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i wanna wake up with you all in tangles

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She isn’t sure how she ever thought she’d feel when she finally utters those words to Misty, words that before have made her so ridden with anxiety that she can barely breathe. But the second they leave her lips, there’s a strange sense of calm that surrounds her. It might be some hopeful form of delusion that maybe it might not be so bad, or it might be the calm before the storm.  

Still, it’s quiet.  

So hushed that even the symphony of the swamp doesn’t manage to reach her ears. Like the entire world has paused around them on baited breath to witness her moment of vulnerability.  

For the longest time, Misty just watches her. With the firelight flickering back in her widened eyes and disbelief clinging to the gaze, as though she hasn’t quite heard her right.  

All the while, she finds anxiety gnawing at her insides with no sign of surrendering. Despite the fire next to them, her world suddenly feels colder in the wake of Misty's silence.  

But she finds her voice, eventually. Even if it’s awfully quiet. “Girls?” She repeats.  

Cordelia nods, finding herself gulping on air.  

Misty worries her lower lip. “As in, you think you’re gay?”  

Cordelia can’t quite decipher what emotions lace her voice. She doesn’t know that it’s either relief or anger, more like a befuddled mixture of both.  All she is aware of is the voice in her heart begging Misty to be the understanding and kind hearted person that she cares for, and that no judgement will come from the Cajun. If she believed in God, she’d be praying to him right now  

She doesn’t. Nor does she believe in any other deities, so her thoughts are kept firmly inside of her reeling mind. Soon, it begins to throb with her own pulse, the blood hot in her ears. She wonders how she must appear to Misty, if her silent panic is written all over her features, plain to see.  

Though Misty is continuing to stare at her like she’s just asked her to recite the entire pi formula.  

“Bisexual. I think. I guess.” Misty’s eyelashes flutter in a series of surprise. “It means I’m attracted to both.” 

“I know what a bisexual is.” Misty says, voice still all hushed like she fears someone will hear them. 

“How long have you known?”  

She stares anywhere but at Misty. “A couple of years.” 

The Cajun’s voice cracks when she speaks again, unsure. “Why didn’t you tell me before?” 

Any air that remains in her lungs retreats in fear. “Because you. . . you’re. . .” 

“I’m what?” she asks thickly, bordering on offended. 

She gives the longest sigh she’s ever had in her life, so much so that her lungs shrink with the vanishing air. “Misty.” She whispers out, hearing the tremor in her voice and hating herself for it. This is Misty; she’s the kindest person she knows. But said kindness is hidden behind the something that’s making her Cordelia feel a quake in her bones. “I just – I didn’t want you to think any less of me.”  

Her face scrunches together, full of warped lines and sadness. “I would never – " Her eyes flash with something. “Why would you think that?”  

Ever so briefly, she turns away, unable to look at the intricate way that emotions move over her features. She tries to keep her gaze averted. It fights back, intent to settle on Misty even if it makes her insides clench.  

“You remember a few months ago?” she starts. “We were at school. It was the day after we egged Hank’s car, remember?”  

She gives a firm nod. 

Cordelia pulls in another breath, not enough to fill her chest. But just enough to relieve her of the feeling of breathlessness. “And we were just talking about things. . . all kinds of stuff. Then we got onto the subject of your dad.” Upon hearing that, Misty’s head tilts thoughtfully to one side, the corners of her eyes pinched together. “You said, that he’d kick you out of the house if any of you were gay.”  

Realization floods over her features, even if Misty doesn’t seem to welcome to implication. She presses her palm against the ground, fingertips brushing up on some wilting weeds just beside her. “So?” 

“I don’t know. . .” she grimaces. “That just scared me.”  

The next time Misty speaks, it’s not the sweet cadence that Cordelia swoons over, but instead devoid of any contentment that she’d felt not too long ago. “Why?” she probes, even if she clearly seems trepid about the answer.  

The muscles of her mouth tighten in reluctance.  

She finds her gaze drifting over Misty, staring down to the cross necklace that hangs among a couple of others. The gold shimmer stands proudly, forcing any other jewellery to shrink in its wake. Cordelia must stare longer than she realizes, a sinking lull overwhelming her. She wonders if Misty’s skin burns under the scrutiny, because she’s giving the smallest of peers downwards.  

Cordelia is caught out all too quickly, eyes still on the cross. It causes Misty’s face to tug with a deep frown as she glances downwards too, then her spare hand moves to wrap around it delicately. Lips part in understanding, most definitely in offence now. “You’re scared that’s what I think too?”  

Shame clutches at her.  

“You think,” she continues, pointing out all of Cordelia’s biggest worries, “that ‘cause of how I was brought up, that I’m gonna hate you for this.” 

