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i wanna wake up with you all in tangles

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Cordelia feels empty as she steps in through the door of her home, letting it slowly drift open until it slams into the walls. The noise barely jerks her from her daze.  

For a moment, she's aware of another voice. Distant, like it's under a deep pool of water. She blinks and finds herself staring slowly to the housekeeper, Esther, who smiles and chats amicably. Cordelia does her best to keep up with the conversation, but it’s hard when her heart feels as though it’s been stamped on repeatedly. 

“Are you okay, Miss Cordelia?”  

Oh, so it’s noticeable.  

A smile is pushed unwillingly to her lips, still holding small scatters of dirt from earlier that afternoon. “I’m fine.” Her fingers curl tighter around her backpack, until the strap digs into her palm. “Just a little tired,” she lies, “it’s been a long day.” Well, that is less of an understatement. She’s spent the past hour or so cleaning the classroom, replaying those few minutes over and over in her head like some cruel loop. That is itself has played havoc on her emotions.  

How serene everything had been in that room, just for a moment. Had she imagined that part? The way Misty’s arms had been wrapped firmly around her midriff, how their touches had sent shockwaves through every nerve in her body, and then how Misty had changed all too quickly.  

Into a person she didn’t even recognize.  

Someone she’s been seeing flashes of for weeks now; a doppelganger determined to steal her happy and gentle Misty from her.  

There'd been nothing gentle in the way Misty had glared at her, the same glares she reserves for Madison and people who badmouth her. No, worse. Betrayal had laced the edges – Cordelia's betrayal. At what? Attempting to get through to her, out of care and fret over what she’s doing to herself. If that’s what betrayal is, then she’d do it over and over again, even if the hole where her heart used to be seems to be painfully increasing in size every passing second.  

She lays on her bed now, a hand idly hovering over the cavern in her chest. Cordelia keeps her tears at bay; most of them had fallen on the car ride home as she’d considered searching for Misty, stubbornly insisting that she get in her damn car and not walk all the way back to her house. But she hadn’t. Maybe she’d been too scared, for the idea of facing that new Misty is alien, causing a quiver in her stomach. And she can’t bear the thought of Misty looking at her with anything but softness in her eyes.  

Had Misty cried as she walked home? The question loiters, unforgiving. The Cajun had cried in the classroom, why not the streets as she’d stormed all the way back near the swamps? Maybe the tears had lasted the entire way home, enough for her family to see and question. Cordelia’s heart pangs for a moment as she wonders if they even would notice, or if Misty’s tears will go without an audience, without any sympathy.  

Her answer comes in the realization that her family don’t even know what she’s doing to herself.  

Those scars flash back in her mind, this time vengeful in return and bringing a sharp sting to her lungs. A tear does fall now, full of sorrow for her friend.  

All she knows is that Misty had never answered her question, how there’d been no explanation or reasons or rationale to the red wounds that decorate her wrists.  

Cordelia thickly swallows that lump that she’s struggling to breathe with.  

Is Misty depressed?   

The very idea makes her gut clench and nausea to twist around her stomach. She honestly doesn’t know. For a moment, she considers googling the symptoms of depression, but the idea that Misty might have any of them frightens her, sending another jab to her insides. What is she going to do? How do you stop someone from hurting themself? 

Ironically, the one person that she wants to talk to about the whole affair is the very one under her mind’s scrutiny.  

Her phone sits heavy in her right hand, akin more to the weight of a brick than the latest iPhone. It buzzes, and she glances up from where she’s sprawled across her bed, neck straining with effort to keep herself steady. It’s not Misty. She doesn’t know why she’d expected it to be. The Cajun’s words had been all too clear. 

Just leave me alone, okay?  

Never had she thought she’d hear such irate words aimed at her. Maybe it’s blissful ignorance, or delusion, but she’d only ever thought of herself bringing happiness to the Cajun. Not the onslaught of emotions she’d witnessed mere hours ago. Cordelia had always thought of Misty like a bear, her offensive side saved for those who provoked, like Hank or Madison. 

