It hit me like a sucker punch
Just one look and I'm out of touch
I'm freaking out 'cause I'm scared this might end bad
But I'll still come back for that
[Sigrid, Sucker Punch ]
“Alright, my dude, it’s go time! Just like we practiced.”
She lifts the bar, and the boy lets out the smallest of squeaks, muffled by the scarf wrapped around his mouth and throat, so tight it looks painful. Even without the sound, there are a few not-so-subtle cues to clue her into his nervousness: he’s latched onto her arm with both hands, and, even behind the goggles, Yang can see how wide his eyes are as he stares at the upcoming off ramp with no small amount of anxiety.
“Lift your board up a little — there you go. And turn — just like that.” She adjusts him as much as she’s able to from her own seat and disentangles her arm with all the gentleness she can manage. “I got you, bud. Get ready to stand. Put your foot over the stomp pad. And here we go!”
She slides off the chairlift with the practice of someone who’s done it a million times (because she has ), focusing on her student as he wobbles and, as he starts to tip backwards, grips the back of his jacket and forces him upright as they slide down the ramp. The movement causes a sharp pain to shoot through her right arm, but she grunts and bears it, making sure the both of them glide smoothly down the ramp and towards the start of the next run.
“See? You killed it, man!” She bends down slightly and raises both hands, palms out, ready for the double high-five the kid delivers with enthusiasm… and no gloves. He realizes it at the same time she does, wide eyes of panic returning, and Yang pats him gently on the top of his helmet before he can get too far into his worry.
“No big deal. You probably just dropped them when we were sliding off the lift.”
She twists, ready to start her search, but catches sight of a skier instead, sliding to a stop just in front of them with a grace that Yang can’t help but admire.
Not that that’s the only thing worthy of admiration.
The woman is stunning. Like, ‘can wear her hair loose under a helmet and still have it look gorgeous and curling all around her shoulders’ levels of stunning. Her goggles are up, showing off eyes that are almost gold, lightened by the sun in the same stupidly attractive way her brown skin is, and her gear is coordinated enough — bold cuts of black, purple, and white throughout — to add credence to the idea that this girl skis often and skis well.
Not for the first time, Yang wishes she could wear her own stuff rather than the garbage, all-blue Park City Mountain attire, which makes her look like a fucking smurf, even after she’d made her own slight modifications (like ripping the sleeves off completely, keeping her cool and showing off her muscles and the several bands of tattoos along her right arm). On perfect November days like this: all powder and sun, without a hint of a breeze, she prefers to leave her arms bare — just a t-shirt and a pair of thin trekker pole gloves — and it isn’t her fault that the PCM bigwigs are out-of-touch morons who think their instructors want to wear ugly, burly jackets all the time.
“I think you dropped something,” the woman says, and damn if her voice isn’t as good as the rest of her, full of the sort of amusement that’s kind rather than biting.
Oscar’s still looking a little shaky, so Yang grabs the gloves for him, which is all responsible snowboard instructor decision making. It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with the outrageous level of attractiveness that Yang is now leaning towards.
“Thanks,” Yang says, and then, because she can’t leave it at that, adds, “Skier/snowboarder solidarity, huh?”
“Oh.” The woman wrinkles her nose slightly. It’s fucking cute , and Yang knows she’s probably smiling like an idiot at the sight. “You’re one of those .”
“I said solidarity! That’s like, the opposite of one of those.”
“Mmhmm, sure.” She looks around at Oscar and gives him a wink. (It’s the first time Yang has thought about the kid at all for the past several seconds, so maybe the whole ‘responsible snowboard instructor’ thing had been a hard line of bullshit, but whatever.) “You know, if you ever want to give skiing a shot, you could always try the mountain over. Only fifteen minutes away.”
Yang nearly chokes on her disgust. “I know you’re not talking about Deer fucking Valley!”
The woman’s lips twitch, and she shoots a very pointed look at the ten year-old boy next to them, who Yang absolutely had not forgotten about (again).
“Okay,” she adds quickly, looking down at the kid. “Don’t tell your parents about that. Or, no, tell them about how Deer Valley is prejudiced and terrible, but not the bad word part.”
“Right, because it’s so much better here at Park City, where the level of professionalism is so high. You really get a sense of that from the caliber of their instructors.” Her mouth opens slightly in mock surprise, but the teasing glint in her eyes hardly abates (if anything, it grows). “ I heard one of them starting shouting profanities at a random, blameless skier who was only trying to help.”
Yang gasps. “This is an attack! This is skier on snowboarder crime! Oscar! Start throwing snowballs at her!”
Oscar has enough spirit to actually try, and Yang vows to extend his lesson for an extra half hour as a reward, even if he nearly flops onto the ground (only stopped by Yang, once again, yanking him upwards by the back of his jacket) instead of landing any sort of hit.
