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i wanna wake up with you all in tangles

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If you spoke to Cordelia on any given day, you’d think she has quite a vast vocabulary. Most likely the result of parental and self-induced pressure to prove herself as much as possible. It helps her give off the image of a smart, well put together young adult.  

But everyone slips, right?  

In that moment, all expansive knowledge of verbs and nouns disappears from her brain, and anyone listening to her thoughts would think her a bumbling idiot. 

As all she can think are words in the area of;  

Fuck.  

Shit.  

Is this real? How can this be real!?  

And, on repeat in varying degrees of panicked and elated, is the phrase, oh my god, oh my god

Because her lips are on Misty’s, and Misty’s on hers. She can feel her hands still cupping either side of the Cajun’s face, keeping her steady. Scared of letting her go.  

For the longest of times, Cordelia had only thought moments like this were possible in the confines of her imagination. How there's no way she'd feel Misty's probing lips against hers, or her thin fingers crawling through her hair and pulling her closer. As if they could get any closer. Still, her heart yearns for that intimacy, that affection, and it wants everything from Misty in that moment.  

She peeks her eyes open, just a slither, to observe the stunning Cajun half way through the longest few moments of her life. There’s a calmness to her expression, a moment of relief, and Cordelia thinks she's never looked more beautiful as she does now. All weight thrown from her shoulders.  

There's a thumping in Cordelia’s chest that fills her ears with a steady pound, so distracting that she almost doesn’t hear the small noise that tumbles from Misty's mouth. Akin to a mewl, she wants to record it and play it over and over until she dies.  Arousal swims within her, lighting every part of her body on fire. In particular, the ones lucky enough to feel the pressure of Misty’s touch. Her skin prickles and throbs with delight at the sensation. With it comes a more carnal desire, her body desperate for more, more, more, growing in greed now that a barrier between them has been demolished.  

Through those eyes, she can suddenly see blue ones staring back at her. Fingers that were one second ago scraping ever so delicately on her forearm now cling with all they've got, like they’re in the middle of a storm and Cordelia is the only thing to keep her from flying off into nothingness. With that tight hold comes another shift, less favorable this time. The sweet lips jerk away from hers, leaving her with only the memory of bliss on her own, now cold and lonely.  

Cordelia blinks, staring into the expression of her friend. Misty's grip on her might say that she's physically in the room, but her mind is gone. Her glassy eyes reflect Cordelia's own features, frazzled and smiling faintly even if there is a fear beginning to seed right in the pit of her stomach. 

“Misty.” She whispers, hoping it will break her of the mystified way she appears to be lost in the moment.  

When Cordelia repeats her name once more, swallowing thickly and leaning forward on her knees, Misty finally checks back into the room. 

That doesn’t mean that Cordelia is any less concerned, especially as she heaves in a series of short, nervous breaths. Her eyes flash that little bit wider, enough for Cordelia to see the panic in them. She maybe even senses regret, and that's enough to have her once full heart seeping right there out onto the hardwood floors.  

No longer is Misty a serene form before her eyes. Instead, she’s a picture of alarm. Especially when she quickly withdraws her hands to place them on her head, eyes closing, lips tight and shaking like they’re trying to hold in tears. “Fuck.” Her muscles refuse to sit still, legs bouncing rhythmically until she can’t even seem to stand the idea of sitting and jumps to her feet. “Fuck.” She repeats, just for good measure, and sets off into an erratic pace by the bed. 

Cordelia stands, too. She watches unwillingly, simultaneously wanting to help and also give Misty the space that she needs. 

One decision wins, encouraged by the need for answers and resolve, and she wants to know why Misty kissed her back. Air loiters in her throat, stinging the sensitive skin the longer it stays there. When it does triumph through in the form of words, they are emotion filled. “Misty, you need to calm down.” 

She doesn’t. In fact, that order sends her into more of a tizzy, now repeating more profanities under her breath. 

Cordelia's face pinches together in thought, a hint of exasperation. She gingerly pads forward, eyes glued to Misty for the entire approach. She can’t look away, not as Misty works herself into a full blown panic. Over the fact that they kissed. It stings right between her ribs to see Misty reacting in such a way, when she'd so easily reciprocated the kiss in the moment. There had been little thought to kiss her back, but now it looks like those thoughts are returning with vengeance. And are hellbent on clouding Misty’s mind. 

Maybe it's the fact that she can’t watch Misty suffer anymore or her own selfish need for intimacy, but she's reaching out her hand and placing it on the girl’s shoulder. “Hey.” 

Nothing can prepare her for the rejection she feels as Misty flinches, turning to regard her with wild eyes. “Delia.” She splutters out. Her arms are now wrapped around herself in a tight embrace, ready to stop all her bad feelings and agitation, and blood flow, apparently.  

As much as she wants to replace those arms with hers, she practices some restraint and sets a soft (only slightly heartbroken) pair of eyes on Misty. “It's okay.”  

Her head in shaking, which sets ripples of movement in her golden hair, like the prettiest of waterfalls. Cordelia doesn’t get the time she wants to admire it. “It's. . . I didn’t mean to. . . Cordelia – I’m not - " 

“Misty.” She isn’t sure how she summons such firmness in her words but she's glad for it. “I know.” 

The Cajun sucks in a breath. “What?” 