Now, in uncharted waters, it’s Cordelia who had woken up that side, who poked the slumbering beast until it snapped. Guilt sits over her like a heavy blanket. Not for words that were said, but maybe for the ones that weren’t, especially over the past few weeks. She’s known - of course she has. Cordelia isn’t stupid, and people don’t get marks like that incidentally. So why is it only now that she’s tried to do anything about it? 

Tears grip at the corners of her eyes from her own cowardice. Maybe she’s not as good a friend as she thought she was. Maybe she could have done more.  

Misty’s words repeat again, but she sets her lips straighter. Her jaw locks in place.  

She can’t just let this happen.  

With resolve filling the gaps between her erratic thoughts, she pulls up her phone and quickly begins to search for Misty’s contact. The call goes through to voicemail, then another, and she realizes with a sinking stomach that Misty is most definitely ignoring her. But that’s not going to stop her.  

Cordelia tries again. Once more. She imagines Misty’s phone buzzing up a frenzy from all her calls, all of which unanswered.  

When that doesn’t work, unsurprisingly, she sends a text, hoping that Misty can feel the way her heart reaches to her through the words. Misty, just talk to me. Please.  

Nothing.  

But she keeps trying, because Misty is her friend, and she loves her.  

… 

The week goes painfully slow; between catching up on mind numbing school work, attempting to get something of a response out of Misty, and tending to the plants at school, she still finds herself with more time on her hands than she knows what to do with.  

When Zoe asks her out for a coffee, she practically jumps at the chance. 

There’s something about Zoe’s presence, calm and collected, that lets her breathe for the first time in four days.  

They sit outside, even if clouds litter the sky and Zoe shivers every few moments. Cordelia finds herself mostly listening to the girl’s complaints about her boyfriend. Having moved not too many weeks ago, the long distance thing doesn’t seem to be going great.  

Her heart goes out for the girl, and she nods and hums at appropriate places, occasionally sipping her mocha.  

“I just wish we’d stop fighting so much.” Zoe admits, deflating.  

Cordelia can relate in a way that Zoe won’t ever understand, but she keeps that to herself and nods in empathy. “It’s not easy.” She says softly. “But at least you’re both trying.” 

“That’s the thing.” 

She tils her head ever so slightly. “What is?” 

Zoe closes her eyes, huffing out a breath. “I don’t think he is trying.”  

“Ah.” She says unhelpfully, for a lack of any other response.  

It doesn’t seem to deter Zoe, who’s now blinking thoughtfully at her again, fingers curling around her warm cup and tugging it nearer. “He’s just so blasé about the whole thing. If he misses a phone call, he just says ‘maybe next time’.” Her eyes grow wetter. “I don’t know how many next times there’s gonna be.” 

The corners of her lips tug down and for an awfully selfish moment she’s kind of glad that she’s not the only one struggling right now. But that thought is chased away with a small shake of her head. Cordelia sighs. “That really sucks, Zoe.”  

“Yeah.” The brunette deadpans. “It does.”  

“Can you not convince him to come back for a weekend?” She tries hopefully. “Maybe you guys just need to see each other.”  

She hesitates, eyes becoming darker amongst the gray clouds above them. “I don’t think that’ll work.”  

“Why not?”  

Zoe shifts on the spot, troubled. Her shoulders curl in with discomfort. “Because maybe.” The words may be reluctant, but they’re spoken with a sense of resolve. “Maybe it’s just not going to work out.”  

It takes a moment for the realization to settle before Cordelia’s eyes widen slightly. “You’re going to break up with him?”  

“I - I don’t know. Maybe.”  

She reaches out a hand now, taking hold of Zoe’s and giving it a small squeeze. Cordelia isn’t exactly an expert with this sort of stuff, but there’s a part of her that hates sitting idle by as someone suffers. The same part that still thinks about her argument with Misty and how she hadn’t done enough. Self-deprecation swirls around her mercilessly for a movement, until Zoe is speaking again.  

The brunette is frowning, deeper than she’s ever seen her do before. Her voice may be steady, but the words are heavy. “What do you think I should do?”  

Cordelia sighs. “Oh, I really don’t think I’m the best person to ask about that right now.” 

“Right now?” Her response hovers over in confusion.  

