Chapter 1: Introductions
Walking down the halls of Beacon High as Yang Xiao Long must’ve been an experience. Star of the Field Hockey team, surfer on the weekends, and just generally super popular. Everyone knew her name and everyone wanted her attention.
Maybe in a different life, they would have been friends. Played on the same hockey team and laughed on bus rides home and gone to parties together. But Blake had no intention of getting involved in athletics again.
Besides, Blake personally never saw the appeal of all the flocking masses. On both sides really. One: who would actually want to be bothered a million times a day by people who couldn’t all possibly know them? Two: Why would you want the half-hearted attention of someone that barely knows your name?
Or at least that’s what she originally thought. But, as she became accustomed to her new school, she realized that at least one of those things wasn’t exactly accurate. Yang very well might’ve known the name of every single student at Beacon.
Even her. The new girl of all of a week.
Though she found that out in a way she didn’t quite expect.
It was 10:45am on a warm Tuesday at the beginning of the school year when Yang strolled up to Blake’s lunch table and took a seat across from her like they’d eaten together for years. Blake had been alternating between reading her newest book and playing with the food on her tray, barely able to even think about eating lunch so early. Whoever thought it was fine to make the first lunch period that early in the day should have been sued.
Blake raised an eyebrow as Yang threw her leg over the bench and sat right down.
Yang’s long blonde hair fell over her shoulders in waves, her lilac eyes bright and full of energy. She dressed rather casually, despite her popular status; a light grey button up shirt left open with an orange tank top underneath and forest green pants. The sleeves of her shirt were rolled to her elbows, exposing her forearms; one toned and muscular the other metallic, painted a bright yellow and deep black. Blake remembered reading about the accident a few years ago. She’d always found it incredible that Yang had managed to come back from it.
After all, people left sports for a lot less.
Yang shot her a blinding smile. “Hi! Blake Belladonna, right?” She asked, stabbing a straw through the foil top of her juice cup.
Blake stared at her for a moment over the top of her book, trying to decide if it would be too rude to completely ignore whatever was happening. Then again, wasn’t it rude that Yang just… sat down? Blake didn’t have time to come to a conclusion before Yang was talking again, this time a wave of realization washing over her face as her cheeks flushed lightly.
“Sorry,” Yang said, rubbing the back of her neck. “I just… heard there was someone new with that name and I know I didn’t know you yet and no one was over here so I just assumed—” Yang’s eyes widened. “Not that I think you don’t have friends— I just mean, you’re new, right? I— that must kinda suck as a Senior? But it could be—” Yang shook her head. “I’m getting off track.”
“Were you ever on track?” Blake asked with a smirk, put at ease a little by Yang’s flailing.
Yang grinned, relieved. She waved her hands through the air, shaking her head lightly. “Let me start over.” Yang stood up, walked a few feet away from the table, and then approached again, stopping just before the bench as she met Blake’s eye. “Hi, I’m Yang! Mind if I sit here?” She spoke high pitched and dramatically nice, and Blake couldn’t help but chuckle. Yang smiled as she slung her leg over the bench again and sat down. “Thanks! Not every day I meet someone at the school I don’t really know. What’s your name?”
Blake rolled her eyes, placing her book down and leaning against her forearms on the table. “Is there a reason you wanted to sit here and not with your real friends?”
Yang mirrored Blake’s posture, a smirk curling at the corner of her lips. “Well. Not a typical name, that’s for sure. Bit of a mouthful if I’m being honest.”
Blake didn’t say anything. She wasn’t sure what to say. This back and forth was a little easier than she could have anticipated and she didn’t want to risk offending Yang by taking it a step too far. Instead, she simply raised an eyebrow and waited for the girl to continue.
Eventually, Yang caved with a sigh. “Look, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have ulterior motives. But also…” Yang shrugged with a small smile. “I don’t know, moving to a new school your senior year sucks. Figured you could use a friendly face.”
Blake’s heart warmed a bit, a flicker of a smile twitching across her face. She’d forgotten what people – good people – could be like. But she didn’t miss the first part of that sentence either. “Ulterior motives?” Blake cocked an eyebrow. “And what might those be?”
Yang blushed, sitting back a little, her posture a little less carefree and casual. Blake might have even said she looked nervous. “Well…”
“Yang! There you are.”
Blake glanced up to see a short girl with a long white ponytail approaching. She was pretty and preppy, but not without an edge to her. Her eyes were ice blue and Blake would be lying if she said her curiosity wasn’t piqued by the sizeable scar that cut through her eyebrow and cheek. She knew better than to stare and knew better than to ask, but it gave the girl a certain toughness that otherwise Blake might have overlooked; what with the white and blue frills and lace adorning her outfit.
The girl sat down next to Yang and her eyebrows raised as she met Blake’s eye. “Oh! I see you found her already, good.” She popped a grape into her mouth. “Did you ask her yet?”
Blake raised an eyebrow in Yang’s direction. Yang blinked between the two of them for a moment. “Um… no, thanks for the segue, Weiss.”
Blake squinted. Weiss… Weiss… why did…? Oh.
“Weiss… Schnee?” Blake asked, schooling her features to try and remain as neutral as possible.
Weiss sighed. “The one and only, unfortunately.”
Blake shook her head. “But you’re—”
“Inconveniently related to a misogynistic, sexist, racist asshole that runs one of the largest corporations for advanced technology in the world?” Weiss said, more bored than anything else. “Yes. Yes, I am. But I’m less interested in that and more interested in who you are, Blake Belladonna.”
Blake raised an eyebrow. “And who exactly do you think I am?”
“One of the best goalkeepers of our generation,” Yang said. Blake looked at her. Yang’s expression was a little… awed. Perhaps even baffled, as if she couldn’t believe that Yang wouldn’t know who she was. And maybe Blake wasn’t that surprised. After all, not everyone gets invitations to play for the National team.
And certainly not everyone turns those invitations down.
Blake swallowed. “I don’t play anymore,” she said, softly. “Sorry.”
Weiss shrugged. “Well you do now. Tryouts are in two weeks, but you’ll walk on so it’s basically just practice.”
Blake blinked. “I just said I don’t play anymore. I wasn’t kidding. I stopped at my old school and I’m not playing here. Sorry, but I know you have a great keeper. You’ll be fine.”
“Um, no we won’t. And how can you just stop playing?” Weiss asked, looking Blake over. “You are literally one of the most skilled players in the world and I see nothing wrong with you, so… what?”
Blake bit her tongue.
“Weiss, c’mon, we said we’d respect her answer,” Yang said, though Blake could hear the disappointment laced through her tone.
“Not when the answer is bullshit.”
Blake’s jaw set, her eye squinted and hard. “Not all scars are physical.” The words came out in a rush before she could stop them. Clipped and final.
Weiss had the decency to look at least somewhat empathetic, her eyes softening by a margin as she calmed a little. “I know that,” she said, softer than before. “But don’t let them win.” Blake didn’t respond and after a moment Weiss let out a long sigh and shook her head. “I think I’m going to go find Pyrrha and the others. Good luck, Yang.”
Weiss quickly gathered her things, and as she walked away Blake felt her shoulders relax a little.
“I’m… sorry about her,” Yang said after a moment. Blake turned back to face her as she continued. “She means well. It’s just… we’re in a bit of a situation and you are our best bet.” Yang smiled a little. “I mean, you have no idea how pumped I was when I found out you transferred here. I remember playing against you when you still went to Menagerie. You’re insane in the goal.”
Blake smiled for a moment, recalling their crossovers herself. “You weren’t so bad yourself.”
“Some might even say I’m extremely talented,” Yang said with a grin. She shrugged, “but hey, semantics.”
Blake chuckled lightly. “Well, if I remember correctly, Pyrrha Nikos plays goal here. And from the sounds of it she’s still here. I don’t think you need me.”
Yang sighed. “Normally, I’d agree with you. Pyrrha’s a badass. But uh…” Yang glanced across the cafeteria in the direction Weiss had wandered off to.
Over in the far corner, near the snack stand, Blake could make out quite a few faces she recognized.
Weiss Schnee: Fullback. Best at aggravating the hell out of other players by being stubbornly silent on the field. Knowing a little more of her now, Blake was a bit surprised by the silence part.
Ruby Rose: Midfield. Team captain – youngest in school history if you want to get technical.
Nora Valkyrie: Fullback. Can and will drive the ball from one end line to the other.
Coco Adel: Forward. Terrifyingly hard shot.
Velvet Scarlatina: Forward. Most assists. Good at precision and playing against her opponents’ weaknesses.
Penny Polendina: Midfield. Fast as hell and never gets tired. Blake wasn’t entirely unconvinced she was part machine.
And finally, Pyrrha Nikos: Goalkeeper. Insane reflexes and speed, with a will to lead. A true prodigy. Blake remembered seeing her in action. It was one of the few games that ended in a 0-0 tie, and even then Pyrrha had definitely been the better athlete.
She was sitting next to a lanky blond boy, his arm draped over her shoulders for a moment before he nodded at whatever she said and wandered over to the snack line. It didn’t take long for Blake to pinpoint the problem then, what with the way Pyrrha’s lips twitched down and she resettled into her seat, gingerly moving her booted foot into a more comfortable position.
“She tore her Achilles,” Yang said after a moment. “Last practice of summer camp.”
Blake sighed. “That sucks.”
Yang chuckled, humorless. “Yeah. Doc says she probably won’t get back for the season. Any of it.”
The corner of Blake’s mouth twitched into a frown. “It’s her Senior year, isn’t it?” It wasn’t really a question. Blake knew Pyrrha well enough. They’d gone to a few of the same training camps over the years. She knew they were the same age.
“Yeah. But… she’s come to terms with it. Pyrrha’s nothing if not a team player.” Yang cleared her throat, drawing Blake’s attention. “Look,” she said, gaze soft and understanding, “I don’t know what turned you off to the sport but… right now we’re basically looking at no season and half the team is graduating.” She sighed. “And I’m not trying to guilt trip you with that, sorry. It’s just a frustrating position to fill. And trust me, we’ve tried. Nora in the net? Terrifying. But awful.”
Blake looked at Yang for a moment and found the forced smile she put there for the half-hearted joke.
“You don’t have to give us an answer right now,” Yang added after a moment. “There’s still a few weeks left to decide. So, just… think about it?”
Blake hesitated. She wasn’t sure she should get Yang’s hopes up when she was all but certain what her answer would be. Yet there was this look in Yang’s eyes that stopped her. This ounce of hope that she just couldn’t crush. So, she gave her a hesitant smile and nodded. “I… I can’t make any promises,” Blake said. “But I’ll give it some thought.”
Yang smiled. “That’s all I can ask. Thanks, Blake.”
Blake bit her lip to suppress her smile. There was something about Yang’s that was infectious and it made her a little self-conscious. She looked down at her tray. “Don’t mention it.”
There was a moment of awkward silence between them and Blake glanced up again to find Yang staring at her like she wanted to say something. “What?” Blake asked.
Yang quickly shook her head. “Nothing! I guess I was just wondering if… maybe you wanted to sit with us? Maybe getting to know the team might make you feel a little better about it.” She crinkled her nose, leaning in a bit and Blake caught a whiff of her shampoo, sweet and citrusy. “Between you and me, Weiss isn’t the best representation of us all.”
Blake couldn’t help the giggle that escaped her with Yang’s whisper. It had been too long since she’d had this easy kind of conversation. With Ilia it was always… tense. With Sun it was always unwarranted advice. With Adam it was…
Blake cleared her throat, leaning in a little further herself. “You mean blunt questions and semi-judgement isn’t what your entire team is like?”
Yang grinned, eyes lighting up brighter as Blake challenged her back. “Shocking I know. Some of us are even…” Yang looked over at the other table and over her shoulder, her voice lowering to a whisper, “nice.”
Blake chuckled and bit her lip, looking down and back up again. She studied Yang’s features for a moment. The honest curve of her lips, eyes bright and mirthful. Blake felt her cheeks flush slightly as she realized just how close they were, but Yang seemed unaffected as Blake leaned back a bit. She sighed. “Are you sure you want me to—”
“I’m positive!” Yang said. “C’mon, they’ll love to meet you.” And just like that, Yang was up, her hand taking Blake’s as Blake quickly grabbed her things before Yang tugged her gently in the direction of the other lunch table.
Blake pointedly ignored the way her stomach fluttered as Yang’s hand held her own. Or at least she tried to. After all, she’d seen Yang do the same with plenty of other people in the halls. Giving out hugs and high fives and just being affectionate in general. It was the type of person she was, and Blake wouldn’t confuse it for something else. Especially if they might be hanging out for a little while.
As they got nearer to the table, Blake noticed Weiss raise an eyebrow in her direction. “Did she decide to change her mind?” Weiss asked, looking doubtful.
“Play nice, ice queen,” Yang said with a chuckle, letting go of Blake’s hand and taking a seat next to Ruby. “She said she’d think about it and that’s good enough for me.” Yang looked back at Blake over her shoulder and smiled before patting the bench next to her. “Take a seat! Meet the team! Or, uh… some of the team.”
Blake felt her pulse rush, nerves kicking in as her palms grew slick. She quickly slid onto the bench next to Yang and looked around the table. Nora was across from her, absorbed in whatever conversation she was having with a dark-haired boy. Coco was next to him, her arm around Velvet’s shoulders as she whispered something in her ear that made her blush.
On the other side of Nora was Weiss and then the empty space where the blond boy had been. Then, at the end of the bench on that side was Pyrrha Nikos who kindly made eye contact and waved. “Hello! It’s good to see you.”
Blake smiled and gave a nod. “Likewise. I’m sorry about your leg though.”
Pyrrha sighed. “Thanks. I’m just worried about the team now.”
Blake swallowed, eyes flitting to her tray instead as she nodded again. She was fully prepared to wallow in guilt until Yang nudged her with her shoulder and gave her a soft smile.
“Don’t worry about any of it today,” Yang said, smile warm. “Just have lunch with some new friends. And…” She looked around the table as Pyrrha’s boyfriend rejoined the group, then back at Blake. “I do apologize in advance for all the couples at this table. They’re all sickening in their own ways,” Yang said with chuckle that made Blake smile. “But stick with me and we’ll get through it together.” And then she winked before going back to her meal and Blake was annoyingly flustered.
“You must be Blake! I’ve heard a lot about you!” Blake was snapped out of her stupor by the rapid-fire comments coming at her from one Ruby Rose. She’d never played against her, but Ruby was always one to watch. “Yang said you were picked to be on the National Team! That’s so cool! I’ve always wanted to get that good one day. How did you even try out? They don’t tell us that kind of stuff here and I—”
“Easy there, little sister,” Yang said, laughing softly as she gently nudged Ruby back into her spot on the bench from where she had been leaning over Yang. “She can’t answer you if you rapid fire at her.”
“You’re sisters?” Blake asked, eyebrows raising.
Yang nodded, speaking around a fry in between her teeth. “Half, if you want to get technical.”
“Wow, Yang,” Ruby said, hand over her heart. “And here I thought we were so close.”
Yang laughed, slinging an arm around Ruby’s shoulders and mussing her hair. “You know I love you, Rubes.”
The corner of Blake’s mouth twitched up at the sight, as Ruby shoved Yang away with a groan, running her fingers through her hair. “Yang! You know it takes forever to get it just the right amount of messy…”
Yang laughed, turning back to her tray. “You’re right,” she said. “I can’t believe how long you hog the mirror in the morning literally messing up your hair.”
The two continued to bicker as the rest of the table fell into steady conversation, Blake content to sit back and listen until the bell rang and everyone started to clear out.
Yang walked with Blake to the trashcans. She was silent for a moment before speaking up. “Y’know,” she said, not looking at Blake as she spoke, “there’s going to be a party at Nora’s on Friday.” She glanced over at Blake for only a second before looking away again and shrugging. “You should come by. Get to know everyone a bit. Even if you don’t join the team… maybe you could just make some friends?”
Blake studied her a moment as they placed their trays on the window of the kitchen and started to head towards the exit. She had never gone to many parties back at her old school. She’d always gone out with Adam instead and on the few occasions she was able to attend the parties her teammates held, he’d always tagged along. She only took him to a couple before realizing it was probably best to just not go at all.
But that was when Adam was even a blip on Blake’s radar.
She nodded. “Sure.”
Yang lit up and if Blake hadn’t been sure this was the right choice before, she was sure it was then. “Great!” Yang said, pulling out her Scroll as she came to a stop next to the wooden double doors of the cafeteria. “What’s your number? I’ll text you the address.”
Blake gave a small smile as she rattled her number off to Yang, who quickly typed it into her Scroll and sent Blake the address.
“And now I have your number. So expect terrible memes at 1 a.m.,” Yang said with a smirk as she pocketed her Scroll.
Blake rolled her eyes, but her smile was still there as she brushed past Yang and into the hallway. She looked over her shoulder with a grin. “Expect no response,” she said before turning back around and walking towards her next class; only laughing for a moment when she heard Yang’s call of “We’ll see about that, Belladonna” in the distance.
Yang 1:00 a.m.: * image attachment*
Blake 1:03 a.m.: well… you’re certainly punctual
Yang 1:03 a.m.: and u answered
Blake 1:04 a.m.: 🙄
Yang 1:04 a.m.: lol nite blake
Blake 1:06 a.m.: night
Chapter 2: The Party
The next few days went by in a strange blur; Blake somehow finding herself next to Yang more often than not. They sat together at lunch, in chemistry class, hung out during gym. Yang was acting as if they’d been friends forever; slinging her arm around her shoulders in the hallway, meeting her at her locker… and part of Blake even bought it. There was something about Yang that was just… gravitational. And utterly genuine.
No. It wasn’t just something about her, it was everything about her. And the thought that someone could be so kindhearted was a welcome change. Maybe they could be friends… even if the whole hockey thing didn’t work out.
Before Blake knew it, it was Friday afternoon and she was packing away the last of her books into her locker when Yang came flying into the one next to her with a bang, backpack slung over one shoulder and a broad grin across her face. Blake jumped a little at her chaotic entrance, but she managed to keep her composure.
“Ready for tonight?” Yang asked, buzzing with an infectious sort of excitement.
Blake shut her locker, a small smile tugging the corner of her lips. She looked up at Yang. “Yeah. Should be fun.”
“For sure! Nora’s parties are always the best. I think it’s probably because she gets Ren to do all the cooking,” Yang said with a smirk as they started walking down the hall.
“He’s good at it?”
“Amazing! Mostly pancakes, but hey, who’s complaining about that, right?”