There is no running from the truth now, no letting it slip between her fingers and be stolen by other words. Cordelia gulps, gaze intent. “I found your magazine." She whispers aloud, like it's still a secret. It isn’t. No matter how much Misty may want it to be.  

Mouth falling slack, Misty only gapes at her. She must have exerted all her energy from the pacing, because now she stands deadly still. She'd think the girl had been turned to stone if it wasn’t for the swell of emotion that make home in her gaze.  

The silence persists. She hates it; she despises every second of its existence, and works to end it, even if it means continuing the delicate conversation. “The one under your bed. I – I found it by accident and I’ve been trying to talk to you about it. But I was just scared.”  

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She reeks of stubbornness, all too reluctant to admit anything. 

Cordelia sighs, her grasp falling gently from Misty’s shoulder. She wants to touch her again, on the hand, the arm, but she doesn’t think she can deal with another negative reaction. “The one full of naked women.” She deadpans, eyes narrowing. “You remember that one?” 

Refusing to look at Cordelia now, she has a firm set jaw and an air of deflation about her. “That ain’t mine.” 

“Jesus Christ.” She says on reflex, resisting the urge to groan and lets angry words fly from her lips. “Are you going to tell me the sky isn’t blue next?” 

“Well, actually - " 

“Misty.” Her eyes tire in their watch where they flicker over the girl's expression, spying deep lines of worry and tight muscles. “Will you stop?” She does touch her now, facing the inevitable flinch, and wraps a caring hand around Misty’s upper arm. “Please.” 

There’s a danger to the response, one that makes the world around her seem electrified in a not altogether good way. Misty does a slow blink, deep breathing still blaringly obvious. “Stop what?” 

“Lying.” 

It’s a rich statement, coming from her, but it's too late to retract it.  

“Delia, please.” The begging in her voice is desperate; she's heard it like this before. In their first fight, the one that had Misty storming from the room. Her heart clenches at the idea of that situation repeating itself. 

This brings her own tears poking at the corners of her eyes. Never before has she felt so inept at doing something, so helpless. Misty is watching her again now. Fighting against a watery shimmer in her eyes, she decides that she's going to ignore that demand. “You kissed me back.” She says, filling the room with the irrefutable evidence in those strained words. 

She doesn’t deny that.  

It doesn’t make the pain in Cordelia’s chest lessen. Especially when she spies the weakening of Misty’s defences. How her fight falters in the wake of upset, until there is no fight and her face crumples into a teary mess. “I’m not - " She starts, only for breath to hitch and more tears to flood down her cheeks. “I can’t be gay.” 

Cordelia has Misty in her arms without even thinking about it and, to her sheer relief, there is no attempt to push her away. “Hey, it's fine. It's going to be fine.” 

“But I can’t be.” She insists, voice regaining some of its assurance. “It's a sin.” 

Closing her eyes, she sighs against the shaking body of her friend. There’s a distaste that hangs in the air at those words, a reluctance that stems her at the idea of tackling those religious views. She wants to be delicate; to have a touch of consideration for Misty's upbringing and belief system. But it's wrong. It’s hurting her friend. And the very idea that Misty believes kissing her back is a sin makes her insides twist and wretch with disgust.  

“Did it feel sinful?” 

Misty stiffens, shrugging out of Cordelia's arms to observe her with pensive eyes. She wipes at her own with the back of her hand, sweeping tears across the expanse of pink skin. “What?” She sniffles. 

Her lips push into a thin line. She places a hand just over her heart, silently asking it to calm down. “When we kissed, did it feel sinful?” 

Strangely enough, this is what sets off her retreat. She steps back, eyes glued to Cordelia the entire time, until legs hit the bed. When they do, she clutches onto the headboard and hesitates.  

The pause allows her to hear other noises again, the movement of water outside, the rustle of trees. None loud enough to steal the attention away from her friend.  

“What did it feel like?” She pushes. 

Misty's lips spread apart, just a little. But the response is stifled when she slams them shut.  

When she does find an alternative, she hits back with a question of her own. “Why are you doin’ this?” 

“Because I lo – I care about you, okay?” 

She frowns, gaze moving to the floor. Maybe guilt was hidden in her eyes, or maybe she just couldn’t bear to look at Cordelia any longer. 

“I’m sorry.” 

Cordelia does a double take. The apology gives her whiplash, like she really is in the middle of a storm. “What for?” 

She's teetering on the edge again, and when Cordelia peers to her hands, she can see the way that her fingernails are digging so sharply into her forearm that there's no doubt it's painful. Nausea grows at the sight, particularly when she remembers Misty uttering words of having to punish herself. She hadn’t known then, but now it’s all too obvious that her sexuality is the reason for said punishment. Bile pushes dangerously against the back of her throat, angry. Just as furious as she is, at the situation, at Misty’s family, at the world; anyone who’s actively taken part is making Misty feel like she's wrong for being exactly who she's meant to be. 

She is by the girl's side then, tugging away that hand. “Please don’t.” Cordelia says softly.  

Misty blinks at her, then down at the marks left in her flesh. Different shades of red and purple stare mockingly back at the both of them.  

“You don’t have to apologize for anything.” Cordelia continues, voice brimming with love and care, and what she hopes is comforting enough to get through to the Cajun.  