With a wince, she lets go of Zoe’s hand. “Just - things aren’t exactly going that well in my life, either. I hardly think I should be giving out dating advice.”  

The pieces are put together far too easily even if Cordelia has tried her best to avoid outright saying it. She may as well have; Zoe is no fool and the anguish on the blonde’s face is the final clue to lead her to a conclusion. “What happened between you and Misty?” She asks abruptly, concern present.  

“Misty and I aren’t dating.” She corrects.  

Zoe makes a sound close to a scoff, then pushes further. “Seriously, Delia. What’s wrong?” 

Taking a long sip of her drink, just to gain herself a few more seconds of thought, she eventually shrugs. “We had a fight.”  

“Yeah, right.” She laughs, disbelieving.  

Cordelia’s hollow expression quickly derails all of the chuckles. 

“Shit.” Zoe announces. “About what?” She can barely bring herself to look at her friend. Zoe purses her lips at that, eyes glistening with thought. “Did you tell her how you feel?” 

Her head snaps up with urgency, mouth parting open. “No.” The assumption hangs heavily between them, and Zoe’s perplexed eyes grow slightly wide.  

“Are you ever going to tell her?” There is a hint of exasperation, like she’s becoming tired of their whole charade. But softness is there, too. And caring. 

“I -” She hates the way she sounds so small. “I can’t.” Especially not now.  

“Why not?” 

When she can’t come up with an answer, her shoulders begin to slump. Small droplets of rain start to flee from the clouds above them, though neither make to move from their spot at the table. Zoe continues to stare at her with interest, leaning in when the silence prevails. “I don’t think she’d be upset if you told her.” She offers kindly. “Maybe she likes you back.”  

Cordelia makes a noise that’s neither of scoff or a laugh, though it is definitely disbelieving. “That’s impossible. She has made it pretty clear that she isn’t into girls.”  

Zoe gives her that look again, eyebrow twitching in thought. “And you believe her?”  

Once more, Cordelia stills.  

Their conversation on Valentine’s day returns to her thoughts, how Misty had almost cried at the very suggestion of someone calling her gay, how her face had been aghast and terrified. She hadn’t believed her then, and she supposes her thoughts still remain the same, even if she doesn’t dare ponder on what it could mean, or even get her hopes up. As long as Misty lives in her catholic household with her homophobic father at the helm, she knows that the girl is never going to admit to any untraditional feelings.  

“If you didn’t fight about that, then what happened?” Zoe probes as Cordelia succumbs too readily to her own overthinking.  

Dread runs icily through her veins – she can’t tell Zoe the real reason. Misty is already angry enough that she knows, never mind another one of their friends. “Just. . . something stupid.” 

Zoe nods slowly. “Is she okay?”  

No, I really don’t think so.  

She swallows the burning lump in her throat and shrugs. “I don’t really know.” 

“Do you want me to talk to her?” 

Cordelia shakes her head vehemently. “Please don’t tell her I told you anything.” 

The brunette reels back for a moment, then sighs.  

“Are you okay, Cordelia?” 

They both know the answer to that, evident in her hesitation, how her eyes dart about stubbornly because she knows she might cry if she stares into Zoe’s caring eyes. She takes another sip of her drink which grows colder by the second, smacking her lips together. “I’ll be fine.” She decides, or insists. Maybe if she says it enough, it might come true. Mind over matter and all that.  

Zoe hums, now squeezing her hand in turn. “Who knows, by Monday Misty might have forgotten all about this and you guys will be talking again?” 

She wishes that her helpful smile would warm the numb sensation inside of her. As it is, it only amplifies it. “Maybe.” Cordelia whispers out.  

But the idea of ‘maybe not’ seems all too likely, and she feels physically sick of the idea of Misty still being mad at her by then.  

When she gets home, she tries calling her again, a single tear falling as it’s never answered. 

… 

Calling Misty throughout the day becomes somewhat of a ritual, one where she finds herself practically itching with discomfort if she doesn’t try a certain amount of times.  

It’s Friday night by now, and she knows that her friend is still in Latanier with her family. Maybe she’s busy hanging out with them, maybe not; a part of Cordelia wonders whether she’s alone, if the trip is as dreaded as she made it out to be. She wonders whether Misty misses her as much as she yearns just to hear her voice. 

