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You're Daydreaming Again

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It finally seemed as if the weather was realizing summertime was near. The sun was out, shining down on the park area of the Overwatch University grounds, a place which had been secluded for most of the cooler winter months. In the newfound heat, it had let life back into the students who would, just a week earlier, barely have bothered giving the park a glance as they rushed between classes. Now scores of students milled out onto the grass with their textbooks out, ready to study in the sunlight.

A ball of paper hit Angela on the side of the head.

“You’re daydreaming again.” The tosser was a youth a few years her junior. He was fit but wide, with dark, shaggy hair and amber-colored eyes framed by black glasses.

“Can you blame me? I have to sit here waiting for you to finish up. It gets boring.” Angela picked up the paper and tossed it back at Winston. It bounced off his bicep.

“Ouch!” Winston grinned. “Guessing you don’t need my help with that Bioengineering paper then. Finished with it already?”

She made a face at him. “You know I’m not. I just have a lot of stuff on my mind.”

“Like..?”

“Private and disturbing stuff,” she bit him off, but she smiled when she said it. “It’s nothing serious. Just end of semester jitters, I suppose.”

Winston closed his laptop and leaned in over the table. “You know, it would do you some good to relax for once.”

Angela immediately frowned in suspicion. “You have your salesman voice on and I don’t like it.”

“I’ve heard rumors about a party down at a local bar. Rein’s?”

Angela rolled her eyes and sighed tiredly. “I don’t do parties, Winston, you know that.”

“I know, but this is a crazy party, we have to go! Lúcio dos Santos is going to play his newest set.”

Lúcio was somewhat of a local legend at the university. He was a music major, but he spent little time in class and more time organising various parties around the city. You would have a hard time finding a club not playing at least some of his music.

“I didn’t know you listened to Lúcio’s music?” Angela mused. Winston’s cheeks turned pink.

“I love it. Listen to it all the time. I know all his stuff, like… Ribbity and… Sonic Amplifier . Wallrider .” Winston fidgeted through the very obvious lie.

“It’s cute to see you try. Come on, tell me. Why do you really want to go?”

Winston looked as if he was about to continue denying an ulterior motive, but then he sighed. He ran a hand through his hair. “Remember Athena? The girl from my Computer Science class? She really likes his music, and she mentioned earlier today she would be going. She even gave me the address, look.” He excitedly presented a piece of paper with a scribble that could maybe be interpreted as words.

“I’m not stopping you from going. I just don’t see myself as much of a party girl. I’ll just spend tonight at the library again.”

“That is the saddest thing I’ve heard this week,” Winston said with fake sincerity. “Come on, Z. Can’t we let loose and act like crazy kids for once? That’s what university is all about.”

Angela thought back to when she’d just started the university. Even then she had been hesitant about parties, and would properly never had gathered up the courage to actually go to one if Jack hadn’t been there to drag her along.

Thinking of him made her lower her gaze and bite her lip.

“You might be a crazy kid, but I’m not, Winston. Really, I’m fine where I am. I don’t want to hold you back.”

“You’re not holding me back. Your help has saved my ass on several tests.” It was a lie. Winston was a few years younger than her, but he was scarily clever and wisecracking to boot, two characteristics that didn't earn him many friends. During the first few weeks of the semester, she'd seen him study and eat alone for the most part, just as she had done when she'd begun her college career. It hadn’t taken long for them to bond over a shared interest in excessive note taking.

“Besides,” he said, “we’re a team. Ain’t gonna leave you hanging while I have fun.”

She smiled, but she was well aware it didn’t reach her eyes. “You are a huge dork.”

“Love you too.” He blew a theatrical kiss at her, as he stood. “I’m gonna go get something cold to drink, this heat is killing me. Want anything?”

“A water would be nice, thanks.”

With a nod, he pocketed his hands and began making his way towards the cantina. Taking advantage of the few minutes she had to herself, Angela resumed her people-watching. There were a few exchange students sitting on a bench a few yards over, chatting over something in a language Angela didn’t understand. Three guys had claimed a large patch of the grass to throw a frisbee to one another, hooting and laughing as one of them slipped when he dived for it.

It was during times like this when she could almost forget that she was an outsider. Though she was the same age as most of her fellow students, she always felt she was here under false pretences. The youths currently sprawling in the grass were one step into their education, ready to take on the world. Her on the other hand… She had finished her PHD when she was 19, almost four years ago.

She never told anyone, which only meant that people found out themselves, which was in some ways worse. The first few days in her bioengineering class had been blissful. People had treated her no different than if she was any other student, chatting and joking with her between lectures. Then, at some point, the truth had gotten out. When she entered a lecture hall now, people always stared at her. Some in fascination, some in awe, and others in angry jealousy. Since then she had kept her head down and avoided most people. Winston was the only one who treated her like a normal person. He, too, had gotten into university much earlier than his peers, and was on the final end of his first degree, having not even turned 19 yet.

A unique pair they were… Unhappy geniuses. Prodigies with potential that felt as heavy as a truck.

“Excuse me?” A voice interrupted Angela’s daydreaming, and she turned.

A woman was standing next to her and Winston’s table. She was tall with light brown skin and perfect black hair that fell to just past her shoulders. She wore a tight fitting leather outfit, similar to those worn by motorcyclists. She was wearing a pair of sunglasses that hid most of her eyes, but Angela was still able to see the black lines of a tattoo, half-way hidden behind dark-tinted glass.

It took Angela a moment to realise she was staring, and another to notice how her mouth had fallen open. She closed it, her teeth clacking together loudly.

“Sorry, I- Sorry.” She sounded as if the she had been caught stealing apples from a neighbour’s backyard.

“Is this a bad time, or..?” Her voice was deep, confident. It bore the faintest hint of an accent.

“Not at all, I’m just a bit distracted.” She hoped it sounded relaxed, but based on the woman’s smirk she doubted it.

“Alright… I was just wondering if you could help me. I am looking for someone. Lúcio dos Santos? He said to met him here, but either he’s a no show, or my detective skills are just not up to par.”

Angela laughed nervously. She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, I don’t know. Haven’t seen him near here.”

“Yeah, he is usually not very hard to spot.” She turned, looking out over the park area. When she turned again, she’d taken off the sunglasses, revealing the elegant Eye of Horus tattoo which had been previously obscured.

“What, uhh… What do you need him for?” Angela tried to ignore that she was suddenly sweating, and it wasn’t just because of the sun.

“He’s having a party tonight. I’m supposed to give him a lift and help him set up before the masses arrive.” She gave Angela a look, smiling crookedly. “Why are you asking?”

“I’m just a little curious, is all.”

“Really?” The look trailed away from her face for a moment, and Angela felt her breathing quicken slightly. “I am as well, just as it happens. Can I ask your name?”

“Angela.”

“Angela…I like it.” She said the name as if she was tasting it. Angela felt a weird shiver run down her spine. The woman reached out her hand. “You can call me Pharah.”

Angela shook it, ignoring how clammy her hands felt. “Pharah? That’s an unusual name.”

“It’s a nickname. The name given to me at birth is weirder, trust me.” Her smile was genuine and intoxicating. “Anyway, Angela , I don’t know how much Lúcio has been advertising the party tonight, but it’s open for all OU students. Interested?”

“I have to study.” She gestured at one of the many books lying open on the table.

“Shame. I was looking forward to having someone to talk to who wasn’t a complete jock. I like Lúcio, but he attracts the worst crowds.”

“You’re going?”

Pharah shrugged. “Kinda have to. For moral support, mostly. I’m not much for parties that are so loud you can barely hear yourself think.”

“I see…” Angela cleared her throat again. “Maybe I will go. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a party. Who knows, it might do me good.”

“Glad to hear it. I’ll look for you there.” Pharah raised a hand in a casual wave, as she turned and walked away from the table. She was only a few yards away before she passed Winston, who didn’t even try to hide his look of confusion as he approached the table, holding two bottles of water.

“Who was that?” he asked as he sat down. He frowned when he saw Angela’s face. “What’s wrong with you? You’re weirdly red in the face.”

“Do you have to comment on everything?” Angela snarled and snatched up one of the bottles. The cold water might help slow down her heart rate.

Winston looked confused for a moment, then he raised his eyebrows in comedic expression of surprise. He looked quickly from Angela to Pharah, who had stopped to talk to a couple on a bench. He was grinning like the evil mastermind he was. “Oh, I see how it is.”

“You don’t see jack shit.”

Winston grinned stupidly. “Of course not, of course. I won’t comment. Not on a thing. Not even on the feeling of… What is it… eyefucking, that is hanging in the air.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“No, no, of course you don’t. And, as I said, I will not comment on it any further. Especially not on the googly eyes you were just shooting at the biker chick over there.”

Angela nearly choked on her water. “Stop doing that!”

“I’m not doing anything. I’m just relaying information as it was presented to me.”

“You are being an asshole.”

“An observant asshole. Some would say that makes me worse.”

“I would very much agree. Now please, shut up about it.”

“I will.” Winston’s smile turned wolfish. “If you come to the party with me tonight.”

She made a face at him. “Blackmail? Wow, new low.”

“Come on, Z. I don't want to go alone. I've been here for over a semester and do you know how many parties I've been to?” He joined his thumb and forefinger together to signify zero. “Biker chick might be there.”

“Her name is Pharah.” Angela winced as she knew she had shared too much.

“Alright,” Winston grinned. “ Pharah might be there. And who knows, maybe you will actually have a fun Friday night for once.”

Angela stopped herself from beginning a rant of how a night spent reading about the different living conditions of bacterial microorganisms could also be considered fun. She glanced over at Pharah who was still talking to the seated couple. One of them was pointing in the direction of the main hall, and Pharah nodded a thanks and walked away. But not before casting a single look back at Angela’s table.

Their eyes locked. Pharah’s smile was amused and she raised her hand in an acknowledging gesture. Angela’s felt her face turn red again.

“Fine.”

Winston paused. “Fine what?”

“Fine, I’ll come to the party. But if I’m not having fun I’ll leave. Go back to my books.”

His face was cracked in a big grin. “You’ll really go?”

“Yes, I’ll go.” She glanced over at where Pharah had been a moment before.

Who knows? Maybe she’d even have fun.

 


 

She was not having fun.

The bar was cramped, loud, and much too hot for Angela's liking. She'd barely taken a step inside before she began feeling crushed by the dancing and jumping bodies moving to the beat of the music. She'd found Winston quickly, standing at the back of the room, holding a drink which she was able to confirm was nonalcoholic. He'd been talking to a pretty girl with brown bangs and glasses. Athena, she'd learned later.

She couldn't recall it ever taking that little time becoming the third wheel as it did with Winston and Athena. She'd barely introduced herself before the pair had turned from her and resumed a rather in depth discussion about the potential value found in open market APIs. Angela had walked off soon after that.

However, she didn’t want to leave. It felt weird to show up, only to leave less than half an hour later. That’s what she told herself, anyway, because it definitely wasn’t because she was scanning the crowd, trying to glimpse the black haired girl she'd met earlier that day.

When the music became too deafening, Angela went to the back of the bar, placed far enough away to dull the thumping in her head. She was able to claim a small piece of the counter for herself. Ordering a vodka and coke, she sat in silence while watching the other college students around her go insane over the music. Looking at them, it quickly became very obvious that she was overdressed. She had considered wearing a simple t-shirt and sneakers, but it had been so long since she'd been to a party and she felt like dressing up. She wore a tight, short dress and black pumps, both relics of when she had first started dating Jack, and both very expensive. She also knew that she looked good in the outfit, the black fabric contrasting her light skin and blonde hair.

Might as well look good when you went out , she thought, ignoring the Pharah-sonar pinging away in her head.

Angela was halfway through her second drink when a figure moved up next to her. In the dark it was hard to make out the details of their face, but Angela recognized Pharah in an instant. That teasing grin was hard to forget.

“Hi there!” Pharah had to speak loudly to overpower the music. “I’m glad you could make it. Was worried I’d lost you to a pile of homework.”

“Winston convinced me to come,” Angela said. It wasn’t a complete lie.

“I will have to thank him when I meet him. He’s helped make the view here a lot better.” Pharah traced a long look over Angela’s body. “You are looking way too good for this place.”

“I don’t go out a lot.” It didn’t really explain anything, but Angela had a hard time coming up with clever lines when Pharah was looking at her like that. Lowered lids and half-open mouth.

“A shame. A dress like that should be shown off, if you ask me.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Pharah’s response was a loaded smile and a dark look. Angela’s throat suddenly felt very dry, and she quickly emptied her drink. The sudden rush of alcohol made her feel woozy.

“So how long have you known Lúcio? He seems like an interesting friend.”

“That he is, yes. We’re going on about… two years I think? I’ve known him since he started uni here.”

“What about you? Do you study there too?”

Pharah shook her head. “School and I never got along. It’s odd jobs for me, mostly. I help out here, with the bar, when I can, and I have steady work with a local mechanic. It can be tough, but it pays the bills. What about you?”

Angela looked into her empty glass. She always dreaded these sorts of questions. “Bioengineering. Graduate.”

Pharah raised her brows in surprise. She took a swig from a beer bottle that had mysteriously appeared in her hand. “Wouldn’t have been my first guess. You seem more med school to me. You have a guardian angel vibe going for you.”

Angela laughed at that. Pharah frowned.

“Did I say something funny?”

“No, it’s not that. You’re just not the first to say it, is all. Maybe in an alternate reality it would be true.”

Pharah nodded. Her dark brown eyes were studying Angela’s face with a strange intensity. “So you met Winston in school? How long has that been going on?”

Angela was confused over the question for a moment, before she understood what Pharah was asking. “Oh. No, we’re not... with each other, not like that. We’re friends and we study together, that’s all. He actually only came tonight because he is crushing on a girl and heard she would be here.”

Angela purposefully ignored the irony in what she’d just said.

“I can understand that.” Pharah voice sounded strange suddenly. “Makes more sense that he would leave you here alone then, looking like that.”

“You said it looked good.”

“It does. Very good, in fact. If you hadn't noticed, at least half a dozen guys have stopped to stare at you just while I've been standing here.” Pharah looked at Angela, the teasing smirk returning to her face. “Some girls too.”

Angela's face immediately turned red and she thanked whatever God had designed club parties to be dimly lit. She had never been in a serious relationship with anyone other than Jack, and they had been friends for years before anything happened. Before him there had been the occasional kiss at a party somewhere, but it had never been anything serious. She knew she found women attractive, but she had never acted on any attraction she might have felt, beyond maybe a kiss after one too many drinks.

The heat in the bar suddenly felt heavy.

“Really? I… I hadn't noticed.”

Pharah emptied her beer. She looked back at Angela, her eyes narrowed as she studied her features in the dark. “You are a hard read, Angela. I don’t know what to make of you.”

“Maybe you could ask me, and I could just tell you.” Her voice sounded small, but it seemed Pharah heard her anyway.

“Alright. I’ll ask then.” She straightened, standing slightly taller than Angela, even when she cocked her head inquisitively. “Do you find me attractive?”

Now her face was definitely red. Her grip around the near-empty glass tightened, and she looked away. “That’s a very direct question.”

“I ask because I want to know if the feeling is mutual.” They were very close to one another now. They weren't touching, but Angela could feel the heat coming off her body, and she felt tempted to lean in and touch the bare skin on her arms. Pharah was wearing a simple black tank top. A leather jacket was tied around her waist.

Pharah leaned in even closer, her mouth next to Angela’s ear. “I am asking because I feel like leaving this party, with you, right now.”

Angela’s breathing was heavy. “Where would we go?”

“My place. It’s close by, the ride over will be short. We’d be alone. Just the two of us.”

Angela wasn't sure how to describe the feeling rushing through her. Shock, definitely. Fear was also prominent. She felt like slamming her glass down on the counter, and then run until she'd gotten back home, could crawl under her covers and never go to another party like this again.

She slowly raised her glass, regretting that she’d already emptied it. A few drops remained and she drank them, the vodka a warm rush through her body. It seemed to kick her flight response back for a moment.

“What would we do when we got to your place?” Angela couldn't look at Pharah. She could barely comprehend that she was even speaking this way. This candidly.

“First thing, I'd get you out of that dress. The shoes too, you kick them off as I guide you through the apartment to my bed.” Pharah leaned in at this moment, putting her hands on Angela's waist. “I would push you down on it, lay on top of you. And I'd kiss you here” Pharah’s fingers hovered over Angela's lips “here,” her neck, “and here,” her breasts. “Then I'd fuck you. I'd crawl between your legs and enjoy the taste of your come. I'd fuck you until I'd make you forget how to speak any other sound than my name.” Her body was firm against Angela’s, her grip tight with desire. “That's what I'd do. So I ask you again; do you find me as attractive, as I do you?”

Angela blinked once. Twice. Letting a long moment pass between them in silence. The loudness of the music had faded, as Angela was completely engrossed by Pharah’s smoldering eyes.

“Can we leave now, or should we wait a while?”

 


 

The cab ride to Pharah’s apartment was short, but tense. Angela had seated herself a fair distance away on the backseat to avoid any more of Pharah’s intimate touching. She didn't feel like giving some random cab driver a show. Still, she was hyper conscious of Pharah’s long looks and the dark promise they held.

When they finally arrived, they were standing by a small building that looked like it had once been an auto shop, but the exterior was clean and newly painted. Pharah unlocked the door, inviting Angela into what looked to be a workshop and garage that had been reworked into a studio. The walls were solid concrete, lending a rough and industrial feel to the place. There was sparse color, the only thing really standing out was a beautiful blue motorcycle parked inside the garage part of the apartment.

“Nice place. How long have you-” She was interrupted by lips clashing into hers and strong arms pushing her against the wall next to the door. Angela couldn't help herself. She moaned into the kiss as Pharah’s teeth stung against her lips, and her hands began exploring Angela's body with a fervent energy she hadn't felt since… ever.

Desperately, she pulled at Pharah’s jacket until it fell in a heap on the floor. Just as fast, Pharah’s hands found the zipper to the dress and with a single movement the black fabric was bundled around Angela's feet. Pharah paused, and for a moment the panic rose back into Angela's chest as Pharah’s gaze wandered over her skin and underwear. There wasn't time for it to set in before Pharah was on her again, body pressed against Angela and her mouth hungrily finding her neck.

“Fuck, Angela.” Hearing her name spoken with such desire made a small whine escape Angela's mouth. “That dress doesn't do you justice. Fuck me, just look at you.”

Angela grabbed Pharah’s shoulders and guided her back to her lips. She couldn't get enough. The taste of burning liquor still on her tongue was turning her knees into jelly. Or maybe it was Pharah’s exploring hands that did that, as she slid one down to cup at her right breast. She squeezed and Angela moaned into Pharah’s mouth. It had been months since anyone other than herself had touched her like that.

They clumsily made their way through the studio, both kicking off their shoes as they went. Pharah’s top and jeans went too, falling as they both knocked into walls and furniture before falling onto Pharah’s bed. Angela was sprawled beneath her, their bodies pressed tightly together. Just as she'd said.

“Are you wet for me?” Pharah’s fingers slipped into the inside of Angela's underwear. She smiled wolfishly, and Angela was suddenly extremely conscious of how soaked she actually was. She stiffened, as Pharah’s finger slowly moved down her length. When Angela continued to be stiff to her touch, Pharah frowned, pausing. The teasing look in her eyes was gone.

“What is it? What's wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong.. I just… I haven't ever…” Angela felt herself blush again and this time there was no dim club light to hide it. “I've never actually been with a woman before.”

Pharah’s look of stunned surprise would have been amusing in any other situation. She was frozen on top of Angela, her features stiffened in an awkward position.

“Do you want me to stop?”

“No, I don't. Really, I just...” Embarrassed, like a scolded child, she covered her face with her hands. “I'm sorry, I'm just not used to it feeling like this.”

Pharah didn't say anything for a long moment. She was still on top of Angela, naked except for set of black underwear. Angela felt a tuck at her hands, as Pharah pulled them away from her face.

“I'll go slow, okay? If you don't like it, tell me and I'll stop.”

Angela looked up at Pharah. Her dark eyes were serious, but there was a desire there that had not gone away since they first started talking at the bar. Angela realised she was holding her breath.

“Okay,” she nodded, her voice barely a squeak.

Pharah bent down and kissed her then, deep and long. Their tongues intertwining, Pharah’s hands exploring Angela's body tentatively. After a minute of this, her hands went behind Angela's back, undoing her bra with an flick of her fingers. When she removed it she stared. Angela knew that her breasts sometimes had an… effect on people, and seeing that Pharah wasn't immune to this caused a stir in her thighs.

“Fucking god.” Pharah seemed to say this to herself. She bowed her head, peppering kisses along Angela's jawline, down her neck and collarbone, before coming to her chest. Her warm mouth found a nipple and her teeth bit softly into the sensitive skin around it. Angela had never experienced it like this, soft and sharp at the same time. She let out a series of sharp gasps.

“Oh, yes! Don’t stop.”

She didn't know what she needed, exactly. Normally, she could describe where she wanted her partner to go next, but she felt strangely disconnected from herself. She just knew that her body was crying out for something Pharah’s deft tongue was building to as it swirled around the sensitive areas on her breasts. Angela let one hand curl into Pharah’s black hair, the other went to her own mouth. She had never been very vocal during sex, but Pharah’s expert exploration of her body combined with her lack of sexual activity for the past year meant her moans were loud and frequent. Biting down on a knuckle, she tried to stay quiet as Pharah began moving further down her body. The set of lacy underwear Angela had worn was removed and tossed on the floor, as Pharah repeated the motions she had just introduced Angela to. Soft kisses, trailing skin from her knee up the thigh, hovering around her clit before moving away again. She kept doing this until Angela's legs were shivering whenever Pharah’s mouth got too close to her center.

“Shall I continue?” Her eyes were watching like a tiger’s.

“Yes!” Angela's outburst was out of her control. Her hand fell away from her face to instead clutch at the bedsheets. “Yes, God. Yes…”

The last yes fell into a low whimper, as Pharah chose that moment to run her tongue up Angela's folds, ending with a slight, rotating pressure on her clit. The touch was so light, Angela couldn't stand it, and she thrusted her hips forward, pressing herself against Pharah’s teasing tongue. As Angela's movements began to find a rhythm, as did Pharah’s, matching each of her thrusts by sucking gently on her clit. It was a building mountain of pleasure Angela wasn't ready for. Her moans became whines as she tried to keep them quiet out of habit. Whenever she pushed herself against Pharah, whose tongue was flicking and pressing around her clit, taking the pressure on and off, the sounds became harder to control.

She couldn't speak. She didn't want to speak. She wanted release from this building ecstasy.

Angela was moving faster now, and Pharah had to grab hold of her hips to help control the movement. She looked up at Angela, eyes hungry and attentive, before letting her front teeth nip into the skin around her center.

Angela's felt the moan rise from all the way down in her abdomen, escaping her mouth in a shudder that trembled through her entire body. Pharah’s name was in there, but it was impossible to make it out as anything else than an outburst of release. Her back arched against the mattress, her skin shivered, as Pharah gently guided her through the orgasm.

It felt like hours passed before Angela collapsed back down in the sheets, sweating and panting as if she'd just run a marathon. Her eyes were closed, so she felt rather than saw Pharah climb up next to her.

“You okay? It wasn't too much?”

Angela opened her eyes. Pharah was lying on her stomach next to her. She had dried her face of Angela's come, but the scent of it was still present in the air.

Without thinking, Angela grabbed her and pulled Pharah into a kiss. It was short, as Angela was still out of breath, but it seemed to have an effect. Her heavy breathing was matched by Pharah’s own.

“I can go clean up,” Pharah managed to utter between kisses. If she was trying to hide the desire in her voice, she did a bad job at it.

Angela rolled over on top of her, a reversal of their positions before. She kissed Pharah’s mouth, her jaw, sucked on her lips. She tasted herself on the woman's skin and she felt a pulsating feeling between her legs. She liked this.

“What do you want me to do?” Angela looked down at Pharah. She was still wearing her underwear, and Angela suddenly had to fight an overwhelming urge to rip them off.

“You don't have to do anything you don't want to.”

She surged downward, bringing Pharah into a long, hot kiss. Now Pharah was the one moaning, and Angela felt how Pharah parted her legs slightly in response to the kiss.

“I want to. Please, I really, really want to.”

Pharah smiled at her, showing teeth in a teasing grin.

“You're tenacious, has anyone ever told you that? Have you ever done anything like this before?”

Angela flushed. “No. I mean… Just with guys.” Guy , she thought.

“It’s a bit different than that.” Pharah pushed a loose strand of Angela's hair behind her ear. “You don’t have to reciprocate. Some girls realize that’s not what they want.”

“Well, I'm not some girl.” Angela hoisted herself up, so she was raised on all fours over Pharah’s body. She presented a cocked smile, very aware that Pharah was openly staring at her naked body.

“I'll go slow too,” she teased. She let her hands slip down from Pharah’s shoulders, down over her chest and breasts, all the way to the lining of her underwear. It was a way for her to touch and feel the woman beneath her, and was as much for her own benefit as it was for Pharah’s. The warmth of her skin, the scent of her and the quiet gasp as Angela's gentle fingers touched a sensitive area on her hip bone.

Remembering what Pharah had done, Angela bent down and kissed her deeply. Pharah raised her arms to embrace her and pull them closer together, but Angela stopped her, pushing her arms back down on the bed, effectively pinning her down.

“Oh, it's like that, is it?” Pharah’s voice was strangely hoarse. Angela looked at her, worried she might have upset her, but Pharah’s eyes were lit with want and desire.

“Is it alright?” Angela asked.

Pharah didn't answer, she just nodded. Angela moved her mouth further down her torso, being conscious of the response her kisses had whenever she placed a new one. As she began to approach the area between her breasts, slipping down to her navel and stomach, Pharah’s breathing was ragged.

“You're killing me here, Angela.”

“Should I stop?”

Pharah laughed. A short huff of a chuckle that sent strange vibrations through Angela's body. “Keep going. Just keep going like that.”

Comfortable with knowing she was on the right track, Angela crawled off Pharah until she was in the same position Pharah had been in before. Hesitantly, she pulled Pharah’s underwear off, revealing glistening wetness between Pharah’s legs.

Seeing Pharah’s folds wet from desire and hearing her heavy breathing was enough to make Angela lose focus for a moment. She had never done anything like this before and had no idea how to proceed, really. But she was surprised. She had expected to feel some trepidation or nervousness in this moment. After all, she had never actually been on this particular side of the arrangement, so she'd expected it. Instead, she just felt excitement.

Slowly, like Pharah had done before, Angela began placing kisses along the top of Pharah’s mound, softly going all the way down the length of her, never placing pressure. When she reached the end, she opened her mouth and got the first tangy taste of Pharah’s juices and she ran her tongue up the inside of her, all the way to the little bead at the top.

As she did, Pharah let out a cry of pleasure, her hands seeking down her body towards Angela. Without thinking, Angela reached up and grabbed them, using them to steady both herself and Pharah as she began circling the small bead that seemed to give such a vocal reaction. Her tongue was clumsy, but responsive, following Pharah as she cried out instructions of “ slower ,” “ harder ,” and the surprisingly frequent “ yes, just like that .”

It only took a few minutes before Pharah’s cries took on a more rhythmic tone. She grasped hard at her hands, as the muscles in her thighs began to tense up.

“Don't stop! Oh, God, yes Angela! Oh! Oh God!” Rapid exclamations of pleasure as Pharah’s back began arching against the sheets. Angela obeyed the command, sucking and pressing her tongue against Pharah’s clit, matching the quickening rhythm of her moans.

“Yes! Oh! God! I'm… coming. I'm coming!”

The release hit them both like a wave, Pharah’s come hitting Angela's tongue as she eased the pressure off Pharah’s clit. The woman breathed heavily as her legs shivered in response to the fading orgasm, and Angela's felt an intense wetness between her own legs.

“Holy shit…” Pharah moaned out the words, following them with a short, out of breath chuckle. “Fuck, Angela.”

“That wasn't too much?” she teased with a grin. Pharah was on her in an instant, pulling her into the bed and kissing her. Her mouth were still wet from Pharah’s juices, but Pharah didn't care at all.

“Oh, I'll show you too much,” she growled as she rolled over on top of Angela again. “I'm far from done with you.”

 


 

Angela wasn’t sure how long they kept going. It could have been days for all she knew, or cared. Time didn’t exist in Pharah’s bed. There was only the two of them and the touches they shared.

In the end, Angela had to put a stop to it. After Pharah’s insatiable appetite had gotten Angela through her sixth orgasm, she felt as if she was going to pass out if they continued much longer. Her body was sore and spent, and she couldn’t help but be impressed at Pharah’s stamina. It was like she was trained for this.

She wasn’t sure when it happened, but at some point she fell asleep. When she woke up, she was curled up into a ball, like she usually slept. The only difference was that she had one arm casually slung over Pharah, the other pressed against the woman’s side. Pharah was asleep on her stomach, face turned towards Angela. She looked so calm that Angela felt tempted to close her eyes and let sleep take her again. She never wanted to leave this room, even if the smell of sex still hung heavy in the air. What time was it?

It was then there was a familiar buzz. The sound of a vibrating cell phone hidden beneath layers of clothing. Groggily, Angela began to sit up to locate the sound, when Pharah groaned in displeasure as she moved away.

“Stay in bed.” Her pull on Angela’s arm wasn’t strong at all, but it was enough to make Angela slump down onto the mattress again. Pharah nuzzled into her, curling herself around Angela’s naked body in a relaxed embrace. Her eyes were still closed and her breathing carried the calm, deep rhythm of sleep.

Angela didn’t share in this calmness. Since they had met at the bar, she had been driven by forces she couldn’t control. First alcohol, then desire, then exhaustion, and it wasn’t until now when she wasn’t under the influence of any of those things that she had taken a moment to pause and think.

She had sex with someone she barely knew. A woman she barely knew. She had never had a one night stand, or any kind of stand really, if you didn’t count her relationship with Jack. And they had known each other for years before they started dating, and even then it had taken weeks before they first had sex. This woman… she didn’t know a thing about her. Until yesterday, she had known she found women attractive, but she had never acted on it. She hadn’t felt the need to, be they female or not. Her studies and school had come first, and it didn’t help that whenever she considered dating again it felt like an icepick had been driven into her chest. It hadn’t felt that way with Pharah.

The phone buzzed again, and this time she managed to untangle herself from a disgruntled Pharah. She realized she was still naked and instinctively covered her chest with the bedsheet as she looked around the room for her purse.

When she did find it, tucked in her purse beneath a pile of their discarded clothing, she found eight texts from Winston asking where the hell she was.

“Oh shit…” She’d totally ditched him at the party. Hopefully he wasn’t mad.

She wrote a quick text, saying she was fine. She just had a bit too much and had crashed at a friend’s house. Which technically wasn’t a lie, but she did get a bit of a bitter taste in her mouth when she sent it.

“What’s gotten you making that face?”

Behind her, Pharah was stretching on the bed. She was still naked and only half-covered by the bedsheet. Angela suspected the movement wasn’t meant to be sexual, but the redness quickly flushing into her face told her that Angela’s body might disagree. She turned away, as Pharah reached over and grabbed some clothing from a nearby chair.

“Just some texts. Worried friends and such. I didn’t tell them where I went last night.”

Pharah chuckled. “I see. That face tells me you’d want to keep it a secret then.”

Angela frowned. “What do you mean?”

Pharah had pulled on her clothes, though her droopy eyes and messy bed hair still made her look half-asleep. She yawned, as if to confirm the thought. “Don’t worry, I’m not mad. It’s not the first time I’ve woken up next to someone who suddenly remembers they don’t really like girls. College and experimentation, and all that.”

Angela stared at her, completely stunned. She legitimately couldn’t tell if Pharah was messing with her or not. The nonchalant way she’d said it made it seem like this happened so often it was becoming a regular nuisance.

Angela stood, clumsy with sheet still around her. She scanned the room for her clothes. Where the hell was her dress?

“Here. You can wear this.” Pharah tossed her a flannel and a pair of faded jeans, and a nasty little voice in Angela’s mind wondered if this was Pharah’s or something left behind by one of those experimenting girls she’d brought home.

“Thank you.”

“No problem. Coffee?” Pharah had strolled out of the bedroom section of the studio, moving into a small kitchen. She was still acting eerily cool about the whole thing and, quite frankly, it was beginning to annoy Angela.

“Did I do something wrong?” Angela asked as she followed Pharah into the kitchen after she put on the clothes. “Why are you acting like this?”

“Acting like what?”

“Weird. And a little rude. You’re acting as if last night was just another party. As if we didn’t-” Angela stopped and blushed.

Pharah grinned, pouring water for coffee. “That’s why. That right there. It’s happened a few times too many for me. People wake up after a night of dancing and drunk from cheap beer, and suddenly realise that they need to hurry on home to their boyfriend.” She handed a cup to Angela. Her face displayed confidence, but Angela thought she saw cracks in it as Pharah turned away.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” she said, placing the coffee down on the counter.

Pharah shrugged. “You can’t force someone to be something they don’t want to be.”

“That’s not what I mean. I don’t think it’s fair for you to just assume you know how I feel about all this.”

The clinking of the stirring spoon in Pharah’s cup ceased as she looked up at Angela. Now she was the one frowning. Angela fidgeted awkwardly under her gaze.

“Last night was not nothing. I don’t know what it was exactly, but it wasn’t nothing. And I don’t like it getting treated like it was.”

Slowly, Pharah placed her cup down on a nearby counter. Her eyes were thoughtful as she looked Angela over. “You said it was your first time.”

Angela hugged herself and looked down. “It was. With a woman, I mean. I’m not a nun.”

Pharah chuckled, and the sound brought back memory of hoarse laughter and moans. Angela bit her lip.

“Right… No, you mentioned,” Pharah said.

Silence stretched between the two of them. Pharah was the first to break it. “I’m sorry, Angela, I thought... I just thought it was a one night thing.”

If it was a question, Angela didn’t know how to answer. She didn’t want to confirm that it had just been a one night thing, but she didn’t want to deny it either. It was a strange line she was toing, because on one hand she wanted to walk out of the studio and never come back. On the other, she felt like closing the gap between the two of them and kiss Pharah deeply enough that she could suppress the strange feelings of hurt flowing through her brain. Pharah looked at her, frowning.

“Do you not want it to be?”

“That’s not what I’m saying. Besides, you already seem pretty adamant about what this was to you.” Her voice was sharp, and she knew it. She didn’t care.

Pharah bit her lip. “I just assumed when you looked so weird before that it was because you were regretting what happened last night.”

“I don’t regret it.” Angela was a little surprised at how much she meant it.

“I see.” Pharah nodded. Her demeanor had stiffened away from the relaxed confidence she’d displayed moments ago. “For the record, I’m really sorry if what I said hurt you. That was unfair of me. It’s just, when enough girls wake up feeling like they made a mistake, like I was a mistake… It’s easier to ready yourself for the blow, I guess. It’s easier to just shut off from the beginning.”

Angela’s look of empathy was sincere. “I can’t imagine how that would feel. Must be awful.”

Pharah grimaced. It took a while before she said anything else. “Look, I’ll be honest, I suck at this stuff. I don’t do the whole sharing thing very well. Last night was… great. Really great. You were eerily good, considering it was your first time.” Angela blushed again, as Pharah continued undeterred. “Don’t take my stupidity as a wish to keep what happened last night in the past. I can’t remember the last time anyone made me feel like you did. How did you just know what to do like that?”

Angela’s face was full on crimson now. “I just… listened. And felt for it. Your pulse and breathing told me when I was on the right track.”

Pharah’s eyes studied her. “You are a mystery to me, Angela, I hope you realize this.”

“I’m beginning to understand that, yes.”

“But, anyway, if you’re interested, maybe we could exchange numbers? Repeat the success of yesterday some other time.”

“Repeat?” Angela squeaked. “As in… yes, I… That would be…” She stumbled through the words as if she was still drunk. She wasn’t ready to date, she had known this when Pharah’s embrace had become a little too familiar back in the bed. She had been brought back to a time she tried her best to keep at a distance, and she wasn’t ready to revitalize it just yet. “I’m not looking for anything serious right now.”

“Then we are of same mind,” Pharah said. “I was thinking more of a… ‘friends with benefits’ sort of arrangement.”

“Friends with… Yes, that… That could work.” Flashes of fingers caressing her skin and a sharp taste of Pharah’s desire made a shiver creep over Angela’s body. “Do you have any other friends like me?”

“No.” Pharah’s voice was serious. Angela swallowed.

“I see. An interesting proposition then. I feel like it would be rude of me to say no to a new friend.”

Pharah smiled and sauntered closer to Angela. There were only a few inches between them now. “Is that a yes, then?”

Angela felt woozy looking up at Pharah’s hungry eyes, and for a moment she wondered if the alcohol was still present in her system. She nodded. “Yes.”

The kiss was slow and deliberate, pulling Angela into a meeting of lips and tongues. Once again, Angela was surprised at how she wasn’t taken aback by this at all. The only emotion that shined through was the overwhelming sense of want that suddenly flourished in her stomach, and she knew that if she didn’t break the kiss, they would end up right back in Pharah’s bed and they most likely wouldn’t leave it for the remainder of the day.

Hesitantly, she broke the kiss, her face flushed. “I have to go. I have studying to do, and I’m afraid that if we get started again, we won’t stop anytime soon.”

“It’s like you can read my mind.” Pharah’s voice was the embodiment of tease. Angela’s knees felt weak.

“I’m gonna go.” Angela backed away from the woman and went to pick up her remaining, scattered possessions. It took her a surprisingly long time to find her discarded bra half hidden beneath the bed, and when she came back, Pharah was standing by the front door.

“Text me when you are done with your studying,” she said, putting her number into Angela’s phone.

“I’ll try.” Her voice was quivering ridiculously. She cleared her throat. “I’ll see you, then.”

Pharah grinned again and gave her one last kiss before opening the door and Angela could breathe cool air. She walked for at least five minutes down the street before she had gathered herself enough to call a cab. Her breathing was still uneven and she had to fight to not turn to look back at the blank entrance to Pharah’s studio.

What had she gotten herself into? 

Chapter Text

For once, Angela didn't mind not participating in the conversation. Normally, she was always ready for a debate, even if she only knew a little about the topic. She had been told many times that once she began one of her rants, she didn't stop until she had said what she wanted to say. It was therefore unusual that Winston had been able to talk, uninterrupted, for as long as he had.

They had met in the study hall a little past noon, which had given Angela enough time to get back to her apartment and take a much needed, and very cold, shower. She had also changed into something that didn’t smell like Pharah, a feature she hadn’t noticed about the clothing until after she’d taken them off.

Winston had been waiting for her there, and she had feared Winston's eerily hawkish eyes would have noticed and commented on her perhaps unusual behavior, but from the moment she had sat down he had done nothing but blabber.

Apparently, he and Athena had had a great time at the party, ending with them exchanging numbers and a single kiss at the end of the night. He smiled all the way through his recollection of the evening, and Angela couldn’t help but smile too. It was rare that he got this excited about anything that wasn't computer or school related. Besides, it saved Angela from having to talk about where she had gone last night.

Or so she thought.

“So…” Winston said in a teasing tone, after having chatted her ear off for a few minutes. “I've told you all about what I was up to. Time you did some sharing. Where did you go off to last night?”

“Told you already. Had one too many and slept over at a friend's.”

“‘One too many?’ In all the time I've known you, I've seen you drink exactly once, and I still firmly believe that a glass of champagne at New Year's doesn't count.”

“You've seen me drunk before,” she protested. Winston shrugged.

“I'm choosing to ignore that for the sake of my argument.”

“How clever and practical.”

“Quite so, yes. But seriously, where did you go? Kinda freaked me out a bit when I couldn't find you.”

“Like I said; I didn't feel very well. Parties aren't really my thing, and it's my fault for not letting you know I was leaving.”

“You left… To go spend the night at a friend's?”

Angela could feel her cheeks reddening. “That's what I said, wasn't it?”

Winston leaned in over the table and sniffed in dramatically. “Do you smell that? It's the scent of… burning jeans, I believe.” He flashed his teeth in a grin. “You are practically dancing in your seat, you're so uneasy. Just tell me where you went and I'll stop prodding.”

“Can't you just stop prodding because I ask you to?” She was surprised at how serious she sounded, and apparently so was Winston. The smile withered on his face.

“Alright… I can do that.”

A moment of tense silence passed between them. They never fought, not really. They teased and bit at one another, yes, but it was never mean-spirited. Angela knew Winston was just messing with her, just as she would want to mess with him if their roles were reversed. She just couldn't handle thinking about yesterday, or this morning, right now. Whenever she did, it suddenly became very hard to focus, as fresh memories of kisses and warm touches popped up in her mind.

“Nothing bad happened,” she said after a while. “Honestly.”

Winston looked up at her. His glasses made him look like a disappointed professor. “Really? Because it doesn’t seem like it, Angela.” She winced. Winston never called her Angela. He continued. “You’re acting weird. You look like a windup toy that's about to pop. Like you're about to explode or something.”

Angela grimaced. She had been jittering in her seat ever since she sat down. Winston gave her a long look, but didn’t say anything more. Instead, he just let out a sigh and returned to reading his book.

She hated seeing him like this. Winston was always so happy. He always arrived to their study meetings with a smile and never missed a moment of possible teasing, at least not when it concerned her. She couldn’t stand it if he was upset with her.

“Winston, I don’t want you to be angry with me.”

“I’m not angry with you,” he said indignantly. A bit of the regular snark crept into his voice. “I just feel incredibly betrayed.”

Angela grinned when Winston smiled at her. He shrugged again. “If you don’t want to tell me, you don’t want to tell me. It’s fine. But I’m not gonna hide the fact that the curiosity is killing me, so technically you’re an accomplice to murder by not sharing.”

“How typical.” She flicked a candy wrapper at him. “A mad scientist, dying over an unsolved mystery. If you were a bit more of a cliche, you’d have some poor hunchback named Igor on payroll to run your errands.”

Winston laughed loudly enough to earn some annoyed glances from the neighbouring tables. “Implying that I would ever pay Igor. Please, I have some self-respect.”

Winston was still going through the book, occasionally highlighting something with a yellow marker or scribbling a note on the page. Angela tried to mimic him, going through her own assigned readings, but her mind felt heavy with thoughts and memories. She wanted to talk about what had happened, but at the same time not. If she did it would be real. If she told anyone it would mean she would have to deal with the consequences of it and her messy feelings.

The words on the pages were blurry, and she scolded herself for leaving her glasses at home again. Looking up, Winston was completely engrossed in his book, his bright eyes scanning the pages with a vigor some would deem unhealthy. She took a deep breath.

“It was Pharah.”

Winston didn’t look up. “Pharah was what?”

Angela fidgeted in her seat. “The friend I stayed with last night.”

It took a few seconds before Winston glanced up, befuddlement making him look younger than his eighteen years. He looked at her, confused, for a long moment, before his eyes widened comically.

“No way!” he yelled.

“Would you keep your voice down?”

No way ,” he repeated, voice now lowered to a whisper. “Are you telling me you spent last night with biker chick? Are you for real right now?”

“Her name is Pharah,” Angela said, ignoring the sudden realization that she actually didn’t know Pharah’s real name. “And it’s not a big deal.”

“That very much depends what kind of slumber party you two were having,” Winston said.

Her aggressive blushing sold her out better than her mouth ever could and Winston’s eyes grew wider. “You didn’t!”

Angela looked around at the nearby tables. “Could you talk a little louder, maybe? I don’t think the people in the back can hear you.”

Winston seemed to ignore her completely and leaned in over the table. “You went to a party, got drunk, and had a one-night-stand with someone you barely know? Who are you and what have you done with Angela Ziegler?”

“Is it really that hard to believe?”

“Yes! Since we met you’ve been a constant voice of reason. Seems you can be a crazy kid if you really want to.”

“Yeah, I suppose.” She put on a weak smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. Winston frowned.

“What’s with the face? Was it… I don’t know… bad ?”

She chuckled. Sometimes she forgot Winston was five years her junior. He sounded like a teenager.

“That’s not it, it was… it was just new. I’m not good with new.”

Winston’s gleeful expression faded as he studied her face. “You’re lying again.”

Angela was beginning to realize subterfuge was not her forte. She gave up on trying to be productive and closed her book. “I’m not lying.”

“Then you’re hiding something.”

“Which is not lying.”

“It’s not being honest either.” Winston copied her and closed his book. It seemed they were done with studying for now. “I’m not a complete idiot, it’s clear to me that you don’t want to talk about this. But at the same time, you look as if you’re barely holding it together. If she did something-”

“She didn’t,” Angela said sternly. Realizing she had raised her voice, she shot an apologetic smile at a girl glaring at them from the next table over. “Last night was… pretty great to be honest. That’s not the issue. It’s just…” She took a deep breath, feeling it tremble in her throat. “It’s Jack.”

Winston’s look turned from inquisitive to empathetic. “It’s been almost a year, Angie.”

“Yeah, I know the math. And trust me, I know how much of a wimp I’m being about this, but knowing you’re being pathetic doesn’t exactly make it any easier.”

“Pathetic? Why would you feel pathetic?”

“Because it felt like cheating.” The words seemed to stumble out of her mouth on their own. “I know it sounds stupid, but it’s true. Waking up next to someone else, it just felt… It felt wrong. It freaked me out a little.”

“And now you’re weirded out about the whole situation.”

Her shoulders slumped in relaxation. “Yes, exactly.”

“Well, if being with her freaked you out, then maybe you could just call it? Leave it as a one-time thing.”

“That’s the thing… I don’t know if I want to.” Angela picked at a nail, nervously. “I’m not ready for someone to replace Jack. He left to go to god knows where, but we were together for so long. It’s not easy to replace.”

“Did you talk about this with her? With Pharah?”

Angela blushed again, but this time there was a small, genuine smile to accompany it. “Actually, we didn’t talk much at all last night. A bit this morning, though. I don’t think she’s looking for anything serious.”

“I see.” Winston was trying, and failing, to hide his grin. “Look, if it makes you feel shitty and you feel like you’re not ready for whatever this was, I say get out now. But… you’re adults. If you are both fine keeping it casual, then what’s the problem? Embrace your inner crazy kid for once. Let her out to have some fun.”

She thought about it for a moment. As candid as Winston’s wording was, it did put things into perspective. Earlier, when she’d been in the shower, images of Pharah’s gentle fingers against white skin had continuously snuck their way into her thoughts. She had felt guilty about them. Guilty about wanting and desiring someone else. But she and Jack were history, they had been broken up for months now. She didn’t owe him anything.

“Maybe I will,” she said, eyeing her phone on the table. Maybe I will, indeed.

 


 

It was late when she finally got home. The time she and Winston had spent studying hadn’t been so efficient, so they had stuck around the hall until most of the other students had gone home, which turned out to be not as late as expected. It was Saturday after all. Most people had plans they wanted to get to.

Not Angela. She felt like running from her plans. She had felt that way as she ascended the stairs to her apartment, as she opened the door, found a cheap bottle of wine in the fridge, poured herself a glass, before sitting down by the window to stare daggers at her phone on the coffee table.

She didn’t want to text Pharah. She didn’t want to feel the uncomfortable tremor of unjust betrayal in her chest again. She didn’t want to feel pathetic and idiotic for acting on her desires.

On the other hand… She wanted to text Pharah. She wanted to go to her. To touch and kiss and taste her until she forgot anything else than the woman writhing beneath her. She wanted to hear her breathing turn shallow, her pulse quicken in response to her touch.

Angela emptied her glass, trying to drown out the mental anguish she was subjecting herself too. It was unfair. She either felt guilty for wanting someone else than the one person whom she'd ever had a relationship with, or stupid for still feeling a sense of loyalty towards him.

Jack had left her . He had packed his bags and upended his life, leaving her behind in a state of confused heartbreak. He had said it was because of work. That he'd gotten an opportunity he couldn't refuse, and that, surely, she of all people could understand that.

Angela sighed and put the empty glass on the table. She didn't want to get drunk, it wouldn't do her any good. She would get braver in the moment, yes, but the moment would only get her so far. She knew what she wanted to do, but for some reason she felt like she couldn't. Logic told her yes, but the knife piercing her heart told her otherwise.

Did she still love Jack? She certainly had, no doubt about it. For years they had been there for one another, supporting each other through hard times. Maybe she was just unable to let that go. At least right now.

She wasn't ready. A new relationship was not what she needed, not if it made her feel this way.

But the thing with Pharah wasn't a relationship. They had agreed on that.

Hesitantly, she eyed the phone still on the table, before snatching it up. Quickly, afraid to lose her nerve, she typed out a message and hit send.

Angela [17:23] Done studying

She was painfully aware of the lameness of that particular opening, but she only got a few minutes to torture herself in over her social ineptitude, as the message was marked as ‘seen’. She didn’t have to wait long for a reply.

Pharah [17:26] took you awhile. tough reading?

Angela [17:27] I was distracted

Pharah [17:27] i’m sorry to hear that

Pharah [17:28] hope i wasn’t to blame :)  

Angela rolled her eyes, but was extremely aware of the smile creeping onto her face.

Angela [17:29] You think highly of yourself

Pharah [17:30] not too highly i trust

Pharah [17:30] not if last night was any indication

Angela felt warmth rise in her cheeks.

Angela [17:32] I still have your clothes btw.

Pharah [17:32] changing the topic so fast?

Angela [17:33] Not at all. Merely stating a fact

Pharah [17:34] wanna drop them off?

Angela [17:34] If it’s not too much trouble

Pharah [17:34] it’s not

Pharah [17:36] you got the address?

Angela [17:37] Yeah. Give me half an hour and I’m there

Pharah [17:37] take your time ;)

 

It only took a little over thirty minutes before Angela stepped out of the Uber in front of Pharah’s place. The low light of the early summer evening gave the building an even more industrial look than it had had in the dark. It was clear the building was some sort of reworked auto repair shop or something, but it had a rustic charm to it. The grey walls were surprisingly clean, as was the still in place garage door. It looked new and was painted in a fresh, blue color which fell in nicely with the grey concrete.

Angela stood for a moment, weight shifting from foot to foot. The wine had worn off now, and the illusion of bravery was lost completely. It took her a minute’s time before she stepped up and knocked briskly on the door. A moment passed before it swung inward, Pharah’s frame taking up most of the doorway. She was wearing a grey army top and baggy sweatpants, and when she saw who’d knocked she smiled and leaned an arm against the frame.

“Hello, Angela,” she said. There was a strange yearning in the way she said the name, and Angela felt butterflies stir in her stomach. No one said her name like that.

Angela cleared her throat and clutched the bag of borrowed clothing. Her movement felt stiff and awkward. “Can I come in?”

Pharah moved aside in response, letting Angela inside. She forced herself to straighten as she passed the other woman, looking around at the place as she entered.

The interior reflected the outside in that it favored grey colors, interrupted only with sparse blue and gold decorations. The huge, blue motorcycle was still the centerpiece of color, standing shining and metallic behind the closed garage door. The word ‘Raptora’ was written on it in gold.

“That’s my baby,” Pharah said when she noticed Angela’s look. “I have been told I spend too much money on it. I choose to ignore those statements.”

“You built that?”

Pharah shrugged, but smiled. “It's what I do for work. I help out on a lot of vehicles, changing parts, fixing them up, all that. But she’s all mine.”

“It looks amazing.” Angela dropped the bag down on the floor and moved closer to the motorcycle. Its paint looked spotless. The visible machinery was polished and clean.

“You like bikes?” Pharah asked.

“Don’t know a thing about them,” Angela admitted. “But I’ve always liked machinery. Engines. Spent some time in a lab once, working on various projects involving robotic tech.”

“Right. Bioengineering, wasn’t it?”

