This is the most important presentation of Elena’s life. This is the most momentous, major, salient, consequential presentation of Elena’s life, and she’s 100% sure that she’s about to fuck it up. Don’t throw up don’t throw up don’t SING for the love of God do not sing that stupid baby shark song out of anxiety do not, she chants over and over in her head.
Closing her eyes, Elena breathes deeply the way Jane does before firing, a habit all three of them have adopted during missions. Reminds herself that she was once the lead of an entire project, and a badass Angel who’s been active for three years now. She is prepared. She is ready. But just to be sure, she runs through her mental checklist for the fourth time:
Her outfit is professional but still casual enough to fit her desired endgame. She’s placed a bowl of peanut butter pretzel bites on the conference table (against Townsend protocol, but her research has proven that Sabina is much more receptive when she’s not hungry). Her appendices and notes are all tidy and printed; her laptop and smartscreen projector have been quadruple-checked. She’s revised and practised this presentation so many times that she can do it in her sleep. Langston had peer reviewed the final version, so Elena really has nothing to worry about. Well, other than the fact that this will change and/or ruin her relationship with Jane and Sabina forever.
Elena isn’t able to fall down that rabbit hole completely, because the conference room door chirps and slides open to admit Jane and Sabina, who seem to be bickering about something. Her heart flutters like it always does at the sight of them. To steel herself, Elena pastes on the confident smile that she’s adapted for particularly intimidating marks, and opens her mouth to greet them.
Before she can actually say anything, Sabina says, “Babe, are we watching a Blue Planet special again, or are you gonna tell us more about how coding is something something bitcoin something important in the blockchain for encrypting things? Me and Jane have a bet going on, and Papa needs five new dollars.”
Jane pokes Sabina in the side. “Sabina, you are literally rich from selling all your sculptures. You do not need five dollars.” Turning to Elena, she says, “Hello darling, you look wonderful. New blazer?” Switching back to the previous topic, Jane says pointedly, “And please tell ‘bina here that you’ve planned us another nature documentary marathon, because I actually do need five dollars so I can grab some confectioner’s sugar for a new recipe you get to taste test. Also, the calendar invite just says “Meeting Requested”. That clearly means you’re asking us to watch more killer whales with you and that I’m right, so pay up, shortstop.”
Elena’s mouth opens and closes, confused. Her calendar invite had been concise and efficient, or at least she’d thought so. Clearly not. Well, she’s off to a bad start, but she can turn it back around. “No, the topic for this meeting isn’t on either of those,” she says, trying not to take Sabina’s disappointed sigh to heart. “If you’ll take your seats, you’ll find a copy of the presentation transcript, and appendices for footnotes. Oh, and I got you pretzels, Sabina.”
God, do I sound too professional and awkward? Or too casual? Maybe I shouldn’t call them by their first name? Like, hey, I want to date you, Agent Wilson. And also you, Agent Kano. No, that’s crazy. Fuck, I’m spiraling! Fuck, fuck fuck , Elena groans internally.
Elena’s trainwreck of thought is derailed further by Sabina and Jane leaning in to brush a kiss on her lips in quick succession before they file over to the conference table. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. They all kiss often, a clear sign of their strong team bond. In fact, they kiss so often that Elena marked the habit as a data point in Appendix II. But as always, Elena ruins the loveliness of their platonic kisses by thinking about how nice it would be to kiss them romantically, rather than for stress relief or team bonding purposes. The accompanying guilt throws her off, adds another layer of stress on her usual filter.
She’s just already so anxious about getting the presentation right, that her brain flails for a suitably professional yet casual response to their kisses and somehow comes up with: “Duly noted, Agent Wilson, Agent Kano. There will be time for more of that after the presentation.” Fuck! What in Charlie’s name was that? Stop being so awkward and get it together, Houghlin!
Thankfully, neither Jane nor Sabina look like they’ve finally reached their limit for tolerating Elena’s antics. Instead, Jane and Sabina share an amused glance as they settle down in their chairs, the one that means “look, Elena is being extra again.” Elena knows this because she’d spent two months trying to categorize each of their facial expressions as preliminary research for the possibilities of them dating. She’d eventually given up. Not because she’d gotten bored; Elena could stare at their faces forever and never get tired. No, she’d given up that section of data because the bot she’d created had kept interpreting 85% of the expressions directed at her as ‘explicitly romantic,’ which was just too high a percentage to be plausible.
“Thanks for the pretzels babe,” Sabina drawls. “You’re being extra again, huh?”
“It’s cute though, hummingbird,” reassures Jane, smiling in amusement as she leans her head on Sabina’s shoulder.
“Yeah, we’re excited about this mystery meeting, babygirl. Townsend Secret Santa? Proof aliens are real? Whatever it is, we can’t wait to hear it,” Sabina adds.
Elena is so deep in her own head, she’s not sure if she even heard them correctly. Nonetheless, she nods to acknowledge their assessments, then takes a deep breath to compartmentalize the rush that their overly-friendly compliments always induce in her. I can do this. I will not barf. I have mints in my pocket in case I get really worried. And I checked that they’re actual mints this time around.
“Okay, first slide,” she says with faked confidence, clicking to the title slide on the presentation deck.
“So. The topic of this meeting that I invited you here to discuss, is to propose, um. To propose that we be in an Angel Trinity.” She underlines the title with her laser pointer, barely able to bring herself to gauge their initial reactions, terrified of finding immediate disgust or rejection on their faces.
But when she drags her eyes away from the smartscreen, Jane is just feeding Sabina a pretzel absentmindedly and smiling at the monitor display. God, they’re so cute.
“Aww, that’s such a cute team name for us! All the other Angels are gonna be so jealous for field day when we beat them and our team name is better than theirs. Totally seconded,” says Sabina through a mouthful of crumbs.
“I’m glad you think so,” Elena says, somehow not hyperventilating at how cavalier Sabina is being about all this. Maybe she just doesn’t understand what Elena means, so Elena elaborates carefully. “But I meant an Angel Trinity as in a romantic Angel Trinity. You’ll see what I mean in the discussion points that we’ll give a brief overview on the next slide.”
“Our friendship dynamic is so important to me,” begins Elena. She knows this speech by heart, has practiced it in their bathroom mirror every morning she woke up before Sabina and Jane. “But as I have reflected on this important friendship, I realized that there is actually an opportunity to increase the scope of our dynamic. From my initial hypothesis that we would form a beneficial romantic relationship, I then began a thorough review of scientific research on dating, before preparing a few small case studies at HQ to examine data on a more individual level. Any questions before we dive into the evidence portion of the presentation?”
When Elena looks over at the conference table this time, the looks on Jane and Sabina’s faces are much closer to the reaction she’d been expecting: shock, and confusion.
Jane recovers first. “Darling, is this a prank? Are you trying to get back at Sabina for putting tape over the door frame the other week?”
Elena shakes her head. She’s prepared for initial disbelief, written down responses to several potential questions along the same lines as Jane’s. “No, this isn’t a prank. I am fully serious and genuinely believe that our relationship would benefit by expanding into romantic aspects. And- wait, Sabina did that?!”
Sabina raises her hand. “Guilty,” she says with no hint of shame. “Still have that video of you running headfirst into the tape, too. Got Jolene to encrypt it so that even your genius brain can’t hack in and delete it. Also, you really are advocating that we... expand our relationship?”
Elena narrows her eyes. That sneak was still trying to compete for Sabina’s attention. She’d deal with that later, though, no point in getting jealous before she even finishes the presentation. “Of course Jolene helped you. Of course. And, yes, I am advocating that we expand our relationship, specifically in a romantic way. On the next slide I will cover empirical evidence from a broad number of studies.”
Jane and Sabina whisper heatedly at one another as the next slide comes onto the screen. Elena can’t quite catch the words, but their faces aren’t angry, just passionate- she can work with that. Open and passionate discussion is the first step to negotiating change, she reminds herself. Elena pauses, both to give them time to finish their conversation, and to give herself a second to breathe. She looks at a spot on the wall so she isn’t tempted to try and read their lips. Instead she raps both parts of Farmer, Refuted under her breath, to distract herself from worrying about what exactly they might be saying.
When she looks over at them again, Sabina smiles reassuringly at her, flapping her hand in a ‘go on’ gesture. Jane’s taken out her laptop and is typing away furiously. “Notes,” mouths Sabina.
Elena nods. She always appreciates how thorough Jane is; in fact, it’s one of the notes listed in Appendix II, also titled “Reasons I Love You And Want To Expand Our Relationship.” Focus . Skipping ahead to the appendices means crucial context will be lost. Also, thinking too much about it means getting distracted by how much she loves the two women in front of her. There’ll be time for that later- if her presentation is successful.
