It was something like four in the morning. I wasn't exactly sure, to be honest. Bone deep exhaustion filled all of my limbs, and my head was a couldy mess. I guess that's what happens when you only get a couple hours of sleep and then wake up to find out your...your friend had been shot.
Fuck. Fuck! I knew in an abstract sort of sense that what they did could get dangerous. It was something else completely to see the consequences with your own eyes.
And it was like it didn't even matter to them. Rachel had just grunted and called it a flesh wound, before biting down on a strip of leather so that Brian could stitch her up. He was the only one that had made any sense in the moment, tearing into them about not being careful enough. Lisa had just given us a smug grin as she told us they still managed to get what they were looking for. "Besides," she said, "how was I supposed to know some gang lieutenant would be trying to extort the owner after hours."
They were going to get themselves killed. I knew it in my gut. Rachel, too headstrong. Thought she could power through anything with enough brute force. Lisa, too cocky. Always thought of herself as the smartest person in the room, but even she couldn't know everything.
What could I do, though? Me, gangly Taylor Hebert. The closest I had ever gotten to a criminal act was decking Emma in the mall, and really she had that coming. Sure, I was more fit than I had ever been after months of steadily working out. Sure, I was smart, no matter what Emma tried to tell me. But all I could do was worry about these two people I...I cared deeply about.
No. Fuck that! I stood and stomped down the hall, stopped in Rachel's doorway. Quietly, I opened it up and stood there staring at the figure resting within. I wanted so badly to wake her up, yell at her, ask her what the hell she was playing at. Grab her by the hair and kiss her hard.
Instead I silently padded into the room. I slipped into the bed behind her, careful not to jostle her. Rachel may be more brawny than I was, definitely thicker at the chest, but I was still taller than her. The bed was small, so I pressed myself against her back and wrapped myself around her. My hand rested on her hip and I let my thumb stretch up, ghost along the skin just under the hem of her sleep shirt.
She made a deep-throated noise in her sleep, something between a purr and a whine. I buried my head into the nape of her neck, amd finally let myself drift off into sleep.
I woke up alone, and tried not to let the pang I felt in my chest get to me. A glance at Rachel's clock said it was just past noon. It was kind of shocking, I hadn't slept in that late since before—well, since winter break.
I slowly pulled myself out of bed, reluctant to go back to dealing with everything from last night. I slipped from Rachel's room to mine, but not before stealing one of her shirts. There I grabbed a pair of shorts I had stolen from Lisa, and a towel. I rushed to the bathroom, careful not to catch anybody's attention. I definitely needed a long hot shower before I could deal with any of this.
The hot, steady pounding of water on my scalp was nice, and I let myself just stand there for a long time before I stepped out of the shower. Wrapped in my comfort clothes, I padded into the kitchen. All three of the others were there to greet me.
My eyes scanned down Rachel, taking everything in and making sure she was okay. My gaze moved over to Lisa, who beamed back at me, and then dashed over to the stove. She pulled something and then moved over to me, a proud look on her face.
"Look, I made breakfast! And I didn't even burn any of it!" I just about melted as I took the player of food she had saved for me. I set it down on the table before I leant over to kiss her cheek, ignoring the voice in the back of my head freaking out about how close I got to the corner of her mouth.
"Thank you, it looks delicious," I murmured. I took a seat at the table, where Rachel silently passed me a thermos. My eyebrows shot up as I opened it and smelled what was inside. My favourite tea. If I didn't know better, I'd almost say the two of them were trying to make up for last night.
It was almost a little awkward to be honest, like I was being pampered. I wasn't even the one who was shot. That thought did admittedly sour my mood just a little. "How's your side doing this morning?" I asked Rachel quietly.
She carefully lifted the loose shirt shirt she was wearing to reveal the large pad of fresh gauze; they must have changed it at some point this morning "'s alright. Hurts like hell, but no more than when I broke my collarbone."
I didn't respond, just reached over and dragged my fingers along the skin above the pad. Her sharp inhale drew my eyes up to her own, and we both sat there staring. Reluctantly I pulled my hand back, wrapped it around my cup of tea instead. "Thank you for this, by the way."
After I had eaten and we had all spread back out a bit, I pulled Alec aside, while the other two were distracted. "Hey, do you think you could give us the apartment today?"
He raised a lazy eyebrow at me, but I just kept my expression firm and blank. "I suppose I could go bother Brian for a while. Maybe force him to take me down to the boardwalk. But you owe me." The last part said in a sing-song voice.