The phone is pressed to her ear casually as it rings, like her heart isn't beating frantically in her chest.  

With her other hand, she idly flicks through her textbook – she's been staring at it for so long that the words all congeal into one, and she can’t distinguish one letter from another. Cordelia sighs, closing it with a loud slam. She listens to the dial tone, so used to the noise now that she hears it in her troubled sleep.  

It almost rings out, just like she expects, until she hears movement on the other side of the line.  

For a moment, she thinks it’s all in her imagination, a desperate whim dreamed up by her cruel mind. Then, words accompany the noise. “Will you stop callin’ me?” Misty sighs, deflated.  

“Misty.” She speaks her name in surprise, ignoring the abrupt greeting she’s gotten. “Misty.” Cordelia says again, relief filling her words. “You answered.” It’s as though she’s forgotten how to converse normally, all possible sentences hijacking on the first train out of her head.  

Thankfully, Misty isn’t so lost for words. No matter how callous hers may be. “Yeah.” she agrees. “You’ve called me like, a hundred times. My Daddy thinks you’re dyin’ or somethin’.”  

“I just wanted to – " 

She cuts her off, voice all sad and quiet. “Can you just stop?” 

“Stop what?”  

“Cordelia.” 

Her throat tightens, but she forces her reply through anyway, thick with upset. “I miss you.” She blurts out, not even realizing that she’s on the verge of crying until her hand is wiping at her eyes.  

There’s another shuffle on the end of the line, doors being closed and any background noise disappearing. She waits on baited breath for Misty’s voice to return, the only clear thing in her clouded mind. “Delia.” That tenderness is back, the resurgence of it enough to make Cordelia’s tears fall with joy mixed in. “Are you cryin?”  

“No.” Cordelia says with as much petulance as a stubborn child. She inwardly reprimands herself for letting the tears fall freely.  

Misty sighs, longer than last time, and she can practically hear the cogs turning in her mind. Cordelia wants her to say it back, that she misses her and that their argument is a thing of the past, that the two can build a bridge and figure this out.  

But she doesn’t.  

The Cajun lets silence shape around the pair until it’s suffocating, the end of her line frozen with words that she either doesn’t want to say, or is too scared to.  

A door opens. Cordelia can hear the bustle of boisterous voices muffled by the reception; there’s music and chatter, and children’s laughter. She hopes that Misty is having a good time, whatever they’re doing. Misty is talking, but not to her; she struggles to make out any of the words, until the ones she does hear add one more stab to her heart. “Look, Cordelia. I gotta go.” 

“But you only just answered.” She all but whines.  

Her voice exerts with a strain. She imagines the girl grimacing. “I really do have to go.” Misty insists, at least having the decency to sound sorry about that. 

“. . .okay.”  

Misty lingers, like she doesn’t want to say goodbye.  

“I’ll see you Monday?” Cordelia asks, desperation seeping into her tone.  

Another pause. She counts to nine seconds and is all but ready for her chest to cave it. “Yeah.” Misty eventually says with a sigh.  

Cordelia closes her eyes, leaning against the bed and holding in tears with all her mind. She doesn’t want Misty to go. She wants nothing more than to sit for hours and listen to her sweet, Cajun accent until she ebbs away with sleep. “Misty?” She speaks quietly. 

“Yes?” 

She smiles sadly against the phone. “I hope you’re having a good time back home.”  

There is a hitch in the Cajun’s breath, tiny yet deep. And Cordelia thinks she might have made some progress from the way Misty continues to linger on the other side of the line, but there’s a voice again. A woman this time. She registers Misty’s reply but can’t quite make out the words.  

Her fingers play with the cotton of her sheets as she waits for a response. Forgotten are her tears and instead that emptiness is returning, like a vast abyss. Cordelia would trade it for the tears any day.  

“Misty, Pa says to get off the phone now!” Those words she does hear, impatient and bad tempered. Not Nellie, Cordelia thinks. Maybe her other sister.  

She catches Misty’s equally perturbed response. “Fine, I’m comin’!” Her groan carries all the way through to the other end of the phone, where the cadence is softer, almost like the Misty she knows and love. “Bye Delia.”  

