Beta read by: Crescent Sunrise
Usually nightlife in this part of the city was quiet this time of the week. It didn't really liven up until the weekend hit, and this night was no exception. But there were certain businesses that could always manage to draw customers. Dens of vice where men and the occasional woman would pay to watch others get on a stage with very little on and dance around a pole while taking what little covered them off to the mixed rhythm of music. The cheers, and hands slapping money on the edge of the stage hoping to draw the dancer closer.
There were a number of such places in this city alone and if you asked most members of the public that may have visited them once or twice they were all more or less the same, only really changing in theme. If you asked more frequent customers those usually had a favorite one or two they liked to visit.
Yang only had the one, "Candy Land".
The same one her Uncle had brought her to when she turned nineteen. He claimed he'd meant to do it the year before but he wasn't able to visit then and put it off. He claimed that since Yang was openly lesbian that she would likely enjoy the experience as much as any young man would.
That hadn't been the case really, Yang didn't see the point of coming to a strip club only to leave frustrated with a lighter wallet. One thing Yang did notice and enjoy was that on that night when they sat right at the end of the runway the dancers seemed to linger closer to her more often than others even though she didn't have as much to give them as some others. She later learned that some of the dancers, the newer ones especially, were more comfortable around other women.
Yang had been about to call it a night and drag her uncle back home when she stepped onto the stage. The blonde couldn't remember the name they gave. Unlike most girls who picked a stage name, having to do with candy to follow the clubs theme, and stuck to it she seemed to have a new one every night. Almost always some kind of ice cream.
When she walked out, Yang was stunned. The blonde didn't know what caused it, but suddenly, the last thing she wanted to do was leave. She couldn't even bring herself to look away as the girl in front of her swung through her routine, her clothing seeming to simply slide off her form with barely any assistance from the dancer at all.
After the routine, Yang was stuck staring at the beginning of the runway the girl had disappeared through for a long moment until her uncle shook her gently and brought her back to reality with a knowing glint in his eye that instantly had her on edge. He said he was just going to use the bathroom and get a drink. Next thing Yang knew she was pushed into a room with a comfortable looking couch and walls covered in red velvet.
He just said 'Have fun' and closed the curtain with a laugh.
She knew what the room was for and felt stupid just waiting there. So she went to leave and nearly bowled over her. Yang blinked rapidly seeing the girl already in a different, albeit still revealing outfit. At the close proximity Yang was noticing things she hadn't before. For one, that the girl in front of her actually had hair that contained pink white and brown, something Yang was certain was a trick of the lights on the walkway before. But what caught her attention the most were the eyes, heterochromia was rare enough that Yang had never seen it before and the difference between white and brown there was striking.
When Yang froze the girl blink for a moment before smirking and setting a hand on Yang's chest. Pushing the taller and much more muscular woman back into the room and onto the couch with ease. At first Yang tried to apologize for her uncle and offered to just leave but was summarily ignored as the dance began and she lost her ability to perform higher brain functions for the duration.
That was two years ago. And today, just like every Wednesday since, Yang was parking her motorcycle in the parking lot of Candy Land and making her way inside. A nod from the bouncer, a wave to a few of the girls she'd actually spoken to when they were off the clock and a cheerful greeting from the bartender.
"Hey Yang, the usual?" The bartender asks with the usual flirty wink that never failed to draw a smile from the blonde sitting at her bar. "You know, if I didn't see the way you look at her I would think you came here just to see little ol' me."
Yang smirked and took the glass with a smirk in return. Flirting right back with the beauty who was rather tragically straight. "Of course I come by to see you Roxy, you're my favorite bartender and I fully intend to corrupt you eventually with my wicked lesbian wiles."
That earns her a scoff and a small chuckle. "Please, you only come in on the day she's dancing. You flirt with anyone who gets too close but you zone out completely when she takes the stage. And I don't know anyone else who bothers learning sign language in order to talk to the bartender who wouldn't know it anyway."
That got a blush from Yang as those little things were brought forward. She had only started learning that when she heard the girl who kept dancing around her mind was mute and didn't speak at all. Always using sign language or writing things out. The only reason Roxy knew was because Yang had taken to practicing outside of class during normal conversation.
