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i wanna wake up with you all in tangles

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She isn't sure how long they sit there, not that she minds the passing of time. With Misty, everything slows, frozen in place. For once, her head is devoid of thoughts. It’s calming, almost peaceful, and it clearly has something to do with the girl nestled in her arms.  

Surprisingly, Misty holds no reservations about being so close to her right now, nuzzling her damp face into Cordelia’s neck and letting the sobs eventually dissolve into whimpers. She’s warm, no - she’s boiling, her skin burning as it frazzles against Cordelia’s pulse point. She gulps, and breathes in the sweet smell of Misty, letting it swill around her nostrils delightfully.  

Misty shifts, then sniffles quietly. She vibrates against the suddenly hypersensitive skin of Cordelia’s neck, and the older blonde can feel the way that her leg bounces beneath her. A soft smile ghosts over her lips; the Cajun never can seem to sit completely still.  

Cordelia, on the other hand, quite successfully impersonates a statue that Misty curls around. She dares not move, for fear that it will scare off the gentle creature in her arms. All she can manage is soft, short breaths that exert her lungs somehow.  

“Delia.” 

Her voice is muffled by the confined space. It tickles Cordelia’s skin in the most wonderful of ways. For a moment, she can almost forget the reason why they’re sat like this.  Almost.  

The morose manner that Misty says her name is a stark reminder that this intimacy isn’t fuelled by romance, but instead hurt. Her embrace grows around the girl, and she lifts a hand to run through her dishevelled curls. “Yeah?”  

Twisting, she takes in some air that shudders from her lips and blinks blearily now that her eyes hit the lights above them. “I’m real glad that you came lookin’ for me.” Her lips twitch, mirth making an appearance in the tiny wrinkles around the corners. “Even if you are skippin’ class.”  

She snorts without thinking, then allows seriousness to return to her gaze once more. “I guess some things are worth skipping for.” 

Misty hums her agreement, sniffling louder this time. Despite her gloomy appearance, Cordelia’s words bring a faint smile to those bruised lips. The Cajun closes her eyes at the feeling of fingers in her hair, running over her scalp in the most delicate of manners, almost as if admiring every strand. Around them, the world is quiet, allowing them their moment. Cordelia basks in every second that Misty gives to her before she retreats into the shell that she uses for protection.  

Her free hand is idle, itching to make contact with Misty in any way possible. It falls on Misty’s arm, the tips grazing over tiny, blonde hairs that splatter the skin. She finds a line of freckles, the dots forming patterns like star constellations, and she smiles at the sight of them. Her touch migrates close to Misty’s wrist without even realizing.  

For just a moment, Misty stiffens, but it’s a fleeting, instinctive response that she fights against and relaxes once more. It’s progress, Cordelia thinks with a swell in her heart. “Can I ask something of you?” she says, nervously. 

Blue eyes open half way, pretty and calm. Misty doesn’t speak but that gaze says anything

Cordelia circles her index finger around the hem of the black ties on her wrists, grimacing when she can feel the scab of a particularly large cut. Watching in curiosity, Misty tilts her head with creases appearing on her forehead. The older blonde sucks in a cold surge of air. “Next time you feel like you’re going to . . .” She can’t say it, a bitter taste already beginning to coat the roof of her mouth, "you know.” Misty’s eyes flicker wider in understanding. “I want you to call me first. I don’t care what time it is, if I’m busy, if you think it’s going to upset me. Call me, okay?”  

There’s a moment of thought, Misty all pensive and tentative. “You’d really do that for me?” 

“Yeah.” She tries to sound as casual as she possible can, but love strangles each and every one of her words. “Of course I would.” 

Misty leans in closer, her arm wrapping around Cordelia in the tightest of hugs.  “You are the best friend anyone could ever ask for.” She announces, ever so surely.  

Her response both spurs her with the usual feelings of endearment, but she feels the tinge of disappointment loitering. She doesn’t want to be just the best friend, she wants to be more.  

She recalls Zoe’s words, the ones she’d so pointedly ignored.  

I really do think you should tell her, you know.  

And, for a short – lived second, she almost does. The words dangle on the edge of her mouth, wanting. So badly. She calls Misty’s name, tenderly. Fluttering her eyelashes and leaning up in her direction, the Cajun stares, her own lips parted. “I -” Cordelia starts. I love you, I love you, I love you. The strangely serene way that Misty regards her stalls Cordelia, who deflates with her sudden cowardice. “You’re my best friend, too.” Voice thick with emotion, she adds. “I don’t think you know how much you mean to me.”  

