

Unfortunately, not even a day had passed when Mother Superion dropped the news she was getting a new roommate.

Said new roommate was set to arrive two days later.

Beatrice tried to be optimistic. Perhaps they would leave her alone at least. All Beatrice wanted was a safe space. Was that too much to ask?


Saturday. Beatrice decides to return to her room after lunch, hoping to get her assignments done before meeting up with a few fellow students for a project. Opening the door, Beatrice is dismayed to see that it seems the new girl has arrived.

A bag is laying on the bed, haphazardly open, with a few clothes peeking out. As if its owner was in the middle of unpacking before being interrupted. Beatrice briefly rubs the bridge of her nose, an unconscious gesture of her quiet frustration, praying that this wasn't a sign of future problems. Allison was an evil presence, but at least she was organized.

However, to her consternation, the sight of another luggage laid out on the floor with more clothes beside it proved otherwise. Beatrice is trying to figure out whether to pick up the items on the floor or wait for its owner when she is interrupted by someone bumping into her back.

With a grunt, a voice pipes up "Watch it!"

Beatrice turns around to look at the intruder and sees…

...a box.

A huge one at that which is blocking the sight of the newcomer. But before Beatrice's kind nature could kick in and offer to help, the box drops onto the floor with a loud thud. Beatrice winces right before catching sight of the person behind it.

"The fuck does it take to get some help around here," the strange girl mutters.

 

And their eyes meet.

 

To say Beatrice is captivated by the new roommate's eyes is an understatement.

Beatrice feels her breath catch when she spies those lips turn into a smirk.

And of all things that could happen for a first meeting, promptly choking was definitely unexpected.

In the midst of her coughing fit, she feels a hand begin to rub circles on her back as and somehow Beatrice is trying to remember how to breathe. She thought all those things she's read were mere hyperbole. Who forgets to breathe??

Apparently, she does.

"You okay there, roomie?"

An American, Beatrice notes.

Upon finally remembering how to breathe, Beatrice straightens up and turns towards the other girl, hoping to redeem some semblance of a first impression.

And yet the flush on her cheeks doesn't seem to be going away. "I'm okay. Thank you."

"Oooh. Love the accent."

Beatrice didn't know it was possible to get any redder. Is she...flirting with her??

"I'm Beatrice!"

She didn't even really mean to sound like she was shouting. And thrusting her hand out like that for a handshake that almost hits the other girl in the chest? What was WRONG with her??

"Well hi, Beatrice. I'm Ava."

At least Ava doesn’t appear to be fazed by her strange behavior. Taking her hand, Beatrice finds her throat suddenly dry. They have water. What in God's name is happening? Why is her throat parched?

"So...looks like we're going to be roommates."

Obviously.

 

Ava moves to her side of the room and begins rummaging through her clothes. And Beatrice's brows are drawn into a frown, remembering her earlier observation and dilemma. Her gaze is drawn towards the box and notes its precarious position right in the middle of the room and the doorway.

"Um...Ava...your box?"

Ava's gaze is drawn to it as well but seems unconcerned.

"I'll get to it in a bit."

And yet the box's mere presence continues to needle at Beatrice.

This could turn out to be a long afternoon.

 


 

It did turn out to be a long afternoon. Beatrice tried not to get into an argument with her new roommate. She also tried to understand her disturbing reaction during their first meeting.

On Monday, Beatrice was surprised to be ready and dressed for breakfast and for the rest of the day, and yet Ava was still in bed. Or somewhere in it at least, what with the amount of blankets around her.

Tuesday, Beatrice noted that they shared classes in literature and science.

Wednesday, they hardly saw each other save for when Beatrice woke up that morning and Ava remained asleep. And when Ava returned that night just before lights out, to the sight of Beatrice already asleep.

 

Thursday, they finally cross paths near the outskirts of the field. Ava's company composed of a few others.

Beatrice is somewhat familiar with them. Their crowd made up of students who are in school just because they had to be. Or at least if they want any chance of inheriting their parents' money. They were nice. Not too bright, but not like the evil cliched clique that Allison liked to walk around with.

"Bea!" Ava greets her with that smile.

Bea? No one called her that before.

"Ava." She nodded back in greeting.

"I didn't know you played." Ava proceeds to grin that standard grin of her that made it seem as if she didn't have a single problem in the world. Or made it seem like she was flirting. Inwardly, Beatrice scoffs at herself. Like anyone would take interest in her. Honestly, her new roommate confused her a lot.

Beatrice belatedly realized Ava motioning towards the jersey she's wearing.

"Um. Yes."

“When you're done, maybe you'd wanna hang out?" Ava asks her.

The stupefied look on her newfound friends' faces, as well as that of Beatrice, made Ava want to laugh.

A hand yanks at her wrist and Ava exclaims "Ow. Hey, what's the problem?"

Furious whispering at Ava's ear while the others try to unobtrusively glance at Beatrice made the latter want to blush--something she refused to allow them to see.

Before they can say anything else, Beatrice shakes her head. "Thanks, but I have quite a lot of things I need to do after practice."

And off Beatrice went. Alone.

 


 

Fridays at the library are a given. Nearly everyone who knows Beatrice and knows of her, knows that Beatrice can be found in the library every Friday afternoon. And yet, Beatrice is surprised when Ava takes the seat across from her.

"It's Friday. Isn't it time to take a break? Greet the weekend properly?" Ava greets her with a wide smile.

With a small sigh, Beatrice continues to read but grants the other a reply. "I like to get my work over and done with so I don't have to worry about it over the weekend."

"Okay. That's smart."

"I am." Beatrice offers a small grin.

"Humble too." Ava laughs.

A shushing sound echoes.

"Did you need something? Key perhaps?" Beatrice offers.

 

In their first week alone, Ava had run up to Beatrice four times throughout different hours of the day to borrow her key after having forgotten something in their room, including her own copy of their key.

 

“Gotta give me a break here, Bea. I was in a hurry. I forgot. But hey, it’s all good!"

