Diana stirred in her sleep. It’s been three hours. Three hours, and yet not a single second of sleep. She wanted nothing more but to shut down every single thought racing, crashing in her mind. Diana made an attempt at counting backwards from a hundred. Didn’t work. All that talk about passing out halfway through the count was bullshit, by the way. She ended up counting all the way to -476 before inevitably giving up. She tried listening to music, but her airpods were too uncomfortable. Plus, last time, she lost one of them. She could most definitely afford another, but all these little expenses add up, and she had more pressing matters to tend to. She tried sleeping pills for a bit, but they were useless. Not only was she able to defy those stupid pills, but whenever she did end up getting sleep, she felt like she’d awaken from a coma on account of the fact that her head always throbbed like hell and her limbs ached. Then the symptoms got more and more intense over time that it got infuriating, so Diana never bothered with sleeping pills ever again.
So she rolled over. And once more. Then shut her eyes tight and shook her head, urging out a sudden frustrated flap in arms, causing her to punch her pillow.
Diana let out a shaky breath and sat up, pulling her duvet off to the side. It was ridiculous. Incredibly fucking ridiculous how she, a Cavendish, could possibly get behind on all this schoolwork. She reached for her phone on her nightstand and glanced at her calendar.
Only seven more days until my first final.
Diana continued to observe it, running her eyes over the countless other deadlines due before her chemistry final. Running a hand through her hair, she whispered a silent curse under her breath, before laying back down on her side, staring at the assignments on her to-do list.
Diana didn’t know how it led to this. She was on top of everything! In fact, three weeks ago, she was a week ahead of all her classes. She made sure she prioritized everything, setting aside any possible distractions, all so she wouldn’t crash and break down like she’s doing right now. So how the hell is she in this position? It didn’t make sense to her.
Diana ran another hand through her hair and clenched her jaw at an attempt to think back to how this all happened. She feels like she’s going to spiral and bites down on her lip as she chokes back a sob.
Nothing makes sense anymore. What kind of person goes from being an honour student, accustomed to never receiving anything below a 95, to someone who barely gets by in calculus II? How fucking stupid is she? She puts in all these hours into the textbook homework, all this dedication into past exam questions and she still manages to get 60-70’s? What a pathetic performance for a Cavendish.
She immediately turned off her phone and shut her eyes, letting out yet another dejected sigh. It was clear she wasn’t going to get a blink of sleep tonight. But her lecture was at nine in the morning, so she might as well be productive and do something. Anything to keep her up until then. Otherwise, she’ll just fall asleep through it.
So Diana got up, and clumsily got out of bed, before prepping herself on her computer chair to turn on her PC. It was only three AM, so she had quite a bit until her lecture. It was fine, nothing she hasn’t done before. Although… she was missing something. Ah, that’s right. The former honour roll student’s drive to success.
Now, Diana was never a coffee person. She absolutely despised it. In fact, she was a tea person, and everyone who has ever interacted with Diana has had to have known that as well. In her old high school, her classmates had formed a running joke of some sort regarding her “obsession” with tea. This was because she often spent her lunch period with the headmistress, always accompanied by a nice cup of earl gray. Diana didn’t really have anyone else her age to spend lunch with.
Not to say she didn’t have any friends! She… well.
Diana’s reputation during high school was quite interesting. Everyone acknowledged she came from a family of significant wealth and immediately made assumptions from that. Most people avoided her, thinking Diana believed she was superior to the other students due to it. Others wanted to benefit from her wealth.
It didn’t help that people also spread rumours about her because of her appearance. Diana can acknowledge she was… somewhat attractive, but the way the boys in her school made false claims about what she’s done with them made her stomach turn. And it didn’t help that most girls envied her or called her distasteful names, due to her “getting around.”
At least Diana had one friend, Andrew Hanbridge, that she was actually able to rely on. He was the only one who knew she was a lesbian. He was the only one who she had ever told. And he was the only one she knew for a fact was okay with it. He’d made multiple attempts at trying to disprove the ridiculous rumours, but students ended up shipping the two of them. It was amusing, considering not only was she into women, but he was aroace as well. It was a pity he ended up transferring in junior year.
In the end, she decided that people her age weren’t worth the troubles of socializing. That is, until she went to university.
Anyways, back to coffee .
By the time Diana reached senior year, she started struggling in a class or two. Between AP courses, tutoring underclassmen, and jumping from one task a teacher asked of her to another, everything began to spiral. It came to the point where she realized she had only one night to complete an essay for her english class.
And complete an essay in one night, she did, with the aid of perhaps four cups of black coffee.
Diana promised herself she would never do that again, until it became a recurring theme. And it didn’t end once she reached university.
Now, here she was, ungracefully making her way to the kitchen, silently praying that she won’t come across another student, or wake anyone up in their dorms. Although, what’re the chances? It was 3AM.