“This isn’t helping your case.” One corner of the woman’s mouth lifts in a impish smile that goes straight to Yang’s core, a sensation that only worsens when the woman twists her hips, leans back, and starts skiing away. Backwards. “I’d say, ‘see you around’ but I’m usually at Deer Valley, so… bye, Yang.”
Yang’s mouth opens in surprise that’s entirely genuine, leaving her without any retort whatsoever as she watches the woman slide out of view.
“What the hell?” she whispers, mostly to herself. “I didn’t — ?”
“I think she saw your name tag,” Oscar points out.
It’d be helpful if he weren’t giggling.
“Oh okay, wise guy. Yeah, laugh it up. How well would you do if some random, super hot... ” She trails off, reconsidering. “You know what? Nevermind. You’ll figure it out when you’re older. We’re boarding, so strap in, buddy. And since you’re having such a blast, no sitting down this time.”
Oscar groans, but leans down as directed, wobbling slightly, and Yang focuses on the task at hand, pushing thoughts of the skier from her mind.
Or, trying to.
“She was so hot,” Yang whines, a solid eight hours later.
“Oh my god, are you still talking about this?”
At the sound of a full pitcher hitting the table — a dull thud she knows well — she lifts her head up off the back of her chair and sits up, front legs of her seat dropping back down. She finds Weiss looking down at her (both literally and figuratively, she’s pretty sure) scarred eyebrow lifting and disappearing into her bangs.
“You know you sound like a creep, right? I mean, really, Yang? Hitting on a guest? That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.”
“And you’re a buzzkill already happening,” Yang fires back, grabbing a plastic cup from the stack.
Weiss sits down in a huff. “You’re such a bitch.”
“Hey!” Ruby chimes in, collapsing into the chair opposite Weiss and dropping a basket of cheese curds on the table, next to the beer. “Be nice, Weiss!”
“Yeah, Weiss! Be nice!”
“I hate you,” she says, pointing at Yang first, before turning to Ruby. “And you are on thin ice.”
Ruby just smiles, lifting her hand to reveal another basket, this one containing fried brussels sprouts, which she slides in front of Weiss, who drums her fingers on the table for a full two seconds before accepting them.
“Okay, fine. You’re mostly forgiven.” Weiss lifts one of the battered vegetables and inspects it carefully, before placing it in her mouth with no small amount of trepidation. “These are the only nearly edible thing on this god-forsaken menu.”
“Yeah, but today you picked this place so you don’t get to complain.” Yang grabs the pitcher and pours them all a cup, purposefully fulling Weiss’s with more foam than beer and receiving a scathing glare in return. “Besides, Beacon has cheap beer.”
“Beacon is a dive. Of course it has cheap beer.”
“And no tourists. Unlike High West or that fucking awful place you made us go to for your birthday last year. What was it?”
“Downstairs,” Ruby supplies, face pinched in disgust.
Weiss rolls her eyes hard enough that people across the room can probably see it. “ I seem to recall you having an excellent time there, Yang.”
“Well, I mean, I made the best out of a bad situation.”
“Ruby, how many girls did we see her dancing with that night?”
“Please don’t make me think about it.”
Yang slams her cup back down on the table; it’s half empty at this point and (thankfully) doesn’t spill. “We’re getting off topic! The point is, Weiss specifically asked to meet here tonight. Which not only means she can’t complain, but it’s also just… really weird.”
“Well, that’s because — ”
Weiss shushes Ruby immediately, and Yang’s interest spikes tenfold.
“Oh my god, I was just dicking around, but now I need to know everything.” She turns to Ruby, eyes wide and pleading. “Ruby, I’m your favorite person at this table — ”
“ — because I’m your actual flesh and blood. It’s like, your sisterly duty to tell me what’s going on with Weiss.”
Ruby looks back and forth between them, helpless as a turtle on its back, and Yang’s about ready to give in when Weiss caves first (caves immediately).
“Okay, fine . I invited someone. I thought this would be… a chill place to hang out.”
“A chill place to — ” Yang cuts herself off, then slams both hands on the table, causing a woman at the table behind them to jump in her seat. “Holy fuck, do you have a date? Are you meeting a date at Beacon? Oh my god, Weiss. Oh my god.”
“It’s not a date,” Ruby clarifies for her, throwing a cheese curd at Yang’s face, who, rather than dodging, manages to catch it in her mouth. “It’s just that girl Weiss has been skiing with.”
“Ohh , right.” Yang deflates a little, but not entirely. “The one that meets your ridiculous standards.”
Weiss, in the midst of checking over another brussels sprout for deficiencies, sighs. “I do not have ridiculous standards. Just normal ones.”
“Remember when she called Lindsey Vonn’s super-G ‘adequate’?” Ruby asks in a snicker.
“I was referring to one run in particular!”
Yang refills all their drinks, this time taking a bit more care with Weiss’s. “Uh huh. Sure.”