“You have to stop treating our room as a locker. We have those around here. You actually have one. Maybe you can start using it?"

"Pfft. Details. I wanted to ask if you wanted to go see a movie tonight?"

Okay, Beatrice really needs to figure out why her throat is constantly parched or something.

Thankfully catching herself before she chokes once more on inhaling air, Beatrice asks, "Movie? Like...outside?"

"I've seen the guards--I mean, the nuns, Bea. We can watch on my laptop."

"To imply what you just did also implies you've tried?"

Ava just shrugs.

"Ava, something tells me you're trouble."

"Aw. I'm flattered."

"You really shouldn't be."

"So. Movie?"

"I have tons of work to do."

"Work never ends. If spending time at a Catholic institution has taught me anything, it's that we humans ended up here for the very purpose of working for forever. So work will always be there. Now, how about having fun?"

Beatrice is truly and honestly interested. But a part of her remains wary. She’s been down this road too many times. She’s tired.

"Perhaps another time. I really have to finish these."

Ava frowns, but something in Beatrice's eyes makes her back off.

"Ok. Another time then." And she leaves her be.

 


 

"Bea! Please! Enough with the chorus of the ships!"

Beatrice's head moves upwards just in time to see Ava sprawled across her bed, pulling up a pillow to put over her head.

She moves to lower the volume on her speakers. "I'm sorry. I didn't notice you had gotten back. I'd have put on my headphones."

"You seem so engrossed in whatever you're reading. And, of course, you didn't notice me return. Your music was too busy mimicking the Titanic!"

"For your information, Tibetan throat singers are amazingly gifted artists. Their culture and heritage are not something to be overlooked. Did you know—"

"Still a chorus of the ships, Beatrice,” Ava cuts her off with a casual wave of a hand.

Beatrice huffs in frustration and shuts the speakers off altogether and goes back to her book.

 

Silence permeates the room.

 

Beatrice is surprised when she hears her music resume.

She turns to her side and realizes Ava is there, a small apologetic smile on her face.

"I didn't mean you had to turn it off, dude."

"Oh."

If she gets one more episode of getting red and losing her breath, she'll go to the doctor.

"It's fine, really. It was just...I just had a lousy day and the music was sorta grating on my ears. But I didn't mean for you to stop listening," Ava explains.

"You had a lousy day?" Dammit, Beatrice. Why do you sound so interested?

Ava shrugs, "As you've probably realized as early as now, school isn't exactly a strong suit of mine."

"What? No." Bea draws out the last word.

"I'll give you props for that one 'coz I didn't think you know how to tell a joke."

"Well..." she can't believe she's about to say this, "...do you need help?"

Ava is about to return to her spot on the bed, but whirls back around in mild surprise.

"Are you offering?"

Beatrice shrugs. And then nods.

 

"Huh."

"Huh what?"

"The others told me all these rules concerning you."

"Rules? What rules?" Beatrice is confused.

"Seriously, dude?"

But Ava realizes that Beatrice is serious.

"Wow, okay. Well...let's see..."

"First, some folks told me that you're like never to be bothered with stupid questions."

"What?"

"I know, right? Why'd they bunk me with you otherwise?"

Ava's hands are thrown upwards in exasperation. "And also, like stay away from you or something 'coz you're super busy doing Lord's work or something."

Beatrice looks even more confused.

"I didn't get it either. But it sounded like maybe they meant you're too important and busy with tons of stuff so us mere mortals shouldn't bother you with our existence."

"Who are these people who told you this?"

Ava looks amused, "Seriously? I dunno. Well Charlie, one of the girls with me that afternoon, you remember? She was the one who sorta pulled me aside to warn me off from bothering you when I invited you to hang out."

"Charlie?" Beatrice tries to recall a face with the name when the afternoon at the field hits her. "Oh you mean, Charlotte?"

Ava rolls her eyes. "Seriously with the names, dude! It's boarding school, not Wuthering Heights."

“You've read the novel?"

"I think I saw a film."

"I wasn't aware there had been a film made!" Beatrice looking excited should seriously be a crime, Ava thinks.

"Chill, dude. It was that one with Keira Knightley."

"That was Pride and Prejudice." Also with the disappointed look, C'MON, Ava groans inwardly.

"ANYWAY! So, Charlie told me most of the stuff. The rest I picked up as folks learned I was your new roommate."

Beatrice is silent.

Could it be, that it's not really her that's the problem after all?

Maybe she only lacks friends because of a stupid rumor.

 

"Hey. You, okay?"

Beatrice is brought back to reality with Ava's question, who is also currently leaning against the side of her desk.

And Beatrice realizes that her hand is there...the side of her hand mere millimeters away from the skin of Ava's thigh.

Who has apparently changed to some sort of pair of shorts…

Who makes these fashion choices, Beatrice wants to scream aloud. A scrap of cloth does not a pair of shorts make.

 

Exhaling shakily, Beatrice tries to subtly move her hand away, trying to turn her focus back on to the words in front of her.

"I'm fine. Thank you." Beatrice responds in a near robotic voice.

“So...was I right in assuming those 'rules' are unfounded rumors?"

Beatrice sighs, shuts her book, and moves towards her own bed. Obviously, she won’t be able to finish her reading now with Ava and all her questions.

Also because she can't think properly with the other girl so close.

"As far as I know, I have not implied any 'rule' or 'rules' of that sort to be implemented for me or around me."

 

Beatrice chooses to sit on her bed, moving to relax against the headboard, hands clasped over her abdomen, eyes staring at nothing in the ceiling...wondering. She can’t help but think of one person who might get off on making Beatrice miserable. In a way, she is grateful Ava had let such information slip. She wonders what other rumors about her are circulating. Those so-called rules do not necessarily hold much weight when held up against the years of being alone, of always being on the outside looking in. There must be something else at play.

Or maybe it really IS just you, a sneering voice insists inside her head.

