Actions

Work Header

Do you want to play a game?

Work Text:

It was a non-descript Saturday in September when the first message arrived. Sterling was sitting on the couch in Bowser’s office at Yogurtopia beside Blair scrolling through her various social media timelines when the DM notification popped up. Blair continued to regale her with her plans for how to find herself the perfect guy during this academic year while she only partially listened. She didn’t recognise the handle: Hodnes laik uf. Never one to ignore potential new connections, she opened the message.

Hodnes laik uf
When I’m alone I think of so many things to say to you but when I have a chance to tell you, I go speechless.

Sterling read the message a couple of times, her intrigue growing as to who would send her such a message out of the blue. Her half attention on her sister had now faded to non-existent.

“Hey Sterl? Sterling?”

Sterling snapped back to the present reality when Blair poked her in the arm. “What?”

“You weren’t listening to me. I thought we discussed this and how your lack of engagement with our communication leads to my belief that you are not interested in how I’m going to make this year the best one yet.”

Sterling’s eyes dropped to her screen again until the screen vanished due to Blair snatching it from her grasp. “Blair! Give me back my phone.”

“Nope. No way.” Sterling tried to grab the device but found herself grasping nothing but air as Blair darted off the couch and across the room.

“Who is hodnes laik uf?”

“I don’t know. I just got the message when you so rudely snatched my phone.”

Blair clicked on the profile only to find it revealed nothing new other than the profile was new having only been created that day. “A secret admirer?” Blair grinned. “Maybe they can help you get back into dating. I know you said you wanted to find yourself or whatever but it’s been months Sterl. You even passed up a date with Chase Holten!”

Sterling rolled her eyes. “He may be nice to look at but he asked in physics class why meteors always land in craters! I need someone who can also stimulate my mind.”

“Or you could just find someone to stimulate…”

“Do not finish that sentence Blair!”

“Fine” She huffed and handed Sterling her phone back. “You should totally message this hotness person back.

Sterling gave her sister a disbelieving look. “Have you forgotten about the whole stranger danger talk we had to sit through about online communications?”

“I’m not saying meet them in a dark alley. What’s the harm in a bit of online flirting?”

Sterling shook her head and gave on last look at the message before closing it.

***********************************

Later that night when Sterling was alone in ger room, she opened the message once more. She had been single ever since the lock-in debacle and hadn’t felt the desire to put herself out there again. IT didn’t help matters that April was always around, her mere presence reminding her of what they had briefly had. Making a decision, Sterling started typing.

SterlingW
You don’t seem so speechless now. What changed?

Only a minute later a reply popped up.

Hodnes laik uf
Maybe the protection that comes from the anonymity of the internet has loosened my tongue…or fingers in this case. When I’m in the same room as you, it just feels like the air has been stolen from my lungs and words just fail me.

SterlingW
So I know you then?

Hodnes laik uf
You do. And no, I’m not some crazy serial killer contrary to what the media portrayals would have you believe.

SterlingW
So who are you?

Hodnes laik uf
I’m not ready to share that…yet. I have a proposal for you. Do you want to play a game?
Have you heard of the 36 questions?

SterlingW
The ones that are meant to create intimacy or make you fall in love with a stranger?

Hodnes laik uf
Yes

SterlingW
Sure. Blair tried it once with Jennings. It didn’t work out so well there. She didn’t even make it through the 36 questions with him.

Hodnes laik uf
Well, Jennings is a little vapid.
Will you try it with me? In the name of science?

SterlingW
The last part requires you to stare into each others eyes for four minutes. How do you propose we do that via messaging?

Hodnes laik uf
If you answer the 36 questions with me, and you want to, I will meet you in person for the last part.

Sterling stared at her phone. Should she do this? Could she do this? There was something intriguing about the person on the end of the messages. The inquisitive part of her really wanted to know if that little spark that had ignited with the suggestion would grow or fade.

SterlingW
Ask your first question.