And what are the chances indeed, that she’d open the door to the kitchen, only to be greeted by none other than the notorious sandwich thief, Atsuko Kagari. Who, by the way, was in the process of stealing another sandwich. Upon the realization that she had just been caught, Akko jolted and immediately turned to the sleep deprived girl.
“D-Diana?!” She gasped, nearly dropping her sandwich. “What’re you…” She glanced up and down, furrowing her brows in confusion. “What’re you doing? What… What time is it?!” Akko set her sandwich down on the table before scrounging around for her phone in her pockets.
“It’s 3:21AM,” Diana said, voice dry. She immediately became self conscious with the way Akko was staring down at her with wide eyes, realizing she was wearing pyjama bottoms with unicorns on them and a random tee that was a couple sizes too big.
“Why are you even up?!” Akko made her way to Diana, evidently concerned. “You must be so tired!”
Diana impulsively took a step back, a reflex in response to the sudden lack of proximity between her and Akko. She cleared her throat. “My apologies, I wasn’t intending to startle you.”
Akko shook her head and took her hands into her own, causing Diana’s cheeks to heat up. “No! I wasn’t startled! Just worried...Diana, are you okay?”
It took a moment for Diana to regain her composure and look up to meet Akko’s eyes. And she wasn’t lying when she said she was concerned. Diana knew Akko for only eight months, but from her expression she could tell she was being completely genuine. And she loved how easy to read Akko always was.
Then, Akko leaned it closer, causing Diana to jolt backwards.
“Gah! Sorry, sorry! I was just observing, I swear!” Akko flailed her arms as she took a step backwards as well. “You just… you don’t look too good. Your eyes were kind of bloodshot…”
Diana looked at Akko, then to the side. “There’s… there is no need for you to be concerned. Was just… planning on preparing myself a cup of coffee, s’all.”
The two stood in awkward silence for a moment. And then she couldn’t handle it anymore. Diana hadn’t realized, but she was on the verge of tears. And now, here she was, standing in front of the girl she’s been crushing on for the past four months, with tears running down her face. How humiliating this must be for Akko to witness.
Suddenly, Diana felt a pair of warm arms wrap around her. Then she lowered herself into the embrace until she was on the floor.
“A-Akko…” Diana muttered in between a few tears.
Akko placed a hand on top of Diana’s head and began to comb through her hair. Once again, she became extremely conscious of herself, acknowledging she hasn’t had the time to shower in a few days. It was pathetic of her to be this vulnerable. Akko shouldn’t have to be subjected to this.
And yet, here she was, holding Diana like she hasn’t been held before in over a decade, shushing Diana’s mutters of apology, and whispering that everything is going to be okay.
Then, after a few minutes, Diana leaned back and Akko pulled away from the hug. She must’ve looked a mess right now.
“My… my apologies… I’m sorry you had to see that.”
Akko shook her head and leaned forward to wipe a tear on her cheek with a smile. “You don’t have to apologize for anything.”
Diana let out a weak chuckle. “I wasn’t intending to cry in front of you. I don’t suppose I can still get that cup of coffee?”
Akko suppressed a laugh, then took Diana’s hands and held them in her lap. Diana’s eyes widened for a moment, and she immediately looked to the side to hide the faint blush on her cheeks.
“You know you can talk to me about whatever’s going on in that big brain of yours, right?”
Diana remained silent, still avoiding eye contact, and sheepishly nodded.
“Then… talk to me…please. You haven’t… looked okay recently.” Akko softly squeezed one of her hands, causing Diana to look back at her. “You kind of shut yourself out and… you’ve been so quiet lately. And I noticed more and more that you haven’t been getting proper sleep. I kinda texted you about it, but…”
Diana had forgotten to respond. She didn’t mean to leave her on read.
“Please. Please tell me what’s going on, I’m really worried about you and I care about you a lot and-“ Now Akko’s voice was shaking.
Diana nodded, and squeezed Akko’s hand to reassure her. Once again on the verge of tears, she lets out a weak smile. “A-Alright.” Diana sniffed, before pulling her hands away. She placed them in her own lap and fiddled with her fingers as she looked down. “Admittedly, I’ve been under an intense amount of stress. I… I’m somehow behind on a few of my classes, and with all these assignments, reports, and finals next week, and I haven’t been achieving the best marks lately and I feel like I…” Diana felt her eyes stinging at an attempt to hold back tears. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do Akko…”
Almost instantly, Akko pulled Diana into her arms again, and Diana began to tear up in Akko’s shoulders.
“You’re going to be okay. You always have been. You’re insanely smart and you’re not giving yourself the credit you deserve.”
Diana clutched onto Akko’s shirt, and shut her eyes as more tears ran down her face. “Not smart enough, apparently.”
Akko leaned back and placed her hands on Diana’s shoulder and looked her in the eyes with the determined demeanor Diana had always admired. “Listen, I know this is worthless coming from someone like me-“
“No, you’re-“ Diana interrupted. But Akko continued.