She doesn’t say anything. That, of itself, says it all.  

Misty’s face twists in devastation. “You do, don’t you?” 

“Can you blame me?” She says.  

There’s an obvious flinch, even if the words hadn’t been spouted in anger. “What do ya mean?” 

“Misty, you beat someone up because they called me a dyke. You’ve used the word yourself.” Her eyes scrunch shut, throat constricting. “When Madison joked that you were gay, you were so angry that you stormed out. If someone so much as mentions the word gay, you get this really weird look and go all quiet. So yes, maybe it does seem like sometimes you. . . you. . .” 

Like you could be homophobic.  

Misty seems to shrink under a hefty amount of gloom, fingers idly playing with her cross necklace. “I don’t - " She begins  cutting herself short with something dark in her azure gaze. 

“You just – sometimes I am scared that you think that way, Misty.” 

Hurt is all too evident in her every movement. She turns away abruptly, her lips glued into one strained line that Cordelia stares at with an ache in her chest. There’s a shuffle of dirt beneath her shoes as Misty tugs her legs up to her chest and hugs knees to herself. Her chin rests on them, eyes becoming wet. “I used to think like that .” 

Her heart skips a beat, not in a good way. More in a way she fears it may stop completely.  

Then, Misty is squinting one eye open, as daring as she can be. “When you're told all your life that somethin’ is wrong and disgustin’, I guess you believe it.” 

She feels herself itching to reach out, to comfort Misty in some way, but the weight of the conversation plays on her mind. And she’s just told her that she's gay and will Misty take it the wrong way? Could her simple touch possibly make Misty freak out? She tries not to allow such thoughts in her mind but they plague it either way. Her heart strums in an erratic beat and why does she always have to overthink these things and – 

Oh . Without prompting, there are suddenly calloused hands on hers, wrapping around and a thumb brushing over the ring she always wears on her middle finger. 

Misty’s voice chokes with emotion. “Will you stop lookin’ at me like that?” 

“Like what?” 

“Like I'm about to start damning you to an eternity in Hell.” 

She laughs, a dry and harsh noise that struggles to find the humor in the situation. “Aren't you?”  

The Cajun sets an empty stare on her.  

“Misty.” 

“You couldn’t ever go to Hell.” She says, insistent and strong, and with an assurance that she believes every word she's saying. 

She licks her lips, thoughtfully. “But you think other gay people will?” 

Her eyes set darkly on Cordelia. “That ain't fair.” 

She does think that. The contents of her stomach churn with an uneasy vengeance, making the s'more  want to resurface. But Misty deflates, all kinds of troubled. Her bleak retort barely carries over the sound of the nearby flames. “I honestly don’t know what I think anymore.” 

Her words sway with delicate musing. “My Daddy always says that the bible has all the answers we need.” Misty lets her eyes open further, the sapphire irises a swill of conflict. “No matter how many times I read it, I never seem to get the right ones.” 

She moves her hand away from Cordelia's to wipe at the corners of her eyes where tears threaten. But then it’s back, holding onto the older blonde's fingers like her life depends on it.  

Cordelia stalls. This is one area where she can’t truly understand Misty, even when she opens up about her home life. Fiona may not have been the best mother and she may judge certain aspects of her daughter. Never her sexuality. But Misty's family are different. Okay, she doesn’t really know them. And maybe judging them in such a way is a step too far. She can’t help herself. Being attracted to girls is something that she's never chosen to happen to her, and the idea of being condemned for it makes her stomach quiver. 

She imagines Misty at a young age, impressionable and naive, being told that homosexuality is wrong just as sure as the sky is blue.  

It makes her hold onto her hand that bit tighter.  

“I don’t want to say anything bad about your religion,” she begins in a tentative nature, “but I don’t think anything has all the answers.” 

Misty regards her with a tilt of her head, pretty curls shifting. “Ya think?” If anything, this allows the Cajun to be swept up in further sadness. 

She shakes her head.  

“No one knows everything.” She shrugs. 

“Not even God?”  

Cordelia squirms at that particular question, but replies nonetheless. “That’s for you to decide, Misty.” 

She puckers her lips in thought, all pink and wrinkled, drawing Cordelia’s attention. Misty slackens the muscles of her legs, just slightly, so they stretch out further toward the fire. Her eyes lighten, filled with hope, even if it might be fruitless. “Maybe you could ask your family  . . Or your pastor?” 

What?” She cringes in an instant. “I can’t do that.” 

“Why not?” 

