“You guys would do anything for me, right?”
Blake darts her eyes from her phone to Yang, who’s nonchalantly leaning against her chair, hands behind her head. Innocence incarnated.
“Okay, what did you do this time?” Blake sighs.
“Can’t I just ask one simple question?”
“We’ve known you for fifteen years, Yang,” Weiss intervenes without turning her head away from her laptop. “Spill it.”
“Ugh, fine. I might have, maybe, hypothetically, bet something stupid with Cardin.”
“Betting anything with Cardin is already pretty stupid in itself,” Weiss mumbles. The sound of her fingers typing her keyboard fills the air. “What did you bet?”
“Uuuuum…” Yang sits straighter on her chair. “Well, what truly matters isn’t what I bet and more how much.”
Blake sighs again. “Enough with the secrecy. What happened?”
Yang lets her head drop backward and stares at the ceiling before making a face. “I bet ten thousand bucks I would get two girlfriends before he did.”
“Ten thousand?” Blake gapes at Yang. “Why the hell would you bet that much money?!”
“He was just being so fucking cocky! You know how annoying he can get! I just— Ugh— I just wanted to shut his stupid mouth.”
“Who cares,” Weiss says as she’s rolling her eyes, finally closing her laptop before looking at Yang. “Just don’t do the bet. What is he going to do? Scream to everyone that you’re not a woman of your word? He’s said way worst things about you—about all of us—.”
“Well, that’s the thing.” Yang chuckles nervously. “I might also have, maybe, hypothetically, wrote it on paper.” Blake raises an eyebrow. “And signed it.”
It’s Weiss’s turn to gape at Yang. “Are you stupid?” she asks, in that haughty voice Blake can’t help but love. “You basically signed an IOU with Cardin Winchester. Even if there’s no way he can actually enforce it, he’ll pay a shitload of lawyers and drag you into countless procedures you don’t have the means to pay.”
“I knooow,” Yang whines, and it makes Blake laugh. “That’s why I need to win this bet! Plus, I could use the extra ten grands.”
Weiss shakes her head and mutters a very audible “You dunce…”, which they all know is fond.
Blake crosses her arms over her chest. “That shouldn’t be difficult, though. You’re a girl magnet and Cardin is… Well… Cardin. Two girlfriends is nothing for you, you had three in the past two months!”
“Technically, they were hook-ups, not girlfriends. And that’s not the point of the bet. I need to date two girls at the same time. In a polyamorous relationship. And we can’t use dating apps.”
“Just when I think this whole thing can’t get dumber,” Weiss sighs. “Why on earth would you bet something like that with Cardin? Like, what exactly led you to think oh, yes, let’s not use one but two poor innocent girls at the same time just so that I can shut Cardin up! Who cares if you hurt them, right?”
“I don’t need the sermon, Weiss. I know it was a stupid thing to do okay? I know! But I was so pissed at him! He was being such a fucking dick, you have no idea!”
“It’s not much dumber than when you challenged him to a freaking duel, Weiss,” Blake can’t help but add. “It’s not the Middle Ages anymore, you don’t solve arguments with swords!”
Weiss lets out an indignant scoff. “It solved this one! And can you believe that prick thought he could take me on in a fencing match? He knows I made it to the Olympics, and he still thought he could win. How fucking arrogant can he be!”
“Right?!” Yang jumps out of her chair. “He’s such a douche! I just want to make him eat his own words.”
“You know what?” Weiss stands up too, eyes flaming with determination. “You deserve your shut Cardin up moment. I’ll help you!”
“Fuck yes!” Yang shouts before taking two steps towards Weiss and grasping her into a bear hug.
Blake’s laugh turns into a gentle smile when she notices Weiss hugging Yang back. She shakes her head, sighs as loudly as she can, and complains, “I don’t have a choice now, do I? I’ll help you too.”
“Fuck yes!” Yang shouts again, except it’s muffled by Weiss’s hair. “Come here!”
Blake obeys, unable to resist Yang, and wraps her arms around her friends. Yang’s hair tickles her nose, Weiss’s scent makes her a bit dizzy—somehow, she smells like rainforest, like pine trees and morning dew—, and all of it feels right.