Blake chuckled lightly and the conversation fizzled to a stop as they walked on. The silence could’ve been awkward if not for the sea of people chatting around them, ready for the weekend.
Yang cleared her throat after a moment and when Blake looked at her she seemed a little nervous, not meeting her gaze as she spoke. “I know you usually take the bus, but if you want to hang out, I could just give you a ride to Nora’s in a bit.” Yang shrugged. “Up to you! I just figured that way neither of us have to worry about being the first one there or anything, y’know? That’s always awkward.”
Blake didn’t really know, honestly, but she did like the idea of showing up with Yang more than the idea of showing up alone and risking Yang not being there yet, so she nodded. “Yeah. That’d be fine.”
“Awesome. My bike’s this way so—”
“Your bike?” Blake asked, a smirk curling at the corner of her mouth. “Am I supposed to ride on the handlebars or something?”
Yang grinned knowingly. “I mean, not the safest way to ride but I’m always up for a challenge.”
Blake chuckled but it didn’t quite click until Yang led her out to the parking lot and she saw the glossy yellow and black motorcycle sitting in the distance. Her eyes widened a bit and she felt her face flush – whether in embarrassment or something else, she’d never tell.
As they neared the motorcycle, Yang dug her keys out of her pocket, twirling them around her finger. “So, I do recommend riding on the back. But if you want to try handlebars—”
“I get it. I misunderstood. Let’s move on,” Blake said quickly and Yang let out a laugh.
“Okay, okay. Here.” Yang held out her hand. “Let me see your bag.”
Once her bag was secured and they mounted the motorcycle Blake hesitated. She’d never ridden on one before but she wasn’t stupid; she knew where – logically – her hands needed to be. But the idea of wrapping her arms around Yang’s waist made her stop short.
“Problem?” Yang asked, barely throwing Blake a grin over her shoulder. Blake took it as a challenge and scooted further forward, securing herself snuggly to Yang’s back.
And with a brief chuckle from Yang they were off.
Being on the back of Yang’s bike was thrilling; the wind lashing across Blake’s cheeks a welcome sting as they cruised down the street under the branches of trees with leaves just starting to change with the seasons. Blake breathed in deep, enjoying the scent of crisp air and the faint citrus of Yang’s shampoo.
…Which maybe she shouldn’t have been enjoying.
She shook off the thought as nothing and watched over Yang’s shoulder as they rode on. Blake wasn’t too familiar with the town yet but it was certainly different than living on the oceanfront. Even though it wasn’t too far a journey to the water, there was no sign of that. The breeze was cool but not cutting as if she were standing on a shoreline. There was no ever-present stench of the sea or shops closed for the season along the road.
But perhaps the change was a good thing. Blake enjoyed the fresh colors, the escape from what she’d known her entire life. Maybe she preferred the browns and oranges and reds of the leaves here as opposed to the bright blue of the water.
It wasn’t until the rattling of the bike below her disappeared that she realized Yang had pulled to a stop.
“You’re a natural,” Yang said, shaking her hair out and running her fingers through it. Blake was glad her helmet was still snug to her head or else her blush definitely would’ve been noticeable at the sight and she definitely would have wanted to crawl into a hole.
Gaining her composure, Blake slipped her helmet off as well. “Is it supposed to be hard?” Maybe it was a silly question but Blake couldn’t imagine being a passenger could be… difficult.
Yang chuckled, undoing her gloves. “You’d be surprised how many people don’t like to lean into turns.” She beckoned Blake with a jerk of her head. “You get off first.”
Blake slipped off the back of the bike, finally taking in their surroundings. She wasn’t sure where they were but it was beautiful. There were trees everywhere and a small body of water off in the distance that Blake could barely make out.
“Beautiful, right?” Yang asked, lips curled into a knowing smirk. She looked out towards the water and let out a sigh as she sat back on her bike. “Thought you might like it.” She paused a moment before continuing. “I usually come out here to run the trails and clear my head. But—” She dismounted her bike and put her helmet on the seat with a sigh before turning to Blake. “I was thinking we could just walk them today.”
Blake offered her a small smile and nod and Yang smiled back softly before leading them in the direction of one of the dirt pathways. They started their walk in silence and Blake was worried that it would stay that way until Yang let out a long breath, tucking her hands behind her head.
“I have to admit, this is a lot nicer than running them,” Yang said with a chuckle, her head tilted up just barely towards the sky, her eyes shut and lashes fluttering lightly against her cheeks.
Blake looked away. “Everything’s better when you’re not gasping for air,” she said.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Yang said and Blake couldn’t help but look back at her, catching the smirk on her lips. Yang opened her eyes and met Blake’s for all of a second before they went wide and her hands dropped to her sides. She cleared her throat. “Anyway, I just thought it’d be cool to have some calm before the storm.”
“Do you expect the party to be that… chaotic?” Blake asked, her fingers slipping into her pockets as she looked at the ground and kicked a stray rock into the nearby brush.
“Not really,” Yang said. “Actually, we’re kind of notorious for throwing the chillest parties. It’s just the personalities that are… a lot. I mean you’ve met Nora.” She chuckled lightly. “But no, you’re more likely to overload on carbs than alcohol. Hope that’s cool.”
Despite every ounce of her being telling her not to, Blake couldn’t help but glance over at Yang’s arm, the news headlines flashing through her head at Yang’s comment. She looked up and saw Yang’s gaze on her, face flushed but understanding. “Definitely cool with me. I’ve… never been much of a drinker anyway.”
“With a record like yours, I feel like you couldn’t afford to be,” Yang said.
Blake sighed. She was right. Hockey had basically become a fulltime job, with camps and training and tryouts and club team and school team; Blake didn’t have time for anything else, especially anything that would make it next to impossible to run sprints in pads at 5am on a Saturday.
Even so, Blake wasn’t sure that was such a bad thing.
“You’re not wrong,” she finally said. “But I think that’s okay.”
The conversation fizzled out with Yang’s hum of agreement and Blake simply continued to enjoy Yang’s company as they walked along the paths of the reservoir.
A few more mundane topics came up between them about the chemistry homework or about what Professor Port said in class yesterday and Blake simply let herself enjoy the afternoon with Yang by her side until the sun began to dip low in the sky and they made their way back to the parking lot and Yang’s motorcycle.
When they got to Nora’s, Blake wasn’t even sure they’d gone to the right place. The atmosphere was relaxed, the only noise coming from the gentle breeze, Yang’s motorcycle, and the whoosh of the occasional passing car. Now, granted, Blake hadn’t attended many of the parties that her old classmates would throw but she was sure they were usually… louder.
Yang shot her a grin as she took off her helmet. “Yeah, don’t let the false sense of calm fool you, Belladonna. The team’s insane. You’ll learn that soon enough.”
Blake raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t you supposed to be convincing me to join the team?”
Yang laughed, shrugging as she slid off her bike. “I’ve learned the best way to convince people is to not convince them.”
“Interesting tactic. Too bad it’s not working.”
“You’re here, aren’t you?”
And normally Blake would never be the first to knock on the door if she could help it but with that comment, she wanted out of this losing conversation. Yang was still laughing when Velvet came to the door.
“Hey, guys. Nora’s…” Velvet looked behind her in the direction of the rest of the house where Blake could vaguely hear some shouts and laughter. “…busy being Nora. But come on in!”
Yang thankfully stepped in first, waiting for Blake to come in behind her as Velvet shut the door and started to lead them to the other room.
The first thing Blake noticed was the smell. It was heavenly. The unmistakable aroma of pancakes and syrup and bacon, and her mouth started watering, stomach growling in protest of a 10:45 lunchtime. As she and Yang got plates piled with food and extended a few hellos, the next thing she noticed were the people; most of which she recognized from lunch, with a few fresh faces among the group that she knew were the rest of Beacon’s field hockey team. An elite bunch, if she was being honest. Blake remembered playing against a lot of them at Menagerie and had to admit they probably gave her the biggest challenge of the teams she faced.
They certainly had the most shots on goal.
“You must be Blake Belladonna! It is a pleasure to finally meet you! Properly, that is!”
Blake looked up mid-bite to be met with yet another over-enthusiastic redhead, Penny Polendia, and had to wonder if it was something in the water. She quickly swallowed and offered a tight smile. “Hi.”
“Ruby says you’re thinking about joining the team. I hope you do. We’re going to lose without you otherwise.”
“Penny!” Ruby cut into the conversation, glancing hard once at Penny before offering an awkward laugh to Blake and waving off the comment. “She’s kidding. There’s no pressure.”
Penny’s brow furrowed and she shook her head. “But you said our season would be the ‘most epic of fails’ if we couldn’t convince—”
Ruby’s face lit up in a blush as she clamped a hand over her friend’s mouth. “Excuse us a second!” And as quickly as they’d come they were gone, back into the small crowd of people hanging over the couches of Nora’s living room.
Yang sidled up next to Blake, nodding. “I see everyone is being subtle and welcoming.”
Blake sighed, placing her plate of food on the counter. “Maybe this was a bad idea.”
Yang’s plate joined hers on the countertop as she felt smooth metal glide against her forearm. Blake looked up and met her gaze, soft and apologetic, and Blake pointedly ignored the swooping feeling in her chest.
“I think maybe I should just… get home,” Blake said.
“Any way I could convince you to stay?” Yang asked.
Blake squinted, not harshly, simply confused. “Why do you even care so much?”
Yang’s cheeks flooded with color and she looked away with a shrug. “'Cause… I thought we were kind of friends?”
Blake chuckled humorlessly, gesturing to the room full of people. “You already have plenty of friends, Yang.”
Yang sighed. “I know, it’s just… I don’t know?” She shook her head and let out a small chuckle. “I want to be your friend, I guess. God, what is this, grade school?”
Blake chuckled, looking around.
“Just a bit longer? I promise they’ll lay off.” Yang’s eyes were wide and pleading and Blake didn’t have the heart to crush her when it was only for a night, so she nodded with a playful roll of her eyes.
Yang’s smile in return was worth it. And honestly, as the night continued on, she was glad she stayed. It had been awhile since Blake had felt a part of something, even on her old team she always felt a bit like the odd one out, but here, she felt like a part of the team. And maybe that was something Blake hadn’t realized she was missing.
About an hour in, Yang had taken to playing a game of ping pong with Ruby, Coco, and Velvet and Blake had settled back against the wall to watch the chaos unfold. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been so surprised at how quickly it turned competitive, given the fact they were all athletes, but she couldn’t help but find it a little silly just how serious they all took it.
“Yang is certainly in rare form today.”
Blake looked over to see Pyrrha leaning against the wall next to her, crutches tucked against the crook of her arm. She looked back over at Yang with a small smile. Yang was arguing with Coco over something; dramatically retracing the path of the ball, exasperated, as Coco crossed her arms and raised an unimpressed eyebrow from across the table.
“Is she not usually like this?” Blake asked. From what she could tell, this was entirely Yang. At least the Yang she had come to know over the past week. The thought was a little jarring, that they’d only known each other a week, Blake felt like it’d been so much longer.
Pyrrha chuckled. “Well, no, she is. She just seems to be… playing it up today.” Blake wasn’t sure what to make of that. But before she could reply, Pyrrha continued. “So, how are you liking Beacon so far?”
Blake took a moment to look around the room; at Nora and Jaune facing off in a pancake eating contest, at Ren sitting in the corner shaking his head, at Weiss staring at the now “heated” argument between Coco and Yang as she sipped at her drink. “It’s… certainly different than Menagerie,” she said with a smirk.
Pyrrha gave a light chuckle. “Of that, I’m sure. There’s a reason I wanted to attend Beacon, you know?”
Blake’s brow furrowed and she looked over at Pyrrha. “You chose to go here?”
Pyrrha nodded. “I was supposed to attend Atlas. But,” She looked around the room with a fond smile, “Beacon has a way of offering you something more than you could ask for. Even if you don’t know it yet. For me, it was a chance to make a name for a school that deserved it, for others…” she looked off at Weiss, “a chance to make their own name,” she looked at Nora, “or find a family.” Pyrrha turned her attention back to Blake, expression thoughtful and perhaps slightly knowing. “I wonder what this place has in store for you.”
“Blake!” Blake perked up as Yang ran up to her, sweaty and out of breath, hair pulled up into a haphazard ponytail she still managed to make look good. “Want to play a match? I think Ruby’s holding me back.”
“I heard that, Yang!” Ruby shouted.
“You were supposed to!” Yang called back over her shoulder, before shooting Blake a smile. “What do you say, Belladonna?”
Blake looked behind Yang at Coco and Velvet. Coco lounged with an arm around Velvet and a lollipop settled lazily in the corner of her mouth, looking far too confident. A rush of competitiveness she hadn’t felt in a while rushed through Blake’s veins and she smirked, looking back up at Yang only briefly before walking over to the table and picking up one of the paddles. She took the ball and bounced it against the table a few times as Yang happily settled next to her.
“Volley for serve?” Blake asked.
“Nah, you guys can start,” Coco said with a smirk. “Consider it your head start.”
Blake raised an eyebrow. “Oh, that’s not needed. But just remember that when you lose.”
Yang snickered next to her and she served before Coco could even think about trying to have a comeback.
The tension in the game built with every point and change of service and suddenly Blake realized just why Yang had sweat rolling down her forehead earlier. She’d had her fair share of silly competitions but this was something else.
She let out a steadying breath as she put the ball into play again and again, with every volley feeling more confident with Yang by her side. They made a good team, playing to each other’s strengths and making up for the other’s weaknesses and slowly they neared match-point. Blake swore she never had a game of ping pong be so heated but now she was just determined to win, because she had a feeling there would be absolutely no living with Coco if they lost now.
“Match-point, Belladonna. We got this,” Yang said, her smile cheerful and face glowing as she brushed her bangs out of her face.
Blake was grateful for the fact she had an excuse for the blush on her face as she turned to face the table instead. She looked up at a winded Coco and Velvet and smirked. “It was a good try,” she said, voice just teasing enough to probably be infuriating and she heard a few “ooohhhs” from the small group around the table as she shot the serve off.
She half expected to end it there. Her serve was mean and had a curve on it that would put Beckham to shame but Coco was quick and managed to smash it back.
Anyone else would’ve missed it, Blake thought. But the thing about ping pong was it relied on reflexes, and Blake had those in spades. So, the fact she returned it lightning fast with just as much power was only a shock to everyone else paying attention.
There was a second where everyone had to play catch up on what happened as the ball skipped off the table and into the far corner of the room but as soon as two and two were put together Coco groaned, tossing her paddle onto the table, and – well Blake’s not sure what everyone else did – because next thing she knew Yang’s arms were around her waist and she was being twirled in a circle and every other sound was drowned out by the pounding of her heart.
Yang sat her back down on the ground and pulled back with a beaming smile and laughter on her lips. “That’s it,” she said, “it’s official. We’re the new dream team!”
“Get over yourself, Xiao Long,” Coco said with a roll of her eyes.
Yang pointed across the table at her, slinging her arm around Blake’s shoulders. “We’re the first team to beat you two in like two years. I’m taking it!”
Coco rolled her eyes again, and met Blake’s gaze instead. She offered her a quick nod and a smirk. “Good game, new kid,” she said before leaving the table and for some reason that actually felt like a really big compliment.
“You’re really amazing, you know that?” Yang said, and Blake had to take a moment to make sure she was, in fact, speaking to her.
Blake set the paddle down on the table with a laugh, sure her face was flushing again. “It’s ping pong, Yang.”
“But that was like… advanced ping pong.”
Blake shrugged. “I guess.”
Yang’s responding silence made her uneasy, so she looked up at her. Yang was studying her, like she was genuinely confused about something but she quickly looked away as their eyes met. “Right. Well, water?” Yang asked, pointing back over her shoulder.
They grabbed two cups of water and made their way out onto Nora’s back porch to cool off. The sun had completely set and the slight chill of the late summer air felt refreshing against Blake’s skin as she settled onto one of the stairs.
Yang sat down next to her and without hesitation lifted the bottom of her shirt up to wipe the sweat from her face with a sigh. Blake would love to say she instantly looked away but that would be a complete fucking lie. She did, however, manage to pry her eyes away from Yang’s toned abs once her shirt was back in place. Which, yes, not the ideal but hey, it was getting late and she was getting tired and her adrenaline was still high from winning. She just hoped Yang hadn’t noticed.
They sat in silence for a moment, sipping water and listening to the crickets chirping in the distance and the small commotion of the party still full of energy on the other side of the sliding glass door.
“You’re… competitive,” Yang said after a moment, and Blake couldn’t help but laugh.
“So observant,” she said with a smirk, bringing her water to her lips.
Yang chuckled. “No, I just mean… like… you’ve got a fire in there and I’m just curious.”
Blake’s face heated up and she was thankful it was dark so hopefully Yang couldn’t tell. “W-What do you mean?”
Yang sighed, the corner of her lips tugging down. “I just mean I wonder why someone with so much drive and that mean competitive streak would ever… y’know…”
“Quit?” Blake offered. And maybe she should’ve been a little more offended over the implication but even in the short time she’d known Yang, nothing had ever been said in judgement or with malice and she was inclined to believe this wasn’t either.
Yang sighed again, shifting a little in her spot next to Blake. “I mean… yeah.”
Blake nodded and took a sip of water before answering. “I stopped loving it,” she said simply.
“Just like that?”
Blake tensed, because of course it wasn’t ‘just like that’ but there was no easy way to talk about why and it all seemed a little too heavy for post-ping pong victories.
“I’m sorry,” Yang said, shaking her head, “I didn’t mean to pry.”
Blake let out a long breath. “No. It’s… it’s a fair question. It’s just a long story.” One she thought Yang would be better off not knowing. One she was better off not sharing.
“Yeah, it’s cool, I get it.” Yang paused a moment, her thumb trailing lazily over the condensation on the outside of her cup. “It’s just a shame.”
Blake sighed. It was a shame. A shame that she ever let Adam into her life. A shame she let him taint the one thing she was good at. She was good at it right? No. Of course she was. She’d accomplished more than he ever would and… and maybe she needed to hear it from someone else.
She swallowed thickly, looking at Yang. They’d only known each other a week but Yang had so thoroughly planted herself in Blake’s life and Blake wanted to trust her. And if she wasn’t going to join like Yang wanted, she felt the least she could do was give her a reason.
