"Nice night, huh?"
Looking up at the evening sky, where the remaining rays of the sun provided just enough light to walk by, Blake let out a content sigh.
"It is. I love this weather."
"Me too. Perfect weather, perfect company!"
As they headed towards their dorm room - crossing one of Beacon's sprawling lawns in the process - Blake stole a glance to her right, then blushed when she realized what she just did. Stealing glances was relatively new to her, but she'd quickly pinpointed where the desire came from.
Yang was beautiful, funny, honest, loyal, and sweet as could be. By now, most of Beacon understood just how kind she was, which made her well-desired by most of their class. Everyone cast glances her way when she walked by. Everyone wanted to be her friend. Everyone wanted her attention. Everyone wanted her time.
Which meant...Blake was just one of the crowd. Just one of many. Her only privilege was being Yang's partner. So, while the more attention-seeking admirers tripped over themselves for Yang's company, Blake had a built-in excuse for them to spend time together.
By now, she thought she'd be more assured in their relationship - yet she stole glances whenever she could, hoping to spot something in Yang's expression that suggested...anything more. Tonight, however, she had a legitimate reason to look at Yang more often than normal - the slight limp in the girl's gait.
"Are you sure you're ok?" Blake asked, her worry growing the longer the injury lingered. "Maybe we should've gone to the clinic -"
"Naw - it's no big deal. I've survived worse!"
The words were meant to put Blake at ease, but it was the smile that succeeded. Bright and genuine, Yang's smile could turn Blake's day around in an instant.
"I'm still sorry..." Blake started to say, but Yang waved off the apology.
"Don't be! It was a really awesome move! I had no idea to expect that hit from behind." Grinning, Yang leaned over to nudge Blake's shoulder as they approached the buildings on the far side of the expanse of green space. "Better watch out though - I'll know to look out for that next time!"
Chuckling at the response and shaking her head, Blake felt some of her worry fade away.
Sparring with Yang was always quite the experience - mostly because she approached every practice with a fire and intensity only those who've fought against her would understand. Blake quickly learned she needed to be exceptionally crafty to survive such battles, which meant she sometimes resorted to unconventional and slightly-damaging tactics. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt her partner, but...Yang always looked so happy when Blake did her best.
"Plans for the weekend?"
Their dorm building loomed in the distance, likely jogging Yang's mind back to the end of the school week.
"Not really. We have that project to work on -"
"Oh, that's right! We'll work on that together, right?"
For some reason, Yang always asked - even though Blake's answer was always 'yes.'
"If you want to..." she replied, sparing another glance at Yang to see how she took the response.
And, as usual, Yang had that little smile on her lips - like she was secretly pleased with something. It was that smile that made Blake's heart flip in her chest while a wave of something she could only describe as affection surged through her.
That little smile was the reason for all of Blake's glances - that smile was the reward for the countless times a day she snuck a look her partner's way. Because, in moments like these, she felt special. She felt like she wasn't just 'one of' the many people after Yang's heart. She felt like...maybe Yang saw her differently than everyone else.
Even though Blake was forced to look away - or be caught staring - the feeling lingered in her for a little while longer. A warm glow that would carry her through the night, until she set out in search of it again tomorrow.
"Hey guys -"
Both of them turned towards the smooth voice and spotted Coco and Velvet walking towards them - likely headed to the practice room Blake and Yang just left behind.
"Hey!" Yang called out with her trademark smile, altering her course to meet up with the two. "Getting some work in?"
"Trying to," Velvet answered with a quick look up at Coco. "We'll see how it works out."
Coco responded with a grin before tapping Yang on the shoulder.
"We're thinking about going into Vale tomorrow night. You in?"
"Oh, uh -" This time, Yang glanced at Blake, who did her best to keep her expression impassive at the sudden invitation. "Actually, already have plans," Yang answered with another smile. "Thanks for the invite though!"
"No problem. You're always welcome to join -"
"Both of you," Velvet added, smiling at Blake while finishing Coco's sentence.
"Yeah, of course." Glancing at Velvet, Coco smiled - or smirked, it was a little difficult to tell.
"What happened to your leg?" she asked, gesturing to the leg Yang leaned her weight away from. "People can see you limping across the quad."
Whereas most students would disagree with any suggestion of personal weakness, Yang laughed and wrapped an arm around Blake's shoulders - making her blush when she was suddenly pulled into Yang's warm side.
"Gotta thank Blake for that. You should've seen the hit she landed on me. I was seeing stars for like five minutes."
The image made both Coco and Velvet chuckle - and Coco reached out to give Blake a high-five.
"I'd pay to see that," she said, smiling at Blake over her glasses.
"I'm pretty sure a lot of people would," Velvet added while she took a single step away. "Maybe you should let us know the next time you practice."
The soft joke was enough to make Coco laugh as she took her teammate's cue and began to walk away.
"Definitely. Good way to make some extra cash."
With waves, the pair turned and set off for the practice rooms, leaving Yang to chuckle to herself in their wake.
"I hope we at least get a cut of that," she joked, sending a bright smile Blake's way before they continued their journey back to the room. For several seconds, they walked in comfortable silence - Yang humming a soft tune while Blake replayed the most recent interaction over and over again.
"You know...you didn't have to do that," she finally said, sneaking another peek at Yang and reading confusion in response.