“Anyways, since you’ve both been bugging me about meeting her I invited her tonight, despite my better judgement saying you’d probably scare off the only skier I’ve found in ages that can match my technical abilities.” She sighs. “Pyrrha just had to move to California, didn’t she?”
“For love!” Ruby points out.
“Ugh,” Weiss groans. “I am never forgiving Jaune.”
(She almost manages to sound teasing. Almost.)
“Wait wait wait, can we rewind? Why would we scare her off? We’re awesome! I’m your coolest and hottest friend, and Ruby is Ruby!”
“Thank you!” Ruby says, then blinks. “Wait.”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe because every time I mention I’m meeting up with her at Deer Valley, you — ”
“Deer fucking Valley!” Yang yells, and a few loud boos rise up from various people in the bar, Ruby included, though she quickly stops when Weiss glares pointedly at her.
“ — You do that,” she finishes.
“Okay, first of all, we only do that, because Deer Valley is objectively horrible. Second of all, we’re literally banned from going there. Banned, Weiss. All because we face sideways when we go down a mountain. Do you remember that one time when you needed a ride because your car was in the shop — ”
“You bring this up every time!”
“ — and I had my board strapped to the roof rack because I had just come from a lesson with a gross sixteen year-old who — ”
“‘Kept trying to check out my ass’,” Ruby says along with her, cadence exactly the same.
“ — And this lady wearing a fucking fur headband walked right up to me, in the parking lot, and said — ”
“Your kind isn’t welcome here!” they all shout at once, and Ruby dissolves into giggles while the other two fail to conceal their fond smiles.
“Alright, listen, I realize that some of the people there are… a bit much. But you and your ilk — ”
“Oh my god. Ilk? Who’s a bit much?”
“ — tear up the snow far more than any skier. It’s a matter of conditions.”
“You’re so full of bullshit that it’s honestly embarrassing.”
Ruby throws another cheese curd at her; this one, she doesn’t quite manage to catch, and it bounces off her cheek.
“We promise to be on our best behavior, Weiss,” Ruby promises. “And we won’t make fun of Deer Valley.”
“Deer fucking Valley,” Yang grumbles, but much quieter this time.
“Good. Because she’s an instructor there.”
“Oh my god.”
“Also you aren’t allowed to hit on her.”
This probably has the opposite effect Weiss intended, namely, Yang looks excited.
“Oh, shit, she’s hot?”
“Excuse me! What happened to being morally opposed to Deer Valley?” Weiss asks, rolling her eyes. “What, she’s hot and it’s all fine?”
“Well. Yeah. We forgave you for your dad being a war profiteer, or whatever, so, you know.”
Weiss flushes. More unexpectedly, so does Ruby.
“Stop trying to be charming.”
“Sorry.” Yang waves her hand dismissively. “Natural state of existence. Can’t be helped.”
“Yang,” Ruby laughs. “Just let her talk. She doesn’t want you to hit on her because Weiss thinks she might work well with the team. In a professional kind of way.”
“Yes,” Weiss says, clearly relieved to be able to wrangle the conversation back into something more manageable. “She’s not just an instructor at Deer Valley, she’s helped with some of the more impressive recent campaigns there. She’s only part-time because she’s young and not connected, but eventually someone’s going to realize that she knows what the hell she’s doing. I want to bring her on before that happens.”
Yang sits back and takes a sip of her beer, considering this. It’s a pretty big step, bringing in someone new, and she hadn’t realized they were there yet. But then, she hadn’t really realized it when they’d started either.
It goes like this: Ruby’s a genius with design, mechanics, and innovation. Yang can take the prototype and make it, all the way from the wood and fiberglass and steel to the topsheet and graphics. And Weiss? Weiss had stumbled upon all of it and realized they were making snowboards from scratch , then giving them away for pretty much nothing, and had promptly told them that they were crazy. From there, their small, custom-build business had formed, starting with a couple boards a year, and growing into a full-time, off-season job. But Weiss had always had bigger plans, and with only half a year left on her MBA, Yang really shouldn’t find it surprising that she’s ready to move onto the next step.
“Alright,” Yang says finally. “So this is, what? A job interview that you only told Ruby about?”
“No! I really do want you two to meet her. It feels weird to have my best friends not know anything about her. And… I have a feeling you all will get along extremely well.” Weiss sets her hands in front of her, folding one over the other, but then realizes just how sticky the table is, and pulls both hands back into her lap with a low sound of disgust. “The marketing part is just a coincidence. A possibility.”
“I’m not totally sure you didn’t scope this girl out after you saw Deer Valley come up with something that was actually cool for once, and then befriend her, but sure. We’ll go with coincidence.”
“She definitely did that,” Ruby chimes in.
“Wow, Weiss. Way to tell Ruby literally everything when all I get is ‘don’t hit on her’.” Yang lunges across the table and snags the basket of brussels sprouts, popping one in her mouth. She doesn’t particularly enjoy the taste, but it’s a principle-of-the-matter sort of thing.