“I just can’t.” Her grumble gives Cordelia enough of an idea that she isn’t going to convince her of this. But the conversation stifles the air around them like thick smoke, and she'd give anything to feel fresh air in her lungs once more. Misty peers at her, all kinds of beautiful even with the desolate way that her lips and eyes fall. “Did you really think I was going to be mad at you for this?” 

Guilt washes over her features. “Well, I'd hoped not. But there was this tiny, nagging voice at the back of my head that maybe. . .” 

“I told you.” Misty begins, heartfelt. “I don’t ever want us to fight again. So, if you like girls then. . .” She sucks in a breath, gaze shimmering. “Then. . .”   

She's all twitchy again, observing the gap between them with nothing short of detest. All of a sudden, Misty is shifting onto her knees and bouncing with a frantic energy that appears from the very depths of her soul. Her hand never leaves Cordelia’s the whole time, and now she's inching closer. “After all you’ve done for me, what kinda friend would I be if I was upset at you for this?”  

Those words are all Cordelia needs to break any inhibitions that keep her held in place. Without hesitation, she is throwing her arms around Misty and hoping that it's not too much in light of their conversation topic. But Misty reciprocates in just as much ardor, her arms locking around Cordelia like they might never let go. A face nuzzles into the crook of her neck, inhaling deeply. She wants to speak, to say something to let Misty know how grateful she is for this acceptance. Want and ability are two very different things, and any capability to use words vanishes in Misty's grasp. 

Maybe the way she holds her says it enough, with fingers clutching through hair and the other hand just above the small of her back. It keeps her near, steady. 

And she can hear her breath hitching with her own tears, sharp in her throat. Misty peels back, appraising the tears with eyes are wide as the moon. “Why are you cryin’?” She blinks, all watery with the serene world around them reflected in her pupils. 

“I’ve wanted to tell you for so long.” Her voice trembles. “I’m sorry that I didn’t.” 

“Hey.” Misty is there, close again. Like she doesn’t realize she’s sending Cordelia into a spiral of emotions just by the way her aura seems to blends with hers. She gives another sad smile, trying to be strong for her friend. “Don’t say sorry. I get it.” Dejection tugs at the corners of her lips. “I really get it. You don’t need to apologize to me. I’ll love you no matter what, silly.” 

She half expects hearing those words to summon a fire of passion inside of her, but her heart beats glumly. Because it’s not a confession of the same love that resides inside of her for Misty. That love that is fiery and persistent and so damn overwhelming that she can’t think straight sometimes. No. It’s the kind of love between two friends, just like she'd say it to Mallory, or Zoe. Not unique. Not especially for her. Cordelia’s heart pangs at her unreciprocated feelings, and she tries with all her might to hide that from Misty.  

Cordelia doesn’t say anything of the sort back, but she does let Misty tug her in for another embrace.  

They sit there until the blanket of dark falls over them and the fire diminishes save for the tiniest of flames remain. At some point, they must pull apart, though she isn’t sure who does that first. She looks up at the stars then, just beginning to greet them both. Most of the celestial bodies are surprisingly dim, no more than speckles against the dark blue. But a few twinkle delightfully and shamelessly over their heads. She catches Misty staring at them too, and a barely there smile appears on her plump lips.  

 A shiver crawls slowly down her back and she shudders on the spot.  

Misty notices, placing a hand on her shoulder. “C'mon. Let’s go inside.”  

She finds herself standing slowly, still peering upwards with interest. “Actually,” She sighs, “it’s getting pretty late.”  

The Cajun drips in disappointment. “Oh yeah.” Her tongue nervously runs the length of her lips. “Yeah, I guess.” 

“You know me,” she starts with a self deprecating grin, “if it gets too dark, I might never find my way back to the car.” 

“We could stay here.” Misty gestures to the cabin. “Both of us.” 

Such an idea has her insides seizing with ice; she unequivocally knows that if she spends a night by Misty’s side then she's going to be riddled with that aching love in her heart. The same love that’s beginning to hurt.  

She shakes her head, hating the way Misty's face drops instantaneously. “You should go back. If someone checks and you’re not in your room, you're going to get in trouble.” 

“I don’t care - " 

“Misty.” It leaves no room for arguing. 

The Cajun sighs, her features tight. “Least let me walk you back to your car?”  

Cordelia hesitates, just for a moment.  

This forces a shy and tentative smile out of her friend. “Can't have it on my conscience if you get lost.” She just about teases, a twinkle in her eye, brighter than any of the stars above their heads. 

She can’t reject her twice in the matter of a minute, and so she finds herself nodding. “Okay.” 

Misty’s smile grows, just slightly. She moves to take the stereo back inside and then returns with a tub of water, killing the flames as she pours it out. Sizzling rings in Cordelia’s ears. Over that, she's sure that she can make out a hooting owl.  