Hodnes laik uf
OK. One question a day.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

Sterling sat back against her headboard and contemplated the question. Part of her wondered if having Dana as her dinner guest to get answers to questions she still had about their relationship would give her any form of closure. On the other hand, she had answers from her mom and dad, the ones who had raised her and that had been good enough. So who else?

SterlingW
I think I’d have to go with RBG. I’m ignoring the fact that she is no longer with us for the purpose of this question. To have the chance to talk about women’s rights with someone who dedicated such a large part of her life to it is something I couldn’t pass up.
How about you?

Hodnes laik uf
If we are including people who are no longer living, then Harvey Milk. I have toyed with the idea of politics in the future and he was one of the first openly gay politicians elected to office. I’d be fascinated to discuss his work on gay rights and brainstorm how to continue to move things forward. As much as things are better, we aren’t there yet.

Sterling read the message a couple of times before grabbing a notebook from her desk. She wrote ‘Hodnes laik uf’ at the top of the page. Underneath she wrote ‘Might be gay’. She was going to do some good old fashioned detective work and try to reveal her secret messager’s identity.

***********************************
Hodnes laik uf
Question 3 – Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

SterlingW
All the time. I’m actually quite a nervous person and talking to a random stranger on the phone can be daunting. I know I do forensics so you’d think I would be good at public speaking but I usually get myself all tied up and go out in the first round. So if I have an important phone call to make, then I write it down to avoid saying something I shouldn’t or just rambling.
You?

Hodnes laik uf
I have been known to write out a script of how I would want it to go. I just don’t want to make a mistake. It’s not something that is viewed well in my family.

***********************************

Hodnes laik uf
Question 10 – If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

Sterling read that question and didn’t hesitate in her reply.

SterlingW
To have been told the truth about who I am and where I came from from the start. I love my parents and they have given me a great life that I wouldn’t have had otherwise but there’s always a part of me that now questions if people are being totally honest with me. I’d like to not have that doubt.

Hodnes laik uf
I’d want my parents to be more open minded. There are so many aspects of life, my life, that I can’t share with them as they just don’t accept them. I’ve had to hide these huge pieces of myself for so long because of that and I just wish that I didn’t have to. That they would have always accepted me for who I am, and not the image they had of what a perfect daughter should be.

Sterling pulled her notebook out and looked over the page at the various notes she had made. Going back to the first note she made after the first message she crossed out the ‘might be’ and added ‘parents don’t understand her.’

***********************************
Hodnes laik uf
Question 18 – What is your most terrible memory?

Sterling sighed at reading that question. She knew it was coming. After all, a quick Google revealed the list of questions. Part of her had been dreading this one more than many of the others. Should she share the most terrible memory with this sort of stranger who was also someone who she went to school with? Was it worth the risk?

SterlingW
I guess this is where the trust part comes in.
Last year I was kidnapped by someone I thought was my mom. Well, she was my mom but not the one I had grown up with. Once I had been rescued, Dana turned round and dropped the bomb. The parents I grew up with are actually my aunt and uncle and Blair and I are cousins. She was my birth mother. That one sentence she said brought my whole world tumbling down and everything I thought was true, wasn’t. It wasn’t like it had been a good night before that.

Hodnes laik uf
Ok, wow. I had no idea that had happened to you. I mean, I heard rumours but it all just sounded so implausible. I’m sorry…for what its worth.
My most terrible memory is of a conversation…or lecture…my dad gave me after our last visit with my Nana. I was close with her as a child. She had spent a lot of time with me when my parents were too busy to raise their own child. She was the one person I felt could see me for who I am. She consoled me after my first crush broke my heart even if I didn’t know that was what it was at the time. She told me that God always has a plan for us even if others can’t always see it. My dad overheard this conversation and sent me out to the car to wait. I didn’t go to the car. I hid around the corner of the room and listened. He told my Nana that if she continued to fill my head with this ridiculous notion that those intense feelings for other girls was normal, then we wouldn’t be coming round again. She died a month after that and we hadn’t been back to see her.

