Weiss Schnee is the rudest bitch that Blake has ever met, let alone shared an apartment with.
They’ve been living together for a month, and only Weiss’s name on the lease has kept her from straight up murder. Then again, Blake keeps playing that old myth about getting straight A’s for the semester if your roommate died. Blake and Weiss lived in a beautiful two bedroom loft overlooking the park, a far cry from student housing, but since they’re both students at OCAD, Blake dreamily fantasizes about whether the same rules would stick.
The cleaning schedule had been the first strike. Weiss had drawn it up before Blake had even had the chance to unpack her boxes, letting her know in sharp tones that she had expected it to be adhered to. Blake had been eating an apple. She gave the schedule a once over, rolled her eyes, and dropped the core into the sink before ambling back to her room. The scalding look Weiss had shot her had seeped under the crack in the door, judging Blake through the walls no matter how much incense she burned, no matter how loud the music she played.
The passive aggressive notes had come shortly afterwards. Weiss signed every one with a tiny happy face in the corner. Ironic, because Blake didn’t know that Weiss knew what a smile was, but sure enough, on every post it reminding Blake that extra toilet paper was under the sink and dishes needed to be clean nightly, there it was, that happy face in the corner with its uptight little smile. Blake was learning to despise that happy face.
“How do you know this girl?” Blake asks her friend Pyrrha over carnitas tacos and beers one night. They’re on the patio at Campechano, a tiny spot tucked around the corner from the bustling clubs on Adelaide. The sun is just starting to set behind the slatted white fence boxing the patio in, and the twinkly round lights strung overhead flicker on. They glint against Pyrrha’s red hair, making her look firelit and pretty.
Pyrrha had introduced Blake to Weiss, and Blake was already counting it as a dubious pleasure. Sure, Blake had been in a bind. Her housing had fallen through at the last minute and everything that wasn’t a scary east end basement was beyond her flimsy art student budget. Sure, Pyrrha had come to her rescue, telling Blake that she had a friend who was looking for a roommate. And yes, Weiss checked all her boxes: They were both fine arts students at the same school, Weiss’s apartment was close to campus and not a scary basement, and most important of all – it was rent controlled. But with the priceless emotional damages that came alongside living with the devil, Blake sometimes wondered if she was getting much of a bargain at all.
“We went to high school together,” Pyrrha says. “Weiss and I did track together. She was an excellent student; we were one and two for valedictorian.”
“You were one though, right?” Blake asks hopefully. “Please tell me you were number one.”
Pyrrha doesn’t answer, only smiles and sips her drink.
Pyrrha doesn’t attend the arts college; she goes to U of T on a fancy basketball scholarship. But before she did that, she went to one of the fancy prep schools in town – Havergal, Blake thinks (have a gal, she adds, remembering its street name in the public school system). It makes sense that Weiss would roll out of a place like that. But Blake doesn’t understand how she managed to stay in touch with Pyrrha, one of the sweetest, most agreeable people Blake knows.
Blake suspects that Weiss grew up rich but since she never talks about it (they rarely talk about anything outside of sniping at each other), she has to work off of context clues: The crisp lilt to the way she speaks. The way she swans through the apartment in expensive looking silk robes and negligees. How automatically she expects her every demand to be met.
Of course, that last part could have less to do with a ritzy upbringing and more to do with how screamingly hot she is. Weiss is the kind of hot that gets shit done. She’s as delicate as a china doll, with snapping blue eyes that dare you to say that to her face. She has masses of platinum hair that she always wears in a tall Ariana Grande ponytail or swept up in a messy topknot. Her looks do not soften Blake’s opinion of her. If anything, they make her hate Weiss more.
“Weiss can be difficult, but she’s been through a lot,” Pyrrha says gently. “Underneath all the attitude, she’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.”
Blake will believe that when she sees it.
When Blake returns home, it’s a little after midnight. The apartment is dark, and she kicks off her shoes, drops her keys into a bowl on the spindly credenza in the hallway with a metallic rattle. She gropes her way towards her room, but doesn’t turn on any lights. Blake has always seen well in the dark.
In the living room, a single light clicks on and Blake nearly jumps six feet in the air and straight out of her skin. Weiss sits in an armchair, the weird, uncomfortable white leather one, illuminated by lamplight and looking like something out of a nightmare.
“It’s late,” Weiss hisses.
“Jeez. Sorry, mom.” Blake grumbles. She’s a little bit tipsy, and it gives her an edge.
“If I were your mother, I’d have been worried sick about you,” Weiss replies icily. “Instead, I’m annoyed. I want to go to bed.”
“You didn’t have to stay up, you know,” Blake replies.
Weiss snorts. “And let you leave the door unlocked again? I don’t think so.”
One time. One time Blake forgot to lock the door. Okay, maybe twice. But she’ll be paying for it for the next century it seems, if it’s up to Weiss Schnee.
Blake decides to be the bigger person and not engage. “Whatever,” she says with a sullen shrug. “I’m going to bed.”
“We have a shoe rack, you know!” Weiss shouts as Blake shuffles into her room. “It would be nice if you could use it sometime!”
Blake rolls her eyes and shuts the door. In the living room, Weiss is still bathed only in the light from the lamp. It looks like a spotlight, or a halo. Blake shudders.
In the dim, quiet comfort of her bedroom, Blake strips off her jeans and falls into bed without preamble, the cervesas in her system superseding any need for a nighttime routine. After twenty minutes, she’s still lying in bed wide awake, too keyed up to fall asleep, to lazy to leave her bed now that she’s already here. She punches her pillow into a more comfortable shape, kicks her feet, rolls onto her side. Ten minutes later her eyes are snapping open again, bleary and annoyed.
Blake thinks about masturbating, just to take the edge off. She actually slides onto her back and spreads her legs, but the second – the instant – her fingertip touches her clit, Weiss’s face floats to the surface of her mind, looking supremely irritated and a little ethereal. A jolt of heat jumps through Blake and she lets out an annoyed hiss and pulls her hand back.
She tries to get back into it – thinks about hot women who she might actually want to fuck: Charlize Theron as Furiosa. The cute blonde with the muscles at the coffee shop down the street. Xena Warrior Princess. Instead, she keeps thinking of Weiss: Weiss Imperiously looking down her nose at Blake, Weiss picking up one of Blake’s wet tea bags with a pointed glare, Weiss in the ridiculous, ankle breaking stilettoes she wears out to gallery openings.
Finally Blake just gives up. She thrashes around, sleepless and frustrated. Now Weiss was sneaking into her private thoughts to suck all the joy out of them? Unbelievable. She gropes for her phone, checks the time, and winces. In five hours, she has to be in a discussion seminar. Not be up for it – be in the room. Normally, Blake likes these classes, likes the opportunity to bounce ideas and explore arguments with her classmates, but she makes a decision then and there to skip. Blake puts that on Weiss’s tab of insufferable indiscretions for good measure.
When Blake finally falls asleep, the sky is turning slate coloured, birds are tweeting on telephone wires. Blake falls asleep on her side and scowling, her knees drawn up and pressed tightly together.
Weiss could write whole sonnets about how much she hates Blake Belladonna. She hates the way she leaves wet towels on the floor of the bathroom. She hates that she cooks rice on maximum heat and then leaves the crusted over pot in the sink to congeal. She hates that she still has a broken grain of rice wedged under her index fingernail from trying to scrub those pots clean. She hates Blake’s trendy haircut, cropped short on the sides with long, sideswept bangs, and the way she goes out dancing at bars with names like Bambi’s or The Beaver. She hates her stupid spray paint cans, which are everywhere: In towering stacks by the door to the balcony, spread out on the coffee table like pick up sticks, rolling underfoot and nearly killing Weiss when she tries to go to the bathroom late at night.
(When Blake moved in, she’d asked about outdoor space, and when Weiss had asked why, she’d casually mentioned that she works a lot with spray paint and preferred to work on a surface that she wasn’t afraid to stain. Weiss can still feel the cold chill hat had run up her spine.)
But Weiss is self-sufficient and strong of will. A hot slob of a roommate wasn’t enough to take her down. And besides, since her father had cut her off and left her with nothing but a gaping mortgage on her apartment and two decades of trauma to unpack, she could really use the rent money. All of this she could have handled.
Until the coffee incident, anyway.
Weiss usually wakes up early to brew the first pot of coffee, but since she only has night classes on Thursdays, she often spends Wednesday nights up late painting at one of the studios and takes the opportunity to sleep in. This is why she’s only just pressing down the plunger on her French press when Blake comes stumbling out of her room at ten in the morning, hair sticking up at a half dozen different angles and last night’s mascara smeared underneath her eyes. She’s wearing a torn Runaways T-shirt, lacy black boy shorts, and nothing else. Weiss busies herself with trying not to stare at the long lines of Blake’s naked legs, the generous curve of her ass that her underwear fights to cover. It’s obscene, and it unnerves Weiss. The least Blake could do is put on a robe.