Beatrice clenches her eyes shut, trying to will away the voice. She can spend the rest of the day trying to think about this…development. Maybe there is something she can do about it? Or she can spend the rest of her remaining time here as is. Just a few more years and university. University could be different.

She just needs some time and space to figure things out.

 

But of course with Ava...no space is sacred.

Something lands beside her on the bed and shakes Beatrice from her reverie, suddenly finds the other girl actually on her bed. Beside her.

On her bed.

Laying on her front, chin resting on a palm, grinning at her like a crazy person...or something.

"What are you doing?"

Ava chooses to ignore her question, "So...if the rules are just rumors, does the offer to tutor me still stands? Does that mean we can actually hang out sometime?" And Ava even looks so excited at the possibility, Beatrice notes with a hopeful tug on her heart.

And she's getting more and more flustered by the minute, so instead she simply responds with a "Yes," hoping it'll get Ava to move.

 

However, Ava squeals and simply moves to change positions, now laying on her back as both girls lay side by side.

On Beatrice's bed.

That was truly designed for a single occupant.

Beatrice decides she must really see that doctor on Monday.

 


 

A little over a month had passed since Ava came to school and students are no longer as surprised to see Ava and Beatrice together.

For the first time in...perhaps forever, Beatrice finds herself actually regretting having nearly every minute of her every day accounted for. She never used to begrudge taking any lessons. She enjoyed all of them. She looked forward to them. Some more than others, but the yearning for knowledge has always been consistent.

Until now.

It's been just a few weeks, and yet Ava's mere presence in her life felt like a blessing Beatrice didn't even know she'd need or want. For all their differences, they both got along very well. 

Oh, Ava was far from perfect. There were enough moments where Beatrice wanted to tie that lone pair of sock—that kept finding its way to the foot of her bed—around Ava's neck in frustration. And whenever Ava's attention kept drifting off while they were supposed to be studying, she wanted to smack her head face-first onto the table—her face, not Ava's. Ava’s face is perfect and should be left as is.

Ava actually seemed to like Beatrice's company. Despite all of Beatrice’s precautions, having been burned way too many times before with the hopes of having someone in her life who chooses to be there, Ava was most persistent. She would look for Beatrice every mealtime. If Ava didn’t find her in some school event or another, she would hunt her down and insist they attend together. Beatrice couldn’t fully find all fault in Ava, though. It’s not as if she was truly resistant. With those eyes and that pout, Beatrice often found herself unable to say “no” to Ava.

A part of Beatrice feared the amount of power she felt the other girl had over her. Ava could ruin her with how much she made Beatrice felt so wanted and needed. Some nights, Beatrice would lie awake wondering when the proverbial shoe would drop. When the thoughts threatened to overwhelm her, she would turn on her side to lay her eyes on her roommate, praying deep in her heart for Ava not to hurt her.

So far, Ava had yet to disappoint her. The other girl often appeared to zone out whenever she got excited and started to “nerd out” as Ava liked to call it. But then Ava would surprise her with a follow up question—and actually looked interested in the answer Beatrice had to give.

Ava remembered even the small things she casually and unconsciously mentioned. Favorite food? Obscure title of an interesting book from her childhood? Name of her first pet? Best and most interesting thing she learned in class that day? Ava remembered. One day, she surprised Beatrice when she offered to run to the library for her. Beatrice asked why and what for. And she casually reminded Beatrice that she had that meeting with her team and didn't she need that book from the library for the next day? And if the meeting ran late, Beatrice may not get to the library on time. To say she was stunned was an understatement.

Whenever her roommate would tease Beatrice at times for her moments of being a “nerd,” she laughed with her and not at her.

Twice, Beatrice found herself falling asleep on her desk due to her own internal deadline that she'd set up to ensure she didn't miss any other deadlines.

Both times, she woke up to Ava coaxing her awake with a gentle hand caressing her face to ensure she was conscious enough to get up and move to her bed where Ava all but tucked her in.

Beatrice honestly wondered if she'd ever been as happy as she was these days. So this was what it was like to have someone, she thought.

Which of course, meant someone had to come and ruin everything.

Just like they always do.

 

They are on their way to the library. It is a Friday after all.

Beatrice is in quiet awe of how Ava may give her grief at times for it, but the other girl never really begrudged her the time spent in the library. She had expected Ava to tire of her company eventually, but the other girl seemed to really like spending time with her. Even if they were doing their own thing. Or, at least Beatrice was.

Most of the time that Ava left her alone, it was either because she demanded the time and space to seriously focus, or so that Ava could train with her own team. Turns out, Ava is on a scholarship for track. Their school had just started to take the sport more seriously ever since an alum suggested it. Ava is among the first batch to ever represent the school. Beatrice had seen her practice and the girl was—is—seriously good.

(Although, it also wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that wherever Ava went without her, it usually led to chaos. The lab incident was news Beatrice found out accidentally. Last she heard, some folks took it as a warning sign whenever Ava wandered the grounds on her own.)

When Ava accompanied Beatrice to the library, Ava kept busy reading or doing something on her phone. First few times, she even tried to do her own homework. But mostly, it was to take a nap.

And so as they are walking towards the large grey stone building, Ava's telling her some ridiculous story of having been chased by ducks.

"You should have left them alone."

"I just wanted to pet one, Bea."

"Ducks aren't exactly for petting."

"And yet you see them in a petting zoo, dude. What the fuck.”

Beatrice chuckles. She's hopeless. Ava's really hopeless. But she's her friend. Her hopeless mess of a friend.

 

"Well, well, well. If it isn't the wonder twins." A familiar voice crashes into their conversation.

 

Both turn to see the intruder and Beatrice is gripped with tension upon seeing Allison. Figures. She hasn't heard from her in awhile.

There's no one else around to see her torment Beatrice right now. How familiar.

Unless…

Surely she isn't here to also mess with Ava, right?

Beatrice unconsciously stiffens, her back straightening up, as if gearing for a fight. She may have allowed Allison to freely poke and prod at her but if she's here to do the same to Ava…

 

Despite not having known each other long, Beatrice knows there are things Ava's kept to herself.