“I was going to tell you both at the same time,” Weiss insists. “But then she did the eye thing.”
Ruby demonstrates it now, silver eyes widening with innocence in a way Yang or Weiss could never, ever pull off.
“What eye thing?” she asks.
“Fine, okay,” Yang sighs and reaches out to pinch her sister’s cheek; Ruby squeaks and squirms away, nearly spilling her beer in the process. “That’s fair.”
“Also fair: me asking you to behave like a normal human being, starting now.” Weiss waves her hand high, gesturing at someone behind Yang’s back.
Ruby perks up, craning her neck to see, but Yang plays it cool, folding one arm over the other.
“Look, if you were this nervous about it, you could have prepped me a bit better for this secret meeting. I don’t even know this girl’s name.”
“It’s Blake,” a familiar voice sounds, just at her back. “Hello again, Yang.”
Yang turns, takes in the sight of the woman before her, and grins.
Naturally, everyone is delighted (or at least amused ) with the situation except for Weiss, who, after Yang offers an enthusiastic explanation, puts her head in her hands and groans.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
“So, Blake,” Yang begins, taking her time with the name (savoring the roll of the syllables on her tongue). “Do you believe in destiny?”
“Oh my god, shut up, Yang.”
There’s something about Blake’s smile — small and crooked as she watches the chaos in front of her — that makes Yang think she’s hiding multitudes, even if she can’t be sure why. It’s hard not to look forward to finding out more, especially when she looks just as good here, now, as she did earlier in her gear. The black and purple theme is repeated, if less obviously; tight black jeans and a dark purple, flowing top that cuts across her collarbones and dips low, catching Yang’s eye (though she valiantly fights giving into the impulse).
“Whoa, Weiss, no need for the hostility! If you’d told me literally anything about your ski buddy before now, I might have recognized her on the slopes today. We could have avoided this whole situation.”
“Is this a situation?” Blake asks softly, fingers curling around the cup Ruby had poured for her as soon as she’d sat down, directly across from Yang.
“Oh, yeah,” Ruby says, words and expression full of mirth. “Yang was literally just talking about you. And then Weiss was talking about you. But they thought they were talking about different people. Because of the …” She gestures vaguely. “...situation.”
Weiss lifts her head, looks between Yang’s wide grin and Blake’s quiet amusement, and groans again.
“It’s funny,” Ruby summarizes.
“Glad to hear I made an impression.” Blake pauses, tilting her head. “Less glad to hear that Weiss hasn’t bothered mentioning me before now.”
“I like to keep my friend bubbles separate at the start!”
“Unless…” Yang leans forward onto her elbows, propping her chin on her folded hands, staring at Blake across the table. “Weiss did talk about me, you did recognize me earlier, and you were just messing with me. Maybe she said I was — oh, I dunno — a blonde goddess with impressive biceps and a winning smile? You would’ve been able to pick me out immediately.”
She flexes for emphasis. Blake looks, so it counts as a win, even when Ruby actually joins Weiss in her grumbling this time (usually a pretty good sign Yang’s gone a bit too far).
“Mmm, no. Afraid not. The only thing Weiss told me about you was that both her roommates were ‘a lot’ and to apologize for your behavior in advance.”
“Weiss!” Ruby cries. "How could you include me in your insults about Yang?”
“You’ll notice she’s not actually telling Weiss to stop insulting me,” Yang drawls. “My sister, everyone!”
Weiss shoots Blake a look. “See? A lot.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I like it.” Blake smiles. “And I think they both have pretty winning smiles.”
Ruby blushes bright red. Yang pumps her fist. Weiss looks annoyed.
“Though I only see the one pair of impressive biceps,” she continues, smile sliding into a smirk.
It’s clearly said as a means of teasing Weiss, but in Yang’s eyes, that makes it even better.
“Ugh. That’s because Yang’s never worn a shirt with sleeves in her entire life. Please don’t encourage her.”
“It’s also because she lifts weights,” Ruby adds helpfully. “And I mostly lift cookies.”
“The only good thing about your mountain is that they let y’all have vests. I had make my own for Park City.”
Blake laughs, soft and short, but sweet as hell.
“I noticed. But, actually, I’m glad to hear you mention my mountain. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be allowed to bring up Deer Valley tonight. Given your earlier reaction.”
Ruby and Weiss look at Yang expectantly.
“I don’t say it every time, you guys. Besides, we have a guest . And I’m supposed to be on my best behavior.” She slides Weiss’s basket of brussels sprouts back across the table (an impressive peace offering, she thinks) and adopts her best approximation of a posh accent. “So please, tell us about yourself, Blake.”
It’s strange, the shift that occurs then: nothing particularly obvious — a slight stiffening in Blake’s posture, a downward flick of her eyes — but Yang takes note, curious.
