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Sweet Candy and Carnival Rides

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       “There’s that cutie you like again.”

 

       It was a busy day in the library, full of college students desperate to study for whatever midterm exams they had left. A strained quiet hung heavy in the atmosphere, the collective stress and nerves leaving the air charged with tension. Two girls sat in lounge chairs that had been pushed next to each other, each calmly reading a book as they relaxed, their exams already finished.

 

       Amity leveled a glare at Willow, having long since become adjusted to her partner’s teasing about her crush. Glancing out over the crowd, Amity saw the tell-tale signs of a familiar red beanie bobbing above the rest.

 

        Luz.

 

       Amity had first met them at the start of the semester, as they shared Northern Renaissance and Baroque Art History together. Amity had sat for hours, painstakingly agonizing over what course to choose for her elective before finally deciding. Then, on the first day of class there came a tall beauty deciding to sit right next to her, of all places. Luz had immediately introduced themselves, a goofy grin splitting their face as they bounced in the chair with an infectious energy. They had gotten along surprisingly quickly, sharing a love of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Vermeer, soon spending time together outside of class. Willow would join frequently, as she had also taken a liking to Luz, and spared no expense at teasing Amity at her developing crush.

 

       Suddenly the beanie-clad head turned towards the pair, and Luz’s face lit up like a clear summer day. Waving at the two, Luz quickly walked over to where they were sitting. A quiet mumble from Willow set Amity’s cheeks aflame just before Luz arrived, a knowing look on their face.

 

       “Well hey there Ams, looking a bit flushed. Feeling alright today? Or do you just like what you see that much?” Luz said with a wink, smugness dripping from their face.

 

       “Oh I’d say she’s feeling great, midterms are done and she has so much free time now. Should probably use that time to go do something fun, don’t you think Luz?” Willow replied with an equally smug look.

 

       Amity sat there, silently fuming and debating the merits of double homicide to herself when suddenly, her lap became much heavier. Blinking herself out of her stupor, Amity realized the cause was Luz, who had just sat in her lap with a wink. Finding herself unable to form a coherent thought, Amity simply sat there staring at Luz as her blush worsened.

 

       “I think I may have broken her, Willow. Earth to Amity? You in there? The gay take you away?” Receiving no response other than the snicker from Willow, Luz sighed dramatically. “Well, that’s a shame. I was going to invite the two of you to the fair this weekend, but I guess Amity can’t-“

 

       “Yes! I’ll go! I mean. We will go. Willow and I don’t have anything else planned.” Amity spoke quickly, finally having returned to the conversation.

 

       “Really? That’d be awesome! We’ve all gotta hang out and relax now that we got our midterms done.” Luz jumped up, too excited to continue teasing Amity, and turned around to briskly walk out of the library after calling out behind them, “It’s a date then! See you two Friday night!”

 

       Amity watched Luz run off, a soft smile on her face. She was so focused on the retreating figure that she failed to notice Willow smirking next to her, watching her with a fond and knowing look.

 

       “So, we have a date this Saturday then, huh?”

 

       “...oh my god, I’m so sorry Willow, I didn’t even ask you if that was okay! I just, got caught up in the moment, Luz was being all…”

 

       “Luz. I know babe, I have eyes. Don’t worry about it, I wanted to do something this weekend but hadn’t come up with a plan yet. What could be better than going on a date with my partner and her crush?” Willow said with a wink.

 

       “I know you like Luz, too, don’t try to deny it.”

 

       “Not that they notice at all. We’ve made it rather obvious so far, mainly you.”

 

       “Well excuse me for thinking Luz is pretty.”

 

       “I guess I can’t fault you for that, now can I?” Willow’s voice had gotten quiet, as she got out of the chair and leaned over Amity. Closing the gap, Willow left a soft kiss that lingered Amity’s lips before pulling away with a soft smile. “Let’s go figure out what we’re going to wear. Can't let this opportunity slip us by without wowing Luz, now can we?”