“But I’m upsettin’ you.” 

“It doesn’t take much.” She gives an empty laugh. 

Those persistent eyes watch even as Misty shuffles and fidgets. “I’m fuckin' everythin’ up.” 

“Misty - " 

“I always ruin stuff.” She's angry again, so irate that Cordelia can hear it nastily lacing her words. “I’m such a bad friend.” 

Cordelia bristles at such an opinion, shocked and appalled, and ready to knock it right from Misty's head. She grabs hold of her again, holding her just like she had done moments before they'd kissed. Only, the tension between them now is fuelled by more than romance. “Don’t you ever let me hear you say that ever again.” She says in a low warning, gaze boring into Misty.  

She can feel the way that Misty initially stiffens at the actions. But her tenseness isn’t sustainable, and her muscles relax moments later as she stares back, listening. Cordelia can only hope that the words sink in.  

“You are the most amazing, kindest person I have ever met in my life, Misty.” Her hold is so tight. She urges her own hand to loosen and only succeeds in keeping the Cajun in an unrelenting grip. “You have to believe me.” 

A shuddery breath follows. “I want to.” 

“You should.”  

Being so near to Misty again is a real test of her will power. How she fights the urge to litter her unconvinced expression with kisses is beyond her. Somehow, she succeeds, and her reward is that Misty remains grounded under her touch.  

“I know that this is hard, Misty. And you're scared and - " 

“Cordelia,” she huffs, appearing awfully tired in that moment. “I told you, I'm not gay.” 

A beat.  

In which all she can do is regard Misty in an unwavering stare. 

“I don’t believe you.” 

There's a calm in her voice that negates the disconcerting way her heart jumps about her chest.  

“You were the one that kissed me.” Misty accuses, trying to pull away now. 

Her eyes narrow. “And you kissed me back." 

She releases her hold on Misty, stepping back slowly to give them both space, to allow the tension filled air around them to dissipate. It doesn’t.  

“I was confused.” Misty tries. She drops down onto the bed, pulling up her legs and wrapping arms around them. “You always confuse me." 

Cordelia is unable to hide the flinch in her expression. “So, you’re saying it's my fault?” 

“I am sayin',” Misty starts tersely, “that I was confused and that’s all there is to it.” 

“That's bullshit and you know it.” 

Misty wipes a single tear from her cheek.  

Even in its presence, Cordelia feels that frustration again. She wants to scream cathartically out into the dense swampland until her lungs lose their last ounce of air. “Why do you have to be like this?” 

Twisting her neck, Misty regards her with a failed attempt at looking disinterested. “Like what?” 

“So damn stubborn.” 

“You're callin’ me stubborn?” She jumps to her feet, the lines of her jaw twitching in vex. “That is real fuckin' rich, Delia.” 

“You won’t even admit that you're gay.” 

“I - I’m not.” 

“Well gee, all the evidence suggests otherwise.” The sarcastic drawl of her response further plucks anger from Misty. In turn, this surges the same emotion through Cordelia.  

And she hates it. She doesn’t want to be angry at her ever. Yet here they are. Angry and shouting and finally exploding from unsaid words. 

“So you found a magazine? So I kissed you back for like, one second.” She is scoffing, eyes darting about nervously. “It don’t mean anythin’.” 

Yes it does, Misty.”  

Misty still refuses to meet her eye. 

“It means everything.” She sighs, just exhausted from this. From all of it. It's been too arduous a journey, but she can’t give up now. Not so close. “I tried to ignore what was right in front of me because I was scared about what it meant, but I can’t anymore. And neither can you.” 

“Why are you so insistent, Delia? What does it matter to you?”  

Cordelia pales at the emptiness in Misty's voice, but a response is already primed on her lips. “Because I like you okay? As in, I think about you all the time and all I’ve wanted to do for the last six months is just kiss you!” Misty seems taken aback by the sincerity in her words, as well as the sheer volume. She wouldn’t be surprised if Misty’s family had heard them miles away. But she continues, shoulders slumping as she speaks. “And I think you like me too.” 

Misty's head snaps up.  

She seems way too small in that moment. “Cordelia - " 

“Tell me that you don’t.” She demands, too proud to back down now. 

Misty makes a noise close to a squeak. 

Tell me.” 

She doesn’t, but neither does that make Cordelia feels any better. 

Especially as Misty stands and pushes past her, searching for her things that are strewn about the room. “I can’t do this.” 

Spinning on her heel, Cordelia is kept frozen by the shock of her relinquishing the fight. “Misty.” She begs. She can’t go. She can’t just leave .  

“No.” With the letter that had once brought them joy shoved quickly into her backpack, Misty clings into it tightly. “I can’t, Cordelia.” She glares, but it hides a certain brokenness about her. “You don’t understand- I can’t be like this. I can’t like you. I’m sorry, I am so, so sorry.” There is sincerity to her apology, a crack in her voice, and everything just hurts. “I just fuckin’. . . can’t!” 

“Misty, please don’t freak out.” 

“There's nothin’ to freak out over.” She says in her defiant insistence. 

Cordelia debates whether to go for that scream she so desperately wants, or if she should hit something instead. Both animalistic urges seem all to tempting in the moment.  

