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I love you like that

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“You are so hot right now,” she says in a sultry tone as her eyes scan Cheryl up and down.

Cheryl’s response is quick and snappy much like her personality, “tell me something I don’t know.”

“I love you,” Toni replies without even thinking. The words tumble from her mouth without her consent, but really it’s been a long time coming. She knows it’s probably too soon, but she has been feeling it since the moment they were reunited in that creepy nunnery.

Cheryl asked Toni to be her girlfriend officially the day after she broke her out of that damn conversion camp. They’ve only been dating for about a month and a half now, as long as they’ve been rehearsing this musical. But that doesn’t mean this feeling hasn’t been growing inside her since she first met Cheryl, and it definitely has.

After Cheryl invited Toni to the will reading, they exchanged phone numbers and since then, there hasn’t been a day that they don’t talk. The texts are frequent and after about a week, there were even some calls too. They hung out a few times between the will reading and their slumber party with the vixens that went so awry. They spent time together mostly at Pop’s, tucked away inside a booth together talking about anything and everything. She thinks that might have been how Cheryl convinced her to try out for the vixens in the first place, a well-placed hand on her thigh and an excessive amount of cleavage. She never stood a chance. She would have done it even without the full on charm offensive that Cheryl had given her. The vixens were just another reason to spend more time with her redheaded crush and she wasn’t going to miss that opportunity.

But things were shifting between them even before she tried out for the vixens and she knew it. She didn’t dare talk about it for fear of sending Cheryl running scared in the opposite direction, but she knew there was more than friendship blossoming between them. Things took a heavy turn in the favor of her crush at the sleepover with Betty, Veronica, and Josie. Cheryl admitted that she craved Toni. The words whispered softly in the darkness of Cheryl’s room were enough to send shivers down Toni’s spine. She craved Cheryl too, more than anything she had ever craved before. And she almost got a taste when poor Nana Rose crashed down the stairs of Thistlehouse.

She at least got to be by Cheryl’s side when they took her Nana to the hospital. She even found Cheryl posted by her Nana’s hospital bedside and spent the afternoon with her there in hopes of distracting Cheryl from her mother and uncle’s nefarious plans. Toni wasn’t sure if she really believed Cheryl’s mother was out to get her, but she was there for Cheryl nonetheless. They sat and talked. They played cards. They even flirted despite Cheryl’s exhaustion.

Toni would have stayed there all night if she could have, but a nurse came by and told her that none family members had to leave at eight. She promised Cheryl she would be back in the morning and Cheryl nodded weakly. Toni placed the most delicate of kisses upon Cheryl’s cheek and softly squeezed her hand as she whispered her goodbye. The kiss alone left her tingling for hours let alone all that uninterrupted one-on-one time with Cheryl.

Then the next morning she returned to the hospital to find Nana Rose’s room empty and a hollow feeling in her chest to match. She checked in on Nana Rose to make sure she was okay before trying to call her redhead. Three calls, four texts, and one snapchat later she decided to just show up at Thistlehouse, Mrs. Blossom be damned.

When Mrs. Blossom said that Cheryl had left to go to a private school in Switzerland, Toni’s heart sank. For just a second she believed that Cheryl left on her own, and how could Toni blame her. Riverdale had been nothing but horrible to her. Her twin brother was murdered here by none other than their own father. Her mother verbally and sometimes physically abused her in this very home. And now, her Nana Rose had almost died, most likely at the hands of her crazy wasp mother and her long lost uncle. For just one second she believed that Cheryl had left her. That she didn’t think Toni was enough of a reason to stay in Riverdale. That she was breaking Toni’s heart before either of them really had a chance to be together.

Then her common sense kicked back in. Cheryl would never leave without saying goodbye. She would never go quietly into the night like some injured bird. If she was leaving Riverdale, it would be in style and everyone would know. If she was in some high class boarding school in Europe, there would be pictures all over social media about it. And most importantly, Cheryl would never leave her Nana to fend for herself willingly.

Mrs. Blossom slammed the door in her face and suddenly everything was in hyper speed.

She found Ronnie and Josie and they stormed Thistlehouse. They found out that Cheryl was sent away and that Mrs. Blossom was lying about the boarding school. Then Josie ditched them, giving up the search. She and V talked to Kevin and then they were breaking into a gay conversion camp hidden inside a nunnery orphanage. She was going to search every inch of that place for Cheryl, even if it meant getting arrested or caught by creepy nuns.

Then, when she had just started to give up hope, there she was, her red-haired queen. She pulled Cheryl into a tight embrace and everything else melted away. She knew she was in love in that very moment. Nothing else mattered. Not the nuns closing in on them, not getting out of that creepy place, and not Veronica running around still looking for them.