Moving on, she launches into the evidence section. “While not everyone experiences romantic attraction, for individuals that do, they are healthiest when in happy, well-rounded relationships. Now, this is a very condensed version of the evidence in each study, so I’ve included annotations in the footnotes. Please note there will be additional time allotted between meetings to review the materials and conduct your own follow-up research if desired.”
As she reads through her rehearsed script on autopilot, her attention wanders to the two women sitting in front of her once more. Sabina’s staring attentively at Elena, nodding at all the right times, and...biting at her lip. God, it’s a good thing I practiced this presentation in front of their hologram profiles, just in case that happened, Elena thinks to herself. There’s nothing more distracting than Sabina’s lips.
Next to her, Jane’s still typing away, making little noises at the back of her throat whenever her typing pauses for a second. And that’s distracting too, the way Jane’s nose scrunches up when she’s concentrating.
Elena tears her gaze away from them once she realizes that she’s reached the end of the slide. Using her clicker, she advances on to the next. “Our job can make dating difficult and we are also under higher levels of stress than the average individual, which adds unique challenges. ”
With her laser pointer she highlights the keywords, providing context on dating protocol and advocating the relative ease of inter-agency relationships. This wasn't biased; her extensive research had clearly shown that dating a fellow angel was easier than pursuing a non-Agency relationship. But only for dating an angel named Elena, not Jolene or anyone else.
A snort from Sabina makes her look up, heart plummeting as she immediately braces herself for ridicule or rejection. But all she sees is Sabina typing away on Jane’s laptop, the tip of her tongue sticking out in concentration. Cute. She loves that tongue- wait, Sabina’s taking notes? She must really be invested. That’s a good sign, right? Or, oh no, maybe she’s tearing apart all of her logic and facts? Maybe she’s writing down ‘Elena, this lazy research indicates you are not fully committed to the idea of us being in a relationship. Your colour pallette is uninspired and your graphics are hard to read. Therefore we must reject your proposal, and terminate our friendship immediately.’
As part of her mind spirals into overdrive, Elena’s gaze shifts to Jane. Now that Sabina’s taken over her laptop, Jane is gazing steadily at Elena, nodding along to the points she makes. When their eyes meet, Jane blows her a kiss and flashes her a thumbs up in encouragement. Elena blushes again, stumbling over her train of thought for a second as her already warm face overheats.
She looks down at her speaker notes to find her place, but the card on top just reads ‘ur in loooove ’ in Langston’s messy scrawl. Damn it, Langston! This is serious!
Elena frantically shuffles the index cards until she finds the correct notes, and takes a deep, deep breath before she starts up again. Jane blows her another kiss, and Elena has to take even more breaths before she can think coherently.
The conference room fills up with the sound of Jane and Sabina breathing along with her. It helps, like it always does. Their habit of breathing together had started when they were on a mission two years ago and Sabina had gotten overwhelmed, needed additional contact and support beyond clearing her mind on her own. Now, whenever something triggering comes up, they breathe as one before addressing it. Elena must have really looked anxious, if they’d thought it was necessary.
Both Sabina and Jane are looking at her with concern now, laptop and notes forgotten for the moment. “Are you alright, hummingbird?” asks Jane gently.
“Yeah, just a bit overwhelmed. Thanks, guys, ‘preciate it.”
“Take your time, firefly,” Sabina says.
Elena smiles at both of them, heart warm even as she collects herself. Then she sees how Jane’s chest is still rising and falling in calm, steady breaths, and the way the movement makes her chest look, and she’s suddenly awake and ready to crush this presentation. I would do anything for Jane Kano’s chest, she thinks a bit guiltily. Which means acing this slide deck and convincing Jane and Sabina that dating might be a good option that ultimately includes Jane’s chest, so FOCUS.
Finally ready to continue, Elena clicks to the next slide. “Okay! Two more slides, and we’ll reach final questions. Now, so far I’ve presented a lot of evidence as to why dating can be beneficial for interpersonal relationships in general. These slides touch on why the three of us specifically should be together. First, the vast majority of Angel's surveyed indicated they believe we should date."
Sabina's hand slaps the table and Elena jumps a bit. Sabina grins sheepishly, waggling her fingers as if wondering how they’d made such an unintentionally loud noise.
"I'm sorry, baby. I just got very excited about this graphic you used here."
That made sense. Elena finds it hard not to get excited about a really well designed graphic all the time. She’s particularly proud of this one because she had specifically planned out the palette with her girls in mind. Sabina was pink. Bold, daring. Underestimated, but only once. Also, she had looked really good in that pink jockey outfit on their first mission- especially with her confident grip on the riding crop that had accompanied it.
Jane was purple, shifting between lavender and royal deep hues. Calming, a focal point. Easily complementing her girls, blending into the background one second and popping into full attention the next. And she had looked fantastic in her own race track outfit- impeccably fitted suit, all slim legs and hidden muscle. Royalty in every sense of the word, commanding of every situation but fully attentive to her subjects. Fully deserving of their adoration. And God, selfish reasoning is probably sacrilege to the color theory gods, but Elena chose Jane’s color half for the way her limbs move under her suit, rippling and fluid with her divinity.
Shaking her head to clear away any remaining color theory musings, Elena waits a beat to see if Sabina has anything else to say before moving on to her next point.
"When asked to describe our friendship, common themes mentioned were strength, functionality, intimacy, respectfulness. Based on this solid foundation, it’s my belief that the transition to a romantic relationship would be a natural one, should you both accept my proposal. Our strong interpersonal communication skills can help buffer any initial awkwardness and will prepare us for any future challenges. Lastly, based on common identifiers of attraction, sexual attraction is present in each party-”
At this, there’s a loud thunk. Elena looks over for the cause and finds Jane face down on the table. Probably not a good sign, but it’s too late to backtrack now. In for a penny, in for a pound(ing, her internal Sabina voice supplies).
Sabina’s rubbing a soothing hand up and down Jane’s back even as she types on the laptop screen with her other hand. Her mouth is twisted up a little at the side, the way it does when Sabina’s clearly fighting the urge to make a sexual innuendo but knows it isn’t the right time. Before Sabina gets the chance to say whatever is on her mind and end up flustering her so badly that she’ll lose her place again, Elena rushes onto the next slide.
“That concludes the brief overview of my research and personal belief that we should continue the discussion on dating potential. I understand that a relationship is an important decision and have provided additional appendices-"
Elena watches Jane flip through the appendix deck and slide it over to Sabina, tapping at a specific section. Sabina nods in agreement at whatever Jane has scribbled there. From what Elena can see, every single slide has detailed notes on it in both color coded pen and highlighter. God, she loves how organized Jane is.
"Yes, the one that Jane has clearly highlighted already. Thank you, Jane. I see and appreciate your effort to sift through all the information provided. It’ll make our conversation much more productive, if we’re all open to continuing it. Which brings me to item two: after you’re finished reading the supplemental notes, I would like to schedule an additional meeting to talk about future implications of this presentation, and stances on possible expansion to our relationship. Any questions, or comments?”
Jane turns her attention away from Sabina’s copy of the appendix and raises her hand. Elena motions for Jane to go ahead. “Yes, Jane?”
“Well, first of all, I would like to say that this was a very...well-researched presentation, darling. I loved the empirical evidence that you discussed, and wholeheartedly endorse the articles you provided. Secondly, your points are sound, and your logic flows well. Good job, sweetheart. You did wonderfully.”
Elena blushes at Jane’s praise, smiling dopily in spite of her intention to remain professional.
“Thank you, Jane. That really means a lot to me. Do you have any additional questions or comments?”
Sabina raises her hand halfway in the air. Elena directs the laser pointer to the tip of Sabina’s nose, just to mess with her a bit. She’ll snap back into professionalism when she answers her question, but Elena’s so caught up in the euphoria of Jane liking her research articles , that she allows herself a little fun.
“I thought it was tight. Like, super toight. And yeah, I agree with your argument logic. That was pretty airtight too. And, also, I get that we’re all badass superspies, but we both loved how cute this powerpoint was, and how cute you are, baby. So- you should be getting some follow up feedback to that in 3...2...1.”
Elena’s laptop and phone beep simultaneously, and she frowns down at the text. I thought I silenced that! So careless of me , she thinks. Then she actually reads the notification, and her eyebrows furrow together.
“Additional Meeting Scheduled. Meeting time: Right now. Signed, Angels Kano and Wilson.”
She looks back at Sabina and Jane. They’re both standing up, Jane holding her laptop open and Sabina holding Jane’s hand.
“Per your suggested next steps, Xena and I are setting up an additional meeting. Like, right now. So do you wanna stand up here with us, or do you wanna sit at the table? Either’s good with us,” says Sabina. She pats at Elena’s hand before closing her laptop and wrapping up its cord just the way Elena likes.
Elena’s mouth is probably gaping open. In all her 341 hours of preparation and practice, she hadn’t prepared for this scenario, so she has absolutely no clue what to say. Sabina gives her a few more moments to decide, then just hands Elena all of her tech except the laser pointer, and pushes her gently towards the table.