“Ah ah! Let me finish!-But you’re really amazing, Diana. And if you think your grades somehow determine your self worth, then maybe that does make you a little stupid. But I’ve never, ever met someone so passionate about all her assignments. I’ve never known anyone to be so diligent and such a bookworm, and overall a genius,” Akko began to carefully wipe the tears from Diana’s cheeks. “The only thing that makes you stupid is that you don’t take care of yourself.”
“I…” Diana was at a loss. Akko had made a point. The past few months, she cut herself off from her friends. She lost so much sleep at an attempt to stay on track, she ended up spending more hours hating herself for it. And what’s worse, she left Akko in the dark the entire time. The only other person, aside from Andrew Hanbridge, to bring Diana out of her shell.
“You know it’s okay to admit you’re not okay, right?” She whispered as she gently brushed a strand of Diana’s hair back, before carefully placing her hand on Diana’s cheek.
The tears seemed to have stopped, and Diana leaned into Akko’s touch, not without a slight warmth in her own cheeks. Diana nodded. “I’m… I’m sorry. I was hoping to not worry you. You know I trust you.”
“We’re only first years… and your program is so freaking hard, I can’t even imagine your workload. But I’ve seen your marks, and simply passing is already such a major achievement in your courses. But you need to take care of yourself first. Please… at least for me?”
Diana felt her stomach flutter at how gentle Akko had sounded. She reached forward and cupped the shorter girl’s face, somewhat lost in a trace. Akko didn’t seem to mind. It was until Diana had brushed a strand of Akko’s hair back into place that she realized how close the two were as they sat on the floor of the kitchen, on their knees, cupping one another’s face. She immediately jolted upwards, bringing Akko along with her, and cleared her throat.
“Apologies again. I don’t know what came over me to…” She trailed off, realizing Akko didn’t seem to care. After all, she most definitely perceived it as a platonic action. Diana also realized she was holding Akko’s hand, so she quickly pulled away and placed her arms behind her back. “Thank you… Akko. For everything. Sincerely, I appreciate you being here for me.”
“No need, Diana!” Akko shot her a warm smile. “Can I walk you back to your dorm?”
“Is my cup of coffee still an option? I… I still have my 9AM class.”
Akko furrowed her brows, “What?! No! You’re going right to bed.”
Diana made an attempt to object, but Akko insisted she sleep in today. After all, it was being recorded. Diana allowed herself to be pulled by Akko by her arm, and halfway to her dorm, Akko slipped her hand into Diana’s, and eventually intertwined them. Nines, the effect this girl had on her.
Akko hadn’t left when they finally arrived at the dorm. Instead, she offered to tuck Diana in.
“Akko, I’m not a child.”
“Hey, no objections!” Akko huffed. “You need this right now! And how would I know if you don’t sneak out of bed and force into those textbooks?”
“Hmm… that is true. There is definitely a possibility I would do that,” Diana said teasingly.
“Diana! Seriously!” Diana giggled, and Akko rolled her eyes. “Now I know how you feel when you lecture me.”
Diana suppressed another laugh, before settling into her bed. She looked to the side as Akko stood awkwardly.
“Your pyjamas were super cute by the way,” Akko suddenly admitted with a smirk.
“Oh, shush. You know, you could stand to put on some pants sometimes.” Diana gestured to the girl’s attire, which consisted of an oversized t-shirt that went down past her thighs.
“I AM wearing pants! They’re shorts! Why does everyone say I don’t wear pants?!” Akko slightly pulled up her shirt to reveal her shorts. Upon seeing just a small portion of Akko’s stomach, Diana’s face immediately heated up and she looked away. She stifled a weak laugh, mentally cursing away any repressed thoughts that have been awoken from the sight.
After a short silence, Diana turned back to her and spoke up. “You know. I really do appreciate this. You, I mean-... I…” She sighed. “I was never good at this. Expressing how I feel. You make it all easier. Words can never express how thankful I am to have you as a friend, Akko.”
Akko smiled, and walked towards her. Before Diana could process what was happening, Akko gently placed a kiss on her forehead. Diana’s eyes widened and she was thankful the blush that crept onto her cheeks wasn’t evident in the dark.
Akko slowly pulled away and brushed a strand of Diana’s hair aside. “Ditto.”
Diana stared at her, wide eyed, trying to find the words to say something. But all she let out was: “I-uh...I….”
Akko’s eyes widened as well, and she immediately became flustered. “Wait! Oh crap! Yeah! Sorry! Pandemic and all, I’m super super sorry, oh my God-“
“N-No, it’s not that, I just…”
Was that meant to be platonic?
Diana shook her head. “Nothing. It’s nothing. There’s no need to be worried, Akko.”
Akko beamed. “I’ll see you later, Diana. Promise you’ll get some sleep alright?” She began to make her way out the door, closing the door with a quick, “I love you!”
She said what ?
Diana stared towards the direction Akko left, before leaning down into her pillow with a content sigh. Then, she covered her face with her hands and let out a tiny squeal.
How’s she supposed to fall asleep now?