The plunger hits the sediment coated glass bottom of the press with a muted thunk, and Weiss realizes that she’s pushed down too hard. She feels herself flush, although it’s not that big a deal. Blake disappears into the bathroom and the fog in her head lifts a little. She takes down a brightly painted ceramic mug and pours herself a cup. After a moment’s hesitation, she takes down a second and pours one for Blake. She unnecessarily rationalizes this: Maybe if Weiss does something nice today, Blake will take the garbage out again sometime before June.
Blake emerges from the bathroom, and Weiss studiously avoids looking at her legs. She picks up a mug, plasters a smile to her face, and holds it out to Blake.
“I made you a coffee,” Weiss says gallantly.
Blake immediately looks suspicious, eyes narrowed, fingertips twitching. “Did you poison it or something?”
Immediately, Weiss feels her goodwill start to crack. “I was making one for myself and thought you might like one, too,” she says, cordial and prim.
“Oh.” Some of the tension eases from Blake’s mouth. “Well. Thanks.”
Blake reaches for the coffee. When she takes it, her fingers graze Weiss’s. Blake flinches; she pulls back her hand as though she’s been burned. It’s a beat too late: Weiss’s grip on the mug has already slackened, and the mug slips through both of their grips and shatters on the floor. Both girls yelp and jump back as coffee splatters their bare legs: Weiss in her high waisted white shorts, Blake in her understated no pants look.
“Seriously?” Weiss snaps in dismay.
“It’s just a mug,” Blake says. “You have like fifty more.” She starts to head back to her room, showing a maddening lack of contrition.
“And where are you going?” asks Weiss.
Blake stops. Sighs. “Back to bed, hopefully,” she says, rubbing the back of her head. “I didn’t sleep well last night.”
“And what about this?” Weiss prods, gesturing towards the mess on the floor.
Blake shrugs. “Your coffee. Your mugs. Your butterfingers. Your problem.” Blake disappears into her room and slams the door.
Weiss is left gaping. There’s coffee cooling on her legs, the central air pricking against it and giving her goosebumps. Miserably, Weiss stalks into the kitchen and grabs a dishtowel to wipe herself down. She goes into the broom closet and picks up a broom and dustpan. So much for goodwill gestures.
Weiss sweeps the broken shards of mug into a neat pile and is just crouching down to gather it all up when the first wave of true rage hits her. What the hell was she doing? Now she was literally cleaning up after her hipster nightmare of a roommate? Weiss throws the empty dustpan aside. It lands with a hollow, plasticky clatter, but it’s not enough. She stomps into the front hallway, ties on her new espadrilles, the white ones with the high wedge heels, and grabs her purse and keys.
“I’m going out,” Weiss shouts in the direction of Blake’s room.
For a moment, Weiss thinks that Blake isn’t going to respond at all. Her hand is on the door, ready to leave, when Blake’s door opens again and her head pops out. She immediately glances towards the mess on the floor.
“You’re just gonna leave that?”
“Now you care about messes?” Weiss asks archly.
Blake looks at Weiss evenly for a long moment. Finally, she shrugs. “Whatever,” says Blake. “Where are you going?”
Weiss scowls. “Coffee shop.”
“Why? You didn’t trash your cup.”
Weiss tries not to have an aneurism at the moving goalposts of Belladonna logic. “Let’s just say the mood is spoiled,” she says.
Blake doesn’t say anything, and Weiss thinks she might just go back into her room for a second. Then a sly smile snakes across Blake’s face. “You just want to see the cute girl at the coffee shop.”
Weiss feels herself go red. She splutters, at a rare loss for words.
Blake’s smile widens. “Oh, you do. Look at you, you’re totally smitten. Hold up. I’ll come with. I seriously need caffeine.”
“I thought you were going back to bed,” Weiss says sourly.
“We’re talking about the blonde with the arms, right? She’s better than twelve hours of sleep.”
Blake goes back into her room, but before she can re-emerge, Weiss is through the door, slamming it behind her, and clipping down eight flights of stairs at a brisk pace.
Weiss is still boiling when the bell over the entryway of Patch Coffee jingles. She takes a deep breath. The sugary smell of vanilla envelopes her, shot through with rich notes of coffee. Weiss feels her shoulders relax. Weiss loves this place: the tiny glass jars flowers on the scattering of café tables, the French pastries baked in house, the way the weird redhead who works the espresso machine brews a perfect café noisette. Weiss checks to make sure, and her mood lifts when she sees Penny there pulling a shot.
The blonde who works the counter is just icing on the cake, really. It’s not like she comes here specifically in hopes of seeing her. It’s not like Weiss goes weak at the knees every time she wears a shirt with the sleeves ripped off – which is a lot. It’s not like Weiss sometimes daydreams about that wide, sunny smile when she should be paying attention in her women of the Impressionist movement lecture. It’s not like—
“Hey! Ice queen! Café noisette, right?”
Weiss blushes. Fuck. “Please,” she says, trying not to choke.
The blonde – Yang, Weiss thinks, she remembers someone calling her Yang once – shoots a finger gun at Weiss and punches in the order. “Penny!” she calls. “You got that?”
Penny nods, bouncing on her heels, and puts up a new shot.
“So, how’ve you been?” Yang asks easily as Weiss pays.
“Fine,” Weiss mumbles.
Okay, so maybe she does have a crush on Yang, but Weiss is not usually like this. She’s stakes her life on being collected and assertive – and this extends to her romantic life. It’s not like she can ask out Yang though. For one, it’s tacky to ask out someone who is being paid to be nice to you. And Weiss really does love this place. She doesn’t want to end up the weird, nagging customer with a crush. Still, she’s usually much better at keeping it cool. Blake has gotten under skin, and Weiss can feel her heart hammering against her ribcage like a hummingbird.
Yang is cheerful and smooth, like Weiss isn’t replaying scenes from her first middle school dance in her head, and when Weiss leaves with a faintly steaming paper cup, her nerves are frazzled.
Weiss had planned on nursing her coffee in the café and then slinking back home, hopefully to find Blake either passed out or gone, but instead she finds herself crossing through the park and heading towards her studio. She’s in the mood to paint.
Weiss rents a studio in Chinatown, a few blocks away from the college, an easy walk from the apartment, one sturdy room on a lower level sandwiched between a restaurant and a store that sells wholesale buttons. It was dirt cheap, which was how she had managed to hold onto it, and the entire back wall was made of glass. At sunset, the room was drenched with pink light. Since Blake moved in, it’s the only place in the world where Weiss can be truly alone.
She unlocks the door and takes a sip of her coffee. It’s perfect. The room smells faintly of paint and turpentine. Also perfect. Weiss drifts automatically to the centre of the room where a blank canvas is set up, like she always makes sure one is before she locks up the studio after a session.
Weiss doesn’t have a goal; she just wants to paint until her insides don’t feel so twisted up anymore. At first it doesn’t work. Weiss can’t stop thinking about Blake’s hand jerking away from hers and the fizzy anger that burned low in her stomach at it. She can’t stop thinking about Yang and the palpably, uncomfortably similar way that it had made her feel. She can’t stop thinking.
In her gap year before college, Weiss had spent some time in Paris and attended the lecture of a surrealist short story writer. He had talked in a vivid, passionate way about the woven threads of story, emotion, and painting. He had said that he wanted to write a story that felt like a Matisse, thick lines and forward thinking. Weiss had had no idea what he’d been talking about until Pyrrha had tied a blindfold around her eyes and pressed her thumb to Weiss’s lower lip where it was fullest. “Paint that,” Pyrrha had whispered, and Weiss had felt every ridge in her thumb, every possibility. She understood.
(The author had been almost an hour late for the reading because he had been gazing at the Matisse paintings in the basement of l’Orangerie, which strikes Weiss now as a very Blake thing to do.)
Weiss plays to the inverse of this, paints until her head clears. The sun moves behind the glass wall; the glare becomes unbearable eventually, but Weiss works through it until her mind is a pleasant blur. She finds the calm centre, far away from the Blakes and Yangs of the world.
When Weiss steps back, she finds something more abstract that she usually paints; bolder. If she sees twin figures in there, a sweep of gold like hair, long brown lines like two uncovered legs, she keeps it even from herself.
Yang likes her job. The vibe is relaxed and she gets to work with her little sister. She’s friends with the manager, she can wear what she wants, and she never gets bugged to tie her hair back. The hours are fine. The tips are worse. She just wish it covered a little more than rent sometimes.
It’s not like Yang needs much, but her bike spluttered out when she was cruising down Rosedale Valley Road a week ago, and well, she needs that. She just has no idea how she is going to pay for it.