“Right.” Remembering Winston’s review of her less than honest talk earlier today, Angela turned away from Pharah, feigning an increased interest in the bike. She did not feel like getting into what exactly she had been doing before studying at the university again. “And you do odd jobs, and steady work at a mechanic,” Angela said as she turned back to face Pharah. The woman was wearing an odd little smile and her eyes were narrowed.

“I’m surprised you remember.”

“I remember a lot of things.”

“Like returning borrowed clothes. I see now that it doesn’t quite match your style.” Pharah gestured at Angela. She was wearing a set of clothing usual to her tastes. A light turtleneck sweater and dark jeans. Clothes that looked professional, but was still comfortable. Pharah took a step closer to her. “Though, I must admit, seeing you wearing my shirt and pants this morning, with your hair all messy… I wouldn’t mind seeing that again.”

Angela’s eyes widened when she realized where the conversation was going. Her smile was a bit strained. “Too bad I gave them back to you already.”

Pharah stopped moving. Angela had begun backing away as Pharah had moved closer, and the bike now pressed against her hip. She had run out of space, but Pharah was no longer advancing.

She cocked her head and smiled.

“You seem nervous.”

“I’m not nervous.” Angela hugged herself and looked down. “I’m... anxious.”

“And that’s not the same thing?”

“No. Not in this case, it’s different. It’s… it’s all new. It’s new to me still, all of this, and it’s making me feel… strange.”

Pharah gave her a long look, studying Angela’s face in detail. They stood in tense silence for over a minute, before Pharah took a slow step forward.

“I understand. I do. New can be scary.” The space between them grew smaller as Pharah came closer. “You shouldn’t feel like you have to do anything you don’t want to do. We don’t have to do this . Whatever it is.” Pharah was inches from Angela now. “In the end there is only one question that matters in this scenario, Angela. I know what I want, I told you last night. I was clear and honest. But I don’t know what you want. You are the only one who can figure that out, I can't do it for you. You can take your time, change your mind from this morning, it’s your call, but I don’t want to be dragged around by the nose because of it. So tell me,” her eyes were serious, the black tattoo around her right eye making the gaze somehow more intense, “what do you want?”

Angela stared at Pharah. She stood tall and straight in front of her, arms crossed and tense over her chest. Her mouth, her soft lips that had explored and caressed Angela's body just the night before, was drawn in a sharp line.

Angela let her gaze fall, forcing a deep breath into her lungs as she thought back to the previous summer. To the tears and the heartache she'd felt when her first love had left her, alone and abandoned. Jack's smiling face and unkempt stubble. His warm laugh.

Her hands were knotted into fists. This wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that he got to break her heart a second time. It wasn't fair that she felt guilty for being here in this room, wanting someone she felt like she wasn't allowed to desire.

“I…” Her voice was barely a whisper. It escaped her mouth on a ragged breath. She didn't look up. “I want you.”

Silence. Stretching, painful silence.

“What do you want to do to me?” came the question. Pharah’s voice was low.

Angela looked up and it felt as if a breeze blew through her mind. Pharah was standing completely still. Her positioning was the same as it had been, but the intensity in her eyes had shifted from inquisitive to something else entirely. That was enough to blow away the guilt clutching at her chest like barbed wire. Her mind suddenly felt clear, her thoughts set on what she wanted.

Very slowly, her fingers shivering with restraint, she reached up and ran a finger below one of the straps on Pharah’s top. The woman's skin was warm, and Angela's breath caught in her throat.

“I want to pull this shirt off of you.” Her hand trailed up along her neck. Pharah didn't move. “I want to run my fingers through your hair as you take the rest of your clothes off. I want to see you.”

“And then?” Pharah’s voice was barely audible. Her hands dropped, finding a light grip on Angela's waist. “Then what do you do?”

“Then, when you're clothes are all off,” Angela's voice was hoarse, “I'll look at you. I'll touch you. And…” Angela couldn't stop the smile from appearing on her face. “I'll kiss you. Here,” her fingers trailed over Pharah’s chest, brushing against her skin. “Here,” across the collarbone and throat. “And he-”

Pharah didn't let her finish. She surged into Angela, pushing the finger that had been hovering over her lips aside as they collided into each other, a mess of tongues and clashing teeth. Suddenly, Pharah’s hands were beneath Angela's shirt and she once again felt the hard edges of the motorcycle stabbing into her hip as Pharah pushed her against the vehicle with a groan so primal it made Angela woozy.

“Stop,” Angela breathed as Pharah momentarily broke away from their embrace. Angela's smile displayed a restraint she was not feeling. With a light push, she got Pharah to take a small step back.

“What?” Pharah’s voice was heavy with want.

Angela, still keeping eye contact, found the bottom of Pharah’s army top and slowly began pulling it up.

“I want to see you,” she said as the top was thrown on the floor. Angela looked down at Pharah’s toned abdomen and had to take a deep breath. She pulled at the waistband on Pharah’s sweatpants. “Take them off.”

Slowly, looking at Angela intently, Pharah loosened the waistband and let the pants fall to gather around her ankles. She was wearing a matching set of black underwear, plain and tight fitting. Angela felt her pulse quicken at the sight.

“Now you,” Pharah said, closing the space between them. “I want to see you too.”

Those were the words that undid her. The longing in them, the craving. Suddenly Angela was grateful for the bike behind her. Leaning against it helped keep her standing.

Copying Pharah’s movement, Angela pulled her sweater over her head, before taking off her dark jeans. Her own underwear was pink and lacey, blending with her white skin. Seeing it, Pharah took a sharp intake of breath.

“Do you like watching me?” Angela asked, edging her hands behind Pharah’s back. She quickly found and undid the clasp of her bra, letting it fall on the floor along with the rest of their clothing. “I like watching you.”

With the same lightness as a butterfly’s wing, Angela let her lips trail over Pharah’s now naked breasts. The night before she hadn't had much time to explore this particular area, and Angela took her time now, kissing and caressing her way to a nipple. Gently, she sucked on it, delighted when she heard Pharah gasp in response.

“Fuck, Angela.” Pharah pushed herself into Angela's mouth.

Angela sought up, kissing and sucking at Pharah’s neck and throat, knowing full well it would leave a bruise. She ended by her lips, hovering just an inch from Pharah’s mouth.

Her eyes were dark and dangerous as she broke the space between them, kissing Angela with an intensity that stole her breath away.

“Christ, your taste…” Pharah said. She placed kisses along Angela's jawline to her ear. When she spoke her voice was a whisper. “I want you.”

Angela didn't say anything. She knew her voice would falter if she tried. Instead, she brought Pharah’s mouth to hers, kissing her, exploring her mouth with her tongue.

At some point, Pharah unhooked the clasp on Angela's bra. Angela was unsure when exactly it happened. She just knew she was wearing it one moment, and the next Pharah had lifted her half naked body off the floor and was carrying her towards the bedroom, bra falling to the floor as she was picked up. They fell on the bed together, a bundle of intertwined limbs, Pharah pinning Angela down in the covers.

Wriggling out of their underwear, they lay there, pressed against one another. Angela's eyes were closed as they continued kissing, but her hands were far from still. They trailed Pharah’s warm skin, running along her waist to her hips, then back up. Goosebumps rose in response where her fingers touched, and Angela breathed out a laugh when Pharah broke off the kiss with a groan. Her breathing was a bit shaky.

“Are you ticklish?” Angela asked.

“Not particularly.” Pharah’s smile was hesitant. “You're just… very good at that.”

Angela let a feather light finger run down Pharah’s spine, and got immense satisfaction from feeling the woman shiver. Pharah mumbled something under her breath in a language Angela didn't understand. In the next moment, Angela found herself being pulled up into a strange embrace, with Pharah sitting across her thigh and her own hands resting on the woman's shoulder blades.

“What are you doing?” Angela asked breathlessly. Her voice was being stolen by the kisses Pharah was placing on her neck and shoulder.

“Just… Keep doing what you did before.” Pharah sounded hoarse, and Angela felt a familiar warmth pulse between her legs.

Slowly, taking care not to put much pressure on the touch, she followed the firm muscle lines on Pharah’s back, running her hands up and down. There was a pattern of sorts, putting slight pressure on Pharah’s exhale, lingering in places where her pulse quickened in response.

“Christ, Angela, that feels...” Pharah cut herself off by kissing her. “Keep doing it. Keep touching me like that. Yes, just like that.”

Pharah’s hips began finding a rhythm. As Angela touched and teased the nerves beneath Pharah’s skin, the woman was moving in conjunction with Angela's hands, pushing herself against Angela's thigh. The sudden slickness there left little to the imagination as to what she was doing.

“Pharah…” Angela breathed and the sound of her name made Pharah move faster. Her hands went around Angela, grabbing onto her as she grinded against her bare thigh. Angela's hands changed too. They went lower, finding Pharah’s hips and backside. She found the rhythm Pharah was setting, using her own hands to match the pace.

Pharah broke away from the kisses she had been placing along Angela's shoulder to let out a loud gasp. Her mouth was right next to Angela's ear, and the sound of Pharah’s exclamation was enough to make Angela moan in response. To have someone like Pharah react to her that way was stirring forgotten feelings of desire inside of her.

Their movements became quicker, as Pharah pushed herself harder against Angela. The singular gasp was turning into rhythmic whimpers, which were only growing more rapid as Angela continued to follow Pharah’s speed.

Faster, they went. Pharah’s whimpers were now loud moans, shattering any sense of control Angela had had up to that point. They moved against each other, faster and harder and louder, until Pharah’s back arched. Her body pressed against Angela's and she let out a cry of pleasure, as her orgasm spilled over Angela's thigh.

She remained there, tense and shaking, for a few moments as the orgasm rode through her. Pharah then slumped slightly, letting out a low chuckle.

“Holy shit,” she grinned, leaning back to look at Angela. “Well, that was a little new.”

“A little new?”

Pharah leaned her weight forward, so they both fell back down on the mattress. “I'm beginning to believe your fingers are magical.”

Angela felt her face redden and was relieved when Pharah kissed her, as it saved her from having to come up with an answer to that comment.

“Now,” Pharah said after a few minutes, pulling away from Angela, “I believe that it's your turn.”

“It's really not ne-” Her weak protest shifted into a whine as Pharah pressed her fingers against her sensitive clit. Pharah grinned wolfishly.

“What was that?” she said, flicking her finger over the area again. “You don't want this?”

“Yes!” Angela would have been surprised at the volume of her outcry, had Pharah’s fingers not continued their slow dance down between her legs, an area which was now comically drenched. Pharah’s smile did nothing to remedy it.

“You are so wet, Angela. So wet and I want to taste it.” Pharah bent down and kissed her hard on the lips, leaving Angela panting when it was broken.

Her body still hovering above Angela's, Pharah’s fingers began moving in steady circles, putting weak but constant pressure on her clit. The slow movement was torturous, quickly extracting another shallow whine from Angela's mouth.

“Oh… Oh, I… I can't…” Her voice was ridiculously shaky, falling apart whenever Pharah’s finger ran over her most sensitive area. “Pl… Please.”

“Do you want to come for me?” Pharah’s fingers began moving more rapidly, pressing harder down on her clit. Angela gasped and pressed herself upwards against Pharah’s hand.

“Yes! Yes!” Angela's voice was without sense. Her eyes were closed in pleasure.

Pharah lowered herself down, kissing and nipping softly at Angela's neck. The added stimuli was almost enough to push her over.

“You are so fucking hot when you squirm like that. Almost makes me want to keep you like this.” Pharah’s gravelly voice hummed against her skin. The flicking of Pharah’s fingers over Angela's clit grew more insistent. “Come for me, Angela.”

A hard circular motion of Pharah’s hand, along with the soft kisses against Angela's neck and the hungry desire in Pharah’s voice, all of it combined into a wave of sudden electricity, wiring throughout her entire body. She opened her mouth to cry out, but found herself mute for a long moment, as her orgasm built itself up and up, before releasing. A shudder went through her, culminating in a layered, loud moan escaping her lips. Pharah’s expert fingers guided her through it, letting her ride out the orgasm against her hand as she peppered kisses against her neck and collarbone.

“Oh…” Angela breathed, as Pharah rolled off to lie next to her. The sudden lack of pressure sent a pleasant ache through her muscles and she looked over to see Pharah’s eyes locked onto hers. She was licking her fingers clean.

Angela didn't know how to respond, so she said nothing. She just stared, as Pharah sucked the length of her fingers, ending with a pop as they left her mouth. Then, moving with languid laziness, she reached over to grab Angela's chin, kissing her again. It was much softer now, less wanting in its intensity.

“I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t expecting that,” Pharah said as she broke the kiss. Angela found herself leaning forward towards it, slightly disappointed that it ended so quickly. Pharah’s fingers went down to intertwine with Angela’s and she looked at them inquisitively. “Never thought the simple act of moving one's fingers could have that sort of effect.”

“I didn’t mean it to, if I'm being honest,” Angela said. “I just wanted to touch you.”

Pharah’s chuckle was low and warm. She raised Angela’s hand to her mouth, kissing it, and Angela felt a twinge of guilt poking in her chest. This felt too familiar, too normal. It seemed too romantic for their ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement.

Pharah didn't seem to notice the sudden trepidation Angela felt, but the woman did withdraw her hand.

“Well, color me impressed then. Maybe you can show me how you do it. Like… how do you know where to touch? How to touch?”

“Can’t say, really.” Angela pulled her knees up in front of her. She was suddenly extremely aware of her own nakedness and the curious way Pharah was looking at her made her feel strange. “It’s about the nerves, I think. And the muscle groups. And how you react too. Your breathing, it changes depending on where and how my hands move, and your pulse as well. And then I just… listen, I guess. Listen to when you react well.”

“But how do you know all that?”

Angela shrugged and looked away. “I read a lot.”

Pharah laughed. “I can’t recall ever hearing of any books mentioning using nerve pressure and breathing observations to enhance sex.” She chuckled again as she saw Angela’s face flush. “You look very cute right now, you know that?”

“Why?”

“You look like a horrified teenager in a sex ed class.”

“No, I don’t,” Angela said, knowing her cheeks were reddening even more.

“You do. It's kinda adorable.”

“Well, I am not used to speaking this candidly about it, is all.”

“Really? Based on what you said before by the bike, I reckoned you had no problem with saying what you want.”

Angela couldn't help but smile. It was shy, and half hidden, but it was clear that Pharah noticed.

“I haven't exactly done that before. Any of this… it's all still new to me.” Angela hugged her legs tight. “This isn't really how I foresaw my weekend going. I had a rather saucy date with a paper about cell structure planned. If Winston hadn't convinced me to go to that party yesterday…” Angela chuckled nervously. “I'm rambling, sorry.”

“Don't apologize. I like to hear you talk.” Pharah cocked a smile at her. “I'm just pleased I didn't scare you off this morning.”

Angela shook her head with more fervor than intended. “You didn't scare me. I just… I don't do this often. Or… ever. It feels like I'm fumbling in the dark sometimes.”

“I still have a hard time believing this is your first time. With a girl, I mean.”

Angela fidgeted. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Pharah’s eyes were full of mischief. She wanted her to ask, Angela realized. She looked down at her hands, fingers drawing odd shapes on the bed sheets.

“And why is that?” she asked.

“Well… first of all, you have an uncanny way of knowing when and where to touch me. I suppose I have your books to thank for that.” Pharah grinned, when Angela refused to meet her gaze. “And you have no problem kissing me after. Most first timers think it's weird.”

“Kissing you after what?”

Pharah’s face was alight with mirth. When she spoke, it was in a mocking of a whisper. “After going down on you. Some girls, especially those who are adamant about being straight right up until they're not, they think it's icky .”

Angela couldn't help but laugh, and Pharah was quick to join her.

“You really have to use the word icky?”

“Well…” Pharah said, putting on a facade of deep thought. “Given how they tend to react, I feel it's the most accurate.” Pharah looked Angela over once again. “I do know you're not lying, though. About not doing this before.”

“Is it that obvious?”

“It's not because of a lack of skill, like I just said. You just get a very ‘deer in the headlights’ look on your face whenever you seem to realize where you are and who you're with.”

“It's not because of you,” Angela was quick to say. “I mean… it is, but… It's not because it's you, specifically. I think I would be like this with anyone.” Angela paused her rambling. “Is that really what I look like? A deer in the headlights?”

Pharah chuckled. “A little bit.”

“I don't mean to.”

“I know. But knowing now that it isn't as much because of me that it happens, makes you that much more intriguing to me, Angela. You're different.”

“In a good way?”

Pharah bit her lip. “I think so. Maybe. I will have to do more research to figure it out.”

“Maybe if you need time to study,” Angela said, relaxing slightly, “I should get back to that paper of mine. I am already a bit behind on it.”

“Having second thoughts about dropping off my clothes?” Pharah grinned, resting her chin against her palm.

Angela smiled timidly, looking over at the woman next to her. “Not one bit.”

Pharah was lying on her stomach, her tan skin standing in sharp contrast to her own pale tint. Angela’s eyes wandered down the length of her arms, her torso and waist, lingering on her naked butt.

It wasn’t until Pharah let out a little laugh that Angela noticed she was biting her lip. Pharah ran her tongue over her teeth, provocatively. “You’re staring at me.”

Angela’s face reddened again. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to.”

“Didn’t you?” Pharah raised herself up, leaning forward so her face was just inches from Angela’s, giving her a free view of Pharah’s exposed breasts. Angela sucked air in through her teeth, as Pharah tilted her head slightly. “Are you quite sure about that?”

Angela looked down at her. At her arched back and black, loose hair. At her long slender fingers, closing in to touch her body. She took a deep, shaky breath.

“I guess not,” Angela whispered. Her fingers crept over Pharah’s hand. “I am a bit surprised, honestly.”

“About what?” Pharah was whispering too.

“How much I like looking at you.”

Pharah’s expression was mute for a moment before a small smile tugged at her lips. Angela had only ever seen her smiles looking either teasing or wanting, so she noticed the difference in this one. It seemed softer, more girlish than the usual loaded glances Pharah would shoot her way.

“I like looking at you too.”

They both leaned into the kiss at the same time. Pharah was supporting her weight on her arms as she leaned forward towards Angela, who raised her hands to run them through Pharah’s black hair. The kiss started out soft and gentle, but the tenderness quickly passed when Angela’s grip on the back of Pharah’s neck began tightening.

Within minutes they were pressed against each other once again, hands and tongues exploring and traversing across warm skin. They were far from done, it seemed. This evening wasn’t over yet.

 


 

It took some time before Angela was able to leave the bed. The muscles in her legs were whirring, and she didn't want to tempt fate by attempting to stand just yet. Beside her, Pharah lay on her stomach, eyes closed restful sleep. One of her arms was over Angela's stomach.

Angela found that she didn't mind the touch. At first, she thought it too familiar to be comfortable. That was until she found herself drifting into sleep, subconsciously curling over towards Pharah’s side of the bed.

She'd sat up by then, unhooking herself from Pharah, who had groaned in displeasure when she moved.

“What are you doing?” Her voice was muffled from speaking into her pillow.

Angela swung her legs out of bed and stood. “I wasn't lying when I said I have a paper to write,” she said, pulling on her underwear. “If I want to have any hopes of finishing it on time, I need to actually start writing it.”

“You're leaving?” Pharah sounded disgruntled. Angela went into the living space and picked her remaining clothes up from the floor.

“If I stay here, I'll never get it done.”

“Alright… Hang on.”

Angela heard a low clatter from the bedroom, followed by a muttered curse. She smiled as she pulled her sweater down over her head.

Pharah emerged as Angela was adjusting her pants. She was wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans, and quickly grabbed her leather jacket from the back of a chair. “Let me give you a ride then.”

“Oh, you don't have to. I can call a cab.”

“It's Saturday night. You'll be waiting an hour for that, trust me.” Pharah shoved her feet into a set of sneakers, inelegantly hopping through the studio as she pulled one of them over her heel. Her hair was a mess and her movements spoke of tired exertion, but there was a lively spark to her eyes.

Pharah turned to see Angela looking at her. She smirked. “What?”

Angela's cheeks turned pink. “Nothing. I was just…” She cleared her throat. “Yeah, a ride would be nice. Thank you.”

Pharah’s eyes glanced over Angela. “Don't mention it. Have you ever ridden rear on a bike before?”

Angela shook her head, putting on her own shoes. Her heart was thumping slightly as she looked at the motorcycle. “Never had the chance.”

“Your chance is here now. But first of all,” Pharah reached up on a shelf and pulled down a small, black helmet. “I need you to wear this.”

 

 


 

 

It quickly became apparent that Pharah liked to go fast. Whenever a stretch of road appeared before them, she would slow down only to speed up immediately after. The wind bit at Angela's exposed skin when she did, and her grip around the woman's stomach tightened, but she felt no fear. She felt like laughing with the wind as they drove, smiling like an idiot when they whipped past nondescript scenery hiding in the darkness.

They weren't even going that fast, but it didn't feel that way. It was exhilarating.

When Pharah pulled up next to Angela's building and turned off the engine, Angela almost asked if they could keep driving a little longer.

“Thanks for the ride,” she said has she climbed off the bike.

“My pleasure. I don't get to take my girl out enough.” Pharah padded the side of the motorcycle.

“Well… I'd love to ride her again some time.” Hearing how it sounded, Angela blushed. “I mean… I wouldn't mind having another go at… My god, this is hard to describe without making it sound like an innuendo.”

Pharah just smiled, accepting the helmet Angela handed to her. A moment of silence passed.

“So…” Angela said, crossing her arms and leaning from foot to foot. The silence between them suddenly felt awkwardly heavy. “Today was… fun. And yesterday too. Very fun.”

“Not fun enough to keep your mind off a paper, apparently,” Pharah said. “Should my feelings be hurt?”

“No, that's not what I meant. I--” She stopped when she saw Pharah flash her teeth in a wide grin. Angela narrowed her eyes at the other woman. “You're making fun of me.”

“A little bit. But only because it's so very easy.” Pharah stretched like a cat, leaning forward on the bike. “Look. We both know what this is. We can be blunt about it.

Because I do that so well , Angela thought.

“Blunt? Right. Okay.”

Pharah’s brows knitted together, suddenly serious. “Unless you've changed your mind.”

Angela was silent for a moment, before she looked up, raising her chin towards Pharah. “No. Not at all. We're just very good friends, right? Friends who enjoy each other's company. Friends who meet up occasionally to have sex.”

To Angela's delight, Pharah was now the one who had to look away. It was hard to tell in the dim light, but it looked as if she was blushing.

“Okay,” Pharah said, hiding her surprise with a smile. “I asked for blunt, I suppose. I’m glad you want to continue this.”

Angela didn’t answer, she didn’t know how. Being this open about this particular part of her life was not something she usually did. If Pharah didn’t seem so relaxed and confident about discussing the topic, Angela doubted she would have even dared discussing a topic such as this.

Pharah ran a hand through her ruffled hair. “So… another meet-up? Sometime next week?”

Angela shrugged. “I don't have any plans next weekend.”

“That's very long to wait.”

“I have classes.”

“Not at night, I hope.”

“No, but early in the morning. And if I have to get to class on time from your place, I will have to leave before dawn.”

Pharah glanced up at the building behind her. “What about your place then? Got a roommate?”

Angela had to go over Pharah’s words for a second. The thought of having Pharah in her apartment honestly hadn't occurred to her. She had been so engulfed in the dream state that was their meetings she hadn't thought of them in context of her own day-to-day life. She didn't know how to she felt about Pharah, someone she barely knew, entering her home. Winston had only ever been at her place once, and he was her best friend.

“I don't have a roommate.” Her voice was a bit flat, and Pharah’s frown deepened.

“Did I say something wrong?” No joking in her voice this time. Angela firmly shook her head.

“No, it's me being weird again. I haven't… Nevermind. I have a free night on Tuesday. How does that work for you?”

Pharah studied her face. “If you don't want me to come over--”

“I want to.” Angela said, taking an affirmative step forward. “I really want to. I just had to think for a second.”

Pharah took a moment before nodding. “You are strange to me, Angela. I don't quite know what to make of you.”

“Most of the time, I don't either. But Tuesday…?”

“Tuesday is perfect.” Pharah reached up and seized Angela by the chin, pulling her into a kiss. The sincerity of it stole Angela's breath away and she wasn't even given time to panic about anyone seeing them before Pharah broke the kiss.

“That should keep me going until then,” she grinned, turning on the motorcycle and revving the engine. “I'll text you. Maybe I can distract you from your paper.”

“Please don't,” Angela said, mirroring Pharah’s smile.

The bike spun away into the evening dark, turning down a side street and out of sight. Slowly, Angela ascended the stairs to her apartment to let herself in, sitting down by her window to look out at the poorly lit roadside.

The smile hadn’t left her face.



Chapter Text

The following weeks went by in a blur. It was the usual combination of fervent note-taking and last minute panic which accompanied any exam period. Angela had been through it before, but she was far from an expert at handling the stress that followed it.

Pharah was a godsend in that regard. Angela never thought of anything else than Pharah when they were together. It was one of the few moments during her week where she was able to turn her brain off and just live in the moment. It was when they moved out of the moment that she started having problems.

The Monday after the weekend they met, Pharah had texted her to cancel their Tuesday meet-up. Angela's first reaction was that Pharah was blowing her off, which turned out to not be the case, as she suggested they meet up on the weekend instead.

Secretly, Angela was relieved at this. She hadn't looked forward to having someone else in her apartment, not even Pharah. Especially not Pharah.

Pharah had understood, seemingly unphased when Angela had reiterated their “friends with benefits” arrangement. Angela had tried to read her expression for any trepidation when she'd mentioned this, but Pharah seemed as relaxed as ever. Angela didn't know how she felt about that.

As exams crept closer and closer, Angela found herself cancelling more and more of her meet-ups with Pharah. There was always a reason. She was finishing a paper, she was busy studying, last minute lecture. All valid. All excuses. She tried to tell herself that she was just busy. That what she and Pharah had was supposed to be casual and she shouldn't feel guilty for keeping it so.

“I don't know. Am I making any sense?”

Winston took a loud sip of his coffee. Angela scowled at him.

“That's not funny.”

“You're wrong, but that's another matter.” He put the cup down. “Remind me, when were the last time you two spoke.”

“We texted this morning.”

Spoke ,” he repeated.

“I don't know,” Angela mumbled. “Last Sunday? I called to move our date to tonight instead.”

“A date, is it?” Winston grinned.

“I misspoke. Hook-up, if you prefer. I felt really guilty about it. I've been bailing on her a lot lately.”

“For a casual relationship, you seem awfully invested.”

“For a best friend, you seem like a bit of an asshole.”

Winston held a hand to his heart. “I'm your best friend?” He wiped an invisible tear from his face.

After she'd thrown an appropriately sized piece of crumpled paper at him, he laughed and raised his hands in surrender. “Alright, I'll stop. I just don't know what you're getting so worked up about.”

“I don't know either. I mean, we agreed it's nothing more than it is. That's not what either of us want. Still, it's not nice to be canceled on. Repeatedly.”

“I get that. Though, tis the season, and all that. Most uni students are busy studying, or panicking, or both. Not entirely unexpected.”

“That doesn't make it okay in my book.”

“Well, you're an old maid with this school stuff.” Winston deftly ducked a second paper ball. “Your nerves seem to be made of steel.”

Angela shrugged. “Yeah, well, experience has a way of doing that. And I've finished most of my exams by now anyway.”

“Athena too. And here I am, still having to scribble away at notes and preparation.”

Since their first date, Winston and Athena had become nigh inseparable. Athena was a year or so older than Winston, a fact that had surprised Angela when she found out. The girl was very quiet, preferring to keep silent in most conversations until she felt she had something to contribute.

“How's that going, by the way? You haven't talked about her for the past hour or so. I’m starting to fear that something might have gone terribly wrong between you two.”

Winston made a face at her. “Don't you start with me, Z. We're good, thank you for asking.”

“Just good?”

Winston looked down, his cheeks turning pink. “Okay, a little more than good. We're meeting up tonight, actually.”

Angela raised an eyebrow. She grinned triumphantly when Winston squirmed under her gaze. “Stop with that look. Your eyes feel like an x-ray machine.”

Angela widened her eyes mockingly in response, joining Winston as he laughed. Normally, she would be more conscious about being noisy, but with finals being almost over the study hall was almost empty.

Her phone buzzed, and the display lit up.

“Trouble in paradise?” Winston said, eyeing the phone. It was impossible to not to see Pharah’s name highlighted on the screen.

Angela quickly snatched up the phone, ignoring Winston as she opened the message.

Pharah [12:04] hey you at uni?

Angela frowned at the question.

Angela [12:05] Yeah, study hall. Winston and I wanted to get some last minute studying done

Pharah [12:05] oh sorry if im interrupting

Angela [12:06] Don't worry. We're on a break right now anyway

Pharah [12:06] oh cool

When no other messages came in, Angela frowned and put down the phone.

“What's up? Is there actually trouble in paradise?” Winston asked.

“Just some… weird texts from Pharah. And I don't know if I would describe our relationship as paradise exactly.”

“With the details you've given me, it sounds like it's an apt description to me.”

Winston dodged a third paper ball.

“How Athena stands you is beyond me,” Angela muttered.

Winston just smiled, bending down to pick up the paper Angela had thrown. “I have asked her about that. It's a mystery to me too, to be honest.”

It wasn't a mystery to Angela. As cocky and snarky as Winston was, he was also one of the kindest people she'd ever met. Despite his goofy nature, he was very capable of being serious when it was needed, and he never mocked people in other than jest. Even Angela was only teased as she was when they were just the two of them alone, he never did it with an audience.

Having seen Athena and Winston together frequently since that first party, it wasn't hard to understand why someone might fall for Winston. Little, quiet Athena seemed to open up around him in a way she didn't do with Angela, or any other people based on Angela's observations.

Her phone buzzed again.

Pharah [12:14] can you break away for a few minutes? im out in the hallway. i need to talk to you

Angela’s stomach muscles tightened nervously at that.

Angela [12:15] Sure. Something wrong?

Pharah [12:16] it’s better if we talk i think

The ache in her stomach grew worse, and apparently the discomfort was clear on her face.

“What has she done to earn that look?” Winston asked. “Nothing too heinous, I hope.”

“I’m not… I’m not sure.” Angela closed her laptop and stood up from the table. “I’ll be right back.”

She walked away before Winston could ask any more questions.

The study hall in itself was a large, open room consisting of multiple clean tables and desks, as well as a few islands of couches and coffee tables, the perfect calm interior to accompany the mindset of last-minute rushed studying. The hall itself was connected to a larger building with auditoriums and offices with a hallway, often heavily frequented by other students of the university who were running to and from lectures. That wasn’t the case right now however. With the exam period being almost over, this section of campus was ghostly in comparison to what was usual for the building. Though there were still a few people milling back and forth, Angela had no problem spotting Pharah in the hallway. She was leaning against the wall, one earbud from a set of headphones dangling on her chest. When she noticed Angela approaching, she pulled the earphones out completely, sticking them in her pocket.

“Hey you.” Pharah smiled as she said it, but didn’t move to embrace Angela. Except for the kiss outside Angela’s apartment building, they had not shown each other any physical affection in public. They had talked about it once, very briefly, both agreeing that it helped with keeping things more casual between them. Angela could see the reasoning in it. Didn’t change the fact that a small, annoyingly romantic part of her wanted to reach out and intertwine her fingers with Pharah’s.

“Hey,” Angela said, stopping a few feet from Pharah. Pharah’s expression stilled a bit, and Angela frowned. “You look serious. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing is really wrong, per say.” Pharah tapped her feet on the ground, looking away from Angela. “I just have some bad news, is all. It’s my boss. His kid recently moved here and is having a really hard time finding a place to stay, so I kind of offered my couch as a temporary place of residence. It was before we rescheduled, so I didn’t think anything of it until this morning.” She looked authentically disappointed. “Sorry.”

Angela felt how the churning in her abdomen lessened. She smiled, having trouble hiding relief she was uncertain why she was feeling. “It’s fine. We’ll do it some other time.”

“Yeah, that’s been kinda the theme, hasn’t it?” Pharah looked up, her smile not quite reaching her eyes this time. “What’s it been? Two weeks now?”

“I’ve been busy. Between studying and exams I just-”

“No, I know.” Pharah kicked at the ground again, her smile now slightly more genuine. “Still sucks. I was looking forward to tonight. And I don’t know how long she’ll be staying anyway, so it’s hard to plan around it.”

Angela stiffened and frowned. “‘She?’”

“Yeah, Brigitte. My boss’s daughter. She said it would only be a few days, but knowing this town it’ll be more than that.” Pharah glanced over to see Angela’s disgruntled face, and her disappointed smile quickly turned into a wide grin. “Is that a problem, Angela?”

“No problem at all.” The coolness was apparent in her voice, even though she’d done her best to hide it.

Pharah stepped closer, shoulder still leaning against the wall. “You aren’t jealous, are you?”

Angela rolled her eyes. “Of course not. I have no reason to be.”

“Right, of course.” Pharah raised her hands submissively. Her smile turned wolfish. “You have no problem with a tall, fit, attractive woman staying at my place.”

Angela raised her brows in mock confidence, but her voice was still slightly strained. “None at all.”

“She’s a brunette,” Pharah continued. “Her hair is always done up messy, like she just rolled out of bed. And she’s European.” Pharah leaned in closer so she could whisper in Angela’s ear. “She has an accent.”

Pharah’s breath on her skin made a trail of goosebumps rush up Angela’s spine. She had to take a deep breath to make sure her voice was somewhat under control before she spoke. “It sounds more like you’re trying to make me jealous.”

“Never,” Pharah grinned, taking a step back. “Anyway, I felt it was more proper to say it in person. Didn’t want you to think I was blowing you off. I was here anyway, helping Lucio with some location stuff, so I thought I would stop by.”

Angela paused for a moment. Now she was the one looking down at the ground. “What about my place then?”

“Your place?”

Angela shrugged. “I don’t care much for an audience. No one will trouble us in my apartment.”

Pharah crossed her arms. “I haven’t been to your place yet.”

A small laugh escaped Angela’s mouth and she felt her cheeks grow pink. “There’s a first time for everything. You showed me that.”

Pharah looked down at the ground again, letting out a low laugh. “Alright. If you’re cool with it. Because if you’re not, we can just wait a few more weeks.”

The thought alone was enough to make Angela jump to attention. “No, I’m sure. And I won’t cancel this time. You’re not the only one who thinks two weeks is too long.” Her cheeks were burning. “I miss it, if I’m being completely honest.”

Pharah smiled and glanced around the hallway, scouting to see if the students milling to and from the auditoriums were paying attention to them, but Angela had her beat. The hallway was mostly vacant, save two girls who had just rushed past them, evidently late for something and not paying them any mind.

Before Pharah had finished her survey, Angela surged forward, pressing her lips against Pharah’s in a brief kiss. It only lasted a few seconds before Angela broke away from Pharah, who, for once, had lost the confident facade she usually kept up. Instead she looked startled, perhaps even shocked.

“So,” Angela said, grinning as she began to back away towards the study hall, “I’ll see you tonight. At 7?”

“Sure,” Pharah said, still looking surprised. The glint appearing in her eyes was like flames. “Tonight. At 7.”

 


 

After talking to Pharah, Angela had spent a few more hours in the study hall, ignoring Winston's stares and comments. Apparently, the flushness of her face was not at all subtle, and positively impossible not to comment on.

Still, she managed to finish her work once she forced herself to stop thinking about what would happen in her apartment tonight at 7. At least until she left campus.

She had gone into a slight panic when she got home, obsessively cleaning everything even though nothing was dirty, and changing outfits three or four times. In one moment, she wanted to dress up, the next she wanted to appear casual. She had the idea of opening the door wearing only her underwear, then immediately became terrified at the idea of it. In the end, she decided on a casual, dark blue dress and her usual messy ponytail.

Angela was grateful when her door phone buzzed, and Pharah’s crackling voice announced her arrival. Pharah was hardly given time to knock before Angela was there to open the door.

Pharah was her usual, confident self, dressed in a black leather jacket and a simple white t-shirt beneath it. She smiled, looking Angela up and down.

“You're fast,” she smiled as Angela gestured for her to come in. “And pretty. I like the dress.”

Angela had to clear her throat a few times before she could speak. “Thank you. You look nice too.”

“Don't lie,” Pharah said, slipping out of the jacket while surveying the apartment

It was technically a studio, but the shape of the apartment made it seem like it wasn't. It was shaped like an L, having one, long rectangular room that broke off into a nook at one end and a simple, but nice kitchen at the other, as well as a bathroom. In the middle of the room, almost directly across from the hallway door, was a big floor-to-ceiling window, showing a view of the outstretched city below as it slowly came alight in the dark evening. A couch, a reading chair, and a coffee table were placed next to the window, along with two tall bookshelves stacked with documents and books.

Pharah gave a long whistle as she looked around the apartment. “Nice place.”

“Thanks,” Angela said. She'd raised her arms to wrap around herself. “I'm not used to having people up here.”

“No?” Pharah was too busy taking in the view to notice how uncomfortable Angela was. “What about your friend? That guy Winston?”

Angela shook her head. “Just once. He didn't stay long.”

“Shame for him. This view is amazing.” Pharah stood for a moment longer before turning around towards Angela. Seeing her hugging herself, Pharah sighed. She smiled softly. “Are you sure you're alright with this?”

Angela let out a low chuckle. “You are such a gentlewoman, has anyone ever told you that?”

Pharah laughed. “Surprisingly, no. This sort of thing is unusual for me.”

“What? Casual relationships?”

Pharah just smiled and shook her head. “Look… I don't know what this deal you have is, but it's clear that you are uncomfortable with me being here. So if you want me to leave, I'll leave.”

Angela narrowed her eyes at Pharah. “There you go again, being all considerate,” she said sarcastically, taking a step towards her. “I think it might be a bad habit of yours.”

“I have a few of those,” Pharah said, raising an eyebrow as Angela closed the gap between them. When Angela placed a hand on Pharah’s arm, she laughed. “You sure you don't want me to smalltalk some more? Drag out the wait a little longer?”

With every step she'd taken towards Pharah, she'd felt the insecurities fade away. They disappeared completely when she trailed a hand down the side of Pharah’s waist to rest on her hip.

“We can.” Angela lowered her hand and squeezed as she said it, making Pharah gasp slightly. “Do you want to wait?”

Pharah’s mouth had dropped slightly open, and she was quiet for a moment. She let out a dry laugh. “I'll have you know, I have incredible patience.”

Angela didn't smile. Now her face was serious as she raised it to hover just a few inches from Pharah’s. Angela had to fight a grin when she felt Pharah stiffen.

“As do I. So… Who'll cave first?”

There was a long moment of the two of them just staring at each other, neither moving in to close the gap between them. Pharah’s hands were brushing lightly against Angela's waist, barely touching it, whereas Angela still had a solid grip on Pharah’s hips.

In the moment, it was nearly impossible to tell who leaned in first, but later Angela admitted to herself that it had been her. However, it was hard to tell, because when Angela’s went in for the kiss, Pharah’s lips met hers hot and hard. She didn’t hesitate, fingers digging into Angela’s skin.

To think she had gone weeks without this. Weeks without this taste, this feeling. Angela closed her eyes, pulling at Pharah with her hands so the two of them were pressed together. Angela felt a quivering moan crawl through her abdomen, escaping her mouth before she could even think about stopping it.

That was Pharah’s breaking point. She pushed herself out of the kiss, looking wild and dangerous in the low light of the room. “Where?”

One word, filled with such desire it made Angela's knees melt. “Bed. End of the room.”

Without another moment's hesitation, Pharah’s mouth was back on hers, her tongue pushing and tasting Angela's. Inelegantly, the two of them began backing through the studio until they got to the bed. Pharah seized the lower hem of Angela's dress, most likely to begin taking it off, when she froze.

Feeling where her fingers were, Angela could no longer hold in a smile.

“You're not wearing any underwear.” The thickness of desire in Pharah’s voice was almost enough to make Angela explode. She wasn't given the chance to reinstate the kiss, before Pharah had kneeled down, raising the dark fabric of Angela's dress up to her hips, kissing her hard on sensitive skin.

Showing a care Angela had forgotten she knew, Pharah dotted kisses along the skin around her hip bones, seeking ever lower with each kiss. Angela didn't realize her breath was becoming uneven before Pharah looked up at her, smiling.

“You're making noise. What will the neighbors think?”

“Right now, I don't caaAAH.” Her voice switched to a moan as Pharah’s gentle kisses made their way to her cliy. The woman pushed out her tongue, applying slight pressure to the small, round bead, and using her hands on Angela's hips to control the grinding motions of her own tongue.

Anything Angela was thinking about saying disappeared in smoke, as pure bliss shot through her. She threw her head back, reaching out her hand to hold onto the nearby wall, grateful for its presence, as it kept her from falling. That and Pharah’s strong grip were the only things keeping her upright. The unexpected pleasure was intoxicating and her moans were loud as a result of the suddenness and the hardness of Pharah’s tongue.

Angela's free hand went down to grab at Pharah’s hair, her hips bucking with every moment of pressure Pharah put onto her. Her moans grew rhythmic, her breathing was raspy. Each thrust of Pharah’s tongue, light as it was, sent lightning through her and she felt her knees shake.

“I’m… I'm… Ohhh!” Pharah had begun moving her tongue in small circles, going steadily faster. “I'm… go-gonna fall,” Angela managed.

Pharah stood up, bringing them face to face. The scent of Angela's own desire on Pharah’s face was intoxicating, and it was as much her as Pharah who instigated that kiss.

Letting herself be held by strong arms, Angela was lowered down onto her bed, feeling Pharah’s weight on top of her. Then feeling her fingers on her skin. Then a warm sensation as Pharah inserted two fingers into her and curled them upwards.

It was nearly enough. Angela gasped loudly against Pharah’s lips, her moans lowering to frail whimpers as Pharah thrusted her fingers back and forth, faster and faster, harder and harder. Barely noticing it herself, Angela surged her own hand downwards, flicking her fingers over her clit in rhythm to Pharah’s thrusting.

Angela had to break away from the kiss to cry out in pleasure. Her words were slurred, varying between simple moans to cries of Pharah’s name. Pharah’s was never still, her mouth trailing down Angela's jawline to suck on her neck. Pharah herself started to moan low, the vibrations of which tickled against Angela's skin.

With every cry of pleasure she made, Pharah’s fingers moved faster and in response, so did Angela's. Faster and faster, until her moans extended into one long cry of pleasure. She arched upwards, pressing herself into Pharah’s hand as the orgasm rode through her like a whirlwind.

Collapsing back on the mattress, her heavy panting mixed with Pharah’s as she guided Angela through the climax. Her body was limp, exhausted. Her eyes were closed and she just lay there, completely still, whimpering as Pharah drew her fingers out of her.

“God, I’ve missed that.” Pharah, still lying partially on top of Angela, bent down and kissed her softly on the lips. Angela tried to return the kiss, but her brain felt foggy and she was still panting hard. Pharah scooted down, resting her chin on Angela's chest. She was smiling.

“Well… if I had known I was about to fuck your brains out, I might have been a bit more insistent on the smalltalk.”

Angela let out a huff of laughter. “You need to give me a moment here.”

Pharah cocked her head, grinning. “Too much?”

“No, I just… need to catch my breath. I just need a second.”

“Oh this is interesting, I want to watch this.” Pharah propped herself up slightly to get a better look at Angela’s face. “You look strange when your brain has been turned off. It's fascinating.”

Pharah squealed when Angela playfully pinched her arm. She lightly slapped her fingers away. “Ouch!”

“See? My brain is working just fine.”

“I disagree. Hands, yes, but brain?” Pharah scooted upwards, putting her ear close to Angela's head as if she was listening for something. “Nope, that thing's definitely off. I can't hear the cogs turning anymore.”

Angela couldn't help but smile. “Rude.”

Pharah turned, showing white teeth in a teasing grin. With a light groan, she rolled off of Angela. She had kicked off her shoes as they went towards Angela's bed, but she was still wearing her other clothes. Standing up, she started undoing the buttons and zipper on her jeans.

“Wait,” Angela said. Pharah paused and turned, her face looking bemused.

“What?” she said.

Angela sat up, before slowly standing from the bed. She was grateful she didn't wobble, since her legs still didn't quite work properly. Her knees felt precariously like jelly. She got around it by taking Pharah by the shoulder to support herself.

“What are you doing?” Pharah asked, as Angela slowly stepped in front of her.

In all honesty, Angela wasn't quite sure what she was doing. Her body was buzzing, and though she felt tired, at the same time she was energized.

In one slow move, one made lazy from the exertion in her limbs, Angela pulled the dress over her head, leaving herself standing completely naked in front of Pharah. Pharah’s didn't speak, she just stared at Angela, hands still awkwardly held at the button of her jeans.

“Sit down.” Angela's voice was breathy, but confident. She didn't know where she got the nerve, nor the control she was now showing. She'd certainly never had it before. With Jack, she had never been this authoritative. In fact, she was never like this with anyone.

Slowly, still staring up at her, Pharah sat down on the side of the bed. Angela surveyed Pharah’s body as she did, noticing how her breathing was quickening slightly.

Angela kneeled down, scooting her fingers into the hem of Pharah’s pants.

“What are you doing?” Pharah’s voice was a low whisper, shaking slightly. Why, Angela was not certain. Desire, or nervousness?

“I want these off.” Angela tugged at the jeans. Pharah paused a moment before lifting herself a bit, and Angela was able to quickly pull the jeans off.

Then came the white t-shirt. Angela slowly pulled it off Pharah, revealing a lacy bra beneath. Then, placing a knee on either side of Pharah’s hips, Angela lowered her naked body onto Pharah’s lap. She felt a smile curl on her face when her naked skin touched Pharah’s and the woman took a sharp intake of breath.

“I thought you needed a moment.” Pharah’s voice sounded dry and she cleared her throat.

“Is this really the time for talking?” Angela unhooked Pharah’s bra, before removing it and dropping it on the floor.

“Alright, this is…” Pharah laughed nervously. “You're being very forward.”

Angela felt outside of herself, floating beyond her body in a cloud of post-orgasm ecstasy. She cocked her head.

“Do you want to stop?”

Seeing that Angela wasn't laughing, the smile vanished from Pharah’s face. She looked serious now too. She shook her head.

“Are you scared?” Angela asked.

“No.”

“Nervous?”

Pharah didn't answer. Angela put her arms around Pharah’s neck. She pressed herself lightly against Pharah, making their breasts touch.

“What did you think when you were, as you said, fucking my brains out before?”

Pharah let out a burst of nervous laughter. It quickly trailed off when she noticed how dark Angela's eyes had become. How filled with desire they were.

“I don't know,” she said hesitantly. “I was focused.”

“So you weren't thinking about me doing this.” Angela said, letting a hand trail down Pharah’s stomach. “About my hands and fingers touching you. About me tasting you.”

Pharah swallowed. “It may have crossed my mind.”

Angela's hand slipped into the lining of Pharah’s panties, moving further down to rest between her legs. She smiled as she felt how soaked Pharah was already, and she felt the slickness between her own legs grow in response. Pharah was blushing.

Leaning in, hand still between Pharah’s legs, Angela placed a featherlight kiss on Pharah’s mouth. She closed her eyes, opening her lips to accept Pharah’s tongue into her mouth. When she felt Pharah beginning to press against her, Angela broke the kiss.

“Back up and lie down.”

It took a moment, but Pharah did as she was told. She untangled herself from Angela and crawled back on the bed. They ended up in a reverse position of before, now with Angela on top of Pharah.

“I want you to try to lie still,” Angela said.

Pharah didn't answer. Her face was intent on Angela's, and when Angela bent down to kiss her again, she groaned loudly against Angela's mouth.

The kiss was slow and drawn out, with Pharah’s hands wandering over Angela's back. When Angela broke off the kiss, Pharah moved with her, not wanting the kiss to end quite yet.

Slowly, Angela scooted downwards, placing kisses along Pharah’s collarbone, chest, and breast. Hesitating only a moment, she took a nipple into her mouth and sucked lightly, delighted to hear Pharah’s breath quicken in response.

Angela's tongue circled slowly while she let a hand slip back between Pharah’s legs. Letting her fingers match the speed of her tongue, she started circling Pharah’s clit with such a low pressure it could barely be called a touch, but it had the desired effect. Pharah’s breath hitched as she let out a gasp whenever Angela's finger brushed over her center. Her hands, which were now on Angela's shoulders, clenched slightly every time Angela brushed over her clit.

After a few moments, Angela switched to the other nipple, this time nipping at it with her teeth at the same time as she put pressure down on Pharah’s clit.

“Oh!” A single outcry, ending in a series of rapid moans, slowing as Angela lightened her touch. Her fingers lessened the pressure until Pharah’s breathing calmed down. Pharah whimpered in disappointment, before Angela pushed down again, making Pharah break into a series of loud gasps.

Once the gasps grew into rapid moaning, Angela lightened her touch once again.

“Please!” Pharah cried loudly, as a wave of seized pleasure quivered through her.

“Please what?” Angela said, feathering kisses between Pharah’s breasts. A hard feat, since Pharah’s body was writhing beneath her.

“Please, I want you to… to… ohohhh…” Angela's finger slipped over her clit, interrupting her speech. “I want to come, I want to--OH!”

Her cry of pleasure was almost a scream when Angela's fingers suddenly began moving around her clit in sharp, little circles. Quickly, Angela crawled backwards. There was a moment where she removed her hands from Pharah to pull down her panties, before she bent down to replace the movements of her fingers with the circling of her tongue. Her fingers sought lower, thrusting into Pharah in the same curled fashion as had been done to Angela.

Pharah’s body tightened in immediate response, her breathing becoming loud and rhythmic, as both Angela's fingers and tongue applied pressure to her most sensitive area in unison. Pharah’s hands, now no longer able to reach Angela, curled around the sheets, pushing herself off them so she could grind against Angela's tongue and fingers.

With only a few thrusts of this, Pharah’s rhythmic breathing was replaced with an elongated moan. Her body quivered as intense waves of pleasure rode through her. Angela could taste the climax on her tongue, but didn't care. The taste was hot in her mouth, and she was suddenly very aware of the warmth between her legs. Even running down her thighs.

Angela lowered the tempo, guiding Pharah back down through the orgasm, as spasms twitched through Pharah’s legs and abdomen, until the woman was lying spread out and heaving on Angela's bed.

Angela stood, wiping off Pharah’s juices with the back of her hand, before lying down next to Pharah on the bed.

“Not bad for a woman with dead cogs for a brain,” she said. She lay on her stomach next to Pharah, head prodded up on one hand and a teasing grin on her face.

Pharah lay on her back with her eyes closed,  breathing heavily for a long while. When she finally did open her eyes, she was met by Angela's smiling face.

“Payback,” Angela said, bending down to place a light kiss on Pharah’s lips. “Seems I'm not the only one who's been screwed silly.”

“You can say that again.” Pharah’s breathing was still quite heavy. “I don't think I was prepared for that. It was intense.”

“I've heard that the anticipation can be half the reward.”

Pharah rolled over on her side so she could look at Angela. “I don't get it.”

“Well… the build-up for something you're looking forward to releases dopamine into the--”

“Not that, you dork,” Pharah said, poking Angela in the stomach. “I don't get you. Us. This.

Angela frowned at that. “What do you mean?”

“I just don't… Who are you? How do you know how to do… THAT?”

Angela's furrow deepened. “I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I understand.”

“Of course you don't, I'm explaining it like a fucking idiot.” Pharah took a deep breath. “I don't understand what's happening here. To me. And how you…”

Pharah trailed off.

“How I… what?” Angela asked after a moment of silence. Pharah sighed.

“This will sound terrible, but it's not meant to. It's just… I've done this sort of thing before. Multiple times. This whole ‘friends with benefits’ agreement, and it's always been good. Great, even. But with you… It's just different.”

A long silence passed. It was heavy between them, like invisible smoke.