Weiss is the one to break the hug, as always. Since Blake has met her and Yang fifteen years ago, on their very first day of high school, she has always seen Weiss pull away first, light blush on her cheeks, eyes darting everywhere but to them. At first, she thought Weiss wasn’t comfortable with physical intimacy, and she wasn’t so far from the truth. But time passed and their friendship grew stronger, cemented by joyful road trips, harsh times, morning coffees after restless sleepovers, and the many, many hugs Yang would give them every chance she gets. Now, Blake knows Weiss enough to know why she breaks their embraces first; she’s scared of intruding, of being too much, of letting go. She almost did, once, not so long ago. A warm summer night in Italy, air vibrant with cicada chirps and the iodic fragrance of the Mediterranean Sea. Blake wonders, often, what would have happened if Weiss had let go that night. What would have happened if Weiss hadn’t said No, this is wrong.
“So,” Weiss says as she’s smoothing her hair, eyes set on her closed laptop. “What do you need from us?”
Yang grins. “Oh, you’re going to hate it.” She pauses dramatically, eyes oscillating from one friend to another. “Weiss, Blake… Will you be my fake girlfriends?”
Weiss snorts. Blake doesn’t.
“He’s never going to buy it.”
Yang hums. She’s combing her hair while looking at the mirror, trying hard to ignore how Blake is sitting on the counter next to the sink, only an inch away from her.
“He might be the biggest asshole we know, but he’s not stupid,” Blake continues. “You bet him that you can get two girlfriends before him and suddenly you start dating your two best friends, who he knows would walk into fire for you. There’s no way he’ll believe us.”
“She has a point,” Weiss adds. She’s doing her makeup, at Yang’s other side, and then again Yang has to focus on her own reflection and not stare at Weiss’s shimmering blue eyes for too long. She always has to be careful, around them. And it demands a lot from her; not only are they close friends, always hanging out together, but they also share a home. Yang sees them when they get out of the shower, all drenched hair and colored cheeks. She greets them in the morning, with their messy PJs and their adorable sleepy voice. She welcomes them when they come back from work, or they welcome her when she comes back from work, and they talk, they laugh, they share, they plan, they watch tv shows or just disappear in their respective room, knowing that if they ever need anything, anything at all, they just have to call a name or two.
“Actually, I think it’s more plausible if it’s with you guys.” Yang keeps a casual voice, even though her heart is starting to race furiously in her chest; she’s walking on a very thin line here. “The three of us are really close. And we’re all notoriously attracted to women. People wouldn’t be that surprised if we actually started dating.”
There’s a silence, there, for a tiny moment, so short anyone else wouldn’t have noticed, but too long for Yang not to read into it.
“I see your point.” Weiss moves closer to the mirror, a lipstick in her hand. Chanel Rouge Velvet, her latest obsession. Yang knows absolutely nothing about makeup, but a good friend always remembers the name of her friends’ lipstick, right..? “But what about timing?” Weiss continues. “Us starting to date right now is incredibly suspicious.”
“Or it makes perfect sense!” Yang puts her comb away in the drawer and turns to Weiss. “Like, what if I had feelings for the both of you, and this was a beautiful opportunity to actually confess?”
She stares at Weiss, searches for a reaction, a light blush, a shiver, a flutter of lashes. But Weiss stays impassive, her steady hand painting her lips with a red so bright it makes Yang wonder how it’d look all smudged on that porcelain skin of hers.
“I’m still not convinced he’ll buy it,” Blake interjects.
Yang turns back and looks at her. No light blush, no shiver, no flutter of lashes, but there’s something glowing in the depths of her golden eyes, a hint, a whisper. There’s always something in Blake’s eyes, an intensity she only saves for Weiss and Yang, one that really started to shine through after Blake and Weiss came back from Italy.
“We just have to pretend long enough for him to believe it,” Yang eventually replies. “Starting now! Ladies, are we all ready?”
Weiss makes her lips pop, Blake jumps from the counter, and the three of them exchange a look. Yang smiles. She tries to remain cool, to not show how stunning she thinks her friends are. They’ve always been the most beautiful girls she’s met but, tonight, something is different. They’re going out on a date. A fake date, but a date nonetheless.
Yang always has to be careful, around them. Especially tonight, when they’ll have to be closer, to touch, to whisper, to gaze at each other. Yeah, she’ll have to be careful. Blake and Weiss can’t find out.
Tonight, only two people will be pretending, not three.
