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The bouldering hall was quiet, the first hour after opening always being the slowest. Two rope climbers could be seen through the glass, carefully finding their way up the wall, their respective partners invisible to Yaz from where she was standing.

Dropping her chalk bag on the ground next to her, she started her warm up routine, rolling her shoulders slowly. In her head, she was going through the class she was supposed to teach in half an hour. Beginners course, usually a small group of people who wanted to give bouldering a try for the first time. Yaz hadn’t checked her sheet upon coming into work that morning, so she wasn’t entirely sure how many people she would be dealing with. She would check once she had gotten a couple of routes in herself.

Once she had made sure all her muscles were fully awake, Yaz picked up her chalk bag, snapping it around her waist. She put her hands on her hips, giving the wall to her right a good look. Ryan, their route designer, had just changed the wall last night, and Yaz could immediately see a challenge that had no doubt been laid out with her in mind.

Always with the jump starts , she thought, huffing. Ryan had way too much fun teasing Yaz about the height difference between them, and he enjoyed nothing more than to put in a route here and there that was just a little bit more difficult for Yaz. The one she was staring at right now would only be possible for her if she ran towards the wall, kicked herself off from the rather broad foot boulder so she would be able to reach the hand holds, hung onto them and went from there.

Yaz grinned. Challenge accepted.

Using every bit of self-restraint that she had, Yaz turned towards one of the easier routes first, a couple of grades underneath what she usually climbed. A quick look gave her all the information she needed.

Left foot start, turning on my heel over there to avoid a barn door, pulling myself upright, crossing until I reach the final boulder.

As soon as her hand wrapped around the boulder, her mind turned calm, the only thing still present being a quiet determination to continue steadily along the wall, each hand and foot placed carefully exactly the right way.

It was the reason she had gotten into climbing in the first place, this feeling that made everything else in her life go away, whatever might be going on at the time. It was a beautiful kind of freedom she had found in the moments where she was high up on the wall, cheek almost pressed to the rough wall next to her.

“Oi, Yaz!”

The familiar voice ripped her out of her concentration, and she promptly missed a step.

Damnit .

Her foot slipped, leaving her hanging, only holding on with one hand to the boulder above her. Swinging carefully, she lifted one foot, pushing against the wall and jumping off.

“Ryan”, she said, not without annoyance, as she dusted off the remaining chalk from her hands after she had landed. “I was kind of in the middle of that.”

“I know”, Ryan said, looking apologetic as he held the company tablet in his hands. “Uhm so I feel you might get more annoyed at me in a minute or so.”

Yaz frowned. “How so?”

Ryan nervously shifted his balance, fumbling with the tablet in his hands. “So”, he said. Remember how I said I would put up the application form for the beginner’s course on social media?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I forgot.”

Yaz’s frown deepened. “So you’re trying to tell me there’s no one coming? Ryan!”

“No, actually. See, someone must have seen the form directly on our website, and she signed up through that. But uhm… she’s the only one.”

“Just one?" she asked. Ryan nodded.

Yaz loved teaching, but holding a three week class for one single person that had signed up? It seemed like a lot of effort for one person.

“Can we still cancel?” she asked. She could spend the morning trying out some of the new rope courses instead, she thought. Pass the time until her advanced class in the early afternoon. Her usual climbing partner wasn’t around today, but she could use the automatic relay machine instead. Not that she liked the feeling of effectively putting her life in the hands of a machine, although she knew they were perfectly safe.

“I’m afraid not. I looked up her address, and if she’s on time she’ll definitely be on her way by now. It would feel kind of rude to make her turn around?”

Yaz sighed. Ryan was right, it wouldn’t be fair to this woman who was coming all the way over here for the class. And after all, it was always a joy to get people interested in climbing, to help them take their first steps up a wall. She smiled.

“Don’t worry about it”, she finally said, patting Ryan’s arm gently. “We’ll just make it a one on one class for her. For the price of a group one! She’s getting a bargain.”

Yaz winked, and Ryan looked relieved. “Alright then. Have a good one!”