Jane sets up while Elena gets settled, hooking the computer to the smartscreen projector and opening up a new presentation. Wait, a new presentation? When had they found the time to make that? Elena’s even more confused when she sees a glimpse of the presentation in edit mode: the file name flashes by, reading “Why We Are Already Da…”. Da…what? Why they were already dangerous women? Why they were already dabbling in other hobbies? What were Jane and Sabina trying to say? What did it all mean?
Jane clears her throat and Elena snaps immediately to attention. “As we mentioned before, we both appreciate all the effort you’ve clearly put into this presentation and proposal. We know that one of the main ways you show love is through putting in effort, and as such wanted to reciprocate the effort and show you how much we care, and ultimately validate your dedication to our relationship.”
“So we made this totally awesome follow-up presentation during your presentation,” drawls Sabina.
"To be clear, while we did make this follow-up during the meeting, we made sure that we were both fully engaged in listening to you, sweetheart. So whenever I was writing on a slide, Sabina would be watching you present, and vice versa," says Jane.
"Right, yeah. And the only reason we could make our very sick presentation so fast was ‘cause you’d already set up," Sabina gestures with her hands, "the little dudes."
Elena is still confused by whatever’s going on here, but she has gotten very good at figuring out Sabina's vague gestures from three years of interpreting them. Yes, with the help of another bot she’d coded specifically for Sabina. This gesture is simple though; it just means ‘I don’t remember phrases but if they’re important to you, you can always remind me.’
"The theming style guide, ‘bina." Wait, were nicknames appropriate? She wasn’t technically presenting anymore. Did that mean she still had to be professional, or could she act normal around them now? Or as normal as she could be, given that she was still hyped up on presentation jitters and rejection anxiety?
“Yeah, the theming style. Which, love the pink. Pops really well. And we just wanted to acknowledge that, we get that you put a lot of effort into it, and both wanted to match your energy and treat this seriously. So that’s why we made a follow up presentation,” says Sabina.
“Yes, exactly right, love. We saw that you were getting rather anxious, and thought it best to let you finish the presentation. Not just because the presentation is fantastic, which it is, or just because you look so cute in your presenting blazer, which you do.”
Elena blushes again at Jane’s seemingly never-ending praise, hoping to Charlie that they don’t see how flustered it makes her.
Jane continues on, making Elena’s heart go even more haywire when she says “But we didn’t want to overwhelm you anymore by throwing you off track, or invalidate all the work you’ve put into this. We also felt that it might help us to better understand why we weren’t all on the same page about the status of our relationship. Once we understood that, we’d be better equipped to address discrepancies and overlaps in our communication styles and love languages.”
“That way we can maximize our efficiency and match our synergies , to quote your presentation,” Sabina grins at Elena, waggling her brows to soften the dig.
Jane huffs a quiet laugh at the joke, then goes back to the topic at hand. “So we thought the best course of action would be to make a presentation clarifying a few things. Are you alright with us continuing, Elena? Or do you want to take a breath first?”
Elena’s mind is swirling with conspiracy theories and anxieties and general confusion, so she nods and says, “Breath first, please. Thanks for asking.”
“Of course, darling,” says Jane. “Always.” She straightens up and breathes in for five counts, holds for seven, exhales for five. Sabina and Elena follow suit, sitting up straighter, lungs expanding and relaxing, until Elena’s face smoothes out a fraction.
“Better,” exhales Elena, smiling up at the two women she’s in love with.Whatever’s about to come up in their presentation, whether it be rejection or acceptance or something in between, the three of them can work it out together. They always do.
Jane and Sabina both clearly scan Elena’s face to double check that she’s okay to continue, then Sabina clicks the projection to the presenting view.
“We want to make it very clear that this is not a discussion of whether or not we should be in a relationship- we wholeheartedly want to be in one,” begins Jane.
Sabina interjects, “And we also...are already in one, firefly.” She dodges Jane’s swat to her shoulder on instinct. “What? It’s true, and I know ‘lena is kinda stressed out, but she should have the full context. It’ll freak her out less in the long run.”
Wait. What? Elena blinks rapidly, trying to get a hold of the situation as Sabina and Jane break into a five-second poking version of the Ninja game. (Jane wins, of course). She opens her mouth to speak. Closes it again. Opens it. Closes it. Finally sheer confusion wins over. “Wait, what ?”
Jane’s eyes are so, so soft as she looks down at Elena. “We’ve been dating for maybe two years now, hummingbird. Or at least, we thought so- communication’s definitely something we’ll be talking about. But, yes, that's why Sabina and I were so confused at the start of your presentation. We don't just want to explore a relationship, Elena, we’re in one.”
Elena feels completely lost at sea, like she’s lost the ability to comprehend anything. Maybe she needs another breathing exercise, or to cradle her cheeks in her hands, or to stick her head out the window and sing her confusion very loudly. The cradling wins because it doesn't require getting up or asking for anything. As she firmly squeezes her face, she says, “I don't understand. If this presentation isn't about rejecting my proposal, then why are you telling me that you and Sabina are dating? You could have just said, I wouldn't have embarrassed us all and made this presentation. I support you, it's okay! Maybe I just misread the signs.” It definitely is not okay, but she will make their friendship work. She has to.
Sabina takes a long, long breath before sighing. “Firefly, please. I know you've been anxious about relationships because of some really bad crushes and exes-”
Jane interrupts with her favorite one liner anytime Elena’s previous attachment issues come up. “Who by the way, we are absolutely tracking down and shoo-”
“No shooting,” says Elena automatically. She’s heard this joke so many times that even her Extreme Queer Panic™ can't suppress her ingrained response.
Jane grins at her, eyes sparkling. “Fine, I’ll knock them out just a tiny bit. They'll probably wake up.”
Sabina’s rolling her eyes, but she's grinning too. She always does when this particularly tried and true routine comes around. The familiarity of the situation makes Elena relax a bit, warm at how much her girls love one another, then freezes as the phrase ‘her girls love’ fully computes in her mind.
Sabina and Jane must see the second her face falls, because Jane hastens to reassure her, “Yes, darling. To clarify: we all love each other. You, Sabina, and I are all dating and in love. Not platonically, and not just the pair of us. All three of us are in a romantic relationship.”
Elena’s brain still won’t let her comprehend this direct contradiction to everything she’s believed in. Yes, 75% of her previous relationships had ended in her being cheated on and/or broken up with because her exes had thought she was just too much. And she’d fallen out twice with best friends because she’d thought they were mutually falling in love and they'd actually not been interested, but. Surely that didn't mean she’d overcorrected and misread her entire relationship with Jane and Sabina?
Sabina nods and picks up the lead. “We love you, baby. And, you are so strong for putting your heart out on the line again, after all the shit you’ve been through. Even if you are kinda the extreme version of the useless queer stereotype. Which, again, valid given what you’ve gone through, aka, who Jane is probably not gonna kill.”
Jane snorts, but she’s smiling soft around her eyes. “Exactly. Also Sabina’s right, hummingbird- you are what some might call the extreme, though valid, version of a useless queer woman. But don’t worry. You’re adorable, and you’ve also got two very loving girlfriends to get you back on track. Speaking of which, do you think you’re ready to see our presentation, Elena?”
Elena takes stock of herself- slightly calmer and grounded, still confused, still in shock. She still can’t quite bring herself to believe what Sabina and Jane are so sincerely saying, still half-expecting someone to pop in and yell ‘ Surprise! ’ and reveal this as an elaborate, three year long prank. But if Sabina and Jane have spent all this time on their presentation, who is she to deny them the joy of presenting it? And she is aching to know what it contains, even if it’s just heartbreak waiting for her. At least they’ve put in the effort to let her down gently. “I’m ready,” says Elena with conviction.
Sabina clicks to the next slide, draws a spiral on the screen with Elena’s laser pointer until Jane puts a hand on her shoulder to stop her. “Right, let me summarize this, babe. We want you to be aware of how much we love you, and we’re gonna emphasize the shit out of how much we enjoy our romantic relationship- also our sexual relationship- but primarily the romantic relationship.”
Once her girls get back into the swing of things, Elena makes sure to keep one ear open for their presentation. She focuses the rest of her energy on looking inward as she tries desperately to intake all the new and confusing data.
Okay, Angel. Refocus and reframe, take a step back from the problem. Remember: you’re a scientist. So it’s time to consider a new hypothesis. New evidence discovered: Jane and Sabina seriously believe we're in a relationship. Past evidence indicates that while they both enjoy occasional pranks, the content they utilize is all harmless and in good fun. See tape on door, Jane telling Sabina that she’s met the actual baby Yoda at the Townsend Area 51 base, and Jane pretending not to know how to use a computer (“lena how does the Google work?”), for example. Telling me we're dating as a prank would not be in good fun, and therefore must be discarded as a theory. Next steps to take: continue observing presentation, and refine hypothesis as needed.