The phone is hung up before she gets a chance to say anything back, and the abyss grows wider.  

At least she answered. That’s something, right? 

In that moment, it's all that she can take. 

… 

But she doesn’t answer again.  

The weekend stretches for an eternity. 

She waves off Zoe’s concerns, annoyed when it seems to spread to her other friends. She doesn’t want their sympathy. She just wants Misty not to be mad at her any more.  

After another ignored phone call the Saturday night, she finds herself throwing her phone angrily to the other side of her room as emotion swills inside of her without warning. There’s a resounding crash that she pointedly chooses to disregard. She could scream; she really wants to. But the last thing Fiona needs is to hear her caterwauling from her room.  

So, she keeps the frustration within, festering within her organs painfully.  

And she drifts into a dreamless sleep. 

… 

Her uneasy nights continue until Monday morning, where she wakes with all the energy of a zombie. She lays in bed for a long while, her insides bubble unsurely, like she’s not quite sure how she’s supposed to feel. The idea of seeing Misty both excites and terrifies her, and she finds that she can barely focus on her entire drive to school. She smiles apologetically to the person that she always runs over in the parking lot as eyes scan for curly, blonde hair.  

The search continues for most of the morning. It’s not unusual; the pair only share one class and that’s not until that afternoon, but she’s at least used to seeing her flittering around in the hallways. 

As the wait lengthens, so does the nausea inside of her. She spends most of math fighting light-headedness and hoping that the numbers will come into focus. They don’t.  

“You look like you’ve had a week.” Queenie jokes as they leave. Even so, that concern tinges the corners of her eyes. Cordelia sighs, wondering how much Zoe had told them.  

She forces a smile to her lips. “I’m fine. Just spent way too long studying.” Cordelia rubs at tired eyes and clutches her books to her chest as they slowly migrate to their lockers.  

Queenie speaks softly. “You know the whole point of a break is to actually have a break, right?”  

“I just needed to keep myself busy.” She says, without adding ‘I wanted to take my mind off of Misty’. Either way, Queenie seems to infer it somehow and her face twists with that sympathy that she’s beginning to despise. 

Which makes matters even worse when Queenie’s eyes drift right past her. Cordelia follows the gaze in confusion, her stomach knotting when she sees Misty walking in her direction with Mallory by her side. Right, because their lockers are only a few feet away from each other. She finds herself staring without realizing. Misty hasn’t noticed her there yet – she's still smiling gently at whatever Mallory has said. 

Cordelia’s mouth opens with the intention to speak, but words don’t follow through and get caught in her throat.  

Beside her, Queenie brushes a hand over her arm in a tiny squeeze. It’s supposed to be supportive, she thinks, only she might throw up if she carries on staring at Misty like this. Queenie steps forward with her in tow, grinning. “Hey guys.”  

Both now peer in their direction, and she definitely catches the way that Misty’s expression falters when it lands on her. Vulnerability spreads across her pale features for all of a few seconds before she becomes stoic, lips pressed into a thin line. She regards Cordelia intensely, and in turn the older blonde takes in the sight of Misty.  

She wears the same dark circles under her eyes that she sports, perhaps illuminated by her porcelain skin. Her hair sits dishevelled atop her head, tamed only marginally by a red headband that sits slightly askew. Cordelia finds her eyes drifting; she can’t help herself. It’s like there is something calling out to her and she’s helpless to its cries. When they settle on Misty’s cloth covered wrists, she sucks in a shuddery breath.  

Misty catches it, sharply moving her arms behind her back and out of Cordelia’s view. Her eyes darken, almost warningly, at the blonde who feels any semblance of joy left in her flee in the wake of such a glare.  

“Hello, earth to Misty.” 

The Cajun snaps her head back in Queenie’s direction, where she stares expectantly. “Sorry.” Her eyelids flutter closed languidly, her voice airy and far away. “Was in a world of my own.” Even as she speaks, eyes dart back and forth between the other two and Cordelia, who has decided it hurts an awful lot less to just focus on the ground instead of on Misty.  

“I said, did you have a good trip?” 