Now it's her turn to drop to the bed, crying. What if she never gets through to Misty? What if this is a hurdle all too high for them to tackle? She watches, nothing short of desolate, as Misty makes for the door.  

“You're just gonna go?”  

Halting, she clearly is facing an internal battle. “What do you want me to say, Cordelia?” 

Her words are strangled by clear upset. “I just want you to be yourself. Your true self. Like you said you are with me.” 

She lingers, throwing a glance over her shoulder. And this is where Cordelia can spot that she’s crying, too. “I really am sorry, Delia.” 

“Yeah.” She agrees, in a hollow manner that Misty at least has the decency to look ashamed at. “Me too.” 

This forces a pause from Misty, and she thinks just for a second that she's going to take back everything she said. That she's going to sweep Cordelia up in her arms and say what she so desperately wants to hear. Because can feel it, even hidden beneath the anger and the annoyance; she'd felt in the way Misty had so keenly returned her affections in the kiss. 

And she can see it now in those convoluted eyes.  

She cares. 

That’s not enough to give Cordelia what she yearns for, and she's forced to watch Misty leave again. This time feels more devastating than the last, more final. 

When the door closes, she falls into a heap on the bed, letting her heartbreak settle over her like rain clouds. Not even the fact that the sheets smell like Misty help to ease the pain. In fact, it only encourages it more, for she wonders if it's the last time that she'll truly be able to experience it. 

... 

Her house is quiet when she tiptoes in early the next morning, heading straight to her room where a hot shower might be enough to wash away the earlier night. 

She throws her college admission letter on her desk. As she stares at it, she so desperately wishes for that elation to return to her that she'd once felt reading it. She tries, she really does, but now it's been forever stained with that argument. 

Catching sight of herself in the mirror, she practically recoils. She doesn’t recognize the person staring back. In all honesty, she doesn’t want to. All desires focus on transforming back into her old self, whoever she is. Easier said than done, and even after a shower and a full face of make up, she feels hidden. In a costume intended for others. She sighs, debating if she even goes to school that day, seeing as it’s the easiest option. Such an idea is quickly reprimanded.  

Pull yourself, together. She can’t hide in the face of rejection. Adversity can serve to help better herself, to learn and grow, and figure out how you can forget about a broken heart.  

She hopes, anyway.  

But on that thought, she forces herself to get ready for school, and she wonders if Misty's heart sings the same song of melancholy. 

... 

It's as if the universe is determined to make her snap, she thinks as she tries the third pen that refuses to work. She curses and mutters spiteful words at the plastic as it only digs into the paper, leaving no mark.  

“Will you just work?” She grumbles. 

She almost loses herself so much in perturbance and throws it across the room. But she doesn’t. She continues to glare its way. Stupid pens. And it’s not the pen’s fault; it is what the pen represents.  

That being that life is kind of shit right now.  

Because every time she sees Misty it is a bitter reminder, a knife twisting in her gut. No matter how brief the sighting, or quickly she averts her gaze to stare elsewhere,  anywhere . Turns out the pain is inevitable. So why bother fighting it?  

She must look a real story of self pity, abusing pens with her face scrunched up in annoyance, because Zoe is suddenly speaking to her. “Is, uh, everything okay?” 

“Just fine.” She mutters. 

The pen is haphazardly thrown to the side, and to her great relief the fourth one works. She continues her work, trying to draw thoughts away from a certain Cajun. Of course it is pointless. A fire taking root in the classroom couldn’t steal her attention. She can feel the heat of a gaze on her, following the source to see Zoe watching. “What?” she shifts slightly. 

“Nothing.” She smiles in a sheepish way, writing slowly. “Just, you seem a little angry, is all.”  

Oh, you have no idea.  

She shrugs. “I am perfectly fine.” 

“O – okay.” 

Even so, the unsuspecting inanimate objects around her receive the brunt of her anger most of the lesson. As soon as the bell rings, she is practically storming out of the room to avoid the curious eyes of her friend.  

Because she knows if she falls victim to that, she’s going to tell her what happened. And then it's all going to come flooding back. 

She just wants to forget.  

The universe hates her though, remember? And she sees Misty on the way to her next class. Stilling their gazes lock in a silent “Can we fix this?” like she hadn’t left Cordelia crying by herself in the cabin last night.  

She keeps on walking, because she doesn’t know the answer. 

... 

Lunch poses a similar problem, in which she can spot Misty sat with their friends at the table before she approaches. The sight of those blonde curls, those slumped shoulders, has her halting on the spot and spinning on her heel. 

She isn’t that hungry anyway. 

Solace is found in the classroom fawning over plants that only yesterday Misty had called their babies. Just like in the cabin, things slowly but surely remind her of the girl, and suddenly the solace changes into something else, something that makes her heart ache. 

... 

“Fucking hell. Zoe was right. You look awful.” 

Tactful as ever. 

“Thanks, Madison.” She gives her a strong side eye. 

“Not a very romantic walk then?” 

That smirk sits there, calling and teasing for Cordelia to wipe it off with one good slap. She doesn’t, sadly, and her stony silence is a pretty good indication that she’s right on the money. 

She leans in, growing more interested. “Did you have a fight with your little swamp rat?” 

Cordelia winces. “Don’t call her that!” 

“Touchy.” 