As he walked back out into the reception area, Yaz tried to reorganize her thoughts. A one on one class was different than a group one, as she would be able to put all her focus on the progress of just one person. It meant quicker development, and so there was a higher chance the person taking it would actually stick to climbing after it. The more Yaz thought about it, the more she liked the change of plans.

She was abruptly pulled out of her thoughts when a cacophony of sound erupted behind her, clanging and clattering, accompanied by a frenzied voice.

“Oh God, oh dear I did not - oh, stars.”

Yaz turned around to see a woman standing at the end of the hall, the ground around her covered in climbing shoes, the rack that usually held them toppled over just behind her. She was holding on to a single pair of shoes, cheeks red and eyes wide.

A moment later, the woman locked eyes with Yaz, and she drew in a breath. For a second, Yaz forgot all about the mess on the floor.

She was gorgeous.

Eyes a peculiar mix of green and brown, blonde hair framing soft cheeks, hands that somehow looked delicate and strong all at the same time. She wore a tight fitting, dark blue shirt, a bright rainbow blazing across her chest.

“I’m so sorry”, the woman finally spoke, and Yaz was ripped out of her reverie. Pulling herself together, she quickly walked towards the woman.

“That’s okay!” she called out, quickly looking over the mess as she stood in front of the blonde. Before she could say anything else, Ryan stuck his head in through the door, looking slightly concerned. “You alright here?” he said. “I heard an awful lot of noise.”

“Yeah, yeah”, Yaz said. “We’re good, just a little mishap.”

She smiled reassuringly at the blonde, bending down to grab a hold of the rack. “A hand?” she asked, looking at Ryan.

“Sure.”

It took just a couple of moments for them to put the shoes back up, and Yaz silently thanked herself for having made sure the night before that all the pairs were properly snapped together. She didn’t want to imagine having to sift through individual shoes, trying to figure out which ones went together. The blonde was helping diligently, still looking a bit shaken as she handed Yaz pair after pair, until it was all back in order.

“Thanks Ryan”, Yaz said. “I think we’re good now.”

Her friend nodded, smiling and waving a hand dismissively at the blonde who kept apologizing.

“I’m so clumsy sometimes”, she mumbled as Ryan disappeared once again. “Maybe this class wasn’t a good idea after all.”

She looked so small and guilty that for a moment her words didn’t register with Yaz.

The class.

“Oh”, Yaz suddenly exclaimed. “You’re here for my class!”

The woman looked up, her face pulled into a scronch. “Yeah”, she said. “Although as I said, maybe -”

“Nonsense”, Yaz said, stepping towards her as she held out her hand. “I’m Yasmin, Yaz to my friends. I’ll be your teacher and don’t worry, I’ll be taking good care of you.”

The blonde took the offered hand, another faint blush creeping over her cheeks. Her hand felt just as soft as Yaz had imagined.

They’ll be hurting after a while on the wall, Yaz realised.

“Ava”, the woman said, showing a surprisingly strong grip.

“Well then, Ava”, Yaz said, grinning. “Let’s forget about all of this”, she gestured towards the shoes. “And get you on the wall.”

“Alright”, Ava nodded, suddenly looking nervous. “I’ve never done this. You know, my friends always say I should do more stuff, try out new things. They say that if I end up spending even more time in the archives they’ll just come grab me and drag me out themselves.” She laughed nervously, and Yaz thought it sounded adorable.

Focus, Khan.

“Don’t worry about it”, she said. “Everybody starts out somewhere. We’ll get you onto the really easy routes first, explain the basics, alright? You ready?”

Ava looked confused for a moment, eyes darting to the door. “What about the others?”

“You’re the only one today. There was apparently an error and the form wasn’t put up on social media as planned, so you’re the only one who signed up.”

She saw worry appear immediately in Ava’s eyes. “Oh, well, if the class is cancelled, I can -”

“No no”, Yaz interrupted. “It isn’t, not unless you want it to. I’m happy to just turn it into an impromptu one on one course.”