She let out a large sigh, placing her cup down on the step next to her and lacing her fingers together as she leaned forward, elbows on knees, looking out into the unlit backyard. “I started playing when I was super young,” she started, then glanced at Yang with a grin. “You probably already know all that though.” They shared a short chuckle as Blake continued. “Anyway, as I got older, I really went all in on training.” Blake smiled back at the memories. “I was good and it was fun. And I wanted to be better. I wanted to be the best. So that meant more camps and more coaches. International training even.” She swallowed. “That’s where I met Adam. He was from here, played for the boy’s team at another school and was one of the best in his age bracket, so he’d started coaching that summer.” Blake sighed. “It was all very dramatic,” she said. “He was two years older than me and I was… enamored with him.” She rolled her eyes on the word. She used to call it love but she knew that wasn’t right anymore. “We got close. Really close. I loved his drive and his passion and I got so wrapped up in him I didn’t realize… Everything became a competition. Or a training session. And the funniest thing is… I was better than him. I was always better than him and he couldn’t handle it.” It was the first time Blake said it out loud where she actually believed it. That she was better than Adam and she felt a fire grow in her chest as everything continued to pour out. “He couldn’t handle it and he would tell me everything I did ‘wrong’. That a game could’ve been a shut out if I was just quicker. That I needed to focus more on training and less on socializing. That if I ever wanted to be half as good as him, I’d need to put more work in. And it all became a job. All of it. Hockey. Our relationship. The lines blurred and… when I got the call I made the National team I just…” Blake shrugged. “I didn’t want it anymore. And maybe that’s silly, because it proved him wrong but… it had stopped being fun and if I took the position then it would be a job and I was just so tired. I was tired of playing – especially with people who trained under Adam – and tired of being told I couldn’t and so… I quit both. I turned down the National position and when I told Adam, he said it was good I knew I wasn’t ready, so I ended that too.”
Blake looked at Yang for the first time since she started talking and found she wasn’t looking at her but rather into the distance with a hard look on her face. Jaw set as she nodded.
“That’s why I don’t play anymore,” Blake said, with a finality.
It was silent for a moment and Blake thought that maybe Yang would let it go now. That she’d see it was useless to try and sway her back into playing. That she’d see Blake ran from that past and the people connected to it and never planned on going back.
What she wasn’t expecting was Yang’s response of, “It sounds like you need a rebound.”
It could have sounded insensitive, Blake thought. But somehow – with it coming from Yang – all she could do was laugh. “What?”
“What?” Yang asked, shrugging. “It’s how people fall in love again! Why would this be any different?”
“I—are you…?” Blake was, for lack of a better term, completely floored by the current conversation.
“Am I…?” Yang’s brow furrowed and then her eyes widened. “Wha—no! No! I—I wouldn’t… I meant hockey! Hockey rebound. Love… for sports…um…” She looked away, cheeks very obviously flaring again from where they’d lost their color in the cool night air and Blake couldn’t help but laugh.
“Ah. Well, while I appreciate the sentiment, I think I’ll pass.”
Yang sighed but there was a smile tugging at her lips. “Even after I’ve made a complete fool of myself? Have you no pity?”
Blake smirked. “None.”
Yang sighed. “Well. I won’t push but…” she hesitated as the mood became serious again and she searched for the right words. “I’d just like a chance, Blake. Just one. Just you and me. No one else would know. ‘Cause I can see that spark is still there and… and I don’t want you to lose it over some jackass who couldn’t see how incredible you are.”
Every part of Blake knew that Yang was talking about hockey but she almost wished she wasn’t. Which was very stupid, considering the circumstances. Seriously, had she learned nothing?
“Just give me one morning,” Yang said, eyes wide and pleading. “One morning to make you love it again and then I won’t bother you with it anymore.” She crossed an X over her heart with a smirk. “I swear.”
Blake bit her lip. She knew her opinion wouldn’t change but Yang looked so hopeful. So, before she even realized she was saying it, Blake said, “One morning. That’s it.”
And apparently her half-hearted stern response was enough because Yang was beaming again as she wrapped an arm around her shoulders in a weird side-hug. “Yes! I promise, you won’t regret this.”
Blake sighed with a smile, looking away into the darkness. “Somehow, I already am.”
Chapter 3: Back to Basics
They decided to meet up on the following Saturday at an ungodly hour to ensure they had privacy and Blake started questioning her decision as she rooted around her garage for her gear. She found the oversized purple bag tucked into a corner - where it was meant to stay forever - and tugged it out to the middle of the floor, simply staring at it for a moment before her hands found the zipper.
It had only been a year and yet it seemed like a lifetime as she looked over the gear in the bag, ensuring it was all there.
2 kickers: check
2 leg guards: check
Chest protector: check
Throat guard: check
Gloves and stick: check
And finally, she pulled out her helmet. She sat on the ground, in the middle of her garage, as her fingertips traced lightly over the glossy purple and gold swirls that played amongst the dark black background. She remembered when she got it, starting out her Freshman year, bright eyed and bushy tailed. She’d been so excited. Her parents had really dropped a pretty penny on all of her gear over the years but especially the helmet. And a part of her felt a little guilty that all it did now was sit and collect dust in their musty old garage.
“Blake, honey? Are you okay?”
Blake looked up to find her mother staring at her - still a little groggy - from the doorway and Blake offered her a bashful smile. “Yeah,” she said, starting to slip her gear back into her bag. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
Her mom shook her head and slipped down into the garage with a smile, handing Blake one of her goalie gloves as she haphazardly shoved the rest of her gear away. “It’s alright. Your father was snoring so loud I wasn’t actually asleep anyway.”
Blake chuckled as she zipped her bag shut and stood. Her mother looked at her a moment, taking in – no doubt – her tied back hair, old t-shirt, athletic shorts, and cleats. “When you asked to borrow the car so early, I assumed it was to go sit out at the beach. But I’m guessing that’s a no?”
Blake blushed. “It’s not… I mean…”
Her mother placed a hand on Blake’s shoulder, her smile warm if not a little tired. “I’m glad you’re playing again. You were always so talented.”
Blake felt a rush of anxiety flood her veins at the words. “I’m not,” she said, quickly. “Playing again, that is. It’s just a one-time thing.”
“Of course,” her mom said, nodding as she brushed her thumb over her daughter’s cheek. “Well, have fun then. And be home by two. I need to do some shopping today.”
Blake chuckled and nodded as her mother planted a kiss to her cheek and wandered back into the house. She sighed, gathering her bag and slipping out the garage door.
So much for only her and Yang.
When she pulled into the field’s parking lot, Blake could already hear the music blaring. Some rap song she half-recognized playing over the speakers with half the lyrics missing.
Just as she was about to get out of her car, she caught sight of Yang already on the field; her long blonde hair pulled back into a high ponytail, arms and sides practically bare from the homemade tank top made from an old cut t-shirt. She was messing around and taking shots on the empty goal, very clearly enjoying the song and filling in any of the words the edited version was skipping over.
Maybe it was the fact it was so early and she couldn’t think better of it but Blake let herself watch for a moment, enjoying the way Yang’s shoulders and head bobbed with the rhythm of the song as she bounced one of the bright orange field hockey balls on the end of her stick before dropping it to the ground and driving it into the back of the goal with a resounding bang.
Yang was, without a doubt, impressive. She’d known that for years but that was at a distance. This was up close and personal. This was a behind the scenes glance and knowing what she did about Yang as a person only made her athleticism more impressive.
But then there was the side of Yang that made her smile. The side that was currently swaying her hips and dancing unabashedly to the beat as she gathered the balls from the back of the cage and brought them back to the top of the circle. The part that was fun and silly and didn’t take herself too seriously.
Shaking her head with a smile, Blake turned off her car and grabbed her bag from the trunk, making her way onto the field before she could get caught staring.
As she approached, Yang looked up and a broad smile stretched across her lips. “Blake Belladonna! Thank you for gracing me with your presence on this fine Saturday morning.”
Blake groaned. “How are you so awake right now?”
Yang flicked a ball onto the end of her stick, bouncing it up in the air with one hand as she chuckled. “This is our usual practice time for Saturdays.”
Blake hummed. “Gross.”
Yang laughed, hitting the ball a little higher and catching it with her free hand instead. “Want to get warmed up a bit?” She asked with a raise eyebrow.
They quickly jogged around the field a couple times, it easily turning into a semi-competitive race that Yang won by a hair, before they ran through a few stretches, Blake pointedly making sure her gaze was everywhere but at Yang. But - though she couldn’t be sure - she thought that maybe Yang’s gaze had wandered her way once or twice.
After they were warmed up and stretched, Blake walked over to her gear and unzipped the bag. She took a deep breath before suiting up, making sure each buckle was secure after an entire year of disuse.
“So, how long has it been?” Yang asked after a moment, her eyes downcast as she dribbled a ball back and forth lazily with one arm.
“Little over a year,” Blake answered, tightening the last of the straps on her leg guards as Yang hummed in acknowledgement. She stood up, slipping her chest protector over her head and velcroing it in place before quickly securing the rest of her upper equipment, throwing on her helmet and grabbing her gloves and stick.
It felt weird. What used to be a second skin for her felt bulky and out of place and she suddenly felt like a little kid again, trying on the equipment for the first time. She was terrified to even try and walk because half of her felt like she very well may just fall over her own two feet.
“Everything good?” Yang asked with a small smirk when Blake just stood there, unmoving.
Blake sighed, pointing at Yang with her stick. “I swear to god, if you laugh, I’m going to leave.”
Yang held up her hands, smirk still firmly in place but no laughter present… yet. “Who’s laughing? I’m not laughing.”
Blake squinted at her but dropped her stick back to her side as she took a few slow steps forward. They were overall a little more shaky than usual but she didn’t fall, so… win?
She took a few moments to familiarize herself with the goal, the circle, the divots in the grass that could potentially pose an issue and slowly, she started to feel a little more comfortable again. She started to remember the satisfaction of making that diving save, of dropping into that split and hearing the ball ricochet off her pads and into the distance.
Blake’s head shot up at the sound of a ball hitting the back of the cage and she met Yang’s eyes, bright and playful. “Gonna have a lovefest with the cage all day, or are you here to play, Belladonna?”
Blake smirked, even though she was sure Yang probably couldn’t see her face behind the cage of her helmet. “Cheap shot, Xiao Long. That the only way you ever score?”
Yang chuckled and pushed a ball out in front of her, ready to drive it towards the cage again. Blake was wildly off angle but there was no way she was going to Yang score like that again. Muscle memory instantly kicked in and Blake dove for the opposite goalpost, gloved hand extending across her body to just barely tip the ball away from the goal.
Yang was on the rebound instantly, tongue poking out of the corner of her mouth as she tried to deftly flick the ball over Blake’s body, only to be rejected yet again as Blake popped her leg up to stop it.
Then she did it again, and again, and again, until it was a steady volley of trying to finesse the ball past her and Blake just saying, “Nope. Nope. Nope!” Between giggles as she scrambled along the ground with each of the rebounds.
It finally ended when Blake’s flailing resulted in her stick hooking Yang’s, causing Yang’s momentum to shift drastically in a desperate attempt to hang onto her stick.
Blake was unsure of the exact logistics of how they ended up the way they did - with Yang half sprawled across her in a tangled heap - but she didn’t quite care. Because Yang was laughing, backlit by the early morning sun against the light sheen of sweat on her tanned shoulders and whisps of golden hair blowing lightly in the breeze, and Blake was gone. Struck square in the chest by the realization that she’d now have to admit to herself that, yes, she may have a small thing for the most popular girl to roam the halls of Beacon High.
And she was nothing but an ex-athlete that popped into her life all of two weeks ago.
She was able to shake herself out of it when Yang tapped her helmet, still settled comfortably on top of her.
Yang grinned. “You okay?”
Blake propped herself up on her elbows with a smirk. “Don’t flatter yourself; you can’t take me out that easily.”
Yang cocked an eyebrow. “Oh?” Her eyes shot to the space above Blake’s head, and before Blake could react, Yang freed her stick and poked the ball across the goal line. “Goal! And I do believe this is a penalty, Belladonna.” She added, gesturing to their current state.
Blake smirked. “Well, I did never love playing by the rules. That just makes it boring.”
Yang chuckled, standing up and taking the ball to the penalty line. “Get on the goal line, hot shot.”
Blake stood and situated herself into the middle of the goal. She tapped her stick against her pads a couple times before lining her heels against the goal line.
Her eyes met Yang’s. She knew that was a rookie mistake, that she should be watching Yang’s body instead. Her legs. Her hips. But the idea of doing any of that felt like crossing a boundary and so she damned herself and Yang smirked.
The next thing Blake knew, the ball was trailing around the net of the cage and she’d barely moved from her spot.
Yang let out a laugh. “You that rusty, Belladonna?”
Blake relaxed from her defensive stance as Yang came over. She rolled her eyes. “Just letting you build a bit of confidence, before I crush your dreams.”
Yang chuckled again as they cleared the goal, sending the balls to the top of the circle. She gently bumped her hip against Blake’s. “We’re here to do that for you, Blake.” She smirked as Blake met her eye. “Trust me, I have plenty of confidence.”
Blake watched Yang with curious eyes and Yang’s gaze moved to the ground, her cheeks a little flushed. Blake hummed. “I’m sure.”
Yang smirked and rolled her eyes, still refusing to meet Blake’s gaze. “Whatever,” Yang said, backing up to the penalty line again. “Back to practice.”
They stayed for a couple more hours and Blake couldn’t remember the last time she’d had this much fun. The last time she laughed so much. Especially when playing hockey. Yang had a way of making it feel like a game instead of a job, which Blake had lost over the years. With the camps and the pressure and the eyes on her.
But here, the only eyes on her were Yang’s and she finally felt like she could just… be a teenager.
“I can’t believe you slide tackled me,” Yang said as they were cleaning up, still half-heartedly trying to brush off the dirt caked against her thigh.
Blake laughed, packing away her chest protector before she let her hair down out of its ponytail. She ran her fingers through it, trying to tame her helmet hair as she sighed and the breeze blew across her face. “It’s part of the game, Yang. You knew what you were getting into when you didn’t bail.” Blake met Yang’s eye and saw her… well, for lack of a better word, staring. She raised an eyebrow, hands halfway through her hair. “What?”
Yang blinked at the question, shaking her head slightly and looking away. “What? Nothing! You’re right. That’s it. Yep.” She let out a breath as she scrambled to find another ball and Blake shrugged it off, taking the last of her equipment off and packing it away into her bag.
She stretched after, body buzzing a bit with adrenaline still, and Blake remembered how much she missed the feeling. The dull ache in her muscles and light breeze cooling the sweat on her body.
“Anyway,” Yang said, coming up beside her. She looked at Blake with a small grin. “You haven’t lost your touch. I can say that.”
Blake chuckled, shrugging as she grabbed the handle of her bag. “I guess muscle memory is a real thing?”
“Or sheer talent.”
Blake’s smile dropped a bit, waiting for Yang to bring it up. The whole reason she really invited her out here. But one thing Blake should’ve known by now was that she would never have Yang completely figured out.
“Look,” Yang started, as they began to walk towards the parking lot, “I’m not going to ask you to join the team again.”
Blake’s eyebrows raised.
Yang chuckled. “Shocking, right?”
Yang looked off in the distance and let out a large breath. “I mean, that… wasn’t the point of this. And if you don’t want to play, I don’t want to… I don’t want to be the person that makes you feel like you have to.” Yang glanced in her direction once. “Sounds like you kind of already had one of those. And I’m sorry if I came on too strong the first day. I didn’t—”
“You… don’t have to apologize,” Blake said.
Yang nodded. “Right. Well.” She rubbed the back of her neck as they reached Blake’s car, Blake popping open the trunk and throwing her bag inside. “I just hope that – if this was your last time suiting up – it’ll be a good memory.”
Blake paused when Yang said it, her hand on the trunk as she faced her. Yang’s cheeks were flushed, the small smile on her lips genuine, and Blake melted a little. Instead of saying anything that would take them down that road however, Blake just smiled in return. “I think it will be.”
Yang’s smile grew and she nodded. “Cool.” Her smile shifted to that smirk she got when she was going to say something she thought was funny and Blake braced herself. “Told you, you just needed a rebound.”
Blake huffed a laugh, closing her trunk with one hand and pushing Yang on the shoulder with the other. “Bye, Yang,” she said, using the momentum to turn toward the driver’s side.
Yang laughed and backed up a little in the direction of her bike, raising her hand. “See you Monday, Belladonna.”
As Blake pulled out of the parking lot, she already knew where she’d be next Saturday.
Chapter 4: Trying it Out
She didn’t tell Yang. And honestly, the look on her face was absolutely worth it. Still, Blake was nervous. She was taking a shot by trusting Yang to have her back but every part of her felt that it was the right choice. That Yang was her second chance.
Blake’s cheeks heated at the thought. Second chance at falling in love with the sport that is…
Yang left the group of her teammates she was talking to on the sideline to run across the field to Blake. Shock, hope, and excitement all over her face.
“Blake!” Yang came to a stop right in front of her, smile wide, and Blake’s heart leapt. “What’re you doing here?” She asked, a little breathless.
Blake composed herself, shoving down that fluttering feeling in her chest and raising an eyebrow. “Tryouts are today, right?”
She watched as Yang’s eyes quickly clocked her attire, the bag by her side, the water bottle in her hand, before darting back to her own. Then, Yang took her by surprise, reaching out and taking her hand gently, making it much harder for Blake to tame those godforsaken butterflies.
“You know you don’t have to,” Yang said, softly. “I meant that. And it wouldn’t change…” Yang’s cheeks flushed. “It wouldn’t change anything between us. We’d—We’d still be friends. I promise.”
Blake felt her own face redden. It had taken all her willpower to stay calm when Yang had taken her hand but now she was tripping over calling them friends and what was Blake even supposed to make of that?
Right. Nothing. They were currently on the school’s field hockey field. Several of their classmates were staring at them. It wasn’t the time for… whatever this was. So, instead, Blake grinned. “Are you trying to say you don’t want me anymore?”
Part of Blake cringed at what could be a double meaning but then Yang smirked and said, “I’d be crazy to say that, Belladonna.”
Again, thrown by Yang’s existence, Blake blinked, desperately wanting to get out of this weird loop of “That Could Mean Two Things” they were currently in before she said something she’d regret.
“I—yeah. So. Tryouts?” Blake asked, hand slipping out of Yang’s.
Yang seemed to snap out of it with Blake’s hand no longer in hers and her smile wavered for a split second before she chuckled. “Not gonna be much of a tryout for you, hot shot. You’re basically gonna walk on.”
Blake rolled her eyes and started forward, past Yang and in the direction of the field. “Better bring your A-game then,” she said. She glanced back over her shoulder with a smirk. “I’d hate to be the reason you get cut.”
The last thing she heard before tryouts truly got underway was Yang let out a huff of a laugh into the early morning air.
