“Why do we gotta be on Skype for this part?” Sweet Pea asked from his little square corner of Toni’s Ipad while he rocked his newborn daughter in his arms, his hair slicked back the same way it had been when they were younger, the only difference now being it was a little shorter.
“Shouldn’t you be whispering or something, bro?” Fangs countered their friend’s question from his corner on Toni’s Ipad, seemingly in bed. He’d been working on growing a beard for the past 3 months, and it was finally starting to be a little less than what Toni classified as a ‘struggle beard’, and she had to admit it looked good on her baby faced friend.
“Nah, see I figure if she learns how to sleep with noise then we ain’t gotta walk around the house on pins and needles.” The oldest of the three Serpents explained, softly patting his daughter’s back now as she squirmed.
“I don’t know if that’s how that works.” Fangs raised an eyebrow, “Tiny, you’re the deciding factor here.”
“He’s actually right.” Toni sided with Sweet Pea, “It’s solid, my aunt did that with all of my cousins so it’s not like you’re going to scar her or anything.” She told her boys as she applied eyeliner in her bathroom mirror. The idle conversation was good. They’d done all of the brainstorming, and she heard all of the pep talks she needed from them. Now they were the distraction that kept her from losing her shit before Cheryl got home.
“Whatever. I’m not planning on having kids anytime soon anyway. Toni’s next on the block for sure. The tune ain’t wrong: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the ginger with a baby carriage.” Fangs grinned into the camera like a fox and Toni rolled her eyes, “Let’s get the marriage thing out of the way first.” Taking a step back, Toni surveyed herself in the mirror and then presented herself to the two men who would forever be her boys.
“A+ Tiny Toni.” Sweet Pea said with a smile, “And if Izzy was up she’d agree with me.” He told her as he rubbed her daughter’s back.
“Yeah, I’d say yes if you got on one knee. You look hot. You could ask me to knock a guy off and I’d say yes with you wearing that.” Fangs agreed.
“Thanks guys.” Toni told them graciously, and for the 100th time, glanced at the clock on her Ipad. Cheryl would be due home in about 20 minutes.
“This is it, the last outfit you’ll be wearing as a single woman.” Fangs started, but Sweet Pea cut in, “She hasn’t been single since like junior year of high school, what are you talking about, you dope.”
Fangs sucked his teeth, “Technically a person is single until they are engaged and or married.”
“How can you be engaged and married?” Toni asked, the same hybrid of an confused and amused expression on her face as most times when she had a conversation with Fangs.
“You can ask my uncle Leo. He was engaged to Roxanne while he was still married to my aunt Pearl.”
The other two Serpents laughed, this one for Toni especially feeling like a release of nerves that built up as fast as she got rid of them it would seem.
“Come on, Toni. Tie breaker. Who’s right?” Sweets said when his laughter subsided, “Ummm I’m going to have to go with Sweets again, Fangs. That doesn’t sound so legit to me.”
“Eh, you two are in cahoots. I know what I’m talking about. Whatever. Let’s focus, we gotta get you engaged. Let’s see the bra.”
“Let’s not see the bra.” Sweet Pea argued, and Fangs countered, “Come on, man. We’ve given you the thumbs up on the make up, the outfit, the hair, we gotta make sure your lady is peeling off something worthy of the occasion later tonight, know what I mean? We’re grown ass men and there’s nothin’ on any of us the other hasn’t seen, don’t make it weird now.”
“I’ve got that covered, Fangs. Don’t worry. She will be very happy with what’s underneath here. If she says yes. There’s no guarantee.”
“If? Come on. We both know she’s saying yes. You’ve been together since we were literally teenagers, we’re 28, and Sweet Pea is like 80 or something.” Fangs told her, and Sweets narrowed his eyes, “If my hands weren’t full I’d flip you the bird.”
“It’s okay, buddy I can use my imagination. Back to you, Topaz. Don’t be dim okay? This is just you getting a chance to flex your romance muscles. You’ve got this. The next time we talk to you, you’re gonna be someone’s fiance’ and when the time comes for the cake tasting, remember you promised me I could come with.”
“How could I? You won’t let me forget.”