She had to kiss her, so she did. Their lips touched finally for the first time and it was like something she was always missing finally slid into place. She was so caught up in Cheryl’s lips that it took Ronnie busting in on them to make her stop. That night Cheryl crashed at her trailer with her. There was no way she was going to let this poor girl go back to her crazy mother’s house after what she had just seen. Cheryl showered and borrowed some of Toni’s casual clothes. She threw those awful rags from the Sisters into a ball in the corner muttering something about burning them when she got home.

She sat on the couch with Cheryl’s head in her lap and she replayed the evening in her head. Cheryl was just drifting off to sleep with Toni’s fingers combing through her hair when the feeling struck her again. She was in love with Cheryl Blossom. Completely and utterly in love with this sensational girl in front of her. She knew in that moment that she would do anything to protect Cheryl. She was in deep, but she didn’t care because she was pretty sure Cheryl felt the same way or at least she was on her way there.

“I love you,” Toni replies without even thinking. She only realizes what she has said when Cheryl’s eyes widen slightly. She replays their conversation and catches onto what she’s done. “Shit, Cher, I’m sorry,” she mumbles and leans back in her chair. Her right hand comes up to cover her eyes as she shakes her head at herself. It is way too soon to be dumping this on Cheryl. The redhead doesn’t need a love confession; she needs someone who will be there for her without conditions to help her get through all her trauma.

“Listen, I know it’s really soon to be saying that,” Toni tries to explain as she busies her hands with organizing the makeup station where she is sitting. “And you don’t have to say it back if you don’t want to, but I’ve been wanting to tell you for a while and I guess I just couldn’t stop myself anymore.” She doesn’t dare look at Cheryl. She isn’t sure she could handle whatever look is waiting for her on the other girl’s face. “I really do love you, but I should have,” she tries to continue, but Cheryl cuts her off.

“You do?” A soft hand lands on her right arm squeezing gently to stop Toni’s rambling.

She finally chances a look at her redhead. Cheryl’s face holds a soft smile and her eyes gleam with unshed tears. She looks devastatingly gorgeous of course, she always does. Her smile sends Toni’s heart into overdrive as if she wasn’t already losing control of it. Cheryl’s face shows no sign of fear or anger. Toni studies her and sees nothing but love and hope that Toni isn’t lying to her. She knows people have used Cheryl before and lied about how they really felt, so the question isn’t surprising.

“More than anything, Bombshell” she answers reverently as she turns to face Cheryl once again. She takes both of Cheryl’s hands in hers and plays with their fingers nervously. She really needs to cut this shit out if she’s going to maintain her reputation, she thinks to herself. But then her eyes meet Cheryl’s and she doesn’t give a damn about her reputation.

“Say it again,” Cheryl whispers and Toni doesn’t hesitate.

“I love you more than anything, Cher.”

She has barely finished speaking when fire-red lips are pressing into her own. The kiss says everything she needs to know. It’s strong and almost desperate on Cheryl’s end. The redhead is trying to tell Toni everything she has trouble actually putting into words and Toni can hear it loud and clear. Cheryl loves her too. She knows. Of course she knows.

A soft clearing of a throat from the doorway is enough to pull them apart. It’s Ronnie of course, she somehow always manages to witness their most vulnerable moments.

“Sorry to interrupt my favorite couple,” she starts quietly but sweetly. “But Toni we only have a few minutes until curtain.”

“Thanks, V.” The black-haired girl bows her head in acknowledgement before backing out of the room slowly. Toni’s eyes go back to Cheryl instantly. Cheryl is staring back at her intently. A few tears stain her cheeks from where they have fallen, but Toni thinks she’s never looked more beautiful.

“I love you too, Toni,” Cheryl says so softly that Toni would have missed it if she wasn’t listening so hard. “So much,” she adds on and Toni has to take a deep breath to stop herself from drowning in these all-consuming moments. She leans in and kisses Cheryl again chastely. Unlike the last kiss that held unspoken words and feelings, this one reassures them both that this is real, this is really happening.

They pull back after a few seconds of solid pressure and their smiles can only be described as blinding.

Toni can’t help the giggle that leaves her. “Well that was unexpected,” she teases happily.

“Oh Cha-Cha, they don’t call me Cheryl Bombshell for nothing,” Cheryl comes back just as playfully.

They both laugh, their hands still clinging tightly to each other and Toni is sure she will never tire of this amazing woman. Cheryl leans in and kisses her one more time quickly.

“I’ll see you after the show?” she asks and her lips are still brushing Toni’s as she speaks. It’s intoxicating.

“You bet your ass you will.” She bites Cheryl’s lip with intent and if the small whimper that escapes her girl is any indication, Cheryl knows exactly what they are doing later.