“I'm almost afraid to ask this,” Angela said. “Different how?”

Pharah huffed out a laugh. She mumbled a few words to herself, all in a different language, before turning to Angela. “Real talk?”

Angela nodded, though she knew her face expressed trepidation. Pharah sighed.

“First of all, it is so hard for me to believe that you've really never been with a woman before. Really. It baffles me.”

Angela couldn't help herself. She started laughing, much to Pharah’s obvious dismay.

“I'm serious! I mean, what the hell, Angela? It's absurd.”

“I'll take it as a compliment,” she said, laughter still obvious in her voice.

“I thought there was going to be a whole training period or something, but no. It's me who have to fight to keep up.”

Angela laughed again, relieved to see Pharah smiling now.

“I hope I didn't take things too far before,” Angela said.

“No, not at all.” Pharah blushed and looked away. “I've actually been wanting to talk to you about it ever since that first night.”

“Yeah?”

Pharah looked visibly uncomfortable, picking at her nails nervously. “That whole assertive thing that you do. Pinning me down, telling me this and that… I kinda like it. It's hot.”

Now Angela was the one who was blushing and had to look away. “I honestly don’t know where that came from. I just went with it.”

“Wherever you found it, please don't lose it.”

“I'll try not to, then. For your sake.” Angela nudged at Pharah with her hip, softly caressing her arm with her hand. She was barely conscious of it, but she felt Pharah stiffen immediately at the touch.

It was a familial touch. A caress meant to soothe and calm, but there was something extremely personal to the act. Angela retracted her hand as if she'd burned it. “Sorry.”

Pharah didn't answer. Not at first. A stretch of silence passed between them, with Pharah’s face changing from relaxed and pleased to hard and unyielding. Then she suddenly sat up on the edge of the bed, and began to pull on her t-shirt and panties.

“Sorry, I just remembered. I have to be somewhere,” she mumbled, as she stood from the bed. She was in the process of putting on her jeans when Angela got knocked out of her stupor.

“What?” she said loudly. Quickly grabbing a bathrobe, she covered herself before following Pharah down the length of the studio towards the door. “What happened?”

“It's not you,” Pharah said, picking up her shoes and jacket.

“Really?” Angela said sternly. “You're doing that shit? Just exactly how isn't this about me?”

“I don't do this kind of thing, okay? I've never done it. Not at all.” Pharah’s voice was as sharp as Angela's.

“What thing? You can't just leave without saying anything. What thing are you talking about?” When Pharah kept moving towards the door, Angela rushed forward and grabbed her arm, making her stop. “Can you just stop and talk to me, please?”

“It’s not that simple!” Pharah said. “What is this, Angela? This… exclusivity. I don't do relationships. I've tried and I suck at them, so I don't bother. And I know that makes me sound like an asshole, but it's the truth. I was not interested in this becoming a thing at all. I didn't want it.”

Angela stood stunned. Pharah’s face was red from frustration. Her eyes were glassy.

“You can pretend all you want that this is just a fling, but it's not anymore. At some point you'll realize that this is all wrong and that you made a mistake, right? That it went too far and it was all just good fun? And I’ll be there, waiting for it,” Pharah continued. “I can't do that anymore. I don't want to hope. And the last few weeks just confirmed that I shouldn't.”

Pharah was shaking now. Her voice was quivering slightly at the end of her speech, all the while Angela just stood in silence, unable to say anything. She had not been ready for such an outburst.

A few moments ago, they had been lying in bed, teasing and flirting. In mere seconds, it felt as if it was all falling apart. Pharah seemed ready to flee.

“I am so sorry for you feel that way,” Angela said. All anger had gone from her voice, but she couldn't quite stop it from shaking. “I know I have been canceling a lot lately. I blamed it on my exams, on me having to study. Which was partially true.”

Pharah’s expression changed from angry to confused at that statement.

Angela sighed deeply. “I had a relationship before. A pretty serious one. It didn't end very well, and it still hurts to think about it. So, when you and I started getting more and more exclusive , as you say… I guess I got scared. That’s my fault.”

Pharah’s lips tightened into a line. Angela hesitated a moment. She swallowed. “Please. Don't leave. Not when you've just said all those things. Please stay. I want to talk about this.”

Pharah stood, body tense with held back emotion. She didn't move, not even when Angela took a few steps closer to her. Slowly, Angela reached out and put her arms around Pharah, drawing her into a warm embrace.

“Please. Please stay.”

Another moment passed. A long moment. Then Pharah nodded, and let a long sigh escape her lungs. She dropped her jacket and shoes on the floor, putting her arms around Angela and squeezing tight.

“I'm sorry for yelling at you.”

Angela just shook her head into Pharah’s shoulder. “I'm sorry too. For everything. Now come on,” Angela said. “I'm getting cold.”

Angela stepped out of the embrace, leading Pharah back through the apartment. She sat down on the side of the bed, gesturing for Pharah to join her.

“I don't do this sort of thing a lot,” Pharah said as she sat down next to Angela.

“What thing?” Angela asked, pulling a blanket up around her shoulders. When Pharah had been next to her, she hadn't noticed how cool the studio was.

“Talking. About real things. I've tried to avoid it whenever I could.”

There was a moment of deep silence before Pharah chuckled lightly. “I don't know how to start.”

“Me neither, really,” Angela said. “This was not a conversation I saw myself having when I woke up this morning.”

“I guess,” Pharah said, “we can start at what this is.”

Angela nodded. “Problem is that I'm not sure what this is. I just know that I like meeting up with you.”

“That's because we have amazing sex,” Pharah said flatly.

“Not just,” Angela said. “It's more than that. I feel… I don't know exactly. I feel comfortable with you.”

“We don't even know anything about each other.”

“Maybe that's the problem,” Angela said. “We agreed to keep things casual. Asking intimate and personal questions kinda goes against that.”

Pharah nodded, staying silent for a while. “If, hypothetically, you weren't limited by that, what would you ask me?”

Angela paused for a long moment as she looked Pharah over. The white t-shirt and the faded, worn jeans. Tan skin. Black tattoo around her eye.

“I'd ask what your real name is.”

Pharah chuckled, but there was little joy in it. “How do you know Pharah isn't my real name?”

“The first time we met. You said ‘Pharah’ was a nickname.”

“You don't forget a thing,” she said, looking away from Angela. She was quiet for some time, but Angela didn't push her. Her voice was husky when she finally spoke. “My real name is Fareeha.”

“Fareeha.” Angela repeated the name to herself, letting it trill off her tongue. “That's a beautiful name.”

“My mother is the only one who calls me that. I haven't seen her in a while, so I guess it’s safe to say that no one calls me by my real name.”

“Why? You don’t like your name?”

Pharah shrugged. “I don't know. I guess I just connected it to her so much that I couldn't separate them, you know?”

“You're not close? You and your mother.”

Pharah shook her head. “We had a falling out. Pretty big one. She wanted me to go to college, or university. Something that would get me a better future. She was too concerned with her own dreams she forgot to ask me about what I wanted.” Pharah smiled without emotion. “I've never told anyone that.”

Angela gave a weak smile. “Do you prefer that I call you Pharah still? Now that I know.”

Another long moment of silence. “I'm not sure. Can you say the name again?”

Angela repeated the name. “Fareeha.”

“It's different when you say it. It sounds different.” Pharah nodded and looked back up at Angela, a genuine smile on her face this time. “I don’t think I would mind you calling me Fareeha.”

“Alright,” Angela said. “Fareeha it is then. Now… you shared something. Is there anything you want to ask me?”

Fareeha thought for a moment. “Yeah, there is something,” she said. “You didn't want me to come to your apartment. You always canceled whenever we'd decided to go here.”

Angela's body tensed. “Yes, that's true.”

“Why is that?”

By pure instinct, Angela was about to lie, but she stopped herself to consider it. It would be so easy. Just say that she was an extremely private person, and she didn't like having people in her living space. It would be simple, and then she could keep ignoring the feeling of drowning panic that was appearing in her throat.

But she couldn't. She shouldn't. Not now. She took a shaky breath.

“That relationship I just mentioned? A year ago, I was living here with my fiancé. His name was Jack. We'd been together for a long time, childhood sweethearts and everything. We were very happy. We had a near perfect life.”

“What happened to him?”

Angela could feel her voice breaking as she started to speak again. “I'm not sure. He had a demanding job. He was with the army. One day, I come home and he's packing his bags. Just pouring everything he had into them. He tells me that he's leaving. That something came up, that it was important for his career, and that I should be able to understand.” Angela clutched the lining of the bed sheet until her knuckles turned white. “He said I would be a distraction. He couldn't be thinking about me while he was working, it would endanger the operation. So he asked that I give him my engagement ring and that I don't try to contact him again. He suggested that I just ‘move on.’ I haven't seen or heard from him since.”

“That's awful.”

Angela shook her head. Not in denial, but to clear the fog of panic beginning to cloud her mind. “He was the love of my life. We were all the other had ever known, and he just left. I didn't know how to handle it. In a moment where I felt completely safe, everything I cared about was taken away from me. I don’t even know if it was actually a job pulling him away, or if it was just an elaborate lie to make him feel less guilty about leaving me. And if he is somewhere, fighting, I don’t know if he’s alive or dead. But since then, I haven't brought anyone up here. I figured, if I didn't bring people into the my life, I could keep that from happening again. I could prepare myself for the blow.”

Fareeha covered her mouth with a hand. “And I nearly left the same way.”

Angele chuckled, wiping a tear from her eye. “Well, you're here, so not quite.”

Fareeha inched closer, taking Angela's hand and squeezing it. “I'm so sorry, I didn't know.”

“How could you know? I haven't told anyone about it.” Ever.

“If I may ask,” she said, frowning, “what made you invite me over then? If it makes you feel so uncomfortable to have people in your apartment?”

Angela couldn't look at her. Didn't want to look over at Fareeha’s gentle face. “I missed you. I missed you a lot. And I couldn't stand the thought of you becoming tired of me. Which I felt like you were.”

Angela kept looking down at her feet. She felt as if she had exposed an ugly, broken part of herself and now she was regretting having ever said anything. When she finally gathered up the courage to glance over at Fareeha, Angela found the woman studying her intently. “Why would you think that?”

“Just look at you,” Angela said. “You are stunning. And I know for a fact that you would have options if it wasn't for me.” A nasty thought about the woman currently staying at Fareeha’s place poked at her mind. “I just don't see why you would want this over any other person out there.”

Fareeha surprised Angela when she started laughing.

“What's so funny?”

“Nothing,” Fareeha said, wiping quickly at her eyes. “Nothing, I just… I was thinking the same thing. Why would a smart, wonderful, beautiful woman bother to spend her time with a fuckup like me?”

Angela felt a smile curl onto her face. “There is always that hot european sleeping on your couch.”

Fareeha grinned. “You are jealous.”

“You told me that you have a hot, fit woman sleeping at your place. Of course I’m jealous.”

“Well, yeah. When I phrased it like that I suppose it is expected.” Fareeha shrugged theatrically. “In my defense, she is really hot though.”

Angela pushed playfully at Fareeha’s shoulder, both of them sharing a little laugh.

“Can I make a confession?” Fareeha said, turning to Angela.

Angela nodded.

“I don't know what to do right now. Because every part of me feels like putting my arms around you, and not letting go, which sounds so fucking sappy I can't believe I'm saying it.” Fareeha stood up abruptly. “I feel like a dumb child. Like a kid scared of getting caught with a cigarette in their pocket. Like I’m about to do everything wrong, because all I can think about right now is how much I want to kiss you, when I should be trying to explain myself better.”

Angela couldn't help herself. She bent forward, hiding her face in her hands and laughed. The laughter was pearly and light, but it was only a matter of moments before it had transitioned into soft sobs.

Angela stopped when she felt hands tugging gently at her arms. She sniffled at Fareeha, now sitting crouched in front of her with a worried look on her face.

“I'm sorry,” Angela said. She let out a low laugh as she dried the tears from her eyes. “This is a really shitty date.”

Fareeha chuckled. “I've had worse. I think.”

Angela laughed, wiping the sleeve of the robe over her nose.

“Do you still want to kiss me?” Angela asked, chuckling lightly. The question was made half in jest, as she was mess of red eyes and sniffling nose, so she wasn't prepared for Fareeha’s lips raising to meet hers.

The kiss was light and brief, but it worked just as well as a stun gun. Angela felt paralyzed, as Fareeha drew back from her, studying her response.

Angela knew that she shouldn't. She knew that she was vulnerable and in dire need for affection, which was why the professional part of her brain was shouting at her to keep herself composed. But Fareeha’s dark brown eyes, so big and full of need for confirmation that she hadn't just messed everything up were all Angela was able to focus on.

“Do that again,” Angela whispered, her voice barely there.

Fareeha obeyed, leaning in to kiss the tears from Angela's cheeks. When she got to the corner of Angela's mouth, Angela turned her head into it, joining her lips together in a way that was different from the kisses they’d had before. It was hard to explain how, but it somehow felt more real. More present and pure.

Angela leaned into Fareeha, not caring that the bedsheet rolled off her as a result. Their lips still together, Angela took Fareeha’s hand and guided it to beneath her robe to grab at her breast. Fareeha squeezed lightly, making them both groan at the touch.

“I want more,” Angela gasped, running her hands up below Fareeha’s t-shirt. Fareeha got the not so subtle hint, pulling off the shirt, but immediately returning to exploring Angela's body with her hands, as if the two of them were being pulled together by magnets.

Angela's thighs were on fire, but she couldn't stop touching Fareeha’s skin. Her body was warm and soft, her tan skin standing in stark contrast to Angela's fairness. She wanted more. She wanted more now.

Fareeha leaned hard against Angela, making both of them fall back onto the mattress. Angela writhed herself out of the robe entirely, lying naked beneath Fareeha’s strong body. She straightened, quickly pulling off her jeans and panties again. When she lowered herself back down, she placed her thigh between Angela's legs, moving forward to put pressure on her soaked center.

“Is this okay?” she asked, pressing her thigh against Angela's clit. Angela's only response was a loud gasp against Fareeha’s neck, her fingers finding purchase in Fareeha’s shoulders as the woman rocked in a steady rhythm.

As she moved, so did Angela, changing her position so her thigh was between Fareeha’s legs as well. As Fareeha moved back and forth, the same pleasure was applied to her as was applied to Angela.

“Oh, fuck,” she whispered, her breath becoming strained almost immediately.

“Yes, fuck me.” Angela heard herself say the words, but didn't remember speaking. “Fuck me, Fareeha. I want to come with you.”

There was no pause in Fareeha’s movement. Instead, she moved harder, pressing her body against Angela. Angela raised herself up from the bed, making it easier for Fareeha to move back and forth, grinding into Angela harder and harder.

“Fuck, Angela,” Fareeha groaned deeply, quickening her grinding movement. “This feels so good. Fuck, I…”

Their moans were rapid now, growing louder. Their mouths searched for one another, but kissing was impossible, as their panting would not allow it. Instead, their fast breaths mingled until their cries of pleasure came in sharp unison.

Minutes passed like this and Angela could feel herself breaking. Her head creened backwards as spasms traveled from her thighs through her stomach.

“I'm co-- oh…” She could hardly speak between her moaning, but Fareeha understood.

“Wait for me,” she managed, shifting her weight slightly so she could put more weight against Angela's thigh. She pressed herself hard against Angela once. Twice. Thrice.

Fareeha’s body went stiff against Angela's, and that was enough. Her moans broke over into a long outburst of pleasure as the two women pressed themselves against one another, shaking through their joined climax. The muscle spasms in Fareeha’s thigh prolonged the orgasm, sending Angela spiraling for what felt like hours as the constant vibrations were unrelenting in their stimuli. Angela shook, clutching hard at Fareeha’s body and not caring that she was most likely leaving marks behind in her skin. Fareeha’s own hands fisted around the bed sheets, tightening her fingers hard around the fabric.

Finally, Fareeha’s arms gave in and she collapsed on top of Angela, gasping and sweating as if she'd just run a marathon. Angela tried to catch her breath, but it was hindered by Fareeha’s weight on top of her chest.

“You're crushing me,” she managed to utter between gasps. With an exhausted groan, Fareeha rolled off Angela, collapsing next to her on the mattress, eyes closed and chest heaving. She was mumbling something beneath her breath Angela couldn't quite understand.

“What are you saying?” Her own voice was breathy and shaking.

Fareeha smiled, grinning as if she'd just told a joke. “Nothing. It's nothing.”

Angela rolled over on one side to face Fareeha, letting out a soft whimper as echos of her orgasm circled out from the hyper sensitive area between her legs. She scooted herself closer to Fareeha, forgetting her fear in the haze of their combined climax. She was able to react, not think, and right now she sought contact.

“You okay?” she asked as she curled herself close to Fareeha.

Fareeha turned her head, opening her eyes to look at Angela. Big and brown and warm. She didn't say anything. Instead, she rolled over on her side, wrapping her arms around Angela and pulling her close. Angela's head rested near Fareeha’s chest, letting her hear the slow thumping of her heart.

“I'm scared,” Angela whispered. A moment of hesitation passed before Fareeha drew Angela into a tighter embrace.

“I'm scared too,” she said, her breath brushing at Angela's hair. “But at least, this way, we can be scared together.”

They lay there, still in each other's arms, before they both drifted off into restful sleep.

 

Chapter Text

For the first time in a long time, Angela slept throughout the night. She had always had trouble with sleeping, especially for longer periods of time. Angela usually blamed her brain, the wiring and buzzing that was always going on inside of it made it hard to find rest.

Then she blamed Jack. An unfamiliar presence next to her when she tried to sleep, strange during the first few weeks of them dating. Later she had come to need it. His body at her side, his arms hugging her had become calming. After he had left she hadn't slept properly for weeks.

When she had first started getting together with Fareeha she had found comfort in feeling another's person next to her. It was a calm she had thought of as wrong and dangerous. A calm that felt all too familiar, and Angela had found herself not daring to lean into it, fearing the pain of having it taken away from her.

The previous evening she had chosen not to care. When she had drifted off to sleep, she had felt her body tense up as Fareeha’s arms wrapped around her. She’d felt a feeling of dread, the fear of loss, gnaw at the back of her mind, but she’d overcome it. She’d breathed deeply, forcing herself to relax.

It helped that Fareeha had fallen asleep quickly. Her breathing, heavy and steady, made a rhythm for Angela to follow and copy. It hadn't taken long until she too had drifted off, pressed against the woman next to her, relaxed for once.

When she woke up, the apartment was lit in the golden hue of the morning sun. Angela was still lying against Fareeha, her body curled into a ball and her face pressed against the other woman’s chest.

Angela took a few minutes to enjoy the feeling. She sighed, sinking further into Fareeha’s embrace and breathed in the scent of deodorant and sweat clinging to her skin. She relaxed, nearly falling asleep again, when she felt the call of nature.

Slowly, Angela began the slow process of untangling herself from Fareeha’s arms, but her escape was promptly stopped when Fareeha groaned in protest.

“What are you doing?” Fareeha’s voice was heavy with sleep and her eyes were still closed.

“I'm trying to get up,” Angela said quietly.

Fareeha huffed and pulled Angela into a tighter embrace.

“I'm too comfortable to get up,” she pouted groggily.

Angela chuckled and leaned up to place a light kiss on Fareeha’s lips.

“Didn't say you had to get up, did I?” Angela crawled out of Fareeha’s arms, ignoring the disgruntled groan she got in response.

Her confidence waned when Angela stood, suddenly unprotected by her bed covers. She was naked, and though Fareeha was not nearly awake enough to notice her, Angela suddenly felt a wave vulnerability wash over her. She noticed the discarded bathrobe on the floor and quickly put it on before going to the bathroom. When she was done, she exited out to find Fareeha lying in the same position Angela had left her in. She lay on her side, her arm and the covers partially covering her torso and her hair spilling out over the pillow like black water.

Angela dropped the bathrobe back on the floor, and scampered beneath the protective covers again. Barely had she lain down, before an arm went around her, hugging her close.

“Not a morning person, huh?” Angela said, chuckling when Fareeha growled.

“Whatever gave you that idea?” Fareeha mumbled, her eyes still shut. “I'm feeling fresh as a daisy.”

They lay there, still in the bed for a while longer, until Fareeha’s breathing shifted slightly. Angela looked up to see the woman’s eyes flicker open.

“Good morning,” she said.

“Good morning to you too,” Fareeha smiled. She rolled onto her back and stretched, yawning comfortably as she did. “What time is it?”

“Little past eight.”

“Shit.” Fareeha rubbed her face with her hands, making her voice come out muffled. “I’d hoped I would have a few hours before I had to go to work.”

“Early shift?”

“Something like that,” Fareeha said, but she didn’t move out of bed.

“So…” Angela said slowly, after a few long moments of silence had passed. “Last night was… fun.”

Fareeha peaked over at her and chuckled, lowering her hands. “Yeah. It was.”

Angela's face reddened even more as Fareeha continued to stare at her.

“I don't know what else to say,” Angela admitted.

“Do you have to say anything else?”

“Well, after everything we talked about yesterday…” She tensed when Fareeha’s face turned serious. Angela quickly looked away. “I don't know…”

“Yeah… that.” Fareeha looked away briefly, before reaching down to grab Angela’s hand. When she spoke, her voice was light. “We don’t have to talk about it. Not right now, at least. It's early, I'm still tired, and you are making it very for me to focus right now.”

“I don't mean to.”

Fareeha sighed and rolled over on her stomach. She scooted down so she was lying next to Angela and she could give her a kiss.

“That's why it's so effective,” she said when their lips parted. “I do adore when you look like this. As if you're trying to crack a code in your mind. Your brow does this little furrow, it's adorable.”

“Don't do that.” Angela tried to be serious, but the smile that appeared on her face made it impossible.

Fareeha cocked her head innocently. “Don't do what?”

“You're distracting me. And I want to talk about this.”

“Right now? On a Saturday morning, laying naked in your bed?”

“You're doing it again,” Angela scorned.

Fareeha sighed and looked down. “Fine. What do you want to talk about?”

“We touched on it last night,” Angela said, blushing at the memory. “We’ve been meeting up for weeks now, and we’ve yet to talk about what this is.”

Fareeha groaned thetrically. “Labels? Really?”

Angela shrugged. “Why not?”

“Because… It’s weird for me. Need I remind you that I've never done this before.”

“Never done what?” It was Angela’s turn to smile. “Laid in my bed on a Saturday morning completely naked?”

Fareeha laughed lightly. “No, haven't done that either. I'm not the kind of girl who stays over a lot. I usually sneak out in the early hours before a roommate spots me.”

“No roommate here. And you didn’t sneak out.”

“I didn’t. I didn’t want to, I was too comfy,” Fareeha said, nuzzling herself into the covers. “Besides, I like waking up with you. Granted we only did it that one time, but it felt… I don’t know. It felt nice.”

The blush coloring Angela’s cheeks was even more evident than before. She turned away from Fareeha, hiding her smile with her hand.

“What?” Fareeha chuckled.

“I think I like that label. It’s not much, but it’s simple,” Angela said, looking back at Fareeha who was frowning slightly. Angela shuffled closer to Fareeha. “You're the girl who sometimes stays over. And who don’t sneak out before the sun comes up.”

Fareeha chuckled, before looking up at Angela. “What does that make you then?”

“I’ll be your girl. Who occasionally stays over, I mean.”

Fareeha smiled warmly, but then her gaze turned inquisitive. Her brows knitted together as she rested her chin in her palm, as if to inspect Angela more thoroughly.

“What are you even? Some sort of witch, and you've just kept your powers hidden this whole time?” Seeing Angela's puzzled expression, Fareeha sighed. “That was a weird thing to say. Sorry.”

“No, don't apologize,” Angela said, her voice light. “You've found me out. I've put a spell on you.”

Fareeha cocked a smile at her. “And what kind of spell would that be?”

“It's old magic,” Angela said in a dramatic voice. “It stems all the way back from the druids of old Britannia, and the natural forces of the moon and the stars. I danced for hours beneath an ancient oak to entrance you with the blink of my eye.”

“I think I’m beginning to understand you now.” Fareeha smile was tight, as she was clearly trying to hold back a laugh. “It seems I have found myself in bed with a giant nerd.”

Angela grinned, leaning over to give Fareeha a kiss. It was meant to be short and sweet, but Fareeha’s lips parted, letting her tongue push at Angela's lips. Barely registrering her movement, Angela pressed herself harder against Fareeha, separating her lips slightly to take her tongue into her mouth.

They lay there for awhile, Fareeha’s fingers still intertwined with Angelas. When they broke the kiss, both of their breathing had turned labored.

“I can already tell I won't be very productive today.” Fareeha’s voice was raspy. “I don't think I will be able to focus. Not when I have fresh memories of you in my head.”

“I'm sorry about that,” Angela said softly.

“Don't be,” Fareeha said. “You can't help that you're hot as hell.”

Angela's cheeks turned a deep red and she had to look away. She bit her lip to attempt to hide her smile, but it clearly wasn't very effective. Fareeha frowned in confusion.

“What? You've never been called hot before?”

“Not by someone who matters,” Angela mumbled, still not looking at Fareeha. It wasn't a lie. There had been a cat callers on the street, of course, yelling all kinds of things at her, as well as drunk people at various parties she’d been to. None of them had been serious in their statements, and people she was close with had never used that particular word to describe her. Jack had called her pretty, elegant, and beautiful, but never hot. There was a harshness to the word that made Angela's muscles twinge strangely.

She gestured at her ruffled bed hair. “And certainly not when I look like… this.”

“You're kidding me?” Fareeha sounded surprisingly sincere.

“It's different when you say it.”

“How so?”

Angela took a deep breath. “It feels like you actually mean it when you say it. Like you're not just trying to… you know… get with me, or something.”

“Well, I already did that,” Fareeha grinned, and Angela allowed herself to laugh with her. “But… being honest here,” Fareeha continued, a serious tone in her voice. Now she was the one who had to break eye contact. “I thought it when I first saw you too. Sitting at that table outside the university. The way the sun hit your hair, your look of concentration. No other word really, you know, fits.”

“You’re just saying that.”

“I’m not, Angela. And if anything, I'm getting the feeling that you are stupidly good at figuring out what I’m thinking, so look at me and you'll see I'm not lying.”

Hesitantly, Angela looked up at Fareeha. She’d raised her head once again. Her large brown eyes were looking straight at her, black hair falling in messy strands over her brows. She was smiling. Not just with her mouth, but with her eyes. There was a glow in them that made butterflies appear in Angela's stomach.

“Alright,” she whispered. “I believe you. But, just letting you know… I was thinking the exact same thing when I saw you.”

“Yeah, you weren't exactly subtle,” Fareeha grinned. Angela gaped at the comment, feeling blood rush to her cheeks. She bumped her shoulder into Fareeha’s, making her laugh.

“Hey!” Fareeha said, still laughing. “I’m just being honest!”

“I wasn’t being that obvious.”

“No, no, you were a confident, babbling mess. You were fine.”

Angela raised her eyebrows sarcastically. “That’s not fair. Not when you came up, strutting that whole ‘bad girl’ attitude at me.”

“Oh, so now it’s my fault?”

“Yes, I blame you for everything,” Angela grinned. She let go of Fareeha’s hand and shifted her position so she could play with the loose strands of black hair falling down over Fareeha’s shoulders. “If it’s my turn to be completely honest, I wasn’t looking for anyone to be attracted to. Hadn’t for a long time. I didn’t want to get too close, so I wouldn’t even try. Guess I was just scared.”

“Because of that Jack guy?”

Angela stiffened and nodded.

Fareeha leaned back slightly, as if to get a better look at her face. “I'm not a mindreader like you are, so I can't tell what you're thinking.”

Angela grinned weakly. She shrugged and sighed. “I'm thinking you were a surprise. A pleasant one, and that in many different ways.”

Fareeha didn't say anything. Her face was poised in thought.

“Did I say something wrong?” Angela asked.

“No. No, you didn't,” Fareeha said, her voice slightly strained. “That’s not common for me to hear. I’m rarely called a pleasant surprise. It feels… I don’t know how it feels.”

“Should I just have kept it to myself?” Angela asked carefully. Fareeha waited a moment before she shook her head. She’d shook her head, clearing her throat.

“It’s just a lot for me,” she said. Her voice was strong and assertive, but her eyes where shifty. Acting confident, Angela thought. “I’ve told you more about myself in the last 24 hours than I’ve told anyone else. It’s all sorta hitting me right now. This talking is getting me all confused.”

The moment stretched between them, dragging on a few seconds into becoming awkward. Fareeha still wasn’t looking at Angela. In fact, it seems she was looking anywhere else than on the woman next to her. For awhile, Angela let the confusion settle, feeling it grasp at her too, before letting go of Fareeha’s hand.

Fareeha looked down as Angela broke contact, but the moment didn’t last long. Angela’s hand found Fareeha’s chin, pushing it up so Fareeha would have to look at her.

“Then let’s not talk anymore.” Leaning over once again, but much slower this time, Angela moved in to kiss Fareeha again. It was clumsier this time, as Fareeha’s body was awkwardly stiff and unresponsive, but when Angela went to pull away Fareeha seemed to change her mind. Now she was the one leaning into the kiss, tension leaving her shoulders as she pressed herself against Angela.

The kiss was slow and calming, tongues touching tongues carefully. Angela’s hand travelled from her face down her arm, and Fareeha mirrored her. She ran a hand through Angela’s hair, moving gentle fingers down her neck to settle on her waist, pulling back the covers as she did. The cool morning air against her skin made Angela let out a small gasp in response.

“Fuck,” Fareeha whispered suddenly, breaking the kiss.

“What?” Angela said hoarsely.

Fareeha chuckled deeply. “I think I’m gonna be late for work.”

Angela laughed loudly, rolling over to lie on top of Fareeha. Their hands travelled across each other’s bodies, fingers exploring and feeling their way around. Angela closed her eyes in bliss, as Fareeha’s hands caressed her soft skin. It seemed they weren’t ready to part ways just yet.

 


 

The weekend went by excruciatingly slowly. Before Fareeha had left on Saturday morning, expectantly late, they had decided to meet up at Angela’s again Wednesday evening. Angela’s final exam paper was to be handed in on Wednesday at noon, so she wanted to spend the final few days polishing the final few kinks out of it.

It was a sensible choice, but she still felt her stomach sink at the thought of not seeing Fareeha for another five days. Last time, it had been nearly two weeks between them seeing each other, and Angela really didn’t want that sort of stretch to happen again.

Fareeha too was busy during the weekend, as she teasingly informed Angela. Her new roommate (Brigitte, Angela learned) needed a tour of the city, and Fareeha felt a little bad about leaving her all alone when she’d only just gotten into town.

Angela tried to appear nonchalant about it, failing miserably to Fareeha’s great amusement. They had ended the morning with what was supposed to be a brief kiss goodbye, but which turned into a more thorough make-out session in the doorway which lasted just long enough for Fareeha to definitely be late for work.

In comparison to Friday night, the weekend was horribly uneventful, and Angela found herself daydreaming more than studying. Though her paper was technically already finished, she still needed to touch up on a few things, but it was incredibly hard when fresh flashes of Fareeha kept popping into her mind. She found herself revisiting spots on her body where she knew Fareeha’s fingers had been, touching and feeling where the other woman had placed her lips and hands.

Several times she caught herself doing it, and several times she called herself silly. She was acting like a lovestruck teenager. Her eyes would often drift from her laptop to her phone, hoping that the display would light up with a message from Fareeha. It did a few times, and everytime Angela snatched the phone up in an instant, eager to read Fareeha’s message.

Wednesday came slow. She had hoped it was because of nerves for the exam, but when she showed up at the university around 10.00 to hand in the paper, the hands on her watch didn’t speed up and continued to crawl forward at a snail’s pace.

Sighing, she went outside, glad that the summer weather kept up, and walked over to the outdoor study area. There were several students out now, but only very few were there with books, and most seemed to have milled out on the lawn from the nearby dorms to enjoy the amiable weather. She scanned the field, looking for a recognizable face, and was surprised when she found Winston. He was sitting by one of the tables and he was not alone. He was smiling and laughing at something his companion said, and when the other person turned Angela recognized the brown haired girl with the glasses.

Athena was very unlike how she’d been when Angela had first met her. Then, she had seemed mousy and shy, but looking at them now she was grinning just as wide as Winston was, chatting away and laughing.

Not wanting to impose, Angela was about to walk away, but she had been just a bit too slow in her decision-making and Winston had noticed her.

“Z!” he yelled, waving enthusiastically at her.

Seeing Winston gesturing at her to come closer, she smiled and sighed, before beginning to walk over to their table.

“Didn’t realise you were here,” she said, smiling at the two of them. Anthena shrunk slightly when Angela approached, but her smile remained genuine.

“Athena had an exam. I came with her for moral support,” Winston said, grinning.

“Moral support? Your forte.” Angela glanced down at Athena. “How well is he doing?”

Athena shrugged. “He’s done worse.”

“Hey!” Winston gave them both incredulous looks. “Don’t turn her against me, Z. I really like this one.”

“‘This one?’” Angela said, brow raised. “Implying there were others, Casanova?”

“Very funny,” Winston said with acted seriousness, and to Angela’s delight Athena started giggling.

“No, I really appreciated you coming with me.”  Athena padded Winston on the arm, letting her hand linger a moment longer than necessary. “It was very nice of you, and you didn’t have to.”

“Nonsense!” Winston said. “You were so nervous about it this morning, I couldn’t let you go alone.”

Taking in all the implications of that statement, Angela grinned widely as she saw Winston’s ears suddenly turn red and Athena started blushing.

“What was your exam, since you were so nervous?” Angela asked Athena to diffuse the tension. She had plans to absolutely humiliate Winston later, but Athena didn’t deserve that treatment.

“It was just a computer science class. About algorithms and data structures.”

Angela winced. “I remember that. Or rather, I remember Winston complaining about it.”

“Yeah, he helped me a lot,” Athena said, looking back at Winston with a small smile. “I’m sure I would have failed hadn’t you helped me.”

“She’s being modest. She nailed it,” Winston said, his confidence back even though his ears were still crimson. “But how about you, Z? Haven’t seen you in a few days.”

Angela shrugged. “You know… Finishing a paper and such.”

“You mean the paper you’ve had finished for weeks now?”

“It wasn’t finished,” she said. “I wasn’t quite done with it.”

“Sure,” he grinned. “I bet you sat working on until this very morning, didn’t you? Nitpicking at footnotes?”

Angela, not wanting to confirm that he was right, just scowled at him.

“Winston, you’re being rude,” Athena scolded him upon seeing Angela’s reaction. As she turned her attention from Angela, Angela made a face at Winston who nearly started laughing as a result.

“I wouldn’t have to mock her if she wasn’t such a genius. It’s her own fault,” he said defensively.

“A compliment? For me?” Angela raised her eyebrows high. “Dear me, Athena you really are a good influence on him. Please, tell me your secret.”

She made the statement so theatrical that it could not be seen as anything but a joke, and Athena started laughing, the others joining her quickly. After that, the mood around the table became more casual, shifting to the general topic of exams (Athena had also finished all of hers, while Winston still had one left), as well as summer vacation plans. As usual, Angela could reveal that she wasn’t leaving town. She had a gotten a job at the nearby hospital where she would be working over the summer, something she was actually feeling excited about. Due to her university classes, she hadn’t been able to spend much time using her medical degree and she was looking forward to a change of pace.

They stayed chatting for a few more minutes before Athena said she had to go meet some friends to celebrate the arrival of the summer holiday. She gave Angela a friendly wave as she left, but not before giving Winston a short, chaste kiss that made the young man’s cheeks redden.

Barely had Athena left before Angela slid down onto the bench across from him and hands folded in front of her. Her grin spoke disaster, and Winston seemed to be completely willing to ignore it.

“She’s so nice, don’t you think?” he said, sighing deeply and looking anywhere else than at his friend.

Mmmhmm ,” Angela said, drawing out the sound. “Was she nice this morning too?”

Winston’s head turned back around to look at her. “Wow. Right in my face, huh?”

“Just how you like it,” she grinned, and Winston chuckled.

“We had coffee,” he said after he’d finished laughing. “What’s the big deal?”

“Just coffee?”

“Since when are you so invested in my private affairs?”

“Ever since you became inappropriately invested in mine. I seem to recall a very loud outburst, in a very quiet study hall not terribly long ago.”

“Hmm,” Winston said. “So this is all revenge, then?”

“Yeah,” she said, still smiling.

“Dammit. Didn’t realize you were good at that too.” Winston shuffled uncomfortably in his seat. His face turned serious. “I just… She’s very shy, and I know she wouldn’t feel right about me telling you.”

Angela leaned across the table, her eyes squinting at him inquisitively. “You… are… lying.”

“I… am… not,” he said, pushing her back across the table with a finger against her forehead. “I really like this girl, okay? I don’t want to mess it up by saying something stupid. I already do that enough.”

Seeing the actual sincerity in his eyes, Angela’s smile turned less teasing and more gentle. “She does seem very nice.”

“She is,” Winston said. He looked up to see that Angela’s grin at turned wicked again. “What?”

“You like her,” Angela said in a singsongy voice.

“Oh, do shut up.”

“You are totally smitten, aren’t you?”

“I thought you were gonna drop it,” Winston said.

“For the sake of Athena’s decency, of course. You, I can still mock, and I think you like her,” she said, chanting the last bit once again.

“Why am I still friends with you?” he said tiredly, rubbing his face with his hand.

Angela shrugged. “Excellent question. I suspect me being a ‘genius,’ as you mentioned before, to be the cause of it.”

“Do you now, miss Humble?”

“I can’t even begin to be humble around you,” she said. “You’ve made it very clear that you won’t let me.”

“Another hole I’ve dug for myself!” he exclaimed, making Angela laugh. They shared the joke for a few moments, both grinning.

“But if you want honesty,” he said after awhile, “I really do like her. A lot. Like… a lot, a lot.”

“From what I can tell, she seemed to like you too,” Angela said. “Not a very hard thing to do, admittedly, unless you’re me. Then you make it exceedingly difficult.”

“What about you and biker chick?” Winston said, quickly changing the topic. “Still all Wonderland for you two?”

“It’s going rather well, thank you for asking.” Angela looked down, drawing circles in the wood of the table. “We’re meeting again tonight in fact.”

“Really? That’s good. Last Friday had me worried about you two lovebirds. You were acting strangely.”

“It was a strange day,” she admitted, but she herself noticed how she couldn’t stop smiling. Now it was Winston’s grin that turned teasing.

“And you call me smitten.”

Angela’s face immediately became serious. “I am not smitten.”

“Have you looked in a mirror lately?” he smiled, mirth making his eyes shine. “You are so into her, it’s ridiculous.”

“I don’t get into people. Not after Ja-” She stopped herself. “Not after starting university again. I have to focus on my studies.”

Winston gazed at her, inspecting her taut mouth and features. He then nodded slowly and smiled. “Alright. Sorry for assuming.”

Angela smiled softly at her friend. “No problem.”

“You know I can’t stand when you’re mad at me.”

“We both know I don’t ever get really mad at you,” she said. “Annoyed, constantly, but not mad.”

“It must be my winning personality. Athena adores it.”

Angela laughed loudly, letting her head fall back. “She so does not know what she’s in for.”

“And don’t you dare tell her. Don’t want to scare her off yet.” As he spoke, Winston’s eyes drifted off Angela to focus on something behind her. It took a moment before she realized, and she turned in her seat, her body freezing against the bench at what she saw.

“Hi there,” Fareeha said cheerfully, sauntering up to the table with a confidence Angela was not prepared for. “Sorry if I’m interrupting.”

“H-Hi.” Angela’s throat suddenly felt very dry and she coughed a few times to clear it.

“Hello. It’s Pharah, right? I’ve heard a few things about you,” Winston said, reaching a hand across the table. He had put on a winning smile that Angela didn’t trust for a second.

Fareeha glanced down at Angela. Her face was the epitome of teasing. She reached over to shake Winston’s hand. “Yes, that’s me. Hope what you’ve heard hasn’t been all bad. You must be Winston?”

Winston nodded, only once chancing to look over at Angela whose face had gone comically pale. She swallowed again, but her throat remained dry.

“What are you doing here?” she finally mustered to ask.

“The usual,” Fareeha shrugged. “Venue things. And driving things. You never realize how much equipment a musician actually has before you have to help them set up for a show. Speaking of which, now that I ran into you...” She turned down towards Angela. Her eyes looked darker than usual. “Can I steal you away for a second?”

“What for?” Angela asked.

“I need your opinions on some colors. You have a better eye than me for it. It’ll just be five minutes.” She looked to consider for a moment. “Or maybe ten minutes.”

Angela looked from Fareeha’s open, friendly expression to Winston who was watching both of them intently. He made a shooing motion at Angela. “Go on. I can wait here for a few minutes.”

“You sure?” she said, looking up at Fareeha again. Her innocence looked staged and stilted, and there was a promise lurking in her eyes. Angela swallowed.

“Yeah, no worries. Take your time.”

“Thank you. I won’t steal her for long,” Fareeha said, helping Angela to her feet.

“What are you doing?” Angela whispered as Fareeha began leading her away from the table towards the entrance of the main university building.

“Don’t worry, Angela.” The way she said her name made a shiver run down Angela’s spine, and goosebumps ran over her flesh, despite the fact that it was quite warm outside.

“What is your great plan here?” Angela said, but Fareeha just grinned.

“Where are we going?” Angela asked more insistently as the two of them entered into the building. A few people were walking about, clearly paying them no mind, and Fareeha didn’t seem to notice them either. Angela began to slow her pace, but Fareeha quickened hers and began dragging at Angela’s arm, pulling her down an empty hallway.

“Fareeha, what are you--” Angela was interrupted as Fareeha grasped the handle to a closed door, clearly marked as a cleaning cabinet. In one fluid motion, Fareeha opened it, pulled Angela inside, and closed the door behind them, leaving the two women standing in a dark room lit only by the faint light shining in from beneath the door.

Angela blinked to try to get her bearings in the dark, but she was given no chance to get used to the room before Fareeha surged at her, lips seizing hers and pushing her hard against one of the walls. Surprised, Angela let out a gasp against Fareeha’s mouth, making the other woman chuckle through the kiss.

Fareeha’s lips were like fire against Angela’s mouth, her hands and hips pushing at her body until she was effectively being pinned against the wall. Her mind jumped to that first night they had been together. How Angela had barely made it through the door before Fareeha had her up against the wall, hands exploring and caressing her body with an intensity that Angela had not encountered before. The memory alone was enough to make heat suddenly rise uncomfortably between her legs, and Fareeha’s tongue pushing gently against her lip only made it hotter.

“What the hell, Fareeha?” Angela asked once the kiss broke, her serious tone being completely stolen by the breathiness of her voice.

“I’m sorry, I…” Fareeha seemed breathless too. “I just… I saw you outside and…”

Angela let out a little laugh. “Couldn’t wait until tonight?”

Fareeha didn’t laugh. She kissed Angela again, hot and hard and with such passion it made Angela’s head spin.

“I don’t want to wait.” Fareeha’s voice was dark with desire, and Angela’s knees suddenly felt weak.

There was a certain danger about the situation that Angela didn’t know how to handle. They were in a public place, they could be caught at any moment. In fact, she remembered having discussed that particular topic with Jack many years ago, both of them agreeing that it wasn’t something that interested them. But now, with Fareeha’s strong figure pressing against her body and intense eyes looking into hers, she was having trouble remembering why she had once been so opposed to the idea.

It was now her to turn to lean in, their lips crashing together and Angela felt a sting of pain when Fareeha’s teeth nicked at her lip. She groaned into the pain, an echo of the voiced desire escaping Fareeha’s mouth as her hands wandered down to grab Angela’s hips.

“My god, you’re beautiful,” she said, trailing kisses alongside Angela’s jawline. She continued to mumble something, her voice tickling softly against Angela’s skin.

“Fareeha,” Angela sighed as the woman nipped at Angela’s skin with her teeth. She was glad her voice was sufficiently low.

Spurred on by the encouragement, Fareeha’s mouth sought lower, kissing and sucking at her neck, while her fingers began toying with the line of her pants. Angela’s breath hitched as Fareeha’s thumb teased at the skin on her stomach.

“Is this okay?” she asked, straightening so they were face to face once again. Angela was breathing heavy, both from want and nervousness. She nodded.

Deft fingers finding their way without guidance, Fareeha unbuttoned Angela’s pants with a swift movement of her fingers, making Angela gasp in surprise. Slowly, Fareeha’s right hand drew down the zipper, resting her fingers against the front of Angela’s panties.

Fareeha smiled. A crooked smile that spoke of mischief and teasing, before letting her hand slip into Angela’s underwear and further down to feel how wet she already was.

“Do you want me to?” This was no longer asking for permission. This was drawing out the act. She wanted Angela to say the words.

“What if I say no?” Angela said with a grin that revealed all manner of unspoken words.

“Will you?” Fareeha’s finger flicked gently over Angela’s clit, and she gasped sharply at the sudden spike of pleasure. Her defiant demeanor crumbled away at that touch.

Angela leaned into Fareeha, her hands going from her neck to her cheeks to draw her closer into a kiss. Several kisses, gently sucking at Fareeha’s soft lips. The kisses were brief, as Angela’s quickened breathing didn’t allow for anything longer than the briefest touch.

“Yes. Yes, please,” she gasped between the meeting of their lips. “Please touch me.”

Fareeha again let her hand trail further down, still moving incredibly slowing. Too slowly, for Angela’s liking and she pressed herself against Fareeha’s hand, whimpering as her thumb brushed against her clit again.

“Please, Fareeha,” she said, her mouth moving from Fareeha’s to dot down her neck.

Fareeha obliged her need. Her finger slid downwards, slipping into Angela with embarrassing ease. She pumped into her once, twice, hearing the faint huffs from Angela’s mouth, before adding a second finger. The huffs turned into a sharp gasp, and she paused her kissing, instead pressing her face against Fareeha’s neck to muffled her sounds.

“Is this good?” Fareeha purred in her ear, just as she let her thumb twitch over Angela’s clit once more, making her entire body jump slightly.

“Yes. Yes .” She blocked her mouth against Fareeha’s shoulder, shaking and shivering with held back outbursts whenever Fareeha thrusted into her, brushing over her clit in the process. The woman moved slowly, her fingers controlled and pushing against Angela in a way that felt heavenly and wrong all at the same time. Any second, Angela expected someone to burst in, but she found that as much as the thought scared her, it excited her more.

“Ohh…” She let out a longer, trembling moan as Fareeha seemed to speed up slightly. Angela could hear Fareeha’s breath quicken too, as her fingers and thumb moved in unison to create waves of pleasure quivering through Angela’s body.

“I… can’t…” she managed, her voice cracking into a loud moan that she quickly stifled by covering her mouth with her hand.

“You have to be quiet,” Fareeha teased. “Be quiet as you come.”

Her fingers moved rapidly now, pumping in and out of Angela at a pace she was quite sure she hadn’t experienced before. Fareeha’s thumb moved with it, touching and brushing Angela’s clit, gradually putting more and more pressure on the hypersensitive area.

“I can’t,” Angela gasped against her hand. Her entire body shook with every thrust of Fareeha’s fingers.

“Do it.” Fareeha’s voice was low next to her ear. “You can do it. Quietly.”

Angela could hear her speak, but she didn’t understand the words fully. They were noises in her ear, spiralling her quicker and faster, and it was impossible to stop. Her gasps were loud against her hand, loud and rhythmic, following the movements of Fareeha’s hand, and the pressure that made them kept rising and rising, until it finally snapped.

Fareeha felt how Angela went hard against her, felt how her inner walls closed around her fingers, and saw how she pressed her hand-covered mouth against Fareeha’s shoulder, letting out a muffled, long whimper that shook through her entire body.

She dropped her hand, breathing hard and hanging limply from Fareeha’s neck. Fareeha pulled out of her, hearing the soft gasp Angela made as a result. Her blonde hair was tousled and sweaty, and her body leaned heavily against Fareeha’s.

“You are so fucking amazing, do you know that?” Fareeha placed soft kisses against Angela’s neck, until Angela stood up to look at Fareeha. Her breathing was still heavily and her eyes were half-closed, the blue of her irises barely peeking through.

“Speak for yourself,” she said, leaning into Fareeha’s lips once more and letting herself enjoy how natural it felt to have their bodies pressed together. They remained there for a long while, leaning against one another, before Angela started laughing.

“God dammit,” she said. “Another first for me.”

Fareeha grinned. “Perhaps there are other firsts we should try making. I feel like we are on a lucky streak here.”

“More like I’m boring,” Angela said. “I have a first for everything with you.”

“Such as?”

Angela blushed deeply, and suddenly appreciated how dark it was in the supply closet. “First time with a woman. First time with someone I had only just met... First time in a public place.” First time since Jack . “It feels like I’m being spoiled. So many firsts for me, and none for you.”

“Maybe you’ll surprise me.”

“Because I’m so good at that…”

Fareeha kissed her again, so deeply that Angela gasped again once Fareeha broke the kiss. “You might refuse to believe it, but you do. You surprise me, Angela.” The woman glanced down at her watch. “However. I do believe our ten minutes are up.”

Angela went from looking relaxed to terrified in an instant. “Oh god, Winston!” Fareeha smiled widely. Angela did not. “He is gonna know. He is definitely going to know.”

“Especially if you keep talking like that,” Fareeha said, patting Angela’s pants. “Might want to fix that.”

Angela complied quickly, zipping and buttoning her pants, and desperately hoping that she didn’t look as bad as she thought she did. Fareeha carefully opened the door and peeked out.

“Coast’s clear,” she said, and it looked as if she was about to walk out, when she turned quickly and gave Angela another quick kiss. “I’ll see you tonight. You can get me back then.”

“Oh, I intend to,” Angela said, smirking. The other woman shot her a wide grin before darting out of the room and walking down the hall the opposite direction from where they had come from. Angela waited a moment, taking a deep breath before also stepping out and beginning the walk back to the main entrance.

Winston was still sitting where she’d left him, even though a small part of her had hoped he would have left. He looked up as she approached, nodding and smiling at her.

“So what colors did you pick?” he asked as she sat down.

Angela frowned. “What?”

“The colors you were helping Pharah with? What did you settle on?”

“Oh. Those colors.” Angela could feel the blood rise in her cheeks. “Eh… Gold. Gold and blue.”

“Unusual. Bold,” he said and nodded, looking away with feigned disinterest. “And, oh… before I forget… How was the sex?”

What followed was several minutes of Angela sputtering, cursing, and throwing random objects at Winston, while he roared with laughter.

 


 

The wait for Wednesday evening didn’t become much easier after Angela and Fareeha had their little meet-up in the supply closet. In fact, somehow time seemed to go even slower than before.

Winston proved to be a nice distraction - or maybe just a distraction, since he kept on teasing her for a good while after Angela had come back to the table. However, when he had to go, Angela found that there were still hours left before Fareeha was supposed to come over, hours that Angela now had to spend alone.

Usually, she didn’t mind being alone. She quite enjoyed it, in fact. She was not extremely extroverted, and she used the time spent away from other people to recharge her batteries, so to speak. But Fareeha really wasn’t other people, not really, and if their little excursion at the university was any inclination, they would not be spending the evening just holding hands and watching movies.

So Angela paced. She wandered her apartment, cleaning and tidying as she went. She sat down to read, only to stand up shortly after because her focus kept drifting from the book to the thoughts on what she could do to Fareeha when the woman came through the door. One of her more interesting ideas involved white wine and ice cubes, and after checking her kitchen Angela found that she had neither.

Angela contemplated for a moment, thinking of whether or not her idea was actually worth it. She’d heard about people using ice cubes during foreplay, but, as had become a theme in this relationship, she’d never tried it. After a moment of deliberation, she pulled out her phone, fingers brushing swiftly over the keys.