“Well. I… work at Deer Valley, as you apparently know. I give lessons and help with some of the promotional materials, since I studied marketing in school.” She runs a finger around the rim of her cup, apparently uncertain how to continue. “Um. I grew up in Guaymas, right on the coastline of Mexico.”
“Kind of a weird place to churn out a skier,” Ruby says with a laugh. “Especially a skier good enough to keep up with Weiss! Wouldn’t water skiing have been easier?”
“Yeah, probably.” Blake relaxes, just slightly, letting out a soft snort of amusement, and Yang feels a rush of affection for her younger sister and her ability to make anyone feel at ease. “My dad’s family is all in Europe — the whole Belladonna clan — so we spent a lot of winter seasons there. I was homeschooled, which made it easier to travel a lot.”
“Blake and I skied some of the same mountains as kids,” Weiss says. “We could have been at Les Trois Vallées at the exact same time.”
“So fucking fancy,” Yang scoffs, without any heat. “The slope Ruby and me grew up on had like, one and a half lifts. We had to make our own terrain park.”
Ruby nods enthusiastically. “Until Yang started getting crazy good and we moved somewhere she could really train.”
“Well, I guess. And Dad was ready to start riding again, too,” Yang adds reflexively, before realizing that’s not exactly a story for a new friend. “But yeah, we got the hell out of Shitsville, North Dakota and moved to Utah. Been here ever since.”
She leans back in her chair, folding her hands behind her head, before adding, “Luckily for the ladies of Park City.”
“Unluckily for me,” Weiss sighs.
“Oh, bullshit. Before Ruby and me came along you were an even bigger loser than you are now. It was totally tragic.”
“How did you all meet?” Blake asks, lips twitching. “It’s a little hard to imagine.”
Ruby sighs, like she’d rather not tell the story. “I ran into her.”
“Literally,” Weiss adds, voice flat.
“It was in high school. We got the day off because there’d been a huge dump the night before and it just kept coming . I don’t even know how we made it to the slope alive, because the roads were shit, but there was so much snow that we weren’t about to pass it up.”
“We went to the terrain park; Yang was working on her frontside double cork, but it was kind of hard to see ‘cause of all the snow coming down still, and when I hit a ramp, I didn’t realize these kids were sitting right there under it — ”
“Idiots,” Weiss scoffs.
“ — so I had to swerve really bad to the right and then hit a patch of ice.”
“You know how the park in Canyons blends into that blue trail on the side?” Yang asks.
“Echo,” Weiss clarifies (because of course she knows the name of every trail on the mountain), and Blake nods.
“Well, Weiss had been cutting across it and Ruby just…” Yang bangs her fists together and makes an explosion sound. “It was nasty.”
“It wasn’t that bad,” Ruby objects, pretty weakly.
“Weiss pretty much forced Ruby to follow her down the lodge to fill out an accident report so she could like, sue her, or whatever,” Yang continues, laughing loudly.
“Sometimes injuries are only apparent the day after!”
“Anyways, while they were filling out paperwork, Ruby offered to make it up to Weiss by taking a look at her skis and seeing if she could make any improvements, because that’s sort of what Ruby does , even back when she was a little squirt, and Weiss laughed in her face because she didn’t think her skis could be improved — ”
“They were extremely expensive K2s.”
“ — But then Ruby started going on about the super specific quirks of that super specific model, Weiss was impressed, blah blah blah some time passed, Ruby designed Weiss a new pair of skis, Weiss recognized they were clearly superior to her old ones, and then decided to be our friend.”
Story finished, Yang leans back into her chair, rocking onto the back legs once more, and drains the rest of her beer.
“Wow,” Blake says, a soft laugh slipping through her lips. “I thought Weiss was the only skier in the group, though.”
“She is! But, oh , you mean because we made Weiss skis?” Ruby smiles and jerks her thumb in Yang’s direction. “That’s just because Yang can make anything.”
Yang’s smile is fond. “No, it’s because Ruby can design anything. But, she can also ski. Just prefers the obviously superior option.”
“She can ski. Technically,” Weiss clarifies. “It’s like watching a car crash almost happen, over and over again. Sometimes she just… randomly picks up one of her skis. For no reason! Just goes down the mountain on one leg.”
“It’s boring otherwise! And it’s not like I fall!”
“Proof that miracles do exist.”
“Or magic, which is objectively cooler and — ” Yang claps her hands together once, entire face lighting up. “That gives me a brilliant idea.”
Blake’s face scrunches in confusion, but she’s the only one; Ruby grins, much like her sister, and Weiss sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose between thumb and index finger.
“Yang, I swear to god.”
“Port!” She yells, lifting her hand and waving it in the general direction of the bar. “I need a deck of cards!”
