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Pristine

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Angela was never one to make the first move when it came to dating, or friendships, or anything really. She let everyone else decide things for her, which is why when they were all down at La Push, she let Bella and Jessica decide what they did, and that’s how she got roped into hiking through the forest with Jessica, Mike, and Tyler ahead of her, and Bella behind. It wasn’t a surprise that Bella was behind, but it was that Angela was slinking behind them. It wasn’t that she was slower than the rest, or that she really didn’t want to be there, there was just something keeping her back. It wasn’t until she saw the way her best friend looked at Mike Newton, that she really realized what that something was.

She couldn’t help the sinking feeling in her heart as Jessica took Mike’s hand. It wasn’t the right feeling she should be having. She should be happy for her best friend, she should be overjoyed that Jess was finally getting the guy she liked. But she couldn’t help but think that she should be the one holding her hand, the one making her smile like that. Did she like Jess like that? Or was she just worried that Mike would take up the time Jess set aside for her? Would Jess forget about her? Why did she worry so much about that when she should be worrying about if Tyler was going to ask her to prom, or if she should ask him? None of the questions that ran through her head were coherent or made sense. Starting to slow her walk, she fell behind Bella, which caused the porcelain girl to stop and wait for Angela to catch up, starting to match her pace so they could walk together. “What’s goin on? You slowed down a bit there Ang,” Bella asked quietly, ducking her head as they walked so she wouldn’t hit the branch above them.

“I just, I don’t know, I just don’t feel too well,” Angela said, knowing that it wasn’t entirely a lie. She didn’t feel well, but it wasn’t for the reason she wanted Bella to think it was. But she couldn’t pinpoint why she felt the way she felt, so there wasn’t a way to explain it to the brunette. She heard the others, more specifically Jessica, call their names and she shot her head up and felt her heart skip a beat when she looked at Jessica in the small spotlight the sun shone on her through the trees. It had come out at some point while they were walking, and it made her smile shine just a little brighter than it usually would. Her brown eyes were a beautiful caramel color in the light, Angela noticed as they caught up to the group.

“Sorry guys, Bella stuck back by me because my stomach started hurting,” Angela offered, giving a sheepish smile, nudging Bella so she would agree.
“I- Yeah! Angela slowed down and I wanted to make sure she didn’t fall behind too much or get stopped all alone.” Bella’s awkwardness wasn’t going to be something that anyone batted an eye at, but Angela still worried someone would think something else was up. It didn’t catch her by surprise that Jessica showed some signs of worry and let go of Mike’s hand, scurrying over to make sure her best friend was alright.

“Is your stomach still hurting? I packed a medicine bag just in case, but I left it in the car. I might have something in there? I know I at least have bandaids, ibuprofen, and neosporin but I’m not sure if I packed anything else.” She hurried out the words, looking up at Angela with a worried expression. It made Angela giggle a little, how cute Jess was when she was worried. She knew that it wasn’t something she should particularly find cute, but the doting shorter girl was absolutely adorable.

“I’m alright Jess, I promise. Just probably didn’t drink enough water and got a stomach cramp,” Angela offered as an explanation, resting her hand on Jessica’s arm. She immediately found a water bottle tossed to her by Tyler Crowley, who maybe felt a little awkward by the way it ended up smacking Bella in the face instead of landing on the ground by the girls. “Sorry Bella! Bad aim?” He offered, his face cringing slightly as the other girl offered him a playful glare. Jessica picked the bottle up off the ground and opened it before she thrust it into Angela’s hands. Angela took the bottle and sipped it once, before Jess glared at her and she took a bigger drink until the girl was satisfied.

“There? I should be alright now, but I’ll keep the water on me, thank you Tyler.” Angela offered him a smile, shaking the bottle at him. She turned back to Jessica and couldn’t help but feel her heart leap at the smile on her best friend’s face. She was about to compliment her before realizing that would be a little awkward. So she turned back to everyone and cleared her throat, “Shall we continue walking to the cliff? Or do you guys want to head back to the beach?” While she spoke Mike and Tyler joined where they were standing, Mike sliding his arm around Jessica much to Angela’s dismay. Seriously? Why did she feel like that? She glanced back at Bella, who just shrugged. “We could go and see if the locals are ready for the fire yet and then maybe walk along the beach a bit?” Bella wasn’t usually one to suggest things, but something about her vibe she was giving off matched Angela’s and she wondered if Bella felt the same way she did right now.