Yang is brooding over this at the register right now, counting up the dimes in the tip jar, longingly thinking that this would never have happened if the penny hadn’t been discontinued. Need might be a little strong – Yang knows that technically she doesn’t need her bike in the city. She can walk to work, and the traffic is terrible enough to make it more dangerous than worthwhile to ride down the streets. But the freedom of just knowing that it’s there… she needs that. So Yang is counting dimes.
“You know I’ll help you pay for the repairs if you want.”
Yang looks up. Ruby is leaning against the counter. She’s wearing a black denim skirt with a long sleeved red shirt, which means she’s changed out of her work clothes, which means she’s finished baking for the day. Yang makes a face at her sister. “Nice try. I know you don’t have any money, either.”
Ruby sighs dramatically. “If only I could still pick up lucky pennies. Then I’d be a millionaire by now.”
“I was just thinking that!”
“I know. You say it like ten times a day.”
Yang sticks her tongue out at Ruby.
“I really can help if you want,” Ruby pushes, cajoling. She knows Yang hates handouts, but she also knows that if she keeps offering, if Yang wants it badly enough, she might just take the bait.
Not this time.
“It’s stupid that I even have the bike,” Yang grumbles, echoing her earlier thoughts. “I don’t need it.”
“Don’t say that.” Ruby pouts. “If you get rid of the bike, how will we get to Port Dover for Friday the thirteenth in the summer? We need that.”
Ah, yes, Friday the thirteenth, when all the bikers in the area flocked to a beach city a couple hours out of town and partied until dawn. Last one, Yang had met a wild girl on rollerskates with neon pigtails who she still remembers with a smile. She and Ruby had eaten Dover Dogs and walked on the boardwalk and laughed until their stomachs hurt. Yeah, they needed that.
“I’m still not taking your money,” says Yang. “I’ll figure something out.”
Ruby sighs, but then the door jingles, and she darts away, not wanting to be roped into interacting with a customer.
It’s a regular, the girl with the golden eyes and the skintight jeans, and Yang only sighs a little wistfully when she walks out with a large black coffee.
“You’re drooling a little,” Ruby says as she reappears.
Yang rolls her eyes and tries to punch Ruby in the arm, but she darts away too quickly. She drums her fingers against the counter. What was she going to do? She’d already tried to beg more shifts and been told not-so-gently that she already pulled more than anybody, and the whole staff had to pay bills. Could she get a second job? Yang supposes that she’ll have to. It’s not like the answer to her prayers will just fall out of the sky.
“The answer to your prayers has fallen from the sky!” a new voice announces.
Okay, this was getting too weird. Yang looks over her shoulder and sees Coco Adel, the manager of Patch Coffee, emerge from her tiny back office. She’s still wearing sunglasses despite her windowless office and managing to make one of those complicated chiffoney blouses with the tie at the neck work for her paired with a pair of dark cutoffs and combat boots.
“Okay seriously, what is going on today?” Yang asks. “People are reading my thoughts left and right. Is Mercury in retrograde? Is that what that means?”
“No,” Coco says flatly. She pushes her sunglasses to the top of her head. “You need money to fix your bike, right?”
“Yes, and thank you so much for all the extra shifts,” Yang says sarcastically.
Coco ignores her. “A friend just called me from OCAD. They’re looking for models.”
“Models?” Yang asks dubiously.
“Models?” Ruby asks, wrinkling her nose. “Her?”
“Shut up,” Yang retorts, but she knows it’s an empty zing. Ruby may not want to admit it, but Yang looks good, and she has the gym rat badge on foursquare to prove it.
(Yang tried to flex that exactly one time, to which Ruby had incredulously shrieked, “Who is still on foursquare?” in a way that informed Yang she had just made a grand faux pas. Yang doesn’t mind. It’s the only social media app she really likes, and since nobody has used it since 2014 or whatever, she gets to be mayor of everything.)
“I’m serious,” says Coco. “I think it might be a good fit for you. Have you ever been to a life drawing class?”
“With all my artistic expertise,” Yang deadpans, spreading her arms wide. Sometimes she doodles on the takeout cups, but that’s about it.
“So that’s a no then,” says Coco.
“She’s really bad at Pictionary, too,” Ruby puts in.
“It was a pizza!” Yang retorts, an old wound opened. “It literally could have only been a pizza!”
“Uh huh.” Ruby sounds obnoxiously unconvinced, which of course drives Yang crazy.
Yang turns to Coco, pointedly ignoring her little sister. “You were saying?”
“It’s pretty easy money,” Coco continues, unphased. “You just sit while art students sketch you for an hour.”
“Naked,” adds Ruby. “What?” she asks, when Yang and Coco’s heads both swivel to look at her in surprise. “I’ve seen movies.”
“Well it’s not Titanic or anything, but yeah, it’s nude,” says Coco.
Yang is intrigued. Maybe she should shyly recoil at the idea, but it isn’t her style. She likes her body. And it’s not like she’d be on display. Well, she would literally be on display, but like, in a classy, artistic way. Yang already feels more cultured by proxy.
“Cool,” says Yang. “I’m in. How much does it pay?”
“You know you have to sit still for these, right?” Ruby asks. “Like, perfectly still. Like, for the whole hour.”
“So now I know why Coco didn’t offer it to you,” Yang says, grinning.
Ruby makes a horrified noise. “As if I would ever!”
Yang shrugs. “Well. I would.” Yang turns to Coco. “Well? What’s the rate?”
Coco tells Yang the number, and Yang lights up. Maybe summertime bonfires out of town weren’t a pipe dream this year after all.
Weiss carefully avoids Blake for days. It’s not difficult; they don’t exactly keep to the same schedules. Blake gets home late and sleeps late; when Weiss sees the sunrise, she considers it a good day. She even stops leaving reminders for Blake, scrubbing the pots herself and quietly seething the entire time. Anything to avoid initiating contact.
She’d put the painting away as soon as it had dried. Weiss can’t explain why she’d spun out so thoroughly. All she knows is that Blake Belladonna makes her days harder, so she is going to avoid her. It’s a plan with no future, but Weiss doesn’t care. It’s working for now.
This comes to an end on a Thursday night, when Weiss enters the room to find Blake dumping out the contents of her purse onto the floor, sorting through the crumpled receipts and TTC transfers and old change and fuzzy mints; fishing out her cell phone, wallet, keys, and a lipstick; and chucking them all into the canvas bag that hangs from her shoulder. She straightens up, kicks a receipt with the toe of her purple keds, and then turns away, like she’s washed her hands of the mess.
“Are you going somewhere?” Weiss asks coolly. She tries very hard not to glare pointedly at the pile of crap on the floor.
Blake looks Weiss up and down, like she’s still not sure she’s going to answer. She makes up her mind and says, “There’s this life drawing class up at Casa Loma that I want to check out.”
Weiss freezes. “No you’re not.”
“Oh?” Blake raises one elegant eyebrow. “Did I need to sign out first, den mother?”
“I’m taking that class,” Weiss says, and her throat feels frozen with slush.
Blake crosses her arms over her chest, managing to look defensive and combative all at once. “So?”
“So, do you really want to be stuck in a room with each other all night?”
“It’s a castle,” Blake shrugs. “Those are pretty big, right? I think we’ll be fine.”
“It’s actually a gothic revival mansion…” Weiss murmurs, before trailing off. This is not the point right now. Weiss snaps back to attention. “Why do you even want to take that class?” she asks, the slush chilling to permafrost. “Isn’t your stuff a little… abstract?”
Which is to say that Weiss has never understood Blake’s art, all looping spray paint and chatter about Basquiat’s influence, but she is too polite to open up that specific argument right now.
Blake chooses to look insulted anyway. “You know, Picasso studied realism for years before he settled into his style.”
“Are you really going to bitchsplain Picasso to me?” Weiss snaps.
“Are you really going to ban me from going to an art class?”
“I’m—” Weiss’s mouth snaps shut. All at once, it comes crashing down on her that she is acting insane. She sighs. “No. I’m sorry. We can just… stay out of each other’s way.”
“Fine,” says Blake, still sounding suspicious. “Do you want to split an Uber?”
Which is the opposite of staying out of each other’s way, but they are going to the same place, and it’s twenty minutes north, and every hour has been surge prices all the way up this week. So Weiss agrees shortly, and this is how she ends up in the back of an Uber with Blake ten minutes later, staring resolutely at the knee of Blake’s pants and not saying a word. They’re black and flowy, with moons and stars printed on them. Weiss thinks they look ridiculous. Like goth Joey Buttafuoco pants. She looks out the window instead but still sees Blake reflected in the window, the wide neck of her cropped T-shirt slipping over one shoulder and exposing a bra strap, the silver choker at her throat.
It is a very long ride.