It only takes a moment before one appears, sailing over a few tables before landing on their own, narrowly avoiding landing in the pitcher; Yang gives the bartender — a man with a mustache that takes up most of his face — a thumbs-up, then takes the deck and holds it up, expression turning serious as she stares across the table.
“Blake, this is a crucial moment in what could be a beautiful friendship, okay?”
Blake presses her smile into a thin line. “Mmhmm. Okay.”
“Do you… like magic?”
“Please say no,” Weiss pleads.
“Please say yes!” Ruby shouts.
“I suppose I’m undecided,” Blake begins slowly, the bemusement clear on her face. “It’s never made an impression one way or the other.”
Yang smiles, sliding the cards out of their package and flipping them around with practiced ease. It’s a little entrancing to watch, Yang’s well aware, and maybe she’s spent an embarrassing number of hours watching YouTube videos, making sure of it. Still, it’s hard to feel any regret when Blake watches her hands with a glint in her eyes that hits Yang like a fucking truck when she looks up again.
“Please remember you were my friend first, Blake. And that Yang does this with literally every girl she has even a modicum of interest in — ” Weiss bites the inside of her cheek, eyes lifting towards the ceiling as she cuts herself off. “ — getting to know.”
“It’s so cool though!” Ruby insists. “And this time I’m gonna figure out how she does it.”
“So what d’you say, Blake?” Yang splits the deck with one hand, spinning half of it under the other without glancing away from the woman across the table.
“I guess you can try to make up my mind.” She quirks an eyebrow. “One way or another.”
“Sounds like a challenge.”
Blake leans forward, nudging the pitcher aside and clearing a space in the middle of the table, which she gestures towards, corner of her lip curling. “Maybe it is.”
“Good thing I’m not one to back down from one.” Yang winks and places the deck in the center of the table, then cracks her fingers. “You wanna inspect it?”
“I do!” Ruby grabs the cards before Blake can even consider it, and she and Yang exchange an amused glance as Ruby shuffles through the deck with a look of utter concentration.
Despite herself, Weiss leans forward as well. “I’ve never had a chance to try to figure it out myself,” she admits, pursing her lips. “I’m sure there’s a simple trick behind it. Ruby, show us.”
Ruby flips the cards around and spreads out the deck; Yang waits another few moments as they all observe the (by all appearances) perfectly normal deck before snatching it out of Ruby’s hand and shuffling it once more.
“Hardly,” Weiss sniffs, but Blake nods, eyes narrowed slightly as she watches the movement of the cards between Yang’s fingers.
“Alright, then.” She spins the deck again, then spreads it out between her hands. “Pick a card.”
“Seriously?” Blake lets out a soft snort, clearly having expected something more complex, but Yang just lifts her eyebrows once, up and down. “Alright then.”
She considers the deck carefully, but finally picks one of the cards from the front, sitting back and cupping it between her hands to peek. Weiss and Ruby both lean over, and she tilts it in both of their directions, watching Yang, who’s absentmindedly shuffling the deck once more, with suspicion.
“Got it?” Yang asks with a smile, leaning forward and spreading the deck out once more.
“We’ve got it,” Weiss sniffs. “And can we please skip the — ”
Ruby hushes her, with flapping hands and a loud shushing noise, and Weiss rolls her eyes, but falls silent. Blake glances back and forth between the two, but still leans forward, card extended between two fingers, and starts to slide it between the middle of the deck.
“Oh my god! What’s that?” Yang shouts, eyes going wide.
Several people turn in the bar turn, including Blake, until she realizes what’s going on and snaps her head back to find Yang twisting her neck underneath her card to take a peek.
“Really?” she asks, and moves to draw back her card. Before she can, Yang splits the deck and slaps both halves on either side of it, snagging the card out of Blake’s hands as she pulls back.
“What?” Her expression is all innocence.
Blake glances at Weiss and then Ruby, who are watching Yang more closely than ever, and finally just shrugs. “Nothing, nothing. Please continue with this masterful demonstration.”
“Thank you,” Yang returns, expression and tone mild as she springs the whole of the deck from one hand to the other. “Now, through magic I’m going to figure out the exact card you had in your hand. But you have to think about it really hard, okay? Envision it in your mind.”
“Alright. I’m envisioning it.”
Yang performs another fancy little shuffle, but then, when the moment is just at its peak, deflates, sighing and closing her hands around the whole of the deck as she leans back.
“Aw, man.” She shakes her head and looks up, eyes wide and remorseful. “You know what? I’ve gotta come clean. Since we’re new friends and everything. Look, Blake, I totally cheated.”
“You don’t say,” Blake returns, voice dry.
“Yeah.” Yang sighs. “I was trying to impress you, so I cheated. I wanted to make sure that your card would come up on top when I did the trick so I…”
She trails off, placing the deck directly on the table and flips over the top card. It’s Blake’s, she knows, given the quick jut of the woman’s eyebrows. But it’s when she flips the next card that she really gets her, amusement dropping from her face as her eyes widen.