Blake had forgotten one thing and one thing only about playing sports: Running. Fucking. Sucked.
She had always been fast and flexible but god if she never had to run over a mile again it’d be too soon.
She was sprawled out on her back in the grass after the final run of the day, trying desperately to remind herself this was part of tryouts and it wouldn’t be forever, when she felt someone walk up beside her. Blake cracked open an eye and squinted up only to be met with a smirk from Yang.
Blake groaned, letting her eyes fall shut again. “Not a word, Xiao Long. Or I’m not coming back.”
Yang chuckled and Blake heard her sit down beside her. She sighed, opening her eyes again and propping herself up on her elbows.
“It’s funny,” Yang said, popping her water bottle open, “you look like a runner but…” Yang extended the bottle in Blake’s direction.
Blake rolled her eyes. She took a sip from Yang’s bottle – definitely not thinking about the fact her lips had been on it – before handing it back to her and sighing. “It’s just long distance.” She shook her head. “Not my thing.”
Yang chuckled, taking a sip of her own. “Clearly.”
Blake bolted upright at the sound of their coach calling her name, a kneejerk reaction from… less than fond memories. Yang discreetly laid a hand on Blake’s forearm, her thumb trailing along her skin in a gentle pattern once before withdrawing and suddenly Blake was flustered for about a million other reasons.
Still, she managed to find the mind to stand as their coach approached, clipboard tucked under one arm, smile broad, and free hand extended. Blake shook it. “Coach?”
“Just wanted to welcome you to the Beacon team. Glad to have you on our side.”
Blake smiled, running her hand through her hair. “Yeah. You guys always gave us a run for our money. Glad to be with you now.”
Their coach smiled, bringing out her clipboard and glancing at it for a moment before chuckling. “Looks like we just need to work on your run times.” Blake blushed but their coach waved it off. “You’ll be fine. Stick with that one and you’ll be golden in no time,” she said, pointing at Yang with her pencil.
Yang smiled wide and slung an arm around Blake’s shoulders. “Hear that, Blake? You’re stuck with me.”
Blake chuckled, looking up at Yang and trying not to get lost in the lilac of her eyes. “How tragic.”
There was a beat where they just looked at each other and Blake felt the air charge. Though her head was screaming “time and place” she couldn’t break the spell.
Luckily, their coach absolutely could, with a harsh clear of her throat. The two of them jumped, meeting their coach’s eyes instead. She cracked a smile, eyebrows raised. “And with that… have a good night, ladies. I’ll see you both Monday.” She turned to leave, stopping for a moment with a snap of her fingers as she turned back. “Oh, and don’t forget, we’re in charge of the Fall Ball this year. So, all that starts next Friday!”
Yang gave her a thumbs up with her free hand and Blake raised an eyebrow when their coach turned away again. “Fall Ball?”
Yang simply grinned in return.
As it turned out, the “Fall Ball” was just an excuse for the school to have a dance at the beginning of the year instead of just at the end. The specialty of it was that one of the sports teams was in charge of it every year; hence the whole “Fall Ball” play-on-words Blake found utterly tacky.
And Blake was lucky enough to join the year the field hockey team was at the helm. Great.
“Y’know,” Blake said, hanging one of the over-glittered posters they’d made for the event, “this whole ‘join hockey again it’ll be great’ thing is really the gift that keeps on giving.”
Yang laughed from her place on the ladder, where she and Nora were hanging a large banner across the hallway. “I mean, I literally said you didn’t have to join.”
“But we’re super glad you did!” Nora said. “Otherwise it would’ve been me. And apparently no one wanted that.”
Blake chuckled as Yang shrugged in the direction of Nora’s glare. She turned her attention to Blake a moment later. “I mean, she’s not wrong. But…” Having finished off setting up the banner, Yang jumped down from the ladder and quickly made her way to Blake, linking their arms together. She looked into her eyes with a slightly mischievous smile and Blake felt like she was on fire. “I’m certainly glad we get to hang out more…”
Blake blinked. “I— y-yeah.”
Yang’s smile lit up just a little brighter and she turned her head away to gesture to the banner Nora and her had just hung. “So, what do you think?”
Blake felt air rush into her lungs again when the eye contact broke and she forced herself to look away from Yang’s profile to the banner instead.
It was… lopsided. And the letters got progressively smaller as the person writing it realized there wasn’t going to be enough room. And there was glitter quite literally everywhere. “Um…” Blake’s head cocked to the side. “It’s… colorful! And… sparkly?”
Yang chuckled. “It’s shit.” She looked down at Blake, nudging her shoulder a bit. “You can say it’s shit.”
Blake shook her head. “It’s not shit. It just—”
“What is that?”
Blake glanced over her shoulder as Weiss walked into the hallway, clipboard in hand. She couldn’t help but feel like Weiss looked like one of those wedding planners working for the world’s biggest bridezilla. Only in this case, Blake was fairly certain Weiss was in both roles.
“Shit!” Yang said, smirking. “Don’t worry, we’ll fix it, madame Schnee.”
Weiss’s face soured at the name and she waved it off. “It can stay, just… never call me that again.” She fixed the three girls with a glare. “Though don’t think that lackluster spirit is going to fly when we start decorating the gym.”
Yang straightened a bit, clutching Blake’s arm with her other hand as well, excitement boiling over. “Oh, don’t worry, I have big plans for the actual dance!”
Weiss looked like she was about to object - pencil raised and brow hard - but a softness Blake wasn’t used to seeing replaced it. Instead, she offered Yang a sigh and roll of her eyes. “As long as it doesn’t include fire.”
“No, no, hear me out!” Yang ran a hand through the air dramatically. “Fog machines.”
Weiss shrugged. “Sure. But we are having doilies.”
Yang groaned slumping into Blake’s side. “But it’s a dance for a bunch of teenagers. No one likes doilies.”
“She has a point!” Nora called from her place atop the ladder, still fiddling unnecessarily with the banner strings.
Weiss rolled her eyes, jotting something down and turning away. “Make sure the banner for the upstairs looks at least a little better.”
“I did that one, so you know it’s great!” Nora said. And though Weiss was already walking away, Blake could swear she saw her sigh.
“She’s a lot,” Yang said with a chuckle as Weiss rounded the corner. “But her heart’s in the right place.” She nudged Blake lightly. “Even if her decoration taste isn’t.”
Blake cracked a smile. “Doilies are a little…”
“Dumb?” Yang asked, raising an eyebrow.
Blake chuckled. “I was going to say highbrow but…”
Yang laughed, grabbing the rolled-up banner for the upstairs as Nora grabbed the ladders. Honestly, Blake still wasn’t sure how Nora managed to carry both and make it look like nothing but she did, leading the way as Blake and Yang trailed behind.
“Y’know,” Yang said quietly, just loud enough for Blake to hear, “I really did mean you didn’t have to join. But I’m…” She cleared her throat and shrugged; her eyes trained to the shiny tile floors. “Well, I’m glad you did.”
Blake blushed, suddenly very glad Yang refused to look up. She knew she should tread lightly. That the last time she got involved with someone so closely tied to athletics it blew up in her face. But she couldn’t help the way her heart beat just a little faster when she whispered, “Yeah. Me too,” in return.
They took to running on the weekends. Out by the reservoir, where Yang had taken her on the day of that first party. They’d go early on Sunday mornings, which Blake didn’t love since it was technically their only day off. But on the other side of things, she got to see Yang on Sunday mornings, so really, she couldn’t complain.
“God, this sucks. Do you actually enjoy this?” Okay, so she could complain, just not about being with Yang. They’d already been jogging for fifteen minutes and she wanted no more of it. But, judging by the fact she couldn’t even begin to see the end of the trails, she assumed Yang had a longer route planned.
Yang chuckled, sounding severely less winded and honestly, that was just rude. “I do actually,” she said taking a few quicker strides forward so she could turn around and run backwards in front of Blake.
Blake huffed. “Show off.”
Yang laughed again, changing her direction and circling behind Blake until they were beside each other yet again. She shrugged. “I used to come out here a lot when I was younger. It’s where I trained. And… I don’t know,” Yang said, letting out a breath as she tried to find a rhythm again, “I guess it’s just a good place to clear your head, y’know?”
Blake shook her head. “Not—really. Not when there’s – not enough oxygen there.”
Yang huffed a laugh. “I just meant… when it’s just you and the trail… I don’t know, there’s time to reflect.” Yang frowned. “Sometimes I just… need that.”
Blake slowed to a stop, hands on her hips as she tried to catch her breath. “Sorry,” she said as Yang stopped a few feet ahead of her and turned around. “I get that. I didn’t mean—”
Yang offered her a smile, her breathing practically even already, even if she was sweating. “It’s okay. I know.”
Blake nodded and then cursed leaning on her knees as she tried to catch her breath. “God. How are you okay right now?”
Yang chuckled and Blake heard her shuffle closer. “Well. I’m standing upright,” she said, tapping Blake’s shoulder to get her to stand straight. Blake was met with a smirk when she did. “That usually helps.”
Blake huffed and blew her bangs out of her eyes, looking around at their surroundings as she put her hands on her head. She shook her head. “How far out are we?” She asked. “I don’t think I’m gonna make it back.”
Yang smirked. “We’re not too far,” she said. “We’ll be coming up on the water soon.”
Blake groaned. “But then we still need to walk back to the parking lot.”
Yang looked at the trail ahead and grinned. She looked back at Blake, confidence rolling off her in waves that Blake could practically feel. “I’ve got an idea,” Yang said, voice high and maybe a little cocky. “How about this... you race me to the water—”
Blake scoffed. “I think we both know how that’s going to end.”
“Let me finish,” Yang said, grin still in place. “You race me to the water and if you win, I’ll carry you back to the parking lot.”
Blake’s eyebrows rose. “And if I lose?”
Yang shrugged. “Other way around?”
Blake considered it with a hum. While carrying Yang back to the parking lot would be tough on dead legs, she had to admit this felt like a win-win scenario. And so, she answered with action instead of words and took off down the path, shoving Yang lightly with a giggle as she went.
Somewhere behind her, she heard Yang shout, “Hey!” But she was already rounding a turn in the direction of victory.
Blake tried to concentrate on her breathing; tried to find a pattern to it that could match the beat of her feet hitting the ground. It was a little hard to, however, when the beat of her own pace was muddied with that of Yang's only a few steps behind her.
Blake chanced a glace over her shoulder and saw Yang easily gaining ground.
“Eyes on the prize, Belladonna!” Yang shouted, a reminder to look forward.
Blake smirked as she turned forward again. “That’s what I was doing!” She forced out in a rushed breath, trying not to lose her pattern entirely.
Yang chuckled behind her and Blake’s smile grew.
Still though, she wasn’t sure she could win. Yang was practically breathing down her neck and she wasn’t even sure how far the—
As Blake rounded one more corner, she could see the end of the trail. The glorious, glorious, end of the trail that let out onto the concrete common area that overlooked the reservoir.
“Homestretch, Belladonna,” Yang said from almost beside her now. “Let’s see what you got.” And with a grin in her direction, Yang was off.
Blake only let her get a few steps ahead before she started sprinting and instantly they were neck and neck again. Blake’s legs felt like they were on fire but she was determined to win. If not for the reward of getting Yang to carry her, then at least for the satisfaction of wiping that smirk off her face.
It was close as they hit the pavement and even closer as they neared the railing that marked their finish line. But, with a surge of adrenaline from somewhere deep in her soul, Blake’s hands collided with the metal first. Just by a fraction of a second, probably.
She turned to look at Yang - sweaty and winded - but victorious. “Hah!” She said, raising both fists in the air only momentarily before using the railing to support herself again. “I—made—it—first!”
“That you did.” Yang chuckled, breathing heavy herself; though not nearly as much, Blake couldn’t help but notice. She squinted at her.
“Wait. Did you— take it easy on me?” Blake asked.
Yang looked away. “I—no! I wouldn’t—”
Blake’s jaw dropped and she half-heartedly pushed Yang on the shoulder. “You did! Yang, what the hell?”
Yang shrugged. “What? It’s not like I pulled up that much. You basically won!”
Blake shook her head and turned around, expectantly. “Come on,” she said, gesturing with her head and looking back at Yang over her shoulder.
Yang raised an eyebrow. “What are you doing?”
“Carrying you—to the parking lot,” Blake said between labored breaths.
“Blake, that’s ridiculous you won—”
Blake took a steadying breath. “Get on my damn back, Xiao Long.”
“I—no. I’m not gonna make you—”
“Okay, okay! Fine!”
Blake braced herself as Yang’s hands found her shoulders and then she hooked her arms under Yang’s legs to carry her, piggyback-style. It took Blake a moment to ensure she wasn’t going to collapse under both of their weight but – while she might not have been the best at running – her legs were powerful from years of training and she was able to trudge forward with relative ease.
About halfway back to the parking lot, Yang sighed against Blake’s ear as she wrapped her arms over Blake’s shoulders and Blake had to suppress the shiver that threatened to run up her spine.
“I’m sorry I let you win,” Yang said.
Blake couldn’t help but chuckle at how down she sounded. “Are you? You got a ride out of it.”
“Yeah…” Yang said. “But I don’t know, it’s not the same as earning it, I guess.”
Blake hummed. “Want me to put you down?”
The arms around her tightened instinctively and Blake chuckled as Yang muttered, “No.”
“Didn’t think so.” And honestly, as they continued to walk towards Yang’s bike – with Yang pressed against her back and the gentle sound of crashing water in the air –Blake would be lying if she said she wasn’t happy with the response herself.
Chapter 5: Sunburst
Over the next few weeks, it took Blake awhile to get back into the swing of playing again but she did. And where at the very beginning of all this she may have been apprehensive, she was now starting to catch herself smiling. Laughing. Having fun. Her new teammates brought an energy and spirit to the game that Blake had never experienced.
Especially Yang. Or maybe it was just her bias that made her think that. But she couldn’t help it. When the season started and they had their first game, Yang was the one that pulled her out of her own head, singing and dancing in her face during warm ups, smacking her pads with her stick, running all the way back to the goal to clack sticks after she scored. She had an energy that was contagious and everyone fed off it.
Which is perhaps why – as they began to approach the middle of the season, undefeated and untied – Blake was worried when team morale dipped.
It happened rather quickly; within a week even. The mood on the field became somber; people were quiet during practice, only speaking softly to one another on occasion outside of drills. It was truly the first time Blake felt like an outsider since she’d joined the team and she was confused.
Strangest of all, Yang had been pulling away from her. It started as skipping out on their Sunday runs, and then it was not wanting to make small talk in Chemistry, and then it was being too busy to text at night.
At first, part of her had to wonder if maybe she’d done something that made Yang uncomfortable. That perhaps she’d said something a little too flirty, or showed her hand in some other way. But she threw that out the window as she realized it wasn’t just her Yang was sequestering herself from; it was everyone.
Ruby did her best to try and keep the team’s spirits up but it was hard when the heart of it wasn’t beating.
Blake tried a few times during practice to get a rise out of her. To get her to banter back when she saved a ball from Yang’s shot. But it was always met with either a weak smile or – even worse – nothing at all. Just a frustrated huff followed by the sight of Yang jogging to the back of the line.
That was another thing: Yang was getting sloppy. Where normally she’d give 100% but still add a bit of finesse, she was now charging toward the goal like a freight train. She was winding up for shots and letting them loose harder than ever but with no accuracy.
Weiss told Blake not to worry about it, when she asked. That Yang would come around. But there was a sadness in her tone for her friend that Blake couldn’t ignore if she tried. There was sadness and concern and empathy. And maybe Blake didn’t know what all of that emotion was for exactly but she couldn’t just sit by while something was bothering Yang. Not after everything Yang had been doing for her. Showing her what real friendship could be like. What a real team could be like. What playing hockey again could feel like.
So, after practice one Friday, Blake stayed suited up. She tilted her helmet up as she approached Yang on the sidelines, hastily trying to pack her stuff up.
“Hey. Would you mind sticking around for a bit? I feel like I want to try some one-on-ones, since the competition’s starting to get real,” Blake said, trying not to let her voice waver. She’d never been nervous talking to Yang in the past but the very real idea of rejection here made her feel a little different.
Yang didn’t look up from zipping her bag to reply. “Not today.” The words were flat. Not harsh. Not apologetic. Just flat.
Blake frowned slightly, dipping her head just a bit to try and get a look at Yang’s expression to no avail. “Are… are you sure you can’t just do a few?” Blake asked, hopeful. “It’s just… everyone else is clearing out and, I don’t know, you’re one of our best shooters so.” Blake shrugged.
Yang stood, letting out a long sigh and looking forward for a moment before her attention switched to Blake. She looked tired. Dark circles ringed her eyes and her shoulders were slumped just slightly. Still, she gave Blake an attempt at a smile. “Yeah, okay, sure.”
Blake smiled in return. “Thanks. I appreciate it.”
They made their way over to one of the goals and Yang dumped the bag of balls at the top of the circle. Blake lowered her mask and tapped the goal post with her stick once before stepping out further.
She wasn’t sure if what she was doing was the right decision but she wanted to help Yang with whatever was bothering her. Try to be there for her the way Yang had been for her. So, she took a deep breath and readied herself as Yang began to charge toward the goal.
Normally, Yang was more aware; her eyes less trained on the ball and more on Blake or the goal. This time, however, they were solely fixed down, like it was taking all of her concentration just to keep the ball on her stick and Blake easily stopped her and cleared the ball away.
Yang huffed, not saying anything more before turning around and starting again from the top of the circle. They went on like that for a few rounds. Nothing but the sounds of their labored breaths, Yang’s stick hitting the ball, and Blake’s pads blocking the shot. Then, finally, Blake got the reaction she was hoping for.
Yang wound up for a shot at the top of the circle, a shot Blake had seen her take a hundred times, a shot she’d made a hundred times but this time it ricocheted right off of Blake’s leg guard with her barely having to move.
Yang groaned, agitated. “Fuck. Can you not block a damn shot for five fucking seconds?” Normally, there might have been an ounce of humor to the statement but this time there was nothing but pure frustration.
Blake shrugged, lifting her helmet to look at Yang. “Maybe don’t shoot right at me.” Her voice was light and teasing but she was still worried about Yang and offered her a small smile.
At first, Yang looked pissed. And maybe like she wanted to fight back. But instead, when she met Blake’s eyes, her gaze softened a little; her shoulders sagged. “I— I’m sorry,” she said, shaking her head and looking away. “I didn’t mean to…” She sighed, bringing a hand up to pinch the bridge of her nose as her eyes closed. She muttered something else under her breath that Blake couldn’t quite hear and then, for a moment, they just stood there in the cool autumn air. The distance between them palpable as Blake waited for Yang to continue. To say something. Say anything.
