Actually dating someone was weird.
What Fig used to have with Dr. Asha was weird too, of course, but it was still always on her own terms. She could disguise herself when she was feeling shitty, go to the hospital, make out with a hot adult doctor and pretend like she knew what she was doing, and she would still feel shitty when she went home but at least she was doing something.
Holding hands with Ayda as the two of them walked down the street was a very different kind of something.
One of Ayda’s hands cut through the air, articulating points as she spoke about how she was trying to find new books for the resituated Compass Points Library. Fig was quiet as she listened, partly because she was interested in all the places that Ayda had bought books that she had never seen before, and partly because she just liked hearing Ayda talk.
Ayda, with her precise language and honest emotion and genuine words. Ayda, whose wings were fluttering behind them as they walked. Ayda, who had asked Fig to go on a walk with her because that was something that couples did.
It was unseasonably warm and Fig had a test that she probably should have been studying for and she wasn’t usually someone who just went on walks for the sake of walks, but it was Ayda, so there was never really a question of whether Fig was going to hop up, take her girlfriend’s hand, and head out the door.
Ayda made Fig soft, and honestly? If being soft meant getting to spend time with Ayda, Fig was okay with that.
They passed by a bush with bright orange flowers, and Fig had a good idea. Not quite brilliant, but still one that made her hide a smile as she imagined how Ayda would respond. If Ayda was trying to do couple things, Fig could definitely try her hand as well. It didn’t matter that her only prior romantic experience came from books she giggled about in middle school or from playing at being someone else every couple of weeks. She was going to be a great girlfriend.
Fig plucked a flower from the bush beside them, trying not to obviously struggle too much with the way the thick stem didn’t want to part from the rest of the shrub. Ayda’s story came to a lull, and Fig offered her the flower, throwing in a wink as well, because, as previously stated, she was going to be a great girlfriend. “I got this for you!”
Ayda looked at the flower in her hand, and then over Fig’s shoulder. “You...just pulled this off of that bush.”
“Uh...yeah? But it’s still for you!” Fig kept up her smile, lopsided and confident and maybe baring a bit too much of her heart.
They had stopped moving, and Ayda looked at the flower for long enough that some nerves might have been starting to creep in on Fig. Then, she took the flower, tucking it behind one feathery ear. “Thank you. This is very kind.”
Fig’s grin grew. “Yeah! I’m glad you like it. It reminds me of your hair.”
“Ah. My hair is orange, as is this flower. Delightful.” Ayda looked at Fig for a few moments longer, just long enough that Fig was itching to double dash away, but Ayda’s hand was still warm in hers and she was making an effort. Dating was about being vulnerable, even if it felt like pulling teeth.
At least, that was what Kristen had told her when Fig had finally confessed that she was dating Ayda. Kristen had a lot of advice – some good, some bad, some just plain bizarre – and whenever Fig started to doubt the validity of her advice, she just held onto the fact that Kristen and Tracker had been happily together for almost a year.
Fig was preparing to disregard all advice do something stupid when Ayda spoke. “I need to get you something in return.”
“It’s fine, you don’t have to-“
“Relationships are about reciprocity. I assume this means that if I am given a gift, I must give a gift in return.” Ayda nodded, a quick motion as though it had all been decided in that moment, and Fig ignored the nervous point in her stomach that told her Ayda’s expectations would grow beyond anything she was able to reach.
“You don't have to, like, I got you that flower because I saw it, I thought of you, and I wanted to give it to you,” Fig said, unsure of her words but still putting one in front of the other and letting them spill out. “Doesn't mean that you instantly have to have something for me. Relationships don't really seem like something that need to always be one-to-one.”
“How would you know? Have you been in a relationship before?” Ayda’s head was tilted at an angle where she probably didn’t mean for her question to have come out the way that it did, but Fig would be even more of a liar than usual if she said it didn’t hurt.
“I- not really, no.”
“You know that I have not as well, and so I have been doing research.” Ayda’s gaze was fixed on where Fig was picking at one of her spiked bracelets. “I want this to be correct, and I want this to be as good for you as it is for me. It is very good for me. I have a lot of work to do.”
Fig bit the inside of her cheek, and even as she wanted to just go back to walking around the neighborhood, she also knew that it was probably good that they were actually, you know, communicating. Sandralynn would probably be proud of her. Ugh. “Ayda, I’m happy just doing this, walking around with you, or talking, or holding hands. I don’t know what your research said, but, personally? I think we can figure things out without somebody else telling us how to be happy.”
“That does not make sense,” Ayda said, before adding, “To me. Research says what has worked for other people. Research has evidence. I am. Not good at doing things without proof that others have done them before.”
“Hey, you’ve maintained the Compass Points Library and brought it all the way to Solace.” Fig squeezed her hand, swung it just enough between them that she could feel nonchalant. It wasn’t really working, but she told herself that was fine. “That seems like something you did on your own merit .”
There was a slight frown on Ayda’s face, a tension in her eyebrows that spoke of her invisible calculations. “That is not completely accurate, as I had the notes of my past lives. However...you are correct that the library had not been moved before. I wrote down my experience so that the next Ayda would not need to go through the same terror that I did.”
Fig didn’t really like thinking about the fact that there would be another Ayda, and another, long after she had kicked the bucket in some blaze of glory. “Well, you can take notes on this!” She held up their hands where they were still linked, even though her palm was getting sweaty. “We can figure out what works, and we can do it for us , not for whoever’s done this before.”
“That is. You are very hot when you talk about research.”
Fig laughed as the tension that had been hanging in the air finally eased. It wasn’t gone, and she didn’t think that it ever really would be, but for now it had faded, so she leaned up and stole a kiss. Aydas hair burned higher in the afternoon sun in a way that Fig didn’t think she would ever get tired of, and the intensity in Aydas eyes pinned fig in place. “I do still wish to get you a gift in return. It is what you deserve.”
“Well, I won’t say no to that,” Fig said, grinning as she started walking again, pulling Ayda along with her. The sun lit the petals of the flower behind Ayda’s ear with a glow, illuminating the veins, and things were good.
Fig didn’t know everything that was going to come next, but she had a feeling that it was going to be pretty good too.