I rolled my eyes at him "Yes fine, I owe you one. Thank you." Maybe I'd regret that later when he called in his favour, but I would really be more comfortable with him out of the loft for this.
It didn't take long for him to clear out, though Lisa did give me a suspicious look when he called out his goodbyes. I gestured for her to sit on the couch, which only seemed to confirm things for her, and then called down the hall, "Hey Rachel, can you come here?"
She walked in and took her seat next to Lisa much more carefully than she normally would. The two of them exchanged a glance, and Lisa's eyes locked on to me where I was pacing in front of them. "Is this about the job last night? I know you didn't sign up for that kind of thing, but it's our lives."
My face wavered between emotions. "Yes. No. Kinda?" Rachel snorted in amusement over my stumbling. I shot her a look and took a deep breath. This would be so much easier if I didn't have to look them in the face while I said it. Wait...
I turned my back to the pair on the couch, ignoring Lisa's amused snort. "I don't know how to say this, so I'm just going to say it." My entire body was tensed, like I was about to explode. "I like both of you, a lot." The next part I almost whispered. "I think I like the two of you more than I've ever liked anybody else."
The next few seconds of silence were agonizing. No matter how much I fought it, there was still that little voice in the back of my head that said rejection was inevitable. They'd find my dual attraction disgusting, I'd be kicked out and have to go crawling back to dad, once more a broken person. It sounded remarkably like Emma.
Lisa's voice tore me out of my spiral. A simple "Taylor, come sit down," filled with so much emotion it made my heart keen. I turned, movements stiff. The two had slid apart, opened a space for me between them. I almost threw myself onto the couch, sinking into it, and they both immediately closed in to hold me.
I wanted to bask in their warmth, but the anxiety and uncertainty in my chest wouldn't let me. I think they could tell, because they both pulled back slightly. Just enough to exchange a look.
Rachel laid her hand on my jaw, turned my head to face her. "I like you." She said it like it was a simple fact, like there was no questioning her certainty. "I have for a while. But you kept pulling back, getting nervous. You don't force something skittish into a corner; it's how you destroy trust."
I resented the animal reference a bit, but I understood what she meant. I honestly don't what I would have done if this moment had happened earlier. It hadn't though, it was happening now.
I surged up, pressing my lips to hers. The hand she still had on my jaw tilted my head back as she leaned into me. It was wonderful, my first real kiss. Not even comparable to the middle school "practice kisses" I had shared with Emma. I forced those thoughts away, not wanting them to sour the moment.
I pulled back with a small gasp, and rested my head on her collarbone, taking a moment to calm myself. I licked my lips, tasting Rachel on them. There were tears streaming down my face, but I couldn't do anything about them. A hand ran soothing circles across lower back as thick arms encircled my shoulders.
After taking a moment to calm down, I twisted around in Rachel's arms, careful not to break her grip. Lisa's hand shifted from my back to my hip. I couldn't keep the hope out of my eyes when I caught hers. Her voice was low and sympathetic as she said "Oh, baby." Hearing it made my stomach flip and tingle.
She moved almost agonizingly slow as she curled her body into mine, almost sitting in my lap by the time our lips met. Where Rachel had pressed herself enthusiastically into me, Lisa almost drew me back towards her. Tantalizing, making me be the one to press forward.
When we pulled away her eyes were filled with happiness. There was also something subdued about them though, and that had me worried. when her next words were "This is where it gets...complicated," it didn't help any.
She took a deep breath, like she had to prepare herself. "Do you know what aro-ace means, Taylor?" I slowly shook my head. Lisa fidgeted a little, looking away. "Right, not a lot of people do. It's an uncommon orientation, and in a place like Brockton Bay especially, those tend to fall through the cracks."
"It means," she continued, stretching out her words like maybe she could put this off forever. "That I don't experience attraction the way most people do. Sexual or romantic."
"But...you kissed me? We flirt...don't we?" I asked, confused.
Lisa quickly nodded. "I did, and we do
it's—okay, it's like this. I will never look at a person and go 'Wow! what a hunk of meat, I want some of that!' it just doesn't happen." I couldn't help the bark of laughter that came out, but Lisa just gave me an amused slap on the arm. "It's true! I just don't experience sexual attraction like that."
"And along the same vein: sex? No thank you. I'm not...repulsed...by it exactly. But it's something I have no desire to do. Sure, I love the teasing part, you should know that by now," she added with a huge grin. "But other people touching me like that? No thanks. I'll leave that part to you and Rachel."