More than happy , she thought, and immediately wanted to smack herself as she felt herself blush. God damnit.

“If it’s no bother”, Ava finally said.

“Not at all”, Yaz replied, smiling. “Let’s get you started.”

Yaz tried not to watch Ava too closely as she guided her through the warm-up routine, her mind circling as she wondered how she had ended up giving a private class to arguably the most gorgeous woman she had seen in a long, long time.

Six classes , she thought. Just six classes. Pull yourself together.

A couple of minutes later they stood in front of the wall, Ava looking unsure as her eyes drifted over all the colourful boulders in front of them.

“We’ll start you out on yellow”, Yaz explained, pointing to a boulder in the respective colour. “It’s the easiest grade here. It’ll help you get the basics down. From there we’ll move on to orange”, again, she pointed at another boulder. “And from there we’ll see how far we’ll get. The next grades would be green, then blue, red, purple, and finally black. Although I don’t even want you thinking about trying one of those right now.”

She winked at Ava, who nodded.

Don’t wink at her , for the love of -

“So how do I start?”

“Well” Yaz said, “first we have to get a couple of general rules down. First.” She raised one finger in the air between them “If there are other people in the hall, we never pick a route that crosses the one they are currently working on, it’s dangerous. Second”, she continued, lifting a second finger. “When you walk underneath there” she pointed over towards the overhang section in the back, the walls that were angled towards the ground, with her free hand. “You clap your hands before you pass. That way you alert the climbers on the wall, so they know there’ll be somebody underneath them. Now, arguably most importantly, the third point. If you feel yourself slipping, push away from the wall. It might go against your instincts, but you’ll thank me later. The wall is rough and you’ll probably end up scraping your skin otherwise. Not to mention you could hit a boulder on your way down.”

The blonde swallowed, nodding slowly. “Alright, I got it. Don’t cross routes, clap when you pass, push away when you fall.”

“Perfect”, Yaz replied, clapping her hands together. “Up we go.”

She climbed the first steps next to Ava, carefully guiding her through the process. “Push, don’t pull”, she said, her first teacher’s eternal mantra. “You’ll save a lot of energy if you move your feet up first, before your hands. You’ll only have to stand up then instead of pulling your entire weight up with your arms.”

Ava nodded, her face scrunched up in concentration, tongue sticking out at the corner of her mouth. Yaz pulled her eyes away, concentrating on the movement of her own feet. They made their progress up the wall, step by step, until Ava reached out, touching the final boulder with her right hand.

“That’s it?” she asked, eyes bright as she turned towards Yaz, visibly excited by her very first success. She looked like a child who had just managed to ride her bike down the street for the first time, and it made Yaz chuckle. “Yes”, she said. “Yes, that’s it.”

She flexed her arm muscles then, turned towards the wall to push herself off, and landed with well-practised ease on the soft, padded floor underneath.

“Oh dear”, Ava mumbled. “Do I have to do that as well?”

Yaz laughed. “You don’t. You can just climb back down if you want. Actually, that’ll be a good exercise, and I can watch your form from down here and check if you step right.”

Ava nodded, looking down at her feet. “Uhm”, she started.

“Yes?”

“How do I…”

“Left foot first, there’s a boulder slightly to the left, just a little bit farther down. You got this.”

She watched as the blonde carefully made her way down, instinctively holding out her arms towards her as her hand slipped briefly. However, she managed to regain her balance just a second later.

“Well done”, Yaz called out, and she could have sworn she saw the woman blush.

As Ava took the next step, Yaz found her eyes leaving the woman’s feet, instead trailing over her legs and up towards her back and shoulders, muscles flexing underneath her shirt.

She felt her own cheeks starting to burn, and realised with a jolt that the next few weeks would maybe be a bit more difficult than she had imagined after all. 

Six classes , she reminded herself. Six times three hours where she would have to keep her shit together, acting as professionally as she should. She could do this.

But then her eyes were caught on the woman’s hands, as they held onto one of the boulders, and Yaz let out an inadvertent sigh.

Could she?