“You didn’t have to call an uber,” Blake says, voice ever soft.
“There’s no way we’re taking the subway.” Weiss opens the car door, greets the driver, gets inside, rolls her eyes when Yang tries to get in after her and playfully pushes her on the middle seat. The other door opens and Blake gets in too, and suddenly Weiss is stuck in the middle, shoulders touching shoulders, hands tensed on her immaculate dress. Oh this was a terrible idea. Nothing surprising, considering it’s all Yang’s fault, and Yang has a knack for putting the three of them in impossible situations—to think they once got to jail because of her!—.
But this is different. This is not about trying to ride a motorbike, or trespassing on a construction site in the middle of the night, or going camping. This is a whole new level of danger. It’s dragging out memories she did her best to repress for the past few months, feelings, even, sensations she shouldn’t have experienced, never, not like that. Those are her friends. And nothing else.
She tries to ignore how she can feel Blake’s skin, her arm pressed against hers, her hair on her shoulder. She thinks about a warm summer night, and her stomach drops. On her right, Yang moves, and suddenly Weiss feels trapped. She’s struggling for air, and so she abruptly leans forward, to escape this, them, and she focuses on the driver instead.
“How long until we get there?”
“About twenty minutes,” he answers as he starts driving. “Traffic is a bit busy tonight.”
“Ugh, we’re going to be five minutes late.”
“Come on, Weiss!” A hand sets on her shoulder and gently pulls her back against the back seat. It’s Yang’s. “Relax a little!”
Relax a little. As if she, Weiss fucking Schnee, knew how to relax. Especially here and now, with both their scents intoxicating her, with both their bodies embracing her.
“Yeah, Weiss.” She turns to Blake, eyes immediately dropping on the teasing smirk stretching her lips. “Relax.”
Weiss pinches her lips, frowns, looks at the road ahead. Boy, oh boy. Tonight is going to be a long night.
“So, how do three people actually date?”
Blake chuckles at Yang’s question. “You’re the one dragging us into this and we have to tell you how to date us?”
The little blush suddenly creeping on Yang’s cheeks delights her. God, she can be so endearing sometimes.
“I mean, I don’t have much more experience than you guys when it comes to this!” Yang takes a sip of her wine, vainly trying to hide her embarrassment, and Blake gets the sudden urge to push, tease, straddle boundaries they never set and yet have always felt tangible. “Like, do we have to do everything together?”
“I don’t think so,” Weiss answers. She’s cutting her tournedos delicately, her long index light on the knife handle, her hold firm and precise. Be it table knifes or fencing sabres, Weiss Schnee looks dangerous with any kind of blades. “It seems like a hassle.”
“Our schedules don’t always match,” Blake adds. “I know we live together, but always going out with the three of us would be a pain.”
She takes a bite of her salmon and represses the moan building in her throat. Dear lord does she love fish.
Yang leans against her chair. She looks objectively dashing with her black shirt unbuttoned enough that it reveals her cleavage, buttoned enough that Blake’s fingers itch to rip it off.
“Won’t one of us feel left out?” Yang asks.
“You mean you!” Weiss snorts before turning to Blake. “Remember the scene she made when you and I went to Italy without her last summer?”
“I was devastated okay?” Yang whines, and both Weiss and Blake laugh. “My two best friends! Going on a trip to Italy! Without me!!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Weiss vaguely gestures in the air, knife in hand. “You’re the one who couldn’t come, remember? And I needed a break. God, father was impossible at that time.”
Blake stares at Weiss. Does she ever think about that night in Positano, on that tiny balcony overlooking the sea, the ice cubes clicking in their drinks, the fresh breeze playing with their hair, the looks, the smiles, the fingers skimming each other? Blake does. Often. No, this is wrong. And it was wrong, Blake knows that. It was wrong because Yang wasn’t there.
“Remember how he had the nerves to ask you to repaint his dining hall for free?” Weiss tells Yang. She seems so oblivious. So detached, whereas Blake’s heart flutters whenever one of them mentions that trip. “As if he couldn’t pay someone to do that for him!”
Blake stares at Weiss, again. Truth be told, she hasn’t stopped for a while. She knows Yang can see her. She knows Yang suspects something, that she’s aware that Italy is more than fun and fond memories; it’s an uncertainty, words and sensations left bare, a question without an answer. But, here’s the thing. Weiss can pretend all she wants, that night did happen. And one day, she’ll have to stop acting all innocent, to stop running away from Blake, and to start facing the consequences.