In brief moments, Beatrice had seen a familiar look of pain.

She understood and never pushed.

In every one of those moments, Ava seemed to understand what Beatrice did—or refrained from doing—and would smile gratefully in return. What she had gleaned, however, from bits and pieces throughout their numerous conversations, is that Ava comes from a family that couldn’t have afforded her admission in this school if not for the scholarship. Her father was a mystery in more ways than one. Ava never talked about him. Her mother was alive and sometimes they talked on the phone. But those calls were far and few in between. The way Ava seemed to skirt the line of rules and regulations told Beatrice that her friend was no stranger to trouble. Even the threat of corporal punishment, which the nuns really didn’t employ these days, did not faze Ava. She had simply shrugged and continued on with a quip of “That’s nothing.” What that implied to Beatrice scared her and angered her at the thought of what Ava had gotten used to.

Thrice, Ava had been called to Mother Superion’s office. And unlike Beatrice, it wasn’t to receive a commendation. Each time, Ava would arrive at their room looking smug, but Beatrice also spied a hint of relief. They both were. It meant Ava wasn’t going anywhere.

Beatrice wouldn't allow Allison the pleasure of inflicting her burgeoning sadistic tendencies on someone else.

 

"Should I call you Mistress?" Allison sneers at Beatrice's direction, and with a jut of a chin at Ava, "And you perhaps, 'slave'?"

Beatrice may appear somewhat scandalized at what the terms imply, but Ava's credit, the other girl appears to be entirely uninterested and shoots back with "I don't care for your kink, whoever you are. But you sound fucked up. How 'bout you bring your daddy issues elsewhere?"

Ava's words, to her roommate's amusement, actually elicit a reaction from Allison.

In all their time together, Beatrice's defense against Allison always seemed to lack muster and only seemed to feed into Allison's hunger for torturing Beatrice.

"Ava has done nothing to warrant your attention. Leave her alone." Beatrice cannot help herself.

Which of course makes Allison smile return. "It is amazing how you defend your pet, Bea."

Oh, she did not just call her that. Only Ava called her that.

"C'mon, Ava." Beatrice begins to tug at Ava's hand, hoping that by reaching the library they can be rid of her former roommate.

Ava is loathe to let the bitch go, but one look at the discomfort in Beatrice has her changing gears. Flipping a finger off at the girl, they turn away to head inside.

 

"Does Beatrice know that her parents paid for you to be here, Ava?"

 

Beatrice freezes on the spot.

"I was wondering what other reasons my parents could possibly have for getting me to transfer rooms. And then what, to let some two-bit no one room with a fellow legacy?"

Allison continues, obviously taking glee in the look on Beatrice's face.

Beatrice musters what little energy she feels she has left in her body to swing her gaze towards Ava.

But Ava only looks confused and angry.

"Hey! Just because I got here under a scholarship doesn't mean I didn't do shit, you bitch."

"Oh please. I've seen how you 'study'," Allison spits out. "Getting the lab to nearly explode certainly doesn't seem to prove you have any decent brain cells. More so to actually qualify and obtain a scholarship to attend this school."

"THAT was an accident! I didn't think salt would react that way to water!"

"That's sodium chloride, not sodium, you idiot!"

"Well at least now I know!" Ava's hands are waving around in the air in frustration, forgetting that she had Beatrice's hand in the other.

Beatrice is too shaken for the words flowing around her to truly register in her brain.

She looks at Ava.

Wonderful, beautiful Ava…

Was it all a lie then?

Was she real? Was any of this even remotely real?

 

Ava finally registers that Beatrice has remained silent just a little bit too long.

She pauses from calling the interloper a name and tugs at Beatrice's hand.

"Hey. You okay?"

A beat.

"Did my parents send you?"

Ava's nose scrunches up in that cute way whenever she’s confused.

"Your parents did what now?"

"Oh, keep up you moron; her parents paid for your scholarship. You're basically Beatrice's bitch." Allison taunts.

"You keep on going like that and I won't hesitate to sock you, you freak," Ava shoots back.

"Ava!" Beatrice demands her attention. She no longer even sees Allison in her periphery. All she sees right then is Ava. Ava who may have been a lie. How pitiful must she truly be that her parents have to pay someone to actually be her friend? Has news of her being all alone troubled her parents? Has she embarrassed them somehow? Despite all her best efforts…she has let them down.

"Beatrice. I don't even know who your parents are." Ava’s tone sounds imploring, scratching the side of her head, wondering what was even going on.

Beatrice wants to believe her. She really does. But years of being disappointed and let down is not an easy thing to discard.

"I have to go." Beatrice mumbles in a voice Ava almost doesn't hear.

She turns and walks away.

"Wait! You...I thought we were going to the library!"

But Beatrice keeps walking.

 

What the fuck was that, Ava wonders. She turns to see the smug bitch who interrupted her walk with Beatrice.

Ava marches up to the other girl so fast Allison is forced to take a step backward when she finds Ava's face suddenly so close to hers.

"I don't know what game you're playing at you psycho. But I'll deal with you. I'll get you back for this...whatever THIS shit is."

And she turns back around in an attempt to follow after her roommate, and hopefully fix whatever is wrong.

"Go on and run after that weird freak. You both certain complement each other well.”

Allison can't help but have the last word, which promptly sends her down on the ground before she could even comprehend what happens next.

 

A loud cry erupts and echoes throughout as Ava grins smugly down at her. "You call me an idiot, and a moron, or whatever else you want. But you don't dare call Beatrice any name other than 'awesome'. Or 'queen'. Or 'badass'. Or—well, you get my meaning I'm sure. Also, you might wanna work on your insults. Jeezus. BDSM theme was your go-to? How sad."

"You broke my nose, you bitch!" Allison is freaking out, but also strangely fixated on the blood on her hands, and the blood still running down her nose.

"Yeah, yeah. And I'll break your dreams the next time you try come gunning for Bea."