Angela [18:03] Do you like white wine?

Phone buzzed with Fareeha’s response after only a few minutes.

Fareeha [18:08] love wine. why what are you thinking?

Fareeha [18:09] are you planning on getting me drunk?

Angela smiled at the implication.

Angela [18:10] I’m not opposed, but I have something else in mind

Angela [18:10] I was planning on getting some ice too

Fareeha [18:11] oh i see

Fareeha [18:11] at least i hope i do

She was blushing now, but the protection of the screen made her bold enough to keep going.

Angela [18:13] I’ve been wanting to try it. I’ve been watching some videos

Fareeha [18:14] what kind of videos?

Angela [18:14] Instructional. As you know, I’m very good at following instructions

Fareeha [18:15] i do know. better than most i believe ;)

Fareeha [18:16] can’t wait to see how well youve… studied

Fareeha [18:16] im planning on testing you

Angela [18:17] I’m looking forward to it :)

Angela [18:18] Be here soon

Fareeha [18:18] i will. cant wait <3

Angela was quick to make a run to the local store after that. She still wanted to get changed before Fareeha got to her place, but now the idea of the ice cubes and Fareeha’s apparent keen interest in them meant she had to prioritize. And her clothes were gonna come off anyway.

She blushed at the thought, happy that no one was near enough in the store to notice, before picking out a bottle of wine and some ice cubes.

She had to consciously slow her pace when she walked back home, as she would otherwise have been half-way jogging to get back to the studio. Angela quickly let herself in to the apartment building, ignoring the grin that seemed to be plastered on her face.

This was a different sort of night. The other times they had gotten together, it had always been with the same goal of having sex before splitting up and going back to their respective lives. There had been a thrill to it, yes, but for Angela the thrill was enhanced by this night. After Friday, something in their relationship seemed to have shifted. She wasn’t quite sure what it was, she just knew that she was feeling more excited about this than she’d ever felt about any of their previous dates.

She looked down at the wine and ice cubes peeking out of her bag. This was more of a date than any of their previous meetings.

Angela let herself into the studio, awkwardly pushing the door open with her shoulder to avoid dropping anything. She sidestepped inside, cursing softly when she put down the grocery bag and it fell over, sending the wine bottle rolling out on the floor. Quickly she picked it up, turned towards the kitchen, and froze.

A figure stood in her kitchen, leaning against the counter. It was a man, and he had turned to face her when she had entered the apartment. His shoulders were wide and strong, his hair short, and his eyes were a bright, intoxicating blue. A blue she had once found herself getting lost in.

Angela couldn’t move. She was standing completely still, wine slipping out of her hand and falling to the floor with a loud thump, but she still couldn’t move. She was paralyzed as the man began slowly walking towards her, a soft smile tugging at his lips.

“Hello Angela,” Jack said in a voice deep, resonant, and instantly recognizable, and Angela forgot how to breathe. 

Chapter Text

Fareeha studied herself in front of her bedroom mirror, turning from side to side to get a good view of the outfit. Dark, tight jeans, red t-shirt, and her black leather jacket made out her usual cool, confident self. She groaned at the mirror.

“How does this look?” she asked, stepping into the main living space of her studio. On the opposite side of the apartment in the garage section, sitting cross-legged on the floor, Brigitte glanced up at her.

“Outfit three was better,” she said, returning her attention to the partially disassembled engine sitting in front of her.

Fareeha sighed and walked back into her bedroom, stripping out of her t-shirt and jacket as she did. She was acting stupid and she knew it. Normally, she didn't think twice about what clothes she was wearing, except that it was comfortable.

“What's with the fashion show anyway?” Brigitte shouted from the other room.

“Can't I just want to look good for my night out?” Fareeha yelled back, rummaging through an ever-growing pile of discarded t-shirts.

“You can. I just don't remember you ever taking this long.”

Finding the right shirt - a dark indigo tee with black falcon on it - she quickly put it on before strutting into the main room again. “I've taken you out exactly twice. Not really enough for you to get a good grip on my routine.”

“That's fair, I suppose.” Brigitte looked up, brown eyes studying Fareeha for a moment before giving a thumbs up. “You look great!”

“You're not just saying that so you get to stop acting as my fashion coach?”

Brigitte laughed, and Fareeha smiled in response. She'd taken a liking to Brigitte from the moment she'd first met her. Her father, Torbjörn, or simply Torb as the people at the shop called him, often let Brigitte take some shifts, even if she was only ever in town on a visit.

Having finally moved here, Brigitte had begun working at the shop full-time, and Fareeha couldn't say she was anything other than happy with that. Brigitte was sweet, funny, and (unfortunately) straight. Not that Fareeha had wanted to start anything even reassembling romantic with the boss's kid when she’d met her, but she had still felt a little disappointed when she'd first found out.

Fareeha returned to the mirror to fix up her hair once more. She heard Brigitte giggle again.

“I hope it's not me that's making you laugh,” Fareeha yelled as she tried, and failed, to straighten the shirt.

“It's just strange to see you so flustered,” Brigitte responded, and barely had she finished the sentence before Fareeha was leaning out of the bedroom, glaring at her.

“I am not flustered!”

“It's not a bad thing. It's cute.”

Cute? ” Fareeha raised her brows. “I am not being cute. I don't do cute.”

Brigitte just smiled. “Alright. Whatever you say. Whoever you're meeting is very lucky though. She must be special if you are this nervous.”

“I'm not--” Fareeha stopped herself. “I'm not having this conversation.”

“Alright,” Brigitte said, still smiling, as she returned her attention to the engine in front of her. “She's still lucky. Your girlfriend, I mean.”

“She's not my girlfriend.” Fareeha said the words quickly, surprised when they stung slightly. Brigitte frowned, and Fareeha quickly cleared her throat. “We're… It's a casual thing.”

Ignoring Brigitte’s deepening frown, Fareeha made a face, trying to ignore the blush that was raising in her cheeks. She ducked back into the bedroom, mumbling incoherent words and curses to herself, and thoroughly ignoring the butterflies that were suddenly fluttering in her stomach.

This was dumb. This was so, so dumb. She'd seen Angela only a few hours ago, and yet it felt as if it had been weeks. There was a strange tugging in her chest, and the feeling was unfamiliar, making Fareeha instantly dislike it.

Fixing up the last parts of the outfit, she fell into her usual confident self and walked out of the bedroom.

“I don't know when I'll be home exactly,” she said as she walked past Brigitte to her motorcycle. “It might be late, so don't wait up.”

“You won't stay over like last time?”

Fareeha’s face felt warm. “I don't know yet. Maybe.”

“I like those odds,” Brigitte said. “I'm gonna steal your bed, if you don't plan on using it. No offense, but your couch is killing me one night at a time.”

“It's just incentive to help you find another place to stay.”

“Some incentive,” Brigitte chuckled. “Can't you just encourage and support me like a normal friend?”

“And miss out on all the fun I can have messing with you?” Fareeha said, putting on her helmet. It would ruffle up her hair, but there was nothing she could do about that. “Take the bed, I don't mind. I'll see about getting you an air mattress or something.”

“You don't need to do that.”

“If you hurt yourself because of my shitty furniture, Torb won't let me hear the end of it. Use my bed all you want.” Fareeha didn't say what she was thinking. That she was hoping she wouldn't have to spend much time in her own bed for the next few weeks, but there was no way in hell she would say that out loud.

She glanced up at the wall clock and cursed. “Shit! I'm late.”

Brigitte stood and went to open the garage door so Fareeha would be able to drive out.

“You have a nice evening. And tell your not-girlfriend hi from me.”

Fareeha laughed. “Somehow I think she wouldn't like that very much.” She rolled the bike out to the sidewalk, turning back towards Brigitte. “If she doesn't like the outfit I'm blaming you.”

Brigitte just grinned, giving Fareeha a quick wave as she sped off down the street. Hopefully Angela wouldn't be too upset that she was a few minutes late.


 

This wasn’t happening. This could not be happening.

Angela was frozen in place, completely and utterly unable to move a muscle, as she stared wide-eyed at the smiling man standing in her kitchen. His smile was genuine and warm and familiar. So utterly, horribly familiar and seeing it made a sharp pain surge through her chest.

Jack was tanner than he’d been a year ago. He had always been fit, which hadn’t changed, but he did look thinner than she remembered him. His hair was lighter than its usual golden blond, as if it had been bleached by the sun, and there was an unfamiliar scar on his forehead going into his eyebrow.

When Jack began to move towards her, Angela wanted to say something, but the words wouldn't come out. Her throat was locked up and dry, and her body refused to react to her commands as Jack stepped into her space and pulled her into a tight hug.

“Angela…” His voice was muffled, as he was pressing his face against her hair. He tightened his grip slightly. “I’ve missed you. God, I’ve… I’ve longed for this moment.”

Angela didn’t react. Her arms hung limply at her sides and her body was stiff in Jack’s grip, though clearly he didn’t care. Feeling the pressing of tears rising in her eyes, she blinked quickly, determined to not let the emotions flushing through her overwhelm her.

There was a time when this would have been normal. Not only normal, but romantic and safe, and the memory of the years the two of them had spent together suddenly felt like a crushing weight on her shoulders. The love and laughs and touches they'd shared rolled over her like a wave and a small, breathy gasp escaped her mouth. She could feel the tears coming and clenched her eyes shut, closing her hands into fists at her side.

It took a long time before Jack stepped away from her. His eyes were red, and he quickly wiped at them, chuckling softly as he did. “Sorry, I’m… I’m being a real sob here, I know.”

“How did you get in?” Angela said, when she finally found her voice. I was not what she had wanted to say. There were a hundred other questions she would rather have asked, but right now she needed to ground herself in the present, otherwise she would spiral out of control in seconds.

“You didn't change the locks. I still had a key, so… I came to see you,” he said.

“Why?” Her voice cracked only slightly.

“I missed you. Every day I missed you.” He reached out to her again, this time to take her hand, but Angela was less in a stupor now.

“Don’t,” she said quickly, taking a step back and ignoring the obvious hurt that appeared on Jack’s face.

“Sorry,” he said, and the sadness in his voice sent another painful pang through her gut. Jack glanced away, before bending to pick up the dropped bottle of wine. He looked over at Angela. “Expecting someone?”

“That’s not any of your business,” she said, her voice turning hard.

“I would like it to be. I know I have no right to say that, but I've worried about you, Angela,” he said. He picked up the grocery bag and went into the kitchen, unpacking the ice and going to place it in the freezer.

“Would you please stop doing that?”

“Doing what?” he asked.

“Acting as if this is just a normal evening. You haven’t even told me-- What are you doing here? Where have you been?” Her voice was shaky, and she wiped angrily at her eyes to stop tears from coming out.

Jack paused for a moment. He looked to consider something for a moment, before putting the ice down in the kitchen sink. He sighed deeply.

“I know you must be upset.” Angela scoffed at that, but didn’t interrupt as he continued. “I know leaving you like I did was wrong. I should have explained. Hell, I wanted to explain, but I couldn't.”

“Why not?”

“We all have responsibilities. We all answer to someone.”

“So it was work then?” Angela crossed her arms, and she could feel the quick thumping of her heart against her ribs. “Just another business call, and that was enough for you to upend our life? Is that it?”

Jack leaned against the kitchen counter. He wouldn’t look at her, and his eyes were suddenly glassy.

“Answer me, Jack!”

“I had orders,” he snapped. “I still have orders. I can’t… explain. Please, Angela, you have to understand, I did it to protect you.”

“Protect me!?” She was yelling now, not caring how loud she was being. “You left ! You left, to go wherever the fuck you went, giving no reason or explanation as to why.”

“It was to keep you safe.”

“I didn't feel safe! I didn't understand what your twisted mindset was. I only understood what you told me. That you didn't love me anymore and that your job was your first priority and that I should move on. Just like that, everything I thought of as safe was gone.”

“I'm sorry,” Jack said, stepping closer to her. “I'm so, so sorry. Please, just let me explain--”

“What?” Angela said. “Explain what? The importance and necessity of your job?”

“It was a matter of national security.” His voice had turned dark, but Angela was too upset to care.

“Yes, because I am so unfamiliar with that concept,” she hissed. “Don’t you dare act like I don’t understand what it means to set your own life aside for the greater good. I've known that since I was 17 years old, and people decided I could be useful for national security .”

“Then you know that I had no choice in leaving.”

Angela scoffed and went to turn around, but Jack grabbed her arm to make her look at him. “You know what it entails. You know. There are a hundred things you haven't told me about the work you did after you'd finished your doctorate, and I accepted it because I knew you were just doing what you were told.”

“What I was told was to keep quiet. I was told not to share the research or the experiments or the results of that lab with anyone in any place. What I was not told was to tell the one person I loved and trusted to go fuck themselves.”

“I never told you that.”

“You might as well have.”

“But I didn't!”

Angela let out a low, dangerously low, chuckle. She pulled herself free to of his grip and turned away, the laughter hiding the sobs that she was sure would break out if she let them. Her entire body was shivering with anger.

“Angela…” Jack’s voice was calm. She felt a warm weight as he put a heavy hand on her shoulder.

She shook him off. “Don’t touch me.”

“Please…” His voice was uneven and weak, but Angela didn’t turn around. She was afraid she would break if she did.

“Angela, I’m trying.” He was closer to her now. “I want to make things better. I want… I don’t want this to end.”

She laughed. She laughed long and loudly, and when she finally turned around she didn’t care that there were tears running down her face.

“You don’t want it to end?” she said, her smile lethal.

“I messed it all up, I know I messed it up. Please, I’ll do anything to make it right. To make us right again.”

He was holding something, she realised. Angela had been too intent on glaring at his face that she hadn’t noticed that he was holding up his hand to present something to her. She looked down.

A fine, shining ring, molded to bear the shape of intertwining leaves with a small zaphire acting as the blue flower in its center. She recognized it immediately. How could she not? She had spent several months looking at it every day. It was her engagement ring.

“I want to make this right. You have to believe me. I know that I hid things and I said things I can’t take back, but in this you can be certain.” Jack took a deep breath. “It’s always been us, right? We’ve always looked out for one another, knowing that no one else would. That doesn’t have to change.” He took a step closer to her. “We promised, remember? We promised we’d love each other always. Be together forever. My promise stands. It will always stand.”

They were standing close enough to be sharing air. Angela tore her eyes from the ring to look up at Jack. His gaze was dark and intense, his features drawn into a serious mask.

“Angela…” he said, almost whispering. He towered over her, tall and strong and strange.

Then he kissed her.

His lips found hers so softly and gently they could hardly be felt. He didn't touch her otherwise, didn't lean against her, it was just their lips connecting their two bodies and, for half a second, it felt as if the past year had all been a terrible dream. That Jack had never left, that they were still happily together, that they had promised to share their lives together forever.

It was an instance of fantasy. Of a dreamscape made out of memory and thoughts of what could have been. But it wasn’t the truth. It wasn't reality.

Angela put her hands on Jack's chest and pushed hard, making him stagger backwards a few steps.

“I said, don't touch me!” She had meant for her voice to sound assertive, but it was shaking too much. She had to fight the urge to wipe at her lips.

“Angela, please…” Jack said, sounding like an upset child.

Angela held up a hand to silence him. “Don’t say anything else. You can’t say anything to fix this.”

“But I want to fix this.”

She glared up at him again. “You should have thought of that a year ago. You should have thought of that before I came home to find you packing your bags with everything you owned. Before you told me that we were over and that you wanted that fucking ring back.”

“I had to… Please, Angela, you have to believe me.”

“I do,” she said sharply. “I believe you. I believe that you have convinced yourself that whatever you did was completely fair and justified, and that I am in the wrong for not immediately forgiving you and jumping into your arms. But I can’t trust you anymore, Jack. You said it yourself. We promised each other that we would be together forever. Love each other until the end of our days. And then you left.”

Jack didn’t say anything. He was still holding the ring, presenting it awkwardly, most likely because he had forgotten he was holding it. He just looked at her. No, stared at her with an mute expression of confusion and sadness.

The long tenuous silence was shattered by a loud knock on the door. They both looked towards it, Angela frowning in confusion at who might be coming by this late.

Then she remembered, and her face turned ashen.

Quickly, barely glancing over at Jack, Angela rushed to the door, opening it slightly to reveal a grinning Fareeha on the other side of it. She was dressed in a simple, but tight-fitting t-shirt and dark pants. Her hair was a little messy, and she was breathing heavily, as if she had just run up the stairs of the apartment building.

“Sorry I’m late,” she smiled, but the grin quickly died on her face when she saw Angela’s expression. In an instant, her entire demeanor had changed from happy to concerned. “What's wrong?”

“Nothing, I just…” Angela looked back into the apartment, and as she did she accidentally allowed Fareeha a clearer view at the room. Jack looked over at them, hardness having replaced his confused expression.

Angela turned back to Fareeha. “I'm sorry, I need to take care of something real quick.”

“Is everything alright?” Fareeha asked. Her voice was serious and she nodded in Jack's direction. “Who is that?”

“An old friend,” Angela said, not wanting to look Fareeha in the eyes. “And everything is fine. I just… Just give me a second.”

Fareeha wasn’t looking at Angela anymore. She had caught Jack’s gaze and the two of them took a long moment to glare at one another.

“Are you sure?” Fareeha said, still looking intently at Jack.

Angela nodded. “Please, it’ll only be a second.”

Fareeha broke eye contact with Jack to look down at Angela again. Fareeha looked concerned and stiff, as if she was ready to pounce on someone, but she stepped away from the door nonetheless.

“I suppose she is the reason for the wine,” Jack said coldly, as Angela closed the door.

“Don't act as if you have any right to determine how I spend my free time,” Angela said, thankful that the shaking had somewhat gone from her voice.

Jack crossed his arms. “Who is she? I haven't seen her before.”

“No, you haven't. And who she is is none of your business.”

“It is, Angela. I have a right to--” He stopped himself. “I want to make sure you're safe.”

“I am safe.” Her tone was icy. She wanted to say more. She wanted to yell and scream at him again, but she knew she would never get through that without breaking down in tears, and she didn’t want to do that in front of Jack. Not anymore.

“I love you, Angela.” He said it matter of factly. Calmly. A statement.

Angela sighed and looked away from him. “I want you to leave, Jack.”

“Don't you love me?” He stepped closer to her, and in response she took a step back. “Or did you find someone else? Is that it?”

Though she didn't want to, Angele glanced at the closed door. It had been a subconscious reaction, out of her control. Before she realized her mistake, Jack's brows rose and his face turned angry.

Her ?” He said it as if it was a curse. “You're with her ? That's why she's here.”

“That's none of your business.” She did her best to stay calm, but the quivering returned to her voice.

“You're fucking her.” He sounded so utterly surprised it would have been funny in any other circumstance. He stepped closer, frustration and anger radiating off of him. “One year! One year, and not only have you moved on from what we had, but you've turned into a--” He gestured at all of her, apparently unwilling to say whatever he was thinking.

“Like I said; it's none of your business, Jack. And I'm getting real sick of you not getting what I'm telling you into your thick skull. I don't want you here. Leave!”

He glared at her for a long while still. Fury was making his eyes glow.

They stared at each other for a long moment, anger playing in both of their faces and neither refusing to back down. They had only rarely fought when they were together, but when they had it had always been explosive and heated. This was worse than all the previous times and, for the first time, Angela felt scared.

In her heart, she knew that Jack would never hurt her, not physically, at least. But that didn’t change that she was suddenly afraid to be in the same room with him.

Then, with a huff, Jack turned on his heels and rushed to the door. Opening it, he found Fareeha leaning against the hallway wall outside, but she straightened immediately when Jack opened the door. He paused, looking from Angela back to Fareeha.

“She'll get sick of you eventually,” he growled. “After all, she's just using you as a means to move on from me. A little bit of excitement. You’re not real to her.”

Fareeha tried to ignore how much that comment stung. He made it a point to shouldercheck her as he went past, hard enough to make Fareeha take a stumbling step backwards. A flare of anger went through her and she was very close to reaching out and clocking him in the back of the head for being an ass, but she managed to control her anger, letting the man leave down the stairs and listening to his hard, rapid steps as he descended.

After listening to the heavy footfalls of him leaving and the loud closing of a door down below, Fareeha turned towards the opening to the apartment. Angela was standing a few feet away, arms crossed over her chest and body turned from Fareeha. She was dressed in an elegant outfit of dark pants and a tight fitting white shirt, both of which made her look mature and elegant, and Fareeha suddenly felt like a child for showing up wearing what she did.

Angela wasn’t looking in her direction, seemingly purposefully, and Fareeha felt a strange ache in her stomach.

“Are you alright?” she said, quickly stepping into the studio, closing the door behind her. She was by Angela’s side in an instant, but she didn’t reach out for her. She still wasn’t looking at Fareeha and she looked to be hugging herself tightly. “He didn’t hurt you, did he?”

“No. I’m fine.” It was impossible to ignore the quivering in her voice, and Angela seemed to be aware of it. She sighed deeply, dulling the shaking slightly. “He didn’t hurt me. He just… He surprised me. I didn’t expect him to be here.”

“Wait, he broke in?”

Angela laughed without sincerity. “Not exactly. He had a key. I guess he never got rid of it.”

“Still sounds like a dick move to me.” She turned and mumbled a curse at the now close door.

“He wasn't always like that…” Angela said softly. “Or maybe he was. Is. I don't know.”

Angela walked over to the couch placed near her the window and sat down. She put her head in her hands, almost as if she was attempting to hide her face from the world.

“Your ex then? Jack?” Fareeha said, trying to ignore the strange twinge going through her stomach.

Angela nodded, but didn't look up. She just sat in silence, face still hidden in her hands.

“Did he…” Fareeha cleared her throat. “Did he say anything bad? Or do anything he shouldn’t have?”

She wanted to curse at herself. Her many nights out, only few of which had ended with her going home alone, had proven she knew what to say and when to say it. But it was becoming increasingly clear to her that picking up girls at a bar was a far fetch from talking to Angela about life problems. She felt like a babbling child.

“It doesn't matter,” Angela muttered. She moved her hands, revealing red, wet eyes. “That he was here doesn't matter. He's gone now. It's over.”

“It doesn't seem like he wants it to be over,” Fareeha said. The stinging she'd felt in her stomach when Jack had left was persistent now, and it made her voice cooler than she'd wanted it.

Angela didn't say anything. She didn't look at Fareeha, and it seemed as if she was completely lost in thought. Or memory.

Fareeha fidgeted where she stood. She crossed her arms defensively and cleared her throat, desperately trying to suppress the strange feeling of fear and nervousness that was coursing through her.

“What will you do now?” she asked, determined to appear nonchalant, even if she didn't feel it.

“What?” Angela looked up at her, and the confused look in her big, blue eyes made something in Fareeha melt. The twinge was growing into an ache.

“He's back, so… I don't know. I suppose it changes things, right?”

“Does it?”

“I don't know, I'm asking you,” Fareeha said, a bit too sharply.

Angela still just looked confused and sad, and Fareeha felt instantly guilty. She wanted to rush to Angela's side and tell she was sorry, and make it so she wouldn't be upset anymore, but she had no idea how to do that in a way that wouldn't make everything much worse.

She thought back to what Jack had said as he left, and a vile taste rose in her mouth. It would be so easy to believe him. Hell, Fareeha had plenty of experience from previous relationships to find confirmation in what he had said.

So she stood straight and kept quiet, as Angela continued to look up at her with large, saddened eyes.

“I haven't… thought of that,” she finally said after a moment. “I don't want things to be different. But I suppose they are now.” Angela looked up at Fareeha. “Do you want them to change?”

“No,” she said a little too quickly. “We have the label, right? Girl who stays over for a bit of fun. We should stick with that, it's for the best.”

“I didn't know you felt that way.”

She didn't. Of course, she fucking didn't. She didn’t want to be the fun and newly discovered adventure that could spice up the rather boring life of a university student. She'd done that before, many times in fact. But opening up about that was a beast she want sure how to handle, and she didn’t know how to make her feelings clear without appearing like a fool.

So she went on the offensive, like she'd done so many times before.

“It's a precaution,” Fareeha said. “I don't know when you'll decide you've had enough of us, so it's better this way. Don't get me wrong, I understand it. You like girls well enough, but it can never be anything more than this. That's just how it is.”

“Don't tell me how I'm feeling,” Angela said, voice suddenly strong again.

Fareeha froze. She had not expected that answer. She had readied herself for the rejection. For hearing Angela say that she was sorry, or that she hadn't meant to take it this far, or the worst one, that they could still be friends.

But she was firm and her voice was angry. “You didn’t come over here to pity me. If you don't want to be here, I'm not keeping you. You can go, if you want to so badly.”

Fareeha was tempted to comply her. She wanted to leave. The countless rejections she'd experienced and the numerous apologizing fits she'd seen was telling her to leave. It was for her own good. It was a means for her to be safe still. If she shut herself off, she wouldn't feel the pain of it as strongly.

But it wasn't working like it used to. She was scared to leave, and she was terrified to stay.

“Do you really want me to go?” she said, still not moving from where she was standing, halfway between the door and the couch.

Angela sighed. “I don't know. I am… A lot of things have happened tonight, okay? And we're not together, as you just said, so it's not your responsibility to worry about me.” She looked away from Fareeha, but not before Fareeha caught the glinting of tears in her her eyes.

Fareeha wasn’t used to seeing people cry like this. She had seen Angela cry just a few days past, and had been surprised when she hadn’t felt weird about it happening. Now, like she had then, she just felt an intense worry she couldn’t recall having felt before, and it mingled strangely with the pangs of nervous pain rippling through her body.

“I'm sorry, I… I just didn't think you cared.” The words sounded sheepish, and Fareeha couldn't blame Angela when she scoffed at them.

“Of course I care,” she mumbled. “How can I not care?”

Fareeha didn't really know what to do with that information. Carefully and slowly, as if she was walking on ice, she went over to the couch and sat down next to Angela. She kept a fair bit of distance between them, unsure if Angela wanted her to move closer or not.

“Is there anything I can do?” she said, and she felt like kicking herself. This was stupid and ridiculous. She should have just left. She should have left and moved on and have let Angela do the same instead of just extending this a little more, which would only make everything that much harder to deal with later.

“I don't know…” Angela's voice, which had been firm and strong before, was shaking with held back tears. Angela wasn't looking at Fareeha, but her breathing and the thickness of her voice made it clear that she was crying.

The thoughts of leaving evaporated from Fareeha’s mind. The fear and pain was gone, replaced instead with a strong, insatiable need to make things alright again.

She barely knew that she moved. She barely understood what she was doing, as she reached out and put an arm around Angela's waist, pulling herself close to her.

“Sorry for acting like an idiot,” Fareeha said, as Angela turned to look at her. Her face was red and puffy and her breathing was hitched.

Not knowing what to say, and certain that anything she did say would probably mess everything up, Fareeha leaned against Angela and put her arms fully around her, pulling her close into a protective embrace.

A moment passed. A terrifying moment where Fareeha was certain she’d made a horrible mistake. That she had messed everything up, that Angela would push away from her, that she would be rejected again.

But though it felt like an hour, it was only a moment.

Angela’s arms curled around Fareeha and she pressed herself into the embrace, clutching at Fareeha as if her life depended on it. Angela let out a muffled sob against Fareeha’s shoulder, her body started shaking as she leaned against her, crying quietly.

Fareeha rested her head against Angela’s, hands caressing her back in gentle circles. She relaxed, breathing heavily and calmly as Angela cried against her. Neither of them said anything. They didn’t need or want to, instead finding support in the other’s touch and warmth, and Fareeha was suddenly outside herself.

What was she doing?

She had never done anything like this before. She had never wanted -- no, needed -- to make sure someone felt safe in the way she had just now. She had never moved far beyond the initial stage of a relationship, the step where fooling around and having fun was the one and only requirement. This was new and strange and wonderful and frightening, somehow all at the same time.

They sat silently on the couch for a long while, Angela crying and Fareeha holding her as she did. It took some time before Angela stopped weeping, but even then she didn't move away. She still leaned into Fareeha, clutching at her and refusing to let go.

Fareeha didn't want to let go either. Strangely enough, she wanted this moment to last forever. She never wanted anything else other than this, other than the perfection that was Angela in her arms.

Then the realization of what that thought meant dawned on Fareeha and she suddenly felt a sense of panic flower in her chest. Her heart thumped quickly, and she hoped that Angela wouldn’t notice the change.

“Angela?” Her voice was a whisper. A breath of air in the silence of the studio.

“Mmmh…” Angela had nuzzled closer to Fareeha so that she was partially sitting on her lap.

For a moment Fareeha was silent, staring straight ahead in a blind panic. As the events of the past several weeks went through her head, there was just one thought that rose above them all. One sentence that clawed at the back of her mind with a vigor that made it impossible to ignore. A phrase that wanted to escape and was impossible to hold within her, even though she knew she should.

“I think I’m in love with you.”


 

The words were soft and near silent, a whisper that made Angela smile, despite the tears. It wasn't the first time she had caught Fareeha mumbling or talking in a foreign language, but she didn't mind it. She had been able to determine that the language was Arabic after a bit of prodding, but that didn't make her any wiser as to what Fareeha was saying.

Not that it mattered. The words and soothing sound of Fareeha’s voice was enough right now. It made her feel calm and safe, both of which she needed.

“Thank you,” she said before pulling away from Fareeha. Angela could have sworn she felt Fareeha tighten her grip slightly before letting her go.

“I needed that,” she said, wiping her eyes and nose. “God, everything is just so messed up.”

Fareeha cleared her throat. “Don't mention it. I just…”

Angela turned to look at her, finding the other woman's gaze darting around rapidly. Her body was tense again.

“Do you… Do you want to talk about it? About him,” she said, not quite looking at Angela.

“I don't know what to say, really,” Angela admitted. She frowned at Fareeha. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah. Yeah, totally,” she said a bit too quickly. “I was just wondering something. I guess.”

“What?”

Fareeha couldn't sit still, fidgeting in her seat, until Angela put a hand on her thigh to make her stop.

“Something’s obviously on your mind.”

“I was just thinking,” Fareeha said slowly. She was toying with the zipper of her leather jacket. “You and him… You have history, and I… That doesn't just go away.” Fareeha took a deep breath. “I want to know where you two stand.”

Angela thought for a moment. A long moment. So long that Fareeha glanced up at her with a worried look in her eyes.

“You're asking if I still have feelings for him?” Angela said.

Fareeha didn't say anything, but the silence was enough of an answer.

Angela removed her hand from Fareeha and sighed. “It's not easy to explain.”

Fareeha glanced over at her, and Angela could have sworn she saw fear in her large, brown eyes, but it appeared only briefly before it was gone.

Angela shook her head. “I thought I still loved him. For months after he left. Even after I met you, I thought it,” she said after a moment. She swallowed nervously, and now she was the one who couldn't make eye contact. “We were together for so long. I didn't know anything else, I'd never been with anyone else. And when he left, it didn't feel like it was over. It was too abrupt, too sudden, and I couldn't process it properly. It broke me. I was left thinking about how everything would be better if only he came back.”

Another trembling sigh shook through her.”When something ends so suddenly, so without reason it's always tragic. I didn't understand why it had to end, so I was left with a pit in my stomach of unfulfilled potential. I thought about all these possible things that could have happened but now never would, and because these fantasies could never become reality I ended up idealizing them.” Angela straightened slightly, her body tensing. “But then he came back. All the dreams I'd had of him returning to me. The idea that everything would just be normal again. But seeing him… I hated him. Despised him for leaving me like he did. He treated me like I was nothing, like we were nothing, and then he comes back, expecting me to be the timid little girlfriend, waiting diligently for his return.”

Angela realized she had clenched her hands into fists and she released them, forcing herself to relax. “I don't love him anymore. I think I stopped loving him a long time ago, but I was scared to let him go completely. By doing that I would open myself up to that kind of heartbreak again, and I didn't know if I could survive that.”

“Then why?” Fareeha asked quietly. “Why are you opening up now?”

Angela chuckled. She quickly wiped at her eyes. “Because I like you. A lot. When we're together, it feels easy in a way I've never felt before. Not even with Jack.”

She kept her eyes locked to the floor. She found it was easier to speak openly this way, and suddenly she couldn't blame Fareeha for avoiding eye contact before. “I don't want you to think that I only see you as some sort of distraction from my messed up life. You're much more than that to me. But I'm scared, Fareeha, I'm scared of feeling that feeling again. Of being abandoned and discarded like a dirty rag.”

Angela leaned forward, hiding her face in her hands. When she spoke, her voice came out muffled and strained. “I am being such an idiot. Christ, I'm saying all these things and I didn't even learn your real name until a few days ago.”

Angela closed her eyes, pressing them shut and breathing steadily to keep the tears from starting again. She didn't want to look at Fareeha. She didn't want to see whatever expression she had on her face, though her mind did a fine job imagining it. Terror and disgust mixing into a mask of panic. Fear flashing, before Fareeha would get up and walk out of the studio, leaving this mess of a person Angela had turned into.

Next to her, Fareeha was smiling. She smiled like a lovestruck teenager, barely aware of the grin plastered on her face. When she did notice, she forced herself to calm. She forced the butterflies that had appeared in her stomach to settle and she blinked quickly, only half aware that it was tears she was blinking away.

Slowly, worried of scaring Angela, she leaned over to her and pulled her hands from her face. She put a finger beneath her chin, pressing lightly so Angela would raise her head. The woman's eyes were still closed.

“Angela, look at me.”

She opened her eyes, red and glassy, and looked up at Fareeha’s smiling face. Fareeha cupped Angela's cheek in her hand.

“You are the strangest, smartest, and most surprising woman I've ever met in my entire life,” she said.

“Bet you say that to all the girls,” Angela said, half in jest.

“I don't, Angela. I say it to you because I mean it. With every bone in my body.” She gave a soft chuckle. “Earlier today, you were complaining, remember? About how many firsts you've had with me?”

Angela blushed at the memory and nodded.

“With you,” Fareeha said, taking Angela's hand. “it's the first time I've told anyone my real name. First time I've woken up with someone and not wanted to run away from them as soon as I could. First time…” She looked down briefly. “First time I've ever liked anyone as much as I like you. And not just in the ‘girl that stays over’ kinda way, it's different. It's better. And, if I'm being honest, I’m scared about all of this too, but I don't mind it. I really don't. Not if it means that I get to be around you.”

Angela stared at her in frozen disbelief. Normally, Fareeha had always hated being stared at, but how could she ever dislike those big, blue eyes looking at her.

She couldn't read Angela's expression. It was sadness mixed with surprise, but there was a glow in her eyes that made a light blossom inside of Fareeha’s chest. She didn't know what she was feeling. It was pure and warm, and Fareeha didn't understand where it was coming from or what it was exactly. Only that it intensified whenever she looked at Angela.

She thought about saying what she was thinking. To repeat the words she'd dared voice just moments before, but she couldn't. It would be too much. It would not make things better, only more complicated.

So she didn't say anything. Instead, she leaned forward.

Their lips met in a light kiss that felt like fire on Fareeha’s skin. She had always liked kissing Angela, from the first moment she'd pinned the woman against the wall of her apartment, she'd loved it. She'd loved the ferocity of their kisses. The desire and passion making them clash together.

This was better than all those other times.

Soft and gentle and right and perfect, Fareeha closed her eyes and let herself melt into the kiss, as Angela's lips parted to let her tongue glance over Fareeha’s lower lip.

It was an innocent kiss, one that was soft and careful. One that was shared between new lovers and not two people who'd been sleeping together for weeks. Fareeha didn't mind one bit.

One hand sought upward of its own accord, cupping Angela's face gently. Her other hand found purchase in Angela’s white shirt, bunching the fabric between her fingers. It was thin, letting Fareeha easily feel the heat coming off Angela's skin, and Fareeha had to stop herself from moving her hand beneath the shirt so she could feel the softness of Angela's body without the barrier of cloth.

They kissed for a long time. Fareeha followed Angela’s pace, letting her make the moves she was comfortable with, even though Fareeha had a desperate wish to seize and touch and taste the woman in front of her.

Angela leaned back from Fareeha, needing to breathe, and Fareeha let her mouth wander. She trailed Angela's cheeks, kissing away the tears staining them and tasting salt on her lips as she peppered kisses on Angela's skin. They seemed to change something in Angela, because she shifted slightly where she sat, pulling one leg up beneath her so she could better turn to face Fareeha. As she did, she turned her head to catch Fareeha’s lips again, this time deepening the kiss and Fareeha felt hands pulling at the bottom of her t-shirt. As Angela leaned forward, she slowly let her hands slip beneath Fareeha’s shirt, fingers touching and caressing her stomach and waist.

Her fingers were cool and Fareeha let out a little gasp against Angela's lips. Fareeha could feel her smile against her mouth, as Angela's hands continued upwards and around to her back, and as she moved she was pulling herself closer and closer to Fareeha, drawn to her as if by a string, until Angela was sitting on Fareeha’s lap in the same position she'd been in just a few nights ago.

“Is this okay?” Fareeha asked, trying to not react too much to Angela's fingers moving over her skin.

Angela nodded, shutting Fareeha’s mouth with a kiss, and Fareeha could help herself any longer.

Her hands went around Angela's waist, practically yanking her close so there was little to no space between them. Fareeha clutched at her, pressing their bodies together and enjoying the scent and taste of the woman leaning against her. Angela's hands moved again, out from under Fareeha’s shirt and began pulling her jacket off. Fareeha helped shrugging it away, hating the instant after when she had to lean away to pull the t-shirt over her head.

Now wearing a nothing but a bra, Fareeha’s mouth found Angela's again, but the kiss was brief this time, as Angela had moved her hands to her back once again. Now no longer restrained by the shirt, Angela was free to caress and touch all she liked, pressing her masterful fingers against knots of muscle with a skill that made Fareeha shake.

She groaned and broke away from Angela, finding her neck instead of her lips. Hearing the response, Angela took it as a sign to keep going, expertly unraveling Fareeha by pure touch alone.

Fareeha moaned loudly, her kisses growing hard against Angela's neck. In the moment, she didn't think about the mark it would leave on her skin, and Angela didn't stop her. Fareeha’s strong body tensing in pleasure with every touch and her teeth brushing against Angela’s skin, made a low, shaky breath escape Angela's lips.

“How the hell are you doing that?” Fareeha asked, but Angela didn't answer. The woman leaned down, her mouth finding and sucking at Fareeha’s neck while her fingers continued to move and shift along to Fareeha’s increasingly heavy breathing.

Fareeha couldn't take it. If Angela kept going like this she would be spent in moments and she didn't want that to happen just yet. Fareeha leaned back slightly, raising her hands to grab at Angela's shirt collar. She glanced up, getting a confirmative nod, before tearing the shirt open. At least two buttons went flying, but neither Fareeha or Angela seemed to notice or care.

Fareeha leaned forward, tumbling the both of them down on the couch with Angela lying pinned beneath Fareeha. Fareeha didn't hesitate, her mouth finding Angela's neck again and following it down over her throat and chest. She pulled the bra down slightly when she got to her chest, black lace against white skin, taking a hardened nipple into her mouth and sucked deeply, feeling a wave of desire coarse through her when Angela whined.

She loved when she could make Angela moan or writhe beneath her touch. The groans and shifts she would make, and her quickened breathing when she was building to the top of her orgasm. But nothing had ever had such an intense effect on Fareeha as when Angela whined like she'd just done now.

Fareeha groaned against Angela's skin, her tongue flicking over the nipple tentatively. Her other hand traveled to the other breast, squeezing at the skin before also focusing on caressing the sensitive nipple in the middle with careful fingers.

The long moan that escaped from Angela's mouth was intoxicating, and Angela writhed in pleasure beneath her. It wasn't until she spoke, her voice breathy and weak, that Fareeha stopped.

“No, I…” Angela laughed darkly. “I want to do you first.”

Fareeha frowned in confusion. “Are you sure?”

Angela bit her lower lip, and Fareeha’s jaw dropped slightly, but only for a second. Then Angela's fingers, like a pianist at their piano, began playing the nerves of Fareeha’s body to perfection once again. Fareeha shivered beneath the touch, her hands digging hard into the fabric of the couch. She held her face against Angela's chest as her back arched into Angela's sweetly torturous touch.

She moaned loudly, both in surprise and in awe at how deft Angela's fingers were. It was different from other pleasurable touches she'd experienced, which only served to make it that much more intense. Pleasure tended to be localized, whereas this was constant waves surging through her body in intense and amazing ways. She had never experienced anything like it before, her nerves bundling and her muscles tensing as her breathing grew more and more rapid. But it wasn't quite enough. It was building and building, but it wasn't enough for release.

“Angela,” she managed between moans, still writhing on top of the other woman. Her mouth was at her neck, her breathing ragged and uneven. “Please, I need… more…”

When Angela stopped touching her, Fareeha was the one who wanted to whine, but she didn't have much time to do so. Angela wriggled out from beneath her, leaving Fareeha lying exhausted, but still wired, on the couch.

Fareeha sat up, finding Angela's sweet mouth waiting for her and giving her a deep kiss that stole whatever breath she had left. Meanwhile, Angela was undoing the button of Fareeha’s jeans and pulling at them to get the clothing off.

Slowly, Angela broke the kiss, trailing from Fareeha’s lips to her jaw and then her neck, down over her chest and stomach, where she yanked Fareeha’s pants to the floor in one smooth motion. Angela quickly crouched between Fareeha’s legs, and before Fareeha could fully comprehend what was happening, Angela had drawn down Fareeha’s panties and let her tongue run up Fareeha’s soaked folds.

Fareeha’s body tensed, faint and ghostly reminders of Angela's touch still playing on the skin of her back, and as the tip of Angela's tongue went to circle her clit, Fareeha’s vision went spotty. She tossed her head backwards and her hand sought downwards blindly to grab at a bundle of blonde hair, as Angela's tongue, so careful only a moment ago, flicked hard and rhythmically against Fareeha’s clit, each flick making Fareeha shudder in response.

Her moans were low, as the intense pleasure was almost too much to handle. Part of her wanted to say stop, but that part was drowned out by a much larger one that was crying out for more.

Angela then pressed her tongue hard against Fareeha’s center, making the other woman let out a curdling moan that was so loud it bordered on being a scream. The orgasm ripped and tore through her, and Fareeha’s body started quivering intensely as Angela's tongue relentlessly circled her clit, dragging out the orgasm even longer.

When Angela finally stopped, Fareeha let out a long breath she didn't know she had been holding. Sweat was beading on her skin and she sank back on the couch, breathing quickly and heavily. Without her wanting to, her eyes closed in exhaustion, as her body buzzed with leftover energy from what Angela had done to her.

She didn't realize she'd lied down on the couch until she felt a light weight descend on her, and she opened her eyes. Angela had crawled up to lie halfway on top of her, blonde locks falling in chaotic strands around her face.

“You look like an angel,” Fareeha said, not even thinking about that she once again was not speaking English. The words stumbled out on their own, but Angela just smiled at her and leaned down, placing a kiss on Fareeha’s lips. She didn't retract immediately, instead letting the kiss continue, light and gentle, and Fareeha relaxed under the touch of Angela’s lips. Angela's weight was comfortable, and the feeling of their bodies touching felt strangely natural.

“I may have gotten a bit carried away,” Angela said after a moment, her voice only slightly strained, and Fareeha only now noticed that Angela had taken her off most of her own clothes. It was only her underwear she was wearing, and her skin was warm and soft.

Fareeha moved her hands to rest on Angela's back. Her fingers brushed over her skin, the touch as light as if it had come from a feather, and Angela's breath hitched.

“I'd nearly forgotten about those magical hands of yours. You really must be some sort of witch,” Fareeha said, grinning lazily when Angela blushed.

“Well… It wasn't my intention to--”

Fareeha interrupted her by rolling onto her side, making Angela slide off her. Quickly, Fareeha had shifted so she was once again lying on top of Angela. She rested most of her weight on her elbows, but was pleased to find Angela thoroughly pinned down on the couch.

Angela frowned indignantly. “I thought you were completely out of it.”

Fareeha smiled wolfishly. She lowered herself down, pressing her lips long and hard against Angela's. Beneath her, she couldn't feel how Angela shivered, a frail moan quivering through her body.

When Fareeha raised herself back up, she noticed how Angela's head followed as far as was possible, not wanting to break the kiss.

“Who says I'm not?” Fareeha smiled. “In fact, I may not even know what to do with myself. Or to you, as a matter of fact.”

Angela's eyes shifted at that, looking curious rather than worried. Fareeha’s light tone, as well as the obvious desire filling her voice, meant Angela was giving Fareeha her full attention.

“Tell me,” Fareeha whispered.

“What?”

“What do you want me to do?”

Angela's face went red, and Fareeha chuckled. Feeling Angela’s hands and lips on her body had felt heavenly, of course, but giving pleasure to this woman was like a drug to her. She shifted her position, reveling in the whimper escaping Angela's mouth when Fareeha’s thigh pressed against the growing heat between Angela's legs.

“Do you want me to kiss you?” She bent down slowly, placing a soft kiss against the side of Angela's neck, and the woman shuddered. “Here?”

Angela didn't speak, but her breathing was growing shallow and Fareeha could feel the quickness of her pulse.

“No? Then what about…” She sought higher, reaching her ear and nipping carefully at it with her teeth. Angela's body jolted at the touch. Fareeha grinned. “... here?”

“Yes,” Angela whispered breathlessly. “I want you to kiss me.”

“Where? Where do you want me to kiss you?”

Angela speech wasn't fully coherent, her breathing and desire making her voice muddy, as Fareeha continued to place gentle kisses and gentle bites along her ear and jaw.

“Anywhere,” she managed. “Anywhere, I just… I just… want… want to… Oh God…”

Her voice slowly creened over into moans as Fareeha began exploring Angela's body with her mouth. She started at the jawline, then working down to the sensitive skin on her throat where she spent a few moments kissing and touching, before seeking down further. Her hands joined her, as she was able to lower herself fully onto Angela when she moved further down, pressing her mouth against fair skin.

Her hands went where her mouth had been, caressing the sensitive skin along Angela's neck and jaw. Fareeha, not looking up, as she was pressing kisses against Angela's sternum, went to touch Angela's cheek, when one of her fingers slipped into Angela's mouth. Angela sighed deeply, her tongue flicking over the finger, before her lips closed around it and she sucked deeply.

The wetness and warmth of Angela's mouth was distracting in the best of ways, and Fareeha couldn't help but glance up to look at Angela.

Her eyes were closed tight, her mouth occasionally opening to let out a heavy gasp, but was otherwise preoccupied with sucking on Fareeha’s finger. One of Angela's hands moved up to brush against Fareeha’s own, and the other was trailing down her side, absentmindedly reaching out to attempt to touch herself.

Moving further down, kissing the soft skin of her chest, Fareeha reluctantly pulled her hand from Angela's face, and Angela was free to breath again. It was shallow and rapid, and Fareeha’s own heart beat faster hearing it.

“Lower,” Angela said between gasps, and Fareeha obeyed, moving down to place gentle kisses beneath her breasts.

Lower ,” Angela repeated, her voice more strained now.

Fareeha’s scooted further down, meeting the end of the couch, so she had to crawl to the floor, giving her a perfect view of Angela's soaked panties. The fabric, as well as the skin around it, was glistening and Fareeha suddenly felt a little light-headed.

She didn't remove them though. Instead, she let her lips wander along the edges of the petite piece of clothing, and let her fingers caress over the sensitive skin. Each move made tremors of anticipation go through Angela's body.

“Oh, Fareeha, yes. Yes. Right there, I want you there.” The words were barely coherent through her gasping.

“As you wish,” Fareeha said, smiling devilishly. Slowly, watching Angela's every move, she slipped a finger inside the underwear and ran it up her length. Angela let out a primal groan and her body raised slightly from the couch.

“Yes! Yes. Oh… Oh, God…” Her head whirled to one side, her eyes looking down to find Fareeha’s. When they did, Fareeha slipped another finger beneath the fabric, repeating the motion and this time ending with putting ever so slight pressure on Angela's clit.

Angela reeled, her head dropping back and her hands clutching at the couch cushions. She let out sharp moans. Sharp and quick and intense, and Fareeha felt her stomach drop at the sound of it.

“Harder!” Angela cried, loudly this time. “Please! More!”

Each word came as Fareeha flicked her fingers across Angela's center, and Fareeha didn't hesitate to obey the command. Keeping the rhythm from her fingers steady, she lessened the pressure slightly as she pulled down Angela's underwear, before replacing the circling of her fingers with that of her tongue.

Angela cried out again, this time without meaning or wording. She buckled against Fareeha, as she used her fingertips to pull back the hood on Angela's clit and then carefully pressed at it with the tip of her tongue. Gently and rhythmically she moved, listening to Angela to make sure it wasn't too intense.

“Oh. That-- Ahh!” Angela cried.

Fareeha pressed hard, making another long whimper escape Angela's mouth. She kept circling and pressing her tongue against the little bead, taking care to follow a suiting pace. She started going faster, going harder, and Angela's moans turned weak as she hardly had any air left in her lungs.

And then, with one final, hard flick of her tongue, Fareeha suddenly felt something hot spill onto her mouth and chin, as Angela unraveled completely, letting out an elongated cry of pleasure that shook through her entire body.

Angela tensed up as she came, her legs shaking and quivering as Fareeha lessen the pressure against Angela's clit to guide her back down from her high. She licked and kissed around Angela’s opening, tasting the sweetness of her desire with every press of her lips.

It took a while before it was over. Before Angela stopped shaking completely and she could breathe completely without whimpering.

As she calmed, Fareeha climbed back up on the couch. It was wide enough that they could lay next to each other, but only just, and currently Angela was splayed out, offering no room for Fareeha.

Fareeha grinned, holding herself up over Angela's body with her arms as to not crush her. She lowered down, placing a careful kiss on Angela's mouth, pleased when the other woman returned it, though she did so weakly.

“You alright?”  Fareeha said, raising herself back up. Angela nodded, but didn't say anything. Her eyes were closed and she was still breathing heavily. Fareeha bent down, giving her another light kiss, before slowly dropping herself to lie next to Angela. Fareeha was pressed against the back of the couch, and she quickly reached out and pulled Angela close to her. The embrace was necessary so that they could both fit on the couch, and Fareeha was glad that it was. Angela felt perfect in her arms.

Angela shuffled against Fareeha, pressing herself closely against the other woman. Their legs intertwined, and where Fareeha’s arms went around Angela to hold her close, Angela's rested comfortably against Fareeha’s chest.

“Say something to let me know you're alive,” Fareeha said after a moment, grinning as she did. She had expected Angela to laugh at the question and when she didn't, Fareeha looked down.

Angela was crying. Eyes closed and without any sound, tears were running down her face, landing on the couch cushions. Fareeha’s arms tightened around her. Her voice was soft when she spoke. “What's wrong?”

This made Angela smile, and she quickly raised a hand to wipe the tears from her eyes.

“Nothing is wrong,” she sniffled.

“But you're crying,” Fareeha said dumbly. Angela sniffled again, but let out a low chuckle to accompany it.

“I'm not crying because I'm sad,” she said. “I'm just… happy. And I haven't been happy in a really long time, so… I guess it’s overwhelming.” Angela looked up, moving awkwardly to place a kiss on Fareeha’s lips. “You're perfect, Fareeha. Wonderfully perfect. Thank you.”

Fareeha could feel the blood rise in her cheeks, and she had to look away for a moment. She laughed lightly.

“What is it?” Angela asked.

“Speaking of firsts…” Fareeha said, her voice barely audible. “No one… No one has ever said that to me before.”

There was a long moment where they just lay silently, holding each other. A moment, before Angela scooted herself up so she was face to face with Fareeha. She moved her hands so she could put them gently around Fareeha’s face, caressing her skin with her fingers.