But Misty stares back at her with this intense glower, and maybe she does understand. 

Footsteps can be heard further down the hall, putting an abrupt stop to their moment. Cordelia checks the time, wondering if classes are finished, but that’s not for another half hour. 

But Misty is pulling herself away at the sound of the footsteps. She furiously wipes at her eyes, the back of her hand catching some of the congealed blood under her nose at the same time. Misty looks to it in disgust, then wipes it on the abandoned tissues.  

For the most part, Cordelia stays silent, musing. Especially as the mystery person rounds the corner and Misty straightens further, trying with all her might to hide the fact that she’s been crying. It doesn’t work. How could it? Her puffy face catches Cordelia, who offers a simple smile in hopes that it calms the sudden frantic energy of her friend.  

The person draws nearer, a woman with a baby in her arms. “Are you fuckin’ kidding me, Misty?” She grunts in the Cajun’s direction as she hones in on her, the same blue eyes that Misty has narrowing in on the girl. “Fightin’?”  

“Nellie, I -” 

Her sister holds up a hand, cutting off any arguments that Misty may try to convince her of. “You better not be startin’ this shit up again. We can’t be draggin’ our asses to the principal’s office every month, ya know?” Her words are annoyance filled, and she shifts the squirming baby from one arm to another as she berates Misty. 

Cordelia takes a moment to observe the furious woman, a few years senior of Misty. Though the slopes and angles to her face remind her of the Cajun, her hair is mousy brown, wispier. It waves rather than curls, and the baby clutches onto it tightly with one of his hands.  Her words linger in the air uncomfortably. Did Misty used to fight at her old school? She sucks a breath in at such a thought, stomach twisting. 

Beside her, Misty sniffles and continues her protest. “It ain’t like before.”  

“I don’t wanna hear it.” She groans out her perturbance, seemingly not having even noticed that Cordelia is in the hallway, too. The older blonde enjoys the momentary invisibility, if just to observe a member of Misty’s family to satiate her own curiosity.  

Nellie steps forward, regarding Misty with eyes that soften at the sight of her. “Jesus Christ, look at you.” She grips her chin, so tight that Misty winces. The hold persists, moving her face this way and that in the light. “Please say you got some punches in, Mist.”  

All she gets from Misty is a small grumble, eyes locking onto her sister’s.  

But Nellie is already struggling to manoeuvre her bag on the same arm that the baby (Cordelia struggles to remember his name) sits on. He whines and gurgles in annoyance at being manhandled, so much so that Nellie thrusts him into Misty’s arms. “Here, take him.”  

Misty’s arms flex around him instinctively, practised. “Hey, bud.” He leans up on wobbly legs, bouncing up and down, while fingers reach out to clasp around Misty’s cross necklace. The Cajun peers at Cordelia from the corner of her eyes, face scrunching up as she tries to read Cordelia’s thoughts from her expression.  

She's too busy smiling at the small baby, seemingly so strange in the arms of her friend. She always knew that Misty had nieces and nephews, but actually seeing her with them is kinda surreal. Misty tenderly runs fingers through his thin hair, looking to the baby where no judgement resides rather than the fizzing form that is her sister.  

“Ah! Gotcha. C’mere.” Nellie, having successfully located some baby wipes, pulls out a few and yanks at Misty’s face again. She makes quick work of wiping at the blood and snot and tears that stain the skin. Beneath her ministrations, Misty resists petulantly, eyes darting to Cordelia every now and then to see if she’s witnessing this.  

When she realizes she is, she uses a free hand to push at Nellie’s arm. “Stop it.” She orders, then snatches the wipe from her hands. “I can do it myself.”  

Her sister pushes a hand onto her protruding hip, raising a brow with the hint of a smirk.  

Misty tightens her hold around the infant once she’s wiped her face clean. The fresh skin sits pink from the pressure, and Cordelia stares at it for longer than she ought to, especially with a spectator in front of them. One who seems to have calmed for the moment and now sets those blue eyes on her. It’s not like Misty’s gaze, all soft and tender. It sits pointedly, burning her skin. “You ain’t hurt.”  

“Um. . . no?” 

“So, why are you here?”  