When she catches eyes with Misty, who had been scuffing the smoking twigs with the sole of her shoe, the Cajun’s lips twist delightfully. “She's got eggs, ya know? Three of ‘em.” She turns and stares right into the tree hollow that Cordelia can barely make out in the dark. “Shouldn’t be too long ‘til they hatch.” 

“She doesn’t mind you looking in her nest?” 

Misty rolls her eyes softly. “Ain’t like I'm touchin’ any of the stuff in there.” She shrugs. “We got an understandin’. I take her worms sometimes, and she lets me look.” 

As always, she finds herself oddly endeared. Her smile returns from its long migration, settling onto her face like dew sits prettily on green grass in spring. Misty regards it all too intently. 

She reaches out, taking hold of Cordelia's hand. “C'mon, City girl.”  

The older blonde finds that she's smiling to herself, stained with fondness, at the nickname. Even more so, the cold hand around hers maintains said smile in place. Quiet contemplation keeps the two busy on the walk back. The woods are different in the dark, trees intimidating walls that convolute the way. She's grateful for the steady compass that is the Cajun, confidently leading every step of the way.  

Soon, they linger by her car.  

This is where Misty decides to return to the heaviness of their earlier conversation, just as she thought she'd shed its unbearable weight from her shoulders. “Cordelia?” 

“Yeah?” 

Misty’s hand is slipping from hers now, though her voice sings of a soft affection. Like a friend's would.  

“Things won’t change between us because of what you told me.” She insists, her head bowing just that bit so Cordelia can’t see the conflict in her eyes. “You're still my  friend.” 

I want things to change. I want to kiss you and hold you and be able to call you my girlfriend. She hides her grimace under the guise of a smile, then corrects Misty. “Best friend.” 

She grins, her cheeks rosy against porcelain skin. Relief is evident in her shimmering gaze. “Right.” 

Cordelia looks to her car. “Can I give you a ride back?” 

“Nah, I can’t sneak in that way. If the dogs see me, they'll start barkin’ and someone’ll come out to check.” 

Her lips part into a small ‘o’, a nod following. She hates the idea of Misty ambling alone through these woods, even if the girl insists that she knows them like the back of her hand. “Promise you'll stay safe?” 

She gives a low laugh, laced with affection. “Promise.” 

“And that you'll let me know when you get home?” 

“The second I get back.” Her grin widens, nose crinkling as mirth fills every inch of her expression. “You don’t have to worry about me.” Cordelia gives her a sharp look. “I know, I know. You always worry.” 

“Mom friend.” She points to herself, half smirking even as a thickness still clutches to her words. “Comes with the territory.” 

This summons tiny giggles from Misty that wonderfully fill the night air. She suddenly doesn’t want to go, but her fingers loiter around the door handle. Even so, they continue to stare at each other in a stalemate as to who's actually going to leave first.  

Before any decision is made, another question leaps from Misty’s lips. “When will you come again?”  

“Tomorrow.” Her reply comes, just as eager, surprisingly fast. A kneejerk reaction where the information doesn’t even pause to filter through her brain.  

Misty looks at her like with no lack of cherish in her gaze. 

She draws her nearer for one final hug, a lasting one. If she lets her imagination run wild, she can imagine the lips that linger just near her earlobe pressed warmly against her skin. Cordelia closes her eyes and chases the selfish thought away with reprimands that she's all too familiar with. 

... 

She does come back the next day, and they sit outside again. This time, there are no stark confessions. Nothing to twist their conversation from the laughter and serenity.  

Maybe that’s because they so desperately try to cling to that light air.  

But she can’t help wondering if Misty had sat in bed the night before, just like she had, replaying the evening prior over and over until the thoughts stung and pinched at her.  

Then, Misty is smiling at her, and she thinks surely not. She forces herself to believe it. The idea of Misty giving it another further thought both terrifies and exhilarates her. 

And that keeps her from bringing it up again. 

... 

“How's Misty?”  

Queenie asks gently on their way to the library, her gaze full of inquisitiveness. 

She sighs, just having got the Cajun out of her head. “She's fine.”  

“That's all you gonna say?”  

Zoe is watching too, thoughtful as ever. The three slow, making to sit at one of the empty tables and shoving their books loudly onto it with a clatter. “You can always ask her yourself, you know?” Exasperation flows from her lips. “She has a phone.” 

Why is it always that people come to her about Misty rather than to the girl herself? 

Bypassing that aspect of the conversation, Zoe leads forward with a tender smile. “How is everything between you guys?” 