Cheryl’s day had been a long one; not particularly tough, but time seemed to drag, so by the time she got home all she wanted to do was cuddle up to her girlfriend and spend the rest of their evening together being grossly domestic. She was running a little late (because of course she was) and anticipated finding Toni in sweats at her workstation touching up photos with a glass of wine while dinner stayed warm on the stove, or her girlfriend watching one of the many reality tv shows she dubbed as her guilty pleasure. The thought had the redhead smiling softly to herself, imagining what she anticipated seeing on the other side of the door.
In high school, (even before that, but especially after Jason died) Cheryl had too much bad happen to her that she didn’t have any real hope that things would change. She was a Blossom, and that meant she was cursed. When they were children, Cheryl and Jason made something of a joke about it, scoffed at it even, but by the time she was 17, she wasn’t scoffing anymore -- in her mind, the Blossom curse was all too real. At her very lowest, Cheryl felt so hopeless that the most logical solution was to end her life. She counted herself lucky that Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead had come to her rescue because it almost physically pained her to think that she could have missed out on the life she had now. Not only was she in love, in a happy and healthy relationship, but she was well on her way to being a legend in the business world, thriving in both her personal and professional life.
What she found instead of the mental images conjured when she walked into her apartment was dim lights, soft music playing, three boxes on the coffee table in the living room along with a bottle of champagne chilling in a bucket and Toni looking like an absolute dream. “Toni? Did I forget something?” Cheryl wasn’t one to forget things like anniversaries or birthdays so she was thoroughly confused. Her girlfriend walked over to her and handed her a champagne flute then greeted her with a kiss, “No, you didn’t forget anything. Except maybe that I like to keep you on your toes. Surprised?” Toni asked as she helped Cheryl out of her coat.
“Are those my favorite Belgian chocolate truffles?” Cheryl asked as she moved further into the living room and noticed the box that sat near two white, unopened and unmarked boxes.
“Yeah, they are.” Toni smiled proudly as she hung Cheryl’s coat up near the door, then joined her hopefully soon to be fiance’ in their living room. Cheryl picked up a truffle and took a bite, moaning instantly at the taste and brought the remainder to Toni’s lips, who accepted the confection happily.
“Are you sure you didn’t do anything?” Cheryl teased. It had taken her a long time to get where she was when good things happened to her, where she wasn’t waiting for the other shoe to fall. Cheryl from as little as two years ago would have been freaking out thinking Toni had done something that needed her forgiveness, buttering her up before she dropped life shattering bad news on her, but now she could just enjoy the good things in life instead of worrying about how long they would last.
“Not yet.” Toni answered cryptically, then took a healthy drink from her flute, nearly finishing it in one swallow, “Can we play a game?”
Cheryl raised an eyebrow, “A game? Is it the kind of game we play in the bedroom?” She asked, her voice dropping an octave or two in a tone that she knew made Toni weak in the knees every time.
“It’s the kind that leads to the bedroom.” Toni told her, heart picking up it’s pace for more reasons than one.
“Then I’m in. What’s the game?” Cheryl agreed and finished off her champagne before putting down the glass and sitting on the couch.
“It’s called three objects and a question. Don’t ask me how to play, it’s pretty self-explanatory so I say let’s just jump in. Object one.” Toni removed the lid of the first white box, and inside was Cheryl’s Serpent jacket, well worn and distinguishable from Toni’s because of the specially sewn crimson red interior.
“My Serpents jacket? You got it out of storage? Why?” Cheryl questioned while she picked up the garment and held it to her nose, a wave of nostalgia hitting her from the smell alone.
“I was so afraid for you when you decided to join the Serpents. So against it for so long, but then you told me why you wanted to join, because you wanted to be my family, because you wanted to be connected to me forever, because you loved me and who I loved and what I am and you were so adamant about it, so sincere and willing...you hadn’t even told me that you loved me before that and I don’t think there’s been a better way anyone has been told in the history of the world.”
“You were pretty pouty at first. But it didn’t suck having me as your partner in crime, did it?” Cheryl mused as she laid the jacket over the arm of their couch.
“No it didn’t. Still doesn’t.” Toni winked at Cheryl, the simple action causing the pale woman to blush a bit. Sometimes she swore even after years with Toni, she still felt like she had a crush on her girlfriend, she didn’t even know if that was possible or if it was just the power of Toni Topaz, but figured it was the latter.
“Object two.” Two moved on and pulled the lid off of the second white box, revealing a diary, more specifically, Cheryl’s diary from their senior year of high school.