Eyes flashing open in annoyance, Misty groans out her sister’s name. “You don’t gotta be so rude,” she insists. Then frustration begins to drip out of her as she twists, setting eyes on her friend. “Remember how I told you about Cordelia?” Her voice grows quieter, whispered out like she’s trying to prod her sister into realization without making it too obvious.  

“Cordelia.” Nellie repeats, then tilts her head at Misty for confirmation. “The plant one?” 

“Yeah.” She says through strained teeth, clearly embarrassed at that being that only thing that Nellie remembers. “That one.” An exasperated sigh follows at the vacant expression. “Also my best friend.” Beside her, Cordelia swells with pride, a smile playing on the corners of her lips.  

But it’s short lived as Nellie is tutting at her phone and hoisting Misty up, the baby looking disoriented as he’s thrown abruptly higher, too. “Alright, we need to get goin’. Where is the principal’s office?”  

Misty frowns, peering down the hallway from where she’d come. Her hands wring together for a moment, fingers twisting like vines. “Where’s Daddy?” 

“He ain’t back from his huntin’ trip yet.” She reaches out for her son, taking him back from Misty with a newfound gentleness and the widest of smiles. Returning her attention to Misty, she sighs at the worry that etches onto her face, while Cordelia holds a sigh in of her own. “Look, he’ll be mad for a little bit and then it’ll all be forgiven – you know how this goes.” Misty ducks her head. “He sent me instead of Sylvia, so he can’t be that pissed.” 

A small shrug follows from Misty, though she still rolls on the balls of her feet as if needing a soothing motion to keep her grounded. “Yeah, guess so.” Cordelia almost reaches out a hand to take hold of hers, but resists the silly urge.  

Nellie is already trying to herd her down the corridor, impatient and bossy.  

“Lemme get my damn stuff first,” Misty huffs, face tight. She spins then, facing Cordelia directly who seems to be glued to the spot. Her sister can’t see her expression, and she’s too busy on her phone to look for it. But Misty flips like a switch the second her attention is solely focused toward the older blonde; any irritation that had blanketed over her features vanishes in the blink of an eye. She smiles, so genuine that her eyes sparkle like the loveliest of stars.  

She bends down slightly in front of the bench, grabbing the trail of bloody tissues that she’s left and stuffing them into the nearest trash can. When she returns near Cordelia, that smile persists. Misty throws a glance over to her sister, then back at her. She gives her that look, the one that makes her feel delightfully queasy, before leaning in nearer and wrapping sinewy arms around Cordelia.  

It may take her by surprise for the first few seconds, but she’s reciprocating all too easily, enjoying the way Misty’s hair tickles against her nose. “Thank you.” Misty whispers in her ear, so sincerely that her heart jerks about in her chest.  

All she can get out is a few shaky breaths and a watery smile.  

“Will you hurry up?”  

The moment is ruined. Misty tugs away reluctantly, her arms falling limply to her sides, looking all kinds of lost now they’re not around Cordelia  

She turns to her sister, who sets her stare on Misty. “I got shit to do, you know?”  

Misty grunts out something indignant, throwing her backpack quickly over her shoulder and rushing to her sister’s side. “C’mon.” She says. “It’s this way.” The two of them begin in the direction of Miss Snow’s office, leaving Cordelia sat alone on the bench.  

But Misty does turn, just for a moment, giving the smallest of waves toward her. It’s stupid, the way her breath catches at the sight of it. She gives her own back, a solemn look on her face as she wonders just how much trouble Misty is going to get in. She holds her phone up, mouthing ‘call me’ to the Cajun, who nods eagerly with her lower lip trapped between her teeth.  

Once they’ve rounded the corner, she finds herself with no intention of standing. Weighed down by her thoughts, she doesn’t know what to focus on first, where to start. So much whizzes around her head, such heavy notions that could send her lungs caving in on themselves and her skin itching with discomfort, if she allows it. She doesn’t.  

Misty finally opened up to her, and that’s a positive in her eyes. Things can only get better from here.  

... 

“Suspended?” she says thickly, disappointment evident.  

Misty huffs on the other end of the phone. “Yup,” she says, emphatically popping the ‘p'.  

“For how long?”  

“One week.” She deadpans. “It’s gonna be so borin’. Daddy is makin’ me help Tommy out at the garage.” 

“Well. . . that sounds fun.” Any attempt at hopefulness is lost somewhere along the line, and Misty is giving a cheerless laugh.  

“Oh yeah. A full week with my brother.” She mutters dryly. “Can’t wait.”  