I couldn't fight the blush that spread over my face, and Rachel tightening her arms around me really didn't help. Still, this was important, so I shoved down my embarrassment at the open talk about sex and nodded. "Okay, I'm following you so far."
"Great," Lisa said, but her smile turned sad. I reached out and snagged her hand, gave it a comforting squeeze. "Now, I'm also what you would call 'grey-aromantic'." She braced herself, and I could imagine this must have been how I looked earlier. "I don't think I'll ever...fall in love, Taylor." Her voice had dropped almost to a whisper with that. "Not in the way most people mean. But. That doesn't mean I dont care about you. It doesn't mean we can't...be together. In our own way." She let out a hollow laugh and turned away, but not before I saw her eyes shimmering with tears. "If that's even what you want, still."
There was an anger boiling in my stomach. Who had done this to her? Made her feel like rejection was inevitable. Who was her Emma? I wouldn't let that last a moment longer. I pulled her completely into my lap then, and grabbed her face with both hands. "Of course I still want you, Lisa Wilbourne." I said fiercely.
Her mouth dropped open in shock, but for once she didn't know what to say. But I did. "Will it be exactly what I imagined? No, of course not. Reality never is. It'll be better than anything I could have thought up though, because it will be us, being our authentic selves with each other. Who cares if it matches up with other people's expectations Lisa, I—" My voice cut off and I took a deep shuddering breath. When I continued, the ferocity in my voice had faded and softened. "I care about you, deeply." I pulled her in tight and held her there as she shook, in turn being held by Rachel.
We took a little time to catch our breath at that point. Lisa eventually stopped shaking, and I checked to make sure Rachel's side was okay. But there was still a tension in the air. We all knew that the talk wasn't done, and soon enough we were back to silently exchanging glances.
"How is this even supposed to work?" I finally blurted out.
Lisa gave me a sly grin and said "Well like I said, that will have to be between you and Rachel, but I'm sure she'd be more than happy to—" but she cut off with a laugh when I swatted her shoulder. It did a remarkable job of cutting the tension for me though.
"I've never had a girlfriend," I admitted. "Much less...two? I mean is that what's going on here, we all have two girlfriends now?"
Lisa made a so-so gesture with her hand
"Kinda? I mean, Rachel is great, don't get me wrong. I just don't think this ever would have happened without you in the mix."
I turned to get Rachel's opinion, but she just nodded in agreement. "You're kind of head of the pack here, Taylor." It bemused me to think about it that way, but I went along with it.
"There's actually a word that fits Rachel and I here. In polyamory—which really, that's what this is—your partner's partner is your metamour. Frankly I don't care if we all refer to each other as girlfriends for simplicity's sake, but really I think that fits our role towards each other best.
I nodded, testing the word out. "Metamour. Okay." I sunk back into the couch. "I have a feeling I have a ton of reading up to do."
Lisa let out a laugh. "Only you would start a relationship with two women and then immediately assign yourself homework, Taylor." She leaned over and kissed me. "Never change." I just knew I had a goofy grin plastered across my face.
I almost couldn't believe how everything had changed over the course of...an hour? It felt more like it had lasted days. And now suddenly Lisa was just leaning over and kissing me whenever she felt like it. In fact...
I remembered that urge I had the night before, to grab Rachel by her hair and drag her into a kiss. Nothing was stopping me now. My stomach flipped as I caught her lips and pressed myself wholeheartedly into her.
We stayed like that for the rest of the afternoon. Lisa demanded a sapphic romcom marathon, but it was mostly ignored in favour of slow, lingering kisses. We stayed absorbed in each other right up until the front door opened and a wolf whistle cut through the loft.
"So how much fucking did you do" Alec leered at us. The words had barely left his mouth before Lisa launched a remote at him, and he let out a yelp as he tried to dodge it. He fled down the hall to his room, cackling the entire way.
After a beat I muttered, "We are going to need a bigger bed," causing Lisa to let out a choked laugh, and Rachel to snort. I grinned to myself, pleased at being able to get them back for once.
Things were good. Great, even. I finally told Rachel and Lisa how I felt...mostly. I knew that there were still more talks to be had. Discussions to work out exactly how this would go. Not to mention, I was still determined to follow through on my decision about their criminal activities. Now more than ever, actually. Later, though. Tonight, at least, was for us. For basking in this newfound relationship and our feelings for each other.