“She is not a swamp rat.” She seethe, channelling her pent up anger at Madison and using her as an effective outlet. “She's a fucking person.” A complex and delicate person whose childhood has helped her grow right into a state of denial. Cordelia sighs wistfully at that thought, wondering if the girl ever had a hope in hell.  

Madison looks reprimanded for all of one second before continuing her inquisition. “Are you gonna tell me or what?” 

“Why would I tell you anything?” 

She scoffs. “Seriously? I’m your friend, Cordy.” This earns her another look, one that she tuts and rolls her eyes at. “I’m being serious for once, you ass.”  

“And here I am thinking you’re just here to mock me again.” She bites. 

“Everything I do,” Madison announces, “is done with care and thought.”  

She continues her reading now, not emotionally ready to deal with these jibes in the state she's in. Most of the day, she's felt tears hiding in her gaze, felt a lump permanently glued to the back of her throat. The last thing she needs is Madison being well,Madison

“Hello, earth to Cordelia.” Fingers click impatiently in front of her face. 

Sucking in a low grumble, she grinds her teeth together. “You're still here?” 

She tugs the book away from Cordelia and sets a withering look on her. “Stop deflecting. Will you just tell me what happened between you and trailer tra – Misty?” Her question is followed with a pause, making it all too clear that she doesn’t want to talk about it with her hesitancy. And in the way she's curling in on herself. Something that Madison easily perceives with a twitch of her brow arch. “Come on. I won’t tell anyone else.” 

“We both know that’s not true.” 

She scoots closer, boring dark, nosy eyes onto Cordelia in a way that makes her fidget on the spot. “Jeez, this is harder than I thought it would be. Clearly something has happened.” 

There isn’t even any energy left in her reserves to deny that blaringly obvious fact. And she can feel her face shift, hiding nothing. She’s an open book, that’s what Misty always says. Is her heartbreak written over every crevice of her expression? “I don’t want to talk about it.” 

Glee fills her pupils. “Oh, so shit did go down. “ 

“Madison, I really don’t want - " 

“What’s the point in hiding it? It’s come out eventually, right?” She cocks her head slightly to one side, giving Cordelia all the scrutiny she can muster. Which, for the record, is a lot. Even though it's not normally her go to, she finds herself fidgeting; her leg shaking. She only stops when she realizes it’s something that Misty does all the time, and any reminder of the Cajun brings with it the familiar sting in her chest. “Misty will just tell us.” 

“I really doubt she's going to tell anyone.” Cordelia counters, her dejection obvious. 

Madison leans back in the chair, somehow seeming taller in that posture even if Cordelia sits higher than her. She fidgets again, cursing her restless spirit in that moment.  

She isn’t surprised to see that tell tale smirk sitting on the girl's face, accented with pink lipstick. “So who kissed who?” 

Cordelia blanches, every process in her body coming to an abrupt halt upon the blunt question. Breathing, heart rate, you name it. She suddenly becomes incapable of anything other than losing herself in her spiral of thoughts. She twists her neck to stare at Madison, so smug and impatient, but with a flicker of something behind her eyes. Caring? Surely not. Madison is incapable of any emotions that involve the welfare of others. 

That may be so, yet an answer begins to form against her lips. “I kissed her.” She whispers. And she kissed me back. She's going to keep saying that until she's blue in the face, because it happened. It was an actual decision for Misty to kiss her, confused or not. No one forced her to.  

There's a stronger tug of her lips upwards. “And?” 

It all comes flooding back, memories flashing by with no remorse for her struggling emotions. The tears that have been threatening to fall spot their moment, gathering in the corners of her eyes. “She got really scared. And we fought. Then she left.” 

“Fuck.” For the briefest of seconds, she doesn’t seem to be revelling in their misery and a half frown sits on her thin lips. “She left?” 

“Yup.” Cordelia replies in a succinct manner than insists she's had enough of this conversation. 

Unfortunately for her, Madison hasn’t. “What did she say?” 

This causes her to still, a tinge of discomfort filling her at the idea of sharing their intimate conversation. “She said enough.”  

“Oh come on, you gotta fucking tell me.” 

“I really don’t.” 

She looks pissed, like a child who's just been told no.  

“Fine,” she stands, “I’ll go ask Misty.” 

As she makes to stand, Cordelia summons the fastest reflexes she's ever had and yanks her back into the seat with a clatter of noise. “I swear to god Madison!”  

She’s laughing, no sign of contrition at her mocking. A hand pats her in a condescending manner. “I’m joking, you idiot. You think I really want Swampy to cry all over me ‘cause she is gay and repressed? No, thank you. She hugs way more than is socially acceptable.” 

The words make a slow amble into her mind, sitting there as she figures out what to do with them. It seems Madison has been aware of this longer than anyone else, a fact that quite honestly irritates her. Where would they be if she'd just listened to the stupid hinting and been braver months ago? Maybe in the same situation. Maybe not. The thing about hindsight is that you can’t do shit about what’s happened.  

It leads her on another branch of her thoughts, of what she wants to happen. Her stupid mistakes might litter the past, but the future is a clean slate as of right now.  

And just how does she want to decorate it? 