Even though the conversation had been short, two distinct things stuck out in Blake's mind.
The first was that - regardless of Yang's popularity and superior fighting talent - she always went out of her way to compliment Blake to others. If Blake messed up nine moves out of ten, Yang would take the tenth and brag about it to anyone who'd listen. Her words weren't empty either - she believed what she said, because she believed in Blake's ability.
Yang believed in her.
How could she adequately explain what that felt like? How could she explain how empowering it was that she was not only treasured as a partner, but...respected? And Yang didn't just respect her as a huntress - Yang respected her as a person with opinions and value to offer. Blake refused to think of herself as an empty piece - a trophy to stand beside the hero - and Yang didn't treat her as such. Yang treated her like an equal.
Yet that was just one part of that conversation that stuck out to her.
"You can go out with them, if you want," she said, again noticing how willing Yang was to turn down invitations when they had tentative, less-exciting plans made with one another.
"But I made plans with you!"
"I'm pretty sure it won't take us all weekend to finish that project..."
"You never know! Better safe than sorry, right?"
When Yang smiled at Blake, Blake could swear that the smile was different. But was it just her imagination? Was it just her wishful thinking? Was it just the side effect of the hours upon hours she spent daydreaming about her partner?
Or was it that Yang genuinely enjoyed spending time together?
The words slipped out before Blake thought them through - the result of a cascade of gratitude that she'd probably never have the courage to fully express.
Yang deserved the gratitude, but Blake was unaccustomed to and unprepared for giving it - which is why the words froze her to the step right outside the door to their dorm building.
Coming to a stop in front of Blake, Yang looked confused for a split second but quickly erased the expression with a light laugh.
"Thanks for what?"
That was the simplest answer Blake could come up with on such short notice, and it also appropriately summed up her feelings. She wished she could explain how she really felt - how much she loved being partners, how much she wanted to be the best partner Yang could possibly hope for, how much she wanted to be everything Yang needed - but...a simple 'thank you' would have to do, for now.
Again, Yang chuckled, but this time while running a hand through her long, blonde hair. When her eyes met Blake's, Blake felt a spike of emotions run through her - a rush of feelings from the way Yang briefly held her gaze.
After breaking eye contact for a split second, Yang leaned forward, one arm reaching towards Blake's waist.
Everything happened so fast - but Blake seized the moment, knowing she might never see another one if she didn't take this chance. So, as Yang leaned into her, she didn't shy away - she moved forward and met Yang's lips in a kiss.
When Yang froze in surprise, Blake immediately recognized her mistake and broke away - allowing Yang to pull open the door behind her and hold it for several students to walk outside.
The pair of second years walked out, sending quick glances Blake's way before heading towards the practice rooms. Meanwhile, Blake stared at the ground, her cheeks burning with a flush while she scolded herself for losing track of her emotions. It just seemed like the moment. Of course, she should've known Yang was just being polite and getting the door for the students she'd seen through the glass. Or she should've assumed anything but that Yang was trying to kiss her.
After what felt like an eternity, Yang cleared her throat, but Blake couldn't bear meet her partner's eyes. That was just about the worst move she could've made in that situation. Kiss her partner on the step of the dorm building? Seriously? What was she thinking?
That was a mistake. But she could save this, somehow. Play it off as a joke, or an accident, or...something that wasn't what it was - which were her true feelings escaping at the worst possible time.
When Yang cleared her throat again and shuffled her feet, Blake quickly decided on her plan of action - a joke. Yang appreciated jokes and refused to admit when she didn't understand them. So it was a joke. Just a joke.
With the excuse on the tip of her tongue, Blake tore her eyes from the ground and back to Yang.
That was all she got out before Yang leaned forward and kissed her - this time without the shock of before. It was Blake who stiffened, but the surprise lasted only a second before a wave of feelings spurred her into motion. Yang's soft lips on hers, Yang's warm hand resting lightly on her hip - closing her eyes and letting the feelings wash over her, she reached up and ran her hand through Yang's hair - something she'd wanted to do for quite some time.
A few seconds later, they broke apart - and, again, Blake had no idea what to do. She looked at the ground, then snuck a glance at Yang, then turned back to the ground. Only when Yang cleared her throat again did Blake dare look up - finding Yang smiling through her rampant blush.
Trailing off, Yang shook her head but refused to stop smiling - one of those smiles that made Blake feel special. But this time, unlike the others, it wasn't caught through stolen glances; it was aimed right at her. She was meant to see this. Yang wanted her to see...that she was special.
"So…" she said, feeling an inescapable swell of happiness bubbling up in her chest while waiting for whatever Yang would say next.
"I've wanted to do that forever," Yang finally blurted out. And, this time, it was the words and the smile that eased Blake's worry.
"Me too," she replied, feeling a smile of her own grow when Yang looked pleasantly surprised by the admission.
"Really? That's - uh, wow - then m-maybe this weekend we could...go out to dinner or something? Like, just the two of us?"
Somehow, Blake managed a playful smirk before opening the door and walking inside - giving her cheeks time to lose their blush while Yang hobbled after her.
"Depends -" she teased. "Don't you have plans?"
"I do. But I was told they won't take long, so I can spend the rest of the weekend with you."
Out of habit, Blake stole another glance to her right - but this time Yang caught her gaze and smiled, sending her heart into a flurry of cartwheels.
"I'd love to."