It felt like an eternity before Yang let out a shuddering breath and dropped down to sit in the grass, her stick slipping from her grasp as she buried her face in her hands, elbows resting on her knees.
Blake carefully removed her stick and gloves and put them on the ground, along with her helmet, careful not to make too much noise in the stillness of the moment. She closed the distance between them, kneeling down right in front of Yang and sitting back on her heels. She waited another moment before looking off to the side when she realized Yang didn’t plan on talking. If she was supposed to start the conversation, she had no idea how. So, Blake stuck to the basics.
“Do you… want to talk about it?” She asked, slowly, unsure if even that might be asking too much.
“About what?” Yang asked. “There’s not really anything to talk about. I was being a jerk and I shouldn’t have been.”
Blake frowned. “That’s not what I meant.” She could’ve sworn she saw Yang tense a little but she didn’t reply, so Blake elaborated. “You’ve been a little… off for a few days. I…” Blake cleared her throat, shifting a bit. She wasn’t the best at these types of things but she wanted to be for Yang. “You know you can always talk to me, right?”
Yang’s hands slipped off her face but her eyes were still trained on the ground where she began to play with the grass. She let out a humorless chuckle. “I’ve been that bad, huh?”
Blake shook her head, scooting just a little closer. “It’s not like that. It’s just that – I don’t know. I’ve noticed.” She felt a shy smile spread across her lips. “I mean, when someone might as well be the sun, it’s hard to miss when they’re hurting.”
Yang blushed, her hands stilling in the grass and eyes meeting Blake’s for a split second before darting to the side. “I… I don’t know if I’d say…” She cleared her throat.
“Sorry,” Blake said with a chuckle. “Didn’t mean to throw you, Xiao Long.”
Yang relaxed a little at the familiar banter, tension easing slightly from her shoulders as she cracked a small smile. It was really only then Blake realized she hadn’t seen one from Yang in awhile at all.
Yang took a deep breath, shaking her head. “I’m sorry I’ve been… off,” she said. Her left hand started cradling her right; her thumb moving over the smooth metal of her right palm and Blake felt some of the pieces click.
She felt a little foolish for not putting it together sooner. She remembered the headlines. Remembered the time of year. Remembered how Yang hadn’t played that first year of high school.
Blake was about to assure her she had nothing to apologize for but then Yang was speaking again. Quiet and shaky. “Uh, this time of year is kinda just… hard for me.” She cleared her throat. “I try to keep things normal... but clearly that didn’t go so well,” Yang said through a sad chuckle. “The others are used to it but… I’m sorry you got the brunt of that.”
“Yang, don’t apologize.” Blake took a deep breath before scooting forward one more time. On instinct, her hands reached out for Yang’s but she hesitated. Partially because she wasn’t sure what lines she may be crossing. Partially because Yang gasped and tensed a little when her hands got close. Blake’s gaze flicked to Yang’s face and she was quickly met with wide violet eyes just shining with what may have been the beginning of tears.
Yang quickly blinked them away and – swallowing hard – gently took Blake’s hand and guided it until her fingertips brushed against the cool metal of her right palm. Blake simply sat with her in silence for a moment, thinking that maybe all Yang wanted right now – all she needed – was this comfort. Was someone to sit with her and not ask questions. Someone to sit with her and just understand.
But then, Yang surprised her; like Yang always did.
“I should be grateful,” Yang said, quietly, just above a whisper. “I know I should. I… I walked away.” She cleared her throat, her voice cracking. “Not everyone was so lucky.”
Blake’s eyebrows pinched up as she looked up at Yang’s face, fresh tear tracks just making their way down her cheeks. “Yang…”
“It’s true,” Yang said with a shrug. “I walked away and my—my mom didn’t. Ruby’s mom didn’t. And I… I don’t know. It’s not that I wish it’d been me. It’s not. Not really, y’know? But also…” Yang shook her head, struggling for the right words that wouldn’t come, fresh tears continuing to stain her cheeks. Finally, she found the words and they came out choked. “It… it should have been me.”
Blake shook her head, her stomach sinking. “Yang, it was an accident. It shouldn’t have been anyone. The only one to blame is the guy who thought it was a good idea to drive drunk.”
Yang sighed. “You don’t get it. The papers don’t cover everything, Belladonna. The papers don’t cover the reason a mother was out in the middle of the night to pick up her teenage daughter. The papers don’t cover the fact the Freshman in the passenger’s seat was also drunk out of her mind. The papers don’t cover how she texted her mom that she had to come get her from a stupid party. The papers don’t cover that no one would’ve fucking died if I’d have just—”
“Stop.” Blake nearly gasped after the word had left her mouth, stern and a little angry. She almost instantly apologized because the look on Yang’s face was that of pure shock but she couldn’t. Because she was angry. Angry that – somehow – Yang thought this was her fault. Angry that the world was so cold to such an amazing girl. Angry at the thought of Yang ever… “It wasn’t your fault. You did the right thing, Yang. You made the right choice.”
“But if I hadn’t—”
“You were fourteen,” Blake said. “You were fourteen and you made the right decision even though you knew you were probably going to get in trouble. You were fourteen, Yang. Would you ever blame a fourteen-year-old for being responsible after making one questionable decision?”
“Well, no, but—”
“No! No ‘buts!’ You said it right there. You wouldn’t blame her. So why on earth are you blaming yourself?” Blake scootched closer yet, her hands hooking behind Yang’s arms, gripping strong enough to ground her as Yang’s fingers dug into her forearms. “You are… incredible, Yang Xiao Long. You are brave. You’re a fighter. You’re stronger than anyone I’ve ever met and you care so much for others.” Blake shook her head. “Please. Please care about yourself, too.”
The grip on her arms tightened as a sob escaped from Yang’s chest and Blake felt her heart crack at the sound. But before she could think of another way to comfort her, Yang was pulling herself forward onto her knees and wrapping her arms around Blake’s neck, burying her face in the crook of it as she cried. Blake’s arms wrapped around her, one coming around her waist and the other coming up to comb her fingers through Yang’s hair, or at least try to in some form of comfort – the fact it was still up in its ponytail made it a little difficult but Blake didn’t care.
She wasn’t sure how long they stayed like that - even after Yang’s tears had subsided and the tension in her body had turned into limp exhaustion - but eventually Blake was aware the sun had just about set and her parents were definitely going to wonder where the hell she was.
Yang must have had a similar thought, because she was the one to pull back first. She sniffled as she slowly withdrew from Blake’s body and a small part of Blake missed the way she’d felt against her. Yang offered her a small smile, cheeks red. “Uh, sorry about… all that,” she said, making a vague gesture with her hand.
“I’m pretty sure I’m the one who should apologize,” Blake said, lips twitching into a smirk at Yang’s confused gaze. “I mean you had the unfortunate experience of burying your face into prime-time goalie equipment.”
Yang laughed. It was light but it was there and it was beautiful and Blake was more grateful than ever before that she got to hear it.
Without thinking, Blake brought her hands to Yang’s face, cradling her jaw gently as her thumbs wiped away the last of the tear tracks on Yang’s cheeks. She only really realized what she was doing when her eyes met Yang’s. Yang’s eyes were puffy and red, still just a little glassy in the almost-darkness of the evening but they were fixed directly on hers and Blake felt her heart leap at they dipped to look at her mouth.
But it was wrong. The timing was so off. Yang was hurting and vulnerable and Blake could never – would never – take advantage of her emotions like that. So, her hands dropped to take Yang’s again instead. “Yang?”
Yang blinked, leaning back a little and it was only then that Blake noticed Yang had actually been leaning in. “Y-Yeah? Sorry, I uh… I should probably get home.”
As she stood, Blake did too, holding her hand a little tighter so she couldn’t walk away yet. “Do you… would you want a ride? My parents let me have the car today so…”
“I’ve got my bike here, so I don’t think—”
“I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning for practice,” Blake said, quickly. She didn’t want to seem pushy but she also knew Yang was probably exhausted, mentally and physically, and she didn’t want to risk her trying to ride her motorcycle home in that state.
For a second Yang looked like she was about to argue but she let out a sigh instead, her shoulders relaxing. “Are you sure you don’t mind?”
Blake smiled, squeezing Yang’s hand. “Not at all.”
Yang smiled back. “Then… thanks.”
They cleared the field as quickly as they could, which was a little more difficult in the dark, and made their way to Blake’s car. The drive to Yang’s house would’ve been completely quiet if not for the soft music playing from Blake’s radio and the breeze coming in from the cracked windows. But it was a comfortable silence and Yang seemed to at least be in slightly better spirits, which made Blake feel a little better herself.
About halfway there, Yang’s hand found Blake’s on the gearshift. About three-quarters of the way there, their fingers intertwined. Neither of them said anything about it and Blake didn’t make much of it in general, thinking that Yang just needed something right now, even if her heart was racing every time Yang’s thumb brushed over the back of her hand.
By the time they reached Yang’s house, Yang was just starting to doze off and Blake chuckled lightly as she pulled to a stop along the curb. She squeezed Yang’s hand. “Rise and shine, Xiao Long. You’re home.”
Yang sighed, opening her eyes as her head turned lazily in Blake’s direction, still tilted back against the headrest. “That driveway has never looked longer.”
Blake chuckled. “I promise you’ll make it.”
Yang hummed. “Probably.” Her eyes flicked down to where their hands were still joined and Yang grew serious. “Hey, uh, thank you for today,” she said, her eyes never leaving their hands. “I… I know everyone knows what happened but all it usually gets me is pity. They never take the time to like, hear me out so… just, thank you. For listening. And for… saying what you did.”
Blake nodded. “Yeah. Of course.” She hesitated a moment, biting her lip before adding. “I’m here for you, Yang.” And then, feeling the air charge and wanting desperately to diffuse it before she did something stupid, Blake made a different stupid decision. “I mean, that’s what friends are for, right?”
Yang chuckled though, at the statement. “Right,” she said, smirking. “Friends.”
Before Blake could even think about asking what the tone was for, Yang brought the back of Blake’s hand to her lips, leaving just a brush of a kiss there before releasing her hand, grabbing her bag, and slipping out into the night. She only stopped for a second, halfway up her driveway, to turn around and shout, “See you in the morning, Belladonna!” before turning and disappearing into her house, leaving Blake blushing, confused, and eager for the morning to come.
“Me, me, me!”
Communication was always key on the field. It’s one of the first things Blake remembered being taught, especially as head of the defense. And on the field, it was easy: Yell a number, person covers them, defense clears the ball, done. It was a formula Blake had down to a science.
And it was the only way communication seemed to be clear when it came to her and Yang anymore.
Blake moved her leg forward a little, trying to push the player that had all but sat on the top of her leg guard away. “Someone on pads!”
“I got you, Belladonna!” Yang said, still managing to smirk at her even through a mouthguard as she jogged up to the girl in front of Blake before the ball was put back into play.
Things between them changed a little after the night at the field. Yang started acting just a little different around her. She’d always been a little physical in the past but it had mostly been indisputably friendly; an arm slung loosely around her shoulders, a hug now and then, a light hip check in the hallways. Blake had seen her do those things with countless people.
But now she had taken to holding her hand on occasion. Like, the not only friends way. Like with their fingers intertwined and the occasion sweep of a thumb over the back of her hand kind of hand holding. Or sometimes she’d tuck Blake’s hair behind her ears if it was starting to come loose from its ponytail and Blake would have to remember not to kiss her.
Funny enough, the only thing Yang hadn’t done again is kiss her, on her hand or otherwise. Part of Blake longed for it. Because Yang was wonderful. Beautiful and kind and smart and funny… she was freaking perfect. But part of Blake was also insanely grateful that they hadn’t seemed to take any steps past the point of plausible deniability for them being only friends. Because although Yang was wonderful, Blake had dated fellow athletes in the past. Athletes she thought were great, were nice… and while she knew Yang wasn’t going to be like him, it still made her take pause.
Blake’s attention snapped back to the game as a girl from Haven drove the ball toward the cage and right in the direction of Yang and the other Haven player. In a split second, a few things happened.
First: Blake remembered why she always hated playing on grass as the ball took a weird hop that had it sailing up into the air.
Second: The Haven girl that had been playing against Blake’s pads ducked.
Third: Yang did not and Blake reacted on pure instinct. She dove forward at an angle into the air, effectively… half-jumping over… the Haven player that had ducked. She felt the toe of her kicker come across the side of the Haven player’s body as Blake’s stick made contact with the ball, deflecting it away from Yang’s face.
While Blake was sure the save looked spectacular it sure as hell didn’t feel like it when she hit the ground with an oof. Distantly, through her own ringing ears, Blake heard someone else curse and a whistle sound. She propped herself up onto her hands and knees, shaking her head as she tried to figure out if anything hurt.
She felt a hand on her back and a worried voice in her ear. “Blake? You okay?”
Blake glanced sideways and saw Yang beside her, eyes wide with concern. Blake chuckled and nodded. “Saved your life, didn’t I?”
Yang smiled and even with her mouthguard in, it was beautiful. “I’m forever in your debt, Belladonna.”
Yang helped her to her feet and Blake took a second to take in the rest of the situation. The girl she’d clipped with her foot was fine, just a little grass-stained. However, the girl that had apparently taken Blake’s save to the face was… less okay. It wasn’t too bad overall - just a split lip - but still a certain amount of guilt settled in Blake’s stomach as she watched the girl get escorted off the field by her coaches.
The whistle sounded again once the girl was off the field and the ref signaled for a penalty corner, much to the distaste of just about everyone on Beacon’s team.
“Are you kidding? She almost took my head off!” Yang said in the direction of the ref, pointing out the Haven player that had taken the initial shot.
The ref didn’t even acknowledge Yang - which was probably for the best - and Blake stepped in front of her as she tried to pursue the issue further.
Blake placed her gloved hand on Yang’s shoulder and gave her a look. “Don’t. We don’t need to be down a player, too.”
Yang’s jaw clenched and she sent one last glare in the ref’s direction before huffing and making her way into the goal.
Blake stayed out for a moment longer and took a deep breath, watching the other team set up along the outside of the circle. It was going to be a key play, no doubt. It had been a highly defensive game and they were still tied 0-0 with only a minute left to play.
Blake had defended many penalty corners in her life but they never got less nerve wracking. Especially when a game was on the line. Especially when momentum would matter when their next game was going to be against their rivals in two weeks.
When they were going to be playing Menagerie.
The thought lingered only for a moment, and then Blake stepped into the goal, lined up with her teammates, and watched the Haven player ready herself on the end line. The whistle blew and the girl pushed the ball into play, sending it speeding toward the top of the circle.
Yang was off like a shot, stick in one hand, flying toward the ball at the top to try and break up the play as everyone else found a mark. Even though Yang was powerful and fast, she couldn’t quite finesse the ball enough to make them lose their play’s momentum. A quick pass made its way between Yang’s legs and then a shot was rocketing toward the goal.
The worst part about corners – without a doubt – was all the chaos and traffic of people trying to find players to defend. Because it made for moments like these, where a clear shot was coming in but in all the confusion a Haven player was left completely undefended and able to tip the ball and change its course. Most people would have missed the save with a change of direction so late.
Luckily, Blake was not most people.
The ball had been coming in low and left but with the redirect it took a sharper angle and started going up. Using her momentum, Blake dove, stretching out as far as she could and she felt her glove make contact. She was sure to keep the ball low as she deflected it away and watched as it cleared out into the field and right onto Nora’s stick.
Blake popped back up and by the time she did Nora was winding up and sending the ball careening down the field. Blake shot a look at the clock as the seconds ticked away and there was a flurry of activity on the other end of the field. She could just barely make out that Yang had the ball and then…
The telltale sound of the ball hitting the backboard at the buzzer and there was celebration. Nora and Weiss were the first to meet Blake; Weiss giving her a high five with her stick and Nora grabbing either side of her helmet and screaming “We won!” into her face. Really things she was used to at this point.
What she wasn’t used to was seeing Yang sprinting back toward her on the field with a huge smile on her face. Blake was stunned by her for a second and time seemed to slow down now that the game was over and she could afford to enjoy Yang’s beauty, only amplified now by the high of a win. But then, time sped up a lot because Blake realized she wasn’t slowing down as she neared her.
Hastily, Blake shook her gloves off her hands just in time for Yang to jump into her arms. Her legs wrapped around Blake’s waist and her hands found the sides of Blake’s helmet as she brought her forehead to Blake’s mask, smile wide and body buzzing with energy Blake could practically feel from where her hands hooked under Yang’s thighs.
Yang was saying something. Blake knew she was saying something because her mouth was moving but she had absolutely no idea what it was because she was too distracted by how close they were now. How the only thing keeping Yang’s forehead from hers was the stupid helmet she didn’t get to fling off her head before Yang crashed into her. How she could see all the different shades of purple present in Yang’s eyes. How she could see the light dusting of freckles across Yang’s nose she never realized were there before.
Finally, her ears started working again and Yang’s voice filled them. “—go, Belladonna!”
Blake just smiled, sure whatever it was was a compliment. “Nice shooting, Xiao Long.”
Yang giggled, tapping the side of Blake’s helmet a couple times before she jumped down from Blake’s arms and started to make her way around to their other teammates.
Blake tried not to watch her after that. She tried not to think about how right it had felt to have Yang in her arms. Tried not to think about how it would’ve been nice to have her close like that without all of her goalie equipment on. But, when they got on the bus to go back to their school, and Yang sat next to her and fell asleep on her shoulder, it was the only thing on Blake’s mind.
Chapter 6: Words of Wisdom
The bye week was both a blessing and a curse. And for the same reason.
It was the week of the Fall Ball.
Over the past few weeks, the team had been killing themselves to prep everything. All gym classes were being held outdoors and the gym was practically under construction by a bunch of teenagers. So, obviously, it was going well.
Streamers were quite literally everywhere, balloons had been ordered, a temporary dancefloor – complete with color-changing tiles – had arrived, fog machines were set up at every few intervals, and Weiss looked like she was about to have a mental breakdown if the vendor on the phone didn’t get the right shade of yellow for the tablecloths.
Blake sat on the top level of the bleachers, observing for a while. She’d had a lot on her mind recently, if she was being honest. Actually no; that wasn’t accurate. She only had one thing on her mind. Unfortunately, that one thing was currently rolling up the sleeves of her flannel before helping Nora, Coco, and Penny lift a large portion of the stage they were assembling. So, taking her mind off that one thing was going to be out of the question for at least the next five minutes.