With pining and moping? Pain, arguments? No, she doesn’t want any of that. Her desires are swivelled toward the cautious optimism that she could get through to Misty. If anyone is going to do it, it’s her, right? The pressure of such a task daunts her. It sends a spark down her spine, through all her extremities. How is she supposed to make someone love themselves? At one point she thought that maybe she could love Misty on her behalf. Which she does. She wholeheartedly loves the Cajun with a longing so deeply interwoven in her soul that she sometimes wonders if she could ever love anyone else. 

But maybe that’s not enough. Misty needs to experience that intrinsic feel of self worth. She needs to know that she’s worthy of her own love.  

“I don’t know how to help her.” Cordelia whispers out, surprising even herself with the airy intonations in her voice, like she's lost amongst a vast skyline. 

Madison scoffs. “Are you kidding me?” 

She winces at the harsh way the words are aimed in her direction. “What?” 

“Misty flat out rejected you and you're sat here thinking about how you’re going to make it up to her.” Incredulity follows, then an eye roll, and she sets a look on Cordelia that she'd like to swipe away. 

“She didn’t reject me." 

She kissed me back, goddammit!   

“And yet you’re not with her right now, being adorable little lesbians who sit gardening together like the losers you are.” 

This heaves a sigh from her. For the glimpse of heart she saw from Madison, it's now been inundated with crass statements, all of which leave her feeling worse off than before. 

And now with even more things to think about. Great. As if her brain wasn’t already on overdrive before. 

“Let me give you some advice.” 

“Please don't.” 

She glares. “I am fucking great at advice, Cordy. And what I’m going to tell you will work.” Cordelia offers a look of disbelief, lips pursing together as she readies herself for what will surely be a plan she won’t like. Leaning in closer, Madison half whispers. “You simply just ignore her. Give her the cold shoulder. Don’t even look in her direction, and then one say she's going to realize that she can’t live without you. And voila, you'll be together.” 

At such a suggestion, her stomach knots. “I can’t just ignore her.” 

“Why the fuck not?” 

“Because she's my friend.” And she's hurting, and what kind of a person  does  that.  

“Ugh, you two are possibly the most frustrating people I’ve ever met.” She’s making to stand, fluffing up her hair and setting a dark gaze on Cordelia. “Don’t say I didn’t try to help.” 

Her so called “help” get disregarded the moment she leaves. Cordelia may be feeling a lot of things right now, none of them particularly good, but never does she want to make Misty share in that misery, either.  

... 

Needless to say, she is relieved when the day is over and she hurries to her locker to shed the weight of all her books. If only she could rid the other weight she’s saddled with. With a great deal of haste, she finishes her task and slams the locker closed, jumping as there is a figure behind it who definitely wasn’t there a second ago.  

Unfortunately for her, it is another person that she really doesn’t want to talk to.  

And he’s pretty damn pissed.  

“Hello, Hank.” She says curtly, pressing her lips together and making to do a beeline around him.  

It doesn’t work. He pretty much slams a palm against the locker, blocking her initial exit and leering over her with an aura nothing short of belligerent. She sighs, raising her gaze from the doors behind him to the darkness in his eyes. “Is there something you’d like to say?”  

“Did you throw a fucking slushie on me and my girlfriend?” 

The memory flashes through her mind, the only thing to bring her a moment’s joy on this trying day. She fights against a growing smirk and shakes her head. “Nope.” Changing direction, she tries to turn on her heels and leave that way. He catches it before she can, practically jumping in front of her. Dragging in a tight groan, she glares at him. “Will you move?”  

His jaw tenses. “I saw you.”  

“Look Hank, I didn’t throw anything on you or your newest bit.” 

“You are such a fucking liar – " 

Suddenly she feels a presence by her side, a flash of blonde and an intimidating air that even makes her shrink that little bit. In front of her, Hank’s eyes dart from Cordelia to the newest part of the conversation, who enters with a growl of, “don’t you talk to her like that.” Misty. It’s the most perfect timing, as if Cordelia has somehow sent out a bat signal to the skies to let the girl know that she’s in a rather unfortunate predicament.  

Misty receives a glower from Hank, who stiffens and turns slightly away from her. “This doesn’t concern you, Day.”  

“Well, I ain’t leavin’ so. . .” She seems to stand taller, chest puffed out, and if they weren’t in an awkward limbo of their friendship, she would tug her over and kiss her in that moment.  

She turns, just slightly, to see the determination in Misty’s pale face. That gaze travels down to where her fists sit clenched by her side, flexing and relaxing every few seconds. “What? Are you her fucking bodyguard or something?”  

No reply comes from Misty, but her stony silence is answer enough. Cordelia steps forward. “I don’t need protecting, Hank. Now if you’d kindly go away.” She makes to push past him against, their shoulders barging against one another and when he goes to grab her arm, she can sense the shift in Misty.  

But her reflexes are faster than the Cajun in that moment, perhaps desperate to prevent a fight that would no doubt end up in Misty getting in trouble. She shrugs away Hank’s touch, fire in her gaze so strong that he doesn’t try again. In her peripherals, Cordelia can see Misty’s flaring nostrils, her irate breathing, and she grabs for her hand to pull her away from the situation. 

To her great relief, there is no resisting from the girl.  

And when they round the corner, it allows them both to take a breath. She leans herself against the wall, head beginning to thump, then lifts her eyes to the girl. Who is staring right back. It unnerves her, that intensity.  