Elena grabs the jar of pretzels closer to herself; she thinks better when she’s eating. Maybe she puts more effort into her stretch over the table than necessary to create another smokescreen distraction away from her anxieties, but she quickly corrects the impulse. She can’t collect data if she’s not observing properly. Besides, her girls look gorgeous taking control of the conference room, and there’s no way she’s missing out on a second of it.
Refocusing her attention on Jane and Sabina, Elena’s just in time to catch Sabina clicking to the next slide.
Jane takes over from here. “Our review of the evidence you’ve summarized so thoroughly led to a slightly different conclusion than yours did, hummingbird. While you believed the facts supported an opportunity to begin dating, we fully believe they indicate we are dating.”
“Yeah, like, totes dating. We share clothes, which as you know, is benefit #1 of dating a beautiful woman. Actually two beautiful women, even if Jane can’t wear either of our pants ‘cause she’s a gorgeous Xena lookalike Amazon warrior. And I agree with what Jane highlighted in Appendix I, you look drop-dead cute in my button downs,” says Sabina.
“We also say ‘I love you’ so much that Boz sent us that report breakdown from one of our missions. Do you remember how many times we said ‘I love you’ during the mission, Elena?” prompts Jane.
“Off the top of my head, we said the phrase ‘I love you’ 367 times according to the report transcripts. 103 times by me, 126 times by Sabina, and 138 times by you, not counting texts or the phrase ‘send the love’,” Elena answers immediately.
“Wouldn’t you say that those numbers are perhaps a little excessive for women who are supposedly ‘just friends’, sweetheart?”
“Okay, but, it’s normal for women to say ‘I love you’ platonically?” says Elena, her voice rising in pitch as she tries desperately to cling onto some semblance of an hypothesis at least slightly adjacent to her old worldview. Because otherwise the evidence indicates that she’s been oblivious for years now, and she hopes to Charlie that this isn’t entirely true.
Sabina puts up a hand, almost like she can read Elena’s mind and is trying to stop her train of thought. “We’re gonna get to your stubborn belief that everything we do is platonic, which somehow also includes the way you beg Jane-”
Jane interrupts. “If you’re about to point to the asterisks on the slide, they had better say “‘begging for Jane to hug you harder’, Sabina, so help me Charlie. You know Elena will get too flustered otherwise.”
“Way to jump ahead babe, that’s three whole slides from now. Our esteemed review panel here is going to think we’re unprepared and unprofessional,” Sabina says, completely deadpan. “It’s definitely begging for Jane to do something harder though.”
Jane rolls her eyes and glances back to the projector, trying to remember where they are, while Sabina flashes Elena a certain gesture involving two fingers and her tongue. Elena flushes at the memory it evokes.
Jane either doesn’t see this, or more likely, ignores it in favor of continuing with the presentation. “Right. In addition to the fact that we live together and say I love you frequently, we also generally plan our activities around one another. One of those activities being sex. To be clear, we don’t view our sex as casual-”
Sabina advances the slide as Jane finishes her thought, comic sans flashing bright red onto the screen and painting Elena’s cheeks with heat.
“And as you can see from Sabina’s succinct imagery, it is assuredly very passionate for us.”
“Yeah, like, babygirl, I don’t know what they were doing over at Brok Industries, but people don’t usually fuck their teammates for ‘bonding purposes’. We definitely like the stress relief part of it, but no one’s getting a piece of this cake other than you and Jane.”
Elena blushes harder. Okay, that one had definitely been a stretch, even for her apparently oblivious ass, but how was she supposed to know two gorgeous women would actually be attracted to her for non team trust-building reasons? Also, there’d been that one girl in college who’d loved making out with Elena at every party they went to together, then refusing to acknowledge it the next day. So the evidence provided was inconclusive. Further review was still needed for this argument.
Jane moves onto the next slide quickly, probably so that Sabina doesn’t have too much time to expand on what the ‘cake’ is in explicit detail and derail them from their next important point.
“We also want you to know that our relationship is not dependent on you being an Angel. We want to date, and are already dating you, because of who you are. While it’s definitely easier on scheduling because we all work together, I want to explicitly state that I would cross oceans to see either you or Sabina, if one or both of you decided to leave the Townsend Agency one day.”
“Aww, legs, that’s so sweet. Speaking of sweet, Boz also thinks we are, and I quote, ‘the sweetest, dumbest fucking Angels she’s ever met’, so basically we’re Extra Agency Approved.” says Sabina, throwing up air quotes with a flourish.
Jane smacks Sabina lightly on the little sliver of belly that her lifted arms reveal, then presses a kiss to her cheek to prove Sabina’s point. “You’re right, shortstop , we are extremely sweet. And Boz does approve of us, which means the Townsend Agency also approves of and recognizes our relationship. Elena, why did you think we get assigned to so many missions together, or at least missions on the same continent? And safehouses allocated specifically for the three of us?”
"Well, I thought that was just practical. I didn't have the same athletic or military background that most of the other Angels did, so of course it made sense for me to work with you two to begin with. And then it just became a given that it would be the three of us if possible?" says Elena. Even more evidence to put under further review.
Sabina flaps her hand in a ‘kinda’ gesture. "Well, yeah, we are like the best team this whole Agency has ever seen. But Jane also filed, like, so much paperwork for us to be a standard team. There was a mountain of paper, babe. I think Boz made her chop down the trees herself- which by the way, that image? Hot. Also, did you know we're on her dental plan?"
Elena had not known that. Jane had come with her to her last dentist appointment, though. She’d needed to get an x-ray, so she'd dragged Jane back with her. Jane had talked throughout the whole appointment to keep Elena’s mind off whatever the dentist was doing with her mouth. Jane’s being there and holding her hand tight had lessened the intensity of the whirring of dental tools resonating in Elena’s jaw and skull. Jane also keeps a supply of bubblegum flavored floss to make hygiene more bearable for Sabina, despite claiming that bubblegum flavoring is, quote, ‘a punishment from God herself for heathens who don’t appreciate mint.’ Additional data points that Jane would do anything for them. Hypothesis quickly gathering favorable evidence.
“Beyond reviewing your reasoning for our relationship- which, again, I would like to reiterate that we wholeheartedly agree with. Sabina also provided some...commentary on the anecdotal evidence you provided,” Jane says, hands pressed against her temples preemptively.
Sabina nods in Jane’s direction, then clicks to the next slide. “That’s right. Which, may I remind you Jane, you gave me free reign for that commentary, so my comedic genius is on you. Anyways. Elena, first off, I need some names. What punk-ass Angels don’t like us dating? ‘Cause their sparring exercises are about to get way more intense.”
Elena racks her brain quickly for the breakdown of the numbers, attaching names to statistics. “Well, Jemma said ‘ew, no homo!’ as a joke- you remember Jemma? She’s married to Skye. But Jemma also texted me later that Boz showed up at her door right after she hit submit, just to remind her that she was, quote, ‘always watching’.
“Aww, Boz! What a sweetheart. A scary, threatening sweetheart.” muses Sabina.
“Yeah. Well, Jemma was joking and that was basically 5% of the no responses. Actually, a lot of no’s were based on wanting to date one of us. And that skewed my data because a lot of them clearly were jokes, if the percentage of Angels specifically saying they wanted to date me was any indication.”
Jane and Sabina both share an exasperated glance. “First of all, firefly, you know that you’re beautiful, intelligent, a badass, and a total catch. Second of all, you sound like you’ve been in a really self deprecating mindset lately. And if you need it, you’re gonna sign up for Saint’s self-love workshops.” Data point: Sabina’s always flirty, but mixes her . Which means she’s been complimenting Elena in a possibly non-platonic context?
“They helped me out a lot when I first joined and was going through my whole crisis of ex MI6-am I a good person baggage,” says Jane.
Elena jumps to defend her, heated as always whenever Jane questions her morality and redeemability. “You are a good person! And I’m glad those workshops helped you, but it’s different for you, Jane. I don’t deserve those workshops like you did, I’d just be taking away resources from someone who needed them more. You are literally the most badass Angel at this agency, sorry Sabina, but you are also so fundamentally good . We still get thank you cards from the people treated at Fatima’s clinic because of everything you have done for them. I’m...all I’ve done is almost create a tech weapon of mass destruction and then barely redeem myself by helping to get it back.”
“First, y ou know we've had this conversation before. You've been an Angel for literally three years. You know exactly what we think about this line of thought,” Jane looks at her, propping a hand on her hip as she waits for Elena’s response.
“Yes, I do know,” Elena says.
Jane raises an eyebrow, and Elena rushes on. “I do! Calisto wasn’t my fault, and I don’t need to take responsibility for the actions other people take, especially when I’ve done so much work to change the results of those actions into good. And I’m a badass, lady spy, who passed training at the top of her class and carried out a good number of missions herself. Also I'm a firefly ‘cause I'm filled with light and spread it everywhere I go.”