“Then they are blind and foolish,” she said. Her voice was low and honest, and it made that warm feeling bloom in Fareeha’s chest again. Like a small flame, it burned calmly and carefully, as Fareeha and Angela looked into each other’s eyes.

“Thank you for telling me,” Fareeha said after a while.

Angela smiled and softly. “I'll tell you as many times as you need to hear it.” She leaned in, giving Fareeha another chaste kiss. “I'm tired. Should we go to bed?”

“Not yet,” Fareeha said, pulling Angela closer. She curled herself around Angela's body, resting her head against Angela. She closed her eyes. “I wanna stay like this. Just a little while longer.”

Chapter Text

The morning came all too quickly for Angela's liking. She woke first, bundled up against Fareeha’s chest with the other woman's arms wrapped around her. Fareeha was breathing slowly, still sound asleep, and Angela did her best to match its pace.

She lay there for a long time, heart thumping quickly in her chest, dreading the moment Fareeha would wake up and reality would set in again. Reality was an ugly, unsafe creature ready to pounce if given the chance, bringing all manners of demons with it. Right then, lying in Fareeha’s arms, the rest of the world didn't matter. Reality didn't matter. It was an escape from the new and strange feelings looming over her head, constantly and always. Feelings she didn't have the energy to face or deal with.

Minutes passed. Long minutes of calm bliss, before Fareeha groaned softly as she changed position and the illusion cracked. Fareeha opened her eyes and smiled when she noticed Angela was awake too.

“Hey you,” she mumbled, voice heavy and sweet, and the illusion was maintained a while longer. Angela returned the smile.

“Hey yourself.”

“Been up long?”

Angela shook her head. “Only just woke up,” she lied. “I think I needed the rest.”

“Yeah?” Fareeha leaned in, teasing smile, and pressed her lips gently against Angela's. “I feel bad for staying over then. I mean, if you needed your rest.”

Fareeha raised herself up on her elbow, using her free hand to brush Angela's hair away from her neck. She grinned. Angela frowned.

“What?”

Fareeha didn't answer at first, instead letting her fingers trail along the side of Angela's throat.

“I hope you aren't going anywhere too fancy today. Not with those bruises on your neck.”

Angela's hand went to cover her neck by pure reflex and she could feel her cheeks burning. It didn't help when Fareeha started laughing.

“Very funny,” Angela scowled.

“I'm just teasing,” Fareeha said, smiling and cocking her head to one side. “It's not super visible…”

Angela scoffed. “By the look on your face, I think you're lying.”

“Well…” Fareeha made an exaggerated wince while leaning in close as if to inspect Angela's neck. “Do you wear scarfs, by chance?”

“If it wasn't June, then yes,” Angela smiled. “But, luckily for you, I don't have any plans today.” She raised her hand to push a few loose strands of hair away from Fareeha’s face. Her thumb brushed against Fareeha’s face as she did. “You're very sweet with me.”

Fareeha diverted her gaze, smile suddenly nervous and cheeks turning pink. “You're… easy to be sweet to. I mean that. I've told you, I'm not usually like this with other girls.”

“I guess I'm just special, huh?”

“I guess you are.”

Angela's arm was hooked over Fareeha now so she could caress the back of her head. Her black hair was soft and tangled from sleep, but Angela barely noticed. Her fingers trailed through the dark hair, brushing it to fall down on the mattress. “I'm not sure how I feel about that.”

Angela could feel Fareeha stiffen at that comment. “Oh?”

“I think you're special too,” Angela said softly. Her hand was still trailing through Fareeha’s hair. “It's hard to describe. I don't think I have the words right now.”

They lay for a few minutes without saying anything, Angela softly massaging Fareeha’s head, and Fareeha’s steady breathing calming Angela's heart rate.

“What time do you do have to be at work?” Angela asked.

Fareeha had to roll over, out of the embrace, to check the time on her phone. She let out an annoyed huff. “In an hour.”

She lay back down with a sigh. “I can stay, you know. I can just call in sick.”

Every bone in Angela’s body wanted to say yes to that offer, but she couldn't. She shouldn't. It wasn't that she wanted to be alone, it was the last thing she wanted now that she knew Jack had a key to her apartment, but she needed to think. Think about everything and make actual decisions, neither of which she could do when Fareeha’s brown eyes were looking at her like that.

“No, it's fine. You should go. I have some things I need to do anyway.”

Fareeha’s frown spoke volumes of what she thought of that excuse. “You sure? Really, it's no trouble. I can--”

Angela stopped her with a kiss. It wasn't deep and passionate as some of those they'd had the night before, it was light and silencing. Angela didn't want to be convinced. She couldn't let Fareeha argue, because it would be so easy to let her stay. To let the illusion remain in place. To ignore reality.

“Please,” she said as she broke the kiss. “I'll be fine. I promise.”

Fareeha stared at her, clearly not satisfied with the answer, but she eventually nodded. “Alright. I guess I'll get ready then.”

As she spent a few minutes looking around the apartment for a her clothes, Angela found a robe from a nearby drawer and watched Fareeha get dressed. Her hair was still unruly and she looked sleepy, but there was a strange determination that Angela wasn’t used to seeing.

She had to stop herself from staring too hard. The dark haired woman was moving with a confidence Angela was unfamiliar with. It wasn’t unusual for Fareeha to move like that, she always did, with an assured step and a straight posture, but Angela had never truly looked at her before, wandering naked around an apartment that wasn’t hers.

Once Angela realized she was staring she turned away, letting Fareeha pull on her clothes with at least an ounce of privacy. It wasn’t until she had gotten dressed and stepped up to Angela that she looked up at her again. Fareeha looked nervous almost, or at least a little trepidatious.

“So…” she said, not looking directly at Angela. “I think we need to… I don't know… talk, I guess? About last night.”

Angela looked down. “Yeah, I'm sorry about Jack. I had no idea he'd be here, and--”

“No, not… not Jack.” Fareeha shuffled slightly where she stood, clearly uncomfortable. “We just… We said some things and, uhh, I guess I'm just… not… I don't…” Fareeha cleared her throat. “I don't know what I'm trying to say.”

“I can tell,” Angela said, smiling as she did. “And maybe it's better that we don't say anything more right now. A lot has happened in a very short amount of time. I think it's okay to be a little unsure about everything.”

“Yeah?” Fareeha seemed to relax somewhat when Angela nodded.

“There are some things I need to take care of today, but once they're done I'll text you. We can set up a time to talk. About everything.”

Now Fareeha was the one who nodded. “Yeah, okay. That sounds like a good idea.”

Angela kept her composure as she walked Fareeha to the door, shooting her a wide smile and a few flirty lines, before the young woman closed the door and left Angela alone in the apartment. She stood for a long moment in silence, waiting until she was sure Fareeha was well out of earshot of the door before she started crying.


 

The one time Winston had been at Angela's apartment, it had been to help her move a couch up three flights of stairs, a favor she had yet to repay him for as he was so good at reminding her of.

Angela had been hesitant to call him at first. Because of everything that had happened in the past 24 hours, she knew she needed time to think, but she hadn't realized that spending that time completely alone would spiral her into something akin to a panic attack.

Her first instinct had been to call Fareeha. Call her and tell her to come back and hold her and make everything okay again, but she knew that she couldn't. That wouldn't be fair, to any of them. Angela didn't want to use Fareeha as a numbing agent for when things in her life were rough, and she knew she couldn't share the thoughts she was having with Fareeha without severely testing their somewhat forming relationship. She needed someone else to talk to.

The light, rhythmic knock at the door signaled that Winston had made it past the buzzer downstairs and Angela quickly sprang over to the door. Though she had wanted to to call Winston right away, she hadn't been able to fully relax until she'd called a locksmith and had the lock on her door replaced. Still, she hesitated when she got to the door.

“Who is it?”

“John Stevens, obnoxious knickknack salesman,” Winston's voice sounded from the other side of the door. Angela quickly unlocked it and let Winston inside.

He looked like his relaxed, usual self, but there was a definite air of worry about him as he glanced around the apartment, ending at Angela's tear stricken face. His expression immediately turned from worried to sympathetic, and he quickly stepped into Angela's space and put his arms around her.

“If biker chick has done something…” he said half in jest. Angela snorted, the sound part laugh and part sniffle.

“You'd do what exactly? Kick her ass?”

Winston broke the hug, smiling carefully. “I'd damn well give it my best shot.”

“I'll keep that in mind,” she said, wiping her nose. “But she isn't the problem. At least not all of it. Jack is back.”

Winston's brows shut up at that and his look got very intense very suddenly. Winston had only met Jack a few times at the end of his and Angela's relationship, and he knew him in the barest of senses. He was the fiancé of his best friend, but they had little in common save their gender. Most of his recollections about Jack surrounded Angela's crying and occasionally near catatonic state after he'd left her.

“You're kidding me?” Winston's jaw had dropped. “He's back? Back how? Back… when? What does this mean?”

“That's what I'm trying to figure out. That's why I called you, I needed--” Angela let out a deep, shaky sigh. “I can't just walk around with this in my head, I feel like I'm losing my mind.”

Angela sat down on the couch, the gravity of the situation hitting her all at once. Her shoulders slumped and her chest felt uncomfortably tight.

“Okay… Okay, just… tell me what happened.” Winston's voice was kind and inviting as he sat down next to her, and that was all she needed. She told him everything, from Jack's return, to the strange non-relationship with Fareeha, to hers and Fareeha’s talk the night before. Every word was weight taken from her shoulders, every sentence made her feel lighter inside.

She couldn’t look at Winston as she spoke, and she was thankful that he didn’t stop her or interrupt. He let her speak her mind, let all the thoughts escape from her mouth in a chaotic stream of consciousness she wasn’t even fully aware of.

When she was done, Winston sat quietly for a moment. He looked impressed, his smile conveying that he was more than a little amused. “That's… a lot to deal with. And here I thought dealing with a girlfriend and exams was hard.”

“Athena's your girlfriend now?” Angela said teasingly. Winston made a face at her.

“Don't change the subject,” he said. “How are you feeling? About all of this?”

“Honestly?” Angela said took a deep breath. “I'm scared. I'm terrified.”

“Why? I mean, I get why. Jack showing up in your apartment was creepy as hell.”

“Yeah, that was one thing. But it's not him I'm afraid of. He wouldn't harm me, he never would. Besides, he's already hurt me plenty, I doubt there's more damage he can inflict.”

“Then what are you scared of?”

She shrugged and let out a scornful, dry laugh. “Of Fareeha. Of whatever it is that we’re doing. I'm scared I'll mess it up with her, because, let's face it, I don't know what the hell I'm doing.”

“Well, based on what you just told me, neither does she.”

“Yeah, that's what's freaking me out. Neither of us are ready for this, neither of us know what the next step is, but we both want to go there. At least… I think. I mean… God, I don't know.”

She groaned loudly in frustration. “She says she likes me, but she doesn't even know what that means. By her own admission. And what am I doing, but dragging her along as my own little distracting plaything while I figure out what to do with my life. That's not fair to her to be treated like that.”

“Like a plaything?”

“Yes! No. I don't… Dammit.” Angela hid her face in her hands, holding in the tears she knew were coming. “I don't know if I can do this anymore. I mean, I didn’t even know her until a few weeks ago. I didn’t even think about girls that way before she--”

Angela stopped. She bent over, resting her forehead against her knees and breathing in deep. The world seemed to spin out around her and she was rapidly losing control of any grip she may have had on it.

Winston put his hand on her shoulder. “Can I ask you something?”

Angela scoffed. “Sure. Fire away.”

“Do you like her?”

Angela paused. A long moment of hesitation and silence filled the apartment as she thought of the past weeks, of the nights touching and talking she and Fareeha had had together. She was always so comfortable with her, so at ease. It felt natural. It felt right.

She sat up, taking in a ragged breath.

“Yes, but…” Angela bit her lip. “What if it's not real? What if this is just me getting Jack out of my system? That's what it started as, a casual thing, and now suddenly it's not anymore and I'm scared that I will change my mind.”

“What about her changing her mind?”

Angela was quiet for a long moment. “I suppose there's that too.”

That was the real crux of it all. Fareeha had never had a real relationship, with anyone. Maybe this was a test to her, a way of trying out new and exciting emotional connections. It was possible that Fareeha didn't even know this, that she believed that she liked Angela, that she believed they'd moved beyond just sleeping together every other night, but what if she hadn't? What if she decided she didn't want this anymore?

“I just don't want to be left alone again,” she finally said.

“I don't think anyone wants that,” Winston said. He'd moved in the to put his arm around Angela's shoulders. “You need to talk to her about this. About how you feel.”

Angela shook her head. “No, I can't. I don't want to hurt her.”

“You'll hurt her if you keep living in constant fear of getting intimate with another person,” Winston said. “She deserves to be know how you feel. And you deserve to know how she feels. Until you both are made aware of that, you’ll keep staying in this weird limbo of a relationship, which, I can tell, you clearly aren’t comfortable with. And no sex.”

Angela blushed so hard her entire head turned beet. Winston grinned. “You're like bunnies, the two of you. And you won't talk if you keep thinking of getting in each other's pants.”

“Since when are you so wise to this stuff?”

Winston shrugged and pushed up his glasses. “I read.”

Angela burst out laughing at that, happy when Winston's joined her. It relieved the tension of the room, and she let the laughter bubble out of her for a few moments before speaking again.

“I don't even know how to begin dealing with this.”

“Well, no one said you should deal with it today. Have you guys been on a date ever?”

Angela shook her head.

“Maybe that's a good start then. Coffee date. Somewhere neutral where you can talk about what you need to talk about.”

“I don't know how she'd feel about that.”

“Well, have you asked her?”

“She doesn't exactly seem like the dating type.”

“And you don't seem like the type to fall head over heels for a woman who rides motorcycles and fixes cars, but even you can be surprising it seems.”

“She's much more than that,” Angela said, her voice sharp.

“Then stop assuming so much about her.” Winston picked up Angela's phone from the coffee table. “Call her. Or text her. Set up a meeting for you two to talk things out. Get to know each other. You know, do couple things.”

“Couple? Right.”

Winston rolled his eyes. “Stop saying it like it's a bad word, alright?”

“But it is a bad word to me. I don't exactly have the best track record.” Angela picked at a nail bed. “My previous relationship showed up in my apartment with a ring and a scary attitude, so I’m not exactly sure how to handle this stuff. The word’s changed for me.”

“Yeah, because of a dumb asshole. Fareeha isn't a dumb asshole, at least not from what I've seen and heard.”

She smiled at that. A soft smile that was barely visible but for the glint in her eyes. “You're right. She's not.”

“Right. She's not.” Winston put the phone in her hand, squeezing it comfortingly. “Set up a date. Be with her. Talk to her.”

“Alright,” Angela said. “I will.”

“Okay.” Winston stood from the couch and gave her a gentle squeeze on the shoulder. His finger slipped to tap on the side of her neck. “Nice love bite, by the way.”


 

Fareeha had not been happy about leaving Angela alone. She told herself it was because she was worried for her safety, which obviously she was. She didn't like that a strange man, or not so strange man, was able to enter her apartment whenever he wanted. That would have been enough of a reason, but it wasn't the whole story.

The night before, they had both drifted off on the couch, Angela falling into a deep sleep startlingly quickly. Fareeha had been tired as well, but whenever she was about to close her eyes she felt Angela slipping from her grasp. The couch was not made for two people to comfortably sleep on.

So Fareeha had gotten up and guided a half-awake Angela to her bed where she had promptly fallen asleep again. Fareeha had laid down next to her, looking at her resting face for what she thought was a mere instance, but what actually turned out to be quite a few minutes. All the while she'd been looking, that warm feeling had blossomed in her chest again and she had to hold herself back to not reach out and caress Angela's hair and skin. To not touch and feel her as she rested in Fareeha’s arms.

“Hey!” Brigitte’s voice felt like glass being shattered and Fareeha jumped slightly at the sound of it.

“What?” she said sharply, looking down at the pair of legs sticking out from beneath the car they were working on.

Brigitte rolled out from beneath the vehicle, face dirty and sleeves black from oil. She didn't look pleased. “How sweetly do I have to ask before you'll pass me the wrench?”

Fareeha rolled her eyes and grabbed the wrench from the toolbox, handing it on to Brigitte.

“Thank you kindly,” she said, disappearing beneath the vehicle.

“Sure, whatever,” Fareeha muttered. She had been preoccupied by some pretty nice thoughts, and being brought back to Torb’s auto shop couldn't beat the scenes of her daydreaming.

“If you want to come down here, just say so,” Brigitte said. “Can't say I'm having much fun with this thing.”

“What's messing you up?”

“The strut looks like it had an argument with a jackhammer,” she groaned. “And my appointed partner is too busy thinking about her girlfriend to offer any help whatsoever.”

“Shut up,” Fareeha hissed, looking around the shop to see if anyone had heard. “I've told you. She's not my girlfriend.”

“Right, sure.”

“She's not, she's…” Fareeha’s voice faded. She thought of Angela's soft skin and light hair. Her laugh and smile when Fareeha said something amusing. Her lips. Her kisses. Her breath when she--

“Earth to Pharah,” Brigitte shouted. Fareeha jumped again at the voice.

“You don't need to shout.”

“Apparently I do,” Brigitte said, wheeling herself out from under the car. She patted the side of the vehicle. “She's in a bad way, I'm afraid. We'll need to get her on the lift to take a better look.”

Maneuvering the car over to the autolift was simple enough, as was locking it in and raising it above the floor so the two mechanics of could walk beneath the vehicle. Brigitte pointed at the front right tire and the strut was, as she'd said, not looking great. The spring was completely broken and the joint was bent.

“Ouch,” Fareeha said.

“Tell me about it,” Brigitte said, wiping her forehead and leaving a streak of black oil across her face. “Well, it's time for a break anyway. And since it wasn't your girlfriend keeping you,” Brigitte bumped Fareeha’s hip as she said ‘girlfriend’, “I'd really like to know what makes you be so late all the time. I mean, if it's just a fling, it shouldn't interfere with your work as much as it does.”

“Shut up,” Fareeha said darkly. “Don't let anyone here that girlfriend talk. I'd be hounded about it, and I'm not into that.”

“Of course you would! You're you, driving to work from different addresses every week. Any sort of permanency in that department is bound to spark interest.”

“Is that an insult?” Fareeha said coolly, as they entered the break room and she closed the door behind them.

Brigitte shot her a playful scowl. “No, but I can tell you’re taking it as one.”

“Why wouldn’t I? It’s not a very nice thing to say.”

“I seem to remember you making similar comments about Oliver just a few days ago. In front of my dad, no less.”

“Oh, you mean Jock Number 3? Or was he Number 4, I can’t quite recall.”

“See?” Brigitte said. “You’re no better than me. You've never cared about what any of us here had to say about who you were with before. Hell, you're usually the one starting the jokes.”

“Well, I don't like it now,” Fareeha said matter-of-factly. Not when it's about Angela.

“Well… I'm sorry, then,” Brigitte said after a moment. She sounded legitimately apologetic, and Fareeha knew it was unfair to be mad at her about this. Just a few weeks ago, the same comments would have been rewarded with laughs and smiling retorts, but that wasn't the case anymore.

“I don't want to talk about it,” Fareeha said. She went to her locker, picking through her jacket to find her phone.

“No, I can see that,” Brigitte said. “You’ve also been basically chained to your phone these last few weeks. I don’t recall you ever giving out your number to people.”

“Shut up,” Fareeha said, a warning tone creeping into her voice. Brigitte made a exasperated gesture.

“Fine then. Have your fun, I give up.”

Fareeha just ignored her, instead going to scroll through her phone and found a message notification. From Angela.

Angela [14.23] You like coffee, right?

Fareeha frowned slightly at the message.

Fareeha [15.01] yeah, ive been known to enjoy it at times. why?

A few minutes went by before Fareeha’s phone buzzed again.

Angela [15.04] See, there is this girl I met a few weeks ago and I have been thinking about asking her out.

Fareeha [15.04] is that so?

Angela [15.05] Do you think she'd be interested? And do you think she knows any coffee places, because I'm at a loss.

Fareeha [15.06] who wouldn't be into that? there's the Dorado cafe. it's close by your place, walking distance.

Angela [15.07] Sounds like a great idea. Would Saturday at 2 be a good time?

Fareeha [15.07] great time

Fareeha [15.08] whoever she is, i think she's looking forward to it

Fareeha stashed the phone again and turned to find Brigitte looking at her with an annoyingly confident grin.

“Interesting messages? Who’s writing that has you beaming like that?”

This time Fareeha couldn't quite suppress the smile. “Please shut up.”


 

The Dorado coffee shop was a quaint little place that seemed to be heavily frequented by OU students. Not that it was surprising, any coffee shops offering free Wi-Fi would have its fair share of caffeinated students filling up its tables. Luckily, today seemed to be an exception as far as Angela could go tell. Though there were quite a few people in the shop, there wasn't anyone there she recognized.

Angela had gotten there early, both to save a table and to dial down her nerves somewhat before Fareeha showed up. Angela had ordered some sweet tea she had been sipping on for a while, keeping her hands on the side of the mug to stop herself from picking at random objects around the coffee table.

The door opened and, like all the other times it had done so, Angela leaned out to glance at the person entering and yet again she was disappointed. A young man with a beanie and a look of exhaustion on his face trotted in, aiming directly for a corner spot where he set up his laptop and looked to be readying for a long study session.

She was acting ridiculously and she knew it. She’d been near an hour early, but every time the door opened she had sprung up to see who was entering. A few minutes into her waiting, she had turned around so she couldn’t look outside the coffee shop, as she found herself staring up and down the street, watching for Fareeha.

In fact, the thoughts of how silly she was acting filled her head so much that the sudden appearance of a familiar figure made her jump slightly in her seat.

Standing in the same black outfit she'd been wearing when Angela had first seen her, Fareeha’s dark eyes had found hers across the coffee shop. She looked as she always did, her dark hair unruly from being pressed beneath her bike helmet and her smile cocked ever so slightly.

“Hey,” she said warmly as she approached the table, and the butterflies appeared in Angela’s stomach again.

“Hi,” Angela responded and stood up to greet her. There was a bit of an awkward pause as uncertainty sparked in the both of them. Were they supposed to kiss? Hug? Shake hands?

Fareeha broke the tension with a grin. “Can I just say that I'm surprised at how much I've been looking forward to this? I don't usually go on dates.”

“Is that so?” Angela said, grateful for Fareeha’s relaxed tone.

“Well, not dates like this.” She slipped out of her jacket, showing herself to be wearing a tight black t-shirt and a gold pendant. Her skin glistened slightly from sweat. “I'll go order. Be right back.”

Fareeha walked up to the barista, ordering what turned out to be a very black coffee, before returning to the table.

“So,” she said, sitting down across from Angela. “what's the occasion? Felt like showing me off?”

“Not quite,” Angela chuckled nervously. “Well, not exclusively, I should be say. I want to talk to you. About things.”

“Things?”

Angela nodded. “We've been spending a lot of… time together, but we hardly know anything about each other. It… I don't know, it feels a little weird, I guess.”

“So it's an interrogation?” Fareeha’s smile was teasing. Angela returned it.

“No, it's a conversation.”

“Those usually end so well for us.”

“Yeah, that’s another thing.” Angela couldn’t look at her for this part and let her attention rest on the swirling steam rising from her cup. “We always end up there. Doing… that , and I don’t want today to be the same. I want to try something else. Just talking. No...”

She paused. Fareeha raised an eyebrow. “... sex?”

Angela laughed nervously. “No sex. Just talking.”

Fareeha pursed her lips for a moment. “Sure. Alright. This should be interesting. I've been wondering what dark secrets hide behind those baby blue eyes of yours.”

“As if I'd ever disclose my secrets in public,” Angela grinned, relieved that Fareeha didn’t seem upset at all. “There'd be SWAT in here in seconds.”

“No kidding? How many?”

Angela paused. “Like… at least four.”

Fareeha sputtered with held back laughter. “At least four SWAT?”

Angela gave a confident nod. “So you better watch it when you’re digging for secrets.”

“Alright, sure,” she chuckled. “Well, I'm an open book, so ask away.”

“I’ll go first them.” Angela paused, narrowing her eyes at Fareeha who cocked a confident smile at her. “What’s your favorite color?”

Fareeha laughed. “Asking the hard-hitting questions, huh?”

“What? It’s a good question.”

“Sure. Sure, it’s a good question.” Fareeha sipped on her coffee. “It’s blue.”

“Really?” Angela was surprised. “You hardly ever wear blue.”

“You don’t have to wear a color for it to be your favorite.” Fareeha looked up at Angela. She smiled, shrugged. “It’s just a nice color. I like looking at it.”

A moment passed where they were just looking into each other’s eyes. Angela was the first to break away when she realized she had been staring. “Mine is gold. Though not gold like the metal, but… You know, a warm yellow.”

“So orange?” Fareeha asked.

“No, not orange. There’s a difference.”

“Fair enough. I’m not an expert on color, so I won’t debate you over the difference between gold and orange.”

“There is a difference,” Angela repeated confidently. “It’s your turn. Ask me something.”

Fareeha toyed with her cup for a moment, considering something. “Did you used to study medicine?”

Angela cocked her head in surprise. “How did you know?”

“The bookshelves at your place. A lot of medical journals and files of the kind people tend to keep in an office instead of their apartment. It stood out.”

“You’re… perceptive. But, yes, I did. Years ago.”

“Years ago?”

Angela shuffled uncomfortably in her seat. “It’s a bit complicated. I finished my masters long before I started here at OU.” Seeing the question in Fareeha’s eyes, Angela sighed. “I was enrolled in university classes at a pretty young age. I was the youngest in my class when I graduated.”

“How old were you?”

“I’d just turned 17.”

Fareeha let out a low whistle. “That’s impressive.”

“Most people think so,” Angela said. She was shriveling into her seat, doing her best to disappear from sight. “It’s not really something I go around talking about.”

“Why not? You’re like… an actual doctor. That’s really cool.” Her smile had returned. “If it was me, I’d spend every day bragging to anyone willing to listen to me.”

Angela could feel herself blush. “Well, people don’t take kindly to that sort of thing. And they see it as boasting, even if I am trying not to make it so. Even if I just mention it, they see it as me thinking I’m better than them.”

“That’s always the case with people,” Fareeha said. “They’re annoyed because they think you somehow got ahead and now they can’t catch up. Since they can’t figure out a way to improve, they resign themselves to disliking the fact that you are successful. It’s jealousy, pure and simple.”

“You talk like you have some experience with it.”

She chuckled. “I don’t think I’ve ever made anyone jealous of me in that way.”

“Well…” Angela let out a low laugh. “You got me acting pretty jealous.”

Fareeha frowned, but it was alleviated by the smile still on her face. “I do?”

“I mean… yeah, you… you just seem so at home with yourself. And with others. And there’s Brigitte as well, but like I’ve said before, any jealousy I feel towards her is completely your doing.”

Fareeha grinned again. “You are not jealous of her still.”

“No, I’m just…” Angela hesitated a moment before sighing deeply. “Yeah I am, I am really jealous. Again, I blame you for that.”

Fareeha laughed and raised her hands in surrender. “I accept that it may be my fault. Slightly. It’s a shame, I think you’d like each other.”

“Mmhmm,” Angela said with a cocked eyebrow, taking a long sip of her tea so she had an excuse to look at Fareeha. The other woman was looking down at her hands, absentmindedly running her fingers around the edge of her coffee mug.

“Since we’re talking,” she said carefully and Angela tensed slightly at the tone. “Has he contacted you at all?”

She didn’t have to clarify that she was talking about Jack. Angela shook her head. “No, he hasn’t. I mean, who knows? He might have tried to break into the apartment again while I was at work, but I changed the locks, so…”

“Good. That’s good,” Fareeha said quickly. “I was worried about you. For you. The whole situation was kinda messed up.”

“I didn’t want things to be messed up.” Not when they were going so well. “He hasn’t called or anything. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

“You sure? You can tell me if you…” Fareeha stopped, clearly uncertain as to what exactly she was about to offer. Angela just gave her a calming smile, one that didn’t accurately portray the anxious feeling knotting away in her stomach.

Truth was, she was not comfortable being in the apartment anymore, especially not when she was alone. Winston had been a sweetheart the Thursday following Jack’s appearance, hanging out with her throughout the afternoon and evening. He had been good company and a welcome distraction from everything, but when he left she had felt the weight of fear descend on her again.

But Fareeha didn’t need to know that. Not right now. If she did, she might insist on staying with Angela in her apartment and that wouldn’t work. Not when Angela needed to process everything that was happening.

She reached over, taking Fareeha’s hand and squeezing it gently. “You’re helping me right now by talking to me. So keep talking. Ask me some more questions.”

And so she did. It became a game, one of them coming up with a question for both of them to answer, sometimes generating very interesting conversations. They learned that Angela loved sushi and Fareeha hated it. That they had their first kiss at the same age, this being 14, though Fareeha’s had been with a girl and Angela’s with a boy. They talked about movies and music. Books, though Fareeha admitted to not being much of a reader, at least not anymore, and Angela admitted the same, both agreeing that they just didn’t seem to have time anymore. They talked about their jobs, Fareeha about her shifts at the auto shop and Angela about her taking on some hours at the local hospital. The conversation remained familiar, casual, and even flirtatious for a long time as they ventured through different topics, touching on them briefly before moving on to something else. It was revealing and exciting. It felt natural, as if they had both been waiting for this for a long time.

“Can I make a confession?” Fareeha said after a while.

“Depends on what it is,” Angela jested. She continued in a whisper. “Have you killed someone?”

“No, I haven’t,” Fareeha grinned. “This is just… nice. I didn’t expect it to be so nice.”

“Am I that bad company?” Angela said with a smile and Fareeha shook her head.

“I don’t usually do this. Date, I mean. Like… ever. This,” she gestured at the coffee shop around them, “isn’t at all my scene. I usually talk to girls in clubs or at bars, and then it’s just drunk talk and flirting. I’m not used to this.”

Angela caressed her hand. “If it’s any consolation, I’m not too into the whole dating thing either. I mean… I was with Jack for a long time, and after him there wasn’t anyone else. But you’re right.” They made eye contact and Angela smiled. “This is nice.”

“Well, I’m glad the feeling is mutual,” Fareeha said, slipping back into her confident self again. “I would hate for you to have a bad time because of my inexperience.”

“I feel like I should be the one saying that,” Angela said, not fully realizing the meaning of her words until Fareeha started laughing loudly.

A while passed before the glow of the evening told them that they’d been sitting in the coffee shop for quite a few hours. They finished up and paid for their drinks, leaving behind a table covered in napkins and cups.

“See!” Angela said as they stepped outside the shop. She pointed up to the evening sky, warm rays from the sun playing on the clouds above. “Gold.”

“I see,” Fareeha said, smiling. She looked around then, her eyes trailing the ground for a moment before returning to Angela. “Walk you home?”

Angela grinned. “I’d love that.”

Barely conscious of the action, Angela hooked her arm beneath Fareeha’s as they began walking, only realizing that she’d done it after they’d walked a few steps. But Fareeha didn’t pull away from the touch. Instead, she was smiling and talking still, pointing out various little nooks in the scenery worthy of commentary. She told Angela stories about when she’d first gotten to this city with the promise to her parents that she would eventually attend the university, but it never happening. How she’d gotten the job at the auto shop, and then at the local bar, Rein’s, later on. She talked about how she’d saved up for months to buy the parts that eventually turned into her beautiful, blue motorcycle. She was happy, Angela realized. Not just happy, but comfortable. Relaxed. And Angela was surprised to find that she was too. She liked it.

“Hey, you okay?”

Fareeha’s voice brought her out of her stupor. “Yeah, sorry. I was just… lost in my own head.”

“I know how you do that,” Fareeha said, nudging her with her shoulder. “You get this little furrow between your eyebrows.”

“I don’t mean to.”

“You say that a lot, you know? It sounds an awful lot like you’re apologizing all the time.”

“And that’s a bad thing?”

Fareeha looked at Angela. Her smile was soft and genuine and hopelessly beautiful. “You don’t need to, that’s all. You’re just being you, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“I did just ignore a lot of what you were saying, apparently.”

“Well,” Fareeha said in a loaded tone. She looked smug. “You were staring at me while you were ‘ignoring’ me, so I can’t be too bothered about that.”

“I didn’t mean--” A raised eyebrow from Fareeha made Angela stop. She paused, then smiled. “You could say I was distracted by something.”

“And what would that be?”

“What do you think?”

“I asked you first,” Fareeha said in a sing songy voice.

Angela looked around, her eyes scouting the scenery around them, and was pleased as she found a way out of the conversation. She sent Fareeha a cool smile. “My apartment building.”

“Cheap,” Fareeha said with a grin, untangling herself as Angela stepped up to the building, now facing the other woman.

“Thank you for today. I really needed to just… talk, I suppose.” Angela suddenly had trouble keeping eye contact with Fareeha. This was the end of the date. A form of goodbye was in order, and she was brought back to the awkwardness of when they first met at the coffee shop. Kiss? Hug? Shake hands? What was the protocol here?

“I’m glad I could be of service,” Fareeha said. “What does your schedule look like next week?”

“Busy,” Angela admitted, disappointment creeping into her voice. In an effort to get out of her apartment, she had accepted more shifts at the hospital. Most of them were 24 hours or longer. Anything to get out of the apartment and away from the unease she felt whenever she was alone within its walls. “Most of my nights are packed, unfortunately.”

“What about the weekend?”

The spark of guilt Angela had felt in her stomach at blowing Fareeha off, again , evaporated when she asked that. “No plans then. What were you thinking?”

“I don’t know,” Fareeha shrugged. “Maybe we could talk some more? Over some food? I order a mean takeout.”

“That sounds great,” Angela said, smiling. The silence stretched between them again, quickly growing from being natural to awkward.

“So,” Fareeha said, clearing her throat. She was shuffling slightly in place, clearly uncertain as to how to handle this. “Saturday? At my place? I’ll make sure Brigitte is busy somewhere else.”

“Yeah. At 6?”

“Sure.”

More silence.

Neither of them were looking at each other, eyes drifting to any place that the other’s face. Eventually, Fareeha took a slight step backward, raising her hand in an awkward gesture.

“So, I’ll see you Saturday then.”

“Saturday.”

Fareeha nodded, gave a half-hearted wave, and begun to turn away.

Angela didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, other than to avoid the sudden awkwardness that had appeared between them. It hadn’t been there when they were talking back at the coffee shop or when Fareeha had walked her home just now. Not when they were lying in bed after having sex did it feel like this. So why now?

She knew why, of course. Until this point, their affections and caresses had been a private thing. Something just between the two of them, impossible for the rest of the world to see. They weren’t in private now, and though there were practically no one out walking right now, it was the idea of it that made the situation strange, new, and ultimately awkward.

“Fareeha.” Angela stepped forward, grabbing Fareeha’s hand before she managed to turn around completely. Her face was sweet and confused. Worried. Angela imagined her own face mirrored Fareeha’s pretty accurately.

“Yeah?” Fareeha’s voice was low. Waiting. Waiting for what? What did she want? Would she be okay with this?

“I…” Angela looked down at her hand, still holding on to Fareeha’s. “I had a really good time today. I’d love to do something like it again sometime. If you’d be interested.”

“When you find a hole in your schedule,” Fareeha said casually. Her smile was warm and inviting. Her lips familiar and her eyes were so dark they looked like black pools.

Angela was lost in those eyes. In her features, her smile, her dark and wonderful hair. It was all so perfect, so beautiful, that she didn’t understand how she could have ever been infatuated with anything else. Anyone else.

The moment stretched and filled with unspoken words, tension rising between them as Angela did the same. She lifted herself up on her toes, still holding Fareeha’s hand in hers, and pressed a light kiss against Fareeha’s lips. She broke it almost immediately, but her face hovered by Fareeha’s. Their skin almost touching, the space between them so insignificant that it could be broken by a breeze. There was a nervousness in Angela that hadn’t gone away since the morning where Fareeha had left. A feeling of how everything that was good had now changed because of strange, volatile outside forces interfering with her life. But the kiss was soft and perfect and just like it had always been, and now Angela didn’t care where they were or who might be watching them.

She leaned into Fareeha, pressing her lips harder against her, eager to taste and touch and feel this wonderful woman who had brought laughter back into her life. Despite everything, despite the chaos that had unfolded, that was still there. That was still perfect.

She wanted more. She wanted the confused feeling Jack had implanted in her chest to vanish, and she wanted Fareeha’s touch to be the thing that told it to go away. She wanted her kisses and her tongue and her fingers and hands to caress her. To distract her from the feelings of anger and confusion she felt whenever she thought about Jack standing in her apartment. She wanted more. She needed more.

“Angela,” Fareeha’s voice was hoarse and slightly sharp, as she pushed Angela away from her, still holding her by the hand. There was only a small space between them and from the flushed nature of Fareeha’s cheeks and her heavy breathing, it seemed that the kiss Angela had started had turned much more intense than she had anticipated.

“Please,” Angela said, surprised at how pleading she sounded. “I need you.”

Fareeha stared at her in bewilderment. She looked Angela up and down, still trying to get her breathing somewhat under control.

“Okay, I…” Fareeha laughed nervously, then mumbled something that Angela couldn’t understand. “I’ll regret this, I know it.” Taking a deep breath, she looked up at Angela again, her brown eyes locking onto her with a strange, sober intensity.

“You need time. You said so yourself, that you need… time, and that you need… that you need to figure things out, and you can’t do that if we keep doing this.”

“What do you mean?” Angela’s voice was very small.

“Not… not like that,” Fareeha said calmingly. Her hands sought Angela’s, their fingers intertwining. “I really, really like you, alright, and I don’t want to mess things up by doing something stupid.”

“And this is stupid?”

“It’s not stupid. It’s reactive,” Fareeha said, her voice suddenly much clearer than it had been before. “I don’t think you understand how much I want to follow you up those stairs and do… whatever it is you want me to do to you. I want that. But, I don’t think that’s what you want. Not right now at least. You said so yourself, today was just talking and no--” Fareeha bit her lip. “Today was just talking. And… I want… I understand what you want right now, but I also remember what you wanted a few hours ago.”

There was a moment’s tension between them before Angela whined and covered her face with her hands. “Oh God, I’m such an idiot.”

She felt arms around her torso then, pulling her into a hug. She could hear Fareeha chuckle lightly. “You’re not an idiot. You’re confused. Trust me, it’s different.”

Angela wrapped her own arms around Fareeha, pressing herself against her and allowing her breathing to slow. She didn’t want to cry and wiped her eyes quickly as she moved back out of the embrace.

“I don’t want to leave you alone. I mean, if you don’t… if you don’t want to be alone, that is.” Fareeha was looking at her intently. “I can follow you up if you want me to.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Angela let out a soft laugh. “I suspect that won’t end well. Or, it might end very well, depending on how you look at it.”

Fareeha looked down, letting out a short laugh. “Right. That’s… true, I reckon.”

“Thank you. For being sweet.” Angela smiled nervously. She couldn’t look at Fareeha. “Still want to meet up next weekend?”

Fareeha just smiled, leaned into Angela, and kissed her again. It wasn’t as intense as the one they’d just had, put it was deep and it made Angela’s knees feel weak.

“I can’t wait,” Fareeha said as she broke away. She began backing away, their fingers still intertwined before the distance grew too wide for them to keep contact. Fareeha flashed a smile at Angela, happy and wonderfully genuine. “Don’t be a stranger, alright?”

“I promise,” Angela said, mirroring Fareeha’s smile, as she watched the other woman walk away. Fareeha turned around once as she walked, shooting a final grin at Angela before she walked out of sight.

As Fareeha disappeared from sight, Angela had to fight not to raise her hand to her mouth where Fareeha’s lips had just touched hers. Her stomach was a nest of butterflies and her entire body felt languid and warm. It was a strange, but not uncomfortable feeling. In fact, she found that she couldn’t stop smiling like an idiot as she stood there, alone, outside of her apartment building. The feeling of Fareeha’s lips on hers, the conversations they’d had at the coffee shop, the relaxed walk home. It had all been so natural. So perfect.

It took her a moment to process what that feeling meant, though it must have been obvious to an outsider. Why her skin felt tingly and her breath was still uneven. Why she was already missing the woman she had just spent an entire day with and why her smile seemed to be chronically stuck to her face. A moment to realize and then bury what those feelings meant.

Not now. It wasn’t the time now. In this moment, she just wanted to be happy and to not be confused anymore.

At least for a little while.


 

Though Angela had missed making use of her medical degree, she couldn't say she'd missed working the floors of a hospital as much as she might have. It wasn't as glamorous as most people made it out to be, and working a 24 hour shift was not something she had been looking forward to exactly.

Still, she was comfortable. She was happy, surprisingly, even after spending the majority of her day chained to the ER with her hands feeling numb from stitching up cuts and wounds. It was a routine she stepped into quickly, assisting the attending doctors with whatever task they decided to throw her way. After she'd handled the first dozen of these cases without complaints, they started easing up on her. Some of them were even making small talk with her in the few breaks they had throughout their shifts.

Angela didn’t have a lot of experience with working the floors of a hospital. After she’d graduated and subsequently gotten her Ph.D., it had been mostly research and lab work for her. Less personal cases and cuts in need of suturing. But she remembered her training and her hands were quick to pick up what her brain might have forgotten, so no one complained about her work.

Though her shift was close to coming to an end, Angela couldn’t say she was necessarily excited about it. Tired and exhausted, yes, but it was only Wednesday and she had nothing but an empty apartment to get home to. Doing the long shifts left her so exhausted when she finally did come home that she had no time to think about all the things that would normally wreak through her brain. And while she was working, she was too distracted by trauma patients and other floor work to give much thought to the issues that had been so distressing to her just a few days past. Yet, long shifts meant days off, and days off meant thinking. Something she wasn’t too keen on.

“Eyes up, Doctor Ziegler.” Doctor Beck’s voice snapped Angela’s weary mind back to the present. She only had a few hours left of her shift, but Beck wasn’t likely to let her off easy. He walked over, eyes narrowed and with brisk steps that made his already short legs look even shorter. He was a middle aged man with a no nonsense attitude and little patience for error, but he was the attending surgeon so he said jump and you asked how high.

“Got a few drunkards who managed to stumble in here, and while you are standing here daydreaming they are bleeding all over my hospital floor,” Beck said.

“Sorry, sir,” Angela said, straightening at his terse tone.

“Sorry doesn’t keep my tiles clean. Get moving, Doctor.” And then he was gone, turning down a hallway, most likely looking for interns to discipline.

Though Beck wasn’t an incredibly kind person by any means, he was professional and extremely capable. She had assisted him with a bladder cystectomy the day before and, whether she liked him or not, she had to respect his skill with a scalpel.

So Angela got to work, diligently as always, heading to the ER. She quickly found that Beck hadn’t lied when he’d called the new arrivals drunkards. They were all out of it, though it seemed only one of them was actually injured in any way. The others were just there for intoxicated, moral support, and for giving her unsolicited compliments.

“You are a very pretty doctor,” said the man she was examining. He had a rather long cut running from his wrist halfway to the elbow.

Angela just responded with a smile. She’d found that as long as the patients did what she told them, she didn’t mind whatever they were going to say to her.

“And very sweet,” another chimed in. “Some other doctors, they--they don’t even care, you know?”

She just smiled and nodded at the comment. “Looks to be a rather deep cut. What happened?”

“Drunk bastard,” the man said. “Got all angry and started push--pushing people around. Knocked me through a window.”

“A window?” Angela asked.

“My arm through a window,” the man corrected. He winced as Angela began the process of cleaning the wound. “He tumbled right after me. Drunk prick.”

“He was hurt as well?” she asked, dapping blood away from the wound.

“He got a bit messed up.” A few of the man’s friends gestured at the opposite end of the ER, where a man in a dirty coat laid curled up, unattended, on a bed. “Got him to come with us. His head was all red and stuff.”

“You’ll need stitches,” she said, glancing down at the figure the man pointed. “And maybe hold off on falling through windows until its healed up.”

“I’ll try, miss,” the man said with a smile. All things considered, he was an amiable patient, especially considering how drunk he clearly was. Angela turned and gestured at an intern milling around the hallway nervously, a woman who actually looked to be a few years older than Angela.

“Stitch him up, please,” Angela said, gesturing at the drunk man behind her. “There’s a possible head trauma case I need to take a look at.”

The woman nodded quickly, getting her needle ready as Angela crossed through the ER to get to the seemingly passed out man. She felt a twinge of worry as he wasn’t moving when she approached. He might have gotten a concussion and with the added effects of drunkenness, it was likely he had fallen asleep.

She caught the smell of alcohol as she approached the bed and winced. It was strong and clung to his clothing like a cloud. He was slumped over, leaning against the wall, and clutching himself as if he was cold.

“Sir, what seems to be-” She stopped. He’d looked up as she’d approached him, showing features that had until then been hidden beneath a hood. Blond hair, stained bright red by blood, and piercing blue eyes. Scar over one eyebrow and a scruffy stubble that had not been there a few days ago.

“Angela…” Jack said. His voice was raspy and it carried with it a strong smell of alcohol that made Angela take a step back.

“What are you doing here?” she said, her mouth tight.

Jack looked around, confused. “Fell… Hurt my head.”

Angela looked around the ER. Other than the intern who was still stitching up the other patient, there was no one close by. No one to take over. And from the amount of blood in Jack’s hair, it looked like it could actually be serious.

A tight feeling of unease started growing in her stomach, but she pushed it aside and stepped up next to him. She was a doctor, he was a patient. There wasn’t much discussion to be had.

“Tell me what happened.” Her voice was cool and professional.

“Fell,” he repeated. “Window. Glass, broke.”

“You’re drunk.”

Jack laughed dryly. “Is it that obvious?”

“Yes,” she snapped. She leaned over him, brushing his hair aside to see if she could figure out where the cut might be located. Wounds on the head always bled a lot which meant it could appear more serious than it was, but there was no way of telling without a proper examination. And given the shade of crimson Jack’s hair had turned, Angela couldn’t help but worry for the wellbeing of her patient.

“I’m sorry,” Jack said as Angela pulled on gloves and slowly began parting his hair looking for a wound.

“About what?”

“Everything,” he said. His voice was slurred. “I’m a mess, Angie. I’m just such a mess, and I’m so sorry.”

She didn’t answer him. Her fingers slipped through red strands, searching and finding nothing.

“Please, Angie, you have to believe me. I don’t know if I can handle you being mad at me.”

“You’ll have to learn,” she said. She pushed a knot of hair aside, spotting the culprit of the blood in Jack’s hair. A small cut, barely an inch in length, ran down his scalp. It didn’t look deep, but a head wound didn’t need to be deep to bleed a lot.

“You’ll need stitches,” she said matter-of-factly. “Or staples, more likely.”

She turned from him to fetch disinfectant from a nearby cabinet, when she felt resistance. Jack had reached out and grabbed the sleeve of her coat.

“Please. Just talk to me.”

“I am working, Jack.”

“Working?” He laughed and stood up. He would stand much taller than her, but he was slumped down in his drunkenness, making them stand at close to even height. It didn’t show in his voice, which had gotten more sober from frustration. “You call this working ? Compared to what you used to do, this is nothing. I remember a time where Doctor Angela Ziegler was transforming the world of medical engineering with her brilliant mind, and now what? She’s tending drunks in the ER and stitching cuts?”

Jack’s gaze wandered from her face downward, stopping at her neck, where she noticed his expression change. It was minute. A shift from annoyance to confusion to anger, and it wasn’t until Jack quickly raised an arm to pull down the collar of her shirt that Angela realized what he had noticed.

The bruising on her neck after Fareeha’s kisses had not quite gone away in the week since she had spent the night. They were more like shadows now than actual bruises, but they were still visible and there was no mistaking them for anything else than what they were.

Jack seemed to realize it the same moment she did, and the light grip on her sleeve turned harsh as he grabbed ahold of her wrist. He glared at the spot on her neck where Fareeha’s kisses had left a faded bruise before his eyes snapped back to Angela’s.

“You are a lying, cheating snake, and you know that as well as me,” Jack hissed, yanking her closer. The smell of alcohol was overwhelming and his grip around her wrist turned painful as he twisted his hand against her skin.

“Let go of me, Jack,” Angela said, her voice stronger than she’d thought it would be. There was a panic rising in her chest. She knew better than anyone what Jack was capable of, but she had never, never in a million years, thought he would ever get physical with her, no matter how mad he got. “You’re hurting me.”

Jack’s grip tightened.

“Didn’t take you any time to find someone to replace me, did it? To find someone to crawl into bed with? To dull the pain that is your pitiful existence? Did it!?” Angela could feel each of his fingers digging into her skin. She yelped in pain as Jack yanked at her again. “You don’t know a thing about her. You don’t know who she is, where she’s from. Do you?”

He didn’t get to say anything more, as two large security guards pummeled into him, pulling the two of them apart. Jack’s nails flicked hard against her skin as he was forced away, making small beads of red gather where he had touched her. She felt hands on her shoulders guiding her away from Jack as he was forced to the ground by the guards.

“You don’t know, Angela!” Jack yelled, eyes wild. “You don’t know her. You don’t know her!”

Jack fought against the two guards and Angela found herself feeling thankful that Jack was as drunk as he was. The guards were trained, but not in the same way Jack was. He could have both of them on the ground in seconds if his mind wasn’t clouded by drink and anger.

“I’m sorry, I--” Angela looked around to see the other doctors and patients staring at the two of them. At Angela, shaking and holding her pained wrist. At Jack, still yelling and screaming on the floor as she began to back away.

She didn’t say anything else. She just turned and fled, rushing out of the ER and down a nearby hallway. Away. She needed to get away. Away from the chaos and the yelling and the questions and the--”

“Doctor Ziegler.” A familiar voice. A strong voice she had become used to obeying.

Angela stopped and turned to see Beck come walking down the hallway. His expression was as stern as ever, and Angela didn’t know whether he was there to console her, reprimand her, or to request her assistance with a medical issue.

“Doctor Beck.”

He gave her the barest of glances before immediately beginning an examination of her wrist. “Charming fellow. Friend of yours, I take it?”

“Not exactly,” Angela said, wincing as Beck’s fingers pressed against her skin. “Fiancé. Ex-fiancé.”

“I see.” Beck wiped the little beads of blood away from her skin, still not looking at her. “I don’t like drama in my halls, Doctor Ziegler.”

“Neither do I.” A shake was creeping into her voice and she did her best to stifle it. “I didn’t know he’d be here, sir. I swear.”

“I didn’t think that was the case.” He turned her wrist slowly from side to side. “Does this hurt?”

Angela just shook her head. “It’s fine. It’s not broken.”

Beck let go of her hand, his focus shifting from the quickly forming bruise around her wrist to her face. He looked as unimpressed as ever, though there was an air of something else about his features. “Has this happened before?”

“No, Doctor Beck. Nothing-- Nothing like this.” She looked down, finding it hard to keep eye contact with Beck. “Please, this won’t happen again. I won’t let it interfere with my work, I won’t--”

Beck raised a hand to silence her. “No excuses, Doctor Ziegler. None is needed, not from you at least.” Beck looked down at his watch, then back up at Angela. “You’re dismissed. Go home, put some ice on that wrist so it doesn’t swell. I’ll deal with this ex-fiancé of yours.”

“But sir--”

“I said no excuses, Doctor Ziegler. Your shift is almost over anyway, and this ugly business is no way to end an otherwise perfectly good evening. Do you have someone you can call?”

Angela paused for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, I have someone.”

“Call them then. And make sure that wrist isn’t hurt in any way. I need you back on my floors and I don’t want one of my best doctors compromised because she didn’t take care of an injury.” Beck walked past her then, apparently done with the conversation.

Angela didn’t know whether to thank him or yell at him. Though she loved practicing medicine, she would be lying to herself if she wouldn’t admit the true purpose of these hospital shifts. They were a distraction. From Jack, from Fareeha, from everything… but especially from Jack. Now he’d infiltrated even this part of her life, one she thought was safe from his influence.