The two hours passed quickly in the end, with Yaz spending most of the time on the ground, calling out tips and moves to Ava, occasionally going up on the wall herself to demonstrate a move or two. She felt the blonde watch her intently each time, and tried not to think about it too much.

“You’re so good at this”, Ava said as they sat on the floor, the hall around them now busy with other climbers as they took a break. “How long have you been climbing?”

“Ten years, I think?” Yaz said. She paused, briefly counting the years in her head. “No, eleven. I had a friend in school who was really into it, so she took me with her once and what can I say. It was love.” She smiled, remembering her own first steps on the wall. “You know, I started out just like you once, and if you decide to stick with it, you’ll be surprised to see what you’re capable off with the right technique and a bit of time.”

She looked over at Ava, who returned her smile. A drop of sweat was slowly running down her temple, and Yaz swallowed.

“So, you think you’ve got one more in you?”

Ava looked unsure at first, so Yaz decided she would try something.

“That one over there”, she pointed over towards one of the orange ones. “Last beginner’s class I taught this guy, arrogant, awful man. He refused to believe that he would have to start on, what did he call it? 'The baby boulders.' He went straight for that one and guess what? Fell off onto his back, looked like a bug who couldn’t get up anymore.”

Ava looked incredulous for a moment, and then a deep belly laugh broke out of her. “Oh dear”, she finally breathed. 

“You know what”, Yaz said, deciding to push the blonde a little bit. “I think you could do it.”

The laugh disappeared immediately, replaced by a look of surprise. “What? But it’s an orange one!”

“Yeah”, Yaz said. “So?”

There was a challenge in her eyes, and she had a feeling the blonde would be the kind of person who couldn’t resist one of those.

“Alright”, Ava said, suddenly jumping up onto her feet, placing her fists on her hips. “I got this”, she said, nodding as she walked off towards the route with a determined look on her face.

Knew it , Yaz thought, barely containing a grin.

When they said their goodbyes half an hour later, Ava looked exhausted but happy. “Thank you”, she said. “That was a lot more fun than I thought.”

“You’re welcome. And congrats on that last one again. Not bad for a newbie!”

Ava pulled her mouth into a slight pout. “But I didn’t reach the top”, she said. 

“Nah”, Yaz said, waving a hand dismissively. “But you came damn close.”

The pout on Ava’s face was replaced by a little bit of pride then, and her eyes regained their usual twinkle.

“See you Thursday?” she finally said, slinging her bag over her shoulder.

“See you Thursday”, Yaz replied, waving as the blonde turned around once more on her way through the reception hall and out of the building.

Oh dear , she thought as she watched the tuft of blonde hair disappear around the corner, trying to catch a last glimpse of the woman before she left. Oh dear.

Chapter Text

“Barn door!” Yaz called out, but it was too late. Ava had made a classic mistake: positioning herself at an angle that lead her body to rotate against the wall, like a door swinging on its axis. She saw the panic in Ava’s eyes as her foot started slipping mid-rotation.

“Push off!” she called. “Now!”

Closing her eyes firmly, Ava flexed her steady leg, pushing herself away from the wall. She tumbled as she landed on the ground, barely managing to keep herself upright.

“Well done”, Yaz said, satisfied with the result. “That was a clean jump!”. It was only their second session, but her student was making good progress and Yaz gave her an encouraging pat on the back.

“Would be better if I wouldn’t keep falling off”, Ava grumbled, shooting the wall an annoyed look.

“Nah, it’s all part of the process”, Yaz waved her off. “Plus this route’s tricky. It’s always good to leave yourself one to crack for the next time.”

Ava looked unconvinced, still eyeing up the wall as if it had personally offended her.

“Break?” Yaz suggested and Ava nodded. “Break”, she agreed.

They left the bouldering hall and went into the reception area, where some comfy seats had been installed. Walking up to the desk, Yaz waved Ryan over.

“Water? Or something else?”, she asked, briefly turning around to look at Ava, who had already sunk down on one of the benches.

“Water’s fine”, she replied, smiling.