Because the next card is her card too.
“... I turned every card into yours,” Yang continues, flipping over one card after the other, each one the exact same Queens of Spades. “Every. Single. One. I’m such a cheater.”
Blake looks up at her mouth slightly open, and Yang’s grin spreads nice and slow as she holds her gaze.
The moment is interrupted by Ruby lunging for the discarded cards, but Yang scoops them back up before she can manage it, smile still present, mind still on the woman in front of her.
“Dammit, Yang! Let me see them!”
“Ah, ah, ah,” she tsks. “The trick is over. Did you figure it out?”
“You know I didn’t!”
Weiss rolls her eyes again, crossing one arm over the other. “You’re the worst, Yang.”
“You love me.” Yang sing-songs, slipping the card deck into her pocket (to return to Port later), and glancing back over at Blake, who seems to have recovered enough to lose her absolutely adorable look of surprise. Not that she can complain given what’s replaced it: a narrowed look of concentration that has Yang reaching for her drink.
“So how did you do it?”
The quiet tone only adds to the appeal of Blake’s expression, in Yang’s mind.
Still, she holds strong. “Aw, you know what they say about magicians and their tricks.”
“She never tells us,” Ruby pouts. “I ask all the time.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Blake’s lower lip catches between her teeth (briefly) as her smile spreads, and Yang feels her whole heart rattle in her chest. “In the right situation, I think she just might tell me.”
(Yang doesn’t doubt that for a second.)
Weiss is going to murder her.
“What did I say, Yang? What did I say?”
It’s almost impressive, really, that Weiss waits until now — when Yang’s pushing through the front door of their shared apartment — to confront her, hands on her hips as she stands in the middle of the living room. Almost , because it’s pretty much the first time she’s had the opportunity to do so, what with them having taken separate cars to Beacon that night, but Yang figures she could have ambushed her in the parking lot outside, so it still counts as something.
“You said, ‘don’t hit on her’,” Yang returns, dutiful, if not for the happy little sigh she lets out afterwards, taking several steps into the room and collapsing onto the couch, face-first. “But I did. A lot.”
“You hit on her the whole time. Even the fucking card trick! Honestly!”
“To be fair,” Ruby chimes in, shutting the front door with a gentle kick (which Yang had utterly failed to even consider). “You didn’t know Blake was the skier from earlier. You have to admit that changes things a little, Weiss. Right?”
If Weiss gives a response, Yang doesn’t hear it; she flops onto her back, staring up at the ceiling, feeling vaguely high.
“I think I’m in love,” she sighs, hands slipping behind her head.
Her view (such as it is) is obstructed almost immediately by Ruby and Weiss, peering over the back of the couch. The former looks amused, the latter skeptical.
“Uh oh,” Ruby says.
“Oh, please,” Weiss scoffs.
“No, no, I think this is genuine love-struck Yang.” Ruby reaches down to poke at her cheek; Yang swats the finger away halfheartedly, crooked little smile unaffected by the proding. “Aw, it’s so weird.”
“I just think she’s, like, hot and funny and perfect in every way, or whatever.” She sighs again, stretching her legs out and letting them drop back down again, unconcerned with the silence that follows her statement and the blatant look Ruby and Weiss exchange.
“Oh my god.”
Yang flicks them both in the nose as she sits up. Ruby draws back with a giggle, but Weiss attempts to return the favor; she misses when Yang ducks out of the way with a wink.
“I’m joking! Mostly! Probably like, at least fifty-one percent joking.”
Or. Maybe not quite that much. Yang can’t remember the last time she looked at someone and wanted to know everything : their life, their favorite band, what made them smile, their story ; the last time she exchanged a look and felt it sink into her, latch onto something important and refuse to let go. It feels big , in a way she doesn’t know how to categorize and thinks is probably stupid or weird, and knows is easier to pass off as a joke.
(Her blood is already laced with Blake Belladonna, just one glance and she’s in Yang’s veins; she knows it can’t be love, but it might be the start of something just as consuming.)
“Well, just in case you aren’t ,” Weiss begins, words hesitant and careful, even as she slips off into the adjoining kitchen. “You should know that Blake is… complicated.”
“Complicated?” Yang asks. “What does that mean?”
Ruby hops over the back of the couch and lands on the seat cushion next to her, bouncing slightly with the movement, but looking just as curious as Yang feels when the silence stretches out longer than seems typical.
“I don’t know all the details,” Weiss finally says, returning to the room with three glasses of water pressed between her hands. “Or any of them. Just that she’s not really the relationship type.”
“As opposed to all of us, who are dating people left and right?” Yang barely holds back a laugh. “Or, wait, are we counting that blind date you went on with that girl from Alta? You lasted, what, five minutes before you made Ruby call you with an ‘emergency’?”