“Oh.” She breathes, pausing. “It was okay.” 

“Do anything fun?” 

She shakes her head ever so softly. Cordelia dares a peek upwards when the silence lasts for longer than she’d expected and finds blue eyes scorching her own. Misty tears them away quickly, frowning, and twists more to face Queenie. “Was pretty borin’ stuff.” She shrugs, though jumps as she remembers something. “I did go to my brother’s ranch – he's just got a new foal.” 

Misty is already reaching for her phone; no doubt having filled it with an extortionate number of images of the new animal. Despite herself, Cordelia smiles fondly. It only wavers when Mallory and Queenie don’t seem to give Misty the reaction she’d wanted. She sees the way the Cajun deflates, the slump of her shoulders, as the baby animal is dismissed in favor of some of the football players walking past.  

Queenie all but oogles at them. Mallory, less conspicuous, watches their passing with focused, brown eyes and a smirk. Misty rolls her eyes, turning away with disgust evident on her face, then stares to the ignored photo cheerlessly.  

Cordelia can’t help herself, not for a minute. She leans in, just a little, and catches sight of the knobbly kneed white foal staring back at her. “It’s cute.” She says to Misty, anxiety gripping to her chest as she speaks directly to her for the first time that day. Misty looks up at her in surprise. But it’s lacking in an animosity and anger, and that’s a good thing, right?  

The corner of Misty’s lips quirks. She wants to smile, Cordelia can it poking through. That brings the tiniest of smiles to her own lips. Maybe everything will be okay, just maybe.  

“Ya think?” she tilts her head to the side, that messy hair flopping slightly.  

With a nod, she hums. “Really cute, actually. How old is it?” 

She doesn’t know where the easy conversation comes from, but she savors in every second of it as Misty watches her with soft eyes. “Two weeks.” Misty dares to grin, “she’s real big already.”  

The bell rings, cutting Cordelia’s smile in half. She honestly contemplates skipping the next class just to stand here and catch up with Misty while she seems to be in a forgiving mood. Still, despite the amicable air that surrounds them for a moment, the root of their argument loiters. And it’s not going anywhere.  

She just can’t ignore it, not anymore.  

But Misty is moving away her phone and giving her a look that makes her stomach twists in knots, in a totally good way. While reaching into her locker, Misty keeps her eyes on her most of the time. “You got English next?”  

Cordelia nods.  

Slamming her locker shut, she smiles. “C’mon then.” It’s an invitation to walk with her, an olive branch so to speak. From her peripheral, she can see the encouraging glance of her friends who seem all too relieved that their fight is over. 

Is it?   

That question hangs over her head the entire walk, even when Misty tells her about the christening and home, their shoulders bumping together every so often like she’s missed their touch. Cordelia sure has, she’d yearned for it for an entire week – probably the longest she’s gone without seeing Misty in months.  

The Cajun may be smiling, one that Cordelia tries to match even if it’s only half there, but this isn’t right. They can’t just ignore what’s sitting plainly in front of them. Why is Misty doing this? Why is she acting like nothing happened?  

Cordelia stares at the black ties on Misty’s wrists, then pulls in the longest of breaths.  

She knows that mentioning it is going to shatter whatever this illusion is right now, but doing nothing is worse, surely?  

By the time she gets outside her classroom, she has a splitting headache. Misty lingers, her own class only a few doors down. The Cajun smiles, almost forgiving, and Cordelia feels sick to her stomach. She watches Misty begin her retreat down the hallway with an ache in her heart.  

The decision stalks her, unrelenting. 

She’s damned if she does, and damned if she doesn’t. 

… 

Misty is already there before she gets into the gardening club, watering plants with one hand and eating a squished sandwich with the other. She smiles as she sees Cordelia, who over the past hour has thought herself into an anxious and frazzled state.  

Apparently, it’s pretty obvious. Misty tilts her head at her, chewing thoughtfully.  

She sets about eating her own lunch to bide her some more time to prepare for the inevitable, though the salad sits heavily on her stomach. Every so often, she looks at Misty, content and serene as she works away. Cordelia clears her throat, needing the soft charm of the Cajun’s accent to put her at ease, especially while it’s still good natured. “How was your trip really?” she asks.  