They don’t thaw once, not even when they get out of the car, although Blake does silently pull out her phone and accept Weiss’s rideshare split fare request. While she does, Weiss looks up at Casa Loma, admiring the way it looks illuminated against the sky as the light starts to die and the streetlamps buzz with the promise of flickering on. A glorified folly, maybe, but the building was still spectacular: A small castle built by a twentieth century millionaire in the city. As a child, Weiss had gone here on countless field trips. Now, their gardens are one of her favourite places to sketch in the summertime.
Weiss and Blake silently troop to the conservatory, where the class has been set up; a circle of easels, sketchpads. An enormous stained-glass skylight filters in dappled, pretty lights. Maria Calavera, their tiny, wizened instructor, waves for Weiss and Blake to pick a spot, and they split up instantly and choose easels on opposite sides of the circle.
(It’s only when Weiss looks up that she realizes she is looking directly at Blake, but it’s too late now, and she won’t be the first to move.)
The rest of the class filters in. Weiss recognizes some of them from school – Lie Ren, Octavia Ember – but nobody she knows well enough to bother saying hello to. She sees Blake across the way, making small talk with a redhead who Weiss thinks is named Fox, and feels sick envy. Weiss wishes she were better at striking up conversations with people sometimes. Blake makes it look easy.
The class begins, and Maria Calavera shuffles to the middle of the circle with a stool that’s nearly as tall as she is. She sets it down with a resolute plunk.
“Thank you for coming,” says Maria. “The model will be out shortly.”
With that, Maria starts to walk away. Weiss is puzzled and frustrated. Were they not to receive any training, any direction? She’d budgeted her dwindling savings for this class. “Excuse me!” Weiss hears herself calling the words before she really registers that it’s her voice.
Maria turns. “Eh?”
“Um, that’s a little vague, don’t you think?” Weiss is a little nervous, which turns her words sharp.
Maria tilts her head to the side, considering Weiss. “I’ll come around throughout the class,” she says. “I like to approach students for one on one guidance as I asses what they need.”
Maria walks away again, settles into a chair in the corner of the room. Weiss is left perplexed, but oddly mollified. She picks up her charcoal and prepares for the model’s entrance.
Weiss could have prepared for six more hours, and still have had the wind knocked out of her when the model enters the room – because it’s Yang. Yang, the cute girl from the coffee shop, the one with the muscles. Holy shit. Weiss is about to have a stroke.
Weiss’s eyes flick up, and she finds herself staring directly into Blake’s eyes. Blake looks as openly stunned as Weiss feels, and for the first time, Weiss feels a friendly, unspoken connection between the two of them. Only they could understand the other right now. It’s not wholly unpleasant, but Weiss doesn’t have time to unpack that right now, because Yang is slipping off her robe, joking with the class to “make sure you get my good side, yeah?” and hopping up onto the stool.
Weiss reminds herself that she is a professional, that it’s an insult to herself as an artist and to Yang in the centre of the room to gawk, but she’s worried that she might black out. Yang is excruciatingly gorgeous. Her hair tumbles down to the bottom of her spine in messy waves, and it’s all this impossible, buttery gold. She’s tall and strong and now that she isn’t wearing any clothes Weiss can see that Yang possesses a perfect set of abs on top of those arms. She gulps and wills herself to focus.
Because she is an artist, Weiss settles into the rhythm of the work after the initial shock of Yang’s glory. She sketches, and the lines start to flow. Weiss knows what she’s doing, and this isn’t her first life drawing class. But it’s been awhile, and Weiss is surprised to find that the lack of instruction is actually helping her because of it. She likes being able to warm up at her own pace.
After Weiss’s warmups, mostly large, swooping abstract shapes drawn from the wrist, the elbow, the shoulder, she rips her way to a clean page. She begins to sketch Yang. It’s fun, Weiss realizes. Yang is a myriad of interesting curves and wild hair like a mermaid from an old painting. Weiss glances up periodically to refocus her work, and as the sun sinks lower on the horizon, the light from the skylight splinters into something dappled and pink and plays across Yang’s naked skin. It’s striking, and Weiss’s fingers itch for the tiny pan of watercolours and India ink at the bottom of her handbag, wanting to capture the colours.
Eventually, Maria starts to float around the room, drifting from painting, offering the odd commentary or critique.
“That’s nice,” she says after a very brief stop at Weiss’s station. Weiss is pleased, and again, she’s surprised by how much she likes this hands-off approach. It helps her feel like she is really finding her own way.
Not long afterwards, Weiss glances up again and notices – Blake. Maria has stopped at her easel and is murmuring to her softly. Blake looks pained and frustrated at whatever Maria is saying. Weiss waits for the rush of smug self-satisfaction. Blake’s art is probably a mess, just like her life.
When it doesn’t come, Weiss is surprised for the third time, but she chalks it up to her being a really good person, goes back to her work, and tries to put Blake out of her mind. It almost works.
The class ends before Weiss realizes that any time has passed at all. Maria does it without fanfare, doesn’t make everyone put up their pieces for critique or anything, tells everyone that she’ll stick around afterwards for anybody who wants to talk. A younger Weiss would have balked at this; she would have said then that it’s because she thinks competition helps others strive to be their best; lately its started to occur to her that this is more of a fruitless attempt to have someone confirm that she is the best. This isn’t Maria’s style, Weiss realizes, and she’s happy she came out tonight.
Weiss lingers, packing up slowly, half formed plans to conjure a reason to talk to Maria still brewing. She keeps surreptitiously glancing at Yang out of the corner of her eye, as she lets her shoulders slump in relief when she no longer needs to hold a pose, as she stretches her arms high overhead before bothering to put on her robe. It’s unspeakably hot, and Weiss blushes, tries not to stare at Yang’s full breasts when they lift with her arms. Yang slides back into her robe, and Weiss sighs with mingled relief and regret.
She’s planning her move – not now, Maria is deep in conversation with Octavia, but if she continues to pack up very slowly – when Blake blocks her line of vision. Her face looks stormy.
“What did you think?” Blake asks, like it’s a challenge.
Since Blake doesn’t exactly strike up conversations often, Weiss is a little thrown. “Um…” her mind and her eyes wander back towards Yang, who stands across the room, shaking out her long hair. She’s talking to another student; a diminutive girl Weiss doesn’t know with dyed pink and brown hair. They’re conversing in sign language, and Weiss files it away that Yang knows sign language, which is very cool and speaks to layers underneath those megawatt looks. The tiny girl signs something that makes Yang tip back her head and laugh, and she rests her hand on Yang’s arm and smiles flirtatiously. Weiss feels every last one of her organs burn with jealousy.
Blake follows the direction of Weiss’s stare. For a moment, her expression darkens, but it’s gone so quickly that Weiss thinks that maybe she just imagined it, replaced by a look that is both smirking and bitchy. Weiss braces herself.
“Cute coffee shop girl, huh?” asks Blake. She doesn’t say it meanly, but she doesn’t exactly sound nice, either.
Weiss snaps her attention away in an instant. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she says coolly.
“Oh, come on,” Blake presses. “I saw your face when she walked in. It was like you were a cartoon cat and she was a turkey leg.”
“It was not!” Weiss hears her voice turn shrill. She scowls. “Whatever. As if you weren’t.”
“Well, duh. I’m not blind.” Blake grins.
Weiss is wary. Is Blake seriously trying to bond with her? Over naked women? “I suppose,” she says stiffly. Without even meaning to, Weiss sneaks another glance at Yang.
Blake’s eyes widen a fraction as something clicks into place for her. “Oh my god. You actually like her.”
“What?” Weiss yelps. “No, I don’t!”
“You do!” Blake perks up, smelling blood. “Wow, look at you.”
“You’re out of your mind,” Weiss retorts. Even she doesn’t believe herself. She relents: “I talk to her at the coffee shop sometimes. She’s always playing around with her little sister.”
“So ask her out.”
Weiss gasps in outrage, as if it were that easy. “I can’t just ask her out at work. That is so disrespectful, Blake. Honestly…”
Blake waves her hand, cutting Weiss’s lecture off at the pass. “Sure, if you’re weird about it. Just be cool instead.” Blake sizes Weiss up. “If that’s possible for you, I mean.”
Weiss feels uncomfortably defensive, like she’s being peered at through a microscope. Blake being friendly is almost worse than Blake being antagonistic. At least Weiss knows what to do with the former.
“I do not need dating advice from you,” Weiss says icily. “When was the last time you even had a girlfriend?”
Blake’s smile thins. “I do alright.”
“Sure you do.” Weiss sniffs, aware that she’s being snotty, more aware that it’s purely because she is nervous, unable to help either. “Hooking up with trashy roadies from indie bands and hitting the bricks before they get a faceful of your charming personality is so the same thing as romantic expertise.”
Blake looks angry again. “What’s your problem?” she snaps.
“Just stay out of my business,” Weiss snaps back. “It’s not and never will be yours.”
“Fine.” Blake’s golden eyes look as hard as gemstones. “Excuse me.”