Cordelia pauses, just long enough to concentrate on stirring the sauce she’s currently working on. It sizzles loudly, steam bubbling from its surface. “How angry was your dad?” she asks the question that’s been sitting patiently on the end of her tongue ever since Misty had called.  

On the other end, there’s a small hum. She can imagine Misty pressing her lips together and gets carried away with that image. “Less mad than you’d think.” 

She falters, surprised.  

“That’s good then?” 

“Uh huh. I thought I was gonna be readin’ bible verses until my brains melted,” she exclaims, pausing in thoughtfulness. “Guess he had one look at my face and took pity on me.” 

Misty’s bruises flash into her mind once more, and she all but whimpers in sympathy. “How are you feeling?” 

“Beaten up.” She chuckles.  

Reluctant laughter comes in her own response. “Misty.” She berates quietly.  

“My head hurts a little.” Misty offers in earnest. 

“I’m not surprised.” 

But Misty ignores that, continuing an explanation that makes Cordelia's heart clench. “And, I’m kinda – I feel like shit.” 

She pauses, just to swallow the saliva that's pooling at the back of her throat and threatening to choke her. Holding the phone nearer, she pushes out almost whispered words. “You're not going to. . .?”  

The implications sits there in plain sight for both of them. She cringes at her hesitation, wishing she could be bold enough to say the words. As it is, all she can manage is a muted inquiry.  

She wishes she could see Misty’s expression, to decipher what she makes of the words' appearance. “Nah,” comes a reply, swift and sad. 

Cordelia pauses all of her movements on making dinner, turning off the burner so she can give her full attention to Misty. “Then what's wrong?” 

“I just. . . I don’t wanna be suspended.” 

She sighs in response.  

“I wanna go to school.” Misty says. 

“You don’t like half the classes.” She teases, glad to briefly bring a reprieve in the downcast way that Misty’s voice carries over the phone. 

“I do too!” 

“Like what?” Faint giggles push against the inside of her lips at Misty's childlike retort.  

“I like art and gym.” She says softly. “Biology too.” 

She grins, disbelieving. “You  never  pay attention in biology.” Cordelia doesn’t remember a class where Misty hadn’t spent the entire time doodling.  

Misty’s scoff carries clearly, playful and light. “Ain’t my fault the teacher is so dull.” Humming her agreement, she suddenly finds herself biting at her lower lip. “Least you make it less borin’.” At this, Cordelia finds her chest swelling, and she's grateful that Misty can’t see the rosy hue of her cheeks. 

“We'll, I'm glad.” She smiles so wide that her face strains with effort. 

There’s another long pause. If she concentrates enough, she can hear every gentle exhale of Misty's breath. It soothes her in a way she doesn’t understand. “I can’t believe we ain’t gonna be able to do anythin’ together for another week.” Misty declares all of a sudden, soft spoken and dejected, and kind of angry, too. Not at Cordelia. Maybe the situation. Maybe even herself

Such a notion hits her like a slap in the face. And the once sweet smelling food that she's stood next to now sits sourly on her tongue. She hums again, this time from uncertainty of exactly how to answer that without exacerbating said ire. Plus, if she speaks, she might engage in verbal diarrhoea where she confess to Misty that the idea of not seeing her for another week makes a gloomy weight settle on her chest.  

She heaves in a breath. On the other line, Misty does the same. She does so again, as though words are obsolete and the two can easily communicate with puffs and expirations of air.  

Soon, to her great relief, Misty finds words. Even if they make that intimidating weight grow heavier. “That’ll be almost three weeks.” 

“What?” 

“Three weeks.” She confirms. “Of not hanging out.  

Another punch to the gut. “Oh.” She blinks, legs weakening ever so slightly so that she has to lean against the counter. It nudges, hard and unforgiving, into her hip bone.   “That's. . .” 

Awful. Terrible. A great injustice in both their lives.  

“It sucks.” She finishes lamely, wondering how her words never seem to carry the poetic way her thoughts oscillate around Misty. 

Her friend is too dispirited to comment on her choice of language. “I miss doing things with you.”  

She expects the tightness in her chest to fly away from such a confession, for there to be light where dark resides. But the sunrise in her emotions never comes. Her guts tangle together further. Why? She really, desperately tries not to think about it. “You honestly don’t know how much I've missed you.” Specifically, and irrefutably, she's missed everything and anything to do with the Cajun, down to fond way she says her name. 