“There you go”, Ryan said, placing two ice cold water bottles on the counter in front of Yaz.

Leaning over the counter and lowering his voice, he shot a look towards Ava. “So? How are your private classes going?”

“It’s going great”, Yaz replied, maybe a touch too quickly. “All good, smooth sailing.”

Ryan lifted an eyebrow. “Uhm.”

“Right, bye.”

Yaz quickly grabbed the water bottles, turning around and leaving Ryan behind. She could hear him chuckling behind her and she wasn’t sure if she liked it.

“Oh thanks”, Ava said, gratefully taking a bottle from Yaz. Instead of opening it to drink, she lifted it to her cheek, pressing it against her hot, sweaty skin. Yaz swallowed hard, trying to focus her thoughts on literally anything else as she sat down opposite the blonde. But then Ava shifted the bottle from her cheek to her neck and as she leaned back and closed her eyes something that couldn’t be described as anything else but a soft moan escaped her lips.

Oh God.

“God, this feels good”, she breathed and for a moment Yaz felt like she was going to die. But then the universe finally showed her some mercy as Ava moved the bottle away from her neck, opening it to take a large gulp instead.

“Yeah, it’s nice”, Yaz finally said, voice a little bit hoarse, and she busied herself with taking a sip from her own bottle. The liquid was cold and refreshing and it felt like it was bringing Yaz’s feet back down on the ground, anchoring her in the moment once again.

“So”, Ava said. “Does your partner climb as well?”

The question took Yaz by surprise, so much so that the cold liquid got stuck in her throat, kicking off a coughing fit. She bent forwards desperately trying to regain control over her breathing as Ava hurried around the small table between them, kneeling down next to the chair as she carefully patted Yaz on the back.

“Sorry”, she wheezed as she slowly regained her breath. “Swallowed… some air…”

Ava nodded sympathetically, hand still resting on Yaz’s back. Yaz was suddenly hyper aware of the contact and just as she thought her cheeks were about to turn the deepest kind of red, Ava let go, awkwardly standing up and shuffling back over to her seat. “Right”, she mumbled, avoiding Yaz’s gaze as she sat back down.

There was a moment of silence before Yaz managed to recompose herself. “To answer your question”, she said, and Ava’s eyes darted back to her. “I don’t have a partner. Well, I have a climbing partner. But not an uhm… partner partner?”

What are you doing?

Yaz was just about to mentally chide herself more when she saw something interesting happen.

Ava was blushing as she nodded, hands fiddling with the cap of her bottle. “I see”, the blonde mumbled.

“What about you?” Yaz asked. This was wildly inappropriate, she tried to remind herself. She was asking a client personal questions and although the climbing gym had a rather lax policy when it came to things like that, Yaz had a distinct feeling that she was not supposed to ask a student about their love life.

“Oh no”, Ava replied and Yaz’s ears perked up. “It’s just me.”

The two women shared a look across the table, one that Yaz wasn’t quite sure how to decipher. Ava had checked whether or not Yaz had a significant other. Was it a polite question, some chit chat in between climbs? Yaz felt like her head was swimming and she did not like it.

“Right”, she said, quickly standing up. “Back on the wall?”

Ava seemed a bit surprised by the abrupt change in behavior, yet she stood up as well, smiling tentatively. “Back on the wall.”

They were back in the hall a moment later, Ava wincing as she pulled her climbing shoes back over her feet.

“I told you not to take them off in between”, Yaz replied, smiling sympathetically. “Only makes it worse when you have to squeeze back into them.”

“Why do they have to be this tight?” Ava asked, pulling her face into a scrunch. “It’s so uncomfortable.”

“Better feeling, better grip”, Yaz explained. “You’ll get used to it. Plus, if you decide to stick with climbing and get yourself your own shoes, it’ll be much nicer. You can break them in, and they’ll end up perfectly moulded to your feet.”

Ava threw an unconvinced look at Yaz’s feet. “Uh huh.”

Yaz laughed. “I swear!”