She thought about going home and it filled her with dread. After that night in her apartment, she’d asked the other residents of her apartment complex if they had seen Jack around, but none of them had. That hadn’t done much to reassure her. Jack was smart and experienced. Hiding from a couple of civilians would be child’s play to him, so Angela wasn’t exactly comforted by the idea that no one had seen him around. At best, it meant that he was leaving her alone. At worst, it meant that he was near and didn’t want to be seen.

Those thoughts played in her head now, threatening to send her into a panic. Had he been watching her? Had he come to the hospital on purpose or was it all just a coincidence? He had just hurt her. Would he want to do so again?

Hand shaking slightly, she pulled her phone from her pocket and dialed a number she hadn’t actually called before. Just texted.

“Hey, what’s up?” Fareeha’s voice sounded cheery once she picked up the phone. Happy.

“Hi, I’m…” Angela thought she could keep her voice steady, but it began wavering the moment she opened her mouth.

“What’s wrong?” Fareeha’s tone changed from happy to serious.

“Nothing, I’m just…” She took a long, uneven breath. “I’m at work and, uh… Jack is here.”

“Are you okay?”

Angela glanced down at her wrist. It was true what she said about it not being broken, but it still hurt a fair bit. She feared the bone may be bruised.

“No, I’m… I’m not.” Angela angrily wiped a tear from her eye. She didn’t want to cry again. Not here, not now. “I don’t want to be alone.”

A moment of hesitation on the other end made her stomach feel raw and tight before Fareeha finally answered. “Do you want to come over?”

“If it’s no trouble.”

“It’s not,” Fareeha interjected almost before Angela could finish her sentence. “Want me to pick you up?”

Angela shook her head, taking a deep breath to calm herself down. “No, it’s fine. I’ll get a cab or something.”

“Alright. Just… Come quickly, okay?”

“Okay. I will. See you soon.” Angela’s voice was weak. Then she hung up the phone.


 

The weird feeling of relief and nervousness Angela felt when the cab rolled up Fareeha’s street was uncanny. She was relieved that she wouldn’t be alone, that she would have someone else, that she would be safe and that someone would take care of her. And she was nervous about what this would do to them. How Fareeha would act, how she would respond. If this was too much.

She paid the driver and was barely out of the car before Fareeha’s door opened up, Fareeha standing in the doorway with a worried expression. She wore casual clothing, lightly stained in places with what Angela suspected to be motor oil, but it didn’t matter. She was beautiful regardless.

Seeing her, Fareeha stepped out of the door and walked briskly over to Angela and hugged her. The embrace was tight and assuring, and Angela let herself melt into it, burying her face in Fareeha’s shoulder.

“It’s alright,” Fareeha mumbled. She continued muttering strange words, foreign words, and the sound of them was like music Angela never wanted to turn off.

“Can we go inside?” Angela said after a while, leaning out of the embrace slightly. “I’m cold. And you’re not wearing any shoes.”

“You worry too much,” Fareeha smiled, but her face quickly turned serious again. “Tell me what happened.”

“Inside, please,” Angela said, her voice low, and Fareeha nodded.

Once they entered, it was immediately clear that they were alone in Fareeha’s studio. Angela felt a thankful for that. She didn’t have the energy to act brave around some stranger, and she certainly didn’t have the energy to be polite to the supposedly hot woman staying in Fareeha’s apartment.

“Where’s Brigitte?” Angela asked, as Fareeha closed and locked the door behind her.

“Her dad’s,” Fareeha answered. “I told her to scram and she politely did so. At least for a few hours.” Though the words were light, Fareeha’s expression was anything but. “What happened? You look off. You said Jack was there?”

Angela crossed her arms and looked away. “Yeah, he showed up in the ER. He was injured, so I suppose he had a right, but… I was just not expecting to see him there.”

“Did something happen?”

Angela looked down at the floor. She bit her lip, not wanting to talk  about it. Not wanting to test whatever this relationship was becoming by bringing issues of this caliber into it. In that moment, she regretted calling Fareeha. She felt weak for having needed to, for taking all her problems, big and small, and dumping them on this woman who had never asked for or wanted this kind of relationship.

“Angela, you’re crying.” Fareeha’s voice was gentle. Painfully sweet, even. Angela turned away and used her sweater sleeve to wipe the tears away.

“Dammit, sorry.” She tried to keep her voice light, but the tears streaming down her face didn’t really sell the ease she wanted to portray. “I don’t mean to be such a crybaby all the time.”

“What’s that?”

Angela glanced back and saw Fareeha gesturing at her arm. When she’d raised it to wipe at her face the sleeve had slipped down slightly, revealing the clear bruising on her wrist.

Her first instinct was to hide it. To remove the problem and hide it away so Fareeha wouldn’t have to worry, but she didn’t have time for that. Fareeha was suddenly standing next to her, gently holding her hand as she pulled down the sleeve to reveal her wrist.

The bruising was still only light red in color, but it stood out clearly against Angela’s white skin. There was no mistaking it for anything else than what it was, as was made very clear by the change happening on Fareeha’s face. Worry quickly turned to fury as she looked down at the red skin around Angela’s wrist.

“Did he do this?” Fareeha asked tightly.

Angela didn’t answer.

“Angela, did he do this to you?”

“Please, don’t.” Angela pulled her hand from Fareeha, slightly surprised when she immediately let it go. Angela turned away, pulling up the sleeve to cover the red markings on her wrist. “Just… please don’t ask. Not now.”

“Don’t ask?” Fareeha’s voice was both hurt and surprised. “Your wrist is bruised to hell, and you want me to not ask what happened?”

“Please,” Angela said. “I don’t want you to worry about it.”

“You don’t-- okay.” Fareeha laughed without humor. “You call me, out of nowhere, basically sobbing on the phone, saying that Jack showed up at your work and that you are not okay. Then you show up at my place, looking like hell and with an injured wrist, which I suspect was caused by the aforementioned dickhead, and you don’t want me to worry about it?”

“Fareeha…”

“Stop!” Fareeha stepped away from her and Angela felt her stomach drop. “I can’t do this with you. You keep pulling me in and then pushing me away, and I can’t deal with it anymore. I don’t know what you’re going through, Angela, you won’t tell me, but it fucking hurts every time you use me to… to…”

“To what? Deal with my problems?” Now Angela’s voice was raising now too. “Distract myself from my boring life? To entertain me, since I just ‘like girls well enough’ as you said? Is that it?”

“Right, I’m the problem for assuming those things,” Fareeha retorted sharply. “One moment you want this to just be a fling, then you want a relationship. You act distant one moment, then the next you can’t get your hands off me. I don’t know what to take from that, Angela. I’m floundering like a goddamn teenager, and I don’t know what to do about it.”

“We had the label, right?” Angela hissed. “That was enough for you, wasn’t it? Just kissing and fucking, that was fine with you. Wasn’t it?”

“Don’t do that.”

“You’re the one who keeps bringing it up! The fact that we were a fling and now, what? We’re not anymore? Now we’re in this strange pseudo-relationship where every step is taken on needles and every word is carefully weighted as to not test the validity of it too much. Is that what you want?”

“No, that’s what you’ve turned it into. You won’t let me help you.”

“I don’t need your help!” Angela said loudly. “I don’t want it, and I don’t need it. Not yours or anyone's. I don’t want to rely on anybody.”

“Well, neither do I!” Fareeha’s voice was close to yelling now. “My entire life it’s just been me. Just me against an entire goddamn world that never once hesitated to show me exactly how much it didn’t appreciate me or what I was doing. How little I mattered. How little I could do when things turned to shit.”

“So what? I changed that for you? I made you into a happy little helper?”

Fareeha shook her head in disbelief. “Don’t say that like it’s the worst thing in the world. I just want to help you, and you’re acting like I’m terrible for thinking of you that way.”

“I don’t want people to think of me that way.”

“Why not? Why don’t you?”

“Because the last person who did so ruined my life!” Angela yelled. “I am messed up. Beyond a little bruising on my wrist which will go away in a few days, I am a goddamn mess, Fareeha, and you don’t seem to fully comprehend just how screwed up I actually am. How can you possibly, possibly , want this for yourself? How can you possibly want to deal with someone who is always mere moments away from falling apart because of shit that happened in her past, shit that you had nothing to do with?”

“Because--” Fareeha stopped herself.

“Why, Fareeha? Why is it that you can’t seem to stop yourself from pushing at my boundaries? From clawing your way into my life, from ‘helping’ me? Why is it that, even though I am an emotional trainwreck, you don’t just leave!?”

“Because I’m in love with you!”

Silence. Deafening, loud, and prolonged silence filled the studio.

Angela froze. She felt paralyzed, unable to move or speak, as she watched Fareeha’s angry expression wither away and being replaced by a frightened one. They stared at each other, one unable to comprehend the words that had just been said, the other unable to understand that she had just spoken them out loud.

“You don’t mean that,” Angela said after a long moment.

Fareeha chuckled darkly. “Is it really that hard to believe?”

Angela opened her mouth, then closed it again. Words were forming in her mind, but getting stuck in her throat before she could speak them.

Fareeha turned around, frustrated, mumbling something in a foreign language that Angela would guess, based on the context, were swear words.

“I didn’t--” Angela couldn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t know which phrase to pick for this situation. She didn’t know? She didn’t understand? She didn’t dare hope so? They were all present in her mind, switching positions and dancing around her brain fast enough that she felt dizzy.

“Why?” Angela finally managed to utter. Fareeha was still standing with her back turned and she laughed again. A dry, uneven laugh, and when she turned around Angela noticed that her eyes were red.

“You want a list?” Fareeha said sarcastically.

Angela just stared at her. Looked at her for a long time. Felt her stomach and chest tighten and her mouth go dry. She felt the fear and the pain of rejection resurface in her mind, alongside confusion and… what? What was that feeling? Beneath the panic and the anxiety was… what?

“Stop looking at me like that,” Fareeha said suddenly, partially turning away again.

“Like what?”

“Like I just told you the world is flat or something equally preposterous.”

Angela looked away from Fareeha. “I’m sorry, I…”

“It’s fine,” Fareeha interjected. “I get it. It’s fucked, I know. I’m fucked. Fucked and confused.” Fareeha looked down at the floor, at her bare feet. She bit her lip. “You don’t have to say it, I get it. I mean, what was I even thinking, right? Hotshot doctor prodigy and a lowly mechanic doesn’t exactly scream star crossed lovers.”

“Is that what you think?” Angela’s voice accurately portrayed the confusion she was feeling.

“How could I not? I’m no one and you’re…” She scoffed. “You’re you. So I get it. I understand. It’s not good enough.”

“Not good enough?” Angela’s voice had raised again, anger making it sharp once more. “You think you’re not good enough? Is that the problem?”

“It’s not the problem , it’s reality, Angela.”

“Screw what you believe is reality!” Angela said. She had crossed the space between them in a few quick steps. “Do you really think so? That I’m somehow elevated above you in some strange way where I am completely unattainable?”

Fareeha didn’t answer, which was good because Angela wasn’t done talking.

“Before you, I had settled. I settled for feeling just satisfied . I had settled with someone who was decent for me, who made me feel comfortable. Before you, that’s what I thought life had to offer, what love had to offer was just that; simply being content . But you changed everything, you… you’re smart. You’re funny and amazing and every time you look at me I feel like a schoolgirl whose crush just noticed her. My heart goes crazy when you smile and when you kiss me…” Angela took a deep breath. “It’s unlike anything else. Unlike how I knew anything could feel. That’s not me feeling excited about a fling, it’s more, it’s… amazing, and I have never ever felt that way about anyone before.”

Without noticing it, Angela had reached out and taken Fareeha’s hand. Fareeha, seemingly stunned by her words, didn’t attempt to stop her as Angela continued. “When we talk, it feels easy, like we've been doing it as long as I can remember and I don’t want it to stop. When I’m somewhere else, when we’re apart, I can’t stop thinking about the next time we might be together. When I might hear your voice again or feel your hands again or feel your… lips on mine. And that scares the hell out of me, because I am afraid that it will all go away if I reach for it. If I dare to feel happy, to pursue what I want, I am scared it will be taken away from me. That it’s just a matter of time before you realize it isn’t me who is unattainable… It’s you.”

Fareeha didn’t say anything. Her mouth was slightly open, and it seemed she still hadn’t realized Angela had taken her hand. She didn’t move to step away, didn’t lean in to get nearer Angela, didn’t raise a hand to wipe the tears that were flowing so openly from her eyes. She just… stood. Staring. Waiting.

Then she glanced down at Angela’s hands, so gently clasped around her own. Slowly, carefully, she raised her own hand and pushed up Angela’s shirt sleeve to reveal the bright red bruising around her wrist.

Angela closed her eyes and turned her head away. Why exactly, she didn’t fully know, but she had some ideas. Looking at it brought back memories of Jack and his cruel touch in the ER. Of his yelling and screaming and his words that were like haunting ghosts in her mind. It also tested the walls she had spent the past year building around herself. Walls that kept out anyone wanting to help her, because if she dared rely on anyone other than herself they would be given the opportunity to hurt her. To leave her a broken shell of the person she once was.

“I shouldn’t have left you alone,” Fareeha said. Her voice was tiny. Held back and slightly shaky. “I shouldn’t have left, I should have stayed with you. I should have stopped this. I’m sorry, Angela, I’m so--”

She drew in a deep breath, trying to hold back a sob. Angela didn’t hesitate now. She stepped closer to Fareeha and put her hands around her face, barely registering that Fareeha’s hands followed them to clutch at Angela’s arms as if they were a lifeline.

“No, I’m sorry,” Angela said, her own voice sounding just as weepy as Fareeha’s. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean those things I said, I didn’t-- I was scared and lonely, and you make it all go away and I have been so stupid.” Angela placed a gentle kiss on Fareeha’s cheek. She could taste salt and her lips came back wet from the touch. “I want you. I want to be with you, I was just scared. Scared of realizing it. Please.” She placed kisses on Fareeha’s skin between each statement. On her cheeks, her jaw, her nose. Anywhere she could reach. “Please, forgive me. Please let me make this right. Please, just--”

“Stop.” Fareeha’s voice was near inaudible. It was low and hoarse, and made tremors surge through Angela’s body.

For a long while they stood in silence, Angela's hands resting around Fareeha’s face and her forehead leaning lightly against her cheek. For a long while, they just stood, their arms and faces touching in a strange, cluttered embrace that felt as natural as breathing. It was soft and warm and wonderful. Angela closed her eyes and let her body lean against Fareeha, intent on enjoying this moment between them, knowing that she might not get another one like it.

Then she felt an echo of her own earlier actions as light lips were pressed against her cheek. Her brow and forehead. Moving down her nose in kisses that didn't linger for more than a second until Fareeha’s mouth found Angela's.

Her lips were soft and timid, more timid than Angela had ever felt them, as they perked forward at Angela’s in a manner that seemed almost shy. Angela could feel how the kiss, the fleeting touch of Fareeha’s lips, send fire and electricity through her. It was startling, a shock to her entire nervous system that jolted through her in an amazing way. The kiss was one of acceptance. One of kindness and trust and desire, and Angela felt drunk from the feeling of relief rushing through her body.

Angela’s body hummed and with each moment their lips were apart it longed for more. She wanted more. She wanted to make this woman feel the validity of everything she had just told her, to show her that she meant it, that she wanted her.

She was hardly aware of her hands moving until they were away from Fareeha’s face and tangled up in her hair. Her fingers now intertwined in black, Angela pushed herself closer to Fareeha, opening her mouth to let her tongue slip between Fareeha’s lips. The other woman let out a surprised groan, stepping back as Angela leaned harder against her. The movement turned into a quick series of steps, as Angela’s pressing body forced Fareeha to back up until her back hit the wall next to the main door.

Though her frame was smaller than Fareeha’s, Angela was strong and starving for this, and she pressed herself hard against Fareeha. Her hands were still in Fareeha’s hair, and Angela felt Fareeha’s hands touching her waist, the hem of her jeans, trailing along the skin of her stomach.

“You’re amazing,” Fareeha muttered between kisses. Her voice was harsh and uneven, and it lit a fire in Angela’s chest.

“You’re perfect,” she responded, pressing herself against Fareeha, and in turn pushing the woman harder against the wall. Fareeha let out a low moan at that, her breathing quickly turning into panting as Angela removed her mouth to let her breathe.

Fareeha used the brief break for air to flick open the buttons of Angela's jeans, pulling them down in one hard motion. It was quickly followed by Fareeha’s hands pulling at the sweater, separating them for a moment as she drew it over Angela's head. The cool air in the studio made goosebumps rise on Angela's skin, or maybe it was something else causing that, and she pushed past the chill by pressing herself against Fareeha with a vigor that caught them both by surprise.

“Bed?” Fareeha managed to get out between harsh kisses. Angela answered with a head shake.

“No.” Even she could tell how sultry her voice had turned. It was dark and wanting, and hands were exploring the shape of this wonderful woman in front of her. Her fingers crept beneath Fareeha’s shirt, up her stomach and ribs, to squeeze around her breasts. “Too far.”

Fareeha’s breath hitched and her back arched slightly against the wall as Angela let her cool fingers toy with Fareeha’s breasts.

With a dark growl, Fareeha pushed at Angela so their positions were now flipped. Angela's naked skin pressed against the cold stone wall of the studio, Fareeha’s hands leaning against the wall to keep her balance as Angela unraveled her with her fingers alone.

“Off,”Angela said when Fareeha had to break away from the kiss to take in air. Angela’s smile was hungry and Fareeha’s eyes were dark when she looked up at Angela who was eyeing Fareeha’s shirt.

No more was needed. Fareeha leaned back, pulling the shirt off in one motion and kicking out of her sweats in another. Angela took the same time to slip fully out of her jeans, now standing in just her underwear with Fareeha wearing only her panties.

“What now?” Fareeha asked, clearly waiting for Angela to say something. The look in her eyes was so filled with lust that Angela momentarily forgot how to speak. Then she grinned.

Using the same trick that Fareeha had just used, she reversed their positions back to what they had been before, Fareeha leaning against the wall and Angela pressed against her.

“Stand… still.” She said the words quietly and intently, marking the request with a deep kiss that then traveled from Fareeha’s mouth to her neck. She let her teeth touch slightly at her neck as Angela let one hand tease around the hem of Fareeha’s panties. She could feel Fareeha’s skin prick up where her finger brushed past.

“Don't know if I can,” Fareeha said breathlessly. “Not with you doing that.”

Angela chuckled against Fareeha’s throat. “Then it's about to get much harder for you.”

Smoothly and slowly, she slipped her hand into Fareeha’s panties, finding them wet and warm from desire, and she smiled. Her fingers trailed the outside of her folds, barely touching them, as she made her lips copy the movement. A brush of her fingers was a brush with her lips against Fareeha’s skin.

The third time Angela went over Fareeha’s clit just barely touching it, Angela could feel her hips buck slightly against her hand.

“I told you to stand still,” Angela said with a grin as she straightened up so she could look at Fareeha. Her face was flushed and her breath was heavy.

“I'm trying…” she said. “You’re making it difficult.”

“Try,” Angela said, placing a hard, long kiss on Fareeha’s lips that made her gasp loudly when Angela broke away. Angela let her hand slip further down now, so she could more easily maneuver her fingers. “Try.”

“Okay, I wi--” Angela cruelly cut her off by brushing lightly against Fareeha’s clit, immediately sending a tremor through her body. Her surprised gasp almost immediately turned into a loud moan as Angela brushed over the area once again, this time going back to Fareeha’s neck with her mouth and sucking deeply on the skin. Consider this payback.

“Oh, Angela, yes.” Fareeha’s words were barely audible over her moans as Angela repeated the movement, slow and steady, pressure occasionally changing to draw a particularly loud moan from Fareeha’s lips.

Fareeha’s arms went around Angela for support, her fingers digging into her skin every time Angela brushed past her center and tremors of pleasure ran through her body.

“Stand still, remember?” Angela muttered into the crevasse of her neck.

“I'm… trying, but… Oh… God!” Fareeha’s legs were shaking, her fingers were digging painfully against Angela's back, but every moan, every cry made it worth it. Angela could feel her own arousal spiking, her own need rising to meet Fareeha’s, and her hand started moving faster in response.

She kept a rhythm, kept to the consistent groans of pleasure from Fareeha’s lips as she clutched at Angela's back. Her lips were near Angela's ear, little huffs of escaping breath tickling her skin in the few instances her touch didn't made a moan escape Fareeha’s mouth.

Angela's was bent down, her mouth sucking at Fareeha’s neck, marking her cries with a nip of her lips. With a hard kiss against Fareeha’s skin. Her hand moved faster and faster, slightly harder too as it pressed against Fareeha to turn the few instances of pleasure into a long lasting wave.

Angela felt how Fareeha’s body stiffened against her hand before her voice reacted. She felt how her grip around Angela tightened as Angela's fingers brought her to the edge before she began to topple over.

“Yes! Oh. Oh! Ohhh!” Fareeha buckled under Angela's touch, her knees nearly giving in as Angela's touch brought her to the top of an orgasm that tore through her like a storm. She shook and quivered against Angela, her fingers still pressing into Angela's back with a frightening intensity, and her moans slowly ebbed away from their previously high volume to a low panting.

Angela removed her hand and straightened so she could look Fareeha in the eye, but found that wasn’t an option. Fareeha was leaning back against the wall, eyes closed and chest rising and falling as she drew in shallow breaths.

“You are so…” Angela’s voice trailed off before she finished the sentence. Fareeha grinned, eyes still closed.

“So what? Out of breath?” she said, pants punctuating each sentence.

Angela just smiled and leaned into her again. Placed her lips on her jaw and in the nape of her neck. Moved downward to place kisses across her collarbone and upper chest. She took care to move slowly, letting Fareeha’s breath find a steady rhythm before she bent down towards her chest.

“What are you doing?” Fareeha muttered as Angela sought lower. She brushed light kisses between her breasts, moving to one side to caress the skin around a sensitive nipple with her lips.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” she said, her tongue flicking out at the nipple and a jolt went through Fareeha.

“You are a very cruel woman,” Fareeha said, strained laughter making her voice light and making Angela’s heart beat faster. Angela straightened then, standing face to face with Fareeha once more, before she pressed a hard kiss against Fareeha’s lips.

It didn’t last more than a few seconds and Angela was almost saddened to end it, but there was other parts of Fareeha’s body she wanted to explore. Still, seeing Fareeha panting and licking her lips after the kiss was pretty close to what Angela would consider perfection.

“I am not done with you,” Angela said in a low voice, placing one final kiss on Fareeha’s lips before she dropped down to her knees. She was eye height with Fareeha’s stomach so that was the area she gave attention to first, her hands wandering up to touch and sweetly massage the muscles of Fareeha’s back. Angela could feel Fareeha’s breathing quicken at the touch, could feel her muscles tightening in response as Angela placed gentle kisses on the soft skin around her stomach. Wherever her lips touched, goosebumps rose. Whenever Angela let her fingers play across the nerves of Fareeha’s back, she quivered with response. It was almost perfect. Almost.

Angela bent slightly so her mouth could seek further down Fareeha’s body. Instead of touching her belly, Angela went lower to the hot and wet area between Fareeha’s legs. Her hands followed, trailing down from her back to Fareeha’s hips, resting in a comforting position. In a quick motion, Angela pulled Fareeha’s panties down and then she slowly began stroking her tongue across Fareeha’s center, barely touching it but barely was apparently enough because Fareeha let out a long whimper at the touch. The area was still sensitive after Angela’s fingers had stimulated it, so she had to move slow.

Gingerly, she pressed her tongue against Fareeha’s clit, fighting the intense feeling of arousal that shot through her when a trembling moan rushed through Fareeha’s body. Her tongue was careful and only pressed lightly, but right now even the lightest touch could have a major effect on how Fareeha reacted.

Listening to Fareeha’s breath and matching the rhythm it set, Angela began massaging Fareeha’s clit with her tongue, pressing and releasing, pressing and releasing.

“Oh… That’s… just… Ah… Oh, yes. Keep going. Just like-- Just like that.” Fareeha sounded out of breath and one of her hands fell to rest on Angela’s head. Angela could feel fingers in her hair, pulling slightly, and it spurred her on. She pressed her tongue a little harder against Fareeha.

Fareeha cried out, her body bucking at the stimulation, and Angela’s grip on her hips tightened. She kept her tongue in place, changing it only so that the tip of it was now slowly circling Fareeha’s center instead of just pressing against it, sending wave after wave of pleasure through Fareeha’s body and extracting moan after moan from her lips.

“Yes… Oh, yes, keep-- yes. Yes. Yes!” The final word turned into a long groan that sent shivers through Angela’s body. Fareeha’s legs shook, her grip around Angela’s hair tightened, and she threw her head back to let out a series of rapid, shrill moans that kept rising in volume and intensity. It lasted for several seconds. Several seconds of orgasmic waves roaring through Fareeha’s body before her body finally went limp against the wall and her breathing stopped reassembling cries.

“That was…” she said as Angela stood back up, “unexpected.”

“I was hoping it would be,” Angela said. She was smiling, ignoring the fire that Fareeha’s body had lit within her. At least, she tried. Apparently, she wasn’t hiding it very well, because when Fareeha opened her eyes to look at her, she laughed.

“What?” Angela said, surprised that she sounded slightly out of breath as well.

“Nothing.” Fareeha pushed away from the wall and straightened. Her smile voiced a thousand dark promises as she leaned forward and curled her hands behind Angela’s back to unhook the clasp of her bra.

“That doesn’t feel like nothing.” Now Angela was the one who was stepping backwards. Her bra fell to the floor, as Fareeha began pushing her back and away from the wall until she could feel the edge of a couch against her legs. “It feels more like you want to have your turn.”

“My turn?” Fareeha grinned and gave her a small shove, making Angela sit down on the couch. Fareeha cocked her head slightly, standing naked and confident in front of her, and Angela’s mouth suddenly felt dry. “Don’t you want it to be my turn?”

Angela wanted to retort with a quippy answer, but her throat was tied up. Her body felt as if it had been put on vibrate, making it very hard to focus on anything other than Fareeha’s dark eyes looking down on her.

Fareeha placed her knees on either side of Angela’s hips, sitting down on her lap and placing her hands on Angela’s shoulders. She pushed her back slightly so Fareeha was still elevated above Angela’s face. Not that she minded. Fareeha’s chest was near eyeheight, and Angela had to stop herself from not staring too hard.

“Don’t I deserve to have my turn?” Fareeha said, leaning down towards Angela until their faces were only inches apart. “You got your taste.” Fareeha licked her lips. “And I want mine.”

Angela couldn’t wait any longer. She didn’t want to, she didn’t see the point in it. Not when there was so little space between them and Fareeha’s eyes were so completely filled with want and her smile so viciously intoxicating. Angela’s arms went around Fareeha again, pulling her down to remove the small space still between her, and kissed her. Kissed her with such a vigor and need that she felt her head spin.

Clearly not surprised by Angela’s assault, Fareeha leaned into the kiss with a heavy moan that sent a tremor through Angela’s body. Their tongues flicked against one another, tasting and feeling each other as they kissed, until it was interrupted by Angela’s loud gasp.

Fareeha looked overly pleased with herself.

“Not fair,” Angela managed to utter, before Fareeha’s finger flicked over Angela’s clit once again, extracting yet another moan from her lips. Angela hadn’t even noticed Fareeha’s hand reach downward. She had been too preoccupied with the kiss to pay attention to Fareeha’s hands.

“I can be cruel too.” Fareeha marked the statement with another kiss, stealing Angela’s breath and once again Angela had to break away when Fareeha applied pressure to her center.

She didn’t want to break away. She wanted to taste and touch this wonderful woman, and brought her lips back to Fareeha’s, kissing her until Fareeha’s massaging of her clit forced her to gasp for air. It was an unbelievable feeling, one that Angela wanted to continue on and on until she passed out from it. She wanted the taste and the touch, both at the same time, and felt robbed when she was denied either.

“Don’t stop,” Angela managed to gasp between kisses and moans. “Please don’t stop.”

And for a few more breaths, she didn’t. For a few more moments, Fareeha let her fingers skillfully caress Angela in the most wonderful of ways that made the blonde woman shut her eyes in bliss. She felt chills run up her spine from each wave of pleasure Fareeha’s fingers shot through her, with each kiss and taste of her mouth she was closer to breaking.

Then Fareeha stopped.

Angela opened her eyes, her breathing heavy, to see Fareeha equally out of breath. And smiling. Slowly, teasingly slowly, Fareeha raised her hand, the movement extracting a small whimper from Angela’s mouth. Her fingers were wet and glistening, and Angela could smell the sweet scent of her own desire as Fareeha brought her hand up to her mouth and licked her fingers.

“My turn,” she whispered, and in a series of quick movements Fareeha had climbed down from Angela’s lap to be seated on the floor instead and had, roughly, pulled down Angela’s panties. Fareeha took a moment to look up at Angela, making eye contact before leaning in to place her face between Angela’s legs.

The moment Fareeha’s tongue touched her clit, Angela felt her vision grow blurry from the sharp wave of pleasure that rushed through her. The earlier stimulation using just her fingers had not brought her to an orgasm, not quite at least, but the area was still sensitive to touching. Any touching. But it seemed Fareeha was an expert in what sort of touching was needed.

Angela threw her head back and let out a long cry that quivered as the wave of pleasure stretched beyond what was normal. Normally the touching and caressing lasted in short bursts, like they had just a moment ago, but Fareeha’s tongue swirled persistently, lasting for at least a second or two before releasing pressure.

Her tongue moved slowly and with an unreal precision that made Angela’s body shake with each circling around her clit. Angela’s body squirmed and her hips bucked as Fareeha drew moan after moan from her lips, extracting them in quicker and quicker succession and in shorter and shorter bursts until Angela’s moans turned into rapid panting. Fareeha’s hands was holding onto Angela’s hips, keeping her body as still as she could while her tongue, her wicked tongue, pressed and circled around Angela’s clit in the most perfect way.

She moved quicker now, Angela’s panting being punctuated with loud whimpers that raked through her body as the pleasure built and built, higher and higher, more and more, until it became too much for her body to stand.

Letting out a loud, lasting, and shivering moan, her hands shot down to grab at the couch cushions. Her knuckles turned white as she seized them, holding on hard as her body shook and quivered, while Fareeha’s tongue kept slight pressure around her clit to let the orgasm last a while longer. Her touch elevated it to last more than just a few seconds, instead stretching it far enough that Angela wasn’t entirely sure how long her body had remained taught in ecstasy when she finally felt release.

Angela fell back against the couch, her chest rising and falling rapidly, her breath wheezy, and her partner chuckling.

“You’re mean,” Angela managed to mumble after a few moments of heavy breathing. Her eyes were still closed, so she didn’t realise the kiss was coming until she felt Fareeha’s lips on hers. It was a brief kiss, a light one, which Angela was honestly thankful for since she was still ridiculously out of breath.

“I remember you saying I was sweet ,” Fareeha said.

“You are, you--” Angela let out a low laugh. She opened her eyes to see Fareeha’s face hovering just a few inches from hers. She wore a wide grin and her eyes were full of mischief. Angela smiled. “You’re very sweet.”

Fareeha’s features softened as pink rose into her cheeks. Now Angela was the one who chuckled. “And you look very cute when you’re blushing.”

“I am not--” Fareeha cut herself off, her cheeks reddening some more. “I am not cute.”

“You are though,” Angela said, sitting up straighter. The sensitivity between her legs along with the residual languidness from the orgasm made the movement slightly strained, but her grin was anything but. It was teasing and bright, and she flashed it with no hesitation. Casually, she put her arms around Fareeha and pulled her closer. “You are very cute.”

“And you call me mean,” Fareeha mumbled, but she couldn’t completely hide a smile. “And for your information, I don’t blush.”

Angela laughed. “Of course you don’t.”

“It’s just a trick of the light.”

“Sure it is.”

Fareeha raised an eyebrow. She crossed her arms as best and as defiantly as she could, still partially wrapped in Angela’s embrace. “And you’re staring at me again.”

“I can’t help myself,” Angela shrugged. “I like looking at you.”

Angela straightened more, pulling Fareeha even closer than before. Their chests would be touching if Fareeha’s arms weren’t in the way. Fareeha was trying her hardest to look unimpressed, but the quickening of her heartbeat betrayed her. Angela could feel it flutter as her hands softly caressed Fareeha’s back.

“That isn’t going to work,” Fareeha said with a smirk.

“What isn’t?”

“Complimenting me. I don’t react well to compliments, they’re all too… flowery.”

“Flowery?” Angela said with a smile. Fareeha gave her a playful slap on the arm.

“I’m serious. They make me feel all weird and...”

Icky ?” Angela grinned, and Fareeha laughed.

“I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to deal with me complimenting you,” Angela said. “Besides, I’ve done it before. You didn’t mind then.”

“That was different. You had that terrified look in your eyes.” Fareeha’s body stiffened after she said that and she looked down.

There as a brief breath of silence before Angela spoke. “Do I still look terrified?”

Fareeha glanced up, her brown eyes catching Angela’s blue ones, and the confidence she had displayed before faded. There was something else there now, a veil of uncertainty that softened her otherwise so stoic, controlled features, and Angela felt as if something inside her was melting.

Fareeha huffed out a little laugh and looked down again. She let her arms fall, her hand reaching up to draw shapes on Angela’s chest. “No. You don’t.”

“Good,” Angela said, her voice low. “Because right now, when I’m looking at you, when I’m touching you,” Her hands ran calmly to rest on Fareeha’s lower back. “I don’t feel terrified.”

“Then what do you feel?” Fareeha said, her voice as low as Angela’s. She glanced up, made eye contact, and now it was Angela who had to look away. She smiled as she did so, biting her lip.

“What?” Fareeha said, her hands knotting into fists against Angela’s chest. “What do you feel?”

“I feel happy,” Angela said. She looked up, not caring that her eyes were probably glassy and that her smile was a bit too wide. “I just feel… happy, and... and grateful, and lucky. I don’t remember the last time I was this happy.”

“That’s a lot to feel when you look at another person.”

“Well, I suppose it’s normal to feel that way in situations like this,” Angela said, a flutter of nervousness rising in her stomach. “When you’re looking at someone you’re in love with.”

Fareeha mouth twisted strangely, somewhere between a smile and her mask of self-control it turned into a weird grimace. She laughed, a tight laugh that was shaky from emotion, and she quickly dried her eyes with the back of her hand.

“Right,” she said after a moment. “That… that makes sense. I suppose. I mean, I get that, it’s… It makes sense.”

“So,” Angela said, her voice light. “You’ll just have to bare with me when I can’t stop myself from looking at you sometimes. Or from calling you cute.”

“I guess I can learn to live with that.” Fareeha relaxed, letting out a deep breath, and raised her arms to Angela’s shoulders. “You really are amazing, you know that?”

“I think you need to remind me,” Angela whispered, ignoring the pleading tone creeping into her voice.

Fareeha grinned. “Alright. I will.”

Having had time to regain her breath, Angela was able to lean harder into the kiss. She took in the feeling of it, the taste of Fareeha and the scent of her warm skin. She was soft, so soft beneath her fingertips, but her body was firm from muscle and her lips were eager. She had an energy Angela hadn’t experienced before. A vigor and want she hadn’t considered could be real.

Angela hadn’t lied when she’d talked about Jack. How safe and normal it had felt to be with him. It had been a relationship, a real relationship, but that was the thing of it. It had just... been . Before he left, Angela had never asked herself if she was happy, because she just assumed she was. She had never experienced anything else than Jack, anything else than just being comfortable. Not until Fareeha. Not until that cocky, black haired girl had grinned at her with a smile that promised change and chaos. Not until her lips and voice and hands had told Angela that there existed a different kind of happiness beyond mere contentment. She had never felt that passion. She had never thought of it, never needed it, never knew that she needed it.

Fareeha was distant and angry and confused. She was passionate and smart and caring. She was sweet. She was beautiful. And she was in love with Angela. Nothing could beat that. Nothing could ever beat that feeling. It felt like nothing could draw them apart.

Then the door opened.


 

Fareeha heard the door click open and quickly turned to look at who was entering the apartment. She saw movement, but identified the person by the voice before she was able to see them.

“Sorry, forgot my pho-- Whoa!” Brigitte had stepped into the studio, eyes scanning the room before it fell on the two naked women sitting on the couch. Fareeha reacted on pure instinct, grabbing a nearby blanket and awkwardly pulled it over Angela in a desperate attempt to shield her at least a little.

By the door, Brigitte’s face blushed red and she spun around so she wasn’t looking at them anymore. “Sorry, I’m so sorry,” she blurted.

“Get out!” Fareeha yelled, partially aware that she was still naked and very conscious to fact that Angela was too.

“Right.” Brigitte started to turn, but smartly changed her mind. She paused.

“Now!” Fareeha said loudly.

“Yes, I’ll just-- Sorry. I’ll go. Now.”

Awkwardly feeling her way back to the main door, she quickly darted back outside, leaving Angela and Fareeha alone in the studio once again.

For a long moment, Fareeha just stared at the now closed door and felt a sudden urge to hit something very hard. A knot of embarrassment was churning in her stomach and she let out a long sigh in an attempt to calm herself.

She looked back at Angela. “I am so sorry about that. I didn’t know she’d be home so soon.”

Angela was struggling with the blanket, trying to untangle herself after Fareeha had rather unceremoniously dumped it on top of her head. When she finally got free, her hair was frizzy from being caught up in the cloth.

For a moment, Fareeha feared she would be mad, but it was only a moment. Barely had Angela gotten herself free before she started laughing, laughing so hard her body was shaking.

“It’s fine,” she said between chuckles. “Very noble of you though. Protecting my honor.”

“Shut up,” Fareeha scowled and stood up from the couch. She looked around the studio. “Where the hell is my underwear?”

Angela laughed again and Fareeha glared at her. “ Not helping.”

“By the door,” Angela said, laughter clearly still in her voice.

Spotting it, Fareeha quickly picked up and pulled on her underwear as well as the shirt she had discarded on the floor, hopping awkwardly through the apartment until she was by the door to the outside. She glanced back at Angela to see that she had wrapped herself in the blanket so it covered her body, before she opened the door and peeked her head out to see Brigitte standing a few feet away.

“What are you doing here?” she hissed, very much aware of how ridiculous she must look. The thought was affirmed by Brigitte trying, poorly, to hide a grin.

“I’m sorry, I forgot my phone,” she said. “I swear, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“No kidding,” Fareeha said curtly.

“Well, I couldn’t exactly text and warn you, could I? Not that you would have noticed. You two looked pretty distracted.”

“Shut--” Fareeha cut herself off. She glanced over her shoulder to see that Angela had gotten to her feet. She leaned further out of the door, her voice now a very threatening whisper. “Shut up, or you’ll find yourself sleeping on concrete from now on.”

“Beats that excuse for a couch. Though I'll have second thoughts about sleeping on it now seeing how you treat it.”

“I bought you a mattress,” Fareeha said in a loud, accusing whisper, and Brigitte smirked. “Also, shut up .”

Fareeha felt a touch on her arm and turned. Angela was standing next to her, blanket bundled up around her chest and wearing a bright smile. “It’s fine.”

Fareeha frowned. “You sure?”

Angela nodded, and Fareeha took a moment to put on a scowling mask again before peeking back outside the door. “Make it quick.”

She opened the door, partially blocking the view of Angela and allowing Brigitte to step inside. Brigitte looked from Fareeha to Angela, taking in the view of the blonde woman mostly hidden beneath a big blanket.

“Hi,” she said, ignoring the death stare from Fareeha. “I’m Brigitte. I don’t know if Pharah has told you about me, but don’t worry. I’m just crashing here for a few weeks until I find a place to stay.”

“No, she mentioned,” Angela said. Her smile seemed sincere. “I’m Angela. And, it’s fine. Really.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Angela,” Brigitte said. She was still blushing and was shuffling awkwardly in place.

“Weren’t you supposed to be getting something?” Fareeha said, her voice terse.

“Yeah, right. Sorry, I’ll just--” Brigitte made an awkward gesture towards the kitchen across the studio. “I’ll just… go over there. Grab my phone.” She made an uncomfortable little laugh before rushing through the apartment to the kitchen. She rummaged around the area for a few long seconds before coming up with the device she was looking for. “Got it! I’ll just get out of your hair. Let you get back to--”

“Thank you,” Fareeha interrupted sharply, and she swore she heard Angela snort.

“Right. Sorry,” Brigitte said. Halfway out the door, she made an awkward wave to Angela. “Nice to meet you, Angela!”

“Nice to meet you too,” Angela responded before Fareeha closed the door after Brigitte and silence engulfed the apartment. At least for a short while before Angela started laughing again.

“This isn’t funny,” Fareeha said.

“Right,” Angela said, doing a bad job at holding in her laughter. “Right, it’s not. It isn’t funny.”

“It’s not funny,” Fareeha said again, more insisting this time.

“No, I agree.” Angela was biting her lip, but her shoulders were still shaking.

“Why are you laughing?”

“I’m not laughing.”

“You are.”

“Am not.” Angela said it with conviction, but she couldn’t keep a straight face. The corners of her mouth kept seeking upwards in a strained smile and then her shoulders would start shaking again. “Very charming, isn’t she?”

“No, don’t even start with that,” Fareeha said. “She is more of a handful than you might think.”

Angela nodded, still grinning as she spoke again. “You were right about her though.”

Fareeha frowned, but didn’t get a chance to answer before Angela continued. “She’s pretty hot.”

Fareeha’s face cracked and she couldn’t hold in the laughter. Angela laughed with her, the tension of Brigitte’s interruption evaporating as the sound filled the apartment. The embarrassment still clinging in Fareeha’s stomach wouldn’t quite go away however, and she bowed her head. She hid her face in her hands and groaned into her palms. “God dammit, she’s never gonna let me live this down.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

“You don’t know her. She might look and sound sweet, but she can be a devil when she fancies it.” Fareeha groaned. “This is why I don’t have roommates.”

Angela raised an eyebrow. “To avoid having them walk in on you while you have company?”

Realizing how that sounded, Fareeha felt heat rise in her cheeks. “That’s not what I--”

Angela chuckled again. “You do look adorable when you blush.”

Fareeha’s apologetic expression shifted into a scowl.

“Okay, I can live with cute, but adorable is off the table,” Fareeha scoffed.

“Fine. You look cute when you blush,” Angela said, and the feeling of embarrassment was surpassed by a warm, tingly feeling in her chest.

Fareeha then grinned when she saw Angela partially cover her face with the blanket to hide a yawn. “And you look cute when you’re sleepy.”

Angela gave her a long look. “Sorry, I’ve had a long shift. I think it’s all hitting me right about now.”

“Yeah, I can imagine.” The mentioning of work made Fareeha glance down at Angela’s wrist. It was mostly covered by the blanket, but the red marks were still pretty distinct against her skin.

“It doesn’t hurt,” Angela said when she saw her looking. “You don’t need to worry.”

“Yeah, you say that.” Fareeha sighed. “Doesn’t really work that way, unfortunately.”

“I’m fine,” Angela reassured her. She reached out and took Fareeha’s hand in hers, the red marks becoming fully visible as a result. “Really.”

“I just…” Fareeha was careful not to pull or otherwise press down on the wrist. The marks where long and slender, as if left by squeezing fingers. “It was him, wasn't it? He did this.”

Angela bit her lip and looked down. She didn’t say anything for a long while, and Fareeha let the quiet stretch. She could tell Angela was processing something, that she was thinking things through. She didn’t want to interrupt.

“Yes. It was,” Angela said finally. “I thought he was just another patient, and when I found out he wasn’t… He was hurt and drunk, so I had to tend to him. Then he got mad and he--” Angela stopped. “He has never done anything like this before. I didn’t think he would.”

“People change.”

“Yeah, I get that,” she said with a forced laugh. “I just thought… I thought I knew him. At least, knew him well enough to be sure he wouldn’t be like that. He’s not the person I--”

She stopped herself before she finished the sentence, but it still stung. It always stung a little when Angela talked about Jack that way, about how it had been, about their previous relationship. It was history Fareeha would never be able to compete with and she knew it. But it still hurt to be reminded of the fact.

Fareeha straightened, her thumb brushing lightly against Angela’s skin. “You’re alright, though?”

Angela gave a tired smile. “I’m fine. Really, I am. I’m happy.” She stepped closer to Fareeha, close enough that the blanket pressed against Fareeha’s shirt. “I don’t want to think about him right now. I want to focus on better things. More important things.”

“Such as?”

Her mouth turned up in a soft smile, before Angela leaned in and placed a kiss on Fareeha’s lips. She broke away after a few seconds. “That, for instance.”

Angela raised a hand to cover her mouth as she yawned again. Fareeha grinned.

“You seem a bit too tired for that .”

“Nonsense,” Angela said, proving the falsity of the statement by yawning again.

Fareeha chuckled. She grabbed Angela by the hips and pulled her closer, bending down slightly to give her another kiss.

“Mmmh…” Angela hummed against her lips. A pleased sound that went well with the sudden weight behind her body as she leaned against Fareeha.

“No offense,” Fareeha said as the kiss ended, “but you are pretty much asleep on your feet right now.”

Angela looked ready to protest, but she seemed to change her mind after a moment of consideration. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get so tired all of a sudden.”

“Don’t apologize,” Fareeha said. “Let’s gather up the clothes. It’s getting a little late anyway.”

“I can go home, if you don’t--” She didn’t get to finish before Fareeha had turned away and started picking up discarded clothing from the floor. She did it out of courtesy for everyone involved. She didn’t want Brigitte to come home and have to walk through a trail of very telling clothes, and she didn’t want Angela’s garments to be grouped in with said very telling clothing.

She heard light taps of feet against floor, and when Fareeha turned to go into the bedroom, she found Angela sitting at the foot of her bed, blanket still wrapped around her and a tired smile on her face.

“Thank you,” she said, as Fareeha entered the room. Fareeha folded up the clothes and stacked it on a nearby chair.

“It’s no trouble. I know how you like things neat.”

“No, not that,” Angela laughed. “Thank you . For being like you are.”

“Which is what exactly?” Fareeha grinned before stripping out of her shirt and underwear. “Being cute and sweet?”

“The latter part mostly,” Angela said. Fareeha noticed that she glanced away as to not stare at her now naked body. Fareeha shook her head slightly before sitting down on the bed and climbing up behind Angela to put her arms around her waist.

“I thought you liked looking at me,” she said, placing a gentle kiss on her neck before resting her chin on Angela’s shoulder.

“I do, but… Staring is rude, isn’t it?”

“What if I want you to stare?” Fareeha said in a low voice, kissing her neck again. “Would it be rude then?”

Angela didn’t answer, but her hands did move down to hold onto Fareeha’s. Angela gave them a reassuring squeeze, leaning backwards into Fareeha’s arms. “You are so much better at this than I am.”

Fareeha scoffed. “Agree to disagree.”

She climbed up the bed, ducking beneath the covers and looked back to see Angela following suit. She had dropped the blanket and quickly folded it before joining Fareeha beneath the covers.

“You don’t have to sleep with me,” Angela said, earning a raised eyebrow from Fareeha in response. Angela sighed. “You know what I mean.”

“I know what you mean,” Fareeha said. “And I know. But I want to. Besides, I’m feeling a bit worn out for some reason.”

“Oh, yeah?” Angela grinned.

“Yeah, it’s weird.” Fareeha lay down on the pillow, one hand at her side and the other beneath her head. “It’s almost as if someone ruined my legs just a few minutes ago, but that might have been my imagination.”

Angela’s cheeks grew rosy and Fareeha smiled.

“For the record, you look cute when you blush too. Adorable , even.” Fareeha reached up and pulled gently at Angela’s hair to beckon her closer.

“You’re very funny,” Angela said, abiding the silent request and scooted closer to Fareeha so she was pressed up against her. Fareeha let one arm slip beneath Angela, adjusting until she could lie comfortably in the bed and still toy with Angela’s hair.

“Good that you’re beginning to realize.”

They lay quiet for a bit. Angela’s head was resting partly on Fareeha’s bicep, and her arms were pressing against Fareeha’s. One lay between their two bodies, the other reached over Fareeha’s stomach. Fareeha couldn’t see Angela’s face, but she could feel how her breathing slowed and her body grew heavier as it relaxed.

Fareeha’s eyes drifted from the back of Angela’s blonde head to the arm laying across her stomach. Pale and beautiful, the fingers on her slender hand were curled slightly to form around the curvature of Fareeha’s waist. It was a wonderful feeling, but it was stained slightly by the bruising that was still clearly visible.

The red markings snaking around the exposed arm made a sour taste rise in Fareeha’s mouth. She wasn’t certain, but it seemed as though the bruising was darker than it had been before. More defined and contrasted against Angela’s skin.

It made Fareeha angry, she realized. Made her furious even. Angry at Angela for not wanting help, angry at herself for not being there to protect her, and, mostly, angry at the prick who had done this to her.

“Angela,” Fareeha said quietly.

“Mmmh…” Her voice was barely audible. She was already drifting off.

Fareeha paused and bit her lip. Her toying with Angela’s hair stopped and her body stiffened. She hoped Angela was too out of it to notice. “I just…” She stopped again. Hesitated a long moment as she looked down at Angela’s arm. She sighed. “Nothing. It’s nothing. Just rest.”

Angela didn’t answer. Clearly, she had been more exhausted than she had let on, because she was already falling asleep.

Quietly, Fareeha went back to playing with Angela’s hair, lowering her head back on the pillow to stare up at the ceiling. The anger was still there, looming in her stomach like a prowling wolf stalking for prey. It was looking for something, anything, to fill it. Anything to satiate it. She wanted someone to blame for this, she needed someone to blame.

Luckily, that was an easy thing to do. She knew shouldn’t blame herself for what happened, though she did slightly, and blaming Angela was completely out of the question. That feeling had been momentary, one born out of frustration, not reason.

There was only one person to blame for this, one person she could direct her anger towards. One person who would come to regret what he had done to the woman Fareeha cared about.

Letting the anger settle within her, like she had done before, Fareeha closed her eyes and let herself relax.

Chapter Text

The morning was unusual in that Fareeha was the first one to wake up. It was early and she groaned at the exhaustion still pressing against her eyelids. She didn't even have an early day today, and sleeping in sounded like a very good idea right now.

She sensed arms tightening around her waist and heard a low sigh. The kind of comfortable sound made by someone still asleep, but brought closer to consciousness by the world stirring around them. At some point during the night, Fareeha and Angela had switched places. Instead of Fareeha’s arm laying protectively around Angela, it was now the other way around. Fareeha lay on her side, turned away, with the woman's arms gently wrapped around her. She held back a laugh. She couldn't remember the last time she had been the little spoon. If she ever had.

Being careful, as to not wake Angela, Fareeha turned to face the sleeping woman. As she moved, Angela muttered something in her sleep and her eyelids fluttered. Her hair was frizzy and fell partially in front of her face.

“‘The pretty little doctor is mumbling in her sleep,’” Fareeha sang, her voice low and calm. It made another noise escape Angela's lips, this time it sounded vaguely like words, but still entirely incomprehensible.

“It’s alright,” Fareeha said, stroking Angela’s hair away from her face. She was speaking in Arabic again, something she often found herself doing subconsciously. She had caught herself doing it around Angela more than a few times, but right now it didn’t matter what language she was speaking. “We can sleep a little while longer.”

Angela muttered something again, her brows knotting together slightly. Her body curled up against Fareeha and she let out small sounds of discomfort.

“No…” she heard Angela mumble after a moment. Her head was moving in slight jitters and her hands clenched around the bedsheet.

“Shh…” Fareeha put an arm around Angela as she stirred in her sleep. Her breathing was becoming slightly uneven. “It’s just a dream.”