“I really do, Delia.” 

There. That way. It’s a way she doesn’t say anything else’s name. Not that she knows of. Misty says it with a reverence that makes her want to hear it over and over. 

“We should do somethin’.” 

Cordelia blinks. “But you’re suspended.” A frown tugs at her lips. “And grounded.” Even so, the idea makes her insides bubble with hope. 

“So?” 

“Surely, you don’t want to get into more trouble?” She says, disbelieving yet amused. 

Misty makes a noise, one that has her smiling wider. “Guess some things are worth gettin’ in trouble for,” she counters fondly, mirroring Cordelia's words earlier with her own  adaptation. It makes her heart swoop as though she's on a rollercoaster. 

“I don’t want you to get in trouble because of me.” Any more trouble, either way.  

“I won’t get in trouble.” She insists, suddenly assured and confident. 

“Oh really?” 

“Yeah.” She can hear the grin in Misty’s words. “I’ll just climb out the window after dinner. No one will notice.”  

“What if you fall?” 

Misty bursts out in laughter. “Its like, a five foot drop, Delia. Ain't exactly gonna break my neck.” 

Her tongue smooths against her suddenly dry lips. “What if someone notices you’re gone?” 

“They won’t.” Another laugh. 

Misty.”  

“Will you just say yes?” 

“Do I have a choice?” 

Misty's voice is suddenly so endearing that it might send her to an early grave. “Not at all.” 

Resolve fizzles with her sadness, both cast aside for the pleasant warmth that Misty beckons. “Fine.” She says, feigning annoyance. Misty giggles in response.  

“So it’s settled then.” It’s not a question.  

“Yup. You’re climbing out a window tonight.” She laughs wholeheartedly. “You are such a rule breaker, Misty.” 

“Rules are made to be broken.” The Cajun half whispers, and this in itself sends a shiver down her spine. Suddenly she wishes they were together already; how has she managed to go two weeks without the force of nature that is Misty.  

... 

And this is how she finds herself navigating the walk to Misty's cabin. It’s familiar, well travelled, but she doesn’t like it as much without Misty stopping to appreciate markings in the tree bark or to observe fluttering insects. 

She doesn’t trip this time, however, so she considers that a success. Soon, she's stepping into the recognizable clearing that welcomes her with open arms. The dank smell of the waters and weeds catch her off guard, strong and insistent. Strangely, she finds herself smiling at it. Misty isn’t there yet, so she allows herself a leisurely amble around the small property.  

With the warmth increasing every passing day, the plants flourish around her. For a moment, she wonders if it’s the delightful heat or Misty’s fond care of them, and quickly decides it must be a combination of both.  

When the moments draw on, she makes herself busy, watering each and every budding stem that calls out to her.  

“I didn’t invite ya here to do the upkeep, ya know?”  

She jumps at the sound of Misty’s voice, spinning in such a rapid motion that water flies around with her from the can, splashing at Misty.  

Surprise fades into her face. The same face where time has darkened the bruises. She resists the urge to reach out and touch them. But Misty is brushing the sparse droplets off her arms and letting a grin split across her face. “Sorry.” Cordelia starts with the shake of her head, lowering the watering can as not to do any more damage. She tilts her head to the side slightly, admiring Misty in the sunlight. “I was beginning to think you weren’t coming.” 

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”  

She steps forward, and now Cordelia does find her arm reaching up to touch forward. Misty reacts, moving to wrap cold fingers around the older blonde's.  

Without as much as a word, she’s leading her inside. “We need Stevie.” She says firmly, a toothy grin. Misty carries the music back into the evening air, still keeping their hands connected. Cordelia takes every few seconds to stare at them, thinking how right it feels. She wants to tell Misty that. She doesn’t.  

Nor does she find herself questioning Misty’s actions as she begins collecting items around them. Their hands do separate then, as she rifles through the backpack that Cordelia hadn’t even noticed she'd brought. All the while, Misty hums along to the music under her breath, but the older blonde finds herself scrutinizing the bruise just under Misty’s eye again. Her stomach plummets. She did that for me.  

“I hope you’re hungry.” Misty suddenly announces, voice a playful lull that drifts nicely into her ears. 

Cordelia tears her eyes away from the bruises, staring. The Cajun is dropping to her knees now, building rocks and wicker and sticks together in an intricate design. “Are you making a fire?” She blinks her bleary confusion as Misty. 