It was getting to be a problem, how often Yang crossed her mind. How often she thought about holding her hand or running her fingers through her hair.
Most of all it was getting to be a problem with how often she imagined kissing her. And Blake didn’t want to want her. She hated it. She wished the stupid crush would just go away, because the thing that was killing her was she wasn’t planning to act on it. Yang was her friend. And perhaps more importantly, Yang was her teammate. And while Coco and Velvet might not have an issue dating within the team, Blake didn’t think it was such a good idea. Not when one bump in a relationship could mess up team dynamics. Not when she knew it could turn into… well, a problem.
Blake sighed, hugging her knees to her chest as she continued to track Yang’s movements. She watched as they set down the stage piece and Yang laughed at one of Nora’s comments. She watched as Yang wiped sweat from her brow and glanced around the gym. She watched as finally Yang’s gaze met her own and then she was pointedly not watching.
“You know, you could just go talk to her.” Blake nearly jumped out of her skin as Ruby spoke, plopping down onto the bench beside her. “I have reason to believe she likes you too.”
Blake’s heart fluttered in her chest and she looked at Ruby. “What are you talking about?”
“Yang. You like her, right?” Ruby asked, raising an eyebrow. “I don’t… I mean I don’t have a lot of experience in the area, but I feel like it’s pretty obvious.”
Blake blinked. She wasn’t used to being read so easily and she really hated it. “I…” she sighed looking back down at Yang who looked at her again for a moment before getting back to work. It was hard to tell from all the way up in the bleachers, but Blake felt like – just maybe – there was a hint of a blush on her cheeks. “I mean, she’s…”
“Unbearable ever since you two started hanging out?” Ruby asked, her head thudding back against the gym wall. “Yes. Definitely.”
Blake felt her cheeks heat. Logically, she knew Yang probably felt something too. She was the one who’d kissed her hand. She was the one who’d leapt into Blake’s arms. She was the one who’d started holding Blake’s hand when no one else was looking.
But hearing it. From her sister. It was practically first-hand information and Blake didn’t know what to do with it.
Blake frowned. “I’m… not sure that I’m really...” She sighed, running a hand over her face. “It’s complicated.”
Ruby hummed. “If there’s one thing I’ve gathered so far in life it’s this: Relationships are weird.”
Blake chuckled. “You don’t know the half of it.”
There was a pause in the conversation and Blake sighed. She wished things were different. That she didn’t have reservations about what she felt for Yang. Because it would’ve made everything so much easier.
“You could always ask her to the dance…” Ruby said after a moment. “I mean, could be a chance to figure it out.”
Even though she felt a rush of anxiety at the thought, Blake couldn’t help but laugh. “You are really wing-womaning for your sister, huh?”
Ruby smiled and shrugged. “I know she’ll never do it herself so…”
Blake glanced back down at Yang and allowed herself to imagine it for a moment. Driving over to Yang’s to pick her up. Yang in a stunning dress. Yang blushing as Blake gave her flowers. Them taking silly photo’s on Yang’s front porch. Them showing up to the dance arm in arm. Her own arms around Yang’s neck as the sway gently to some cheesy pop love song.
It was a wonderful thought. One Blake would love to bring to fruition. But… she wasn’t sure she was there yet. Maybe though – just maybe – she could find a middle ground.
She turned to Ruby. “Well... what if we all go together?”
Ruby lit up. “Like the whole team? That’d be awesome! We could do like… a whole team bonding thing!”
Blake chuckled lightly, raising an eyebrow. “I think Weiss might argue that’s what all of this was,” she said, gesturing to the gym. “But it could still be fun to all go as a group. With Ren and Jaune, of course.”
“Yeah!” Ruby said, standing. “I’ll go tell everyone else!” She started down the steps only to pause and turn back to Blake. “Except Yang,” she said, pointing to Blake. “I think you should tell Yang.”
Before Blake could even think of responding, Ruby was gone, skipping down the stairs and finding Penny among the small crowd of people.
Blake sighed and stood herself, stretching as she glanced around the gym in search of Yang’s familiar silhouette. It didn’t take her long to find her, still tightening part of the stage they were assembling into place. Blake took a deep breath, steeling herself. She shouldn’t have even been nervous. It’s not like she was actually asking her out, just telling her about the plans for the dance. But still, her heart beat quicker with every step she took toward Yang. She could hear her pulse in her ears. She could feel every nerve in her body buzz with anxiousness.
But then, Yang looked up at her and it all faded away in the warmth of her smile. Yang set down the wrench she’d been using and stood, wiping her hands quickly on her jeans. “Hey, Belladonna. Been watching us do all the hard work for once, huh?” Yang asked with a smirk.
Blake laughed lightly. “I think it’s the least you could do.”
Yang chuckled and took a large breath, her hands settling on her hips. “So, what’s up? Looked like you and Ruby were talking about something serious.”
Blake smirked. “Very serious.”
Yang’s eyebrows rose. “Oh?”
“The most serious thing of the year, Yang,” Blake said, stepping closer.
Yang leaned with her back to the stage, crossing her arms and cocking her head to the side. “Do tell, Miss. Belladonna.”
Blake tried – and failed – to not think about how Yang just said her name and how it made her heart race. Honestly, it was her own fault. She was clearly flirting even though she just told herself she wouldn’t. But damn if Yang didn’t make her throw every bit of caution to the wind when she was standing right in front of her.
“I’ve been tasked with telling you we’ll all be attending Friday’s dance together,” Blake said.
Yang chuckled. “Tasked, huh? Was it such a bad thing to have to do?”
Blake smirked. “Only a mild inconvenience.”
Yang bit her lip, hesitating for just a moment before saying, “Y’know, I’m actually inclined to agree. If only because I won’t have the pleasure of taking you myself.”
Blake blushed. Properly. Because every other time they’ve flirted it was always with an ounce of deniability. There was always that wiggle-room of ‘it could have been friendly.’
But that. That was pretty blatant. And where Blake meant to play it off – because she just said she wouldn’t do this – she instead heard the words, “Well, I think I could save you a dance,” leave her lips.
Yang though, Yang smiled. Her shoulders straightened a little. Her cheeks turned a pretty shade of pink, and Blake couldn’t find it in herself to care if she overstepped her own rules.
After a moment of Yang just looking at her softly, Yang shrugged and nodded. “Well, I’ll be looking forward to it.”
The moment hung in awkwardly shy giggles as they each took turns looking away and back at the other. Blake was sure if she was looking in on them it’d be disgustingly cute, and so she gave a nod, tucked her hair behind her ear and started to back away. “Cool. Great. So… yeah. I’ll see you later?”
Yang chuckled and nodded. “Yeah, tends to happen when we have practice.”
“Right. I’m going to just…” Blake said, pointing vaguely over her shoulder and walking away, trying very hard not to cringe at – apparently – what a mess of a person she was in front of Yang Xiao Long.
“Honestly, you should just tell her,” Weiss said, leaning against the goalpost as Blake sat on the backboard of the goal – gloves and helmet off to the side – during their water break. It was Wednesday afternoon the week of the Fall Ball, and Weiss was going on about how Blake’s crush was ‘obvious’ and the world would be so much better if it was just out in the open; as if Blake hadn't already heard it once this week. “She’s like family to me,” Weiss continued, looking off in Yang’s direction with a sigh, “but I must admit, she’s entirely too dense to put it together. Or act on it herself.”
Blake wanted to laugh because Ruby had said the same exact thing. But instead, she sighed and shrugged. “I seriously don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said. “There’s nothing to tell her.”
Weiss rolled her eyes, her gaze snapping back to Blake. “Oh please. Don’t try and play this off. Half the team heard the two of you awkwardly half-asking the other out. And the other half was told about it by Ruby.” Weiss’s nose scrunched up. “Honestly, it’s sickening how cute you two are.”
Blake felt her cheeks heat and she stood, shaking her head. “Well, just like I told Ruby; it’s not that simple.”
Weiss raised an eyebrow. “And why not?” She asked. “You like her; she likes you. Feels pretty simple.”
Blake frowned, starting to kick some of the balls from the cage back to the top of the circle, not making eye contact with Weiss. She was honestly getting a little tired of them all meddling in her and Yang’s not-relationship without giving any actual advice or showing some form of understanding as to why it wasn’t a great idea. “Well, it’s not.”
There was a moment of silence and Blake could feel Weiss’s gaze on the side of her face as she continued to clear the cage. Blake was frustrated, angry even. With Weiss, for pushing. With Yang, for being so perfect. With herself, for being a coward.
She kicked the next ball with a grunt, channeling all that anger and frustration into one kick and the ball went flying into the midfield. Blake sighed, running a hand over her face.
“Well, then if you aren’t serious about her, you should let her know,” Weiss said after a moment. Her tone serious, but not judgmental like Blake had expected. Though she was a little shocked by the comment. Blake raised an eyebrow in Weiss’s direction as she continued speaking with a frown, gently nudging one of the field hockey balls back and forth with her stick. “I know you know… Yang’s been through a lot and… well, I just don’t want to see her get hurt.”
Blake frowned. “Yeah…” She trailed off because the thing was, she was serious about Yang. Or she would be. She was serious about Yang, but she didn’t want to hurt her. And she didn’t want to get hurt herself. And thinking about it then she realized, no matter what her next move was, she risked doing both. When she spoke again, it was soft, weak, afraid, and she hated herself for it. But maybe Weiss could offer some more insight than Yang’s little sister could. “I just… I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid, no matter what, I’m going to hurt her.” Blake glanced over at Yang, who was just tossing her water bottle into the grass on the sidelines and turning back to the field. She met Blake’s eye and smiled, throwing her a wave which Blake answered with a small smile and nod of her head. Her smile slipped as soon as Yang turned again, a skip in her step as she ran back onto the field.
Weiss sighed. “Well, I don’t think you’d hurt her by asking her out, I can tell you that much.”
“But that’s the thing, it’s not like everything just stops after that,” Blake said. “This isn’t a book. It’s not like I ask her out, we get together, and it’s story over.” Blake shook her head, looking at Weiss. “And I’ve—I’ve been in that story before. I don’t want…” Blake kicked at the dirt. “I don’t want things with Yang to… fall apart like that.”
Weiss studied her a moment, thoughtful. “Clearly I don’t know everything about that situation,” she said, her voice taking on a bit of a softness. “Yang… mentioned something, but she was vague on the details.” Weiss rolled her eyes with a smirk. “It was mostly just used as a warning to ‘be nice.’ Like I’m not already, but whatever.” Blake couldn’t help but chuckle as Weiss continued, more serious again. “But I do know Yang. And I don’t think it’d be the same story as whatever it is you went through before.” She looked at Blake for a moment, her gaze firm, but not unkind. “And… deep down, I think you know it won’t either.”
Blake sighed. Because maybe she had to admit that Weiss had a point. After all, Yang wasn’t Adam. Yang could never be Adam. Yang was too kind. Her heart too big. And a wave of guilt crashed over Blake for even thinking of comparing them in any way. But still, could she risk it if things didn’t work out for other reasons?
“Besides,” Weiss continued, drawing Blake out of her head and starting to walk away, “aren’t you already hurting by doing nothing?” She shrugged. “Something to think about, anyway.”
And then she was off, lining up for their next set of drills and leaving Blake to contemplate all her life decisions yet again.
The rest of the week flew by in a flurry of classes, practices, and gym prep. Blake barely had time to be nervous about kind of accidentally saying yes to ‘going’ to the dance with Yang and her whole chat with Weiss on the field. Especially when she still needed to get a dress and study for Thursday’s math test.
If she was honest, Blake never quite liked school dances. Maybe it was because she always went with Adam. Maybe it was because she couldn’t dance to save her life. Either way, it was never something she looked forward to. But for some reason, when Friday night approached, she had butterflies in her stomach. The good kind. The excited kind.
She finished pinning up her hair, letting out a long breath as she examined her reflection in the mirror. She’d decided on a rather simple dress, overall, going for comfort above all else, though it was still flattering. It was purple with a black band around the waist and black trim around the neck up to where it tied in the back. She made a little more of an effort than usual on her eyeliner, she’d admit, and even dug out some dangling earrings and bracelet to complete her look a little more since she’d decided to go with flats over heels. She had a feeling Yang was going to want to dance, and dance a lot, so she didn’t want to risk breaking her neck trying to keep up.
Not that she’d be dancing with Yang all night. She had to keep reminding herself of that. That they weren’t technically going together, even though their conversation turned it all into muddy waters.
Just as she was about to spiral down that particular rabbit hole, she heard a car horn outside followed quickly by her mother yelling up the stairs. “Blake! I think your friends might be here.”
Blake snuck a peek out her window, and there they certainly were, in a ridiculous parade of vehicles because no one thought to rent a limo on such short notice and no one wanted to ask Weiss to dial in a favor.
One vehicle that caught Blake’s attention in particular though was the familiar black and yellow motorcycle. She didn’t think Yang would necessarily drive it tonight, it being a formal dance and all. But Blake realized she’d been living under the assumption Yang would be wearing a dress, and although it was kind of hard to tell in the early evening light, she was fairly certain the person on said motorcycle was not wearing a dress.
And her mouth went dry.
Letting the curtains fall closed again, Blake took a deep breath and jogged out of her room, shouting a quick goodbye to her parents and kissing her mom on the cheek before dashing out the door. Not willing to chance them questioning who she was going with and who she was really going with.
The door to one of the cars swung open as Blake quickly made her way down the walkway, revealing a rather cramped backseat, with Nora, Ren, and Weiss already piled into the back. As she made her way toward the car, she couldn’t stop herself from glancing back to the motorcycle at a standstill behind it. Sure enough, it was Yang, clad in black dress pants, a dark purple button-down shirt, and a golden-yellow tie. Yang shot her a salute from her bike and Blake quickly waved back before clambering into the car and shutting the door behind her.
She sighed, falling back into the seat next to Weiss and staring blankly in front of her. Who the hell had given Yang the right to be so attractive? It honestly wasn’t fair, especially paired with who she was as a person. As a matter of fact, Blake felt personally attacked by the fact that the world would do this to her. Dangle the perfect girl mere inches from her face, but make her feel it’d be wrong to have her. Make her feel like she’d be that girl’s downfall, or worse, they’d be each other’s.
“I love your dress! It’s such a lovely color,” Pyrrha said, glancing back at Blake from the passenger’s seat.
Blake blinked, shaking herself out of her thoughts and putting on a smile. “Thank you,” she said, running her hands over the fabric. “I’ll be honest, I kind of lost track of time,” she said with a shy smile, “So, this was just…”
“Well I think you look great!” Pyrrha reassured her.
“Yeah!” Nora said, leaning forward to look at Blake from across Ren and Weiss. “I think Yang is gonna love it!”
Weiss facepalmed and Ren sighed. “Tact, Nora,” he said, quietly.
Nora simply shrugged as she looked at him. “What?”
“Wait,” Jaune said, glancing at them in the rearview mirror. “Yang likes Blake?”
Weiss’s other hand came up to fully cover her face and Blake felt her cheeks light up as she glanced out the window and tried not to pay attention to how her not-relationship seemed to be the talk of the school.
Tonight was going to be a long night.
Chapter 7: Fall Ball
When they got to the school, they could hear the music playing from the parking lot. The steady thumping of a bass muffled in the cool fall air, which Blake happily breathed in after being crammed into the back of Jaune’s car for the last fifteen minutes listening to everyone – bar Ren, bless his soul – explain to Jaune the status of her and Yang’s relationship.
Speak of the devil, it didn’t take long for Yang to sidle up beside her as they all gathered up in the parking lot. She looked… well, Blake would’ve loved to only use the word beautiful, because it wasn’t inaccurate but the truth was the first word that popped into Blake’s head was ‘hot.’ Always perfect, Yang’s hair fell in waves over her shoulders, though this time it was braided along the sides and half-pulled up in the back. The sleeves of her dress shirt were already cuffed right below her elbows in that way Yang always liked to wear her shirts and she had one hand slipped into one of her pockets as she stood there smiling at Blake.
Yang shook her head. “You look beautiful.” She said it softly. Honestly. And the way she was looking at her made Blake’s heart skip a beat.
Blake felt a blush color her cheeks but she forced a smirk into place. “You don’t look so bad yourself.”
Yang chuckled and extended her arm to Blake. “Shall we?”
Blake hesitated, glancing around to see some of the others’ eyes on them only to glance away, acting like they totally weren’t watching. Blake let out a sigh as she turned back to Yang. She thought about what Ruby said in the gym, what Weiss said during practice… and then made a decision that would probably change the course of the night, and possibly the course of her future.
She slipped her arm through Yang’s, huddling close.
Yang smiled down at her and – in the moment – Blake felt like she made the right decision.
When they entered the gym, the dance was already in full swing; a large cloud of their classmates huddled onto the dancefloor all moving to the beat. Blake felt Yang perk up beside her.
“Y’know, it actually came together pretty well!” Yang said over the music, dipping her head just a little in Blake’s direction so she could hear her.
She was right, it really did. The dancefloor and stage looked great, the lights and fog machines added a certain appeal, and the balloons and streamers easily filled in the gaps.
Blake smiled. “Yeah!”
There was only a brief pause as Blake took in the room and Yang glanced in the other direction – where their friends and teammates had wandered off to – before Yang tugged on her arm. “Let’s dance,” Yang said, cocking her head in the direction of the dancefloor.
Blake felt a wave of anxiousness wash over her. Logically, she knew she’d have to dance tonight. It was kind of the point. But she wasn’t sure she was quite ready to make a fool of herself in front of Yang just yet. After all, they’d just gotten there. Shouldn’t they at least pretend they came with the group? She swallowed. “Oh! Um… I don’t—”
Yang chuckled, letting her arm slip down until their fingers tangled together instead. She gave Blake’s hand a reassuring squeeze. “Don’t worry so much, Belladonna.”
And then, Yang tugged her onto the dancefloor with a bright smile and Blake was both thrilled and terrified at the same time as a pop song with probably a little too much innuendo blasted over the speakers. Yang led them into the middle of the crowd, because of course she did. But then she turned around to face Blake and only Blake, and Blake was in awe.
The colors of the flashing lights glowed off Yang’s hair, her tie, her skin... and it was entrancing. Though not as entrancing – Blake would admit – as the way Yang began to sway her hips to the beat, the way her hair fanned out when she turned her head…
“C’mon, Belladonna!” Yang shouted over the music and she grabbed Blake’s hands again, trying to get her to move to the beat.