“How about”, she said as Ava hobbled over to one of the walls. “You choose your route this time.”

“Really?” Ava looked surprised yet excited at the same time. She looked over the colourful boulders, eyes fixing on one of the routes.

Yaz grinned. “That one?” she asked, pointing to the orange starting boulder.

“Is it too hard?” Ava asked, creasing her forehead as she craned her neck to see the top boulder.

Yaz gave the route a quick look. The grade two route was definitely on the verge of a grade three, but she saw no reason for Ava not to give it a try. It was always good to set your goals a little higher, that’s how one grew better after all.

“Only one way to find out.”

Ava put her hands on her hips, taking a step back so she could see the details of the route she had picked.

Ah, she listened , Yaz thought. She had seen so many students just jump onto a route without giving it a proper look first, trying to get through with pure strength and thus tiring themselves out unnecessarily on routes that could be done quickly with the right technical moves. 

Just as Ava was about to move, a voice rang out from behind them.

“Hiya, girls.”

Yaz screwed her eyes shut, trying to suppress a groan. Before she even turned around, she knew exactly what she would be faced with.

Standing behind them was a guy in his early twenties, brown locks falling over his forehead, a cocky, lopsided grin on his face. Obviously, he was shirtless, chest puffed up as he was trying to show off his muscles. Yaz knew his kind well and she did not like being approached by them.

“Need some help with the route?” he asked. “I can show you some moves.”

Sure you can.

“Oh yes, please”, Ava piped up next to her, and Yaz turned to her, eyebrows lifted. There was a sweet smile on the blonde’s lips and she batted her eyelashes at the man while wringing her hands in front of her.

What the…?

For a moment, she thought she had completely misjudged the blonde, but in the next, she was surprised once more.

“This one”, Ava said, innocently pointing at a black route, the highest grade of difficulty, right next to the simple orange route she had actually planned on trying out. “My friend wanted to give it a try but we can’t figure it out. Can you show us?”

It took all of Yaz’s willpower not to burst out into laughter as the man’s eyes trailed over the route, face going pale. “I uh-” he started.

He’s never done one of those in his life , Yaz realised. This would be fun.

There was no way he would back down now. Yaz knew it. And so she watched with glee as he walked towards the route, swallowing as he wrapped one hand around the starting boulder. There wasn’t much to go on from there, it was a competition grade route after all. Yaz shot Ava a look behind the man’s back and the blonde winked at her. It made Yaz feel all fuzzy inside and she quickly returned her gaze to the man.

Ten seconds later, he was lying on the floor, huffing and puffing as he desperately tried to regain his dignity in front of the two women he had obviously tried to impress.

“That’s okay”, Ava said. “It is a really hard one. Do you want to give it a try, Yasmin?”

Yaz grinned. “I do.”

“Excuse me”, she said, stepping over the man on the floor, briefly turning around to shoo him away from the wall so she could climb safely.

As soon as her hand touched the boulder, her usual mindset snapped into place, nothing remaining but a singular focus on her own movements, and a heightened sense for her own balance.

Kicking herself off the ground, she practically flew up the wall, pulling two dynos in a row - a move that required you to jump along the wall, briefly leaving yourself suspended in mid air without anything to hold on to. And then her hand securely latched onto the final, walnut-sized boulder. She looked down at Ava and the young man, grinning as she hung, holding on with nothing but the index and middle finger of her left hand.

“Beginner’s luck?” she shouted down and the man grumbled something inaudible, turning around to walk away. Yaz pushed herself off the wall, landing on the floor a moment later. When she stood up, Ava’s eyes were shining with glee.

“That was amazing ”, she said. “Well done you!”

Yaz laughed. “Well done you. Poor guy, you set him up alright.”

Ava huffed. “He had it coming. Arrogant prick.”

“Yeah”, Yaz replied, grinning. “Yeah he did.”

When they said goodbye that evening, Ava surprised Yaz once again by pulling her into a hug. 

“That was the most fun I’ve had in ages”, she said as she pulled back. “See you Sunday?”