She’s learned that you never know what you’re going to get with it, and that headache increases in earnest. “Thank you,” she whispers.  

“S’okay.” Misty shrugs, scuffing one foot against the scratched, squeaky floor. “You didn’t need my help.”  

That makes the aid feel even more important. 

“Still,” her soft reply comes, “thank you.” She could spot the twitch in Misty’s lips a mile off. Thankfully, up close, she gets a front row seat. It stirs familiar feelings deep within.  

But they are stifled with the growing silence. The more Misty stares, the more she wants to climb out of her own skin and hide from the uncomfortableness. This is all just too much. After their fight, and spending the whole day avoiding each other, now this. It’s just  so  much.  

Misty licks her lips, pupils low and eyes half closed. “Can we talk?” 

That searing fear blazes through her. She hates how she hesitates, because it seems to put Misty all the more on edge, but she doesn’t want to do this.  

When words fail her, she nods.  

There’s an evident breath of relief from Misty, who sets into motion first. Looking over her shoulder, her eyes quietly ask Cordelia to follow her. And as she’s found out, she’s just so damn powerless when it comes to Misty.  

A low, thoughtful walk leads them to the gardening classroom. Where sunlight beautifully shines through the windows and bathes the plants, where a sweet aroma fills their nostrils, and where she stands in the middle with what feels like her heart hanging on her sleeve.  Misty leans against the desk, observing her. Those eyes cover every inch of her body, like they haven’t seen each other for years, like she’s trying to discern any noticeable changes. The only change is that her hopes are dashed, drawn from her body and leaving a hollowness in her expression. When she meets Misty’s eyes, she wonders if she can see that.  

A frown hangs on Misty’s lips, so maybe she does.  

It doesn’t encourage her to speak, and soon the pair drown in their own silence. Maybe it’s because there’s too much to say, too much riding on this, and one wrong move could have it crumbling right to its foundations.  

She closes her eyes eventually, rubbing at her aching temples. “Will you please say something, Misty?”  

“I’m sorry for leaving.” Misty confesses. “I just didn’t know what to do.”  

This causes her to stiffen, her own frown curving in vexation. “I was really mad at you last night.” She says, honestly. She wants to be honest, all the time. Even if it means Misty has a crestfallen expression.  

She steps forward, a hand reaching out, then catches herself and lets it drop to her side. “Are you still mad at me?”  

She allows her shoulders to move with a shrug, not ready to delve into exactly what it is she feels right now.  

Misty visibly swallows, then sighs. It’s an act of exhaustion, of someone who seems to have been fighting their whole life. She’s still fighting; maybe against something that she’ll never win. “I can’t even begin to tell you how sorry I am.” She says through a teary voice. “I never want to hurt you, ever.”  

Trying to hide exactly how much the girl has dug a knife in her heart, she peers away and wipes at her eyes. Misty whispers an apology again, but it falls on deaf ears.  

In her dangerous optimism, she tries something else. “I don’t want to lose you, Cordelia.” Every syllable is strained, like maybe she has lost her already. “You don’t know how much you mean to me.”  

Those words should be what she needs to hear, they should fill the cracks in her soul, but if anything they make this whole situation harder. “I know.” She replies thickly. Watching her every movement, Misty’s eyes are wide as saucers. They catch every flicker of sunlight and make a beautiful display of blue and gold. “I know why you’re scared, too. I know what your family will do if they find out, Misty. But I’m beginning to learn that sometimes you’ve gotta face your fears.”  

She bows her head, fingers playing with the hem of her wrist ties. “I can’t be what you want me to be.” Misty decides eventually, every bit as broken as Cordelia feels.  

There it is. A finality.  

Cordelia feels her love begin to wither inside of her, leaving her heart a desolate wasteland.  

Tears force their way over, a hand lifting to partially hide them from Misty. It’s a fruitless attempt, because the pain lingers in the way her posture changes. Shoulders falling, head lowering, and knees taking on a weakness she’s never felt before.  

But then there are arms holding her up, a body against hers; the lilt of Misty’s soft and anguished voice. More apologies follow, heartfelt. Altogether unwelcome. She doesn’t want her fucking apologies.  Yet she can’t pull herself from Misty’s arms. Maybe there’s a selfishness to the way she clings onto her, or maybe she fears she might never get this opportunity again. So, she lets her hold her, and cries and sobs, and decides that the world can be an awfully cruel place.  

When Misty no longer repeats the same words over and over, and when Cordelia manages to gain control of herself, they pull apart slowly. Reluctantly. Misty’s hand lingers around her shoulder. She sets a look on Cordelia, one that makes her feel like there’s a series of mini tornados wreaking havoc inside of her.  

“I still want us to be friends.”  

Eyes scrunching closed, Cordelia tries to steady her breath.  

Perhaps this is enough for Misty to realize her words. “I know it’s a lot to ask of you,” she says, so fucking quiet and unsure, and scared. “I know it’s selfish, okay? But I can’t imagine not being friends with you.”  

Cordelia doesn’t think it’s for her to decide if it’s selfish or not, because she’s be asking the same if it were the other way around. She’d be begging to keep some semblance of relationship, even if it meant ignoring her feelings. Desperate for them to reside.  