“It's fine.” She says, further annoying her friends with a lack of description. The two share a look that she chooses to give no notice to. Her eyes focuses solely on the prose in front of her.  

They continue to watch her, as though she’s about to perform some spectacular trick. Unfortunately for them, she's pretty insistent on keeping her mind occupied. “So you made up?” 

She eyes them, just barely. “Yup.” 

The longer she continues to stare at the words, the more they begin to blur. Cordelia can hear Misty’s voice in her head, berating her playfully for not wearing her glasses. With a stifled smile, she searches through her bag for them. Eyes persist in her direction. She groans, blinking up at their clearer faces with her black rimmed glasses perched neatly on her face. 

“That's all you’re gonna say?” Zoe pushes. 

“Well, we were fighting, and now we're not.” She gives an wildly compact explanation with a small shrug. “That’s about all there is to it.” 

Queenie frowns at her, eyes hard and beady. “You gonna tell us what you were fighting about?” 

She slowly turns the page as she finishes reading the paragraph, even if her concentration wavers. “No, I'm not.” 

Beside her, Zoe sighs at Queenie. “It's no use. They’re both tight lipped about the whole thing.” 

“You asked Misty about it?” 

“Of course I did.” She deadpans.  

Cordelia pauses, hand gently holding the page in place. “What did she say?” Despite her attempt, interest hijacks her words.  

“Less than you.” She smirks and shakes her head lightly. “I didn’t push it ‘cause she's kind of scary sometimes.” She's opening her mouth to protest when Zoe cuts off her retort with a knowing glower. “She did beat someone up, after all.”  

“Once.” She defends, knowing in her heart that she's lying and it’s not the first time Misty has resorted to fisticuffs to solve her problems. “And the girl was fine.” Her face twists in annoyance. “She didn’t even get suspended for as long as Misty – it’s totally unfair.” 

“Yeah, from what I heard Misty got it pretty bad, too.” Queenie frowns, concerned.  

This does succeed in tempting more information out of Cordelia. “She’s just a little bruised up.” 

“So, you've been to see her?” Curious words flow from Zoe, who is close to smirking.  As if going to visit her injured best friend implies that there’s some secret love affair going on between the two. 

She sighs ever so softly. “Uh yeah, I saw her this weekend.” 

“I thought she was grounded?” 

Cordelia flushes, feeling well and truly busted. She's awfully glad that Madison isn’t here to mock her for the way her expression contorts at the realization around the room.  

“Are you sneaking into her house?” Laughter carries from Queenie, who delights in her sudden shyness. The gentle probing is something she’s experienced before, aimed toward her every time she's had a crush on a boy and her friends want the details. Cordelia feels her forehead crease at the idea of not only Zoe realizing her feelings for Misty, but Queenie, too.  

She gives her friend a look. “No, I'm not. Can we just focus on our work?” 

“Oh but that's boring.” She leans forward, giddily. “But this – this is juicy. You and Misty. . .” 

Cordelia gasps, reaching to hush Queenie with a hand clamped over her mouth. “Jesus, do you wanna say that any louder?” Peering frantically, she attempts to pinpoint anyone that might have heard that statement. 

Her hand is shoved off in annoyance. “Not cool.” Queenie grumbles.  

But Cordelia struggles to care at all as she attempts to subside the panic inside of her. She doesn’t like a these people knowing. Too many people. It was so much easier when she'd be the only one burdened with this knowledge, and now it feels like half the school is in on it.  

Zoe's hand locks onto hers. “Seriously though. How are things with the two of you?” 

“They. . .” She stalls, not really sure that their free period is enough time to describe the rollercoaster that is her friendship with Misty. In the past few weeks alone, secrets have come to light that make pain clutch at her heart with no sign of surrender. But the tempestuous moments seem to be disappearing, she hopes. More than anything.  

She thinks back to the night prior at Misty’s cabin, where the girl had flung a shawl on herself then one on Cordelia, insisting that they spin and twirl together. Jovial laughter had filled her ears then, shameless and light, and just a content that only Misty can make her feel. “Things are good.” She eventually says to Zoe.  

The brunette smiles. 

Queenie butts in. “Well, I’m glad. Please don’t fight again.” Her eyes plead. “Do you know how awkward it was? Like you two had broken up or something.”  

Something jars without warning in her chest, so strong that it takes her a moment to get her words out. “Can you guys stop saying stuff like that?”  

“Like what?” 

A groan crawls up her lips. “Jokes. Comments. Anything about Misty and I dating.” She furiously turns to another page. “It’s never going to happen and I’d appreciate it if you stopped making the both of us uncomfortable.”  