Sabina mouths the last part like she always does. When they’d all made self empowerment mantras at Jane’s request, Sabina had added it jokingly to Elena’s, saying ‘It’s a short joke and an affirmation all rolled in one! A two for one package. What's not to love?’ And it had stuck.
Once Elena’s said her piece, Sabina and Jane share a look. She must look like she believes in what she's saying at least a little, as Sabina continues, “Second, yes, Jane is the most badass superspy ever and a secret softie, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have her fair share of guilt and self-worth traumas to overcome before we all started dating. And I had to process a shit ton of internalized homophobia and sexism courtesy of rich asshole birth-givers, still am every day. We’re all allowed to have our own issues, firefly, whatever they are. It doesn’t make you, me, or Jane any less deserving of self love or our love. We’re all working on ourselves.”
Elena can barely process all their affirmations, her head is spinning so fast with countless observations that she’s suddenly reassessing from a different perspective. Pet names and selfies, texts from every timezone, marathons of silly movies, cuddling together, sleeping together, kisses on every part of their bodies, endless unconditional support at every turn. It’s terrifying, how clearly these reframed data points paint an answer to all of her investigations.
So she falls back to her old tried-and-false hypothesis, attempts to cover up her anxiety with a joke. “Are you sure this isn’t just some convoluted prank? No one’s going to bust through the door with a ‘Punk’d’ sign?”
From the look on her face, Jane’s clearly had enough of Elena’s bluffing. Gently, but with no trace of giving an inch, she says, “We don’t stand to gain anything from lying to you. More than that, do you truly not trust us enough to think that we’d lie to you?”
“Elena, do we act in a way that reminds you of your exes? We never want to hurt you like they did, and want to make sure that you feel comfortable telling us if we do. We can discuss triggers and behaviors that are reminiscent of them, if so.”
Elena shakes her head vehemently. The fact that Jane’s even asking the question shows how they’re a direct departure from her past partners. “No! No, you don’t-”
“Good to know. As part of our communications rebranding, please discuss such behaviors with us if they come up, darling.”
Sabina takes the lead. “Here’s the kicker, Elena: you made a presentation to convince us that we should start dating. Clearly you think there’s some romantic attraction between us, and enough basis for a healthy relationship. So why are you resisting the idea that we might have already been dating for two odd years? I’m genuinely asking, I don’t want to shame you, ‘cause it’s clearly a persistent belief. Are you embarrassed that you didn’t realize it? Is there something else we haven’t discussed, like what constitutes a relationship to you? Are you scared about commitment, or rejection, or something else?”
Jane adds, “Obviously we can’t speak for what you’re thinking. Maybe it’s a mix of things, or none of the reasons that Sabina’s listed, that’ve contributed to our miscommunication. But we need to know at least some of your thought process, so we can support you while you’re working through it. We’re here for you, hummingbird. Please let us in.”
It hits Elena then, fully and without any denial or confusion. They love her. She’s known this to some degree, but not allowed herself to understand the depth of their love in true context and sincerity. Known that they all say ‘I love you’ on a daily basis, but not understood what it means. They’re dating , they all care for one another, support one another, and they love her .
“Can we take a five minute break so that I can process?” she asks. She needs to formalize this new hypothesis and officially review all the new evidence that’s come to light.
Sabina and Jane share a look, but they agree and move to sit down at the other end of the conference table. Elena’s writing furiously in her notebook, and while they probably want to see what she’s doing, they let her work through what she needs to. Sabina grabs at Jane’s hand, leaning into her side, and Jane wraps an arm around her in solidarity.
Top center: ‘⇀♡♡ ‘i’m in looooove ♡♡ and my girls love me baaaaaack!!! heart heart omggggggg’.
Top corner: ‘♡ mrs elena kano-wilson ♡ ♡’
Ok so i’m gonna freewrite as much as possible so i can get all my thoughts in order ‘cause i know jane and sabina are watching me which is hot as fuck FOCUS ok.
Facts: -we are dating
- We had sex
- We love each other
Interpretations: -i didn’t realize this for a long time
-sabina suggested embarrassment -> checks out at least partially, rabbit holes of digging into stubborn willful belief because of shame? maybe some, but doesn’t feel like the biggest reason
-also, suggested what constitutes a relationship to me:
-> -kissing (which we do)
- support(which we all have, they just monologued at me for like ten (omg!!! love!!! ♡ ♡♡ ♡) minutes about how much they care and wanna understand how to support me, and i made 28 whole powerpoints- which, okay, some embarrassment there)
- sex (my GOD i want sabina to
f*cking sit on my face)
->results: above concludes that the only thing missing from what i consider a relationship was official label
☆NOTE for future discussions when jane and sabina ask! explicit communication is a need, apparently i am very oblivious
Conclusion: i think i was so scared of them rejecting me, that i threw myself into these presentations instead of ladying up and just...asking them to be official. which meant that i had to avoid all possible logic and rationale, if i wanted to keep making those presentations so that i didn’t ever had to confront my girls and face the possibility of losing them. And that kinda spiralled into thinking i wasn’t worthy of their love and bullshit like that, especially when it became super clear that we were dating, when i know full well that just ‘cause i get anxious doesn’t mean im not worthy of dating them.
cause i put together a whole presentation to ask them out! Even if took me awhile to get there. I’m working on it, just like sabina said! (sidenote THEY LOVE AND SUPPORT ME AND THEY WANNA BE THERE FOR ME FOREVER AAAA!!!!) so...the only thing stopping us from dating was me refusing to acknowledge it, because i was scared (which again is valid). and i’m still kinda scared but i’m gonna be kind to myself about it and they’ve got my back covered. i can do this, we can do this, AAA we’re finally DATING i can’t believe this is happening!!! AAAAA!!!! ♡♡♡♡♡
A long three minutes later, Elena looks up. “Okay, so before I talk about what I wrote, thank you for letting me have space to write. It’s only been a little bit of time, and I’ve got a lot more processing to do later, but most importantly I’ve realized a couple things.” She steadies herself, takes strength from the way Jane rubs Sabina’s arm, the way they’re both angled so that they can give her full attention.
“First, we absolutely are dating and we are definitely all gonna go over why I missed that, especially how I can make sure it doesn’t happen again. Second, I love you both so very very much for putting a whole presentation together for me. That’s so sweet, how much effort you put in just to humor me! Third, I can’t wait to plan an actual, official date for us. I really thought Sabina was just doing something cool for team bonding when we went to the Louvre after hours, and now I need to step up my game.”
Elena talks as quickly as she can while still enunciating. She’s trying to get all her points across before she loses her resolve and somehow convinces herself that Jane and Sabina don’t really love her like that. She knows it to be factual truth, has the evidence written out in clear logic. But it still doesn’t seem quite resonant in her chest as real, still feels like a bubble about to burst. Regardless, she forces herself to look in Jane and Sabina’s
“Wow, that was way faster than I thought it would be,” Sabina comments before Jane squeezes at her thigh. She flashes a smile and a heart with her fingers at Elena in apology, makes it clear that she’s trying to keep the atmosphere lighthearted.
Elena grins back at her, nerves abating a little, Sabina’s playfulness working just as intended. “Yeah, I’m definitely faster than you thought I’d be, shortstop.” Sabina beams at her retort, even as she sticks her tongue out reflexively at the nickname.
“Hey! I’m only one inch shorter than you and you know it. But also- Jane, rookie made a joke! That means you’ve definitely figured it out, if you’ve eased up enough to go back to nicknames, right firefly?”
Jane nods, mirrors the heart that Sabina’s with her own hands, turns both heart and her pleased gaze onto Elena. “Yes, that’s what it means, ‘bina. Or at least I hope it does. I’m so happy that you’re starting to process, hummingbird! I know it’s been fairly scary, and darling you’ve done such a good job wading through all the bullshit. Good job, Elena, truly.”
Elena flushes, caught up in the heady rush of Sabina’s smile and Jane’s praise, and the general cheesiness of their twin hand-hearts. “Oh my god, you guys,” she whispers, half to herself.
Jane and Sabina just giggle. “You’re so fuckin’ cute, baby,” says Sabina. “Also you’re so valid, cause I die just a lil everytime Jane praises my art so I totally get why you’re blushing right now.”
“Well, like I said, thank you so, so much for making this presentation on the fly, it’s so sweet and thoughtful and I’ve never ever been more in love. But could you indulge me just a little more? I wanna see the rest of the presentation so bad,” says Elena.
Sabina hops up immediately, walking to the other side of the table to give Elena a quick kiss before going back to the front of the room. “C’mon Janey, let’s give babygirl here what she wants. Which is clearly to see her two awesome girlfriends nail the rest of this presentation.”