But they’re so strong now, so raw, and just looking at Misty makes her hurt. Air flows from her lungs in a shuddery manner. “I - I. . .”  

Misty’s grip tightens on her, the anticipation of the answer too crippling.  

“I need some time.”  

She blinks.  

“Oh.” Stepping back, she withdraws her touch, and Cordelia thinks this could be the beginning of the end. There’s a palpable change in the air, a rift between them. Bigger than any she’s felt before. “Right.” Misty nods, swallowing around a thick lump. “Of course.”  

The older blonde still can’t meet her eyes.  

She runs a hand through her straight hair, sniffling. “I just. . . when I look at you, I. . .” I want to cry.  

Misty is opening her mouth again, whether to let more apologies tumble or something else to fall out, she doesn't know. But she can’t hear any more of it. Emotionally spent, she just wants to go home, to be alone. And not even Misty’s presence can calm her in that moment. “I don’t know how long.” Cordelia confesses. “We’ll just. . . we’ll see, okay?"

Although her brows might knit into a tight line, Misty nods and agrees.  

Even so, there is something going on in her eyes, it’s all too clear. She is jumpy again, filled with energy that wants to do something. Cordelia doesn’t have to reserves to find out what, not after the last twenty four hours. She musters the saddest of smiles and aims it at Misty. “Get home safe.”  

Normally she’d drive Misty; the idea of being in a confined space with her is terrifying, and so she disregards the idea despite her guilty chest.  

And as she leaves, she tries not to overthink, she really does. But it’s a nervous habit, a toxic trait; she wonders over and over if time really can heal all wounds.  

… 

Her bed is a sanctuary, one that she climbs into straight after a shower, not even toying with the idea of food. She curls up under the covers, hugging a pillow to her chest and watchingPS – I love you because at least if she cries at that, she doesn’t feel so stupid.  

She ignores all the texts of her friends that night, even the increasingly concerned ones. Surely by now Madison has blabbed to them about the events that have transgressed. Their worry is touching, but the idea of being pitied now is not what she needs. She has enough self-pity on standby to wallow in for some time.  

What she needs is something to focus her mind on, but schoolwork doesn’t hold her attention long enough, and the house is empty. With Fiona on a work trip for the week, she can’t even go back to her for advice. Not that the first batch of it has served her particularly well. It’s just, her mother’s approach to life is so sure, so fearless, and it makes her envious every single day.  

Once the credits begin to roll down the screen, she groans and pulls herself from the cocoon of soft sheets. Straightening out her wrinkled clothes, Cordelia trudges downstairs with a request from her grumbling stomach. She doesn’t feel like cooking, but she’s knows she’s got to eat something.  

Just as she’s rifling through the fridge, a noise startles her. It takes her foggy mind a second to realize it’s only the doorbell.  

Frowning, she peers her head in that direction. She isn’t expecting anyone.  

Intent on ignoring it, she continues her search for food, only for the ringing to become more persistent, more frantic, and she slams the fridge door closed with a, “fine, I'm coming.”  

All the while on the approach, her interest grows and her frown deepens. Who on earth could it be at nine on a weekday? But her question is answered when she opens the door.  

Eyes bulge wider. “Misty?” 

The Cajun stands on her stoop, just as nervous as when she left her hours ago. Maybe even more so. Her hair seems frizzier, the mane of a ferocious animal that radiates in her frantic energy. When their eyes lock, she falls into an eerie stillness, and succeeds in pulling the air from Cordelia’s lungs.  

Confusion prevents her from feeling any of that heartache. And real, genuine concern.  

“What are you doing here?” 

Her arms cross over her chest, but the words hold no accusation. She resists the urge to reach out and take hold of Misty.  

She almost expects another prolonged silence; what she gets is an instantaneous reaction, Misty’s lips jerking open with heartfelt words.  

“You were right, okay?” she insists, “you’re always right.”  

Cordelia feels her mouth run dry, that languid nature sweeping over her again. Leaning against the doorframe helps her to keep steady.  

Misty doesn’t notice, seeing as she’s too busy spilling her heart out in front of her. “I like you. I’ve always liked you. And it fuckin’ terrifies me, but I can’t lose you, Delia.” She closes her eyes, seeming so summon every ounce of courage. Hearing those words has a symphony of joy singing through her, a great relief that might be enough to wind her. Warmth settles inside of her, enough to brings tears of joy and a swell of love. 

She is so lost in her delirious triumph, she almost doesn't hear the next few words. But thank god she does. 

“So, fuck bein’ just friends.”  

“What -” 

She isn’t given the opportunity to finish her question. Not that she cares. Misty all but leaps forward and drags her in for a kiss, far more feverish and yearning than the first time their lips had met. It initially shocks Cordelia, so much that Misty pulls back to make sure she’s okay, the entire world caught in her gorgeous eyes.  

Catching her breath, she feels her fingers slipping around Misty’s waist tentatively “A - are you sure?” Please be sure, please be damn sure.  

Misty answers the question by joining their lips once more, her approach slower, like she’s taking the time to enjoy the feel of Cordelia’s on her own. Cordelia smiles against her lips and tears against Misty's own cheeks. She's never known happiness like this, felt jubilation so strong, as if her heart has grown wings and sweeps about in celebration. Maybe the world isn't such a cruel place after all.