“I'll get you for this, Ava Silva,” Allison hisses, “You're going to be out of here in no time when my parents hear about this."

"Lady, those threats mean nothing to me."

Ava leans towards the fallen girl once more, causing Allison to unconsciously cower backwards.

"I've been through shit like you don't know, what with that silver spoon stuck up your ass. Your words mean nothing. And you underestimate just what I'd be willing to do for Beatrice. I will CUT you if you so much as try and even look at her wrong."

"YOU are NOTHING!” Allison is beginning to sound hysterical in response. Ava thought she should probably be scared but the truth of matter is she’s seen people more unhinged than the spoiled bitch in front of her. “You have nothing!” Oh, she’s still talking, Ava realizes with a bland expression on her face. “Your parents can't even take care of you, right? That's why you're here. And why you’ve been through who knows how many schools. In and out. What a loser. You just got lucky some folks needed to buy their daughter company and pitied your state enough to get you here. Two birds with one stone."

Ava grabs Allison by the collar so fast there might have been a squeaking sound.

"I don't know where you got this tidbit of yours, and I don't really even need to explain anything to you. But let me tell you this much anyway. I applied for that scholarship. And I got it fair and square like anyone else. I never even met whoever it was who funded my gig here. I don't know them. And FUCK! I don't even know YOU! Why am I still speaking to you?!”

Ava proceeds to let go of Allison with a slight push that may have been stronger than she intends, turning around in hopes of finding Beatrice.

Except…

Beatrice is right there.

 

Not quite knowing what to say, "Hey" is all that Ava can come up with at that very moment.

Beatrice looks unsure.

Ava takes a step forward, but then hesitates and steps back once more. "You okay?" But Beatrice remains silent, looking at her as if searching for something. "Do you really not know?" Beatrice finally speaks, opening with a question.

Ava sighs in exasperation. "What is it with people thinking I know things??" Ava is once more flailing her arms around. It’s an odd habit of Ava’s for whenever she starts to become overwhelmed. Something that Beatrice had come to know and adore in Ava.

"What do I know? Beatrice, you know how much I need help learning shit," Ava begins to ramble. “I don’t know who this fucktard is and what’s up to,” she waves a whole arm towards the other girl Beatrice had nearly forgotten about, “and why she's making this entire scene look like a fucking rip-off off a telenovela, but I swear to you, I'm nothing but an idiot. You'll have to explain what's going on to me."

Ava says the last sentence with such a pitiful look on her slightly red face, breathing a bit erratically, and Beatrice can no longer help herself. She approaches her and places a hand on her neck, thumb partly grazing the side of Ava's jaw.

"Ssshh. You're getting worked up."

"Well it's not my fault!" Ava knows she’s whining, but her gut is yelling at her that there’s a huge chance that the outcome of this scenario may cost her Beatrice. And she doesn’t like that one bit. No. Beatrice is awesome and she’s everything Ava didn’t even realize she’d want to have in her life. And she just…wants to keep her. Make her stay.

"Okay, okay. You need answers and so do I." Beatrice is trying to calm Ava down.

 

How quickly had everything turned upside down? Beatrice had been getting ready to run and hide. She was hurting and tired—so damn tired—of these things constantly happening to her. Disappointed again. And she wasn’t sure this was something she could recover from. At least not for a long while.

She had been on the verge of getting overwhelmed. She needed time and space to think. But where to go? Obviously she couldn’t just go to her room—their room.

But that's when she heard the cry of pain the wind had carried across the grounds. She stops and immediately turns around, finding herself already moving quickly back to where she came from.

Ava. Her hand tightened its grip on the strap of her bag.

No matter what...she couldn't allow Allison to hurt Ava. Her ex-roommate had always been quick to cut with words. Surely, she hadn’t devolved to using physical means, right? Beatrice’s heartbeat quickened and soon found herself running.

 

Thus, the scene she ended up witnessing: Allison down on the ground, bloodied nose, Ava shouting with flailing arms, and…

you underestimate just what I'd be willing to do for Beatrice.

So, here they are. In a moment, it is Beatrice trying to comfort Ava, trying to get the other to come down from her height of emotions.

Beatrice offers a small smile as Ava adorably pouts like a child, "Why the fuck were you so sad? What did I do?"

Okay. A child with a potty mouth, but a cute one nonetheless.

Ava huffs an exhale and leans her forehead against Beatrice's, slowly letting her head's weight drag her downwards until she's resting against that wonderful crook of Beatrice's neck.

She likes that spot. It's hers, Ava thinks. It's where she ends up when they fall asleep while watching a movie.

She wonders if Beatrice has a spot with her as well.

 

"Fucking lesbians. Guess the rumors were true," the snide voice crashes Ava’s peace.

Ava tenses.

Beatrice can't help but actually roll her eyes.

Of course, Allison ruins the moment, Beatrice notes.

And just like that Beatrice finds herself trying to hold back a furiously red Ava, both arms around her as Ava starts spewing threats. She takes a bit of consolation at the sight of Allison actually looking afraid.

"You like that blonde hair of yours? Yeah? Well I'll cut them and then stuff them up your—"

"Ava!" Beatrice is trying to get her to stop but the other girl continues with some colorful description

"—when I’m done. That's right. Have fun pooping hairy shit mother—"

"Ava!"

"Ms. Silva!"

 

The simultaneous voices causes heavy silence to settle amongst all present.

Beatrice is shaken once more.

It's not just Mother Superion standing there.

Sadly, her parents are present too.

 


 

Beatrice has cleaned up the room as much as she could. She had even gathered Ava's clothes and various possessions and placed them where they belonged.

With a sigh, she sits back down on her bed and rubs the bridge of her nose, trying to ease the tension she feels down to the very marrow of her bones.

Beatrice looks at the bag resting at the foot of her bed. She's become quick and adept at packing after so many years of traveling with her parents, often with a warning that arrives at the drop of a hat.

They will have to go soon, but she was hoping she'd get to see Ava first so they could talk.