Dinner goes well. Dinner goes really well. As per usual, sure, but Yang can’t help the tiny spark of hope warming her chest. She’s dreamt of this for so long, and even though it’s all fake she can’t help getting caught up in the game. They order one bottle of wine, then another. Yang isn’t drunk, none of them are, but the food is delicious, just like the wine and the company, and they’re having a good time. They’re laughing, teasing, sharing, and as always there’s not one dull or uncomfortable moment. It’s the same as ever, except there’s an electricity thickening the air, intent gazes from Blake, smirks more dangerous than usual. Only Weiss seems impervious to that subtle yet unnerving change, but Yang suspects her to feign ignorance.
When they get out of the restaurant, though, Yang can’t help but feel unsatiated. Yes, dinner went really well, and yes, as per usual. And that’s the thing. Nothing changed, not really. They didn’t pretend, they didn’t fake anything. Sure, Cardin wasn’t there. Sure, they didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. But wasn’t the point of this to go out and show the world they were in a “relationship”, until the rumors reach Cardin?
Yang is a bit disappointed. She wasn’t expecting them to start making out right here and there on the restaurant table, but she still hoped for… She doesn’t know. Something. And now, she’s left with a bitter taste under her tongue. Was she wrong to expect more? To think that this crazy fake dating situation would change anything between the three of them? Maybe it’s not meant to be. Not with her in the equation, anyway.
It’s 1 am, and the air is fresh. A gentle drizzle drapes them, not enough to soak their clothes, enough to make their hair glisten under the city lights. It smells like rain too, like air charged with humidity, wet tarmac, wet soil, bark, leaves from the park nearby. Yang wants to walk around the sleeping city, under the yellow rays of the street lights revealing the incessant mist, silent in the night and the rain, with only her friends at her side. But she doesn’t say it.
Close by, Weiss is typing on her phone and ordering an uber to go back home. Blake is looking over her friend’s shoulder, her gaze lingering a bit too long on Weiss’s neck. Yang isn’t stupid. Something happened in Italy, last summer. Even if her friends refused to tell her, the way they acted afterwards was obvious enough. Yang had to tame her burning jealousy, at first. To accept that she wasn’t there, that her friends had a moment, without her, and that it led to nothing. For now, at least.
Yang looks away. Maybe she shouldn’t have her hopes up. Maybe all there is here is Blake and Weiss gravitating around each other, and Yang watching from afar. Jealousy stings her heart, not for the first time, and she tries to repress it. If anything happens, she should be happy for them. She should swallow her feelings and let them explore theirs.
“Hey,” a soft voice rises at her side. Blake has come closer, and she’s now looking at her with concerned eyes. “You good?” She takes Yang’s hand, presses it once.
Yang offers a soft smile. “Yeah.” Blake’s gentle gaze makes her melt. She’s powerless, when it comes to her. “Yeah, I’m good.”
Blake observes her for a moment. Her thumb strokes the back of Yang’s hand, and Yang knows that, no, she wasn’t wrong to expect more. Maybe there’s something going on between Blake and Weiss, but it doesn’t stop Blake from doing things like that, from cultivating an intimacy with Yang that goes beyond friendship. And it doesn’t stop Weiss from hugging her a bit too long, a bit too tight, whenever she gets the chance.
“Okay, our uber should arrive in five minutes.” Weiss puts her phone back into her purse as Blake discreetly releases Yang’s hand, and she smooths out the edge of her dress. Her bangs dance around her delicate visage, a thin droplet of water follows the neat scar crossing her eyebrow, and a tiny scowl sculpts her face. God, she’s pretty. “You know what?” Weiss says without looking away from her dress, clearly annoyed. “I had a great night, but this is stupid.” She finally looks Yang straight in the eye. “How is this any different from what we usually do?”
Rather than agreeing with her, and because Yang feels rebellious, she shrugs. “It’s a date!”
“If Cardin were to walk past us right now, he would never, in a million years, even consider the possibility that this is a date. It’s just us being us.”
“Weiss has a point,” Blake intervenes. “Calling it a date doesn’t actually change anything.”