Before Weiss can get the last word, Blake turns on her heel, makes a beeline towards Yang, and strikes up a conversation with Weiss’s heartthrob crush like it’s nothing. Weiss scrapes her jaw off the floor.
Weiss doesn’t intend to eavesdrop, but, well, how could she not? She edges closer and closer towards Blake and Yang while they talk, hoping that she is being inconspicuous. She has just made it within earshot when she sees Yang push her hand through her hair and smile. Weiss’s pulse spikes. Was Yang being bashful? Was Blake being cute?
“Tomorrow night?” Yang asks. “Yeah, I think I’m probably free.”
Weiss’s blood pressure shoots through the roof. Was Blake actually asking Yang out?
Blake giggles, sounding silkier and more coquettish than Weiss has ever seen her be. “Great. It’s a date. Meet me at nine?” she lays her hand on Yang’s arm just like the flirty pixie from earlier.
Weiss’s heart stops. It’s not like she thinks she’s cornered the market on Yang or anything. She’s not the kind of idiot who lays claim on the girl she’s crushing on and can’t even get it together to talk to. But Blake is doing this at least halfway out of spite, and that makes Weiss’s blood boil.
Blake meets Weiss’s eyes just once, as Yang is keying her number into Blake’s phone. She wears a smirking, superior expression that disappears a moment later when Yang looks up again and hands Blake her phone back. Blake smiles at Yang sweetly, like Weiss is an afterthought.
Weiss’s plans to talk to Maria have evaporated. She only wishes to get out and get home, alone, and it’s official: Blake Belladonna is a monster.
Did Blake ask out Yang to piss off Weiss? A little bit, absolutely. But to quote Lana del Rey, she is large, she contains multitudes, and she’s also genuinely excited to be going to dinner with Yang. She has a date with the cute girl from the coffee shop! The one with the muscles!
If it’s delicious to watch Weiss flounce about sulking for the next twenty-four hours, well, that’s just an added bonus.
Blake dresses carefully for her date, matches a long black skirt with a tight purple camisole, skips a bra altogether. She thinks that she looks pretty, maybe even mysterious, and smirks winningly at her own reflection in the mirror. She tries very hard not to think about last night’s art class and her short conversation with Maria in the middle of it.
(Maria had clucked with displeasure the moment she settled at Blake’s station. “Your focus is split,” she’d told her, the words unadorned and clear.
Blake had scowled. “I’m just warming up.”
She wasn’t just warming up. Maria’s words had cut to the bone. Yang from the coffee shop is naked and literally asking her to draw her like one of her French girls, but absurdly, Blake’s eyes can’t stop flicking towards Weiss. She wears a look of intense concentration, her brow furrowed, but her arm is moving in loose, rapid movements.
Maria taps Blake’s sketch pad with her cane. “If you ever want to make anything,” she says, “You must first know what it is that you want.”
Maria moves on without another word, like she hadn’t just frayed Blake’s nerves with a dull edge. Blake looks sullenly at her page. The sharp, pointed face that she has drawn sure isn’t Yang’s. Blake’s heart sinks low below the surface where it can’t see the truth starting to sparkle free. She rips the page off her sketchpad and crumples it up, starts over clean.)
Blake doesn’t see Weiss before she leaves, which is a shame, but maybe it’s even better this way, when Weiss’s imagination can go wild, no clues to the night except the lingering cloud of Blake’s perfume. She carefully holds this idea in her heart as she makes the short walk to the restaurant where she is meeting Yang, stepping lightly in her suede oxblood ankle boots.
Yang meets Blake at Julie’s, a Cuban hole in the wall on a side street that used to be the city’s best kept secret before somebody at blogto blew the whistle. Now, it’s packed nightly, it’s postage sized patio wraps around the front and side yards of the restaurant, a renovated old Victorian townhouse. It’s crammed with square tables and surrounded by tall latticework and climbing vines. Yang has the forethought to make a reservation, and Blake is impressed as their hostess leads them to a table in a quiet green corner around the side.
“I love this place,” Blake says as they’re being seated.
“Oh, awesome,” Yang says cheerfully. “I read about it on some list of ten best mojitos in the city and thought maybe it would be fun.”
Blake tries not to judge Yang for discovering this place after it was cool. Instead, she picks up the tiny saltshaker and toys with it. Their server appears and takes their drink orders – Blake and Yang both order mojitos. They arrive quickly, looking summery and fresh, and Blake takes a long drag of hers through her straw. The rum goes straight to her head, but like, in a good way.
“I admit, I didn’t think you were the artsy type,” Blake says while they wait for their food.
Yang shrugs, smiling, and fishes a mint leaf out of her glass. She pops it into her mouth and chews it. “I’m not really,” she admits. “A friend told me it was an easy side gig. Surprise! It was.”
Blake snorts. “Your neck didn’t get stiff holding that pose for so long?”
Yang’s smile widens, holds a separate promise. “I’m very patient,” she says, like she means something else.
Blake feels her interest climb up in her heart and crawl down between her legs. Yang is so hot it’s a crime. Blake sees other people on the patio craning their necks to check her out, couples and single people alike. Yang cheerfully slurps on her mojito, seemingly oblivious to all of the attention. Blake thinks she must get this kind of attention a lot.
Blake tries to steer the conversation to normal things that aren’t about how she wants to crawl underneath the table and eat Yang out as an appetizer. They talk about Yang’s job, laughing at the bizarre coincidence of their Casa Loma collision; they talk about Blake’s classes, and Blake has to curb herself when she finds herself chattering about Dubuffet and the low art movement until she’s worried that Yang’s eyes will start to glaze over.
(Yang’s eyes never glaze over. In fact, they darken to an entirely new colour as Blake speaks, from violet to something intense and closer to crimson. Blake watches it happen in slow motion, and a shiver races up her spine.)
Blake discovers that she really likes Yang. She likes her easy, unpretentious attitude, so foreign to the way that Blake navigates the world. She likes the way her eyes light up when she talks about her little sister. She likes the way that talking to Yang feels easy, as though they have already known each other for years.
“So that girl you came in with,” Yang says eventually, dragging a piece of shrimp through its white wine and garlic sauce before eating it. “The snow princess looking one. She’s a friend of yours, too?”
Blake instantly knows that Yang is talking about Weiss, and her hackles rise. “She’s my roommate,” she says in a more guarded tone.
Yang raises her eyebrows like she knows there’s more to the story but she’s waiting.
“Why do you ask?” asks Blake. She stabs at the tiny mound of black beans and rice on her plate with the tines of her fork.
“Oh, she comes in a lot, too,” Yang says, oblivious to the thin ice that she is walking over. “I was surprised you two knew each other.”
“Well, she’s terrible,” says Blake, stabbing another bean.
“I had no idea.” Yang sounds taken aback, but unconvinced. “What did she do? Cook fish in the microwave?”
Blake very pointedly buries the fact that she microwaved a leftover salmon filet two nights ago. “She’s just…” Blake throws up her hands, at a loss for words. “She—I mean—the things she wears—”
Now Yang is looking like she is trying not to laugh. “She sounds like a real nightmare,” Yang jokes, eyes dancing.
“I’m not telling it right,” Blake says, frustrated. “Okay, like, here’s an example. She made me coffee the other day.”
“A war crime,” Yang deadpans.
Blake rolls her eyes and ignores Yang. Instead, she launches into the story about the coffee, the shattered mug, the snide argument that ensued. As Blake talks, she starts to realize that it all sounds very… petty. But the way she’d felt about Weiss, the yawning anger and fiery emotion, that still feels very real, so Blake talks herself into circles trying to telegraph it, while Yang looks mystified and their third round of drinks arrives.
Blake must be talking for a while, because Yang actually cuts her off eventually. “Hey,” she says. “Let’s talk about something else.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, am I boring you?” Blake asks, bristling.
Yang laughs, nonplussed. “Impossible. But I didn’t come out to talk about your roommate tonight. I came to talk about you.”
Yang moves so quickly that Blake barely has time to string together a reaction. She hooks her hands behind Blake’s knees under the table and drags her closer. The metal legs of Blake’s chair scrape the flagstones, and Blake falls forward, elbows on the table.
Heat floods Blake again; she remembers where she is, who she’s with. Weiss recedes to the back of her mind, a hum instead of a roar. Yang leans forward and Blake draws in a breath.
“Yes,” Blake says, right before Yang kisses her. “Yes.”
Yang wakes up the next morning very happy, the covers flung back and Blake tucked into her side. Last night had been good. Very good. Yang still feels pleasantly worn out, the memory rosy enough for her to look at her pillows, see Blake’s glittery eye makeup smeared all over the yellow cotton pillowcases, and feel charmed. She carefully squirms out of bed. Blake rolls over and snorts, but doesn’t wake up.