 

The door slams open and there she is.

"What the fuck?"

Beatrice winces, "Language." It's almost automatic, really.

"Don't give me that shit, Bea."

"Ava—"

"Seriously! What the fuck?!"

"Ava, would you please calm down and take a seat?"

"Tell me what your parents said. What happened with Mother Superion? Why am I being asked to pack?"

"Ava—"

"I know I'm not getting kicked out. Mother Superion said so. But she still wanted me to pack a bag. Are we being separated as roommates?" Ava is saddened by the idea, but she’ll take it so long as that’s the worst of it.

"Ava—"

"Although I won't regret a damn thing if I am getting kicked out. I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time. And it would be so worth it. Bitch deserved it, and you know she did!"

"Ava, please—" Beatrice pats the spot beside her with an exasperated sigh.

"But I won't take this quietly if you're getting punished as well. That's just fucked up!"

"Ava!" Beatrice slightly raises her voice.

"What?!"

"Please, for the love of all that's...holy, would you please sit down?"

Ava pauses, seemingly trying to decipher Beatrice’s emotional state.

"No need to shout." Ava all but stomps her way towards the bed and drops on the spot beside Beatrice.

“Now what,” Ava asks with a sigh, eyes trained on her hands resting on her lap.

For the first time since they started getting to know each other, Beatrice reaches for Ava's hand first. No coaxing, no teasing, no reason. It's a tentative move, as if a part of Beatrice is waiting for Ava to reject her and shrug her touch away.

But she doesn't. Ava keeps still, her gaze steady and constant. Unflinching. Unchanging.

Beatrice relaxes.

 

"As you might have been able to see from my reaction earlier, my parents' arrival was a surprise."

"No shit." Ava mumbles but stops short at the warning look from Beatrice.

"They're here to ask me to accompany them for a gala. It's an annual thing for the foundation my parents are head of. It's actually the foundation that sponsored your scholarship."

"Oh. So they're Mr. and Mrs. Bristol?"

"That's the name of the scholarship, not theirs, you idiot." Beatrice sighs.

"Yeah. But I'm your idiot."

Beatrice flushes red at Ava's words. She clears her throat, choosing to gloss over the possessive implications for the moment.

"It's a gala that honors its members, the grants, the patrons, the recipients, the mentors, everyone involved basically."

"Okay. So, you're going? Will you be gone long?"

Beatrice can no longer help herself and drops Ava's hand, crossing her arms.

"As always, you've completely missed the point."

"Well, isn't that why I have you?" Ava grins stupidly.

"Stop looking at me like that!"

Ava's grin gets wider. "Like what?"

Beatrice huffs, "Like...that. As if you can't do anything wrong even if the truth is that just about everything you touch becomes a mess."

"Oooooh...does that mean if I uh, touch you, you'll become a mess too?"

Okay, she really needs to follow up on seeing a doctor soon, Beatrice thinks. Her resting heart rate shouldn't be this fast.

 

"...you there?"

Beatrice is startled back into the present, speechless at finding Ava's face so much closer…where else is she supposed to move? Why can’t she move?

"Why do you do this to me?" Beatrice whispers.

Ava leans back and away from her with a small frown.

Beatrice didn't expect to mourn regaining her personal space.

"Am I hurting you?" Beatrice doesn't think she's ever heard Ava sound unsure.

 

For as long as they've known each other, briefly as it has been, Ava was confident throughout all of her personal interactions. Sometimes, too confident, judging by the flak she gets when interacting with authority. Headstrong in her own right, making friends along the way, people were naturally drawn to Ava.

Sometimes, Beatrice found herself envious of her friend’s ability. It’s like Ava didn’t have to try and getting people to like her, to want to spend time with her.

But most of the time, Beatrice found herself jealous of everyone who took Ava's time and attention.

Perhaps it’s because she'd been mostly alone for so long, she likes to reason. Maybe it’s why she worries and likes to keep Ava to herself for as long as possible. Scared to lose that one person…

Or maybe it's more than that.

The look on Ava's face... Maybe this...whatever this is, means more for her as well?

Beatrice can only hope.

She has lived on hope for so long. Maybe this time it won't fail her.

 

"Why is it that you are such a damn mess most of the time and yet I can't imagine being without it? Without you?" Ava's eyes widen at her words.

She continues, "You arrive like a whirlwind, into my room, into my life...you throw everything into chaos and yet when the wind has died and everything settles down, it's as if everything is right where it should be. You act like you need me when it is I in fact who needs you.

Beatrice shifts her gaze to a point somewhere behind Ava’s shoulder, "You don't know how I find myself unable to sleep at night, unless I see you there. Safe. Whole....Just there. You throw everything I organized into chaos and yet I can't seem to regret a single thing."

"Except your CDs. Admit it. You wanted to throw me out of the window that day." Ava can't help herself.

"Fine. Do that again and I'll burn your favorite shirt." Beatrice allows the interruption with a small smile, bringing her gaze back to meet Ava’s.

"Just my shirt?"

"I just told you I can't see myself without you. Do keep up." Beatrice rolls her eyes.

"I meant maybe you'd wanna burn something else."

"Ava..." Beatrice sighs in a mix of exasperation, fondness, and partly trying not to read into the other’s tone of flirtation. She couldn’t be, Beatrice thinks.

"Can I kiss you?"

Ava’s question in that soft low tone of hers causes Beatrice’s mind to stutter.

"I love everything you just said, and I love the sound of your voice, but to be honest, I would like to pay attention to something else now."

Taking a risk that Beatrice could easily slug her if she was truly averse to the idea, Ava slowly leans forward once more. Beatrice finds herself struggling to breathe.

"Breathe, Bea..." Ava whispers.

Beatrice takes a breathe just as Ava's lips finally touch hers.