 

 




       Beanie? Check.

 

       Wallet? Check.

 

       Phone? Check.

 

       Luz double-checked that they had everything they needed for the night one last time. Maybe their nerves were getting the better of them, but Amity and Willow didn’t need to know that, right? As much as Luz flirted with Amity, they knew it was all for fun. Willow had reassured them that it was fine, and Luz had just assumed those two were in a comfortable relationship, unbothered by flirtatious behavior.

 

       Granted, that didn’t change the fact that Luz was head over heels for both of them.

 

       Aloof, stubborn, definitely a brat with a hidden sweet center. Auburn hair and golden eyes, perfectly manicured nails and a rather fun combination of styles, Amity was gorgeous in everything she wore. And it was oh so worth it to work past her shell, finding that soft and sweet girl hiding beneath the surface. Tender glances, warm hugs and laughter that danced like music sent electricity through Luz every time they would get a glimpse of it.

 

       Snarky, yet kind, a big softie with a tendency for teasing. Dark hair and green eyes, rough hands that never seemed to be completely rid of dirt, Willow was beautiful. She seemed to possess no end of teasing for Amity, even throwing some Luz’s way from time to time, and yet was always there when Amity or Luz needed her. Supportive in all the right ways, firm when she needed to be, yet unending kindness flowed from Willow who always seemed to know when something was wrong. A single glance could tell her everything she needed to know, and was always right by their side to offer a comforting hug or a mug of warm tea.

 

       And Luz was supposed to go on a date with them?

 

       “It’s fine, Luz. It’s not a date, you guys are just hanging out. No big deal, right? Just keep your crush...crushes under control. You can do this.”

 

       “Mijo! You’re gonna be late if you don’t hurry up!”

 

       Luz checked the time, stumbling down the hallway in their haste as they realized how much time had passed. Racing out the door after giving Camila a quick hug and a “Thanks Mamí! Love you, bye!” Luz quickly checked their appearance, making sure that the outfit their mom had helped pick out still looked good. Dark blue jeans, purple button up with the sleeves rolled up, their green army jacket on top to finish the ensemble. It looked a lot like Luz’s normal attire, but their mamí had suggested a button up “to look a little nicer, mijo! You have some girls to impress, no?”

 

       Luz chuckled to themselves at the thought. If only they could impress both Amity and Willow tonight. Polyamorus relationships aren't too common in Luz’s experience, more often just finding couples wanting a third person to fool around with. If Luz had a dollar for every time they had encountered people like that, heck they could’ve paid for college out of pocket. No, it was better to just enjoy the time they spent with Amity and Willow, keeping their dynamic how it had been.

 

       Arriving at the fair, Luz began to scan the crowd for the two girls, hoping they hadn’t been waiting long. Quickly, Luz spotted Amity off to the side, staring at her phone with a determined look on her face as Willow stood next to her.

 

        Oh no.

 

       Were they always this pretty? Amity was wearing a white crop top, short shorts with ripped fishnet tights and her combat boots, a red and black plaid shirt tied around her waist. Expertly done eyeshadow brought out the bright gold of her eyes, her hair framing her face beautifully. And Willow! Was that...oh my god, that’s just a suit. Black dress pants, shoes polished to a shine, vest accentuating her figure. She had rolled up her sleeves, somehow making the muscles in her arms even more obvious, undone and popped the shirt collar, and left the suit jacket hanging off her shoulders. Was Luz meant to survive tonight? No? Were they trying to kill them? Wait. How long has Luz been staring. Shit. Collecting themselves as best they could, Luz called out to them, receiving a wave in return and trying to act casual as they strolled over to the two girls. Leaning up against the stand Amity was against, Luz turned on the charm.

 

       “Now, what’s a couple of beautiful ladies such as yourselves doing in a place like this? Lookin for some company? Or are you perhaps waiting for a certain someone to liven up your night?” Luz sent a wink in Amity’s direction at the last comment, pleased to see her face blush in response.

