It would be a fair descriptor to say that Jade Harley is in love with life, the universe, and everything. She greets all of her friends with a kiss.
Rose considers that she uses the word 'Love' rather too much. That it is perhaps a little bit cheapened by overuse. Kanaya shrugs, and puts forth the idea that perhaps she actually means it.
Things don't always fit into neat little boxes; Jade was aware that groups and families clustered together under grouped names. Books on the evolution of species liked to split everything into neatly ordered and separate pieces on elaborate trees. On Prospit, everybody had a place and station to fit into, a thousand pegs and a thousand niches to fill. As the protege of the queen, she could stand on the golden balconies and gaze at the carapaces as they pattered back and forth, content in their station and enthusiastic about their work.
As the singular soft skinned party that roamed the streets, she'd always felt pretty different. The queen's cool, segmented hand on her shoulder as she was instructed the ways of a noblewoman was the closest she got to motherly. When she felt sad about being different, she'd scale the heights to visit John, and watch his chest rise and fall as he slumbered. She held his hand sometimes.
A royal never shows weakness. A queen inspires her people and gives them strength. Jade is a witch, not an heir, but she takes it on as her creed. Her friends are her strength and she doesn't want to let them down.
After the game, she meets her friends and the trolls again, one by one. She gets the feeling that Rose and Kanaya are somewhat of a package deal, and owing to their time together (three whole years, trying hard to not lose hope as one calculates chances and the other tries to recover her bearings after so much has changed) she's not sure how she can approach their whole...deal.
They don't have anything official. No rings. Separate apartments, a meeting over coffee every Thursday. They arrive separately to parties, but always sit with each other. Jade edges closer to them, inch by inch, before Kanaya lifts her chin and asks her if she'd like to rest with them. Rose nods and Jade remembers to breathe out. It's confusing enough when Dave laughs at all her jokes when she's certain she isn't funny, leaning against the utility room wall in the kitchen. John and Tavros are so sweet too, teaching her to dance swing and the Alternian regimental two-step. She wants to hug everybody but there are Rules and some people sport jewelry that links them to other people. It's hard, and she's not sure anybody understands how guilty it makes her feel.
In autumn, Rose invites both of them to dinner.
The conversation over the table is light, but Jade is with two girls who are experts at talking in circles. Though she can totally keep up (with the flow of conversation, even if she doesn't care to use large words because bluh, so awkward! And who cares about looking smart when it is only the three of them) it's been a hell of a week between a senior thesis, band meetings (One of the best bassists in college) and simple social interaction.
Kanaya asks her if the soup is good. Jade hadn't realized she was staring into the middle distance.
She nods, smiles. Fine, excellent. Good. Too many words, and in the back of the mind she curses. Oops. It's harder to keep a brave face on when people are actually looking at your face.
She pushes her glasses back up her nose and smiles, leaning back like it's all okay.
Rose's eyebrow quirks upward.
“Jade, are you quite alright? You've been a little out of sorts recently.”
Jade rolls her eyes like it's no big deal and takes a sip of water.
“Long day!” she says brightly.
Kanaya shakes her head.
“While I imagine that would work on other people, I don't think it will on us.” she gazes at Jade levelly, and it is akin to being regarded carefully by a cat, if cats wore black velvet and linen waistcoats.
Rose raises her glass to take a delicate sip of water and Jade feels like she's being examined under a microscope. The hair on the back of her neck begins to prickle and she raises her hand to scratch it urgently.
“Um.” she says intelligently.
Rose chuckles slowly.
“No, don't worry. It's not bad. We care about you.”
Jade's heart leaps into her throat. They know. They know that she likes them both and they have been sitting smug at the table, saying nothing all this time and the hardwood floor is going to crack open at any moment, spoiling the polished gleam, causing sweet mayhem and hella property damage before swallowing her whole.
It would be easier.
“You've been working very hard.” Kanaya continues.
They echo, Jade realizes.
“You should really think about taking some time out for yourself.” she finishes.
“I'm sorry!” Jade squeaks, and drops her glass.
Rose gets up to grab a cloth and shakes her head.
“Sit down, it's perfectly all right.”
Jade is confused, and more than a little miserable.
“But I thought you two were … together.”
Rose pauses, part-way through dabbing at the damp patch on the tablecloth. Kanaya laughs nervously.
“We... have an understanding.” Kanaya manages. Her cheeks tint through with green.
“Well I don't! I don't understand anything!” Jade says, and something in her heart snaps.
Rose puts a hand on her shoulder, and it reminds Jade of Prospit. She bites down on her lip and breathes through her nose.
“While I and Kanaya have a large amount of regard for each other, we are somewhat slow to commit to anything. We like having our own apartments, space to breathe. The time we spend together is more precious for it. And Kanaya does not want to convert to the human ideal of monogamy.”
Jade adjusts her spectacles.
“I thought that you guys... knew about … it.”
Jade releases her breath in a rush.
“I like you. Both of you! And it's making me feel really miserable, because I think you guys are basically perfect and I feel like I'm gonna intrude if I tell you this, and I just did, and ...”
Jade puts a hand to her forehead.
Kanaya and Rose share a glance.
“We would be... okay with that.” Kanaya says slowly, enunciating every syllable. Rose nods.
Jade stares into the cooled remains of her soup.
It could have gone so much worse than this. And the floor remains as smooth and unbroken as ever.