Blake glanced around at all the couples around them, hips flush against hips as they grinded to the song, and tried not to think too much about it. She threw a helpless smile at Yang. “I’m… not much of a dancer…”
Yang shook her head, tugging on Blake’s hands again until they were chest to chest. She leaned in, her breath hot against Blake’s ear, and Blake felt her knees go dangerously weak. “It’s all in the hips,” she said, her hands settling against Blake’s hips. She pulled back a little until they made eye contact, her eyes searching – for what, Blake wasn’t entirely sure but she just nodded because whatever it was… Blake was fairly certain she was okay with it.
Then, Yang smiled and pulled her close until their hips met and Yang was able to sway Blake’s along with hers. “There you go,” Yang said after a moment, a little more breathless than her previous statements. “You’re getting it.”
Blake wasn’t entirely sure she was getting anything that was happening right then. Her hands hung awkwardly in the air because she wasn’t sure where to put them and the only thing that kept her body moving was Yang’s hands on her because she was pretty sure her brain completely short circuited with every line and perfect curve of Yang’s figure pressed against her own.
Eventually, she came back to her senses, adjusting to having Yang so close, and her hands found Yang’s arms, her shoulders, and then made their way around her neck as Blake began to lose herself to the music, to the heat of the crowd, to the girl in her arms.
Yang smiled, confidence visibly growing as Blake pulled her closer. Then, just as their foreheads were about to meet, Yang grinned and spun out of Blake’s arms so she could press her back to Blake’s front, still dancing to the beat, if not in a more ridiculous way.
Blake laughed as she lost the rhythm with Yang’s hands no longer there to guide her. It didn’t seem to deter Yang in the least though, as she continued to roll her body back into Blake’s, singing the lyrics loud and reaching behind her with a laugh to guide Blake’s hands to her hips.
They continued that way for a few songs, laughing often, and Blake felt light even in the heavy air of the packed crowd. Eventually, Yang collapsed back into Blake at the end of one of the songs, and Blake laughed as she wrapped her arms fully around Yang’s waist to keep her upright. Yang’s hands found hers around her waist too as she chuckled breathlessly.
Then, the song changed and Blake felt Yang’s laughter die out, her own following suit. The song was slow, and Blake wasn’t sure what the protocol was here. If Yang wanted to stay, or…
Yang stood out of Blake’s grasp, turning around and looking at her for a moment before she gave her a shy smile, holding out her hand in Blake’s direction. Yang always had such a presence that it was odd to see her look so nervous and shy, and Blake found it a touch endearing as she slipped her hand into Yang’s and let Yang pull her close.
Maybe it was a stupid idea or maybe it was Weiss’s words kicking in but Blake wasn’t really thinking about what everything was going to be like after tonight. She was solely focused on how it felt to have Yang holding her right then. On how Yang made her happy. How Yang helped her step out of her comfort zone time and time again but never left her to deal with it on her own. How Yang always encouraged her, and made her laugh, and made her feel like she belonged so quickly and without reservation.
And – in that moment, with Yang in her arms and some cheesy love song playing over the speakers – Blake couldn’t help but feel that maybe everyone else had a point…
Surely, if Yang brought all those good things into Blake’s life… then wanting her to be a bigger part of it couldn’t possibly be a bad thing.
Surely, it’d be worth the risk.
She felt Yang sigh and when she looked up, Yang’s head pitched forward, leaning gently against her own, her eyes shut and Blake took in a small gasp of air.
“I know we’re not technically here together,” Yang said as they continued to sway gently to the music. “But I must admit… I wish we were.”
The butterflies in Blake’s stomach fluttered as she watched Yang carefully. And then Yang’s eyes opened slowly, only a couple inches from her own, wide and vulnerable. Blake pulled back only a little to get a better look at her.
She wasn’t even aware of the crowd anymore with the way Yang was looking at her. No one had ever looked at her like that before. Not Sun, not Ilia, and certainly not Adam. It left her feeling bare. Like Yang really saw her. And the thing was, Blake believed that maybe – just maybe – she did.
Yang shook her head. “I’ve… maybe this is stupid to say - but I just…” She brought her right hand up to tuck some of Blake’s hair behind her ear, her thumb running gently along her jawline as her fingertips brushed Blake’s neck. She took a deep breath. “I’ve never really…” Yang’s eyes flicked between Blake’s again and Blake’s dipped to Yang’s lips before she made her decision.
Blake leaned forward slowly, her hands slipping up into Yang’s hair as she guided her down again, their foreheads meeting gently. Blake’s eyes fluttered shut as Yang’s nose brushed against the side of her own. She gasped when she felt the tickle of an exhale against her lips…
And naturally, because the world had a sense of humor, that was when the song ended and the gym erupted into chaos again as another high-energy dance song started blasting from the speakers.
Blake groaned, because the moment was ruined and she wasn’t sure she’d find that courage again. But Yang laughed, forehead still pressed against Blake’s. Her nose nudged Blake’s once more before she turned her head to the side and brushed her lips against Blake’s cheek. Blake remembered the sensation of Yang’s lips against her hand all those weeks ago. How they’d been soft and light against her skin. But it didn’t prepare her for what it felt like to have them against her cheek, just grazing the corner of her mouth. Honestly, every part of her kind of wanted to just turn her head and see how soft they were against her own lips but she tamped the impulse down.
Yang pulled back with a flushed face and a wide smile. “Well. Good to know,” she said.
Blake rolled her eyes, her face red. She was surprised by the lack of anxiety she felt after showing Yang what she wanted. Showing Yang that all there was left to do was make it official. But more importantly, she was shocked by how absolutely freeing it felt to have it out in the open. How her mind was alive thinking about the possibilities for their future, rather than dread for what it could bring. Sure, she still had her concerns but somehow the knowledge that they were on the precipice of something more, and that it could feel like… that, outweighed her insecurities, if only for a moment.
She tugged playfully on Yang’s tie. “Shhh,” she said, bringing Yang a little closer. “Let’s dance.”
Yang brought herself against Blake again with a chuckle, smile still wide. “Yes, ma’am.”
They danced for hours, eventually breaking from each other long enough to also hang out with the rest of the team, even if it was only for a little while. And Blake had fun. An odd amount of fun, if she was being honest, and she knew that the only reason was because of Yang. Which was a little bit of a problem, because as everyone was getting ready to leave, Blake felt her heart sink, because she knew her and Yang would have to part ways.
They walked out of the school together, Blake tucked under Yang’s arm, Yang’s tie loose around her neck and the top few buttons of her shirt undone to try and help her cool off from the overheated gym. Yang caught up to their situation as well when she stopped at her motorcycle and Weiss loitered outside of Jaune’s car, waiting for Blake to come over.
Yang sighed, turning to face Blake and taking her hand instead. “Y’know,” she said, her eyes scanning between her motorcycle and Blake’s body with a frown. “As lovely as you look, I really wish you’d worn pants.”
Blake chuckled, swinging their hands lightly through the air, enjoying the way Yang’s fingers fit against her own. “Yeah. Not a typical pick-up line but I know what you mean.”
Yang blushed. “I—I wasn’t—”
Blake laughed again. “I know.”
Yang sighed, looking at Blake for a moment longer, eyes squinted and lips pursed. Blake got lost in her eyes for a moment, the dark purple of Yang’s shirt bringing out the dark purple flecks in her irises that Blake never really noticed before. Come to think of it, this was the first time Blake felt like she allowed herself to get lost in Yang’s eyes. Because now they stepped past some kind of boundary, and Blake was tired of pretending Yang didn’t mean the world to her.
Then – without breaking eye contact – Yang called over to Weiss and broke the spell. “You guys go ahead. I’ve got her.”
Blake’s eyebrows rose and she blinked, slowly coming back to herself. “Um… I don’t—”
“Oh, thank god,” Weiss muttered, climbing into the back of Jaune’s car.
Before Blake could argue the point of pants, they were already pulling away, Nora leaning out of the back window shooting a thumbs up in Blake and Yang’s direction. Blake looked at Yang again, eyebrows still up.
Yang simply smiled, hands tucking into her pockets. “Have a little faith,” she said, starting back in the direction of the school, craning her head to signal for Blake to follow.
They went back inside, Yang holding the door open for Blake over-chivalrously and making her laugh. Yang took her hand when they were inside and began to lead her in the direction of the locker rooms.
“I always keep an extra pair of sweats in my locker,” Yang said with a shrug. “Never know when you might need them.” She nudged Blake with her shoulder. “Like to give a pretty girl a ride home.”
Blake blushed. It was going to take some getting used to, Yang complimenting her like that. Yang maybe being… more than a friend. Blake was still a little nervous about it but with just a taste of it right now, she couldn’t image Yang being anything less than what they were, and could certainly imagine her being more.
Yang only dropped her hand to take the lock off her locker and hand Blake her sweats. Blake took them and without thinking, pulled the tie loose at the back of her neck. She’d undressed in front of Yang a million times before and didn’t even think about it at all until right then, when she realized she’d need help this time.
Blake cleared her throat, glancing up at Yang who had looked away. “Um, think you help me out?”
“Oh! Uh, sure.” Yang shuffled up behind her as Blake turned around and Blake heard her take a steadying breath.
Blake smirked. “It’s just a zipper, Yang. I’m sure you can do it.”
Yang laughed, a little shaky but Blake felt her fingertips brush against her back as she found the zipper and gently guided it down.
There was a moment where they just stood there and Blake could feel Yang’s gaze linger before she caught herself and cleared her throat, shuffling back again. “Y-You’re all set.”
Blake threw a quick “thanks” over her shoulder and hastily slipped into Yang’s sweatpants and hoodie. They were just a little big on her but they were warm and comfortable and they smelled like Yang, and Blake sunk into them.
When she turned around, Yang offered her a sweet smile that bordered on bashful as she took in the sight of Blake in her sweats. Without a word, Yang’s hands came up to smooth out some of Blake’s hair, and tuck it behind her ears, her fingers trailing gently against Blake’s jaw as she pulled away.
Yang sighed, and seemingly without a thought, whispered, “You’re so beautiful…”
Blake wasn’t sure she’d meant to say it, considering the blush that lit her cheeks not a moment later. But, it still made Blake feel like she was flying, it made her stomach do a giddy flip, it… made her just a little less afraid. And so, she took Yang’s hand with a smile as she led her back out of the locker room and the school and into the parking lot again.
As they got themselves situated on Yang’s bike, Yang asked, “Do you mind if we take a quick detour?”
Blake wrapped her arms around Yang’s waist, holding her just a little tighter than usual. She shook her head with a smile, eager that she would be able to see Yang for a little longer tonight. “Sounds fun.”
“Great,” Yang said, and Blake could hear the smile in her voice too.
As they pulled out of the lot, Blake thought back to the first time she’d been on Yang’s bike, still so unsure about so much. If nothing else, Blake could say she was now pretty sure about Yang. Sure that Yang was meant to be a part of her life – in one way or another. Sure that she was ready to toss those doubts she had aside if it meant she got to kiss her. Got to hold her hand. Got to call her beautiful and make her blush and make her feel special, just like she made Blake feel.
Blake burrowed her face against the back of Yang’s shoulder, trying to block some of the cool air from lashing against her face as they sped under streetlights and stars.
It didn’t take them long to reach their destination, and Blake wasn’t surprised by where they were, having driven the route with Yang every Sunday morning. Yang parked her bike in the space closest to the water of the reservoir and Blake begrudgingly detached herself from Yang before slipping off the back of the bike.
They made their way down to the edge of the water together hand-in-hand, only separating when they reached the metal handrail that overlooked the water and Yang sat down, her feet dangling over the edge of the concrete dock and arms coming to rest on the lower metal bar that made up the 2-tier fence. Blake slipped down next to her, mirroring her posture and listening to the water lap gently against the side of the pier.
They sat in silence for a bit and Blake’s thoughts wandered to earlier that night. Yang in her arms. Yang’s lips hovering against hers…
Yang’s, however, seemed to travel somewhere else. “How are you feeling about playing Menagerie next week?” She asked, her eyes still trained forward.
Blake sighed at the far less pleasing thought. Of having to face her old team again. Of having to face Ilia again. It was kind of hard to forget Ilia still believing in any of Adam's... methods. “Not great,” she said. She leaned her chin on her forearms. “Brings back a lot of… things. Things I’d rather forget about.”
Yang hummed. She paused a moment before speaking again, the heel of her shoe clacking gently against the wall of the dock with every lazy swing of her leg. “I just want to say, I’m… sorry if you feel like I never gave you a choice, Blake. I didn’t mean to ever push you to join or anything. And I’d just… I’m not sure I’d be able to forgive myself if—”
“Yang.” Blake placed a hand on her leg and looked at her. Yang was quick to meet her eyes, her fidgeting coming to a stop as her eyes darted to the hand on her thigh and back to Blake’s again. Blake shook her head. “Trust me, you were pretty much the only one who I felt gave me a choice,” she said with a chuckle. “And… I’m glad I did it. I think you… might’ve been right.”
Yang cocked an eyebrow. “Care to elaborate?”
Blake laughed. “I think I needed a rebound,” she said. She looked into Yang’s eyes and felt her smile soften. “And I think… I think maybe you’ve given me two.”
Yang glanced to the side, forcing a smirk as she blushed. “Well, I certainly hope that I’m going to be a little more than a—”
There was no music to stop her this time and Blake leaned forward until her lips brushed against Yang’s. Yang gasped as their lips met, her body stiffening for only a moment before Blake felt her lean into it too. And god her lips were so soft, and so sweet, and Blake was suddenly concerned that actually knowing she could kiss Yang might become more distracting than thinking about how nice it would be to kiss her had been.
Blake pulled back first after a moment, only slightly. “Way more,” she whispered, and then she kissed her again, slower this time, more sure.
Yang kissed her back; her hand coming up to gently cup Blake’s jaw and draw her closer, and Blake felt every nerve ending in her body come alive. Kissing Yang was nothing like kissing Adam had been. Kissing Yang was an entire experience of taste and touch and sound and pure emotion that Blake couldn’t put her finger on because it was so powerful. She felt it in her chest. In her heart.
Yang pulled back this time, after a long lingering moment. She rested her forehead against Blake’s. “Good,” she said softly.
Blake enjoyed the quiet beat between them, the cool air rolling off the water making the heat on her cheeks just a little more bearable. Then, her mind jumped to that one thing she was still holding onto, and she just needed to get it out there so they could move on. So they could be like this. Be together.
Blake pulled back abruptly and Yang’s eyes shot wide open as words began tumbling out of Blake’s mouth faster than she’s ever probably talked in her life. “This can’t affect the team,” she said, shaking her head. “It can’t affect the team and being on the team together can’t affect us. I don’t…” Blake’s hands found Yang’s and she gripped them tight, squeezing a little to emphasize her words. “I don’t want to lose you like that. I can’t. I can’t lose you like that. I can’t… do that again.”
Yang shook her head, freeing her hands and bringing them up to either side of Blake’s face. “Blake, Blake, baby.” Her thumb stroked over the line of Blake’s jaw and Blake felt her stomach swoop when Yang said ‘baby’. “I promise,” she whispered. “I promise. I won’t let any of that happen.” She smirked. “Besides I don’t plan for there to be any problems in our relationship so soon. Or… ever, really.”
Blake rolled her eyes. “You know that’s not what I—”
Yang chuckled. “I know.” She just looked at her a moment, gaze soft and excited as it bounced from her eyes, to her lips and back again. She leaned forward. “I’m going to kiss you again, if that’s okay?”
Blake smiled and nodded. Her voice a whisper. “Yeah…”
And she lost herself in Yang’s lips yet again.
Chapter 8: Sunday Funday
When Sunday morning rolled around, Blake was actually excited. Usually, it was a sense of dread that filled her, knowing that she’d have to run an obscene distance; the only silver lining being that she knew Yang would be alongside her.
But this Sunday was different. Because this Sunday, Yang was her girlfriend. And while, yes, she was technically her girlfriend the day before, too, this was going to be the first time they really got to spend time alone together in their new relationship.
Even if it was going to be spent running.
After rolling out of bed and grabbing a granola bar from the kitchen, Blake threw on a t-shirt, shorts, and Yang’s Beacon sweatpants over them. Yang had told her to hang onto them after the dance, seeing as Blake didn’t have as much Beacon attire and Yang had some to spare. Blake had happily accepted, totally for the practicality and not because she was happy to have a bit of Yang to keep with her.
Blake shook her head with a smile. Maybe it should’ve been harder for her to fall into this new thing with Yang. Maybe she still should’ve felt a little on edge, or like she needed to guard her heart but the thing was, she just didn’t. She didn’t feel that way and she didn’t feel like she needed to. Because – as utterly cheesy as it sounded – Yang was special.
Blake just finished tying up her hair when she heard the telltale roar of Yang’s motorcycle coming down the street. Her heart instantly sped and she rolled her eyes at herself as she ran out of her room and trotted down the stairs. She grabbed her water bottle off the kitchen counter before bounding out the front door, stepping outside just as Yang pulled up to the front of her house.
Yang sat upright as Blake started to make her way down the path, quickly undoing her helmet and slipping it over her head to greet Blake with a smile. “Morning, sweetheart,” Yang said, eyes bright.
Blake smiled back, coming to a stop right next to her, hesitating only a moment before she leaned up and placed a soft kiss to Yang’s lips. “Morning,” she said, softly, before pulling back entirely to get Yang’s spare helmet and slip it over her head.
Before she could, however, Yang pulled her close yet again, placing another kiss to her lips, this one long and lingering and Blake lost all coherent thought as she leaned into it, kissing Yang back until Yang pulled away with a sigh. “Don’t think I’ll ever get used to that,” Yang said.
Blake stood there, a little dazed for a moment until she was able to think again and remember what was going on. She cleared her throat, slipping on her helmet. “Y-Yeah, me either.”
Yang simply smiled in return before putting her own helmet back on and waiting for Blake to get situated behind her.
Blake held her tight as they took off down the road, enjoying the faint scent of Yang’s shampoo from the night before and the warmth radiating off of Yang’s body. Just the little things she never really let herself enjoy before because she was afraid of overstepping, of making their relationship something it wasn’t, or making Yang feel uncomfortable.
They sped through town in the early autumn morning. The leaves that had fallen off the trees kicking up in the air behind them on the familiar route to the reservoir. However, as they approached the entrance, Yang blew right past it.
Blake shouted over the roar of Yang’s motorcycle. “Hey, didn’t you just miss the turn?”
Although she couldn’t see Yang’s face, she could tell she was smiling just by the tone of her reply. “I thought we’d do something a little different today! I think you’ll like it!”
Blake simply hugged Yang a little tighter in response. Odds were – yes, she would probably like whatever Yang had planned but she would definitely like it more if maybe there was no running involved, which she hoped was the case.