“All in favor?” Jessica asked, before raising her hand. It was clear the girls were all over this endeavor, but the guys pouted when they lost out three to two. The trek back down was a little easier, Angela and Bella keeping pace with everyone. She walked alongside Bella for most of the trek however, stealing glances at Jessica and attempting to decipher the way her stomach felt like someone had sucker punched her. This wasn’t a new feeling either, just one that came and went when she thought about the idea of Jessica finding someone she liked enough to date. Her best friend had been obsessed with the idea of finding the perfect boyfriend for years, and had yet to find someone that fit quite right for her.

Angela hadn’t shared her best friends ideals for dating, in fact she’d never really put much thought into the idea of dating. She pretended to think boys were cute, and that their personalities made them more likable than they were. She found boys interesting the way a person would find cool rocks as a kid and collect them. Purely in an aesthetic way. But she also always found herself drifting to thinking about how pretty she found girls, how when girls smiled, when Jessica smiled, her heart exploded with a kind of joy that she couldn’t explain. She wanted to be the reason someone smiled like that.

But she knew that she couldn’t feel that way about girls, right? That wasn’t the way people were supposed to love and feel. That’s, at least, what her dad always taught her before he passed away. Her mom told her that she was still growing and learning, but she never made any comments like her dad did. Her mom just thought about her happiness. Was this what her happiness was supposed to be? Why did she like making Jessica smile, and seeing her eyes light up when she talked about things she loved?

As they reached the beach, Angela chose to go sit off on her own and think about things, knowing that despite being on a trip with friends, if she didn’t figure this out right then and there, it would bug her for the rest of the day. She wouldn’t be able to focus on having fun until she found the solution to the problem she faced. She sat alone with her thoughts, which kept going in circles, until one of the locals came up to her and sat down. The Native American girl didn’t say anything at first, just observed the way Angela kept glancing from her hands, to the spot at the fire pit where Jessica had saved her a spot. “You know,” the nameless girl said, “I think she’s waiting for you. She keeps looking over here worried.” She pointed to Jess, bringing Angela’s attention to how her friend was glancing over now and again, trying to meet her eyes.

“I just don’t know why I can’t bring myself to get up and go over there, there’s just something holding me back,” Angela said quietly, watching Jess motion from her to the seat with one hand, the other resting on top of Mike’s. Angela’s stomach churned again before she ducked her head between her hands, “I can’t figure out why I don’t like the idea of her with Mike.” She knew that this girl didn’t need to hear her internal dilemma, but the words kept tumbling out of her mouth, “My stomach flips when she smiles at me, and when he holds her hand he’s always too rough. He doesn’t realize that his hands are a lot bigger than hers. She’s delicate, you have to be gentle with her. Does he even know that she likes white roses the best? Probably not because he’s dumb and doesn’t remember anything.”

She found herself continuing her ramblings, up until the girl beside her set a hand on her arm with a soft smile. Angela found herself looking up at the older girl, offering a sheepish smile and an apology before being cut off. “You like her, don’t you? I know that you might not think you do, or you can’t quite place the feelings you’re feeling because they could be new. But did you ever think about that? That you might like her? I know that I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but from what it sounds like, it sounds a lot like how I felt about the first girl I had a crush on. I’m Leah by the way, just so you don’t think I’m some random weirdo from the reservation. That’s all of the boys, I’m the sane one.” She offered a smile, and a little laugh at her own joke. Leah watched as Angela processed what she said, Angela looking between Leah and Jessica as if they each had seven heads.

The way her cheeks turned a bright red gave away that Leah had hit the nail on the head, even if Angela wasn’t ready to admit it. Leah laughed a little bit, rubbing the girl’s arm and shaking her head. “Don’t worry, you don’t have to make a big scene right now, but think about this. Maybe you want to talk to her about it at some point? Maybe not? It’s definitely up to you but I definitely think it’s something that you’re almost ready to come to terms with. I’ve been in your shoes, and it’ll be okay.” With that, Leah was up and gone like a puff of smoke, leaving Angela to decide what she wanted to do. Just as she began standing up, ready to rejoin the group, Jessica moved away from Mike, making to stand up and wander somewhere. She made eye contact with Angela, and gave a soft smile before making a head motion off toward the water, as if to ask Angela to join her.

Without even thinking about it, Angela’s feet guided her to follow the smaller girl, as if she was on a leash. It was in that moment, that Angela knew her heart was going to make her follow Jessica anywhere, but she certainly wasn’t ready to admit it out loud. Not Yet.