Yang pads to the kitchen, relishes the ache in her thighs, opens the fridge and quickly scans its contents, swaps over to the freezer instead. One of the perks of having a serial baker for a little sister was that her freezer was always packed with pastries. Yang takes out a saran wrapped slab of frozen cinnamon buns, turns on the oven, and pops them in without preheating. Then she fills her ancient Mr. Coffee and sets it to percolate.
Blake comes out of Yang’s bedroom just as Yang is pulling the cinnamon buns out of the oven and spreading canned vanilla frosting on them (Ruby would flip). She puts one on a small plate and sets it down in front of Blake as she approaches the bar.
Blake still looks half asleep. Her eyeliner is smeared to hell, but it manages to look smoky and cool. She’s only wearing her camisole and panties, skirt still tangled and abandoned somewhere on Yang’s floor. When Yang presents her with breakfast, Blake’s eyebrows shoot up.
“This is… so orchestrated,” she says in disbelief. She tears off the steaming corner of a cinnamon bun anyway and eats it. Bliss scrolls over her face and her eyes close. “And amazing.” She glares at Yang suspiciously. “What are you, some kind of gay baking playboy? You should have a Netflix show.”
Yang laughs. “My sister is always sending me home with stuff,” she explains. “It looks like a lot more effort than it is, I promise.”
Blake looks a little less thrown. She eats two cinnamon buns in a row while Yang sips her coffee and watches her.
“So…” Yang says finally. “Last night was fun.”
Blake lights up, some of her impossible cool dropping away. “Yeah, it was,” she says.
“Can I see you again sometime?”
Blake’s smile turns coy. “Call me and find out.”
Yang grins. “Don’t think that I won’t.” she looks Blake up and down, interest flickering like white hot flame. She wonders if she has time to…
Her alarm goes off on her phone, and Yang swears. “I have to get to work,” she says ruefully. “But I am definitely going to call you later.”
Blake kisses Yang on her doorstep before she leaves, clutching Yang’s shirt in her fists and pressing close. Yang thinks about it and smiles on the entire walk to work.
“You’re in a good mood,” Coco comments when Yang comes swinging through the front door. “Date went that well, huh?”
The shop is empty and Ruby and Penny are sitting at a two top drinking whipped cream covered monstrosities while Coco works the register. They’re all looking at Yang now, who is grinning ear to ear.
“Date went very well,” she admits. “You wouldn’t believe how she—”
“No.” Ruby cuts Yang off quickly. “Absolutely not. However you are about to finish that sentence, keep it to yourself.”
“—how she went on about what a sweet baby sister I have,” Yang finishes innocently, batting her eyes.
“She did not.”
“On my honour.”
“We both know that doesn’t mean shit.”
“Ladies, please,” says Coco. “You’re going to scare the customers.” Today Coco has gone full Mad Men in a tailored vintage day dress with a peter pan collar and a narrow skirt, and her makeup is in shades of vivid red lipstick and winged eyeliner.
Since the shop is, once again, completely empty, Ruby, Yang, and Penny all roll their eyes in a symphony.
“Anyway, you’re on the clock now, and I’m sick of standing here,” Coco continues. She points at Yang. “Go work or something. Or at least come into my office and give me the details.”
Yang looks at her sister hopefully. “Ruby…?”
Ruby sighs dramatically and heads towards the register. “Fine. Anything to keep a closed door between me and hearing about your sex life.”
Yang cheers and she and Coco lock themselves in the back office like they’re middle schoolers spilling secrets in one of their bedrooms after school.
“So?” Coco prompts. “How was it?”
“Amazing,” Yang admits, blushing. “I really like her, and I think we’re going to see each other again. But she—”
“Oh my god, skeletons falling out of the closet already?” asks Coco.
Yang laughs. “No. I don’t know. She just… talks about her roommate a lot.”
Coco taps her nails against her desk. Yang notices that they’re black with gold accent nails today, the first two fingers on her left hand. “I don’t follow.”
“You don’t think that’s… kind of weird?” Yang asks hesitantly.
“No,” Coco says, shrugging. “I don’t know. Who the hell is her roommate?”
“Oh, you actually know her,” Yang says. Coco perks up at the promise of new gossip and Yang continues: “You know that Frozen looking girl who comes in all the time and orders a café noisette? That’s her.”
Coco lets out a whistle. “Well, I get it,” she says. “That girl is hot. Like, take her to the opera hot.”
“Nobody goes to the opera but you,” Yang says automatically.
“I bet Frozen does. So what? You think Blake is in love with her or something?”
Yang thinks about Blake’s mouth against her skin last night, her heady gasps that curled into whines, the way her legs had quivered. She smiles. “Nah, I’m not worried about that. I don’t know. It’s like Blake can’t stop thinking about her, and now I can’t stop thinking about her by proxy.”
“One date and you’re feeling sympathy pains. You really are a dyke,” Coco remarks. “Are you sure you’re not in love with her or something?”
“Blake?” Yang looks alarmed. “Please, we’ve only been on one date!”
“Oh.” Yang looks startled. “You know her name?”
Coco looks at Yang dryly. “Yang. She gives her name every time she orders a coffee.”
Yang can’t exactly admit that everything Weiss says after smiling at her sort of just turns into a fog of blue eyes staring her way. Yang has a whole laundry list of regulars that she is crushing on, but Weiss was a frequent offender. Yang doesn’t hand out cute coffee shop nicknames to just anybody.
“No,” says Yang. “But she is pretty cute. I think… maybe she’s lonely or something. Like maybe Blake is worried about her?”
“What could a girl like that be lonely about,” Coco asks, only half serious.
“Hey,” Yang says, grinning. “Even Lucky cry cry cried in her lonely heart. You don’t know her life.”
Unintentionally, this sobers Yang a little. She doesn’t know Weiss’s life, or her loneliness. What if Blake had been asking Yang, in not so many words, what she thought they could do to help?
“Hey!” Yang says brightly, inspiration striking. “I have a genius idea. Let’s do a double date.”
“That is the stupidest thing I have heard all day,” Coco replies.
Yang is already drafting the text. “Please,” she says, not even looking up. “Like you’re going to skip on shooting your shot with Frozen."
“I’m—huh.” Coco pauses, considering. “I still think you’re off base. But I’d love to find a date to the opera.”
Yang knows that from Coco, this is as good as a yes. She hits send on the text, thinks about Blake in her arms this morning, thinks about the way Weiss smiles when Yang makes an incredible joke. It was going to be a good day.
Weiss is sitting on the couch reading a book when Blake sneaks in late that morning, wearing last night’s clothes and her smug kitten’s smirk. Resolutely, Weiss doesn’t look up from her book.
“You’re not going to ask me how it went?” Blake asks, when she gets no response from Weiss.
“You’re not going to take a shower first?” Weiss asks, still not looking up.
“Later.” Blake flaps a hand. “I need to get some more sleep. Last night was… long.”
Blake’s words drip with enough insinuation to make Weiss sigh in disgust and snap her book shut. “Okay,” she says crisply. “What do you want? You’re so hot and you can take anything from me that I want. Is that what you want me to say? You’re welcome.”
Blake’s face falls, almost as if she were disappointed that Weiss is choosing to be angry instead verbally spar. But that couldn’t be it, right? Blake couldn’t possibly be trying to get her attention, could she?”
“Are you really upset?” Blake asks. “I thought she was just your morning coffee crush.”
“She is. I’m not.” Weiss sighs. “I’m just sick of you fucking with me for breathing.”
“Me?” Blake looks aghast. “You literally wait up for me at night with judgment in your eyes.”
“Well, you never lock the door!”
“Well, maybe my head is too full of all the nagging post it notes you leave around the apartment.”
“Well you never clean!”
Weiss jumps up while they argue, and they draw closer together, magnets propelled by anger and snapping tension until they are standing nearly nose to nose. Weiss is suddenly very aware of how close they're standing together, chests rising rapidly as they both breathe hard. Blake smells like mint and rum and musky sex, and Weiss hates that it turns her on a little.
Wait. Where had that come from?
Weiss don’t know, but now it’s all she can think about, how completely hot Blake looks right now, sexy and sloppy and charged. She feels the air charging between them, the tension in Blake’s eyes evolving, the potential. Was Blake… going to try and kiss her?
Blake’s phone chirps and they are both pulled back to reality, away from the maddening, tantalizing possibility. Weiss remembers that she hates Blake, her terrible habits and her shitty attitude, and Blake takes a step back and checks her phone. Her brow creases.
“What is it?” Weiss asks, trying to scrub the breathlessness from her tone.
“It’s… Yang…” Blake says slowly. “She wants to go out tonight. With you.”
“What?” Weiss head jerks up, startled.
“And another girl,” Blake finishes. “It’s a double date.”
“Way to bury the lede,” Weiss whines. She’s still rattled from being pulled into too many directions.
“Do you want to go or not?” Blake asks.