Neither Weiss or Ruby look particularly pleased that she’s brought it up, though the former busies herself with handing each of them a drink and settling in on the couch.
“I’m busy,” Weiss huffs. “Ruby says she hasn’t found anyone she connects with since Penny. And you…” She trails off, giving Yang a look that has her finally releasing that laugh. “You do you own thing.”
“Oh, wow, Weiss. Sound more judgemental, why don’t you?”
“I’m not judging! I’m just saying that Blake is different.” She sighs. “I’ve seen her get hit on a lot — guys and girls — but this is the first time she’s ever seemed into it.”
Yang’s pretty undeterred at that . “Doesn’t that just mean she has taste?”
“No! God, Yang, that’s so not what I meant.” She looks down at her glass, fingers sliding over the rim as her forehead pinches, lips turning downwards. It’s enough to make Yang settle back and wait, exchanging a quick look with her sister.
“What is it, Weiss?” Ruby asks, voice soft.
“I don’t know. It’s just a feeling I get sometimes. Blake and I skied together all of last Spring, but she’s private; she’s never said anything outright, but… I think maybe she had a difficult relationship with someone. In the past.”
It’s a phrasing Yang knows well, because Weiss, on the rare occasions she talks about her early home life, uses it often. Yang feels something in her chest tighten, a swell of anger on behalf of her best friend (and her new one). It must show on her face (and it definitely shows on Ruby’s) because Weiss glances between the both of them and shakes her head.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m not even sure — look, I don’t know if I’m right. I’m not saying you should treat her differently. I’m only — ” Weiss shrugs, a little helpless. “Just be careful, Yang. Flirting and whatever is one thing, but I’m not sure anything else is a good idea.”
She pauses, expression shifting away from the one urging gentle caution and towards one Yang likes a whole lot less.
“And not just because of that. Because of what I told you earlier. Remember? When I said not to hit on the woman who’s a potential business partner?”
“I thought we decided that was okay because she was The Ski Girl,” Ruby says, scratching her head in confusion.
“You decided that, Ruby!”
“Okay, okay,” Yang cuts in. “The hitting on happened and if Blake wants, it’s gonna continue to happen, so chill, Weiss.” She pauses. “Look, though, I get what you’re saying, okay? About both things. And I know you’re just looking out for your friends. But I’m not a total idiot! I can be careful.”
Probably, Yang thinks. She can probably be careful.
(Unless Blake looks at her with that smile — the slow one with a hint of teeth — and asks her not to be.)
“Great!” Ruby chirps, holding up her water glass in a solitary sort of toast. “Weiss will stop being not chill and Yang will be careful and Blake will be our friend! And maybe our brand manager!”
“Fuck yeah!” Yang agrees, mainly to annoy Weiss, who rolls her eyes. “So let’s call her!”
Weiss drops her head back against the couch and groans (and yeah , the suggestion had also been mostly to annoy her, but Yang hardly thinks it’s a bad idea).
“We just saw her.”
“But we didn’t invite her to hit up the mountain with us tomorrow, which was totally dumb, because what’s a better way of getting to know someone?” Yang sits up and grabs her phone out of her back pocket and scrolls through her contacts, selecting Blake’s without any hesitation.
“When did you even get her number?” Weiss sighs.
“When you were in the bathroom,” Ruby says, and Yang sticks her tongue out at her.
She’s about to say more, but after three rings, Blake answers, tone cool and amused; it sends a familiar little bolt down Yang’s spine, so apparently that can happen without even being in the woman’s presence (not a great sign, as far as future self-control goes).
“Am I just supposed to refer to you as ‘blonde buff goddess’, then?”
Oh. That was something Yang might have forgotten she’d done when entering her contact information into Blake’s phone.
“I mean, you can call me anything you want.”
She really hopes Weiss’s groan is not audible on Blake’s end.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” she says with a soft laugh. “What can I do for you, Yang? Are you trying to prove that you’re not the type of girl to play hard to get?”
“Never really saw the point in playing games.” She manages a casual tone. Sort of. Mostly. “Just wanted to invite you to join us tomorrow. We’re hitting up the mountain after our lessons finish up. Figured you might wanna try out slumming it with two riders. And Weiss.”
“I guess that doesn’t sound like a terrible time. I should be able to make it over there around 1:00.”
“Awesome!” She offers a thumbs up to Weiss and Ruby, who are watching her with vastly different expressions. “Wanna meet outside of Miner’s Camp? We can head up Silverlode from there. Maybe go up to Jupe, if you feel like really seeing me in action.”
“Probably for the best. If you can’t keep up, I shouldn’t waste any more of my time,” Blake teases. “See you at one. I’m sure I’ll spot the only person around without sleeves easily enough.”
“What can I say? I’ve got a good look.”
Her laugh is soft, but hits Yang hard. “Bye, Yang. See you tomorrow.”
Blake hangs up then, and yeah.
Yang’s fucking doomed.