“Well, if you told her that you’re -” 

“I have, actually.” She cuts out, instantly regretting it the second the words leave her lips. 

Zoe’s eyes bulge excitedly “You told her you had a crush on her?”  

“What? No. I told her that I’m attracted to girls.” 

They pause, just for a moment’s respite. The other two, with shared musing, and Cordelia, with a tension in her muscles that she tries to shake herself free of. “What did she say?” Queenie eventually asks.  

“She’s fine with it.”  

“Oh, that’s good then.” 

She gives a small nod.  

“Is that why you’ve been fighting for two weeks?” They push, ever so insistent on finding out the reason.  

Cordelia refuses to budge. “No, it’s not. That was something else.” Ambiguity draws frowns from the pair, and she says nothing else of the topic.  

… 

“Um, a little higher.” Misty says, a thoughtful finger pushing against her lip. She watches as Cordelia adjusts the string lights in her hands, hoisting them that little bit up against the wooden wall. Her face splits into a grin. “Yeah. Perfect.”  

The older blonde sighs in relief, seeing as her arms ache for holding them up for so long. She pins the last of the copper string to the wood before making to climb down off of the bed and admire her handiwork. Beside her, Misty beams just as bright as the lights. “They look nice.”  

She gets an eager nod in return. “They’re beautiful. Thanks for gettin' them for me, Delia.” 

“I thought it would cheer you up.” I just wanted to see you smile.  

Misty’s eyes sparkle with devotion. “Well, it worked.” Then, she grins. “An’ it makes up for you bringing me loads of school notes.”  

An indignant huff follows. “You asked me to get you those!” 

“Don’t mean I’m happy to have so much work.” She looks to the lights again, then makes to get herself comfortable on the bed. Cordelia follows not much long after, when Misty’s eyes relent on her until she sits down. 

“I did say I’d help you catch up.”  

Her gaze softens. “Yeah, guess so.”  

Cordelia peers at the stack of sheets on the bedside table. Once neatly placed into a pile and now rather askew from Misty’s curious investigation through them all until she decided they were rather dull. “We could do something now,” she gestures to them, “if you want?” 

By the way her nose crinkles up in distaste, she most definitely does not want to.  

She heaves in a sigh. “I’ve been stuck with Tommy all damn day. Last thing I wanna do is sit and work out math problems right now.”  

“Not even with me?” Cordelia teases, not sure where from inside of her that came from.  

Even so, it makes Misty grin, so she supposes she can’t be too upset with herself for it.  

Misty pokes up one brow. “Maybe then. But right now I just wanna sit.”  

“Sit?” 

“Hmmm. Yeah.” 

As she says so, she reclines against the pillows on the bed, chest rising and falling with a series of calm breaths. Cordelia watches, taking in sight of her friend in this state. The serenity in the air is nice; the music in the background, the sweet smell that sits pleasantly around them, even watching Misty’s breaths seems to allow her to go into some trance like state.  

She could stay here forever, no future, no responsibility. Just being, with her favorite person.  

Her eyes narrow with scrutiny as she does peer back over Misty, double taking the weariness around her eyes. “You look tired.” She announces. Although it’s a statement, the expectancy of an answer lingers around them.  

Misty rubs at those eyes, pupils unfocused for just a second. “I’ve been gettin' up at practically the crack of dawn to run.” She fidgets with the bed sheets. “Coach said not to get outta practise so. . .” When her eyes lift again, Cordelia stares right into them. “Then I’ve been stayin’ here late with you, ‘n Buddy cries all night when I do get back.” A short laugh carries over. “It’s a miracle I get any sleep at all.”  

“You’re gonna wear yourself out.” She insists. 

She shakes her head firmly, stubbornly. “I’ll be fine.”  

Disbelief spreads through her features, and her caring nature prevails as always. “Why don’t you have a nap now?”  

More laughter, genuine this time. “Right now?”  

“Yeah.” Her smile may be faint, but it’s there. Misty lets her scepticism show all too clearly on her expression, even if there’s a humor behind her gaze.  

“I’m not gonna go to sleep on ya, Delia. You drove out all this way.” 

“But you’re tired.”  

“Don’t matter.”  

There’s something about Misty’s wilful retorts that she finds far too endearing. Perhaps the playful way that Misty regards her, or maybe how she can feel the care radiating from her own body. She likes to care about people; she likes the way they smile when they realize there’s someone on their side. Like Misty, right now, so intent on her that she feels her soul stripped naked in front of the Cajun.  

“You know it does to me.”  

Misty’s hand is in hers, and even if she’s feigning annoyance at her overbearing nature, there is no credit to it. “I know.” She chuckles. “Still don’t mean I’m gonna nap with you here. I mean, how rude is that?” 