 

       “Well now, we were waiting for our friend, but I might just be tempted to take that offer Noceda.” Willow’s voice dropped low as she leaned in close to Luz’s face.

 

       Willow was flirting with Luz now? Oh no. Their heart couldn’t take much of this, already feeling their face heat up as all one-liners and coherent responses left their mind. Before Luz could stammer out a response which would undoubtedly embarrass themselves, Willow chuckled and leaned away as Amity scowled at her.

 

       “If you two are done teasing and flirting now, we could actually go enjoy the fair.”

 

       “Yeah! The fair! The whole reason I invited you two on this date...outing...thing. Let’s go!” Luz charged ahead, trying desperately to rid themselves of the blush. ‘Just friends, purely platonic, don’t make it weird, Luz!’

 

       Suddenly, Luz felt two arms grab them, one on each side. Amity and Willow had taken up opposite sides of Luz, each holding on to an arm and sending dazzling smiles their way. A pair of pretty girls on their arm, a whole night of fun ahead, and plenty of opportunities to get into trouble.

 

       What could possibly go wrong?







       Everything. Everything could go wrong.

 

       What didn’t go wrong?

 

       Amity and Willow had spent the whole night dragging Luz around, flirting with them endlessly. Willow kept trying to feed them random food from stalls they passed by, and never with her hands. Amity offered to share her lip balm, but when Luz went to grab it, she only pulled it away and smiled before making kissy faces at Luz.

 

       How was Luz supposed to impress these two when they never gave them a chance to breathe? How was Luz supposed to not be gay over them? Tonight was supposed to be fun, flirty but just casual. Yet here Luz was, face never leaving a shade of red they’d rather not think about, being dragged from one place to the next in an endless daze.

 

       It was possibly the best night of Luz’s life.

 

       If only…

 

       “Oh, hey look. Tunnel of Love. I’m sure Amity would love to go on that with you, Luz.”

 

       Doing their best to seem casual, Luz managed to reply slyly, “Oh yeah? Bet, this will be fun. Come on Ams, don’t go falling for me now!” Luz dragged Amity off to the ride, hand in hand and trying to think about anything other than how soft Amity’s small hands felt in theirs. If the small squeak in response set Luz’s heart beating erratically in cuteness overload, nobody needed to know.

 

       Luz quickly climbed into the ride, letting their humor at the situation still their nerves. Turning to Amity, they flashed a smile at her and reached out their hand. “You coming, hermosa?”

 

       Amity finally snapped out of her daze, glaring at Luz with a huff. “There is no way I’m getting in there with you. Not a fat chance-“

 

       Whatever else Amity had been about to say was interrupted with a yelp as Willow shoved her into the seat with a mischievous grin. “Be a good girl and play nice now, Ami. You show her a good time Luz, okay?”

 

       “Oh we will have tons of fun. Not - not too much, though. I wouldn’t actually make a move on your girl, Willow.” Luz quickly replied, worried they came off too strong. Hopefully that wasn’t weird. Shit that was probably weird. Amity and Willow are probably uncomfortable now and-

 

       “Luz? You seem to be confused, Amity and I are polyamorus.”

 

       The bars hissed as they came down, locking into place with a click, the sound now ominous in Luz’s ears as they came to a realization.

 

        Luz was trapped.

 

       It had all been a trap. It suddenly made sense. Why Willow was okay with Luz flirting, why Amity acted the way she did around Luz. It had never been a joke. Oh no.

 

       And Luz was about to go through the Tunnel of Love? With Amity? Who was a worrying shade of red at this point, obviously not looking at Luz? Luz had a sneaking suspicion this had all been a plan of Willow’s from the moment they had brought up the fair.