Yaz barely had time to croak out a reply before the blonde swung around on her heels, steps bouncing as she walked out of the building. From across the room, Ryan wriggled his eyebrows at Yaz, but she only shot him a warning look in response.

Maybe, if she could get over that stupid attraction thing, Ava and her could become great friends. They certainly had made a great start towards that today.

But then Yaz remembered the blonde’s face as she had pressed the cold water bottle against her neck, and she felt her cheeks grow red. This wasn’t going to be that easy.

Chapter Text

Ava was running late for her Sunday afternoon bouldering class. She had dropped into the archive in the morning, realising that she had left one of the manuscripts out when she had left work on Friday. Then one thing had led to the next, and before Ava knew it she had found herself in the very back of the archive, hunched over a most interesting letter from 1763 France. It was filled with an abundance of salacious details from Louis XV’s court, and Ava had lost herself in researching the names that kept popping up throughout the letter. When she finally looked up to catch a glimpse of the clock on the wall, glasses perched on the tip of her nose, she gasped.

“Oh no”, she breathed. “Oh no no no.”

Despite the fact that she hated being late, Ava seemed to have a talent for it. She jumped up from her desk, her notes flying everywhere. She would take care of it first thing Monday morning, she told herself. Grabbing her bag, thrown haphazardly on the floor next to her desk, she ran out the door as fast as she could, pulling her glasses off at the same time. If she was lucky, she would manage to catch the bus at twenty past, which would make her only… her heart sank as she calculated in her head. Half an hour late.

She did manage to catch the bus - barely, and now she was staring at her phone, reading glasses once more on her nose, trying to find a way to contact the climbing center. Finally she found a phone number. 

Ava waited impatiently as it rang, once, twice, before a voice, vaguely familiar, sounded from the other end.

“Ryan Sinclair, White Rocks Climbing, how can I help?”

“This is Ava Jones, I am calling because I am running late for my class with uh -”

She realised with a start that she didn’t know Yaz’s last name. “Yasmin?”, she finally concluded.

“Oh, hi Ava!”, the voice on the other side chimed up. “Good to hear from you, Yaz here was starting to get very worried about you.”

There was a weird noise on the other end of the line, like a gust of air, followed by a muffled “Ouch.”

“Are you alright? Ryan?” Ava asked, now remembering the young man that had helped her get the shoe rack back up after she had caused such a mess on her first day. 

“Yep”, he wheezed. “All good. Yaz will be waiting for you. See you soon.”

With a click, the connection was over. Ava frowned as she dropped her phone back into her bag, taking off her glasses to stow them in the front pocket of her jacket. She could do nothing more but wait until she reached her destination now.

When she finally did so, she rushed across the parking lot and into the centre, eyes immediately searching the reception area for Yaz. She found her lounged on one of the chairs, next to another woman, laughing at something that had just been said.

At the sight, Ava felt something rise up inside of herself. She instantly had a feeling of antipathy towards the other woman, although she couldn’t quite explain why. Yaz for one looked very relaxed in her company, like she knew her well.

How well? , Ava thought, and chided herself for the question a moment later. It was none of her business. Just like the question you asked her last time.

“Ava!” Yaz suddenly exclaimed, jumping out of the chair. “You made it, is everything alright?”

Yaz did look a bit worried, just like Ryan had said. Ava couldn’t deny that she liked the thought of it.

“Hi”, she replied, smiling. “I’m sorry, I quickly dropped by work and forgot the time.”

“Work on a Sunday? Why would anybody do that ?” the woman next to Yaz chimed up, turning towards them. “Unless you’re wall crazy like that one”, she added, nodding towards Yaz.

“Oi”, Yaz replied, playfully slapping the woman’s arm. “Be nice, Sonya.”

“Alright, alright”, the woman replied, throwing her arms up in mock surrender. “I’ve gotta be on my way anyway. See you at dinner?”

Yaz nodded, hugging the woman goodbye. Ava watched it all intently. The way the two women moved so comfortably around each other felt like a thorn in her side.