“Well, I don’t know!” It’s a slippery slope, Yang thinks, but she goes there anyway. “We could hold hands?”
Weiss snorts. “Hold hands? Yang, what are we, five?”
“Then what do you suggest!”
Weiss holds still for a second, unfathomable eyes spearing Yang like two ice shards. Then, she takes a step forward, grabs Yang’s shirt by the collar and smashes their lips together.
Yang forgets how to breathe. She forgets about everything, really, but the slender girl kissing her right now. Her hands eventually find their way to the small of Weiss’s back and she draws her closer. It’s not a short kiss. It’s not a messy one either. It’s precise, powerful, and when Weiss pulls back, it leaves Yang completely stunned for a few seconds. In her haze, she can see Blake standing behind Weiss, looking at them with a searing stare.
Yang takes a step back. “Sorry,” she blurts.
Weiss snorts. “Why are you apologizing? I’m the one who kissed you!”
“I don’t know, I—” She stares at Weiss. At her cheeks beautifully painted in pink. At her lips, those very lips that were kissing her not a minute ago. She wants to apologize again; she shouldn’t have enjoyed that kiss that much, she shouldn’t have had to restrain herself from sliding her tongue inside Weiss’s mouth, she shouldn’t feel that warmth spreading between her thighs.
“Yang, are your kisses so bad that you have to apologize for them?” Blake teases.
“What? No! They’re not! I just! I—” Yang uselessly gestures in the air while her friends start laughing. “They’re not bad! I’m a good kisser!” As a last resort, she turns to Weiss. “Tell her!”
Weiss’s eyes shimmer with mischief, and Yang knows she just made a terrible mistake.
“Hmmm,” Weiss ponders, an index lightly taping on her chin. “It was passable. Not my worst, but not my best either. You could use some practice.”
Yang lets out an offended gasp, and Blake is laughing so much she’s holding her ribs.
A car stops in front of them. It feels like they just got roused from a dream. “That’s our ride,” Weiss says as she starts walking towards the vehicle. “Come on, let’s go home.”
It takes Yang a second too long to start moving too. She can still feel Weiss’s lips on hers, her warmth, her grip around her collar. Blake walks past her, gives her a look, smirks. She leans towards her and whispers, “Keep it in your pants, stud,” before getting inside the car after Weiss.
God. Yang wants them. She wants them so much. Weiss kissed her. Blake flirted with her. It might all be pretense but, somehow, she doubts it.
When she gets inside the car, she can’t even hide her smile.
Oh no oh shit oh fuck oh fucking hell. What. Has. She. Done. Weiss spends the whole ride face glued to the window, hiding the blush she can feel burning brighter by the second on her cheeks, ears and neck. She can’t believe this. She can’t believe herself. Did she just kiss Yang? Did she really just fucking do that? While Blake was watching? No matter how many times she replays it in her head, she can’t understand her own actions and what led to this. She just got so frustrated when she realized all of this was just another one of their regular nights out. What was the point of calling it a date if they didn’t change their behavior in the slightest? How would that help Yang win her bet against Cardin? It annoyed her so damn much. So, she had to do something, right? She had to shake things up! She had no other choice… but to… kiss Yang… Right?
If Weiss could shove her face in her hands and scream, she would. But she’s stuck in the back seat with the girl she just kissed and the girl she almost kissed, and she has to save face. She’s Weiss Schnee. Always in control, of her emotions and her actions, always graceful and confident. She’ll never, ever, let Blake and Yang witness her absolute gay panic. So, she stares at the landscape passing before her eyes, blurred by speed, rain and dim street lights. She will scream in her pillow later tonight.
The driver lets them in front of their building. Side by side, they enter the hall, then the elevator. It’s not silent. They’re talking about their day tomorrow, about what they could make for lunch, about how good the food at the restaurant was. They don’t mention the kiss. They don’t mention the bet. They don’t mention another date, and it’s a good thing, because Weiss is barely keeping her composure as it is.
Yang opens the front door. They all get in, and for a moment the air buzzes; they drop their bags on the entrance’s cabinet, Weiss slips on the envelope Yang had knocked over before they left but was too much in a hurry to pick up, gasps and holds to Blake who holds to Yang and they all start laughing before finally getting back on more stable feet.
“I’m going to take a shower,” Yang announces, still laughing.