Sterling could feel a tear slip down her cheek. She wanted to give her pen pal…Correspondent… Secret person…a hug. To have lost someone who seemed to accept her for who she was without even getting to say goodbye due to your own parent’s actions is hard to reconcile. Sterling looked at her notes and added her comment ‘Dad is an ass’.

***********************************

Hodnes laik uf
Question 26 – Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”

SterlingW
My life with. Not just the bits everyone sees but someone I could talk to about my fears and hopes. Someone who would always be honest with me and support me.
You?

Hodnes laik uf
My hopes and dreams with but also someone who would stand by me and help chase away the nightmares.

***********************************
Hodnes laik uf
Question 33 – If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

Sterling had been thinking about what her answer to this question would be for the past day. Of course she had regrets in her life but if she had to pick just one thing that she would regret the most, what would it be?

SterlingW
I don’t know if you remember but the night I was kidnapped, I mentioned it hadn’t been a good night even before all that. I had been seeing someone but nobody knew…except Blair but even she only found out that day. Things with that person went wrong that night. There were a lot of things going on around for both of us and it all just fell apart. They asked me if we could have a someday and I said no. I regret that. I wanted to say yes but it was complicated and instead of explaining it, which would have meant revealing a secret I had been keeping from them, I said no. I haven’t told them yet as I lost that chance that night. It has been too long with that secret now and if they found out, then it wouldn’t matter anyway as that is something they wouldn’t forgive me for.
How about you?

Sterling was surprised at the delay in response. Normally the reply would come back pretty quick. She had always assumed that the girl she was messaging had already drafted her own responses and so they came through quite fast. Tonight, the response didn’t come straight away. In fact, it took almost an hour for the reply to come in.

Hodnes laik uf
I regret not having told someone what they really meant to me and not following my heart. I haven’t told them yet as I spent a long time afraid of what it might mean for me, for us. Part of me thinks that our time has passed and I lost the chance but I’m working on it.
***********************************

Hodnes laik uf
Question 36 - Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

SterlingW
Ok, my problem is that Blair thinks that I need to meet someone new and just get back to dating. She has been pretty insistent about it since school started again. She has visions of me dying alone which is crazy as I’m like 17. She just doesn’t understand that the vast majority of people at school are just not my kind of people. They are either too immature or lacking in intelligence. Sure, I could date one of the ‘hot guys’ but have you ever spoken to them? I swear what they were given in looks was taken from them in intelligence. Maybe I just haven’t met the right person or the time just hasn’t been right.
What’s your advice?

Hodnes laik uf
I don’t suggest you date one of the guys at school. They are rather…lacking in the ability to hold conversations about much outside video games and sports. Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, I should just point out that I have a vested interest in the situation. Blair means well, she just wants you to be happy. She still ties up a lot of her own happiness with being in a relationship so she may not find it easy to understand that you don’t need that validation from being with someone else to be happy. I think you just explain to Blair that you love how she is always so worried about you but that you are finding your own path…and that you are not going to die anytime soon so there’s time.
You seem to be feeling frustrated with your sister’s insistence that you need someone else in your life. Yet you are still hopeful that there is someone who will catch your interest.

SterlingW
Do you want to explain it to Blair? I might just have to read her your response.
Hit me with your problem.

Hodnes laik uf
Are you going to Lorna’s Halloween party still?

SterlingW
Yeah. Blair told me on no uncertain terms that we were going to have fun and consume enough sugar to trigger diabetes by the morning.

Hodnes laik uf
I’ll answer the question at the party…if you still want to take that final step in this science experiment?

SterlingW
I do.

***********************************

Blair had been so excited about the party as in her words, it was time to kick off the shackles of conforming to what a bunch of old white guys said is acceptable and let their inner free spirit out. She had opted for Lara Croft as her costume this year using the justification that she was the epitome of a badass, independent woman who can kick ass. She had also chosen Sterling’s costume on the grounds that they were going to have the best costumes in the place and the standard Halloween options just wouldn’t cut it.