“Is that…?” Cheryl asked, her jaw dropping slightly and she picked the pink book up with delicate care, first running her fingers over the front, then flipping through the pages, stopping at one in particular. Pressed inside the book were flower petals. The page chronicled Cheryl’s first date with Toni and the petals were a physical reminder of that night as even when they started to wilt, she couldn’t find it in herself to just throw them away.
“Yeah. You gave it to me after we had that huge fight.” Toni started and Cheryl picked up, remembering that time in her life all too well. When the redhead thought back to it, she classified it as still being caught up in ‘that darkness’. Life was getting better then, but there was still so much looming over her, and she’d wanted to ask Toni to move away with her, go to school in the same city if not the same university because she didn’t want to lose her, but she couldn’t so she lashed out and they fought. A few times. “I was having the hardest time expressing myself, but I couldn’t lose you, not over something like me not being able to tell you what I needed you to know about how I felt so I left this on the doorstep of your trailer. It was very ‘Cruel Intentions’ of me, but it’s not a secret I’ve always had a flair for dramatics.” She took a beat to just flip through the pages some more, skimming over words the girl she used to be wrote.
The redhead got caught up in her diary and when she looked up, brought out of her bubble by Toni’s voice and the words “Last object,” she was met with the smaller girl on one knee, a white velvet box open in her hand with Nana Rose’s heirloom ring inside, only with a noticeably larger diamond attached to it. Cheryl gasped in surprise, her chest visibly rising and falling, “Toni…”
“Cheryl Marjorie Blossom: Delicate as flower petals, tough as leather, I am so in love with you. From the first time we met I couldn’t get you out of my head. Granted, not for the best reasons in the world, but the fact still remains the same that you made an impression. For all of the time I’ve known you, you’ve been nothing less than sensational and my life is undoubtedly better with you in it. When we were teenagers you told me that you wanted to be my family and that’s exactly what we’ve become. Now I want to make it official. Will you be my wife? Please marry me, baby.”
Cheryl Blossom had long ago mastered the art of the silent tears. The skill was learned out of necessity, of fear of someone seeing her as weak or fear of her mother chastising her for showing emotion, but it was only ever with Toni that she found herself crying silent tears of joy.Cheryl nodded furiously and wiped the tears from her cheek.
“Yeah?” Toni asked, letting out a relieved breath as she waited for verbal confirmation.
“Yes! Yes! Of course, yes!” Cheryl confirmed, dropping her hands in her face and letting out an excited squeal before Toni pried her left hand away and slipped the ring on her fiance's finger.
They both admired the ring on Cheryl’s finger. Toni had always been a bit of a deep thinker, so the notion of marriage wasn’t something she entered into lightly, the ring and all it symbolized being an effective tool in choking her up in that moment, as it was a symbol of never ending love; their never ending love. There was no beginning or end to it.
“I love you so much, Antoniette Topaz.” Cheryl told her soon to be wife with a sobering amount of sincerity as moist light brown eyes looked into equally moist dark ones, “I can’t wait for you to be Antoinette Blossom.” She finished.
“Umm…” Toni started, and Cheryl cracked a smile as she slipped her arms around Toni’s neck, “I’m kidding, we can hyphenate, of course.” The redhead leaned in, teasing her lover by hovering her lips close enough to just not quite make contact, then caught Toni’s bottom lip between her teeth, sucking gently before she kissed her properly, wanting to make their first kiss as an engaged couple count.
“I think I remembering you mentioning that this game leads to the bedroom.” Cheryl reminded Toni, the look in her eyes impossible to mistake as anything less than one meant to entice.
“You’re remembering correctly.” Toni confirmed and bit her bottom lip as her eyes took in the sight of the woman she’d fallen so hard for and hadn’t stopped falling for since -- her fiance’.
“Then take me to our bedroom.”
Without hesitation, Toni grabbed Cheryl’s hips and picked the redhead up, who wrapped her legs around the smaller girl’s waist, while she crashed their lips together for a heated kiss, that particular display of Toni’s strength never failing to drive her wild.
“Abso-fucking-lutely.” Toni said rushed, not wanting to separate their lips for too long. As they made it to the threshold, both women could hear Toni’s phone vibrating incessantly on their coffee table, “That’s probably the engagement group chat wanting to know the verdict.” Toni explained in between planting kisses on Cheryl’s jawline.
With her index finger, Cheryl pushed Toni’s face up towards her by her chin, “They can find out later. We’ve got a game to finish.”