“Well, how else are we gonna make s'mores?”  

She narrows her eyes, lips left hanging slightly open. The tip of her tongue pokes out, just slightly. Her words are spoken as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world, and it brings a serene smile to Cordelia's lips.  

Watching Misty is mesmerizing, every move and decision done so expertly that it leaves her mightily impressed. Before she knows it, smoke it pushing through the kindling. Misty surges forward, huffing and puffing in its direction with great intensity, until fire crackles steadily from her makeshift campfire. She leans back, proud as a peacock, and then turns to Cordelia almost instantly. That expression is mirrored. “I didn’t know you could do that.” She chuckles.  

“I can do lots ‘o things.” Misty shrugs ever so slowly. It’s almost enticing, and she’s certainly fucking enticed.  

She glances away, just for a moment to compose herself, and then observes the Cajun again. By now, Misty has began poking at the embers with a skinny stick, head leaning in concentration. This exposes the expanse of her long neck, with creamy skin calls to her. If only Misty would, too.  

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a s'more.” She says airily, a coy tone about her confession. 

Head snapping up, Misty stares in bewilderment. “Are you kiddin’ me?” 

Cordelia gives a shake of her head, tucking away hair behind both of her ears.  

“They’re real good. You’ll love them.” Already, Misty is pulling out marshmallows and graham crackers from the bag, leading her to throw an inquisitive glance at her friend. 

Her fingers fidget with the edge of the marshmallow wrapper. “Where did you get the money for all this?” She jokes. “You’ve been treating me a lot lately.” 

Misty stills, eyes flashing wider. “Um, nowhere really.” 

“Nowhere?” She probes. 

She stops her prodding of the fire, twisting in her spot to set a somewhat sheepish gaze toward her, one that’s laced with something else. “Okay. Sometimes. . . I, uh – borrow money from Tommy's wallet.” 

Cordelia splutters out her name in shock.  

“What?” She shrinks under the reaction. 

“That’s stealing, Misty.”  

Her jaw sets, head dipping down to stare at the fire that grows steadily in front of them. “I’m gonna pay him back,” She says tersely. 

Although Cordelia doesn’t understand it, she finds herself unable to judge Misty. Her features soften with a smile that has the Cajun at ease again. “Yeah, I’m sure you will.”  

Misty gives a slow nod, staring at Cordelia until the older blonde's skin begins to itch. When she can’t stand it any longer, she grabs the ingredients and asks Misty how to make them.  

All too eagerly, the Cajun is arranging everything haphazardly onto a stick and handing it over to her before constructing her own. 

They sit in silence as they hold them over the fire. Comfortably so, with the music from Misty’s boom box singing happily around the pair. She finds herself enraptured by the way the marshmallow blackens and crisps under the heat of the flames.  The stick is swivelled between her fingers, evening out the cooking, but soon Misty tugs it from the fire. “That’s done.” She announces, her grin widening with every second that it sits on Cordelia's face. “You gotta eat it real quick before it slides off.” 

She hesitates, seeing as the marshmallow still bubbles with heat. But Misty is watching her, so encouraging, that she finds herself holding the s'more with unsure fingers and taking the biggest bite she can manage. 

Misty sets into giggles at the sight of it, with an overzealous bite of her own s'more following. Even so, her eyes never leave her friend who struggles to chew around the sticky mess in her mouth. 

“Good?” Misty inquires, both eyebrows lifting hopefully and a finger pushing some stray marshmallow between her lips.  

She swallows, the graham crackers scratching against her throat, but the sweet treat makes her taste buds dance. “Hmm.” 

“These were my favorite as a kid." Misty says, already half way through hers.  

“I feel like I’m going to be on a sugar high all night.” 

Misty laughs and scoots closer, just a little, like one would when they’re cold. But the April sun is still just about in the sky, and the fire is enough to keep her comfortable. It’s not even tepid. Cordelia just smiles and appraises how the flames appear to creep over Misty's face, lighting the bruises with oranges that make them seem that little bit better. “Can I ask you something?” She poses after a daintier bite. Even so, she finds chocolate clinging to the corner of her lips.  

Misty nods in an instant, leaning one hand on the dry grass and twisting to face her.  

“Before,” she recalls, “your sister said that you used to fight at school.” There is no delay between her words and the way that Misty’s head suddenly hangs in shame. She almost doesn’t want to ask her next question, but it is unrelenting in her lungs, “Why did you?”  