Long.”  

Cordelia snorts, moving her half finished lunch out of the way and inching closer to her friend. “That good, huh?”  

“It just made me realize that I like it here.” Misty states, not looking up from her work.  

“You prefer here to your family home?”  

The surprise in her voice is clear as day, and now she catches Misty’s full attention. She shrugs. “There’s too many bad memories up there. I hated school and everyone there. At least down here I have friends.”  

She frowns at that, absorbing the sadness that drips from Misty and heads in her direction. “Did you have to see that guy at church?” The question only serves to add another blow to her mood, but she finds herself desperately seeking the answer.  

Each one of Misty’s muscles stiffens before her. She places down the watering can with force, sighing. “Yup.”  

Her fingers nervously wring together. “And?”  

“You were right. Guys are idiots.”  

Cordelia hums her agreement.  

When Misty grows contemplative of her own words, the quiet begins to increase at a suffocating rate, so quickly that she finds herself asking anything just to stop its advance. “It sounded like you guys were really busy the night I called.” Or more, the night Misty finally answered.  

Misty’s gaze meets Cordelia’s once more, and this time there are tears residing in there. “I’m real sorry for ignorin’ you for so long, Delia. I – I. . . my head was all over the place.” She stops in all of her actions completely, dropping herself down on the nearest stool and staring over at Cordelia in what she can only described as what a kicked puppy would look like. “I missed you too.”  

Those words are enough to make her heart swoop and soar in the confines of her chest, rattling against her ribcage. She’s in front of Misty without even realizing, sat directly across from her and refusing to unlock their eyes.  

The Cajun looks like she wants to say more, but she doesn't. 

So, Cordelia says it for the both of them.  

“Should we talk about it?”  

That question, she guesses, is rather rhetorical. Of course they should talk about what happened; every rational part of her brain can attest to that. Sometimes, though, people don’t listen to the side. In fact, it’s often ignored for the easier, less painful option. Maybe she would have been better asking ‘are we going to talk about it?’, but as it is the words have already left her lips and there’s nothing else to be done.  

Other than wait on baited breath.  

Misty sighs, her leg bouncing against the stool. “Talk about what?”  

“You know what.”  

She isn’t sure where the confidence comes from, but she’s awfully glad of its presence or she might be too scared altogether to tackle this conversation. She wishes that some of it could be transferred to Misty because she looks just about ready to jump out of her skin.  

Fingers linger around her wrists absentmindedly, and she won’t meet Cordelia’s eyes. “Misty.” She reaches out, not surprised when hands slip from her grasp in a matter of seconds.  

She tries again, and this time they limply lay on hers. It’s better than nothing.  

Misty grimaces. “Can we just forget about it, Delia?”  

“No.” She recoils, horrified at the very idea.  

Annoyance spreads across Misty’s features at her refusal.  

“What kind of friend would I be if I just ignored this?” she asks earnestly, a slight crack in her voice.  

Misty stays awfully quiet.  

She takes this as the opportunity to near her, relieved when Misty doesn’t push her away instantly. “Talk to me.” Her request goes unanswered, prompting her to tighten her hold around Misty’s fingers. “Misty.” A hand rises, meeting soft locks that she caresses out of the Cajun’s face, tucking it behind her ear.  

“Why do you care so much?” Her breath shudders, her fingers return Cordelia’s hold. Inside, she jumps for joy because she’s getting through to her. But there’s still a long way to go, and it’s clear in the doubt that laces her words.  

“I’m your friend.”  

Their eyes meet, gazes intertwining. “No one else cares this much.” 

Cordelia gives a wry smile. “I’m your  best  friend,” she corrects.  

“Yeah.” Misty agrees, “you are.”  

She sucks in a breath, feeling the floor move beneath them slight as Misty starts to bounce her other leg now; both of them jump up and down in rapid movements while the rest of her body maintains an eerie stillness. Cordelia lifts a hand to grip lightly on Misty’s shoulder, just over where her shawl hangs from the skin. “So . . . will you tell me?” Misty still lingers, and that exasperation surges inside of her once more. What else can she do without forcing the answer out of Misty? “Please?” 