She barely holds in a sigh. “You are so stubborn, Misty.”  

“Speak for yourself.”  

Cordelia shifts, the springs of the mattress protesting loudly to the movement. That movement that takes her closer to Misty where their legs brush against one another. The Cajun stares down, just for a moment, with a tiny tug on her lower lip. “You gonna tuck me in now?” She jokes, voice unnaturally low and allowing warmth to settle delightfully in Cordelia’s tummy.  

She balks. “No. I -” 

Misty chuckles again, her fingers twitching in Cordelia’s. Both her brows rise now, as though silently questioning why Cordelia is moving that bit closer, though doing nothing to stop the course of action. When Cordelia fully lays next to her, in that tiny bed that they’re both hanging on the edge in, Misty stiffens initially.  

Her voice cracks in confusion. “W - what are you doin’?” 

“Lying down and taking a nap so that you have one too.”  

Eyes widen in a bewildered manner, though she fails to find a response.  

Cordelia fluffs the pillow beneath her head, resting as comfortably as she can. She’s not tired, not even close, but if this is what it takes to get Misty to listen to her, then so be it. Peering to Misty, she takes note of her tight muscles, keeping her restrained like a statue in her wakefulness. The Cajun seems to be observing the few inches between them where the sheets lay cold and untouched. Something lingers in her suddenly glossy eyes.  

The older blonde tries too much not to think about that; letting her mind wander is dangerous. Right now, she focuses on the fact that her friend has a need, no matter how small, and she can do something about it here and now.  

“Will you just close your eyes?” she requests, not a hint of impatience. In fact, her words are laced with sweetness.  

Misty bites her lip again, nodding. “Yeah. I guess I – " She blinks. “Just for a little while.”  

She scoots the tiniest bit closer, staring at the space again. A rather visible barrier that both deem is needed. Her eyes flutter closed, only for a few minutes, before they snap in Cordelia’s direction, who is already facing straight her way. “You sure you’re gonna sleep, too?” 

“Yeah.” She lies, moving stray hairs out of Misty’s face. “Now relax.” 

That’s easier said than done for the both of them, who sit stiff as the mattress beneath them. She’d give anything to hear Misty’s thoughts right now, to know why she clings to the pillow super tightly with her right hand, or why her eyes are scrunched together so. Maybe the Cajun was wrong, maybe things have changed between them in light of her confession.  

They’ve been in this position before, squeezed together on the very same bed. The rift between them hadn’t existed; it wasn’t even a thought in either of their minds. She looks to it in disdain, cursing the subtle changes it is making all too obvious to her.  

Misty begins to breath more evenly, her muscles falling lax against the mattress.  

She continues to stare at the space until sleep forces her to join Misty, though her own is far too restless.  

... 

The evening nap had seemed like a good idea at the time, but now interferes with her internal clock. Cordelia frowns as time passes ever so slowly with no release from the day. Tiredness tugs at her insides, just not enough to let her actually cross the line into slumber.  

She grumbles, flipping and twisting under the bed sheets as frustration creeps in.  

Turns out, she’s not the only one in this predicament.  

Strangely, that doesn’t bring her the catharsis that she thinks it would. Because the second she sees Misty’s caller ID flashing up, she gets a terrible feeling right at the pit of her stomach. She answers nonetheless, her voice dry from the cold night air. “Misty?”  

“Hey.” 

She rolls just slightly, frowning as her clock reads that it’s almost two am. Sitting up, her slow mind begins to register the tone of Misty’s voice, the desolate edge to it. And she begins to think that her gut feeling is right. “Everything okay?”  

Misty doesn’t answer.  

She says her name again, more desperately. 

“It’s really late.” She suddenly begins, clearly beginning to back pedal. “You were probably asleep. I shouldn’t hav -  

“What do you want me to do?” Cordelia cuts her guilt-ridden ramble. 

“Huh?”  

Gulping thickly, she ignores her exhaustion and focuses on Misty’s strained breathing. “What do you want me to do?” She repeats in earnest. “What will help?” Help you to not hurt yourself.  

“Can you just. . . just talk? Please.”  

She smiles wistfully. “Yeah. Of course I can.” The unease of the moment catches up on her already vulnerable state and she freezes. “About what?”  

“Oh.” She starts, all quiet and with tears in her voice. “Anythin’.”  

A pause lasts a lifetime as she ponders where to possibly start, whether light-hearted is the way to go, or if she throws endless support at her friend to heighten her spirits once again. She decides the latter may be too forced, smiling wryly as a certain topic pops up into her mind. “So, Madison is having another party. Next Friday.” Cordelia says. “It's sure to be a mess like they always are and people are going to get stupidly drunk.”  