She shrugs, not enticing this time. There is a way that unwillingness holds her muscles at ransom. “It was stupid.” 

“What was?” 

“Fighting.” 

“Right.” She sucks in a sharp breath. “Then why?” 

Misty finishes her s'more with an angrier tear of the teeth, chewing as though to bide herself more time. “They used to call me dumb.”  

“Who did?” 

She gives a painfully long exhale, and with it any joy seems to disappear. “The other kids.” 

“Misty.” She begins in sympathy. “You’re not - ” 

“I know.” The words are spoken dejectedly. When Cordelia meets her eyes, she hates to see the watery way they shine back. “This was before I knew I was dyslexic. And I couldn’t figure out why everyone else could read so much better than me.” Her frown persists, causing her forehead to crease. “I started gettin’ angry about it. Real angry. And frustrated. One day in class, we had to stand at the front of the whole class ‘n read some poem or something.” Cordelia finds herself moving closer to Misty, a hand soothing up and down her bare arm. “I just- I couldn’t do it. I looked at the words and my brain got all jumbled. The more I tried, the harder it got until I couldn’t read a damn thing. Eventually the teacher took pity on me ‘n let me sit down. But. . .” Another shrug, a sad turn of her head as she suddenly can’t look at Cordelia. “It was so humiliatin’.”  

“They would make fun of me about it all the time. Eventually, I just kinda snapped. I got into fights. I stopped going to classes where I knew I had to do lots of readin’. . .even now I hate all that shit.”  

“Least you still go.” 

She nods, then casts the sadness away with a wry smile. “And I now know if I skip anymore classes you're gonna hand my ass to me again.”  

Cordelia grins. “Without hesitation.” Her fingers tighten around Misty’s arm, so much that Misty stares down at the connection with those glossy eyes.  

“You kinda scared me a little.” She jokes, nose crinkling up.  

“I just want you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.” Cordelia admits quietly. This brings a genuine smile to grace Misty’s chocolate covered lips; her heart swoops at the sight of it.  

“I’m tryin’.”  

Cordelia leans in nearer, eyes smouldering with flames caught in them. “I know.” Her words vibrate with a seriousness that has Misty staring, rapt.  

Their conversation seems to have strayed to deeper sentiments, just like always. Not that she minds. She wants to know every part of Misty’s soul, even the parts that the Cajun doesn’t like about herself. They are the parts she thinks she could love the most. Severity melts from their gazes, and Misty is reaching for the food again, her half smile aimed at Cordelia the entire time. “You want another one?” 

She's still kind of full from the last, but Misty is irresistible. She nods, teeth just barely catching the skin of her lips.  

“Will you come here again?” Misty questions while they construct their s’mores, almost shyly. Like Cordelia could ever say no.  

She places her food into the crackling fire, nodding on instinct. “You'll have a hard time getting rid of me.” She chuckles. “There’s a bed. I might just move in for the week.” 

The Cajun looks all too delighted at that idea. She hides it with a squeaky reply. “Please, you'd be scared that the ‘gators would eat you.” 

She feigns offence with wide eyes and an even wider smile. “No, I wouldn’t.” 

Misty sets a hard side eye her way, one side of her mouth twisting in mirth. “You City folk wouldn’t last a day out here.” She pushes, face growing lighter despite the dwindling sun. 

City folk? ” She scoffs. “So that’s what you think about me, huh?”  

Her giggles say it all, but she does bustle up to Cordelia’s side as she pulls her steaming s'more from the fire and shoves it eagerly between her lips. “Alright, maybe you’d last  two days.” 

She almost shoves her, playfully so, but finds all limbs stuck in place with a great deal of reluctance. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t want Misty to increase the gap between them; she wants the void that keeps them separated to vanish. Because something pulls her nearer, like a magnetic tug. And she thinks she couldn't draw back even if someone tried to physical move her.  

“I'll prove you wrong one day.” She insists, playful and teasing.  

Misty chews messily on her food. She’s so close that she can see crumbs fall out when she speaks with her mouth half full. “Oh yeah?”  

“Yup.”  

She accentuates her response with a bite of her own s'more, left sizzling for too long so now its more goop than any sort of integral structure. Either way, she bites it and faces the consequences of it practically dripping down her chin, slightly stinging on the way. A noise follows, something close to a moan, as she tries encourage the most of it into her mouth, all the while thinking how unladylike this all is.  