Jane mutters under her breath, “If there isn’t nailing by the end of this powerpoint, are we really giving her what she wants?”
Sabina’s whole face lights up at Jane’s unexpected innuendo, running back to slap Jane’s ass in a parody of a high five when she stands up from her chair, then circling back to stand by the projector.
Jane makes a show of rolling her eyes, though she’s clearly amused. Before she follows Sabina back to the front of the room, Jane gives Elena a long hug first, chests pressed tight as they take a deep breath together. Then Sabina and Jane turn back to their presentation, clicking forward to the Steps Taken slide.
“So, we both reviewed the materials you wrote and printed out, and then we also made some awesome materials for you. We presented them like absolute bosses and you realized how freaking in love we all are. Based on this, we’re going to continue to date the shit out of each other and will plan to wife you up one day in a supes romantic fashion. Any questions?”
Elena raises a hand, arranges her best ‘snooty peer reviewer’ expression on her face. “Yes actually, I do have a question for the two presenters. Please answer to the best of your abilities...what if I plan to wife you up first?” Now that the tension is gone from the room completely, Elena feels like she can finally sit back and just enjoy teasing her girlfriends. Her girlfriends .
“Wow, check out the UHAUL on this one. Just found out we’re dating and wants to marry us already,” teases Sabina.
Elena laughs. “Baby, baby! You swiped right, I’m your girlfriend now! Can’t complain about the UHAUL if you wanna keep me. Neither can you, Jane.” It’s one of her favorite stories, and in her opinion, one of Sabina’s funniest quotes. Yes, surpassing even the time Jemma had jokingly asked if Jane was the knife to Elena and Sabina’s respective big and little spoons, to which Sabina had replied, without missing a beat, “Nah, she’s the little spoon.” And that’s probably another retroactive data point Elena missed, one that’s firmly in ‘already dating’ territory.
Jane snorts. “Bold of you both to assume that I don’t already have the best proposal planned out for both of you. Yes, even more thoroughly than your presentations, hummingbird.”
“Hey!” protests Elena. “You liked my presentation! Also, I’m taking that as a challenge, I’m definitely gonna win this year’s superlative for Most Extra.”
Jane just winks at her. “I know you would, 2020 Hopeful for Ms. Most Extra Angel, but I’ve had a full year’s headstart here. If there are no more questions?”
Elena grins back and nods for Jane to go on.
“As a final thought, we wanted to reiterate how much we love you and that we apologize for not working harder to make you aware of the type of relationship we strive to have with you.”
Elena shakes her head vehemently at Jane’s words, ready to reassure her that there’s no need to apologize, but Sabina puts up a hand to pause her. “If you’re going to say something like, ‘You don’t need to apologize, it’s all my fault,’ I’m gonna stop you right there, okay? Communication is a three way street, and we’re gonna take responsibility for some of the lapse too, otherwise we’re never gonna work through it. Also, nothing is ever all your fault. You are a tiny being filled with light and love like a firefly, and you’d better know it.” Point made, she puts her hand down, signaling Elena to go on.
Elena reconsiders for a few moments, since that was exactly what she was about to say. She makes sure to file Sabina’s argument as a secondary hypothesis under the facts of their relationship. If I wouldn’t expect Sabina or Jane to take on all of the responsibility of a collective mistake, I should maybe let myself off the hook too. But it’s different for me too, I think? I was the one who was oblivious and didn’t bring up my worrying to Sabina or Jane, they didn’t know. But maybe Jane’s right. I should talk about this with Saint.
Jane must take her pause as confusion or uncertainty, because she speaks up as well. “Of course we know that this has all been quite a lot of information to process, and that reframing your mindset doesn’t just happen magically. Let us know if we’re overloading you?”
Elena nods, heart melting even more at Jane’s consideration and Sabina’s reminder to be aware of her negativity. “God, I love you both,” she sighs, grinning at the blush on Sabina’s face and the way she grabs Jane’s hand to dramatically fan at her overheated cheeks. “Appreciate you both so, so much. And I’m okay, not overloaded, thank you Jane for checking in and also Sabina for calling me out. Um, so I think- I think I’m gonna talk to Saint. Maybe try out one of those workshops you mentioned?”
Jane and Sabina give a soft cheer, Sabina whooping and Jane clapping a few beats before clasping her hands to her chest in the shape of a heart. Elena ducks her head, abashed at the attention, but beams at their excitement and her own pride.
“Yeah!” crows Sabina, bouncing across the room to grab Elena in a hug. Jane takes a second to close her laptop and take it safely off the presentation podium, before striding over to envelop them both in an even tighter embrace. “So proud of you, baby! Look at you, badass lady spy reclaiming your own power, and not even any puke on your breath!”
Jane smacks Sabina on the shoulder, but she’s grinning too. “So proud of you, Elena. That’s a really big step- congratulations! How do you feel?”
Elena takes in a shaky breath. “Scared, but like. Really grounded? And. Cheesy but, full of love. Oh! Also I'm super proud of myself, cause that felt like, really good.”
“Good. You should be proud of yourself, hummingbird. You did a lot of really good work today, know it was hard for you and you still powered through it like a champion.” Elena blushes, tucks her head underneath Jane’s chin and resting on Sabina’s shoulder for a moment, and lets herself take refuge in their support. Their chests rise and fall in tandem for a few beats, bodies all flush together, before Jane continues on.
“Are you okay to talk about working on our communication for a bit? Maybe not a full conversation, you might want to talk to Saint and get a feel for your own individual needs first, but just to open up the discussion?”
Elena pulls back slightly so she can see both their faces and make eye contact with Jane as she says, “Yes, both sound good, princess, thanks for checking in again.”
Jane melts a little like she always does when Elena calls her something overly tender, she can see it in the way Jane scrunches her eyes closed for a split second and smiles softly.
Elena elaborates, saying “I want to talk to Saint first and think a little more about what specific needs I have, like Jane suggested. But I also want to talk a little bit about communication in general right now, ‘cause I think I need more reassurance in the moment, or at least to ask for support as it comes up. Otherwise it just gives my brain more opportunity for like, self sabotage, y’know?”
Sabina nods, points at her chest then gives a two-fingered salute. “Copy loud and clear, firefly. Same for me, the little voice at the back of my head is a sneaky bastard and it’s waaay easier to beat him up instantly rather than later, so I got you. For some reason this makes me think of love languages?”
Jane has been biting at her lip throughout this quick exchange, which according to Elena’s facial expressions bot means that she’s probably still thinking about being called ‘princess’. But the second Sabina mentions love languages, Jane’s entire face opens up in a surprised smile. “You read the book I got you!”
Sabina smiles bashfully back, swinging her arms at her sides and stepping a bit away from their embrace. Elena and Jane follow suit. Jane sits on the table so that they can all make easy eye contact. “Well, yeah, your book suggestions are always on point, specially the self help ones. I trust your taste, sweetheart. Also remember when we all took that love language test?”
“Oh! The one where we all had physical touch as a secondary?” asks Elena.
“Yeah, that one. Do you remember what we all got?” Sabina prompts.
Jane’s the first to answer. “Well, yours was giving and receiving gifts, which makes sense because you love giving people art that reminds you of them and you’re so happy and .
Sabina nods, says “Yeah, definitely matches. And yours was acts of service, which also makes sense. And Elena’s…”
Jane again is the quickest on the uptake. “Oh- and Elena’s was words of affirmation- oh , darling, I am so sorry. I didn’t realize, for three years we’ve not been communicating properly and I just. That must have been so hard, Elena, I’m so sorry you had to go through that.”
Both Jane’s and Sabina’s faces are pinched, Sabina’s lip wobbling and Jane rubbing at her own collarbone in self-soothing.
Elena instinctually leaps to comfort them, says “Baby, no, it’s not your fault-” then pauses. According to the logic she’s laid out for herself, communication is not placed solely in one person’s hands. Therefore this is, at least to some degree, not all her fault. “Well. It’s no one’s fault. Because it’s not all mine either. In the future, I’m going to work on asking for what I need more and now you both know I need a little more affirmation.”
Sabina’s clearly switched to fully serious mode, because she says “I’m sorry I made all those jokes before, about the sex we’ve had. I didn’t fully realize what the implications of you thinking we weren’t dating meant- which isn’t an excuse. I’ll be more careful about that in the future, promise. Can I ask one thing?”
Elena nods. “Yeah, you can. Also the sex jokes were funny, I have been kinda oblivious, but I appreciate your apology, ‘bina.”
“Well- does that mean, the week after the Cairo mission. When you said that you wanted to be with us for the rest of your life? Like, I know the mission was way high stakes, and we’ve all talked about it a lot and we can talk about it more. But, does that mean that...” Sabina stops herself, not wanting to speak her self doubt out loud.
Jane lets out a soft “ Oh ,” almost as if she doesn’t mean to let the sigh slip past her lips.