She knew her behavior was weird certainly and if she weren't careful with how she acted it would be raising flags all over with the club's employee's. But Yang was careful and that made all the difference. She never approached the runway after that first night. She didn't seek her out when the dancer was off stage. And she always left before her last dance.
She had a crush, and the entire club knew it. So Yang was positive that she knew it too. Yet while Yang still had yet to get the girl's real name she did find small encouragements in little things. The way she would look her way at the start and end of her dances now, how she would intentionally grab a stool next to Yang's whenever on her break and then wink at the blonde when it ended.
Of course then Yang would kick herself for not trying to talk to the girl each and every time it happened.
Yang was sipping from her drink and making small talk with Roxy when the bartender cocked her head at the stage drawing Yang's attention that way just in time for her to be announced. The only thought running through her head was that today's name was 'Rocky Road'. And how she wasn't sure if she liked it better than last week's 'Blue Moon'.
And then, just like every week since Yang got the courage to come back to the club her thoughts ran away as her attention was drawn to every limber stretch and spin. Her eyes finding and locking onto those heterochromatic ones looking right back.
For Yang the club fell away and she might as well be sitting right in front of the runway again as she had two years ago. Watching as the shorter girl in those high high heels drew her in like a fly to honey.
And then it was over and with one last long look 'Rocky Road' walked off stage and the spell was broken, leaving Yang to blink her eyes rapidly and turn in her stool to lean forward on the counter and sigh. Ignoring the chuckle from Roxy. The blonde had heard it all before by this point. She wouldn't even bother contending with the ribbing she was about to receive as she slowly finished her drink. She would hear it all again before her night was over anyway.
Tonight was a bit different though. This time when she was ready to leave and put the money for her drinks on the counter plus Roxy's tip she was held up by the pretty bartender.
"Hey Yang, mind sticking around a bit longer tonight? I know you usually leave around now but well, we got in a drink shipment this morning and Ricky pulled something last night when one of the customers got handsy and had to be thrown out." She states nodding her head towards the front door. "If you help us out I'd appreciate it and owner's already said we could comp you your drinks for tonight and next week."
Yang paused at that and tossed the idea around a bit before shrugging. "Sure, I can help out I guess. But only because you're so beautiful, Roxy. Think I could get a kiss for saving the damsel in distress?" She asked in response while comically waggling her eyebrows and pretending to be hurt when her flirting is rebuffed with a roll of the bartender's eyes.
"Just follow me and I'll show you what you're working with, just need to get the boxes close really. We'll open them and sort it all out from there tomorrow before we open."
"So cold, Roxy. You only want me for my ability to lift things!" Yang playfully complains as she moves behind the bar counter so she can follow Roxy to the back area where a pile of heavy looking boxes were stacked waiting to be sorted further.
"Glad you at least understand that much, Yang. Just let me know if you see any damage or need any help." Roxy states with a grin before turning back and walking back the way they came leaving Yang so sigh to herself before perking up with a small smile and set about her task. The money she would save wasn't really important in the end. She was just happy to be helping out her friend.
After a few interruptions involving waving off Ricky's apologies, chatting with any of the dancers taking a break and Roxy checking up on her, Yang finished and finally checked the time on her scroll only to sigh.
It was much later than usual and Yang sighed. Normally by then she would be home and in bed. At least she didn't have any classes the next day and she would be able to sleep in to make up for her late night.
Heading back the way she came she entered the public area behind the bar and let Roxy know she was finished before reaching into her pocket for the keys to her bike. Leaving the bartender to continue her conversation with Ricky about the scheduling for a new hire.
"Oh hey, Yang, you forgot your money!" Roxy mentions raising her voice to grab the blonde's attention only to blink at the grin she gets when Yang turns around.
"Eh, keep it! Free drinks or not you still made them and kept me company. I'm just happy to help out." Yang replies walking backwards with her hands behind her head as she heads for the door before spinning around in time to step outside where she takes a deep breath of the cool night air before heading over to her motorcycle.