She disappears in the bathroom, and Weiss ends up alone with Blake in the living room.
“And I’ll go to my room,” Weiss says. “You can use the shower first when Yang gets out.”
She walks away, carefully avoiding Blake’s eyes. She’s not sure what she’ll read into that golden gaze, but she knows she can’t handle it right now, not when she’s spent the whole dinner pretending Blake’s intense stare didn’t affect her in the slightest, not when she’s spent the whole ride back pretending Yang’s lips didn’t warm her body from head to toe.
She hasn’t been in her room for more than three seconds when she hears the door close behind her. She turns around only to find Blake, hand still on the handle, eyes now dark and fastened on her. Oh. Weiss is in trouble.
“Can I help you?” she asks, voice impassible.
She lifts her chin a little in defiance and she hates herself for it. She doesn’t need to be so defensive. But she knows what’s coming, and she knows she might lose this battle.
Blake doesn’t answer. She lingers there for a moment, breath steady, hair cascading all over her shoulders, her white tank top low enough it shows the contours of her black bra. Then, she releases the handle. In two steps, she’s reached her. Weiss takes a step back, bumps against her dresser, grasps the edge with one hand. Blake leans forward and it’s as if there’s no air left in the room.
“So,” Blake murmurs, tone low and rumbling. “Kissing me is wrong, but kissing Yang isn’t.”
“It was fake.” Weiss’s voice catches in her throat. Her eyes are fixed on Blake’s lips. She should look elsewhere, anywhere but there, but she can’t. They are so close.
“I have eyes, Weiss. It was everything but fake.”
Weiss flushes. Don’t stutter, don’t stutter, don’t stut— “The more believable we are, the faster Cardin will let this whole thing go and the sooner everything can go back to normal.” She didn’t stutter. Good. Still saving face.
“I don’t think you want to go back to normal,” Blake speaks softly. She leans even more forward. The dresser creaks; Weiss is practically sitting on it now. “I think you liked that kiss with Yang. I think you would have liked that kiss with me, too.”
The memories from that night in Italy clash with Weiss’s dangerous present reality, and her knees buckle. “I—”
Blake cuts her short by getting even closer, her thigh pushing between Weiss’s legs, and Weiss can’t help the tiny gasp passing her lips, her whole body catching on fire.
“Just so you know,” Blake murmurs, “if you ever kiss me in public to make it more ‘believable’” —she punctuates the word with two finger quotes— “be absolutely certain that it won’t be fake.”
They are so close Weiss can feel Blake’s warm breath on her. Blake is now blatantly pressing her thigh between Weiss’s, and Weiss has to fight the urge to clutch Blake’s arms and start grinding against her. Once more, her eyes fall on Blake’s lips. She wishes she knew how soft they were. She wishes Blake kissed her, ran her tongue on her lips, cooled down the searing and everlasting heat Yang left behind. She wishes she hadn’t pushed her away, back then, even though it was the right thing to do.
“Bathroom is free!” Yang’s muffled voice reaches them from behind the closed door, and if Weiss usually loves that Yang takes the fastest showers in the world, she hates it now.
“Saved by the bell,” Blake whispers. “You might not be this lucky next time.”
She moves away and, just like that, she leaves the room. This time, she doesn’t close the door behind her. Weiss can hear her light footsteps echoing in the corridor, barely perceptible under the loud pulse of her own heart.
She slouches on the dresser, almost falls from it. She’s shaking. Shit. She wanted for this night out to feel different, well, it was. Her fingers find their way to her parted lips, to where Yang lingered, to where Blake could have lingered. Weiss stares at the entrance of her room. She wants Yang to come by and see her there, walk in, take Blake’s place. She wants Blake to come back, grab her face, kiss her. She wants so much it makes her dizzy.
Weiss slides down from the dresser, smooths her dress out, rearranges her hair. She tries, hard, to regain her composure. She tries, hard, to forget about the way her heart burst in her chest when she kissed Yang, about the way arousal overtook her body when Yang rested her hands on her back and brought her closer. She tries, hard, to forget about Blake’s flaming gaze and the ravages it did, about the thigh she slid between her own. But nothing can be done. Weiss finds herself needing them and their fingers and their mouths and their bodies, to the point of pain.
Fuck. How is she going to be able to face them tomorrow?