 

       Willow leaned in close to Luz, mere inches away. “I’ll see you two on the other side.” Leaning away, Willow took a few steps before stopping and turning to look back, “Leave some for me babe.” Winking slyly at the two of them, Willow chuckled as she walked off, leaving the blushing figures behind her stunned.

 

       The ride began to move forward slowly, the two figures still rigid in shock.

 

        ‘They’re poly?!?’

 

        Looking to the side, Luz saw that Amity was still in shock from Willow’s forwardness, and decided to try and break the tension.

 

       “Sooo...your uh...your partner is rather forward, huh?” Luz said with an awkward chuckle, glancing away in embarrassment. That was weird, so weird, god Luz why did you have to be-

 

       “She could be yours too.”

 

       “...what?”

 

       “Why do you think we got all dressed up? Why do you think we’ve been flirting with you? I mean, I know you thought we were monogamous, but damn Luz.”

 

       Luz turned to look at Amity, shocked by what she was saying, only to see a rather determined Amity already looking at them.

 

       “Um. I’m sorry? I uh. I just kinda assumed and...wow. You guys...both of you…?”

 

       “Yes, Luz. Took you long enough.”

 

       Oh my.

 

       The rest of the agonizingly slow ride was spent in relative silence, as Amity seemed to understand that Luz had some thoughts to work through. As the ride came to a stop, they saw Willow waiting for them, a suspiciously pleasant smile on her face.

 

       “Awh, you’re back. Good job you two. Especially you, Luz. Wanna kiss?”

 

       Luz’s head whipped around fast enough their head kept spinning afterwards, wide eyed as they met Willow’s teasing gaze.

 

       “Um...what?”

 

       Willow extended her hand, opening it to reveal a hershey’s kiss. “Do you want a kiss?”

 

       Screaming internally, Luz reached out to accept the kiss, “Yeah, I’d love one...a hershey’s kiss, that is! They are great. Love them. So good.”

 

       “Good to know, I’ll make sure to always have some for you then.” Willow replied with a wink.

 

       Luz stumbled as they got out of the ride, nearly falling over at the casual comment. Dusting off some imaginary dust from their jacket, Luz walked over to Willow, where Amity was doing something that looked an awful lot like sulking.

 

       “Why do they get all the kisses...” Amity grumbled from the side, a pouting look on her face.

 

       “Awh, do you want one too babe?” Willow turned to Amity, a soft smile on her face.

 

       “Well, yeah. Some chocolate sounds-“ Amity was quickly cut off when Willow’s lips met her own, causing Amity to blush furiously.

 

       Now, this was nothing Luz hadn’t seen before. It happened quite often, actually. Normally, Luz would just look away and give them some privacy, not that they ever seemed to care around Luz. However, this time Luz found they could not tear their gaze away from the gentle press of lips, so soft and tenderly meeting each other. It was...beautiful. So much love was condensed into that touch, it was almost like Luz could just reach out and…

 

       “You already want another kiss, Luz? Not that I mind, but…” Willow’s voice startled Luz out of their daze, suddenly realizing they had been staring for much too long. One look at the smug and knowing look on Willow’s face told Luz that they had most certainly been caught in the act, only further cemented in truth by the equally smug look coming from Amity.

 

       “Oh, yeah, a hershey, for sure! Love em. Big sweet tooth. Yup, that’s me.”

 

       Luz did not care for sweets.

 

       Willow turned to Luz, stepping much closer than necessary, and holy crap did she always smell this nice? Close. Very close. Oh, much too close. She didn’t need to be this close to give Luz some stupid candy, right?

 

       Willow leaned in, her eyes locked with Luz’s, pinning them where they stood. “Well, maybe I can help with that.” The way Willow said that, low and soft, heavy with implications, and suddenly Luz was very certain they were no longer talking about chocolate.

 

       So Luz did the only thing they could think of.

 

       Closing their eyes and trying to steady their heart that seemed to be in the middle of the last stretch of a triathlon, Luz waited for the inevitable.