That was how Sterling found herself putting the finishing touches to her makeup while sporting pink and blue dyed parts of her hair and revealing a lot more skin than any of her previous costumes. When Sterling had tried to turn down the character, Blair refused as they were kindred spirits. Both Sterling herself and Harley Quinn needed to stop moping over a failed relationship. Sterling had rolled her eyes at that but conceded when Blair pointed out that she would certainly draw the attention of whoever was going to the party.

When they arrived, Blair made a beeline for the drinks table, dragging Sterling along with her. She handed her sister a coke, not wanting a repeat of the college party they went to the previous year. Sterling cast her eyes around the party. There were a number of Willingham students she could recognise in spite of their costumes. Luke was predictably dressed and Luke Skywalker, complete with lightsabre. Franklin had opted for a hobbit. Lorna was wearing what Sterling could barely classify as a costume as it almost showed off more flesh than they saw when they went to the strip club. Sterling tried to join in with the events of the party without checking her phone too often.

Once the suggestion of the game of truth or dare was made, Sterling made a swift exit to the back yard. She leant against the railing overlooking the pool and closed her eyes to enjoy the quiet.

“So I have a problem.” At the sound of the voice, her eyes opened and she turned her head to be met with…Batwoman. The costume was good. Too good as it hid the identity of the wearer. “I am in love with this girl. Have been for a very long time. A lot longer than I realised until much more recently. But I treated her badly and hurt her. Since then I have tried to forget her and move on but everything always comes back to her. I’m not sure she would forgive me for what I did but I really want her to as I want us to try again. What should I do?”

Listening to that problem, Sterling knew who was under the mask. The voice was one she would be able to pick out from a crowd. “You should talk to her. Tell her how you feel, what scares you. At least then you would know. I can tell you are feeling regret and that the whole thing has brought you sadness. That you are scared about how it will play out and if you are putting yourself out there just to be hurt but you are also hopeful that you still have a chance at someday.”

Their eyes met and they held each other’s gaze. Each sinking into the others look. Time passed. Whether it was four minutes, neither of them knew but when Sterling dropped her eyes to the red lips before her, the time didn’t matter. “I’m scared that I blew our chance at someday Sterl. I’m scared I lost you because I let me own fear of my father dictate who I should be…should be with.” She reached out and gently took Sterling’s hand in her own. “I’m ready to hold your hand, if you still want to?”

Sterling looked down at their hands and shifted her grip so to interlace their fingers. “Are you sure?”

“Never been more certain.”

“I really wish I could kiss you now April.”

April gave her that half smile that made her patella’s quiver. Sterling watched as April turned towards her, her own body following suit. She watched as April’s hand came to rest on her cheek. “So kiss me.”

Sterling’s eyes shot around the back yard. Nobody out there was particularly paying attention to them but if they did this, they could be seen. Everything would change after this moment. But she was done waiting for someday, today was their someday. She leant closer, stopping just mere centimetres from the lips she had craved for so long. “Last chance.” She whispered out.

April closed the distance between them. Their lips moulding together. Sterling felt April’s other arm rest around her waist, pulling her in closer. Lips parted and the kiss deepened. Months of pent up feeling came spilling out. Sterling couldn’t restrain the moan that sounded as their tongues met once more. Her own arms sliding around April’s neck to keep her close. Her whole body felt alight with every nerve ending firing all at once.

They broke apart at the sound of someone whistling. Smiles adorning both their faces. “Do you want to get out of here to continue this away from prying eyes?”

April took Sterling’s hand firmly in her own. “You make a great point.” Giving a gentle tug, Sterling led them out through the party and to the Volt. There was a lot of lost time to make up for and the time it took to walk through the house and back to the car was too long without having contact between their lips.

Sterling smirked at the girl beneath her. “Guess those questions really do work.”