Elena shakes her head, forceful in her need to make them understand her. “No, it’s not- I really do want to be with both of you forever. I just said it as in, I’d stay with you forever in any context you’d give me. At the time, I thought it’d only ever be as friends. Yes, Sabina, you can make one sex joke about this.”
“Very generous, kind patron. I really did enjoy the friend fingers you used on me that night,” drawls Sabina in an exaggerated valley accent.
Elena high fives Sabina obligingly, then continues. “I mean, I definitely wanted to ask you out then, and way before that too. I just never got up the courage to, but I was thinking about it when I said it.”
Jane finally exhales, relaxing her posture. “Elena, hummingbird, we thought that was you asking us out.”
“I- wasn’t? Or, I thought I wasn’t. But, oh, it does kinda sound like I was asking you out, doesn’t it. Wait, is that when we all started getting a lot more touchy-feely?” asks Elena.
“Oh, we got touchy-feely that night all right,” murmurs Sabina under her breath.
Elena swats at her lightly, laughing a little. “I said one joke, ‘bina!”
“Right, you’re right, sorry baby. And yeah, that was when me and Jane assumed we all started dating. Which is probably the core of the miscommunication, us assuming. So I’m gonna commit to working on expressing myself and asking for clarification more directly, and we can definitely talk about needs in more detail later,” Sabina says.
Jane raises a hand in agreement. “I’m gonna commit to that too, and also I will try not to self-flagellate over past mistakes. As a start, I want to make sure that you know how loved you are, darling. We’re both going to work on our words of affirmation, but for right now, please understand that you make our lives brighter and help us improve every day.”
Elena ducks her head to regather herself, because their words make her heart ache in the best way, before she says, “I love you both too, you make my heart so full. And I’m gonna also work on asking for what I need in clarifications and affirmations. In that vein, I think I’m close to getting overwhelmed, is it okay if we change the topic to something lighter? We can talk about this in more detail later? Definitely down for more validation though.”
Sabina takes Elena’s permission and runs with it, adding onto Jane’s previous affirmation. “Yeah, that’s totally okay, firefly. Been a lot to process. Also like Jane said, baby, we love you so much. Like the other day I saw one of those robot-things with the antennas on top on TV and I got so excited about it ‘cause I knew you’d wanna hear about it, even though I have no idea what they actually do.”
“The International Space Station robot arms? I love those so much! They’re going to make satellites so much more efficient,” squeals Elena, the wave of overwhelming feelings abating slightly.
“Right, that. I wanna make it clear that I always want to hear about all your nerdy stuff and Jane’s badass stuff and everything else. So maybe you could revise any presentation you’d like, and give the updated deck to us by 9am tomorrow? You’re only allowed to edit once though, no making edits for months on end,” Sabina jokes.
“Or maybe I could just give the presentation to you back in our room, orally? Communication is a three way street, just like you said,” says Elena with a wink for Sabina and a faux innocent smile.
Jane shoots her a wink back. “Well after your first presentation, you’ve set a high bar, babygirl- maybe I’ll give you a reward if I like the next one. For now though, how about we get packed up before Boz finds us all crying in here?”
“Or someone wins that bet on when we’re finally going to fuck in one of these rooms. My money’s on next week,” Sabina chimes in.
After they clean up the presentation room, sweep the table of crumbs, and tidy up cables and papers, Sabina and Jane both take one of Elena’s hands, directing her back to their shared bedroom. Which, in hindsight, definitely should’ve been her biggest piece of evidence that they had really been dating all along. They all slept in the same bed, for Charlie’s sake.
“Can we have that Blue Planet marathon?” asks Sabina as they walk down the hall. “I actually got kinda hyped up about it when I was betting against Jane, ‘fore we knew that we’d be, you know, putting together a whole presentation to convince you we were dating.”
Jane smiles at Sabina, rubs Elena’s wrist with her thumb gently. “I think that’s a lovely idea, darling. Would help Elena get back to baseline, since today was so stressful. Would give us all a little room to decompress, actually.”
The fish of the Mediterranean sea are still swimming on the TV, and Megan Fox’s voice whispers about the importance of preserving the beautiful diversity in it. Rainbow wrasses dart around parrot fish, dancing flashes of color over Elena’s eyes. Underneath Megan’s narration, Here we can see the lovely parrot fish, found at depths of up to 50 meters… , the bedroom hushes with the sacred sound of their breath intermingling.
After a lazy hour of cuddling and making out, the excitement of the day’s events- anxiety over the initial proposal, emotional exhaustion from their collective realizations and unpacking of unspoken fears and needs- had claimed their energy. Once they'd settled down, they’d decided unanimously on Megan Fox’s National Geographic show. Sabina loves anything to do with fish- something about the way their scales shift color under different lightings, Elena loves nature documentaries in general, and Jane has a secret soft spot for Jennifer’s Body , so it wasn’t a hard decision to make.
Jane’s curled up on her side a few handspans away from Elena. Her legs are still tangled with Sabina’s, draped over Elena’s hips, and Elena’s hand is nestled underneath her tank top. Her breathing evened out half a documentary ago. But Jane’s a light sleeper, so Elena keeps her touch gentle. Even so, she can't keep herself from clenching her hands in the material of Jane’s tank top in silent excitement whenever she remembers that she's in bed with her girlfriends . Stroking the soft skin of one of her girlfriends . Cuddled up against the chest of her other girlfriend.
On her other side, Sabina’s curled against Elena’s spine, slowly stroking her hand through her hair. Every so often she drops a kiss to the top of Elena’s head. Sabina will probably stay up the latest, entranced by the fish on screen and planning another sculpture or etching inspired by the way their colors shift underwater.
The blue light from the televised sea filters through the dark room. Elena can just barely see the outline of Sabina’s face when she turns her head to kiss Sabina goodnight, starts dozing off cozy and bracketed by both her girls.
Elena’s almost asleep when Sabina whispers to her, “Can I ask something about the powerpoint?”
Was Sabina finally going to roast her for putting a full deck together, just because she wanted to date them? Well, best to face the music head on. Hopefully she at least wasn't about to make an ‘Excel Anal’ joke; Jane had already done that three months ago. “What’re you thinking about, funsize?”
Sabina hums, cards through a knot in Elena’s hair before answering. “You thought through all the details, right? Like the colors and everything.”
Elena laughs and presses her head further into the palm of Sabina’s hand. “I thought through everything, babe. Way too much, you don’t even want to know how many iterations of the presentation I went through.”
“I mean, I’m pretty sure Langston would send them over if Jane asked. But I actually wanted to ask about how you picked out the colors that represented us. Like not to read too much into it but...” Sabina lets the end of the sentence dangle, also typical for their late night philosophy sessions. It’s how she invites Elena to join in.
“Oh, yeah I did the whole palette based on our friendship,” Elena says before she catches her mistake and corrects herself, “well, our relationship, and tried to choose colors that I thought best represented it. I know I was being extra again, but I do stand by my color choices. Did you wanna change yours?”
“No, I love it! Definitely loved the explanations for the colors analysis, would also like to submit for review Jane in that one bathing suit, if you ever wanna revise the appendix. But what I was trying to say, I just, it didn’t seem like there was a color in there that represented you.”
“Well, the presentation was about you and Jane,” says Elena, not quite understanding where Sabina’s train of thought is headed.
This isn't unusual; Sabina often asks random questions before they all fall asleep. (Do fish see colors? What’s the gravity like on the moon, if you were an alien? Do you think we're a cell in a giant’s body, or like gods to ants?)
Elena usually plays along. Sabina’s thoughts on philosophy are more complex than the playful front she presents in the daytime, even if she tends to start their bedtime conversations with wild tangents.
Sabina must realize the ambiguity of her question too, because she clarifies. “Ah- sorry, I wasn’t being clear. I think that’s something I’m gonna have to work on my own for communicating, like. Being raised to be polite since my birth-givers believed ‘girls are only there for doing their father’s-slash-husband’s emotional labor and need to shut up otherwise’ probably made me. Not the best at asking for what I need? And, I brought it up just now ‘cause I realized I wasn’t being clear with my question either.”
Elena nods in affirmation, cuddles further into Sabina’s side. “Yeah, I totally get that. At least from being a woman of color, kinda raised the same way. Do you wanna talk about it more?”
Sabina hums, considering it for a moment before saying , “Nah, that's okay, thanks for asking though firefly. Just wanted to say it out loud and I'll do some processing with Saint first. But back to my original question- could all three of us have a brainstorming date soon? I wanna make sure that we have a color for you, for future reference. Oh, and then we can all come up with an official team palette for our new relationship powerpoints!”
Sabina thought there would be more presentations? Sabina wanted to work on the formatting together with her? As a work date, or- according to her newfound hypothesis’s guidelines, like a date-date? Her girls had definitely been indulging her slightly earlier, but Elena had still thought it was more of a one-time thing.