Misty scrunches her eyes shut, shaking her head.  

There is no stopping the groan that flows freely from her lips.  

At its presence, Misty squints open an eye. ”’m sorry,” she mutters quietly.  

“If it were the other way around, wouldn’t you want me to talk to you?”  

That silence returns again, and Misty continues her transformation into a shell of a person, like she’s just about ready to shut down. Cordelia's forehead wrinkles into neat lines. “Wouldn’t you?” she urges. 

Licking her lips nervously, Misty sighs.  

It’s all the answer she gets and it’s enough. Enough to start the embers of rage burning inside her gut. “So, that’s what you want then?” Misty blinks at the sudden hostility in her tone. “You just want us to pretend that this isn’t happening?”   

“No, I – I just – " 

“But you don’t wanna talk about it?”  

“Cordelia, I -” 

“What do you actually want, Misty?” 

She hates herself for the bluntness in her words, especially as Misty seems to harden under its quake. Her head bows, her hands retreating away from the warm touch of Cordelia, who doesn’t fight it this time. “I just want things to go back to the way they were.”  

It hits her like a punch to the gut.  

“Misty.” She hesitates, teeth tugging on her lips until it’s painful. “I don’t think that’s possible.”  

Her crushed ‘I know’ settles on Cordelia’s ears bitterly.  

She lets it echo around for a few more moments until questions begin to burn at the forefront of her mind. 

“Why is telling me the truth so bad?” she whispers. 

The way that Misty looks at her just about breaks her heart, and she resists all urges to sweep her up in her arms. As it is, she’s still waiting ever so patiently for an answer she’s afraid she’ll never get.  

“I tell you everything.”  

Misty shifts then, face crumpling in on itself as thoughts take over. After a long beat, she speaks delicately. “That ain’t true.”  

“What?” 

“You don’t tell me everythin’.”  

At Misty’s words, she finds herself scrutinizing the Cajun with upset and confusion. She searches the expanse of her mind for anything that she may be keeping from her friend, but comes up empty handed. It’s Misty herself who comes to her rescue, offering the small nugget of information that she searches for. When she hears it, she wishes she’d given up on said search. “You didn’t tell me who you had feelings for.”  

All air whooshes from her lungs as Misty stares bleakly, her own trouble evident.  

“Oh,” is all she can say.  

Misty’s mouth and nose pinch together tightly. “See?” 

“That’s. . .” she scrambles for the right words, ears scorching hot and red. “That doesn’t matter anymore. It was weeks ago.” How does she still remember?! 

“Why can’t I know then?”  

“Because I – " Her voice cracks. “I can’t tell you.”  

She shrinks under the pointed way the Misty observes her, trying to figure out the exact reason why Cordelia can’t share that information. All too easily, she’s turned the focus onto the older blonde, and away from herself; Cordelia isn't going to accept that. Try as she might, Misty isn’t going to deflect this.   

Her words strengthen. “But this is different. You know it is.” 

“How?” 

“You’re hurting yourself.”  

Misty doesn’t deny it this time. She reeks of shame and discomfort, and her eyes shift in a wayward manner.  

The bell rings, signalling the end of lunch period, though neither make to move. They’re initiated into some sort of stalemate, eyes unrelenting as they peer into the depths of one another. She doesn’t know what she’s searching for, and she’s too scared to find out.  

Moments pass by, long and short at the same time.  

When she catches the tears in Misty’s eyes, still prevalent after all this time, she lets hopelessness tug at her every muscle. “So, what are we gonna do?”  

“I can’t tell you.” Misty insists, one final time. She looks like she wants to say more, but the words never come.  

Cordelia stands then, sighing. “Guess I’ll go to class then.”  

The way that desolation clings to her words has Misty staring to her with a pained expression. She makes for the exit, her fingers curling around the doorframe as she internally cries for a friend in need. She frowns at Misty, sadder than ever before. “Things can’t ever go back to before, you know.” She says again. “But you were right, I  do  care more than anyone else.” Cordelia swallows the thick lump in her throat. “And I’m not going to stop asking, Misty.”  

As she leaves, she catches sight when Misty’s disconsolate tears rolling down her cheeks.