 

It's...soft. And...something. Ava’s lips are on hers and Beatrice thinks this is what sensory overload must be like. Going on instinct alone, Beatrice tentatively moves her lips against Ava’s. She nearly jerks and gasps when she feels what must be Ava’s tongue take a quick hesitant swipe against her lower lip. Her resulting gasp allows that very tongue to dip in further, past Beatrice’s lips, and…someone groans and she’s surprised to belatedly realize it had come from her.

Beatrice can't quite describe it. Perhaps because she has nothing to compare against it.

Ava pauses, and Beatrice opens her eyes, mildly surprised to find that she had closed them to begin with.

Ava's lips are but a hair's breadth away and so Beatrice hears and feels the words she speaks, "Is this okay?"

Of all the things she could say, Beatrice can't understand why the response she comes up with is "That was my first kiss."

She’s very much embarrassed, though Beatrice notes that instead of teasing her, Ava simply smiles at her so softly and brushes her lips against hers...once...twice…

And adds, "Mine too," and, thank God, Ava swoops back down to kiss her with one hand just a tad aggressively winding through her hair.

 

Surely this is a dream, Beatrice thinks.

Her hands move upwards to wrap around Ava’s neck, with one ending up returning the favor of tangling in Ava's hair. Beatrice can feel at least one of Ava's hands on her waist...and briefly wonders, where is the other one?

Also, when did they fall into bed? The promise of Ava’s weight on top of her feels amazing, though she absently notes that most of said weight is held up by Ava’s knees on each side of her hips and a forearm braced near the side of her head.

Ava somehow shifts and that very movement causes her upper body to drag against Beatrice’s and once again, she wonders why seems to have trouble breathing.

A ringing sound shatters the moment.

Ava pulls away and Beatrice unconsciously tries to follow with her lips.

"You gonna get that?" Ava asks.

"What?"

 She sounds breathless; that’s hot, Ava thinks, looking at Beatrice all flushed, hair mussed up thanks to her own handiwork. She’s hot, Ava finds herself grinning at the girl beneath her.

"Your phone, babe. It's ringing."

She called me babe, Beatrice thinks dreamily.

She didn't think she'd ever appreciate the so-called endearment, but coming from Ava, she finds she doesn’t mind it at all.

"Bea?"

"Yes?"

Ava's smirking, "Your phone?"

Beatrice of course blushes once more as she tries to sit up and reach out for the phone on her side table.

 

In the course of reaching out for the item, Ava moves off of her—a move which Beatrice mourns. But then she feels more than sees Ava clambering around her bed to sit behind her, and then proceed to wrap both arms and legs around her.

Granted, the act reminds her of a koala...but it's not as if Beatrice would complain.

Beatrice forces herself to finally look at her phone and notes that it's from her mother.

"Oh no. We're running late."

"No. You're not going anywhere."

Ava's arms squeezes tighter around her.

"Ava..." Ava burrows her head against Beatrice's nape, her nose and lips unerringly caressing the soft hairs.

Beatrice shivers and fights to remember what she needs to do.

"You still completely missed the point I was trying to tell you earlier."

"Beaaaaaaa..." Ava whines.

Beatrice moves to turn around so she could also wrap her arms around Ava.

"The gala is being held by the foundation that sponsored your scholarship. All participants involved are invited. Now, who do we know who's a recipient of Bristol Scholarship?"

Ava grins and raises a hand, "Ooooh me! Me!"

"You're lucky you're cute," Beatrice sighs.

 

Then the light finally dawns on Ava.

"I get to go too?!"

"Yes you, dork. You get to go too." Beatrice smiles, unable to help herself as she finds herself nuzzling Ava’s jaw, her neck…Ava tilts her head to the side to give her more room to work with but her mind is somewhat preoccupied with other ideas.

"We both get to go! Together?"

Beatrice hums in agreement.

"Do we get to share a hotel room?" Ava's tone lowers and oh-so-casually runs a finger along Beatrice's collarbone.

Oh. So that's why her throat keeps getting dry, Beatrice finally realizes.

Beatrice pulls back a bit, but does not relinquish her hold.

"Um...I guess? I'm not sure what my parents had arranged. But, I doubt we'll be booking a hotel room."

"Where will we be staying then?" Ava absentmindedly continues to caress just about every inch of Beatrice’s skin not covered by her top. She’s so fucking soft, Ava deliberates over continuing further.

"We have an apartment near the venue,” Beatrice almost has to choke out her answer.

Ava pauses, "Wow. Getting to meet the parents AND spend time with them." Ava teases gently.

Beatrice shrugs shyly, "Well I doubt my parents would really be around much. I mean it's even likely that they'll be the ones holed up in the hotel and we'll have to fend for ourselves in the apartment.

A glint appears in Ava’s eyes as she asks, “So...we'll be all alone at your place?"

Beatrice is gobsmacked. How does Ava keep making everything sound so…sensual?

"I've broken you. Let's go pack!" Ava suddenly jumps to her feet—on top of Beatrice's bed no less. And jumps onto the floor.

 

"Hey. No fair! You're all ready!" Ava points at the bag at the foot of Beatrice's bed.

"It does pay to know where your things are." Beatrice stands up to glance at the mirror. She blushes at her disheveled appearance and proceeds to make herself look more presentable.

"Rude. It's called organized chaos."

"Yours is just plain chaos."

"Can you please just help me pack?" Ava pouts.

Rolling her eyes, but acquiescing. The story of her life ever since rooming with Ava Silva.

Of course, Ava leans over to quickly give her a kiss in thanks as she dashes around to grab various items.

Okay, so maybe now it's a mix of rolling her eyes, acquiescing, and kissing. Story of her life with Ava Silva.

 

"Hey. Guess what."

"What?"

"My parents actually were the ones who rolled out the roommate change."

"Seriously?"

"I was honestly surprised. I...I didn't know that they knew..."

"Knew what?" Ava's busy trying to fold her clothes—unsuccessfully mostly—but she figures it's the thought that counts.

"They knew about Allison."

Ava slaps a hand on her thigh. "Allison! That's the bitch's name! God bless, Allison.”

"What exactly has that bitch done to you?"