Yang drove them through some winding streets and Blake took the time to enjoy the new view. They were overlooking the ocean, the waves breaking in the early morning light beautiful and serene. It didn’t take long from there for Blake to figure out where Yang was taking them as she drove in the direction of the nearest beach entrance, pulling to a stop in the closest parking space to the ramp.
Blake cocked an eyebrow as she hopped off the back of the bike and Yang put down her kickstand. “It’s fall, Yang,” she said, unbuckling her helmet and placing it on the back of Yang’s bike.
Yang chuckled, turning off her motorcycle and taking off her helmet. She shook her hair out with a sigh and Blake felt her breath catch. “I know,” Yang said, looking out past the sand dunes and into the open ocean. “I love it here this time of year.” She glanced at Blake with a small smile before nodding in the direction of the beach and starting to stand. “C’mon.”
Yang’s hand slipped into Blake’s after she dismounted, their fingers weaving together as Yang lazily swung their arms between them. “The waves are always good this time of year,” she said as they made their way onto the sand. “Usually, I’d go surfing but…” Yang smirked in Blake’s direction. “Well, I think the first time I take you surfing should probably be in the summer. Wouldn’t want to scar you with the cold water.”
Blake rolled her eyes. “I’d take surfing lessons in the cold over a five-mile run any day…”
Yang laughed, looking forward again. She nodded. “I’m somehow not surprised.” She nudged Blake’s shoulder with hers. “Be careful; I might just hold you to that, Belladonna.”
Blake shrugged. “How bad could it really be if you normally do it?”
Yang smirked, raising an eyebrow. “Care to find out?” She gestured with her free hand to the ocean before them and Blake snorted.
Yang chuckled. “It’s cute, you think I’m kidding.”
“Yang, we’re totally not dressed for that.” Blake shook her head. “We’d freeze on the bike ride back.”
“Well,” Yang said, “I don’t know about you, Belladonna but I layered up.” She shrugged. “Just saying… shorts and a sports bra… plenty of coverage for a quick dip.”
“And plenty of coverage to ensure you’ll catch a cold,” Blake said with a chuckle.
Yang rolled her eyes. “You don’t actually believe that. C’mon, Blake, it’ll be fun!”
“No,” Blake said, laughing.
Yang sighed and shrugged. “Guess I’ll just have to go myself, then.”
Yang tugged her hoodie over her head, followed quickly by her t-shirt and Blake had to physically force herself to look away as she heard Yang slip out of her shoes and socks and drop her sweatpants into the sand as well. Blake felt a tug on the bottom of her shirt and she looked up to find Yang staring at her, a small grin across her lips. “Not too late to join me. Sure I can’t convince you, Belladonna?”
Blake shook her head, smirking. “No, I think I’ll pass.”
Yang clicked her tongue. “Your loss.”
And as Yang turned and started to actually run in the direction of the ocean, Blake couldn’t help but think it really was her loss. Because this was something she would’ve wanted to do at the beginning of her last relationship… something wild, and fun, and carefree… and – even though it had been Yang who offered it – it took Blake a moment to truly realize she could now. She could enjoy those frivolous things with Yang.
As Yang hit the water, Blake heard her let out a squeal and the corners of her mouth twitched up. Then, with a sigh and a quick glance around the beach, Blake slipped her t-shirt over her head, kicked her sneakers and socks off and wriggled out of Yang’s sweatpants. When she reached the edge of the water she slowed down and Yang threw her a smile from where she stood knee-deep in water.
“Change your mind?” Yang asked with a smirk, very clearly trying not to show how cold the water was. But Blake could tell. She could tell by the way Yang’s body was ever so slightly tensed. She could tell by the goosebumps that were so clearly sprawled across all her exposed skin. She could tell by the way Yang rocked back and forth on her feet to try to keep moving.
Blake smirked back and without answering walked into the water. She managed to keep a straight face as she trudged through the icy water, thankful that they were out of reach of the crashing waves as the water rolled in around their calves and knees. She sauntered up to Yang slowly, loving the curious look in Yang’s eyes as she drew closer and closer until she planted herself directly in front of her.
For a moment, Blake just stood there, taking Yang in. Taking in the way the early morning sun shined off her shoulders, her hair, her eyes. Taking in the way her hair blew in the breeze. The way her gaze softened as Blake came closer still, wrapping her arms around Yang’s waist.
Yang’s arms settled easily over Blake’s shoulders and Blake smiled softly before tilting her head up to plant a kiss to Yang’s lips. It was still such a new sensation, to have Yang’s lips moving against hers. To have Yang’s breath tickling her cheek. To have Yang’s body pressed against her own. But they were all wonderful new sensations that Blake couldn’t help but feel she could never grow tired of.
They drew back at the same time, sucking in a breath of air in the miniscule amount of space between them, their foreheads still pressed together. Blake exhaled with a small laugh.
“What?” Yang asked, chuckling lightly at the sound.
Blake shook her head, her eyes still shut. “Nothing,” she said. “I’m just… happy.”
She felt Yang shift and their lips pressed together again, briefly; Blake all too aware of the smile on Yang’s face as well. “Me too,” Yang said quietly, just over the roar of the ocean waves. There was a moment where they both just enjoyed the moment of calm before Yang took in a breath. Blake could hear her smirk as she spoke. “Also proved, yet again, the best way to convince someone is to not convince them.”
What happened next Blake wasn’t exactly proud of but she did think it was quite funny, considering she hadn’t meant to push Yang quite so hard. But still, she did, and Yang – completely unsuspecting – went falling back into the water, her loose grip around Blake’s neck doing nothing to steady her or even drag Blake along with her.
Yang sputtered, sitting upright in the water. Her eyebrows raising in Blake’s direction as Blake brought a hand up to stifle her giggles. “I’m so sorry,” Blake said, still laughing.
“Oh, no,” Yang said, shaking her head. “It’s too late for that, Belladonna. C’mere!” Yang lunged for Blake’s hand with a grin and Blake was quick to pull back with a laugh, running for the safety of dry land before Yang could try and drag her into the water.
Blake easily hit the sand first but she could hear Yang splashing her way to shore and knew she wouldn’t be a match for her in a race. Still, she tried as she sprinted up the beach in the direction of their clothes laying in the sand, giggling as she threw a few glances over her shoulder, Yang closer and closer and closer to her each time until—
“Gotcha!” Yang said as she wrapped her arms around Blake’s waist.
Blake gasped as the sensation of cold water from Yang’s body collided with her bare back and then her stomach as Yang twisted and pulled her down on top of her in the sand.
“Cold! Cold!” Blake said through her laughter, trying to push herself off Yang to no avail as Yang’s arms locked around her body, holding her close.
Yang chuckled. “Yeah! Tell me about it!”
“Okay, Okay! I said I’m sorry! Please just, let go,” Blake said.
Yang chuckled as her grip around Blake loosened and Blake propped herself up just slightly, both their laughter slowly dying out and turning into shy smiles as Blake hovered over Yang in the sand. Yang sighed, one hand coming up to brush some of Blake’s hair behind her ear and Blake couldn’t help but take such an easy opportunity to kiss her again, slow and loving.
It only lasted a moment though, before Yang broke the kiss, looking up at Blake thoughtfully. She sighed. “I think we have something special here, Belladonna.”
Blake chuckled. “I love that you’re saying that after I pushed you into the ocean and you tackled me into the sand.”
Yang smiled. “And that’s why,” Yang said, leaning up and placing a gentle kiss to Blake’s lips. “Even after all the absolute betrayal,” she said with a smirk, her face softening a moment later as her fingers scratched gently against the small of Blake’s back, “all I want to do still, is be like this.”
Blake’s heart fluttered and she nodded, leaning down again. “Yeah,” Blake said, her lips a breath away from Yang’s. “Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.”
Blake had seen many over the years but this one felt different. It reminded her of those high-stakes games she used to compete in where her stomach would do flips. The ones for championship titles and trophies.
Only this one was just on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of the season.
And her teammates were absolutely ridiculous.
“It’s like this; one, two, step, and—”
“Yang, not everyone is as coordinated as you.”
“Don’t be upset just ‘cause you can’t handle my amazing choreography, Schnee! Besides, this is for goal scorers only!”
Scratch that. Her girlfriend was absolutely ridiculous. Still, Blake found herself smiling as the word crossed her mind and as Yang continued to walk the offense and mid-field through some kind of celebration dance that looked far too complicated for what it was.
“Head in the game, Belladonna! I want to see some saves out there today. You can stare at your girlfriend on your own time!”
Blake blinked a couple times as she heard her coach and shook her head, shaking out her legs. “Uh, yes coach.”
She glanced one more time at Yang and saw her mouth “busted” in her direction with a smile.
Blake rolled her eyes and made sure not one of Yang’s shots made it into the goal during warm ups.
She still felt like she lost though when Yang whispered, “I love it when you get all competitive like that,” with a wink as they jogged off the field to prepare for the game.
As they gathered up to listen to their coach before the game, Blake couldn’t help but look at the opponent’s bench. She scanned over the familiar faces and a few new ones. But eventually her gaze landed on one in particular and she sighed.
“Everything okay?” Yang asked, looking past her, trying to follow her gaze.
“Yeah,” Blake said quietly, turning her attention back to their coach. “Just… an old friend.”
Yang hummed and nudged Blake with her shoulder. “You got this, Belladonna.” She nodded as Blake met her eye. “You got this.”
About a quarter of the way into the game, Blake wasn’t so sure she “had this.” Yeah, they were still tied 0-0 but Menagerie’s offense was giving them a run for their money and Blake was already starting to break a sweat. She wasn’t sure the ball had even crossed the mid-field in the last 15 minutes, let alone made it into the other circle. Honestly, she was wondering where the hell this Menagerie offense was when she played there.
“Mine!” Blake called out, running out to clear the ball before the offense could get a clear shot off. She kicked it wide, sending it right out of bounds and Blake huffed as she set up for the ball to come in again. Part of her was frustrated she hadn’t pulled back on it a little, part of her was frustrated none of her teammates were there to field it.
And all of her just wanted Ilia off her fucking pads.
“So, this is what goalies always had to deal with, with you, huh?” Blake said pushing Ilia discreetly off her, trying not to draw a foul.
Ilia chuckled. “You shouldn’t have left, Blake. Could’ve been on the winning side of this.”
“Hate to cut off the reminiscing and trash talk but we are in the middle of a game,” Yang said, wandering up to both of them as the teams set up. She positioned herself so her stick was in front of Ilia’s and shot her a smile which turned to a stern glare halfway through her sentence. “Hey, I’ll be your defender; get off my goalie.”
Blake chuckled as the ball got put back into play. The girl at the top of the circle got a quick shot off and Blake easily deflected it with a split-save but she wasn’t ready for Ilia on the rebound. Ilia was always good with her reverse stick and Blake just couldn’t recover from the initial save as the ball popped up over her and towards the goal.
In a moment of either pure genius or sheer stupidity though, Yang was there behind her trying desperately to block the ball with her stick without getting called for it being dangerous. Honestly, the only one it was dangerous for was herself because the surface area of a stick is a lot smaller than the surface area of Yang’s entire body, so naturally the ball smacked off her shoulder instead and the whistle was blown.
“Shit.” Yang instantly grabbed her arm, grimacing as she tried to shake it out.
Blake was on her feet in an instant, walking over to look at Yang; scanning over the red mark already starting to form on her shoulder. “Are you okay?”
Yang chuckled, though it seemed a little forced. “I’m fine. Twisted the skin a bit is all." She grimaced again, rolling her shoulder. "You just… take those to your body?”
Blake smirked and tapped her stick against her leg guard. “Pads, Yang.”
The ref came over briefly to check on Yang, which she quickly waved off and then he called for a penalty shot. Blake took a deep breath. She knew to expect it after what happened but still, it was never something you wanted to deal with.
Yang frowned and clapped Blake on the shoulder. “Sorry, Blake. You got this,” she said before running to stand with the rest of their team.
Blake jumped in place a couple times, then turned around to face Ilia. It was the first time she got a good look at her since the start of the game and Ilia looked good. Blake was honestly happy about that. Just because they had a falling out didn’t mean Blake wanted the worst for her.
Ilia had been Blake’s closest friend, after all. She’d gone to all the training camps with her and hung out with her after school. She was the one Blake always talked about Adam with. But she was also the one that still saw him as a great coach and leader, even after Blake had left. And Blake just couldn’t be around that.
Ilia was just a reminder of how it all blew up in her face and it was messing with her.
She shook her head as she lined her heels up on the goal line and set up for the shot. Then there were words from the ref.
A deep breath.
Blake cursed as the ball grazed the bottom of her cleat and shot into the goal. It was quite possible that would be the one and only goal of the game and Blake was pissed as she popped off the ground and cleared the ball out of the cage.
Yang was there a moment later, gripping the mask of her helmet and pulling her close. “Watch me, watch me, watch me,” she said. She grinned. “I’m gonna score.”
And then she gave a light smack to the side of Blake’s helmet and was off.
Blake couldn’t say that Yang wasn’t true to her word. Sure, it was within the last five minutes of the game. But she did exactly what she said she would.
And on a breakaway no less.
It was one of the few times that Blake had been able to clear the ball out to the sides where one of her teammates could get a stick on it and the second Nora did, Yang was off like a shot. Not many people could outrun Nora Valkyrie’s drive up the field but Yang could. Whether she was just that fast or if adrenaline had kicked in, even Blake wasn’t sure. But she wasn’t going to question it when she saw Yang get the ball, fake out the Menagerie goalkeeper, and send in a beautiful reverse-stick shot.
Yang turned around instantly, and pointed to Blake from across the field with her stick. Blake chuckled and shook her head. She looked at the five minutes left on the clock with a sigh. Maybe they could do this. It’d take work but… just maybe.
The next five minutes were brutal. For both teams this time and Blake was relieved that they’d finally found the other side of the field after almost an hour of gameplay.
Still, neither team was going to lose easily and they ended regulation tied.
And then they ended overtime tied.
And double-overtime tied.
Which meant: a penalty shootout.
Blake took a deep breath. Contrary to what earlier in the day showed, she was good at these. It was one of the reasons they recruited her for the National team. But clearly her head was clouded and she needed to clear it and clear it fast.
She was wracking her brain for ideas when Yang came up beside her. “Is it a stupid question to ask how you’re feeling?” Yang asked a crooked smiled on her lips letting Blake know she was teasing.
Blake huffed a laugh. “Super confident. Obviously.”
Yang put a hand on Blake’s shoulder. “You should be,” she said, serious this time. “You are Blake Belladonna. You are the best goalkeeper of our generation. You are the reason we’ve even made it this far in this game, because I’ve looked at the stats and we spent a single-digit number of minutes in their circle.” Yang came around in front of her, looking into her eyes and grabbing her other shoulder as well. “Blake. It doesn’t matter who’s taking those shots on you. Got it? Because you’ve been blocking all of them all day. You know every tell they have. And now, all you have to do is play like you did when it was just us. That first day. Have fun. Dive. Do a split. Make it something for you. ‘Cause I’m telling you, you’re gonna be the star of this show.”
Blake blinked at her, taking in all of her words before giving her a playful – but still firm – shove. “You can’t just say things like that. Now I want to kiss you.”
Yang laughed, stepping closer until she was just on the other side of Blake’s mask. “Later, Belladonna. When we win.”
Feeling a little more relaxed and confident after Yang’s pep talk, Blake made her way to the goal. The first shot was always important to block. It gave you momentum. So, when the whistle blew and Blake watched the ball connect with her stick on the diving save, she was relieved.
It went back and forth with the shooters and goalies on each team.
Round 1: Beacon, save. Menagerie, save.
Round 2: Beacon, save. Menagerie, save.
Round 3: Beacon, save. Menagerie, save.
Round 4: Beacon, save. Menagerie…
Yang took the line for the fourth shot. Blake knew from experience where the ball was going, just based on where Yang planted her feet. Bottom right corner.
And sure enough, she was right.
And for once it was a glorious sound to hear, followed by cheers and laugher.
Because that meant they were one save away from winning the game. Blake just had to make it through…
Before going to the cage, Blake took off her glove and lifted her mask, approaching Ilia at the stroke line. She didn’t say anything, just looked at Ilia and offered her her stick, which Ilia eyed for a moment before tapping her own against it.
Blake smiled. “Good luck.”
Ilia nodded, a sad smile meeting her lips as well. "You too."
Blake brought her helmet back down, put her glove on, and made her way to the goal. She tapped her stick to the bottom of her cleats a couple times to clear them of dirt, and mud, and grass.
Then she turned around, lined her heels up with the goal line, digging her feet into the earth to get a good grip, and took a breath.
When she looked up, she bypassed the ball and Ilia and looked beyond them, to the line of people watching. To one specific person watching with a certain amount of confidence that fueled Blake’s soul. She met Yang’s eyes and Yang smiled and nodded.
And then the whistle blew and Blake didn’t even have to think, because Yang was right: she knew every tell they had.
And Ilia’s was less a tell and more a habit.
This time, Blake didn’t even bother with the split-save, she just dropped low and dove with her stick, watching as it flicked the ball away from the cage with ease.
She was vaguely aware of the cheers from her teammates as she tried to pop back onto her feet only to be met with every single one of them running forward to tackle her back onto the ground. The first, of course, being Yang.
It took awhile to get everyone to disperse but they eventually did and Blake was grateful for the air; even if one particular person who had settled directly on top of her refused to move. Though, Blake wasn’t really going to complain about that one.
Yang looked down at her with a smile and tugged on her jersey until Blake pushed herself upright. Yang carefully took Blake’s helmet off her head, tossing it to the side as she brought her hands to Blake’s face and kissed her.
Blake laughed through it and pulled back quickly, popping the mouthguard off her teeth. “Um, mouthguard.”
Yang shook her head. “Don’t care,” she said before kissing her again. She pulled back after only a second or two – which Blake was thankful for, considering their audience – and rested her forehead against Blake’s. “I’m so proud of you,” she whispered.
And Blake felt her last bit of those nerves she'd been holding onto evaporate. Because Yang was so much more than she could’ve hoped for. Yang gave her so much more than she could have hoped for.
And so – for the moment, with Yang in her lap on a cool afternoon in the middle of the goal cage - Blake just enjoyed it; her new found love for her sport.
And her new love.
Thank you so much for reading! It's been real! Comments and kudos are of course welcome and I hope you enjoyed the story! :)
Be sure to check out whisper's art on tumblr (copy/paste cause I will be linking properly later):
And have a great day/night! <3