“I…” Weiss fully intends to say no. The idea of Blake rubbing Yang in her face all night sounds like a nightmare, especially after… whatever had just happened between her and Blake. So Weiss surprises even herself when she says, “Sure.”
Blake looks truly shocked, but she quickly covers it up. “Cool. They want to meet up around ten.”
That gives Weiss the rest of the day to weigh her decision-making skills.
Yang wants to meet up at Sneaky Dees, a loosely tex-mex restaurant near the university campus that is famous to kids in the city for is cheap pitchers and enormous servings of nachos and those outside the city for being included in the Scott Pilgrim universe. Yang waves from a table near the back, looking like human sunshine in a yellow sundress with tiny sunflower shaped buttons running up the front. Sitting next to her is a woman that Weiss recognizes as the cool manager from Patch Coffee, the fashionable one. Coco, that’s what her name is. Weiss can see that she’s on brand in a boxy, oversized shirt with shoulder pads and a dripping pattern of black and gold sequins. Blake and Weiss make their way over to the table.
“Hey!” Yang says brightly. “You made it!”
“You invited us,” Weiss points out.
Blake shoots her a glare, but Yang just shrugs good naturedly. “You guys know Coco, right?”
Coco waves lazily, her eyes zeroing in on Weiss. “Hey. How’s it going?”
“Fine, thank you.” Weiss and Blake take their seats across from Yang and Coco. Weiss smiles, suddenly feeling a little awkward. Double dates.
Yang and Blake, meanwhile, are making dorky googly eyes at each other. Weiss rolls her eyes, and Coco catches her expression and smirks. In that instant, Weiss the profound feeling that Coco can read every thought in her mind, and it strangely makes her like her more.
They order pitchers and nachos, because that’s what you do at Sneaky Dees, and Weiss spends the next ten minutes getting to know Coco while Yang and Blake flirt beside them. Coco is cool: self-assured, funny, and a little bit arrogant, but with the goods to back it up. Weiss could see herself thrilled to be on a date with somebody like her… if only Weiss could stop sneaking glimpses at Blake and Yang. They look at turns comfortable with, charmed by, and obviously attracted to each other, and it makes Weiss miserable. She knows there’s a difference between an actual budding relationship and a casual crush, but that doesn’t mean she likes seeing it play out in front of her.
Blake is doing this on purpose, Weiss is sure of it. She’s graduated from destroying the balance of Weiss’s space to actively make her life a living hell. As Weiss privately builds up a head of steam surrounding this narrative, she loses the thread of the story that Coco is telling her. She’s just looking at Blake and Yang now, the laser focus of her hate and desire.
Yang notices her first. “How’s it going, Weiss?” she asks, friendly and open.
Weiss is derailed. She’s flustered. She plasters a smile to her face. “Well, thank you. I finished a project earlier this week that I’m quite pleased with.”
“You didn’t tell me you’d finished something,” says Blake.
“When do I ever tell you about my work?” Weiss asks, puzzled. She has no idea what is going on here. Blake never asks Weiss about her art, and vice versa. When Blake had first moved in, Weiss had briefly fantasized about living with another artist, talking technique and inspiration into the small hours of the night, but it had been quashed as soon as she had learned what a gremlin Blake was. Was Blake putting on a show for Yang?
But Blake looks genuinely hurt, and Weiss files this away to wrap her head around later.
“That’s great!” says Yang, not registering any of this. “You must have had some killer inspiration, huh?” she winks broadly, an obvious reference to the life drawing class they’d shared.
Weiss wills herself not to blush. “It was a very interesting class,” she says formally.
“I’ll say,” Blake jokes, making eyes at Yang.
But Yang isn’t looking at Blake right now. She’s staring at Weiss instead, purple eyes quizzical, combing out a question. Weiss feels… extremely seen.
“Why didn’t you come talk to me after class?” Yang asks suddenly. Everyone at the table is looking at her now.
“Um.” Weiss hadn’t expected the question. “What?”
“I mean, you recognized me too, didn’t you?” Yang asks. “You should have come say hi.”
“I… I didn’t want to be rude,” Weiss says carefully.
Blake makes an offended noise, as though Weiss is implying that she was rude since she had gone and talked to Yang.
“I didn’t want to bother you,” Weiss says quickly.
Weiss finds herself caught in Yang’s purple stare; she can’t help herself. Yang pins her, hypnotizing, and suddenly Weiss is fantasizing about the three thousand versions of the universe where she and Yang are sitting together here alone, hands roaming against each other’s skin underneath the table.
Yang looks just as stunned, and Weiss doesn’t know how far the moment will stretch, how far she wants to let it, when Blake makes the decision for them both by angrily clearing her throat and standing up.
“I’m going to the bathroom,” Blake says stiffly, emotion radiating off of her. She leaves before anybody can respond.
Weiss, Yang, and Coco all exchange a glance. Yang looks as astonished as Weiss feels. Coco looks a little bit like she would happily punch them both out for dragging her out tonight.
“Maybe I should go after her,” Yang says after an endless, awkward moment.
“No,” Weiss is already standing up. “I’ll go. We got into kind of a fight earlier.”
Yang and Coco shrug, accepting this easily, and Weiss weaves her way back to the bathroom.
The bathroom of Sneaky Dee’s isn’t the prettiest place in the world: Grungy lighting, graffiti everywhere, band stickers lining the mirror like old fashioned vanity lights. Blake stands by the sinks, leaning forward and gripping the counter, knuckles white.
“Blake?” Weiss calls hesitantly. She never thought she’d be stumbling into the bathroom to comfort Blake Belladonna. “Is everything okay?”
Blake’s head jerks up. Her eyes meet Weiss’s in the mirror; Blake scowls.
“I never said I needed a check-up.”
Weiss sighs and steps closer. “I know. But you seemed upset.”
“What?” Blake turns around and cocks her head, defensiveness making her mean. “I’m supposed to love watching you flirt with my date?”
“I was not.” Weiss gasps at the indignity.
Blake runs her hand through her hair. “Sure you were. I guess I deserve it. I always thought you’d be too uptight to hit back, though.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Weiss snaps.
Blake laughs, a dry, bitter sound. “Nothing. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be back in a minute.”
Weiss doesn’t leave. She takes a step closer. There’s a layer to Blake right now, something new and vulnerable that Weiss has never seen before. Weiss is curious. She feels… strangely tender towards this version of Blake.
“What’s wrong?” asks Weiss. Her voice sounds small and young.
“Don’t worry about it,” says Blake, a locked gate, a closed book.
“I’m sorry I flirted with Yang,” Weiss says, because it’s true. She had been thinking about Yang in terms that weren’t exactly platonic, and she hadn’t been keeping it a secret. Yang’s vivid response… Weiss feels a mild tingle start to grow in her body when she thinks about it, but she pushes it aside. Other priorities. “I’m sorry I—”
“You think this is just about Yang?” Blake spits. “You think that’s the only reason that I’m upset?”
Now Weiss is more confused than ever. “I’m sorry, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she says, wrapping her reeling emotions up in a bow of formality.
Blake’s face falls. Her lower lip trembles. “I’m serious, don’t worry about it,” she says, turning away from Weiss. “Go back to Yang and Coco.”
“No.” Weiss takes the final step and lays her hand on Blake’s shoulder. “I’m not going until you talk to me.”
Blake’s shoulders stiffen and then relax. When she turns around, her eyes are huge and filled with an uncharted kind of agony. “Weiss—” Blake breaks off with a strangled cry. She takes Weiss’s face in her hands and kisses her.
Weiss gasps, and Blake swallows it. Then it’s all instinctive reaction; Weiss’s body pressing up against Blake’s, their mouths opening, their tongues meeting. Blake slams Weiss into the wall and keeps kissing her, and molten arousal is running through Weiss, her body crying yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
It’s a truth that Weiss has been stuffing down for weeks: She wants Blake, in an angry, animal way that Blake is begging her to give into, that Weiss is begging to succumb to. Blake rests her hand lightly on Weiss’s throat, her thumb against Weiss’s pulse point, and Weiss whimpers and falls over the ledge.
Yang sits in five minutes of truly awkward silence before she speaks. Coco waits exactly one minute before she starts scrolling through her phone and ignoring Yang.
“Do you think it’s weird that we are both sitting on the same side of the table?” Yang asks.
Coco looks up from her phone and glares at Yang. “Are you a fucking moron?”
“Jeez! Okay.” Yang holds up her hands defensively. “You’re right. It’s more European this way. Don’t have a cow, man.”
The latter phrase usually never fails to draw a smile out of Coco, but it doesn’t work this time, which means she must be really annoyed with Yang.
“What did I do?” Yang whines, and then thinks better of it, remembering her eyes locked on Weiss, the hot and cold shivers it had sent through her. “To you,” Yang adds quickly.
