Azu shifts uncomfortably in her seat, fingers playing with her half-full glass of champagne. The festival has been going on for hours now, and people have come by to greet her, some sitting there for a few moments before moving on, but she’s been stranded here alone for the better part of an hour, now, and is wondering if she should maybe pack it up and go home.
The festival has been very pretty. There are flowers coming out of everything, and the air is rich with the scent of lilacs and roses and lilies. It’s so colorful - it almost reminds Azu of parties from back home, and she’s hit with so much nostalgia that she can’t help but wish she were still there.
She doesn’t regret moving here - she’d needed something new, as much as Emeka had wanted her to stay. She’d wanted to help people, and when she’d found a small town on the coast that was looking for another doctor, she’d leapt at the chance. Not that explaining it to her family had been easy. Even so, in the end, they supported her, as long as she promised to come home for all the major holidays,
So, she’d left, and now, a few months after moving, her homesickness is starting to make itself known. It’s been there in the background, of course, but there’s something about today that’s bringing it out even more. It doesn’t help that she doesn’t really know many people - she recognises them, of course, anyone who’s been to the clinic, but everyone already seems to be in… their own groups. And she’s… an outlier. Not from everyone, not at all, but for a small town where nearly everyone’s known each other since they were children? It can be hard to get to know people.
It hasn’t been terrible, really. Azu knows that she’s just a bit maudlin from the champagne, and watching all the friends and couples dancing through the glade is making her feel a bit more alone than normal.
Which is… a bit ridiculous. She has friends here, friends she cares deeply about. Her and Sasha get along incredibly, and Azu feels closer to her than she does to anyone else in the town (Grizzop notwithstanding). Zolf is nice as well, but he’s usually so busy on the farm that he doesn’t have the most time to get away. Feryn is friendly enough, and Azu is mostly certain that Wilde likes her. Eddie is an absolute delight, but he’s constantly out of town on (mandatory) family visits or on a pilgrimage somewhere, so Azu doesn’t get to see much of him.
The music changes, suddenly, more upbeat and fun, knocking Azu out of her thoughts. She glances around, noticing as everyone starts pairing off for the dance; she can see Zolf grabbing the hand of someone who looks like a pirate - Azu assumes she must just be visiting, since he’s never mentioned her before, and Brock has his own partner. Grizzop is looking threateningly at anyone who comes near him, but Veeseek is having the time of their life, holding on to someone Azu doesn’t recognise. Even Bi Ming has a partner, swinging someone around, and Azu feels, more than ever, left out.
“Hey, Azu,” she hears, and jumps as Sasha appears seemingly out of nowhere. “Having fun?”
“Oh! Hello, Sasha,” Azu greets, and gestures to the chair opposite her. “Yes, I - this is definitely a colorful festival.”
“S’alright,” Sasha says, shrugging. “Just wait for the fall - gets proper spooky. Zolf and Feryn do up a maze every year, but no one’s ever solved it yet.”
“That sounds fun,” Azu says, smiling, and rests her elbow on the table, supporting her chin as she stares out at the dancers. The dance has gotten started properly, now, and almost everyone has a partner, apart from a few people straggling along the edges of the glade, looking awkward. She sighs, taking another sip of her champagne before putting it back down on the table.
“Come here,” Sasha says, suddenly, and stands, feet padding silently over the grass below as she heads away from the table. Azu rises and follows her, and Sasha leads her over to a small corner of the dancing area. It’s half in shadow, and nearly deserted, but it feels… intimate, almost. Intentional, on Sasha’s part, for sure.
“Sasha, what -“
“You looked like you wanted to dance,” she says, and half shrinks back, somehow hiding even now. “So I figured… you know, here. But… if you don’t want to, we can just pretend this didn’t happen and go back to chatting at the table?”
Azu doesn’t know what to say, for a moment, chest swelling as Sasha starts to babble, almost, and then shakes her head once Sasha finally takes a breath. She - she doesn’t know how to explain what this means, to her, but she… wants to dance with Sasha. More than anything.
“I know you don’t - like touch, much,” Azu says, and keeps her hands at her sides even as she takes a step forward. This isn’t - she remembers how Sasha had flinched away from her in the past, when she’d wrapped bandages around her arm, pulled splinters out of her hand. But Sasha doesn’t flinch, now, when she steps forward, closer to Azu, and her fingers brush against Azu’s wrist.
“I don’t… when it’s you, I don’t mind it,” Sasha confesses, voice quiet enough that Azu almost can’t hear it over the music coming from the speakers. Her fingers move down Azu’s skin until she presses their hands together, and Azu glances over at her, heart in her throat.
“Then… may I have this dance?” Azu asks, squeezing Sasha’s hand in hers as their fingers tangle. She swears she can see a slight blush dotted across Sasha’s cheeks when she nods, but in the light from the slowly setting sun, she just looks… golden.
Azu steps forward, resting her hand lightly on Sasha’s waist as her other holds Sasha’s hand up. Sasha’s hand comes up and places her hand on Azu’s shoulder, warm even through her leso.
“Are you ready?” Azu asks, and Sasha’s hand squeezes hers.
“Are you ?” Sasha asks, and it almost feels like a challenge with the edge of teasing that Azu has come to expect from her. Azu can’t help it - she laughs, low and throaty, and nods.
“Always,” she whispers, and then they start to move.
Azu stumbles through the steps - she’s not graceful at the best of times, but it’s easy enough to follow Sasha as she leads her through the dance. (And, yes, Azu knows she should be leading, but she doesn’t much care about convention or style when Sasha is looking at her like that.)
They sway, back and forth, moving to the beat of the music as couples laugh all around them, staring starrily into each other’s eyes. The music slows down, even more, and it’s like the world around them stops to exist as they spin, each pulled in closer, closer, until Azu can feel Sasha’s breath brushing against her lips, and her chest aches with it.
They slowly stop spinning, Azu’s hand still on Sasha’s waist, Sasha’s hand still on her shoulder. All around them, the music dies, fades to a background noise, and all Azu can think about, all she can focus on, is Sasha, standing in front of her.
“Can I kiss you?” Azu murmurs, no louder than a whisper, and Sasha looks up at her, eyes bright in the light.
“Yes,” she whispers, and Azu leans down, hand gently, gently cradling Sasha’s cheek as she presses their lips together. It’s soft, and sweet, and Azu thinks she could live forever in the press of Sasha’s lips against hers, in the way Sasha’s hands tighten slightly, holding on, when Azu pulls her a bit closer. But Azu does need to breathe, so it’s not long before she pulls back, Sasha’s lips chasing hers for a moment before she stops.
“Wow,” Sasha breathes out, and presses her forehead against Azu. “That was - er, well good, um-“
Azu laughs, then, and Sasha cracks a smile, too, pulling back and looking almost shyly at her through her fringe.
“Would you like to leave?” Azu asks, and Sasha glances around the glade, where no one else is paying attention to them.
“Yeah - yeah, actually,” she says, blushing again, and her fingers tighten around Azu’s as Azu starts to pull her away.