 

       Soft lips pressed against Luz’s cheek, gentle and kind, sending a warmth rushing through them that left Luz feeling lightheaded and tingly. Before they could react, definitely not to lean into the kiss, the feeling was gone as quickly as it had appeared. Warmth lingered in Luz’s veins, pleasant and filling them with the desire for more.

 

       Luz opened their eyes, and all they could see were stars. And hearts. Wait, no, that was their lack of breathing. And the gay.

 

       “My turn, you can’t hog Luz all to yourself, Willow.” Amity quickly leaned forward, planting her own soft and sweet kiss on Luz’s other cheek.

 

       After Amity pulled away, Willow mirroring her goofy yet mischievous smile, then turned to Willow. “You had one more thing we just had to do, so what is it?”

 

       “Oh, it’s a surprise. Come on, I’ll show you.”

 

       Willow reached out, grabbing Luz’s hand and interlacing their fingers, Amity repeating the action with the other hand, and Luz felt themselves tugged along to wherever Willow had in mind. Where were they going? Did it matter? Luz would walk off a cliff just to spend a few more seconds with these two right now.

 

       As the group weaved through the crowd, Luz began to notice something rather...worrying. That...was a ferris wheel. Also known as: small, cramped space for a group their size, locked in a bubble and sent up in the air with no feasible means of escape.

 

        Shit.

 

        Willow glanced at Luz out of the corner of her eye, the grin on her face a telltale sign she knew Luz had put the pieces together. All Luz could do now was resign themselves to this fate. Who would call the ambulance? Who would tell their mamí that Luz had died? And of sheer gayness, at that.

 

       So distracted by their bemoaning of their fate, Luz hardly noticed that they had arrived at the fated spot. This was it. Moment of truth. Luz could see their tombstone now. Here lies Luz Noceda, too gay to live.

 

       At least Luz would die happy, right?

 

       Willow nodded to the tired-looking man in charge of the ferris wheel, his eyes brightening for just a moment as he stopped the ride for them to hop on. Willow dragged Luz inside, Amity quickly cramming in behind them. Surprisingly, it was rather roomy. One of the bigger gondolas available, certainly.

 

       So why were they all crammed on one side?

 

       Willow had dragged Luz down next to her, firmly pressed against their side and draping an arm around their shoulders. Amity immediately joined them, leaning up against Luz and resting her head on their shoulder, snuggling up close. There was no way this was comfortable, right?

 

       Luz doubted someone could pry them out with a crowbar at this point, and not because of Willow’s strong arms.


       
Slowly, the ride began to move, gently lifting them into the night air. It was a beautiful, clear night. The lights from the fair made all but the brightest stars fade out, even those tiny pinpricks in the dark.

 

       “Are you having fun, Luz?”

 

       Amity’s soft, serious tone took Luz momentarily off guard. Were they having fun? How could Luz be anywhere but on cloud 9 right now?

 

       “Of course I am. This whole night has been amazing, and I’m so glad I get to spend it with you two. There is nowhere else I’d rather be right now.”

 

       Amity shifted slightly, burrowing deeper into Luz as she reached out to intertwine their fingers with a soft sigh of content. “Good. I was worried…”

 

       “Worried about what?”

 

       “We were worried that we would come on too strong.” Willow replied, her arm loosening slightly around Luz’s shoulders. “Just...we didn’t know what else to do. We’ve been trying to get you to notice for ages now, but you always assumed it wasn’t serious. Which, is understandable since you didn’t know that we were poly. So...we decided to just make it super obvious and tell you.”

 

       “...Oh. Um. So...this whole time, it’s been actual flirting?”

 

       “Yeah. I hope...I hope that’s okay. We don’t know if you are like us or not, and if you aren’t comfortable with that it’s okay-“

 

       “I’m gay.”