Maybe it was Fareeha’s voice or her touch that did it, or maybe it was just a passing dream, but Angela’s movements stilled and her body relaxed. She moved slightly to better fit into Fareeha’s arms, her head pressing against Fareeha’s chest and her breathing returning to its calm rhythm. Her arms went up so they were pinned between their two bodies, her fingers not quite relinquishing their grip on the sheet.

At that, Fareeha felt her stomach sink. The light marks on Angela’s skin had grown into an angry red color that snaked around her arm in a way that seemed almost possessive. It lit something in Fareeha’s chest, a flame very unlike the passionate one she felt when she was with the woman now lying in her arms.

She felt her body tighten and bit her lip. This wasn’t fair and she knew it. The rage and anger she was feeling, so aimlessly directed at something beyond her reach, was churning knots in her stomach. Keeping her movement as calm and restrained as possible, she unhooked herself from the embrace and slid out of the bed. Angela seemed to be completely out of it, only managing a light groan as Fareeha stood up. Quickly, she pulled on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, giving Angela one last look before leaving the bedroom. She needed a moment.

The stone floor of the garage was cool against her bare feet and Fareeha took a deep breath. She couldn’t do what she really wanted to do, which was yell at or smash something, since Angela would definitely hear her. The studio was not spacious enough for Fareeha to have even a light conversation without it being heard clearly inside her bedroom. So instead, she walked to her motorcycle and sat down on the floor to lean against it.

She remembered the last time she’d been this angry. It had been the last time she’d talked to her mother. Or rather the last time they had fought, though the two were mutually exclusive. A lot of shouting, a lot of yelling. But that had been personal. Her anger had been spurned on as it only could be by family. There was a softness to the anger, a pull that would always leave an ounce of love and respect, no matter how hard they fought. No matter what words were exchanged. This was different.

She didn’t know Jack. She had only seen him once, but she hated him so intensely it was scary. Why exactly was hard to pin down, but the basic reason was obvious to anyone with eyes. He had hurt Angela, and Fareeha couldn’t accept that.

It would be one thing that he had hurt her emotionally. That alone was enough to dislike him, but that didn’t account for the rage she felt when she looked down at those bruises on Angela’s arm. No, that rage came from something else entirely. Fear. Not her own, but Angela’s. He had hurt her, physically hurt her, and frightened her to boot. Angela had believed she would be safe with him, at least safe enough that he would never threaten her like he had. Jack’s interference with Angela’s life was not only unhealthy, it was stalking. Broke into her apartment, showed up at her work. Hurt her. He had hurt her.

Fareeha’s jaw clenched and she punched her fist into the concrete floor. It let the aggression out somewhat and she felt the sting of stone against her knuckles. She groaned against the pain, pleased when it dulled the rage in her chest. A little, at least.

Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the bike. She couldn’t stay in this angry state. Angela hadn’t asked for her help. Until she did, not bringing up the matter again would be the wise thing to do. But when had Fareeha ever been wise? She wouldn’t be able to let this go, not as long as Angela was afraid of something like this. It was a strange realization to have, especially since Fareeha couldn’t pinpoint a time where she had felt that way before. Wanting to protect someone other than herself was not foreign to her, but this was more than wanting. It was a need and it scared her a little bit how intense that need was.

Ignoring the loud voice in her head saying she was acting like an idiot, she unlocked her phone. Her fingers brushed over the keyboard, typing out a message, and quickly hitting send before any sort of rationality could stop her from doing so.

Fareeha [08.15] text me when you wake up

Fareeha [08.15] its about time i cashed in one of those favors you owe me

Angela didn’t want her help. She didn’t want to talk about the possibility of needing help, not even when she was physically threatened. And it hurt. It hurt that she didn’t want Fareeha’s help, that she didn’t want to share that weight with her, though Fareeha was unsure why exactly it was affecting her as much as it was.

She had never been very passive in life. That wasn’t about to change. She needed to do something, for her own sanity, even if Angela didn’t want her to.

“There you are.” Angela’s voice, though it was light and sleepy, made Fareeha jump. She looked up to see Angela standing in the doorway to the bedroom, sheet wrapped around her body, and a crooked smile on her face. “Did I scare you?”

“No. No, not at all.” Fareeha got to her feet quickly. “I was just… You were still sleeping.”

“I’m not anymore,” she said teasingly. “Though I’m not opposed to going back to bed. If that’s what you’re insinuating.”

Fareeha huffed. “Well, when you put it like that.” She walked over and put her hands around Angela’s waist. Gently, Angela raised herself up and placed a small kiss on her lips.

“What were you doing sitting out here?” she asked, and Fareeha shrugged.

“I don’t know. I was just thinking.”

“Thinking?”

“Yeah.” Fareeha looked down. “You know… about things.”

“What kind of things?” Angela said. Her voice had dropped an octave, and Fareeha was suddenly very aware of how thin the bedsheet was as Angela pressed her body against her. “Something about me?”

“I don’t always think about you,” Fareeha said, but her voice sounded weak and the argument even more so.

Angela grinned, but didn’t say anything as she leaned into Fareeha and kissed her again. It was deeper this time, and a small unexpected groan hitching in the back of her throat made a shiver run down Fareeha’s spine.

“I was actually thinking about something important,” Fareeha managed to say between kisses.

“Mmmhmm,” Angela mused against her lips. Directed by the weight of Angela’s body, Fareeha felt herself being pushed back towards the bed. She stepped carefully until the back of her legs hit the mattress and she sat down. Following her, and letting the bedsheet loosen beneath her hands at the same time, Angela climbed up to be sitting on her lap. Her hands caressed Fareeha’s shoulders, neck, and throat. “Do you want to talk about it right now?”

Fareeha’s grip around Angela tightened and she looked up into bright, blue eyes that held lewd promises. Angela leaned into her again, slowly, placing her lips on Fareeha’s and for a moment Fareeha forgot what she had been meaning to ask. Angela breathed heavily against her skin, her hands caressing softly and with torturous precision.

“Actually,” Fareeha said, breaking the kiss. Her breathing was a bit uneven. “I need to ask you some things.”

She spoke quickly, too quickly, and she could feel her cheeks grow warmer. It didn’t help when Angela smiled a bit too confidently at her. She hooked her arms around her neck and leaned back so she could look at her better.

“What do you want to ask me?”

Fareeha’s face was very red, something that was made all the more obvious by the mirth in Angela’s eyes. Fareeha fidgeted where she sat, made awkward by Angela still sitting on her lap.

“I’m not very good at this.” She felt Angela’s fingers draw circles against her back and felt comforted by that. Somewhat, at least. She still couldn’t fully look at the woman in front of her. “I was just wondering… Based on our talk yesterday, that… if we--” Fareeha cleared her throat. “Are we like… Am I your girlfriend now, or..?”

Angela stiffened and Fareeha felt a familiar fear stir in her stomach. Angela’s fingers had stopped their soft caressing against her skin and they remained still for a long moment before she raised a hand to trail it through Fareeha’s hair.

“Do you want to be my girlfriend?” she asked.

“I don’t know what that means,” Fareeha said, glancing up at Angela again. “I mean… I know what it means. Sorta. I just haven’t had a girlfriend before, so…”

Angela chuckled. “Well… that makes two of us, doesn’t it?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I know what you mean.” Angela gave a soft, slightly sad, smile, and it sent a pang through Fareeha’s chest. “We don’t have to go there if you don’t want to. We can just keep it… I don’t know. Light and casual.”

“Yesterday didn’t feel very light and casual.”

“Parts of it did.” Angela smiled, but the humor was short-lived. “I’m not really the best person to ask about relationship advice.”

“Oh, because I’m so much better,” Fareeha grumbled and Angela let out a light laugh. Her fingers were nuzzling Fareeha’s neck in a way that was both comforting and distracting, but Fareeha wasn’t about to ask her to stop. “It’s… This is new for me and… I’m just…”

Looking up at Angela again, she noticed that she was smiling a bit too wide. Fareeha frowned. “What’s so funny?”

“I’m just always surprised when I see you being all tongue tied. Especially when I think about when we first met.”

“Yes, I’m much better at making conversation in a grungy bar than I am two months into a relationship.” Fareeha fidgeted again. “Like I said… I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Angela’s one hand was still twirled in Fareeha’s hair, the other drawing gentle circles on her back. It was a kind and calming touch that sent a warmth through Fareeha’s body. It went on for a little while, the two of them just sitting in silence, until Fareeha looked up and found Angela biting her lip. Now she was the one looking down, though her hands were still caressing Fareeha in that semi-distracting way.

“At first, I didn’t know what I was doing either. With this, with you,” Angela said. “I was… dumb and confused and… But I’ve learned, haven’t I?”

Fareeha let out a little laugh, but didn’t say anything else as Angela brushed a strand of hair behind Fareeha’s ear. Angela looked at her intently. “You still haven’t answered my question.”

Fareeha felt a fearful tightness in her abdomen, but she didn’t look away. “I don’t know. I don’t know what it means. I haven’t done it before.”

“Well...” Angela adjusted her position so she was slightly closer to Fareeha. The bedsheet mostly covered her body, which Fareeha was thankful for. Angela’s hands were distracting enough as it was. Angela continued. “We can take it slow. And if you don’t like it… we can stop.”

Fareeha frowned. “Would you be alright with that?”

Angela smiled again, though it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “You’ve been very sweet with me and with what I’ve needed. You’ve been so attentive, to make sure I feel comfortable. You always ask me if what you’re doing is okay, always making sure I’m alright.”

“Of course.”

Angela shrugged. “This is new for you. If going slow is what you need, then we’ll go slow. There is nothing wrong with that. And, for what it’s worth, you can always talk to me if you need to.”

“I think I need to, but I can’t,” Fareeha blurted. The caressing stopped again. “There are a lot of thoughts running through my head and… I know a thing or two about running away. I’ve had girls crying outside my door after one night stands, and I’ve felt the fear when they wanted more than I could give them. The… panic. And I’ve run away from them.”

“Are you scared you might feel that way again?” Angela asked. Fareeha sighed and lowered her head.

“I’m scared-- I’m scared you might, alright? You weren’t too keen on this turning into a thing in the beginning if I recall correctly. And then with the asshole coming back, I just-- It would be understandable if a relationship wasn’t exactly on the top of your bucket list.”

Angela’s hands slipped down to rest on Fareeha’s shoulders. Fareeha looked down, avoiding eye contact with the woman sitting in front of her and she sighed. “I don’t know if this is what is best. If it’s what you-- Maybe it would be better to just--”

“Shh…” Angela silenced her by leaning in and kissing her. It was deep and long, stealing her breath as well as her words, and she couldn’t stop herself from letting out a little gasp when they broke apart. Angela wasn’t immune to it either, her breathing turning ragged as they parted.

“I get it, okay? I get that you’re scared, but… I don’t want you to be scared because of me.” Angela looked down. She was toying with her own fingers, pressed against the top of Fareeha’s chest. “It’s not my place to say when you are or aren’t ready for something. Especially not something like this. But you should know that… the decision is yours. If you want to be my… girlfriend, then… Well, you won’t hear any protests from me.”

Fareeha looked at Angela for a long moment. Her blue eyes were shifty, her mouth tight, and her body stiff. She was nervous, that much was clear, and there was a vulnerability there that made the tight feeling in Fareeha’s gut loosen.

“I’m not… opposed,” she said finally. “I’m just...”

“I’m a little out of my depth too, honestly.” Angela lifted herself off Fareeha to sit next to her on the bed. She pulled the sheet a bit tighter around herself. “I feel like a new world I didn’t even realize existed has suddenly opened up.”

“‘Suddenly’ as in right now?”

“No, just… It's everything, all the time. For instance, I’d never been with a woman before you. Never even considered it, at least I don’t think I ever did. But maybe that's just because I didn’t allow myself to, you know? Maybe I wouldn’t allow myself because I was already with Jack and I was happy with him. Only, I wasn’t this sort of happy, it was… It was a different sort of happy. A not as good sort of happy.”

Fareeha smiled softly. “You’re rambling.”

Angela shrugged. “Yeah, well… A lot of confusing thoughts going through my mind.” Angela turned her head suddenly to look up at Fareeha. “When did you first know you liked girls?”

Fareeha sputtered at the blunt question. “Ehh… I’m not sure. I just… I don’t know, I think I always knew. I never wanted to do anything with guys. I only ever got that feeling when I looked at other girls.”

“Hmm…” Angela looked contemplative. Fareeha reached over and put a hand on her lower back.

“It looks like you’re thinking real hard about something.”

“I am,” she said. She let out a half-hearted scoff. “Dark and terrible things, in fact.”

“Such as?”

Angela sighed. “Frightening things. Like… the only relationship I’ve ever had, the relationship I was ready to commit myself to for life, may not have been real. Because I felt things for Jack, I really did. I loved him, but it wasn’t… It wasn’t like this at all. I thought what Jack and I had was right, but then again I didn’t have anything to really compare it to. And now that I have, it’s just…” Angela wiped angrily at her nose. “I thought I had everything figured out and now it feels like I’m back at square one. Like I have to relearn everything.”

Fareeha bit her lip and looked away. “Are you mad at me?”

Angela smiled and when she looked up at Fareeha there was a fondness in her eyes that made Fareeha’s heart beat faster. “No, I’m not mad at you. I’m frustrated at the intricacies of human emotion and my own poor life decisions.”

Fareeha scoffed. “Same.”

Angela let out a loud laugh at that comment. She scooted closer to Fareeha, the sheet falling slightly to reveal her bare shoulders and part of her chest. Fareeha strained to maintain eye contact. “What I’m gathering from this conversation is that neither of us know what we’re doing, but we’re having fun doing it. Am I getting that right?”

“Sure, that about sums it up,” Angela said.

“And adding the label of ‘girlfriend’...” Fareeha smiled ever so slightly. “What kind of responsibilities would come with such a title?”

“Well…” Angela looked away, as if to contemplate the question. “More of those outings, like the one in the coffee shop. More bike rides, more staying over. Less clothing.”

“Less than we have now?”

“Says you.” Angela pulled at Fareeha’s t-shirt with a grin. “You’d also have to open up to me about your dark, terrible past. Obviously.”

“What makes you think I have one of those?”

“Call it a guess,” Angela teased. Fareeha returned the suggestive smile.

“Maybe I will, in time. But first…” Fareeha grabbed Angela and pushed her further up on the bed before rolling over to effectively pin her against the mattress. Angela squealed at the treatment, but the bright smile made any worry left in Fareeha’s chest evaporate. Fareeha grinned. “First I think we should do something about that less clothing thing.”

 


 

Though Fareeha didn't get to sleep in that day, she couldn't exactly be too mad about it. Having taken advantage of the still empty apartment, she and Angela had spent the better part of the morning like they had spent so many others.

It was closer to noon when Fareeha announced she had an errand to run. Angela had said she would leave too, and though Fareeha had told her that she was welcome to stay at the studio Angela had declined. She wanted to be home, she had said, which Fareeha wasn't going to argue against.

Angela did let Fareeha give her a ride home, checking off yet another item on the girlfriend list. Fareeha had to admit that she liked the feeling of Angela's hands around her waist as they drove, tightening whenever they made a sharp turn or when Fareeha sped up the bike.

That was a few hours ago now, and Fareeha was beginning to get annoyed. She was standing outside a university dorm, doing her best to ignore the various whistles and yells pointed in her general direction. She was leaning against the wall, sunglasses on, earbuds in, and arms crossed over her chest. She was doing her very best to appear unapproachable, mostly because she really did not have the patience for declining the advances of a blabbering frat boy unable to read body cues. It was also partially because the blissful mood she'd been in this morning had evaporated soon after she'd dropped off Angela and yelling at a random college student wouldn't make anyone feel better. It was easier to create a facade of dismissiveness from the start instead of acting polite while a stranger tried to strike up conversation. It had worked before, and it was working just fine now.

The doors to the dorm opened and young man exited. Nothing out of the usual, several guys had passed through the doors in the time Fareeha had been standing there, but she actually recognized this one. Wearing a pastel green robe over dark shorts and a black t-shirt, Lúcio sauntered a few steps before noticing her and shooting her a soft smile.

“Took you long enough,” Fareeha said as she pushed off the wall and went over to him.

“Have you never heard of beauty sleep? You should try it sometime.” His eyes were narrowed and he was blinking more than usual. He was also looking a bit pale. Fareeha scoffed.

“Late night, I take it?”

“Late enough.”

“How much did you drink this time?”

“Enough that the exact amount escapes me,” he said. He turned from her and sat on a nearby bench. A young man waved at Lúcio as he did so, and Lúcio returned the gesture with a grin. He glanced back over at Fareeha. “So, what brings you to campus? Other than bugging me at this ungodly hour.”

“It’s noon,” Fareeh retorted, sitting down next to him. “I need a favor.”

“Your text said as much.”

“I need you to find someone for me.”

Lúcio frowned at her. “Do I look like a detective to you?”

“Don’t act like I’m asking something impossible here. You know everyone in this town.”

“Yeah, in a ‘that guy hangs with that crowd’ kinda way. Not in a ‘taking illicit photos of the husband and his mistress’ way. Which is what I’m thinking this is about.”

“You enjoy jumping to conclusions, don’t you?”

“Please.” He gave her a playful shove. “You’d never ask for help unless it was for something big. Someone must have really pissed you off, or at least made an impact, for you to act this way.”

“And you know this about me how exactly?”

Lúcio grinned. When he spoke, it was in a playful whisper. “Apparently, I know everyone in this town.”

“Then this favor won’t be much of an issue for you then, now will it?” Fareeha said, her voice sharp. “I need to find someone. Or just information about someone. I know you’re familiar with the bar scene and this guy seems to frequent it.”

“What makes you say that?”

“He recently found himself in the hospital, drunk and hurt. Bar brawl, I assume.”

“You assume?” Lúcio smiled. He glanced down at her hands. “I take it you weren’t the reason for the hospital visit?”

Fareeha’s jaw clenched. “No.”

“Hmm…” Lúcio looked her over for a moment, his lips pursed in contemplation. “Fine. Consider me intrigued. Though, I am going to need a bit more information than ‘drunk guy in the hospital’. You have a name? Description?”

“Both. Sorta. His name is Jack. I don’t know his last name. He’s white with blond hair and blue eyes and he has a scar over one eyebrow. And a very punchable attitude.”

“Ouch. Bad blood, huh? Normally, my guess would be ex-lover, but knowing you that’s unlikely.”

“Yeah, some of us have a type that we stick to.”

“What’s that like?” Lúcio mused and, despite her best efforts, a smile crept up on Fareeha’s face.

“Can’t promise anything,” Lúcio continued. “Seems like an average guy, except the old scar business. Is he hot?”

Fareeha removed her sunglasses, just so she could give him a look. “Wrong person to ask.”

“Is he conventionally attractive then? It’s very important to my investigation.”

Fareeha rolled her eyes. “I guess he is… I was a bit too distracted by him acting like a creep to get a feeling for how hot you might find him.”

“Why do you want to find him anyway? Not gonna kill him, are you?” He said it in jest, but when Fareeha didn’t respond Lúcio’s playful attitude turned serious. “Pharah, what’s this about?”

“Some unfinished business.”

“Obviously, but I need you to tell what kind of business that is.”

Fareeha looked over at him. Lúcio didn’t usually talk this way. “Why do you care?”

“Because I don’t want to be involved with something ending in criminal activity. How’s that for reason?” His voice was hushed now. “I don’t want you involved in a crime either.”

“There won’t be any crime happening. You can relax. Panic doesn’t look good on you.” Fareeha crossed her arms. “He’s an asshole and he’s… He’s an asshole. I just want to know a bit more about him. I want to talk to him, to make sure he keeps his distance.”

A long moment of silence passed between them before Lúcio leaned in closer to her.

“Did he do something bad?” he said, voice low. Fareeha shook her head.

“Not to me.”

“But to someone else?”

She didn’t say anything. Lúcio had stopped appearing relaxed and was fidgeting on the bench.

“Do I need to call the police about this guy?”

“No, that’s…” Fareeha sighed. “No. And even if you did, it’s… complicated. It’s not my business to look into him. Not really. I just need to know.”

“Know what?”

Fareeha stood up. She put on her sunglasses as she did and glanced around, making sure no one was within ear shot. “I want to talk to him. Ask him some questions.”

Lúcio looked up at her, his face confused and worried. “Please tell me you won’t be in trouble because of this.”

Fareeha smiled halfheartedly. “Text me when you find out anything.”

She leaned down and squeezed Lúcio’s shoulder before turning. She stuck her hands in the pockets of her leather jacket and, without looking back, she walked away from the dormitory.

 


 

 

Her studio felt unnaturally quiet when Angela entered it again. Since Jack had showed up, she had done whatever she could to stay busy somewhere else than the apartment. Be it with errands, work, or with Fareeha, she was always looking for reasons not to be alone with her thoughts.

Honestly, she had felt sad when Fareeha had dropped her off at her building. Angela had stood for a little while on the sidewalk, watching as Fareeha drove away. The morning had been so nice, and now she had an entire day of doing nothing to look forward to.

Angela was a person who always stayed busy. She was always doing something, either studying, researching, or working, and when she wasn’t her mind was buzzing thinking about all the things she should be doing. It was particularly bad when she was alone, like she was now, and the feeling wasn’t helped by the overwhelming sensation of otherness she now had concerning the studio. She and Jack had moved into the place together years ago, and when he left she just hadn’t gotten rid of the place. Parts of her hadn’t wanted to. It reminded her of the man she loved and missed, and she didn’t want to give it up. Now the apartment was a husk of a memory. A skeleton of bad thoughts, anger, and fear that she felt ill at home in.

So she distracted herself in the ways she usually did. Scrubbed down the kitchen. Cleaned and dusted the studio. Leafed through a thick medical journal she had already read once before. Actions meant to pass hours until her mind stopped whirring and body became tired enough to sleep, and for a few hours it worked flawlessly.

Angela was halfway through a research paper when her phone rang. Her first thought being that it was Fareeha calling, Angela picked it up with a quickness she blamed on boredom, but when she saw the caller ID her heart sank a little. She sighed and shook off the disappointment before answering the phone.

“Angela Ziegler speaking.” Her voice was light, but professional. A practiced tune she had perfected in the years since she had gotten her Ph.D.

“Miss Ziegler,” a husky voice flowed from the phone speaker. It was mature and carried a lilt of an Irish accent that was instantly recognizable, even if she hadn’t been identified by the caller ID. “This is Moira O’Deorain. Been a while since we last spoke.”

One of the leading professors at Overwatch University, Moira O’Dorain was an enigmatic character whose personality shifted between being cold and calculating. Angela rolled her eyes, but kept her tone polite and pleasing. “Dr. O’Deorain. A pleasure to hear from you.”

“Pleasure indeed.” Being already familiar with O’Deorain’s mannerisms, Angela wasn’t exactly surprised at the sharpness of her voice. Still, it made a small shiver run up her spine when she spoke again. “I trust the tuition we are paying has been put to good use. I’ve been informed that your semester is over.”

“It is, yes. I turned in my thesis last week.”

“Congratulations.” There was no sincerity in the statement. “In that case, I trust you have plenty of time on your hands. The foundation is having a celebratory dinner party next week for the scholarship students.”

“...Oh?” Angela said after a long moment of silence.

“Being the star pupil that you are, we’d be flattered to see you there. The brass prefer to see the results of their donations in the flesh, and you are one of the more impressive students enrolled in the program.”

OU had a special scholarship that was made available to students of exceptional talent. Called the Excellence Program, it was a scholarship granted only to the brightest students as a means to have their credentials, and thereby any future success they may achieve, attached to the university. They only admitted a small handful of students each year, and most of them didn’t qualify for the program for more than a semester before their grades would slip below “acceptable levels.” She and Winston were two among about a dozen students who had been accepted into the Excellence program and were still benefiting from it.

Angela had always been somewhat uncomfortable with that. OU was a prestigious university, and since she had already finished a prior degree, the reason for her being enrolled again under a full scholarship often made others dislike her on principal. They assumed she was more than able to pay for the tuition herself, which she always found amusing. The government job she had been working prior to attending university had not had as glamorous of a paycheck attached to it as most people seemed to think - assuming, of course, that they knew about the job at all, which most people didn’t.

“Ne-Next week?” she stammered.

“Yes, short notice, I am aware. A mix-up on our end, which is why I thought it more proper to deliver the request to you directly. The dinner is next Friday. Black tie, obviously. I’ll have my assistant forward you the details.”

It didn’t escape Angela that O’Deorain simply assumed she would be attending the event. “Alright, eh… Yes. Thank you for informing me, Dr. O’Deorain.”

“I am looking forward to seeing you there. Your admission to this academy has not gone unnoticed. And do bring that delightful fiancé of yours as well. He was such good company last time.”

Angela felt her stomach churn. “Oh… Right.”

Silence stretched for a moment before O’Deorain’s ever professional voice sounded again. “Is there a problem?”

“No. I mean, yes, I…” Angela cleared her throat. “Jack and I are no longer engaged. Unfortunately. We broke it off about a year ago.”

“How unfortunate,” O’Deorain said, her voice even. “He made for such entertaining company.”

“Yeah, so… It will just be me attending. No fiancé.”

“A shame. The financiers always enjoy seeing their investments settling down. Besides, significant others make for a more diverse crowd at these sorts of events.” There was a light clacking on the other end of the line as Moira typed something on a keyboard. “If you’re able, consider bringing a companion along. An interesting person such as yourself should be seen with equally interesting company.”

“Thank you, Dr. O’Deorain. That’s kind of you.”

“Kind indeed. I’m looking forward to seeing you again, Miss Ziegler. If I recall correctly, we have a few unfinished discussions left over from last year’s dinner.”

Moira O’Deorain was a renowned scientist with focus on genetic engineering. Angela had attended her lectures in some of her earlier semesters, and she was not at all afraid of debating her points with those she considered equals. Admittedly, this included very few people as Angela later found out, which hadn’t exactly helped her assimilate with the student public. O’Deorain treated everyone cooly and considered the boundary between student and teacher impassable. She had made an exception for Angela, which was more disconcerting than anything else.

Angela laughed nervously. “Yes, I seem to recall a few interesting debates as well. I wouldn’t mind taking them up again. Assuming, of course, you’d have time.”

“Of course you remember. And I always make time for a quality sparring partner.” A few more clicks from a keyboard. “I look forward to seeing you there, and whoever you decide to bring. Goodbye, Miss Ziegler.”

“Goodbye, Dr. O’Deo-” There was a click as O’Deorain hung up on her end. Angela looked at the phone for a moment before scoffing and putting it away. As intelligent as O’Deorain was, her manners left something to be desired. This was not a new development, so it wasn’t exactly a surprised. Neither was this dinner party she had mentioned. The board had one every year, but with everything that had been going on it had simply slipped Angela’s mind.

There was also the matter of her plus one. Previously, it had never been an issue since she could just bring Jack along, but now it was different. Obviously, the thought of Fareeha attending the party with her entered her mind and stuck there for long moment before it began feeling strange. Not because Angela didn’t want to bring her, but because she had no idea how Fareeha would react to such a request.

Fareeha had frequently said that she was familiar with the bar and club scene, and her aesthetic didn’t exactly lend itself well to black tie events. In all the time they had been dating, Angela had never once seen her in a dress.

Angela’s mind stilled for a moment at that thought. She had never thought about the two of them as dating before. Together, having fun, but not dating . A warm feeling blossomed in her chest, making her smile dumbly for a moment before the stress surrounding this immediate dinner party came into her mind again.

Even disregarding the possible conflicts that could arise by bringing Fareeha to this sort of event, it was incredibly short notice for something so major and also a pretty big step. You didn’t bring your fuckbuddy to a black tie gala. At least, Angela didn’t. Wouldn’t. Shouldn’t? She didn’t even know how Fareeha would react. If she would scoff at the idea, or become annoyed or excited. Angela didn’t know if she should even ask her, but she also didn’t know if Fareeha would be upset if she wasn’t asked.

The other horrible fact of it was that she didn’t know who else to ask. She wasn’t terribly close to anyone else, other than Winston but he had his own invitation and showing up with him would raise more questions than she was willing to deal with. Besides, he would probably want to bring Athena along and she didn’t want to impose on that.

“Jesus. Just relax, Angela,” she mumbled to herself. She was spiralling. Panicking over a problem that didn’t even exist yet and she knew it. She should just… ask. She knew she wanted to ask, but after their talk this morning, about giving Fareeha space and going slow, this seemed to be very much the opposite. Nothing says ‘light and casual’ like a black tie dinner with some of the most wealthy individuals in the city.

She could also just go alone, she thought, and she grimaced. The idea of it was enough to make a heavy weight descend on her shoulders. At the previous year’s dinners, the only thing that had kept her sane throughout the evening had been Jack standing at her side. When she was being presented and her academic accomplishments showcased, he had been there to take some of the attention she so loathed to receive. The thought of going alone made her feel sick.

“I’m such an idiot,” she said, before pulling out her phone and typing in Fareeha’s number.

 


 

 

Fareeha laughed into the phone. “I’m sorry, you want me to go to a what now?”

“It’s just a dinner party,” Angela said. She was speaking quickly and nervously, both of which made her sound ridiculously adorable.

“No, that’s not what you said. You said suits and black tie, which does not equal ‘just a dinner party.’ Also, the term ‘dinner party’ already makes it sound presumptuous as hell.”

“I know this is probably not your scene--”

“You got that right,” Fareeha muttered.

“But I really don’t want to go alone, alright? There’s gonna be nothing but stuffy suits and professors there.”

“You’re doing a really great job selling this event.” Fareeha stopped walking and glanced around. “What’s this for anyway?”

“It’s just a small thing for the students here on a special kind of scholarship. The university wants to show us off a little, now that the semester is over. ”

“Show off, huh? And these stuffy suits will be just fine with you showing up with me?”

There was a moment of silence. “Most of the professors are really progressive.”

“Key word there is ‘most,’ I think,” Fareeha laughed. “I don’t know, Angela. I mean, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself in that sort of situation. I’ve never been to a party where there haven’t been beer involved in some way or another.”

“Yeah, I understand.” If Angela was trying to hide her disappointment, she did a bad job at it. “I’ll just go alone, it’s fine.”

Fareeha frowned. “Are you trying to guilt-trip me into going with you?”

“No! No, I swear I’m not, I’m--” Angela stumbled through the words and only stopped when she heard Fareeha laughing. “You’re an ass.”

“A little bit,” she admitted. “What can I say? Hearing you acting all flustered amuses me greatly.”

“That’s no excuse for being an ass.”

Fareeha leaned against the wall of the building. “Why do you want me to go so badly? Can’t you just ask someone else?” There was a long moment of silence and Fareeha frowned again. “Angela?”

“I’m here,” she said. She sounded tense. “Honestly, I don’t know who else to ask. Or who I’d want to ask, is more the case. And who knows? With you there I might actually have fun. I think the professors would find you really interesting.”

“Oh yeah?” Fareeha raised an eyebrow. “How’s that?”

“Well, they’ve never met anyone quite like you before. I hadn’t. And look what happened to me.”

“I take it that means you find me interesting.”

“Obviously.”

Fareeha scoffed but didn’t say anything for a moment. “Do I have to wear a dress?”

A deep silence on the other end of the line made Fareeha laugh again. “Wow, you are really not making a good case for this at all.”

“I’m sorry, but advertising an academic black tie dinner party as anything other than ‘dull’ is impossible.”

“I can see that. You have your work cut out for you.” Fareeha turned and glanced at the building she was standing next to. “Look, I’ll think about it, okay? I’m about to do a thing. We can talk it over some more when we meet up on Saturday.”

“I half-suspected you had forgotten about that.”

Fareeha smiled. “Nope. I got the take-out menus all ready to go.”

Angela laughed at that. “Alright. I’ll see you then.”

“Can’t wait.” As they said their goodbyes and hung up, the smile drained from Fareeha’s face.

She hadn’t expected Angela to call and it only intensified the feeling of guilt tightening in her gut. She shouldn’t be doing this and she knew it. It was inappropriate. It was none of her business. And she couldn’t help herself.

Shaking off the feeling, she turned back towards the building she had been headed towards. It was familiar, she had been there many times before. It was a grungy bar made in dark wood and iron, called Rein’s, and Fareeha had been there many times before. Sometimes, when there was a band playing or when it looked to be a particularly busy evening, she had been able to catch a shift tending the bar for a few hours before Reinhardt, the owner, told her to scram.

It was also the place she and Angela had had their first flirtatious interactions. Which didn’t exactly help lessen the knot of guilt in her stomach. Of course it had to be here. Though she had to admit, Lúcio was quick to turn up information.

Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and entered. It was late afternoon on a Thursday, so the place wasn’t exactly bustling with activity. There were a few people seated along the bar, each nursing a different type of German beer - the bar’s specialty.

Reinhardt, the owner, wasn’t hard to spot, standing behind the bar with a disgruntled look on his face while reading the newspaper. He was a big, strong man with a mane of silver hair, which was impressive considering he was in his 60s. Fareeha straightened as she entered, putting on a smile as she approached him. “Hey, Rein.”

Reinhardt looked up at her, the furrowed brow not lessening as he looked at her.

“Ahh, Pharah,” he said and folded up the newspaper. “Didn’t expect you here at this hour.”

Fareeha nodded at the paper. “Some news troubling you?”

“Hmm?” Reinhardt looked down at the paper before laughing loudly. A nearby bar patron jumped slightly in response. “No, nothing. Not wearing my glasses, is all. These old eyes aren’t what they used to be.”

“Fair enough,” Fareeha grinned as Reinhardt turned towards the beer taps behind him.

“So,” he said, as he began to pour beer into a glass, “what can I do you for?”

“I’m looking for someone.”

“Oh, really?” Reinhardt said, sounding unimpressed.

“It’s a guy. White, blond hair, scar over the eyebrow. According to Lúcio, he’s been seen here.”

“Lúcio, huh? That boy spells nothing but trouble.” Reinhardt turned back towards her and put the glass down in front of her. “What do you want with him anyway? He piss you off?”

“In a way. But don’t worry, I’m not gonna start anything.”

Reinhardt laughed again. “‘Course you’re not. A kind soul such as yourself?”

“Come on, Rein,” Fareeha said, pushing the beer aside. “You know I only give as good as I get. If he doesn’t start anything, I won’t.”

“Question is… will you give him a reason to start anything?” Reinhardt picked up the glass he had offered and took a long sip before setting it back down with a sigh. “What’s this about? What makes this fellow so interesting?”

Fareeha felt her jaw clench. She tried to shake off the anger flushing over her, but she didn’t quite succeed.

“He’s an ex. Not mine obviously, but to someone close to me. And he’s been acting… scary lately. I just want to talk to him and make sure he leaves her alone.”

Reinhardt regarded her for a moment. He took another long drink from the glass. “What does ‘scary’ mean in this context?”

“Breaking in, violence. Stalking and God knows what else. Basically being a good, old-fashioned creep.” Fareeha took the glass from Reinhardt and took a long drink from it herself. If was rich enough that she coughed when she sat the glass down. “So, I was hoping I could exchange a few words with him and explain that’s not how things are done when I’m involved. It would be better for everyone if he just left her alone.”

“I see. Sounds serious.” Rein said. He stroked his gray beard for a moment as he thought. “And, ehh… what about this ‘her’ you mentioned?”

Much against Fareeha’s own will, she could feel her cheeks grow a warmer. “You don’t know her.”

“I know a lot of people,” he retorted with a grin. “And she must be quite the character for you to be doing this for her. Is she your...”

“In a way. Sorta.” Now it was Fareeha’s turn to smile and she looked down. “Yeah, I guess she is.”

“My, oh my. I never thought I’d see the day. Pharah settling down.”

“Alright, hold your horses,” she smiled, pleased when Reinhardt laughed loudly once again. “It’s still new, but… it’s nice. Really nice. I like her.”

“Well, I’m happy for you. You have seemed different in last few weeks. More at ease, more relaxed. It’s a good change.” He emptied the beer glass. “I’ll keep an eye out for this fellow of yours. If he shows up I’ll give you a call, but talk to him in here, okay? If he tries something you shouldn’t be alone.”

“What if I try something?” Fareeha teased. Reinhardt grinned widely and put a huge hand on Fareeha’s shoulder, squeezing it assuringly.

“Then he shouldn’t be alone. It wouldn’t be a fair fight, lass.”






Chapter Text

“Would you stop pacing? The pavement is going to start complaining soon.” 

Angela glared up at Winston who was sitting on a nearby bench. He was dressed in a suit that looked to have come fresh from the cleaner’s and he looked as uncomfortable in it as would be expected. 

“She’s late,” Angela muttered. It wasn’t a cool evening, but she was hugging herself as if it was and mumbling curses under her breath. Winston checked his watch. 

“No, you’re early. We’re early.” 

Angela scoffed and continued walking back and forth along the curb. Her pumps were clicking against the pavement as she kept glancing down the road, both hoping and dreading seeing that blue motorcycle spin down the street. 

When they’d had dinner last weekend and Fareeha, rather reluctantly, accepted the party invitation, Angela had been so happy and relieved that Fareeha had started laughing. Now Angela was having trouble remembering why she’d even been excited about this at all. O’Deorain had a very direct way of talking to people and while some of the professors would be fine with Fareeha’s presence, Angela had her doubts that everyone would be equally ecstatic about her being there. Not because she was gay necessarily, though that may be a contributing factor, but because of who she was. To many of the crusty, old alumni, social status meant far more than personality and they may find Fareeha wanting in that regard. 

It wasn’t that Angela was ashamed of being there with Fareeha, not at all. Both hers and Winston’s socio-economic backgrounds had been the target of much attention among the financiers of the Excellence Program, and whenever the topic of their upbringing was mentioned they had a practiced fake smile they would politely show off until the topic changed. Being constantly reminded that the people around you thought of you as less than, simply because of where and how you grew up, was not Angela’s favorite way of spending an evening. In her mind, having Fareeha there had meant it would be easier for her to deal with it all. She hadn’t considered that in inviting her, she was bringing Fareeha to a place where she would be judged and critiqued by people who believed themselves better than she could ever be. And Angela was thoroughly freaking out about it. 

“For the love of God, stop it. ” Winston raised his voice, stopping Angela midstep. He stood up from the bench and walked over to her. “She won’t appear any faster by you throwing a fit.”

“I’m not throwing--”

“You’re about to.” Winston reached up and caught a loose lock of her hair, pinning it into the intricate bun she’d done her hair up in. A ponytail hadn’t seemed appropriate for the evening’s festivities, and she’d even bought hairpins that matched the navy blue color of her dress. 

The dress was short enough to be summer-y, but not so short that it was indecent for the company, and even though it shoved some cleavage it wasn’t so much to be considered tasteless. This was a practiced dance that she’d done many times before. The benefactors of the program wanted to see their projects healthy, happy, and pretty. Though they rarely got all three in earnest, the participants of the Excellence Program were expected to at least play the part of the diligent student who wanted nothing more than to please their superiors. So Angela wore a pretty dress, put on a pretty smile, and panicked about the lack of girlfriend standing at her side. 

“I shouldn’t care this much,” she said and threw her hands in the air. “Why do I care? Why did I even come to this party? And why did I invite her? Why did I--” 

“Nope,” Winston said, grabbing her arm and locking eyes with her. “We’re not doing that. We’re not gonna panic. There are sharks in there,” Winston pointed to the mansion masquerading as a townhouse behind them, “and your insecurity is like blood in the water to them.”

“I think they are going to be a bit too distracted to give me any kind of attention.” 

“Why? Because you brought your girlfriend along?” Winston said. 

Angela groaned, sat down on the bench, and hid her face in her hands. “Oh my God, she’s gonna kill me.” 

“She’s not gonna kill you,” Winston said halfheartedly. “Maim you a bit, maybe, but…”

“I am such an idiot,” Angela said to no one in particular. “I mean… what was I thinking, bringing her to this thing? She’s gonna hate every second of it.”

When Winston didn’t say anything, she looked up towards him. “She’s gonna hate every second of it, Winston.”

“Hey, I’m not arguing,” he said, raising his hands in mock surrender. “There’s a reason Athena decided not to come along.” 

“But you invited her?”

“Yes,” Winston said with a sugary smile. “I asked her if she wanted to come to a stuffy, over the top, and highly judgemental party with me and she politely declined. Not that I blame her. I do blame biker chick though. She had a choice whether or not to come, and she still agreed. Now, if that’s not being an idiot I don’t know what is.” 

“It’s almost as if she doesn’t know what she’s in for.” Angela’s voice was muffled from pressing her face into her hands again. Winston laughed.

“Or… she knows and doesn’t care.” 

Angela looked up at him, eyes narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Winston shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m just an innocent party goer who is about to go inside and distract some suits while you say hi to your girlfriend.”

He gestured at the car that had pulled up to the curb and the woman who had just stepped out of it before sauntering towards the townhouse. Wearing a stylish black suit, perfectly made to hug at her waist, Fareeha was the pure incarnation of cool confidence. The white shirt she wore beneath the jacket was unbuttoned just enough to reveal the upper part of her chest, and she wore her characteristic sunglasses that gave the whole outfit an otherworldly air of attractiveness Angela was not at all prepared for. 

Fareeha looked around and was clearly a bit awed by the size of the house whose address she had just arrived at. She remained distracted by the building for a moment, before her gaze drifted to the bench where Angela was still sitting, her mouth slightly agape and her eyes locked on the suited woman. 

“There you are,” Fareeha said as she approached, smiling wide. “How do I look?”

She made a confident spin as she walked, showing off the outfit in its entirety, and Angela took in the sight. Angela had never seen a woman in a suit, not like Fareeha was wearing it at least. She’d seen professors and doctors wear them in professional circumstances, but she’d never seen anyone look as at ease or attractive in a suit as Fareeha did now. 

“You look…” Angela’s voice drifted off as she stood. “Wow, you look…” 

“Good, I take it?” Fareeha began leaning in to give Angela a kiss, but stopped herself. She glanced back at the house where more and more people were beginning to arrive, many of whom were settling around the entrance to greet the other guests before going inside. “I’m sorry, should we not--”

Angela didn’t let her finish. She rose up on her toes - even with her pumps, she wasn’t as tall as Fareeha - and placed a soft kiss on her lips. She let it last a breath longer than she normally would, happy to feel Fareeha’s mouth curve into a smile. 

“I think you look beautiful,” Angela said as she broke the kiss. 

“Thank you,” Fareeha said, a strangely genuine happiness sneaking into her voice. Angela could have sworn she saw a redness rise in her cheeks, but it may just have been the evening shadows playing tricks. 

Fareeha took off her glasses and looked down at Angela, examining her outfit. “You look beautiful too. I love that dress.” 

Now it was Angela’s turn to do a little spin, though hers carried less of the stylish confidence that Fareeha’s had. “I didn’t expect you to come by car. I’ve been looking up and down the street for that bike of yours.”

“I’m not bringing my bike to this neighborhood. It might get stolen.” Fareeha’s grin grew wider as the comment made Angela laugh. She shrugged and gestured at her suit jacket. “I didn’t want to wrinkle my outfit.” 

Angela raised an eyebrow and Fareeha rolled her eyes. 

“Don’t start. I’ve already gotten plenty of snide comments from Brigitte about this whole thing.”

“Brigitte helped you?”

“Of course she did. You think I just had this lying around in my closet?” Fareeha said. “When she heard that I was set to show up in a t-shirt and jeans, she had a few not-so-nice things to say. Insisted on finding me something a bit more presentable.”

“And it’s not a dress.” 

Fareeha looked down with a shy smile. The rosy color appearing in her cheeks was definitely not a result of the light this time. “No, it’s not. Is that okay?”

Angela grinned and gave Fareeha another quick kiss. “You’re perfect.”

For a moment, Fareeha just stood there looking into Angela’s eyes with an unreadable expression. It lasted for merely a moment, a flicker of silence between them, before Fareeha looked away and cleared her throat. 

“Where are we, by the way? Never really been to this part of town. It even smells rich.” 

Angela laughed and hooked arms with Fareeha as she began guiding the other woman towards the house’s entrance. 

“One of my professors lives here. She’s also the head organizer for the foundation I get my scholarship through. 

“Didn’t realize you earned this much as a university professor,” Fareeha said, looking up at the mansion towering over her. 

“You don’t. I suspect Dr. O’Deorain has other sources of income. She’s quite brilliant at what she does.” Angela’s grip around Fareeha’s arm tightened. “I don’t think I’ve done a good enough job at explaining what tonight will involve.”

Fareeha slowed down, letting another arriving couple overtake them. The pair turned to stare at them as they passed and Angela tried to ignore it. They were going to get a lot of that tonight, so she might as well get used to it. 

“It’s just… these people are not nice, alright?” Angela said quietly, making sure Fareeha was the only one who could hear her. “They have very set values and expectations of what makes someone… acceptable. They can be pretty rude as a result.” 

“Hmm… So...” Fareeha narrowed her eyes theatrically. “You’re saying I’m unacceptable?” 

Angela sighed. “Yeah, didn’t phrase that very well. What I’m saying is that they are used to dealing with people that are like them. Rich people with powerful families, and anyone not falling into that category is seen as more of a novelty than a person. Most of the students in the Excellence Program get that treatment at these sorts of events, so we’re used to it. But I don’t think I readied you for the attention you might get in there.” 

Fareeha’s playful stare turned softer and more serious. She bit at her bottom lip, clearly working over a response in her head. 

“You’re worried about me,” she said after a moment. 

Angela laughed nervously. She crossed her arms, hugging herself again. “They can get pretty bad is all. And since I dragged you along, forgive me if I feel somewhat responsible for any… discomfort you might feel.” 

“Do you really think this ,” Fareeha gestured at her face. At her black, gold-bangled hair and her Eye of Horus tattoo, “hasn’t gotten me in trouble before? That people haven’t thought it appropriate to give me their exact opinion about my life choices? Without me asking them or them knowing anything about me, I might add.” 

Her tone wasn’t harsh or angry. It was firm, yes, but reassuring most of all and Angela felt the tension in her shoulders lessen with each word spoken. Fareeha continued, taking and squeezing Angela’s hand. 

“I’ll be alright. They don’t scare me. I showed up, didn’t I? And don’t worry, I won’t do anything unacceptable in there.” She gave Angela a wink. “I’ll try not to at least.”

“Please,” Angela grinned, hooking arms with Fareeha and walking forward again. “Being too public with affection might not be considered very polite.” 

“But not unacceptable?” Fareeha teased as they approached the entrance to the mansion. 

“Very funny,” Angela said, but she couldn’t quite hide her smile as they ascended the outer stairs and entered into Dr. O’Deorain’s home.


 

Fareeha was fairly proud of her poker face, and had been so since she was a teenager. Whenever someone thought it appropriate to make cruel comments about her or look at her in that way, she wrapped herself in a cocoon of standoffish confidence. She’d done it so much that it had seeped into her personality, making her neutral stance one of cool control that gave her the appearance of someone who didn’t care one bit about what others thought about her. 

She thought of this as she stepped into the mansion and had to hold herself to her own standards when she looked up, and up and up it seemed, at a grand entrance hall bathed in golden light. The walls were decorated in abstract paintings so large Fareeha had to wonder how they’d even gotten in the building, and a curving marble staircase connected the ground floor to the first. It was hard to tell exactly, but the stone looked to have intricate gold designs swirled into its natural patterns. 

Luckily, Fareeha managed to catch herself before her jaw dropped. 

She didn’t get much time to look around, which was good because she was fairly certain she would look like a tourist if left to her own devices, before a sharp voice called out to them. 

“Miss Ziegler.” At the sound of the voice, Angela hesitated a moment before gently guiding Fareeha to the side of the entrance where a small group of people had gathered. Most of them were young, around Angela’s age, and Fareeha recognized Winston as one of the people among the group. When he saw them, he raised a champagne glass to her with a smile, before returning to a conversation he was having with a much older man. 

“Dr. O’Deorain,” Angela said, and Fareeha noticed how the her tone of voice changed as she said the name. Angela was speaking with a tall, red haired woman in her 40s with hard brown eyes and a tight mouth. She wore a purple dress and had her hair slicked back from her face, enunciating her already sharp features. She wore a long glove on her right hand. 

Dr. O’Deorain, as Angela had called her, smiled weakly at Angela and didn’t even glance in Fareeha’s direction. 

“Miss Ziegler, I’m pleased you could join us this evening,” she said. Her voice was stilted and deep. It had a clear Irish accent that Fareeha was surprised didn’t soften the steeliness of her tone. 

Angela smiled at the woman. “Of course. I wouldn’t miss it. Even if it was at a rather short notice.”

“Yes, I trust there were no issues scheduling around this evening for you. Now that your semester is over, I suspect you students have little to keep you busy.” 

The authenticity of Angela’s smile lessened at the comment. Fareeha held back a grin at seeing how hard Angela was trying to be polite. 

“I’ve actually been rather productive since my exams,” she said. “Working at the hospital keeps me busy enough.”

O’Deorain scoffed. “Residency work, I suspect. Your talents are wasted there, Miss Ziegler, I’ve told you so before. You’d be more useful in a lab, like you’ve been before. Don’t forget that I’m one of the few people who’ve seen the effects of your research first hand. I don’t often use the word impressive , as you well know.” 

Fareeha glanced over at Angela who cleared her throat. Her cheeks were slightly red. “I needed a change of pace, Dr. O’Deorain. Surely, you understand that.” 

“Hm.” O’Deorain looked Angela over one last time before turning her attention towards Fareeha. Her eyes snapping onto hers felt like a laser sight, and Fareeha had to make an effort not to immediately look away. 

“And who’s this?” O’Deorain asked, looking Fareeha up and down, and suddenly Fareeha was incredibly thankful for Brigitte’s tenacity with regards to shopping as it seemed O’Deorain was inspecting every inch of her with a predator-like intensity. 

“Oh, sorry. This is…” Angela paused, stopping herself awkwardly mid-sentence. Fareeha smiled at her before extending a hand towards O’Deorain. 

“Fareeha Amari. Pleasure to meet you.” 

O’Deorain looked down at her hand a moment before shaking it. “Dr. Moira O’Deorain. I’m one of the benefactors of young Miss Ziegler here.”

“Yes, I’m aware,” Fareeha said and she felt how Angela’s grip around her arm tightened slightly. Fareeha smiled. “She’s told me about you. I was very excited to receive an invitation.” 

“Fascinating.” The tone of her voice made it sound as if she hadn’t listened to a word Fareeha had said. O’Deorain squinted at her, as if trying to spot something hidden in her features. “Amari… I’ve heard that name before. You’re not in the program, are you?”

Fareeha laughed softly. “No, not me. I’m not exactly what you would call student material.” 

O’Deorain’s eyes continued to pierce into Fareeha’s, and Fareeha couldn’t help but fidget a little. 

“We seem to be holding up the line,” Angela said, jumping to Fareeha’s rescue. “We’ll have plenty of time to talk later, Dr. O’Deorain. When your guests have stopped arriving.”

“Yes, of course.” O’Deorain’s eyes moved back to Angela and it felt as if a weight had been lifted from Fareeha’s shoulders. “Please, help yourself to some drinks. We’ll talk later. I’m glad you decided to bring interesting company, Miss Ziegler.” 

Angela laughed nervously and began pulling Fareeha away from the group. Their place was immediately taken by a middle aged couple who greeted O’Deorain with as much confidence as a they would a hungry tiger.

“She’s intense,” Fareeha said as Angela directed them to a table of drinks and picked up a glass. 

“Adding it to the list of things I forgot to mention.” Angela took a dip swig. Fareeha joined her, though she sipped more carefully at the liquid and was pleased to find what tasted like stupidly expensive champagne. 

“She may be a bit unpleasant, but she has excellent taste.” Fareeha drank a bit more of the champagne. “If this is what the evening is going to be like you had me worried for nothing.”