Misty only watches her with a gentle gaze, lips twitching like she shouldn’t be enjoying it, but she definitely is.  

She does, however, gather up the sleeve of her hoodie and reach for Cordelia with her free hand. “And you always say that I’m messy.” She smirks, beginning to clean away the leftovers with her sleeve, despite Cordelia’s protests that it’s getting dirty.   

Misty’s concentration holds her like in frozen audience. She counts the very faint few freckles that sit on the bridge of her nose, then migrates past the bruises to those lips, as always. Inside, she curses herself for it. Yet on the outside she must be wearing a dopey, enamored cloak of an expression. The sleeve disappears, but Misty’s touch doesn’t. It makes her eyes sting hotter than the nearby fire does. Misty regards her with kind eyes that don’t stop moving, like they’re memorizing every part of her face. Such attention would normally make her squirm. Not today. Her muscles comply under its request, sitting still and relinquishing all control.  

Misty’s gaze stops on her lips, transfixed like they’re still covered in chocolate and marshmallow. For a moment, just a fleeting second, she really thinks that Misty is going to kiss her.  

And she knows that it’s her own damn wishful thinking, because Misty is shifting in that way that she does with features adopting an altogether downcast movement. Her hand on Cordelia's chin drops, limp, and confusion ebbs from the Cajun out in her direction. She frowns at Misty. “Is everything okay?” 

All the color floods from her face, and the skin now only reflects the orange glow of the fire. “Oh yeah.” She squeaks hurriedly. “I got it all, I think.” Misty smiles, though it lacks intention as Cordelia furrows her brows at her strange tone. “I’m totally fine.” 

“You sure?” 

Her fingers connect with her arm again; Misty subtly leans out of the touch. “Hm huh.” She nods, pursing her lips. “It’s been a long day.” 

Cordelia responds with a dry smile of her own, even if her eyes waver with concern. In the back of her mind, all she can think is that their lips were inches apart and she would have given anything for them to connect. “It's been a long week.” She corrects. 

“Yeah.”  

She hums. 

Quiet. Just enough to give them both time to contemplate. “Delia?” 

“Misty?” She grins. 

Misty does that thing, that wonderful imitation of a sad puppy. As always, she falls for it hook, line and sinker.  

“Promise we won’t ever fight again?” 

The air seizes in her lungs. “Misty, I can’t promise that. I don’t know if we'll fight again.” 

She winces. “You think we will?” God, why does she have to sound so broken?  

“No, well – I hope not. But it’s normal for people to fight, isn’t it? Sometimes.”  

Her head bows and focuses on the floor. “I guess.” 

It makes her want to agree to the promise without a moment’s hesitation, yet she works on somewhat of a compromise. “How about we both promise not to be idiots next time we fight? And be honest and open with each other?”  

Misty’s tiny smile begins to grow just like the fire had. “That sounds like somethin’ I could agree to.”  

Her smile widens, even if something churns uneasily in her stomach at the thought of what she's about to do next. “And. . . in the spirit of honesty. . .” 

“Yeah?” Misty pushes in earnest when the pause lasts that little bit too long. 

“I want to tell you something.”  

Misty’s grow big as saucers, listening intently. “W – what?” 

“I - " She stalls, then closes her eyes as if that’s going to banish away her fears that begin to creep in. “I know that I haven’t told you everything.” She swallow thickly. “And I guess a part of me is kind of scared.” 

“Scared?” Her face pinches together in uncertainty. 

“Yes. Because of how you'd react.” 

She’s shaking her head, all kinds of befuddled. “I don’t understand. You're not gonna tell me you’re some secret animal abuser, are ya?” 

“No.” She gives a shaky laugh, poking eyes open just enough to catch Misty’s growing confusion. “I just. . . you – your family. . .” 

“What do they have to do with this?” 

Her chest tightens; she very much considers aborting this entire thing. If this queasiness persists, she might actually throw up in the next few minutes. “Nothing. Well, I – Misty, the person that I had a crush on . . .” 

Misty only stares.  

She doesn’t want to do this. She doesn’t want to tell her, because that icy fear nips at her insides. What if Misty reacts badly? She isn’t sure if she can deal with the Cajun regarding her with that venom in her eyes once again.  

But she finds herself biting the bullet with a breathy confession.  

“It was a girl, Misty.” She expects the words to come out weakly, yet a quiet strength envelopes them. “I think I like girls.”