She grunts for a moment as she takes her seat and puts the key in the ignition lifting the stand before something catches her eye. A glint of metal tossed into the shadowed grass lining the parking lot followed by what sounded like a man with a few too many drinks in him, going by the slurred speech.
With a glance at the entrance Yang sighs noting that Ricky was probably still inside talking to Roxy before setting her bike stand back down and heading over willing to fill in for the large kindly man a little longer. Especially if it meant helping out one of the many friends she's made since she began frequenting the club.
It isn't until she see's just who the drunk accosted that Yang realizes she never heard anyone replying to the man.
"C'mon honey, look. Ya lost your keys now, streets ain't safe to walk at this time of night an I gots my car. I can give you a ride no problem. I just want you to give me one in return ya know? If it's money you want I got plenty of that too." Yang hears him offer even as 'Rocky Road' turns her head, no doubt looking for Ricky who would have heard the disturbance by now had he been at his usual post.
When she finally spots Yang, the blonde wastes no time calling out as she stomps her way towards the pair. Her hands clenched into fists as she walks. With her left hand she taps the drunk hard on the shoulder to get his attention and as he turns his chin meets resistance in the form of the blonde's right hook.
Between the man's inebriated state and the sudden shake to his brain he dropped like a puppet with its strings cut, out cold on the ground. It was over so fast Yang was left panting as she immediately stepped back and brought her fists up ready for the fight. When it didn't come she slowly lowered her fists and nudged the man with her foot before shrugging and looking up at her with a concerned frown.
"Are you alright?" She asks both vocally and with her hands, wanting to be absolutely certain of that before anything else. 'Rocky Road's' clothing was ruffled but other than that she looked more or less okay to the blonde. And the nod she got from the shaken dancer confirmed it for her.
"So I guess 'Rocky' really was just a stage name then? Stallone would have dropped that guy quick." Yang comments with a little smile, her temper cooling quickly in front of her crush. And with proximity came nerves.
And judging from the now deadpan and distinctly unamused look she was getting now her joke fell flat in the worst possible way. Yang is left just chuckling nervously as the dancer huffed and pushed past her heading in the direction the blonde remembered seeing that metal glint before.
'Rocky Road' Made it five more steps before Yang's brain caught up with her and she lurched into a stumble hurrying after the dancer. This was likely her only chance and if she left things as they were she would blow it entirely.
"H-hey wait!" The blonde called out as she began to catch up and surprisingly the girl listened, pausing to turn and regard Yang with a rather cool expression. "I'm sorry about that. It's just… Well you know who I am by now and everything and I've never really been able to talk to you so I'm nervous. And I tried to break the tension with a joke… Guess it kinda ruined everything, huh?"
Yang could feel her palms growing sweaty and rubbed them against her pants before daring to look back at the girl nervously. For someone so much smaller than Yang, she certainly didn't act like it now. Chin raised and haughty despite the position she had been in moments before. Still, the expression slowly softened as she seemed to consider Yang's words before offering a nod and a small smile.
"Want some help looking for your keys? He might have been a drunken asshole but he wasn't really wrong about it not being safe out alone in the dark like this." Yang offers pointing in the general direction of where she saw the keys land. It would be hell trying to find them in the dark like this but she was willing to try anyway.
She could see the girl in front of her considering it and waited patiently even while her mind was twisting on itself trying to gnaw at the false confidence she was trying to put forward. Her palms were starting to sweat again and she tried to brush them off inconspicuously as she waited for the nod or shake of the dancers head that would tell her if she had ruined everything or not.
Yang could not have held in the sigh of relief if she tried when 'Rocky' finally nodded to her and they set about searching through the grass. Yang only stopped for a minute when Ricky made an appearance to let him know about the man she sucker punched earlier before hurrying back.
For a long time Yang couldn't think of anything to say as they looked and contented herself to silence until she heard a frustrated huff followed by a soft breath. When she turned to look she noticed 'Rocky' yawning into her hand before glaring at the ground like it offended her.
And then Yang hesitated for a moment looking at her bike and back at the silent woman before standing up and offering the girl her hand. "Look it's getting pretty late, I know how this sounds but… If you want a lift home I can give you one. Fair warning though, it's a motorcycle, so it will probably be pretty chilly." She says punctuating her words with sign language.
