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“This is an assisted braking belay device. It’ll help me keep you safe while you’re up on the wall.”

The little metallic-green object was about the size of Yaz’s palm and she held it up for Ava to inspect. The blonde hunched over it, face pulled into her telltale scronch. “How?” she asked.

“Well”, Yaz said, clipping the device into her climbing belt. She grabbed the rope hanging down from the ceiling and slid a panel on the side of the device open allowing her to pull the rope through. Once the rope was in, she snapped the device shut again. “If I pull the rope over like this”, she explained, sliding the lower end over the device. “And you fall, the device will recognize the movement and automatically break your fall. I could hold onto you without it, too, but this makes it easier and safer.”

She looked up at Ava and smiled. “Don’t worry”, she said. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Ava returned the smile and moved a step closer, placing a soft kiss on Yaz’s lips. “I know you will”, she breathed and Yaz felt butterflies erupt in her stomach.

Besides consecrating every flat (and non-flat) surface in their apartments, the pair had spent the last three months trying to spend every free minute with each other. They had gone for walks and hikes, visited restaurants and museums, seen movies, and finally, they also kept coming back to the climbing hall together. Yaz’s favourite thing, however, was to just watch Ava in the evenings as she sat on the couch, a cup of tea next to her and glasses perched on the tip of her nose as she was completely wrapped up in one of her history books. The blonde looked so endearing, with a little frown creasing her brow as she concentrated on the text in front of her, that Yaz usually ended up not being able to keep her hands to herself. And why would she? She was in love, completely and utterly smitten with the other woman, and she never wanted it to stop. Luckily for her, Ava seemed to feel pretty much exactly the same way.

After weeks spent in the bouldering portion of the climbing centre, Yaz had deemed Ava ready to try rope climbing, which had led them to this moment.

“It looks so high”, Ava said, looking up at the wall in an almost reverent manner.

“You’ll get used to it”, Yaz smiled. She remembered the first time she had been on a wall like this: the rush of adrenaline, the sound of her own heartbeat in her ears as she had realised the vast amount of space that was between herself and the floor. She loved it.

“You ready?” she finally asked, eyeing Ava up. The blonde looked a bit sceptical, but also excited to try this out. She nodded, smiling. “I think so.”

“Alright”, Yaz said. “Check up.”

The two women stood opposite each other, carefully checking if the other’s belt and carabiners were properly fixed and closed. “All good”, Yaz finally said, happy with her inspection. “You remember the commands?”

Ava nodded.

“Well then. Up up and away!” 

Yaz pushed her belay glasses out of her hair and onto her nose. A small laugh escaped Ava at the sight and Yaz pulled her face into a pout. “Oi”, she mumbled. “I’ll have you know that you’ll also profit from me not having neck pain.”

A furious blush erupted on Ava’s cheeks and Yaz grinned. Gotcha , she thought.

The belay glasses’ obvious advantage was the fact that Yaz didn’t have to crane her neck in order to see Ava on the wall. The slim glasses had special prismatic lenses making it possible for Yaz to look straight ahead, the glasses twisting her view so she could see Ava climb above her. They were probably Yaz’s favorite invention in the world of climbing, even though she had to admit that they did make her look like a dork.

Ava’s first steps on the wall were careful, but soon enough she let the instincts that she had been training over the past months take over. She moved smoothly and Yaz couldn’t help but feel pride flare up in her chest. They had chosen a relatively easy route for Ava to get started on, but Yaz was well aware that there was a stark difference between climbing a bouldering route that took about two to three minutes to finish and climbing a rope one that meant you’d be on the wall for ten to fifteen. It required a specific skill set, mostly a higher finger strength. 

Well, we’ve been training that quite a lot.

Yaz groaned at the thought, trying to fight down a blush and concentrate on keeping the rope in her hands taut. She had hoped her being completely helpless and at the mercy of her own biology around Ava would calm down once they had gotten together, but there was no end to it in sight.

I’ll guess I’ll just be a teenager from now until forever, then .

Forever .

Well, that was new. But the thought made Yaz smile and her heart skip a beat. She knew she was in the very hormonal first phase of her relationship, yet still, she couldn’t help it. Forever sounded pretty darn good right now.

“Take”, Ava’s voice rang out from above and Yaz pulled the rope taut, folding it over the belay device.

“Okay!” she shouted back. They had gone over the various calls and commands before and she was proud of Ava for remembering them.

She watched as the blonde stopped for a moment, then slowly let go of the boulders, leaving her to hang next to the wall. Ava was far above her, yet Yaz was sure she could see a smile on the blonde’s lips.

“Lower”, Ava finally called out and after shouting her reply, Yaz proceeded to slowly open a lever on the side of the belay device, letting the rope run through in a controlled fashion. When Ava landed on the floor next to her, she was grinning from ear to ear.

“Safe”, she spoke the final command softly, taking a step towards Yaz.

Yaz barely had time to push her belay glasses back up into her hair before the blonde had slung both arms around her neck, kissing her fiercely as she pulled her body flush against Yaz’s. She melted into the kiss, unable to stop a small sigh from escaping her.

When they finally pulled apart, Ava’s eyes had gone dark and Yaz swallowed as an image from that morning flashed through her head - herself, sitting on the kitchen table in nothing but her robe, legs wrapped around Ava’s hips as the blonde’s fingers were deftly at work between her legs. Suddenly, she was very glad that they had come here first thing in the morning, making them the only people in the hall. Suppressing the urge to push the blonde against the wall right then and there and return the favor from this morning, she busied herself with pulling the rope out of her belay device.

“Right, should I uhm… get us some drinks?”

“That would be great, yes”, Ava replied, voice husky as she winked at her.

She’s going to be the death of me , Yaz thought as she turned around and walked towards the reception desk.

Ryan was there a second later, grinning from ear to ear. “Oh do shut up”, Yaz mumbled, feeling the tips of her ears grow hot.

“What?” Ryan replied, mock innocence painted across his face. “I didn’t say anything!”

“Uh huh”, Yaz replied, lifting an eyebrow. “Two waters, please.”

“Coming right up”, Ryan replied, reaching underneath the counter to pull the bottles out of the fridge. “There you go.”

“Thanks”, Yaz said, but before she could turn around the walk away, Ryan had placed a hand on her arm. Surprised, she looked up at him and saw a genuine smile on his lips.

“I’m glad you’re happy, you know. You two deserve each other.”

Yaz couldn’t help but smile in return at the sweet words. “Thanks”, she mumbled and Ryan nodded as she turned around to walk back towards Ava.

“Besides”, he suddenly called out after her. “I’m glad I don’t have to break any more pipes around here to get you two together.”

Feeling like she had run straight into an invisible wall, Yaz’s eyes grew wide and she was sure that her face looked like it was on fire as she slowly turned back around.

“You what ?”

But by then Ryan had already disappeared into the staff room.