“Bitch, why did you even ask me to come tonight?” Coco asks, and there’s basically steam coming out of her ears now.
“Um, double date?” Yang says, like it's obvious. “Kind of weird to have if it’s just a three…s…” Yang trails off when Coco quirks an eyebrow, and her implications come crashing down on Yang like a piano or an old fashioned safe. “Oh, come on.”
“Yang, both of those girls are into you.” Coco sets her phone facedown on the table, which is how Yang knows she means business. It even buzzes, but Coco doesn’t pick it up.
Yang wants to deny this, but a teeny, tiny part of herself knows that Coco is right. “So what, I have to choose?” Yang asks. What a major drag.
“No…” Coco taps her phone with her index fingernail, annoyance giving way to fascination with the salacious. “No, I don’t think you do.”
“Coco, I know we like to joke about not hating the player, but I’m not going to date two roommates at the same time. That is too rich for my blood.”
“I’m not saying that, either,” says Coco.
Yang still doesn’t get it. “Then what are you saying?”
Coco’s phone buzzes again. She picks it up this time, takes about a billion years to answer her texts. When she speaks again, it’s to tell Yang, “I’m taking off. Velvet says there’s a Lavender party up in the village and I’m going to go meet her there.” Coco stands up and grabs her handbag. She pulls on light cotton gloves, because she thinks it’s gross to touch subway poles raw. “Do not invite me out on one of your dates ever again. Coco Adel is not a third wheel.”
The wheels are starting to turn in Yang’s head, but it’s like the gears are caked with rust. Blake… and Weiss? It’s too big an idea, too wild.
Coco takes pity on Yang before she leaves and leans over to cup Yang’s cheek with her gloved hand. “I’m saying that they both want you at least as much as they want each other and do you see what I am getting at Yang Xiao Long?”
Yang gulps. She nods.
“Good.” Coco walks out without technically saying goodbye, Chanel no.5 wafting behind her.
Yang is left alone and dumfounded, with two mostly full pitchers of beer. She fills her glass and then downs it in three swallows. Okay. Now she was ready to deal with this.
Yang has had threesomes before —she’s not a ninth grader— but something about this feels different. Special. Like if Yang can pull this off, she won’t just be going to bed with them, she’ll be dating them. Both of them. It’s too wild to wrap her head around, that both of her crushes would be crushing on her as well, that life could actually line up so neatly. Like, what kind of off the wall L Word fantasy did Yang think that she was living in?
Yang fills her glass to a half pint and takes another gulp of terrible house beer. Whether Coco was right or just looking for a dramatic exit, Yang is growing certain that whatever the result, she needs to go and find out for herself.
When Yang stands up, she gets a head rush and realizes that she is a little tipsy. Well, good. She’ll need to be. Her steps are still straight and even when she heads errantly towards the bathroom, swings open the door, steps inside.
Weiss and Blake are in there, plastered against the wall and making out hard. Yang’s jaw drops. She can’t seem to look away. Weiss’s leg is hooked around Blake’s waist, and Blake’s fingers are sliding up under the lacy hemline of her white crocheted shorts. They’re kissing like they’re never going to need to breathe air again, and Weiss keeps making these little whimpering noises that are driving Yang crazy, so she has no clue what they must be doing to Blake.
Blake’s hand slides higher up Weiss’s thigh, and Yang suddenly realizes that this about to become a lot more than just making out, and since she’s not exactly ready to add surprise voyeur to her resume, Yang clears her throat. Twice.
Weiss and Blake fall away from each other, and when Blake registers that it’s Yang standing in front of them, she looks mortified.
“Oh man,” Blake breathes. “Yang, I’m so sorry.”
Yang doesn’t say anything. She looks to Weiss, whose eyes are flicking back and forth between Blake and Yang like she’s watching a tennis match. Her lips are red and kiss bitten, her hair in two long braids that are starting to unwind.
Yang hopes that Blake isn’t mistaking her silence for anger. Truthfully, Yang is gathering her nerve. If she really is going to go for it, now looks like a pretty golden opportunity if there ever was one. If Yang can pull this off, she will be her own hero. And if she makes an ass of herself, well…. They’ll probably find a new coffee shop, right?
Yang clears her throat again. “That’s okay,” she says, trying to sound confident. Doing… not the worst. “I did flirt with her first.”
Weiss ducks her head and bites back a smile, and Yang feels a rush of affection. She was so cute.
Blake is smiling a tiny bit, that smile of hers that is the strangest blend of mysterious and mischievous, the one that makes Yang’s head dizzy, makes her want to bite down on Blake’s lower lip and grind up against her.
“So, um.” Yang psyches herself for the final push. “Is this a private party, or are dates invited?”
Blake and Weiss exchange one astonished, wide eyed glance. It ignites immediately. They turn back to Yang, and two sets of arms open to embrace her.
Blake has no idea how they all grope their way back to the apartment. All she knows is that after Weiss comes back to her senses, she snaps, “I am not fucking in this grody bathroom,” and well, she makes some points.
So maybe they take the streetcar. Maybe they walk and cross through the park. Maybe they take an Uber. The only thing that matters is that soon they’re all tumbling through the front door of the apartment together and piling into Weiss’s bed because it’s the biggest. Trading kisses all the way, tearing off each other’s clothes the moment they can. Blake actually rips the top four buttons of Yang’s sundress, and Weiss makes a disgusted noise.
“Blake. That is so rude.”
“I don’t mind, really,” Yang says cheerfully.
At the same time, Blake scowls at Weiss. “Shut the fuck up,” she tells her, before kissing her hard. Weiss moans and arches towards Blake, wriggling out of her shorts. Yang is in only her underwear and a strapless bra now, and Blake needs to catch up, unsnaps the top button of her jeans, and then gasps then Weiss’s hands cover hers and takes over.
Yang comes up behind Blake, and Blake feels her familiar hands slide around her, moving up her bare torso and cupping her breasts. Yang kisses the back of Blake’s neck just as Weiss tears down the zipper of her jeans, and when Weiss slides her fingers into Blake’s underwear, Yang pinches Blake’s nipple hard. Blake gasps; her hips buck and her head falls back against Yang’s shoulder.
They make a trade of touches and moans after that, rolling seamlessly between each other’s arms, working together, working apart. Blake likes comparing Yang’s body, which she already knows (strong, sensual, rich curves and richer moans) with Weiss, who is smaller, paler, breathier. They are both extraordinary. Weiss has a long, jagged scar on her side, and Blake thinks it matches the one that slashes her eye, realizes that she’s never asked for the story behind it. Maybe now she’ll get the chance to. Blake kisses it for now, trails kisses down Weiss’s torso and towards her inner thighs.
Weiss lifts her head suddenly. “Did we lock the door?” she asks as if it is just occurring to her.
“Weiss,” Blake groans. “Shut up.”
For a second Weiss looks like she is about to give a lecture about the ramifications of somebody walking in here unannounced or whatever. Then she changes her mind, a glint in her blue eyes. “Make me,” she says, extra snotty for the effect.
There’s really only one thing to do after that. Blake throws Weiss onto her back and sits on her face. She’s riding Weiss’s eager tongue and biting down on her fist when Weiss starts to jerk and whine, her tongue’s movements growing sloppier. Blake looks over her shoulder and sees Yang’s golden head between Weiss’s legs, and nearly comes on the spot.
They do not fall asleep until the rosy fingered dawn has touched the sky and birds are tweeting on telephone poles.
Blake thinks that she should be unsettled by how easily they shape into each other’s lives afterwards. Yang starts setting aside one large black coffee and one café noisette every morning with little hearts drawn in sharpie on the cups. She comes over after work and takes out their garbage, rolling her eyes and kissing Weiss on the head when she archly tells her that this is not her job.
Weiss grows a little calmer. The post its notes disappear, replaced by cute little notes on the bathroom mirror when Blake or Yang are in the shower and it fogs up with steam. A few weeks in, Weiss shyly asks if Blake would like to come paint in her studio sometime. They spend long quiet evenings there, working side by side.
And Blake… Blake feels happier. She learns that a Blake who is happy doesn’t have an attitude anymore, or at least not as much of one. And while she still doesn’t see what Weiss’s obsession with a clean sink is, she does try to keep her spray paint cans piled neatly in a wicker basket in the corner of the room after Weiss buys one for her.
They carve a life together, and Yang’s drunk prophecy comes true, although Blake and Weiss tease her mercilessly for it when Yang sappily confesses it to them one night.
“Do you believe in destiny?” Blake asks, looking at Weiss dreamily.
Weiss dissolves into giggles, and Yang starts whacking them both with a pillow. Blake shrieks and tries to defend herself, and her heart feels incredibly full.
Weiss Schnee is the rudest bitch that Blake has ever met, let alone shared an apartment with. And god, does Blake love her for it. Their girlfriend Yang isn’t so bad herself – but she isn’t moving in until next week.