 

       The silence was deafening. Luz was dying. ‘I’m gay? No shit, Luz! That’s not the point here-‘

 

       Amity and Willow burst into laughter, both openly enjoying the situation. It was so infectious, so happy that Luz soon found themselves joining in, tears streaming down their face.

 

       “I know that’s not what you meant, but hell if that wasn’t funny.” Amity said after she had calmed down enough to speak again. “Wanna try again?”

 

       Wiping away their tears, Luz managed to reply, “Wow, that was...you know what, we are just gonna ignore that. Yes, I meant to say something else. I’m poly too. I just got so used to it not being a thing with others that I just...kinda assumed. Wow. I left you two waiting for a while, huh?”

 

       “Just a bit.” Willow commented, her tone still light with laughter. “So...that leads to our next question. Luz. Would you like to be our partner?”

 

       “...really? Me?”

 

       “Yes, Luz. You. Do you see anyone else in this damned ride?” Amity replied with a chuckle. “You are kind, smart and funny. You always seem to brighten our days when you show up. Your never ending curiosity has gotten us into so much trouble, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world. Also, I need someone to gush over Vermeer with who actually knows about art history.”

 

       “Hey, I’ve been studying it! It’s just...a lot to learn is all.” Willow snarked back at Amity.

 

       “Uh-huh, definitely not because you’re buried up to your nose in botany and gardening all the time.”

 

       Willow only huffed in response, but Luz could hear the smile in the girls’ tone. This playful banter was one of the things they loved about these two, always loving and kind even in their teasing.

 

       Clearing her throat, Willow continued, “You are always there for us, whether it’s helping Amity with coursework, surprising us with food like you just seem to know when we haven’t ate, standing up for us in front of anyone who tries to badmouth us or helping me with my garden, despite not knowing a thing about it. But you try. You learn about what we like, and you’ve done your best to show how much you care about us. We just want you to know...we noticed. And we care too. And hopefully...you feel the same way we do.”

 

       “We like you, Luz. A lot, if that wasn’t obvious enough. And we’d really like for all this flirting to lead somewhere...somewhere we can all go, together.”

 

       Luz felt tears falling down their face, too shocked by everything Willow and Amity had said to bother wiping the wetness on their cheeks away. Looking to Amity, then Willow, Luz saw only pure kindness and love all around them. Softly, hesitantly, Luz spoke.

 

       “Of course. I’d...I’d love that. I’ve liked you both for so long now, I was just terrified to say anything. I didn’t want to lose you guys, when we were such good friends and I-“

 

       Warmth, soft and gentle, sweeter than any candy pressed to both sides of Luz’s face as Amity and Willow kissed away their tears.

 

       “You won’t ever lose us, Luz. Especially not now, when all our hard work has finally paid off.” Amity said with a chuckle. “Can we...kiss you?”

 

       Luz turned to face Amity, locking gazes with those radiant golden eyes.

 

       “Please?”

 

       Amity placed her hand in Luz’s cheek, slowly leaning in as her eyes flickered closed. Luz leaned in, unable to look away from the beautiful girl in front of them. Lips met, soft and sweet, moving together in time with one another as Luz melted into the feeling. Luz tasted cherries. The kiss seemed to last forever, this moment in time stretching on and on, and yet it was still over much too soon.

 

       Luz felt another hand in their cheek, now Willow turning them around. Beautiful, warm eyes met with Luz’s. “My turn.” Willow whispered, bringing her lips to meet Luz’s. Gentle, yet with an underlying strength and certainty, Luz felt themselves melting into Willow, savoring every moment spent in bliss with the two most amazing girls in the world. Luz tasted raspberries. Yet again, the moment seemed eternal, yet achingly short.

 

       They had time.

 

       The trio settled back into a comfy pile of bodies, curled up in the embrace of each other’s love, gazing out at the beautiful sky as a lone ferris wheel slowly carried them through the night.

 

       Luz decided they really liked sweets, after all.