“We’re barely through the door. Give it some time.” Angela put down her now nearly empty glass. “I didn’t expect you to use your real name over there.”

Fareeha shrugged to feign disinterest, but she could feel heat rise in her cheeks. “I don’t mind it as must as I used to. Guess I have you to blame for that.”

“Of all the things I could be blamed for tonight, that doesn’t sound so bad.” Angela reached out and interlaced her fingers with Fareeha’s. “I’m glad it’s growing on you. I like your name.” 

“I don’t know. I never really thought it fit me,” Fareeha admitted. “Speaking of names though… who’s this ‘Miss Ziegler?’”

Angela grinned. “I guess we never got on a last name basis, Miss Amari . That’s bad relationship manners.”

“The training wheels aren’t completely off yet,” Fareeha said and they both laughed. At the sound, a few of the nearby guests turned to look at them. Seeing them holding hands, a not insignificant portion of them began openly staring and a few started whispering to whoever they happened to be standing near.

This was not shocking to Fareeha. In fact, she had expected it. Most people who weren’t too familiar with the gay community were inclined to see its members as more interesting than your average person and were therefore more likely to stare at them as if they were entertainment acts. It was annoying, but not as hurtful as the whispering often accompanying it. Especially because the people rarely tried to hide their fascinated, and sometimes disgusted, facial expressions. 

“Everyone is staring at us,” Angela said after a moment. Fareeha glanced down at Angela’s hand, still holding on to hers. 

“Why wouldn’t they? We’re the hottest people here.”

“I don’t think that’s why.” Angela gave a weak smile, and it pained Fareeha to see the sadness in it. She hated seeing the joy fade from the woman’s big, blue eyes. But… she still hadn’t let go of Fareeha’s hand. 

“Are you okay?” Fareeha asked. Her voice was low and her expression slightly worried. As much as she tried not to, she couldn’t help but feel afraid about how Angela would react to the things Fareeha had spent years getting used to. The glares and the comments were enough for most people to hide away in a hole, and Fareeha was scared Angela would do the same. This was all still so new to her. 

Then Angela smiled and Fareeha felt as if her stomach was suddenly inhabited by a colony of butterflies. 

“As long as you don’t stray too far, I’ll be just fine. Especially when you’re wearing that suit.” Angela’s smile turned teasing. “If we were alone I’d kiss you again, but I don’t really feel like giving these people a show.”

“Shame.” Fareeha mirrored Angela’s grin. “I love a good show.”

Angela rolled her eyes, but the smile didn’t leave her face. “Come on.” She pulled gently at Fareeha’s hand. “We have mingling to do.” 


 

Angela had forgotten just how devilishly charming Fareeha could be. In the current arc of their relationship, Fareeha was very different from what she had been when they had first met. She was cautious and hesitant, even insecure at times, as their relationship continued to blossom into something wholly unbeknownst to the young woman. 

When they’d first met in that dark bar, she had been the epitome of confidence. She had been so self-assured, cocky even, it was no wonder that women fell head over heels for her if she decided to give them any attention. 

Though she wasn’t exactly flirting with the guests slowly arriving at O’Deorain’s house, she was charming enough to elicit smiles from even the most stiff university professors. As Angela led her around the hall, introducing her to the people she was expected to greet before the dinner was to begin, Fareeha was a picture of smiling politeness. There were a few people who had obvious trouble not staring at them as they walked around, though Angela didn’t know if it was because of Fareeha’s appearance or if it was because of their pairing. Or both. 

“You’re really good at this,” Angela whispered, as the two of them left a group of arts professors and their spouses. They had been the most accommodating group so far this evening. “I’m impressed.”

“Well, it’s not much different from what I’ve done in the past,” she said. “Remove the hard liquor and it’s basically like making small talk at a bar. Who knows? I might even find someone interesting to take home.” 

Angela laughed. “Should I be worried?” 

“As long as you don’t leave me to fend for myself in this lion’s den, I think I’ll be alright.” To Angela’s surprise, Fareeha’s smile broadened. She looked down at Angela, bemused. “Would you believe me if I said I was actually having a good time?”

Angela frowned. “I’d be surprised. Are you really having fun?”

Fareeha shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s glamorous, isn’t it? Everyone wearing suits and fancy clothes. The average income of the guests being six digits. I mean, the overall company could be better--”

“Shh!” Angela hushed her as a literature professor walked by, though he didn’t seem to pay them any mind. 

Fareeha continued, voice now lowered to a whisper. 

“I like being here. With you. That’s all really.” She let go of Angela’s hand and let it travel to rest at the base of her spine before pulling Angela a bit closer to her. “I don’t think I would be at all as comfortable if I was here alone though. All those people, constantly berating you with questions. I’m starting to understand why you wanted back-up.”

“I feel bad for Winston.” Angela glanced over to where the younger man was chatting to a woman three times his age. She couldn’t make out what they were talking about, but based on Winston’s expression it was thoroughly uninteresting. “His girlfriend didn’t want to come tonight.”

Fareeha glanced over at Winston. “Wanna go save him?”

Angela was about to say an enthusiastic yes to that idea, when the characteristic clinking of a utensil against a wine glass let everyone know a speech was about to be performed. There was a ruffle of clothes brushing against skin, as the few scores of people huddled up in the hall turned to face the marble staircase. 

A few steps up, O’Deorain stood facing the crowd below her. She wore a cool smile that showed a few too many teeth, and the laugh she let out before she started speaking sounded to Angela like it had been rehearsed. 

“Benefactors and receivers of the Excellence Program,” she said, the last few conversations ebbing out as she began speaking. “It is my honor, and pleasure, to have you in my home this fine evening. We are lucky to have in our midst some of the finest examples of academic excellence, and star students of Overwatch University.” 

There was the sound of shuffling as most of the guests turned to look at the nearest student. Angela felt a few eyes settle on her, and she straightened under their gaze. 

O’Deorain waited a moment before continuing. “Holding this dinner each year is both a time of pride and sadness for me and the other benefactors of the Program. Pride in seeing these young academics succeed and pride in seeing them prosper. But I also feel sadness in knowing that the University will no longer feel the presence of some of their bright minds come summer’s end.” As she said that, O’Deorain locked eyes with Angela for a moment, and she suddenly felt cold. 

“But let tonight not be about the uncertainness of the future. Let it instead be a celebration of the successes these bright, young people have already accomplished. Soon, they shall be your chief engineers, your professors, and your leaders. But tonight, they make wonderful conversationalists.”

A light laughter fluttered through the room before O’Deorain raised her glass. “A toast. To Excellence!” 

“To Excellence!” the room echoed, and a moment of silence overtook them as everyone sipped on their drinks. Then a loud applause erupted in the hall as the benefactors and academic guests began clapping in celebration of both the students and in appreciation of O’Deorain’s speech. Fareeha grinned and joined in, clearly entertained by the embarrassed look on Angela’s face. 

O’Deorain’s clear voice regained the attention of the crowd. “Dinner will be served momentarily, so please go and find your seats. And please, enjoy yourselves with drinks and conversation.” 

“Excellent speech,” Fareeha whispered as the crowd began shuffling into the next room where round dining tables had been set out for them. 

“Shut up,” Angela said through a tight smile as a professor passed them. “O’Deorain has never been one for speeches. At least not of the long variety.” 

“Concise. I like it.” Fareeha hooked arms with Angela, letting her take the lead into the dining room, and Angela suddenly felt a bit foolish for not having acquainted herself with the seating arrangements before O’Deorain’s speech. She feared they would have do scout out each table to find their seats, but that turned out to not be the case. Instead, the first, and what looked like the main, table had an elegant white paper with Angela’s name written in beautiful calligraphy. Angela felt her stomach drop as she read the rest of the placement card. 

“Looks like we’ll be having company,” Fareeha said with a smile as she read the paper herself. 

“I didn’t think she would do that,” Angela whispered, rereading the names just to make sure she wasn’t mistaken. “O’Deorain usually doesn’t deign to sit with the students. She sits with the other benefactors, and doesn’t talk to us until after dinner.” 

“Well,” Fareeha said. “Looks like someone made an impression.”

“Who? You or me?”

Fareeha shrugged. “Both, I reckon. But you mostly. You’re a prodigy, it seems. And she’s been staring at you ever since we got here.”

“She has not,” Angela said, but the chill running up her spine made her confidence feel inauthentic. “How would you know anyway? Must have done an awful lot of staring of your own to have noticed.”

“Not really.” Fareeha leaned against one of the chairs. “That woman’s eyes feel like they burn when they look at you. I’m surprised you haven’t burst into flames yet.”

“The night’s not over. But at least we won’t be alone.” She gestured at the card. “Winston will join us.”

Fareeha frowned at the paper. “Winston’s real name is Howard ?” 

“Try not to hold it against him.” Angela’s worried expression vanished in favor of a smile when she noticed O’Deorain approach the table. She moved with the grace of a feline predator. “Dr. O’Deorain. Didn’t realize we would be seated together.”

“We have unfinished discussions, my dear.” O’Deorain’s brown eyes drifted to Fareeha. “And with such interesting company, I doubt we will want for conversation topics. Miss Amari, was it?”

Fareeha smiled and bowed her head slightly. “Yes, ma’am. Hasn’t changed since we talked earlier.” 

O’Deorain surprised Angela then by laughing loudly enough that a few nearby guests turned their heads in shock. 

“Amusing,” O’Deorain said. “This will make for a very entertaining evening. Now sit. Please.” 

Angela looked around at the other guests who were still locating their tables. They would be the first to sit, and would undoubtedly stand out as a result. O’Deorain didn’t care, it seemed, as she pulled out a chair and sat down. 

Feeling uncertain as to where to sit, the decision was made for her when Fareeha positioned herself next to O’Deorain and pulled out a chair for Angela. This would put Fareeha between her and O’Deorain, and Angela felt a flutter of warmth travel through her chest. 

“Thank you,” she said and Fareeha smiled. O’Deorain probably just assumed Angela was thanking her for pulling out the chair, but the smirk on Fareeha’s face told Angela she knew what she was doing. 

“I must admit, I was surprised to see this new partner of yours, Miss Ziegler,” O’Deorain said as Fareeha sat down. She gestured at the two of them. “What are the… circumstances here?”

Angela and Fareeha exchanged glances. Angela cleared her throat. “We’re dating, Dr. O’Deorain.” 

“Girlfriends,” Fareeha added with a smile, and Angela couldn’t help but stare at her when she said it. 

“Girlfriends? How interesting. I never took you for the type, Miss Ziegler.” O’Deorain’s gaze was locked onto Angela’s face. 

“It’s… It’s new, you could say.” Angela didn’t need a mirror to know she was blushing scarlet. 

“Where did you meet then? Couldn’t have been at the university, I would have noticed someone like Miss Amari here.” 

“We met at a party,” Fareeha said. Without looking away from O’Deorain, her hand found Angela’s under the table and Angela grabbed it as if it was a lifeline. Fareeha continued. “I was helping a friend of mine set up for a show he was doing. Musician. Angela was invited and… well, we got to talking.”

“I see.” O’Deorain’s focus shifted to Fareeha and Angela felt her muscles relax. “What do you do then, Miss Amari? Are you also a student?”

“Please, call me Fareeha,” Fareeha said winningly. “And no, I’m not a student. University was never something that interested me. Right now I’m working as a mechanic. I also do odd jobs around town if someone I like asks nicely.”

“Hmm.” O’Deorain looked her up and down again. O’Deorain gestured at her own face, under her right eye. “And the…” 

Angela’s muscles tensed again, but Fareeha’s smile was unwavering. “Family tradition. It’s an Eye of Horus. It’s supposed to protect its wearer from harm.”

“Does it work?” 

Fareeha grinned. “Never broken a bone, so I’d say yes.” 

O’Deorain laughed again and Angela, hesitantly, joined in. She couldn’t remember a time where O’Deorain had ever been this cheerful and it was disconcerting to say the least. 

“Typical me, missing the joke,” a familiar voice said. Angela looked up to see Winston approach the table, flanked by a professor and his wife. 

She quickly got up to give him a quick hug, and when his mouth was by her ear he whispered “What the fuck is going on?”

“Don’t ask me,” Angela answered before returning to her seat and Winston sitting down next to her. The couple sat down as well, taking up the last two seats at the table and offering a distraction for O’Deorain who, with a cool “excuse me”, leaned away from Fareeha to begin chatting with them. 

“How are you liking it so far?” Winston asked Fareeha. “I must say, you look the part.” 

“Thanks. I think…” Fareeha looked around at the other tables where the guests were slowly finding their seats. “I don’t dislike it, if that’s a thing. Though I admit, it isn’t my usual scene.”

“I think not disliking it is the best you can hope for,” Winston said, and Angela slapped his thigh. 

“Don’t say that,” she whispered. 

“Or what?” Winston retorted, but his voice was significantly lower than before. “Afraid mother is gonna be disappointed in us?” 

“I’m afraid that your drunken mouth is gonna get you into trouble,” Angela said. 

Winston scowled at her. “Why do you care? After tonight, you don’t have to see these people again, whereas I have to endure this type of suit fraternization for years to come.”

Next to her, there was a sputtering sound as Fareeha choked on her drink. O’Deorain turned back to her. 

“Are you alright, Miss Amari?”

“Fine,” Fareeha croaked, and Angela could tell she was fighting a laugh. She coughed to clear her throat. “This champagne is excellent.”

Now Winston was the one who had to struggle not to smile, and he hid his mouth with his hand. He leaned back over to Angela. “Have I mentioned that I really like her?”


 

Dinner began with surprisingly little fanfare. Having never attended a party of this type before, Fareeha had some preconceived notions about upper class life that were not playing out exactly as she expected. The entré was some sort of fish soup that, when described to her, just sounded like a bunch of French words mushed together. She had just smiled and thanked the waiter for her plate. 

As they ate, O’Deorain and the other professor at the table - Professor Vialli, she found out his name was - chatted about various research topics they were involved in. Occasionally, O’Deorain would call on Angela for an opinion and Vialli would do the same with Winston. Both would respond politely, giving smiles and nods when appropriate, and Fareeha couldn’t help but notice how attentive O’Deorain and Vialli were when they answered. 

“What’s with all the questions?” Fareeha whispered to Angela as the main course - some sort of lamb thing - was being brought out. 

“Vetting,” Angela replied simply and sipped on her wine. Fareeha frowned. 

“Vetting? What, are they checking your credentials?”

Angela nodded. “In a way. They are following up on their investments.” 

In all honesty, most of the conversations happening went right over Fareeha’s head, and it seemed the two professors - and a very quiet wife - were fine with ignoring her. Fareeha didn’t mind. Winston and Angela were more than happy to talk about things not involving terms like “nanonites” and “cryptography.” But the casual feeling at the table didn’t last. 

“So,” O’Deorain said after they had all been working at the main course for a while. She turned to Fareeha, and Fareeha felt Angela tense. “Miss Amari, I feel like we’ve hardly talked this evening.”

“I don’t have much to say,” Fareeha admitted. “I can’t hope to compete with you for intelligence points, so I’m fine just listening. It’s a good way to learn, I’ve found. And please, Fareeha is fine.” 

O’Deorain looked unimpressed. “I’ve been thinking about your name for a bit. Amari. Very unique. I assume Egyptian in origin?”

“Yeah, that’s right.” 

“Thought so. I remember now why I found it so familiar. I worked with an Amari once, years ago. As did sweet Miss Ziegler here.” 

Fareeha glanced over at Angela. She looked as surprised as Fareeha felt, and she turned back towards the redheaded woman at her side. O’Deorain took a sip of wine. “I’m sure there’s no relation. And it was so long ago too. What was her name again? Ana, I think, or something like that.”

Fareeha felt her stomach clench, but she smiled through it. She was beginning to understand why Winston and Angela looked like they were sitting on needles whenever O’Deorain talked to them. “Some coincidence. But my family has never been much into science, at least not that I’m aware.”

“Life is full of little coincidences like that. It’s a small world, after all.” O’Deorain put her hand on Fareeha’s arm. “You know, Miss Ziegler and I were colleagues long before she became a student of mine. Granted, she wore a lab coat then instead of the doctor one she wears now, but that’s neither here nor there. Change of pace is good, isn’t that right, Miss Ziegler?” 

Angela didn’t answer and O’Deorain didn’t look away from Fareeha. “You should have seen her then, she was prolific . I’ve never seen someone with so much drive, so much energy. She was out to change the world.”

“I’m not surprised,” Fareeha said. She looked over at Angela, and found her looking down at her plate, moving the food around with little purpose. Fareeha reach out and put a hand on her leg. “She’s pretty amazing.” 

Angela glanced up and gave her a smile, but the moment was short-lived before O’Deorain began talking again. “Then things changed, of course. She’s been studying here for the past few years, and has been a most excellent influence on the program. We’re all very impressed with her. I just hope she remembers how her mind is best put to use. With all these changes, I have to worry.”

“Changes?” Fareeha asked. O’Deorain put on a charming expression that Fareeha didn’t buy for a second, and she felt Angela’s hand grasp her own. 

“The Excellence Program shapes the leaders of our future. People bound to make great change to the world, to improve it for the better. A year ago, Miss Ziegler showed incredible potential, both professionally and… well, personally. Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time the program has had a participant not live up to set expectations, but when the student shows such promise... It’s a shame.”

Silence stretched into awkwardness at the table. 

“What to you mean, Dr. O’Deorain?” Fareeha’s eyes were narrowed, and O’Deorain’s lips were turned up in an annoying smile. 

“Miss Amari, you know what I mean.” 

The clenching in Fareeha’s stomach turned painful and there was suddenly a strange pressure building in her chest. Like anger, deep and dark, but endlessly familiar. This wasn’t the first time she’d received such comments. Not the first, nor the last, and she’d learned to deal with it. It was a practiced dance by now, a series of steps choreographed to perfection. 

Deep breath. Sit up straight. Smile. Defuse. Easy. 

Except she didn’t have time to do any of that. 

“I don’t like your tone, Dr. O’Deorain,” Angela said. Her voice was confident, but her death grip around Fareeha’s hand was anything but. “And I’m sorry, but my life’s choices are not your concern.” 

“I was merely being conversational, my dear,” O’Deorain said innocently. “Can’t fault me for that. And given it’s been a while since we’ve seen you, this sudden change in your character is concerning to us.”

“Us? As in, the benefactors?”

“Why, of course. You showed such promise, such vitality. And that fiancé of yours was of excellent stock, as I well know. Morrison is a good man. I would just hate for you to waste away your potential on a flimsy affair and a few residency shifts at the local hospital. Your talents are better spent elsewhere.”

“Where I take my talents is entirely up to me.” Angela’s voice was turning sharp. “I became a doctor to help people.”

“And you aren’t helping people working the labs? Developing cures, progressing medical technology, saving lives on a global scale. Is that not good enough for you anymore?” O’Deorain leaned in over the table. “Are there suddenly other matters more important than improving the world? Your interest in nanotechnology was what drew you to this university, it was the reason you were given support by this program. You want to help people? Stop fooling around, you silly girl, and get your life back in order.”

When O’Deorain finished speaking, a deep silence fell over the room. O’Deorain’s voice had raised enough that the nearby tables could hear her, and they were all staring at them now. Staring at Angela. Some with pity, some with interest, and many with judgement. 

Angela looked stunned. She was staring at O’Deorain and O’Deorain stared back. Angela’s blue eyes were glassy and Fareeha could tell she was fighting something. An outburst or tears, she wasn’t quite sure, but her grip on Fareeha’s hand remained as tight as ever. 

Then Angela cleared her throat and stood, slowly, from the table. 

“Excuse me.” Her voice was low and she didn’t look at anyone. Not at O’Deorain, not at Fareeha. She just turned away and left the dining room, going back into the entrance hall. 

Next to her, O’Deorain scoffed and the rest of the room slowly returned to their own affairs. 

“Why?” Fareeha said, finding herself unable to properly communicate the feelings the older woman had woken in her. O’Deorain didn’t look at her. 

“When a tool is in the wrong place, it’s only right to put it back where it belongs. I don’t know what you’ve done to her, Miss Amari, but I don’t like when tools are misused. Miss Ziegler has great potential. You are standing in the way.”

Fareeha stared at her, shocked at the casual way she was speaking. There was no remorse in her voice, but no gloating either. She just seemed to be pleased in a frustratingly neutral way. Reason couldn’t get through that mask, because reason - however twisted it was - had built it up. 

For the second time that evening, Fareeha found herself grateful for her poker face. The confident woman with a look that said she could kick the ass of a truck driver on her face. It was who she was. Who she had to be so people like O’Deorain wouldn’t ruin her. So that the comments she’d made, the implication that Fareeha wasn’t good enough for Angela, that Angela was rebelling against a way of life constructed for her, that it was only a matter of time before Angela would realize this was merely a fling. So that all those thoughts didn’t affect her. 

But they did. And it hurt. 

After taking a moment to gather herself, Fareeha got up, straightened her suit, and left the room. She didn’t say goodbye, she didn’t give O’Deorain a glance, and she tried to ignore the stares that followed her as she left. Even Winston was looking as she walked away from the table. 

The entrance hall looked much bigger now that it wasn’t swarming with people, and it didn’t really help Fareeha’s confidence. She felt unbelievably small next to the giant paintings and the marble staircase, and worse still she felt alien. She didn’t belong here. The polite greetings and the stupid smalltalk, it had all been an act. This hall was more of a showman’s stage than a place of greeting. 

Glancing around, she couldn’t see Angela anywhere. Unless she had decided to go upstairs, Fareeha surmised that she must have left the house. Not that she blamed her for that. Fareeha herself had to fight not to run out of the double doors, away from this stupidly expensive mansion of a building. 

When she stepped outside, she wasn’t able to spot Angela right away. The lawn stretched out, empty, before her, with not a soul in sight. It wasn’t until her eyes drifted to the bench where Angela had been waiting for her earlier that evening that Fareeha spotted the familiar blue dress and the tightness in her stomach lessened. Though only for a moment. 

Angela, sitting on the bench with her head in her hands, didn’t hear her approach and jumped when Fareeha announced herself with a careful “Hey.” 

She had been crying, that much was obvious, but she seemed reluctant to show it now. She sniffled, wiped her eyes and nose. “Hey.” 

Neither of them spoke. Fareeha didn’t know what to say, and it seemed Angela didn’t either. Or maybe she didn’t want to talk. Maybe she wanted to be left alone. 

“Are you alright?” Fareeha asked, and immediately felt bad when Angela chuckled. “Yeah, that’s a bad question.”

“There are worse ones,” Angela said. 

“That O’Deorain is a piece of work.”

Angela nodded, but didn’t say anything. Fareeha scraped her foot against the pavement. 

“Do you wanna go back inside?”

Angela shook her head. “I called a cab already. I just want to go home.”

“I understand.” Fareeha shuffled where she stood. “Do you… Do you want to be alone, or can I sit with you while you wait?”

Angela smiled and padded the area next to her on the bench. Fareeha sat down. “I’m sorry how it went in there. Didn’t realize she would pounce on you like that.” 

“I should have figured,” Angela said. Her voice was more even now, but she still wouldn’t look at Fareeha. “I’m surprised she was so candid about it. O’Deorain is usually more subtle.”

“You can blame me for that,” Fareeha grinned. “I’m not really subtle. People tend to have some sort of response, for good or bad.” 

Fareeha looked over at Angela to gauge her reaction, and noticed how her jaw clenched. Tears welled up in her eyes and her mouth grew taught. Without thinking, Fareeha moved closer to her, her hand stroking Angela’s back. “Hey, it’s alright. Don’t mind what they say.” 

“But I do mind,” Angela said, her voice breaking, and for a moment Fareeha felt as if she had been stabbed. Especially since Angela was quiet for a long while, her breath ragged and filled with sobs. When she finally looked up at Fareeha, tears were streaming freely down her face. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that they… they did that. Spoke like they-- And you sat there and had to listen while...”

Angela aggressively wiped the tears from her face. “I shouldn’t have invited you tonight. I should have come on my own and then none of this would have happened.” 

“Don’t worry about me,” Fareeha said, but she knew it wouldn’t help. 

“Easier said than done,” Angela sniffled. “It’s different. When you put someone in a situation like that it feels… well, it feels awful honestly.”

“Would you have had more fun if it had just been you?” Fareeha asked. “If you had just been sitting there, alone, and had been bombarded by dull questions all night?”

“Not more fun,” Angela admitted. “Less crying, perhaps.” 

Fareeha huffed. “That’s fair.” 

“It’s not fair.” Angela groaned and hid her face with her hands again. “It’s not fair…” 

Conflicting emotions were fighting for attention in Fareeha’s mind. A part of her was concerned about Angela and wanted to console her. Another wanted to yell and scream at the asshole people who dared make Angela feel this way. And a third was worried sick that the comments O’Deorain had thrown at Angela would stick. That they were real and all the fears Fareeha had about this relationship were not only present as bad what-ifs.

She couldn’t indulge any of those emotions right now, she knew that. Nothing good would come of it. She would either make herself, Angela, or both of them feel worse than O’Deorain ever could, and the evening had been shitty enough without Fareeha letting her emotions turn it even more terrible. 

Fareeha stood from the bench. She reached down a hand, inviting Angela to take it. “Want me to take you home?”

“I have that cab coming.”

Fareeha laughed. “It’s Friday night. You’ll be an old lady before that cab shows up. Come on, there’s a bus stop not far from here.”

Angela smiled too. She sniffled one last time, wiped her eyes before accepting Fareeha’s hand and standing up. 

“Thank you,” she said, her voice low, as they began walking. 

“For what?”

Angela’s fingers wove between Fareeha’s and she caressed Fareeha’s arm with her free hand. “Just thank you. For being here, I guess. And for… just thank you.” 

Fareeha smiled and was surprised at just how genuine it was. “No problem at all.” 


 

The bus ride was strange, though Angela was convinced it was only strange for her. Fareeha was a bubbly, joking wonder of a human being the entire time, chatting casually about this and that. She made Angela laugh more than once, made her relax and made her forget the awful feeling of disappointment O’Deorain had directed at her. 

The ride to her apartment wasn’t strange because it was awkward. It was strange because it wasn’t. They had found a seat at the back of the bus, and Fareeha had held her hand the entire time they were talking. It was polarizing to say the least, feeling so calm next to Fareeha as she distracted her from the bad events of the evening. It was amazing, and there were a few times where Angela found herself getting lost in what Fareeha was saying. Once, shortly before their stop, Fareeha even had to say her name to get Angela’s attention. 

But as amazing as Fareeha’s distraction skills were, they weren’t perfect. Flashes of O’Deorain’s look of disappointment, her cruel words, and the feeling of inadequacy flushing over Angela alongside them wouldn’t go away. They were needles, poking at her whenever her mind dared to drift away from the present. A thousand thoughts and what-ifs rushing through her head, all quenched when Fareeha would turn and smile at her. She felt warm then. As if there was a single radiant sunbeam, shining just for her. 

When the bus stopped the summer evening sky had turned dark with clouds, and it had started raining. Angela using her purse as a cover and Fareeha pulling up her suit jacket, the two ran, laughing, through the rain towards Angela’s apartment building. It was a short run, but still long enough that they were bordering on being soaked when Angela let them both into the building. 

“Oh no,” Fareeha said, looking down at her drenched outfit. “Brigitte is gonna kill me.” 

Angela grinned and glanced outside. “Doesn’t look like its gonna stop anytime soon.”

Fareeha groaned. “Ugh… I am not looking forward to that walk.” 

“You can’t leave like that,” Angela said. “Your clothes are soaked, you’ll get sick if you walk home.” 

“You sure?” Fareeha asked. She smiled deviously. “Because I can go back outside and drown no problem. I don’t mind.” 

“Yeah, come on. I probably have something you can put on.” Taking her hand, she led Fareeha up the stairs and let them both into her studio. 

“I don’t have anything that’s really your style, I hope that’s alright,” Angela said as she walked into the apartment and went over to her closet. Riffling through her diverse lineup of turtlenecks, she found an loose black sweater and a set of gray sweatpants that Fareeha could probably fit into. “Not ideal, but these should do in a pinch.”

Turning back towards her, Angela found Fareeha had taken off her suit jacket. The white shirt underneath was clingy from water and stuck to her skin in places. The black bra she was wearing was partially visible beneath the translucent fabric. 

There was a brief moment where Angela just stood there staring before she shook herself from the daze and handed Fareeha the dry clothes. Angela couldn’t help but notice the grin on Fareeha’s face, but she made a point to ignore it and turned away so Fareeha could change in peace. 

“You don’t have to do that, you know?” Fareeha said. There was a ruffling of fabric as she stripped out of her wet shirt. 

“Do what?” 

“Turn away. It’s not like its something you haven’t seen before.” 

Angela opened her mouth to respond, but whatever it was she had meant to say got stuck in her throat. Instead she bit her lip and looked down at the floor. Because of the rain, her dress was a deeper shade of blue in places, and her feet felt clammy from water. Remembering how she had been crying and then the rainstorm, she figured her face would be even more of a mess than her dress. She pictured how she must look, hair frizzy and streaks of mascara streaming down her cheeks. Unruly and imperfect. Out of control. She suddenly felt cold. 

Without saying anything else, she turned and walked briskly into the bathroom where she shut the door after her. Looking in the mirror, it wasn’t exactly as she’d pictured but the differences weren’t making her any calmer. 

Black rings from her makeup pigmented the skin below her eyes. Her lipstick and foundation was smushed. Her bun, done up so fine, hung limply from her head with loose, wet strings of blonde hair clinging to her neck. She looked like a mess. Like a girl who had been publicly humiliated and had then spent a long while crying on a bench before running through a heavy downpour. 

An intense feeling of otherness washed over her and she felt a laugh beginning to bubble in her chest. Not knowing where it came from exactly, other than the sheer ridiculousness of the situation, she let it escape as a series of gasping chuckles which transitioned into sobs the longer she stared at her reflection. 

Through some twisted logic, she thought if she just kept quiet Fareeha wouldn’t notice. No one would notice. Everything could just stay as it was and this stupid feeling of shame that was piercing through her chest would go away. Taking a deep breath, Angela did her best to swallow her crying and began cleaning her face. Wiping off the remnants of makeup, untangling and brushing her hair. It started out calm, but soon her movements grew frantic as frustration turned into anger. So much so that the hairbrush slipped from her grip and fell to the floor with a loud clatter. 

Angela cursed at herself, at the situation, but didn’t have the energy to pick up the brush. Instead, she leaned against the sink and prayed that this feeling of drowning panic washing over her would somehow pass. 

There was a knock on the bathroom door. “Angela?”

Angela took a big, heaving breath. “I’ll be right out.” 

There was silence for a while before the sound of footsteps told Angela that Fareeha had moved away from the door, and she took a breath to calm herself. Slowly, she wiped off the rest of her makeup, picked up the mess she’d made, and straightened the frilly dress as best she could. 

When she walked out, she found Fareeha sitting on the couch. Her suit was hanging to dry on the back of a chair. She had undone her hair so it hung loose down to her shoulders, the rain having turned it slightly curly. The outfit Angela had given her fit her well, though the sleeves of the sweater that were long enough to cover Angela’s hands only went to Fareeha’s wrists. 

As she walked out, Fareeha stood up. She looked worried. “Are you alright?” 

Angela made a dismissive wave with her hand. Fareeha sighed. 

“Please don’t say you’re fine.”

“I didn’t,” Angela said. 

“Then what?” Fareeha’s voice was slightly sharp and she immediately cut herself off. “Sorry, I shouldn’t… I didn’t mean to snap at you. This has just been a long evening.” 

Angela nodded and the tight panic started in her stomach again. She could feel something rising in her chest, something quivering and frightened, and she didn’t know why it was there or what to do about it. 

She closed her eyes to block out the feeling. To hold in the tears she knew were coming and which she didn’t want to let go again. She didn’t want to be a victim here. Fareeha had been mocked just as much, if not more, than she had and she was unaffected. This whimpering reaction was an unrighteous cry for attention she hadn’t earned or needed, and what she should do was pull herself together and comfort her girlfriend who had been the target of cruel ridicule at an event Angela had dragged her to. 

That’s what she should do. But then gentle arms, made soft by the fabric of a borrowed, black sweater, wrapped around her and drew her into an embrace. Angela’s own arms echoed Fareeha’s and wrapped around her tightly. Suddenly, the need to cry waned. The panic, the shame, was still there, stuck in her throat and making it hard to breathe. But she didn’t cry. Instead, Angela let out a long sigh that seemed to carry with it an insurmountable weight and she felt lighter. 

The two of them didn’t speak for a while. Not until Fareeha started swaying slightly, back and forth, turning them in a slow circle. 

“What are you doing?” Angela muttered into her shoulder. 

“Dancing,” she answered. 

“But there isn’t any music.” 

Fareeha chuckled. “Who says we need any? I was promised a party. Those involve dancing.”

Angela smiled against the sweater and didn’t argue further. She swayed with Fareeha, turning in slow, calm circles. They did so for a long time, resting against each other, finding comfort and acceptance in each other’s touch. Forgetting, a moment, that this union of theirs wasn’t always one that was accepted. 

“I’m sorry about tonight,” Angela said. “I’m sorry for how I reacted.”

Fareeha huffed. “Don’t be sorry. You were pretty great in there.”

“How so?”

“Standing up for me, and yourself, like you did.” Fareeha’s arms tightened a little. “It felt nice.”

“I ran away,” Angela countered and Fareeha let out a low laugh. 

“So did I, remember? Some people are just entirely too comfortable with their twisted mindsets.”

“I’m still sorry,” Angela said. “It was selfish of me to bring you along like I did. I should have thought about how people would react. How you would be treated.” 

“I don’t care about them, Angela.” Fareeha’s voice was low and lazy. She was leaning more against Angela now. “I don’t care what they think.” 

“You really don’t, do you?” Angela was not entirely able to keep the impressed tone from her voice. Fareeha shook her head. 

“Years of practice has made it so I don’t care what most people think.” Fareeha broke away, her arms still resting on Angela’s waist. “I care about you though. And I don’t think you’re alright.” 

“What makes you say that?” Angela said, voice light, and it managed to draw a small smile from Fareeha’s lips. It was only there for a moment though. 

“I’ll be alright,” Angela said after a moment. “I just haven’t been treated like that before. Sure, I’ve been looked down on and negged, that’s one thing, but tonight she was so… vicious .” 

Fareeha looked down and Angela noticed something new then. Something that hadn’t fully occurred to her before, even with all their talks and fights and moments of passion. Fareeha was young. Young and inexperienced and scared, just like Angela was. Fareeha hid it well, behind a mask of confidence and joking comments. She was tall and strong and didn’t care about what people thought about her. 

“How are you this calm?” Angela’s hands sought upwards to rest on Fareeha’s shoulders. 

“People have been saying stuff like that for a long time. I guess… I guess I’m numb to it by now.” 

“It's not fair that people act like that.” 

“No.” Fareeha glanced up, a small smile on her face. “But you aren’t. Numb, I mean.” 

“I hope I never will be,” Angela admitted. “I don’t want that sort of treatment to feel like any kind of standard.” 

Fareeha grinned and Angela frowned at her. “What?”

“You’re filled with righteous energy, you know that?”

“Shouldn’t I be? I knew something was gonna happen, but I didn’t know it was gonna be that…” Angela groaned. “I didn’t know. And I’m sorry.” 

“You know now.” Fareeha tensed. “What do you think about that?”

“About what? O’Deorain?”

“No. About it all. About the reaction. That’s not really the sort of backlash you’d have experienced before, I imagine.” 

Angela thought about it for a moment. She let the events of the evening play out in her head again. Let the feeling of shame rest in her chest for a moment, let O’Deorain’s look of disdain replay in her mind’s eye. 

It was uncomfortable. It was upsetting even. 

“You’re right. It isn’t,” Angela said. Despite the lighter tone, she understood the seriousness of the conversation. This went beyond Fareeha asking if she was alright, if she would be able to cope. There was more at stake here than just tonight. “I think I was shocked. I didn’t know people could think like that and be so candid about it too. I thought that sort of behavior was gone by now, so I guess it caught me by surprise.” 

“Makes sense.”

Angela nodded. “That’s why I ran too. I couldn’t handle it, I just… It was too much. Those people who I’ve known for years, some of whom I’ve worked with, and they were just staring at us like we were animals on display.” 

“Not a good feeling.”

“No.”

Fareeha took a deep breath then. She closed her eyes for a moment and stepped away from Angela. “What if it happened again?”

Fareeha looked up at her, her eyes suddenly more serious and intent than they’d been before. “What if that wasn’t the last time you experienced that sort of behavior? That people dismiss you or look down at you, just for being. Because this-” she gestured at the two of them, and her voice cracked a little when she spoke. “-is good. It’s great even. I didn’t think further than this, and maybe you didn’t either. But the people out there still exist. They still judge and stare and talk behind your back. And they’ll be there. Always.” Fareeha looked up at Angela and the look in her eyes was heartbreaking. “Angela… what happened tonight might happen again. That’s just gonna be a thing. And yes, it’s unfair. Yes, that’s not how the world should be and they are all just assholes and we shouldn’t care about what they think. But not everyone can live like that. Maybe this isn’t good enough to endure that.”

Angela stepped closer, but didn’t reach out to touch Fareeha. “Is that what you think, or what you’re afraid I’m thinking?”

“I’m--” Fareeha’s jaw clenched and she took a deep breath. “I’m afraid, Angela.” 

Angela looked at her, baffled. Stared at this beautiful woman who sparked feelings Angela hadn’t known she could feel, and she felt as if her heart was breaking in half. She looked at her black hair, her steely expression, down at the black sweater that had a big patch on it from where Angela’s still wet dress had touched it.

“I’m afraid too,” Angela said. “Hell, I’m terrified. You’re terrified. We’re both so fucking scared something is gonna fuck this up that we’re walking around just waiting for it to fall apart. If it isn’t you or me, it’s gonna be something fucking out there!” Angela turned away and walked a few awkward steps around the studio. “I don’t know what’s going on, Fareeha. I don’t. All these changes happening all at once, and it’s freaking me out, and I know you feel the same way, and the reason I’m so scared all the time is just because I’m so ridiculously in love with you, and the thought of someone, anything , judging that or making you feel less than because of it makes me so upset I don’t even know how to function.” Angela turned to find Fareeha staring at her, wide eyed. Angela threw her arms up. “What!?” 

Fareeha’s shocked expression changed into a grinning one. “No, continue.” 

“It’s just ridiculous something like that goddamn dinner party, which we shouldn’t even have gone to because I knew it would be shit, is gonna make either of us doubting. It’s frustrating, and yes, it’s unfair , and I want to be able to say that it’s unfair and rant about it, because people being assholes do not get to decide who I choose to be with.” Angela looked back at Fareeha’s still grinning face. “What’s so funny?”

“You said you’re in love with me.” 

Angela’s stomach dropped. She crossed her arms over her chest. “Yeah. I’ve told you before.”

“Once,” Fareeha said, brows raised. 

“Once. Twice, now,” Angela retorted. “Don’t know if I should have. With us taking things slow, it seems… I don’t know. Should I not have?”

Fareeha bit her lip. Blinked, turned away, and laughed. “God fucking dammit.” 

“Should I not have?” Angela repeated, a little louder, and she was surprised when Fareeha turned back and her eyes were glassy. 

“I love that you said it,” Fareeha looked down almost immediately after speaking. She cleared her throat and wiped her eyes. “Not everyone can handle the backlash. They get freaked out and they… Some of them run away, I’ve found.” 

“I’m not running away,” Angela said, closing the space between them. She didn’t reach out for Fareeha, letting a few feet separate them still. “I’ll freak out and get mad, yes. But I’m not running.”

Fareeha chuckled and wiped her eyes again. “You’ve said that before.”

Carefully, Angela reached out and took Fareeha’s hand. Her fingers caressed gently over Fareeha’s, stroking soft skin. “I understand if you want to leave. You need some space, and time too. This evening wasn’t what I thought it would be, so trust me. I get it if you want to be alone. But… I wouldn’t mind if you stayed.” 

Fareeha looked up and past her, out of her windows. “It stopped raining.”

Angela nodded. “Right now, I want to be with someone who… I want to be with you. If you want to.” 

Fareeha’s hands ran up Angela’s arms, pulling her closer to remove the space between them. “I don’t think there’s been a time where I’ve not wanted to be with you.”

“Not even when I’m yelling or freaking out?” Angela smiled and Fareeha mirrored her expression. 

“Not even then.” 

Standing up on her toes, Angela drew herself close to Fareeha and kissed her. She felt how the touch of Fareeha’s lips sent warmth rushing through her veins. It pushed against the coolness of her wet dress, burned as Fareeha’s fingers brushed over the skin on her arms as lightly as if they were feathers. She needed this. In truth, she had wanted it ever since she’d seen Fareeha strut up to her all cocky like in that suit of hers. But it was better as it was now. Fareeha with her tangled hair and wearing a shirt that didn’t fit right, and her hands moving down Angela's body in a most gentle way. 

“Take me to bed,” Angela said as she broke the kiss. 

“Why don’t you take me?” Fareeha asked teasingly and Angela grinned, pushing her body and lips lightly against Fareeha, guiding her backwards through the apartment. 

Angela stopped walking when they made it to the bed. She moved her hands up Fareeha’s sides before pushing them under her shirt. Fareeha gasped loudly against Angela’s lips. 

“Your hands are cold,” she said and Angela felt goosebumps rise where she touched. Fareeha’s breath quickened as Angela’s cold fingers trailed up her spine to just below her shoulder blades where they rested for a moment. Fareeha’s hands sought downward. “And your dress is wet.”

“Then get me out of it,” Angela said, grabbing ahold of the sweater and pulling it over Fareeha’s head. Fareeha was quick to respond, crouching to grab the bottom of the dress and pulled it upwards, Angela raising her arms so the clothing slipped off her easier. 

The cool air of the evening nipped at Angela’s naked skin and now she was the one gasping. She felt goosebumps rise in the areas where the fabric of the dress had left her skin clammy. 

“Are you cold?” Fareeha asked. She’d kicked off the sweatpants, and at some point she had unhooked the clasp of her bra. Angela shook her head and leaned forward again, more intently this time, seizing Fareeha’s lips with a sudden primal hunger that took her by surprise. 

She pushed Fareeha backwards towards the bed, snapping open her own bra and letting it fall at the same time as Fareeha wriggled out of her panties. By the time Angela had pushed Fareeha back on the bed, until she was sitting up against the backboard with Angela on top of her, they were both out of their clothes. 

Angela let her hand travel across Fareeha’s chest, secretly pleased when the coolness of her fingers made uneven hitches of breath escape Fareeha’s lips. Fareeha’s own hands weren’t idle. One caressed Angela’s skin along her ribs and waist, while the other was tangled in her hair, steadying her head as Fareeha deepened the kiss. Angela’s fingers sought upward then, pinching Fareeha’s nipple a bit harder than necessary, and Angela couldn’t stop herself from grinning when Fareeha yelped. 

“Your hands are too cold,” Fareeha scolded. 

“My bad,” Angela said, kissing her again, but this time it was brief before she moved her head down to nip at the skin around Fareeha’s throat. Angela was sitting on top of Fareeha now, hands on either side of her torso, as Fareeha was leaned back against the bed’s backboard, and whenever Angela would lower herself to touch Fareeha’s body with her own, the other woman would let out short gasps that started something unexplainable in Angela. 

Slowly, she trailed her lips lower to brush against Fareeha’s collarbone, press against the top of her breasts, until finally she let them close around a nipple. Fareeha’s moan was loud and intoxicating, drawn longer as Angela’s tongue brushed against the sensitive skin. Every now and then, Angela would carefully lower her body down and revel in the loud gasp it drew from Fareeha when she did. She didn’t move her hands from where they were, still firmly planted on either side of Fareeha, as she worked at her nipple with attentive care. 

Her plan had been to stay there a moment before trailing down between Fareeha’s legs - using her hands when they were so cold didn’t seem like the best idea - but the loud whimper Fareeha let out when Angela moved away from her breast surprised her. 

“No,” she gasped. Angela looked up and only then did she notice Fareeha’s head was rolled back and her eyes were closed. “No, keep… keep going.”

Surprised at the intensity of the request, Angela obeyed and returned her attention to Fareeha’s chest, this time switching so her lips were closed around the left and yet untouched nipple. The reaction was immediate, and Fareeha’s moan quivered through her in a way that surprised Angela. 

“Touch me,” Fareeha gasped. She took Angela’s hand and placed it in rough proximity to her right breast, and Angela got the hint. Her fingers closed around Fareeha’s right nipple, massaging it gently to match the steady rhythm of her tongue, and Fareeha’s gasps suddenly spiked into moans. “Yes! Oh, God, yes. Angela, I--” 

Her back arched, her body pressing against Angela’s, and she could feel how Fareeha’s entire body started shaking at the touch. Seeing how Fareeha’s desire was building rapidly, Angela lowered herself onto Fareeha and let her hand, now free instead of holding her body up, trail down alongside Fareeha’s waist to her hip and to the side of her thigh. Each stroke, accompanied by a brush of Angela’s tongue and a pinch of her fingers, increased the volume of Fareeha’s moans. As Angela began moving her tongue and fingers harder and faster, Fareeha’s moans grew more rapid in response, becoming louder and quicker, louder and quicker, until it turned into an elongated groan Angela had become very familiar with. 

Fareeha’s muscles tensed and quivered, and it felt as though a rhythmic vibration was going through her body, until it suddenly laxed and Fareeha’s moans transitioned into long gasps for air. 

Angela smiled against Fareeha’s chest and let go of her nipple. She placed gentle kisses on her chest, on her collarbone, trailing upward until they were face to face. “You okay?”

Fareeha rolled her head to the side and tried to keep her breathing under control. She chuckled through her heavy gasping. 

“Sorry, should have… warned you, I… didn’t see it coming.” She took another moment to regain her breath before sitting up straighter. She looked at Angela with an expression of languid contentment. “That’s never happened to me before.” 

“What?” Angela asked curiously. Fareeha smiled and one of her hands reached up to play with Angela’s hair. 

“No one,” she said, running her fingers through damp tangles of blonde hair, “has ever made me come just by playing with my breasts.” 

Angela felt blood rise to her cheeks and she couldn’t keep the smile from growing on her face. She whined and buried her face in Fareeha’s shoulder. 

“Are you embarrassed?” Fareeha laughed. 

“No.” Her voice was muffled against Fareeha’s skin. “I’m just not used to being told stuff like that.” 

“Stop being so good at it, and I won’t have to compliment you as much,” Fareeha said. Angela chuckled. 

“Asshole.” Angela relaxed now, resting her body on top of Fareeha’s and letting the heat of the other woman warm her up. 

“Give me your hands,” Fareeha said, rolling Angela to the side so she could rest on Fareeha’s arm. Angela obeyed and presented her hands to Fareeha who grabbed them and held them to her face, blowing on them. “They really are impressively cold.”

“You seemed to like them though,” Angela mused and Fareeha glanced down at her. 

“I still have a bunch of tricks you haven’t seen yet,” Fareeha said with a grin. “This cocky attitude of yours is spelling nothing but trouble.” 

“I like trouble.”

Fareeha laughed. “No you don’t.”

“A little trouble,” Angela said. “Just enough to surprise you.”

Angela pulled a hand free and let it trail along the skin on Fareeha’s chest. Her fingers weren’t as cold as they were, but there was enough of a difference in body temperature that Fareeha felt hot in places. Little bumps rose on her skin as Angela brushed a finger along Fareeha’s collarbone, her shoulders. The nape of her neck. 

“Could you show me?” Angela’s voice was small and Fareeha frowned. 

“Show you what?”

“Those tricks of yours?” 

Fareeha laughed. “Give me a month or so, and we can go down the list.” 

“I’m serious,” Angela said. “It’s no secret that I’m still new at this, and… I don’t know. I’m afraid there’s a lot I don’t know yet.”

“Need I recount what just happened?” Fareeha said. Her voice was gentle and soft, and her hands even more so. They brushed through Angela’s hair, untangling the still frizzy strands of blonde. “If you’re afraid that you don’t know enough, don’t be. From where I’m standing, you’re pretty well versed in what to do.”

“Still,” Angela interjected. “I want to know. About stuff. I haven’t been with anyone else than you, not like this anyway, and you know so much more than me. It’s intimidating.” 

“I intimidate you?” 

Angela looked away and shrugged. “A little.” 

Fareeha paused for a moment. She bit her bottom lip, knitted her brows together, clearly working over something in her mind. Then she scooted away and sat up against the backboard. Angela followed her movement, rolling over to lay on her stomach so she could look up at Fareeha. 

“Alright.” Fareeha’s voice was all tease and she had a devious smirk on her face. “What do you want to know then?”

“Well… everything eventually,” Angela said. 

“Let’s stick with tonight for now,” Fareeha grinned. “What do you want to know tonight? Ask me anything.”

Angela thought it over. Though her times with Fareeha had all been wonderful, they were a lot of the same. Not that it was a bad thing, but Angela was beginning to think if there wasn’t more to it than that. And when the thought had stuck it had illuminated just how little she actually knew about what she was doing. 

“What have you done with other girls that you haven’t done with me?” 

Fareeha let out a short, startled laugh and blew air out between her teeth. “Well, that’s ‘anything’ I suppose. I’ve… man, okay.” Fareeha shuffled a little and cleared her throat. “I’ve used toys before. Many different types, and for different reasons. You know, vibrators, strapons, the like. I’ve been with multiple partners at once, I’ve tried different positions. A little bit with ropes, handcuffs once. I have… done ass stuff before.” Angela was only a little amused with how red in the face Fareeha looked. “Some more things I’m forgetting.” 

“Hmm,” Angela mused. “That’s a lot.” 

“Like I said. Give me a month.” Fareeha smiled nervously. “Just because I’ve done it with others doesn’t mean you have to do it. You do know that, right?” 

Angela nodded. “Yeah, I know. It just popped into my head. I guess the party got me thinking about things.” 

“What things?”

“How there’s a lot I don’t know. Or haven’t experienced yet. For good or bad.” Angela drew shapes on the sheet with her fingers. “I’d like to… try some of what you mentioned.”

“Oh,” Fareeha smiled and lay down on her side. “Anything in particular caught your interest?”

“The, uh…” Angela was suddenly very aware of Fareeha’s attentive gaze. “... toys sounded fun.”

“Toys are fun,” Fareeha said. “There are many different kinds though.”

“Which ones do you like?” 

Fareeha laughed again. “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation like this before. It’s strangely refreshing. I suppose I like vibrators a lot. Strapons too, but that’s not for everyone.” 

“And… who is…” Now Angela was the one blushing. “Who puts it…”

Fareeha grinned. “For strapons, I’ve only ever been on the giving end of the arrangement. Vibrators have been different, a little more switching, but I’m usually the one who… puts it, as you said.” 

“Okay.” Angela nodded slowly. “And, would you like to be the one who… does that stuff to me?”

“Depends,” Fareeha said. Her eyes were softer now, more playful. “Do you want me to?”

“I don’t know,” Angela said. She was quiet a long moment. “I do, but… I want you to feel good too.” 

“You don’t have to think about that right now, Angela.” Fareeha brushed a few strands of hair away from her face. “Finding out if you even like it first is a bit more important than you returning any kind of perceived favor.” 

“Are you sure?” Angela asked, her voice low, and Fareeha smiled. She moved over and kissed her. 

“Of course I am. As for trying this stuff out, it’s only fair that we go slow isn’t it? We’re both new at this sort of relationship, though for different reasons.”

“We don’t need to rush anything.” 

Fareeha shook her head. “But there is a problem with the current situation, though.” 

Angela looked up at her. She already had a feeling where this was going. “Oh. What’s that?”

Fareeha bit her lip and smiled before leaning over again. The kiss this time was long and soft, and Angela felt how a warm want started rising in her stomach.