Yang waits as 'Rocky' stares at her for a long moment searching for something before glowering at the grass again and sighing silently. Before nodding and briefly signing 'okay'. Yang doesn't even bother hiding her beaming smile as she mentally cheers for herself and tries to remember to be extra generous for Roxy next week. A little thank you for asking Yang to help out.
The blonde clears her throat then and nods heading for her motorcycle before pausing and looking over her shoulder at 'Rocky' for a moment before shrugging out of her tan jacket and setting it on the girls shoulders ignoring the skeptical look it gets her as she seats herself on the bike. "Like I said, it's gonna be cold and you're probably not used to it. It's not perfect but it should at least help."
She gets a deadpan look in reply as 'Rocky' slides her arms into the sleeves and rolls her eyes before climbing on behind Yang.
"Alright, so I have no idea where I'm going and you're going to have to guide me. So tap with your right hand for a right turn, left for left, and just tug on my shirt to stop okay?" The blonde asks looking over her shoulder at the shorter dancer waiting for the nod and when it comes she lifts the stand and starts the motor before grabbing her helmet and hands it behind her without a thought.
There's a moment of hesitation before it's taken from her hand and she waits for the hands to be placed on her hips before pulling out of the parking lot. At first the grip on her tightens as Yang starts to speed up but when they don't immediately crash and die the grip becomes more comfortable and Yang feels the girl relax against the blonde's back.
Yang does her best to ignore who she has as a passenger by focusing on the road in front of her and the hands at her hips guiding her to their destination. But oooh are those hands distracting. It's just about all Yang can do to focus on the road when her mind so desperately wants to think about other things those hands could be doing.
That or sleep. Her mind definitely wanted sleep and it was well past when she would usually be in bed. At least she wasn't likely to fall asleep with the cool night air washing over her face driving goosebumps to her uncovered skin. It was uncomfortable but to the smitten blonde it was a small price to pay.
It was both forever and far too soon when Yang felt the tug on her shirt as she was coming up on an apartment complex, said hand letting go and pointing ahead to one building in particular. It was a nice place with its own parking garage and Yang pulled to a stop in front of it, leaving the engine rumbling gently as she leaned the bike to make it easier for the girl to dismount.
Once separated, Yang took the helmet and jacket back as 'Rocky' took them off and hesitated. Yang could feel the dancer's eyes watching her carefully as Yang put her jacket back on and shook her hair out before lifting her helmet. Only pausing when the dancer held up a hand.
"Something up?" Yang asks tilting her head curiously. As much as she wanted to stay and chat, her eyes were heavy and the siren call of her bed was becoming rather insistent. Something she couldn't hide as she lifted her arm so she could yawn into her shoulder.
'Rocky' seemed to come to a decision then and with her hands began to talk.
'Thank you, my name is Neo.' The dancer signs, shifting in place with hesitation or nervousness, Yang was far too tired to tell. But she was more than happy enough to have gotten Neo's real name at least.
"Nice to meet you Neo, my name's Yang… though you probably already knew that by now huh?" Yang replies trying damned hard not to be awkward as she considers waving off any further conversation in order to save face and not ruining anything she might have gained so far.
Before she could do that though she was forced to yawn again and winced as her jaw cracked leaving her rubbing it softly. When she tries to speak again though she quiets herself when Neo's hands start moving again. They aren't really signing anything Yang can understand. Like Neo was starting to say things and stopping halfway through the motions. And what comes next leaves all thoughts of sleep completely absent.
'Want to come up? You can sleep here tonight.' the shorter girl finally gets out and Yang freezes with her eyes wide before blinking and nodding dumbly. Her heart melting as she watches Neo huff silently into her hand in what the blonde recognizes as a giggle.
And suddenly, Yang wasn't so sure she would be getting any sleep at all that night if the sultry gaze that came after was any indication. That and the soft lips pressing against hers for a long moment before Neo pulled back and wrote something on a sheet of paper handing it to Yang along with some kind of card for the parking garage.
Oh yes, Yang owed a few people big for this, including her uncle for bringing her to Candy Land, Ricky for pulling a muscle, and Roxy for letting her help out.