“If you really want to? But you guys really don't have to humor me just cause we're dating or anything, I know it's kinda nerdy and silly-”
Sabina leans over and blows a raspberry into Elena’s belly, effectively cutting off her potential spiraling. Over Elena’s soft shrieks and giggling, she says, “Hey- we agreed on no more putting down our passions! Also, of course we’re gonna make more presentations, dude. Jane’s pre-Field Day speech this year is gonna be epic in the new format.”
“What’s that about me?” Jane rolls over, apparently resigned to the fact that she will not be able to sleep for a little while longer. Elena reaches for Jane’s hands, tangling their fingers together and pulling her closer.
“Your art of war speech, but as a kick-ass presentation, pancake,” says Elena after pressing a kiss to Jane’s forehead.
Even in the dim light, Elena can see the way Jane’s face melt at the endearment then light up in excitement. Or at least, she can feel Jane’s joy, and that warms Elena’s heart up brighter than any lamp or sun could. “Oh, that’s such a good idea, darling. We’ll even be able to refine it after this year’s competition with lessons learned, so we’re more prepared for next year.”
Lying here, content and dozing off once more to the sound of her girls bickering over the best format for war presentations (Sabina’s arguing passionately for Pollock-esque drops of blood and gold detailing and neon red font, while Jane’s in favor of a simple black background to make the words pop), Elena’s glad she put in the work to create the deck. Even if Elena had spent countless hours on its preparation, and even if she can already feel all the jokes that Jane and Sabina will make until the end of time about this, she’d gotten her girls in the end.
Besides, it wasn’t as if that many people even knew about the whole debacle. Jane and Sabina obviously knew, Langston had helped her peer review, Ingrid had kind of helped and/or told her to get her shit together that one time, and Jolene had unfortunately cornered Elena with unwanted advice, but that was it. Only five people would ever need to know what a complete dumbass she was for having pined for her girlfriends for upwards of three years.
Just then, her phone beeps with the “Urgent - Bosley 342” ringtone she’s set up. “I’m your basic average girl….” That’s odd, Bosley generally doesn’t send messages at night. Better check it.
Reaching over Sabina’s torso, Elena grabs her phone from its charger and opens up her email. Once she sees the subject line and length of the email, she jolts out of the bed and over to her laptop, carrying it to the bed and wiggling back into her position between Jane and Sabina before she finally gathers the courage to read it. Upon skimming the first few lines, Elena drops her head back and groans dramatically. “Ah, fuck !”
Urgent: File Use on The Shared Townsend Agency Drive (Common Practices)
To Whom It May Concern:
It has come to the attention of senior Townsend officials that some individuals have misunderstood the use of the “personal projects” file folder on the official Townsend drive. ---
Okay, now that any potential hackers have stopped reading, I’m just going to be blunt. Elena, sweetie, what the actual fuck? Before we talk about official business, please remember that we all love and support you so much. We are so proud of you for addressing your relationship concerns with Jane and Sabina and working things out (Yes, even Jolene. I made her come to an understanding). That being said, we are deeply concerned by the twenty eight total powerpoint files, not counting your research folders, on your relationship proposal.
While yes, I especially liked your separate folders of pictures of both Jane and Sabina being cute (and will be framing a few), these files do not belong on the personal projects folder, which is intended for Townsend-wide projects that individual Angels are working on.
We don’t want to stifle your creative self-expression, sweetheart, but your project caused a massive debate among other dating Angels (see: “How come you’ve never made me a slide deck professing your love?”) and among Angels at large (see: the massive betting game currently placed on how many powerpoint versions it would take for you all to officially date. No, I did not place any bets. The new watch I just bought is purely coincidental). Going forward, we have set up a special server for your eyes only, for any future projects. Please use your discretion to decide which future projects are appropriate for the Townsend Agency at large to view.
p.s. Elena, lightning bug, you three don’t have to come to the mission briefing tomorrow. From what I’ve seen of Jane and Sabina’s powerpoint file, you’ll all be otherwise occupied.
Jane and Sabina bolt up at Elena's exclamation, Sabina rolling over to frantically ask her “What’s wrong?” Jane just sits up fully and pulls out a knife from under her pillow without question.
“Baby, what the fuck! Put that away, you know we don’t have weapons in bed!”shrieks Elena.
“Unless someone asks for them first,” retorts Jane without an ounce of remorse, sliding the knife into her bedside drawer once she’s established there’s no immediate threat. She turns back to slap Sabina’s waiting palm in an impeccable high five.
“Nice! Also, since we’re working on explicit communication, I wanna reassert how much I love that you keep the rainbow knife I made for you under your pillow ,” grins Sabina. Then she seems to remember the actual reason Jane had brought her knife out from hiding and directs her gaze back to Elena. “Are you okay, firefly? What happened?”
Elena shows them her laptop screen wordlessly, scooting as far down as she can under the covers without actually removing herself from the cuddle pile. Sabina and Jane speed through its contents. There’s a beat. Then both women start howling with laughter, not stopping even when Elena breaks out her full blown pout. When that doesn’t work, and neither does whining “ Babes, stoooooop ” piteously, Elena resorts to her final tactic and pulls Jane into a heated kiss. As Jane’s laughter turns into soft moaning, Sabina finally stops giggling too and pokes at Elena’s side until they break apart for breath.
“My turn,” she says, playfully pushing Jane aside.
Eventually, Jane gets tired of being left out too, though Elena’s still got her fingers entwined with hers. She starts kissing at Elena’s neck, making her squirm in Sabina’s arms. “Babe, we promise to stop teasing you for at least the rest of the night. Can we put the laptop away now? Not quite as conducive for fun later, love.”
Elena nods in agreement and hands the laptop to Jane so she can set it aside, then burrows into Sabina’s shoulder to shield herself from remembering all the implications that Boz’s email brings. “It’s so embarrassing though. I knew Boz was at least vaguely aware because of the survey, but they were all betting on me! Oh God, that means everyone saw the version with the Vegas pictures. Fuck, and that means they saw all my commentary on them!” Elena realizes.
“Firefly, you’re Boz’s favorite. She’s just giving you a hard time ‘cause she knows we’ll probably send her a pic of your face all scrunched up.”
Jane interrupts Sabina’s reassurances. “By the way, is there an ‘Elena being cute’ folder somewhere? Because the pout on your face right now definitely deserves to be preserved in it.”
“Also, I’d like to see the Vegas version. Jane killed those aerial silks moves,” Sabina says as she pats Elena’s head in solidarity.
A muffled “Noted” comes out from the general vicinity of where Elena’s face is pressed up against Sabina.
“Oh, plus! I figured out your color,” says Sabina, poking Elena until she brings her head out from underneath the covers, “It’s def, like, orangy red. Makes us all a sunset.”
“Or a sunrise. Because we're all bringing light to one another?” Jane adds.
“Jane, you secret nerd. Always so cute with your surprise sweetness, yeah, we could definitely be both. We’d be like, uh. Like the sunrise where light brings beauty to beginnings, and sunset when light warms us as we come home.”
Jane smiles, kisses Sabina on the cheek before teasing, “Very poetic, especially coming from you, shortstop. I love it, maybe we workshop the name orangy red though?”
“Yeah, we’ll call it blood orange,” Sabina says, obviously hoping that Jane is relaxed enough to quote memes and more likely take the bait.
Not only does Jane take the bait, she fully delivers. “Blood orange, so fucking pretentious. It’s red,” Jane gives the best impression she can muster, rolling her eyes and scowling. “ Blood orange. ”
Elena might never get over the embarrassment of this presentation, but at least her girlfriends are no longer laughing at her. Instead, Sabina and Jane have moved on to bickering over the best way to rewrite that one Halsey song to fit their triad.
Sabina snorts as she chants in an approximation of melody, “Everything was boobs, Jane’s legs, Elena's sweet!”
Jane joins in, dramatically intoning “You were purple, and I was pink, then suddenly Elena came along and everything was a sunset sky- but Boz said colors... just weren't...for her.” Then they burst into giggles, breaking off into a rapid-fire competition to see who can sing the most cheesy love songs in succession.
Elena laughs at her girls’ antics, smile painted bright on her face. She’s so full of joy and relief and love that she doesn’t mind Jane poking fun at Boz’s email. Even though every single Angel in the Townsend Agency probably has a complete understanding of how oblivious she really is, it’s all still worth it. Every version of the presentation, the countless hours agonizing over the validity of her desire for a relationship, has led to this. Because Elena finally understands that without her, Jane’s and Sabina’s colors wouldn’t make a complete picture. All her evidence points to an overarching theme, a hypothesis she can truly call fact: she’s loved, and needed, and belongs. She’s found her daily sunrise and sunset.
Now that she knows she’s intertwined with her girls, that she’s an integral part of their love- she'll always be home.