Beatrice notes that Ava may appear to be casually sorting her bag, but the glint on her eye says otherwise.

"Don't, Ava. She's not worth it."

"She's worth a stone's throw at least."

"She's leaving anyway."

"Really?"

"My parents spoke to her parents. They are transferring her to another school."

"Fancy negotiators eh?"

"They are diplomats, Ava. Kinda the point of what they do."

"Well I guess I can let her go then."

"It's been sorted, Ava. Please don't go asking for trouble. My father had to coax Mother Superion down from her hypertension."

Ava pauses midway through closing her bag. "He...uh...your dad fought for me?" She seems awfully stunned at this tidbit.

Beatrice's eyes are sparkling. "It was quite fascinating really. I haven't seen my father argue a case as passionately as he did then."

Ava looks down at her feet with a strange look on her face. Concerned, Beatrice is quick to ask what’s wrong.

Ava shrugs. "I don't think anyone's fought for me before."

Beatrice sighs in relief it’s not as problematic as she was quick to presume. "Well, you have me now. If that counts. And apparently my parents."

"Why?"

"Why what?"

“Why would they bother? I'm no one." Ava fumbles with the edges of her shirt. Okay. So maybe some of that bitch’s words got a lucky hit.

"Because you matter to me." Beatrice gently nudges Ava by the chin, to look back up and see that she means every word she says. "And apparently, despite all of my insecurities and fears all these years...I matter to my parents too." Then, she adds, "Everything was a happy coincidence, Ava."

"What's everything?"

But Beatrice’s eyes widen upon catching sight of the clock. "Finish your packing. I'll explain on the way. We really are running late."

 


 

They are walking towards the parking lot where Ava could see a limousine waiting. There’s a couple, flanked by a man and woman, and to the side Mother Superion.

 

"Those are my parents and my mother and father's assistants: Juliette and Craig."

"I suppose the ones on their phones are your parents?"

"Yes.”

"So? What's everything?" Ava’s just curious enough as to why Beatrice was so upset.

"To sum it up, I thought my parents paid you to be my friend or something. That perhaps they were embarrassed at how their daughter must have been so pitiful alone. But everything really was a coincidence. They didn’t even know you were one of the recipients of the foundation’s scholarship. They had a hand in getting Allison moved out so I could get a break from her. But you becoming my roommate was by chance. Us becoming friends...."

"And now more than friends?" Ava asks suggestively, her hand intertwining with hers.

For a split second, the act causes Beatrice's old fears to rear their ugly heads. She throws a look at her parents and her grip tightens around Ava's, wondering if they have anything to say at what their hand holding implies.

Her father, distracted though he was, only sends her a warm smile and waves them over. Her mother casually taps at her watch, but still gives her a similar warm look.

 

Mother Superion intercepts them before they can fully reach the vehicle.

"Beatrice." The older woman greets.

"Mother Superion." Beatrice subtly lowers her head a fraction in ever-constant deference and respect.

"Ms. Silva." There's a hint of ever-present exasperation.

"Mother Superion." Ava responds cheekily.

"Driver." Ava also greets the obvious chauffeur who looks surprised but nods as he takes their bags.

The nun shoots Ava with an arched eyebrow.

"What? I thought we were acknowledging everyone."

"Ms. Silva, it need not be said that I expect you to be on your best behavior. Beatrice's parents are important figures in society and I really, REALLY, hope your presence would not cause them unjust vexation."

"There were quite the big words towards the end there, Mother, but I think I got the gist. Sure, I'll take care of Beatrice and her parents!"

Ava skips off happily, tugging at Beatrice's hand while Beatrice and Mother Superior could only offer the other looks tinged with shock, awe, and of course, exasperation.

"Ava..." Beatrice starts but Ava just grins, "Don't worry, babe. I was just messing with Mother Superion. I'll do my best not to be an embarrassment to you or your parents." Ava states the last sentence with a gravity she rarely shows.

"Don't worry about me. I like you exactly the way you are, Ava." Beatrice offers in return, lightly bumping her shoulder against hers.

Upon reaching the car, introductions were made before they all climbed in.

Sparing a look at the hand holding in front of him, Beatrice's father asks, "Do I dare ask what your intentions are towards my daughter?"

Beatrice actually pales while her mother rolls her eyes and slaps a hand against her husband's arm. "I thought we promised not to embarrass our daughter."

"You promised. I didn’t." He quips.

The resulting banter from her parents allows her to relax. In all honesty, watching them banter used to be one of Beatrice’s favorite thing to do. Mostly a quiet child, she preferred to observe her parents interact while sharing meals. Beatrice didn’t know it yet, but as a baby, her parents realized that they elicited the most laughter from their child when they playfully argued in front of her. They had gotten used to being their daughter’s form of entertainment during mealtimes.

Something about their interaction nags at Beatrice and the realization causes her to freeze up. Which Ava notes.

 

"Bea? Babe? Hey. You okay?"

 

For so long, Beatrice thought that they had always been busy with work and each other. But never her.

But knowing what she knows now...they may have been incredibly busy, but they cared. They actually cared. And the way they both get caught up in each other like there was no one else…It was oddly familiar.

Beatrice looks at Ava and notices the concerned look on her...girlfriend's face. They are indeed girlfriends, right? Surely, they must be.

"Yeah. I'm fine. It's just, I thought my parents reminded me of something."

"Yeah. Do they do that a lot?" Ava motions to her mother who was rolling her eyes and squeezing the bridge of her nose in exasperation at her father.

Beatrice's father laughs and pokes a finger at her mother's side.

Her mother says something in return, causing her father to pout before she sighs and relents, tugging at one of his hands to cradle in hers in an attempt to soothe his faux hurt feelings.

And Beatrice smiles softly, turning towards Ava and kissing her chastely on the lips.

"Yeah. They do that a lot like someone I know."

"Really? Who?"

 

And as the car proceeds down the road on its merry way to the airport, one more sigh can be overheard, followed by "Again, you just miss the point completely."