Misty hums, showing that she’s listening.  

“We’re all invited. Coco even said we could get ready at hers together.” Her smile begins to grow, daring, even in light of the reason why she thinks Misty called her. “And I specifically remember a certain someone promising to come to the next party that happened.”  

“Am I gonna regret that?” 

Chuckles fall from her lips. “No, I’ll take care of you.” 

“From what everyone else tells me, you ain’t exactly that good at handlin’ your alcohol.”  

“Who said that?” 

The indignation to her tone summons more laughter from Misty, and she thinks maybe she’s helping. Just maybe. “People talk.”  

“I am very responsible.” She insists in a huff. “Just you wait and see.” Cordelia pauses for just a moment, letting her thoughts concrete. “You will come, won’t you?” You promised.  

“And miss seein’ you drunk? ‘Course I’ll come.” 

She breathes a sigh of both relief and happiness, seeing as she’d campaigned to Madison for a good while to have the party on a Friday for the exact reason that Misty could be there. “I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.” 

“We’ll see.” Misty teases back, an air of content reforming around her. Even if temporary. Because she’s asking another question that makes Cordelia’s insides clench. “Maddy ain’t gonna try and set me up with some guy, is she?” 

“No, she only says that to wind you up, Misty.”  

“Right.”  

Cordelia feels her face twist thoughtfully. “She’s only ever tried to do that to me once. Never again. I am not a fan of random make out sessions with strangers. Especially when I’m drunk.” She cringes, remembering all the time she’s felt straying hands on her. The only upside to being with Hank had been that her relationship status had kept all the creeps away.  

“Yeah,” she agrees, “that don’t sound like fun.” Then adds, with a sincerity that holds Cordelia’s heart a random. “If I ever kiss someone, I want it to be because I really care about them.”  

The simplicity of the words brings about an onslaught of more complicated and pressing questions, one of them that Cordelia almost asks. Almost. Her lips catch it just in time, the question of if she's ever been kissed before. It’s only then that it dawns on her, they’ve never spoken about that. Misty knows about each and every one of her boyfriends, all the relationship dribble and regret that they’ve laughed about since.  

No matter how she wracks her brain, she can’t think of a single time Misty has told her about any of her past relationships. Not that she’s judging. as if being with someone is resoundingly better. If anything, it just makes her more curious. How can someone as beautiful as Misty not have dated anyone before? But the night is late, drawing on with every second. She’s not ready to delve into those ideas, not yet.  

So, she sighs out an answer, unable to smile. “I wish I’d only ever kissed people that I care about.” 

Turns out, Misty is in the mood to provoke her restless mind further. “Have you ever kissed a girl?”  

“I - no, I haven’t."  

She can hear the way Misty’s breath stalls. “Then. . .” She inquires, “how do you know that you like ‘em?" Her voice no longer holds the sleepy and distressed intonations of before. She is completely baffled now, seeking answers for a world she doesn’t understand.  

Cordelia closes her eyes, not having expected this to be brought up so soon again. “I just do.”  

“How?” she pushes, as if desperate for an answer.  

“Because it feels right.”  

That damn, contemplative silence follows.  

“How did you feel,” Misty continues in a hush, “when you would see the girl that you liked?” 

Her heart just about spazzes in her chest. If Misty’s family could hear what she’s asking her right now, she’s sure the girl would be praying rosaries for weeks. “I -”  

“Cordelia?” The quiet must have gone on too long.  

“Full.”  

She laughs. “What?”  

The choice of a response brings the hottest of blushes to her cheeks and ears. She resists the urge to hide her face under the pillow, even if Misty can’t physically see it. “I felt full – full of every happy emotion you can think of. Like I could burst at any moment.”  

Misty hums a half response.  

“Why do you want to know?” she asks thickly.  

“Just curious, I guess. I’ve been thinkin’ about it, since you told me.” Now, Cordelia does retreat under the pillow where maybe the tightness in her chest can’t follow her. “I dunno why. I just. . . I just wanted to know.”  

Cordelia lets the words settle slowly on her brain, but it refuses to make any sense of them.  

“Was she pretty?” 

Misty’s question yet again leaves her dumbfounded, floundering for the right words to say. In the end, she knows there are only few options to describe the girl she was (is) infatuated with. “She’s beautiful.”  

Oh.” Words sit heavy with something. Distraught? Annoyance? Cordelia doesn’t allow herself to even consider it. They’re both tired. Misty is fragile right now. This means nothing.  

And even so, she knows that Misty wouldn’t be asking if it really is nothing.