Once Sonya had left, Yaz turned back towards Ava, smiling apologetically. “Please excuse my sister, she can be a bit… direct.”

Sister

Ava smiled in return, suddenly not bothered by the younger woman anymore at all. She hadn’t seemed that bad, just a bit mouthy, which was probably due to the fact that she was younger. How old had she looked anyway? Twenty? Twenty-one?

 “Don’t worry about it”, Ava finally said. “Anyway, I should go get changed, I’ve kept you waiting long enough.”

But just as she finished talking, her stomach made a massive growling noise, and she put her hand over her belly, blushing. “Uh”, she mumbled. “It seems I forgot to eat lunch, too.”

“Oh there’s no way I’m letting you onto the wall without food in your stomach”, Yaz said. “Ryan?” she called out over Ava’s shoulder. “Do we still have sandwiches leftover from lunch?”

Ava turned in time to see Ryan nod, and then before she knew what was happening, Yaz took her hand, pulling her towards the counter. Ava was glad that Yaz wasn’t looking at her at that moment, because judging by the heat she felt in her cheeks, she was blushing wildly at the contact. Yasmin’s hand, rough and calloused, felt warm wrapped around her own, and Ava realised she felt disappointed when the woman finally let go.

“I’ve got fried egg, or ham and cheese, what do you fancy?” Ryan asked, smiling kindly.

“Fried egg, please”, Ava replied. “Nothing beats a fried egg sandwich. How much?”

“Nah”, Ryan replied, waving her off. “It’s on the house.”

“Oh. That’s very kind, thank you.”

“Right”, Yaz said. “Want to go sit over there?”

They made themselves comfortable on chairs opposite each other, Ava hungrily devouring the sandwich as soon as she sat down. She only stopped when she heard Yaz laugh, and looked up to see the woman watching her with a smile on her lips.

“Well”, Yaz said. “I’m glad we got you something to eat.”

Ava swallowed. “Yeah, it’s a bad habit, I tend to forget about food when I work.”

“My mom would not have that. She would call you at work every hour asking if you’ve eaten if she had to”, Yaz said, another small laugh escaping her.

“She sounds fantastic”, Ava replied.

“Yeah, she’s great.”

Ava took another bite of her sandwich, suddenly feeling self-conscious under Yaz’s watchful eyes. She tried to think about something to ask the other woman, something better than what she had thought of last time, but Yaz beat her to it.

“So, you said you work in an archive? What’s that like?”

“Fascinating”, Ava said after swallowing another bite. “It really is. People always imagine it as boring paper pushing, but that’s not at all what it’s like. Some days, like today, I find a handwritten later in the back of the archive, telling the story of people who died hundreds of years ago. Hundreds! And I get to sit there, holding open a window into their lives. And then I get to make that little piece of history available for all the other people out there today, and the stories won’t be forgotten after all. You know, we’re all stories in the end, Yaz.”

Yaz was listening to her with an indecipherable expression on her face. “That does sound fascinating”, she finally replied.

“Yeah. Look at you though, you’ve got a pretty cool job yourself!”

Yaz smiled. “It’s a lot of fun, that’s for sure.”

Their conversation flowed freely after that, Yaz talking about how she had met Graham, Ryan’s grandfather and the owner of the climbing center. He had offered her a job, and Yaz had gladly accepted. 

“It felt almost too good to be true”, Yaz said. “I mean, who gets to turn their hobby into their job? It’s great.”

Ava nodded. She got it. She had always loved losing herself in books and history, and the day she had realised she could make it her living had been one of the best moments of her life.

The sandwich was long gone when Yaz suddenly got up. “Do you still want to climb?” she asked. “We can still get a couple of routes in before I have to go.”

“Oh yes”, Ava replied, suddenly remembering what she had actually come here for. “Yes, just give me a minute to get changed, I’ll be quick.”

She emerged out of the changing room a little while later, grabbing a pair of shoes from the rack as she walked into the bouldering hall. Yaz was already in there, facing the wall on her right, obviously fully concentrated on a route. Before Ava could say anything, Yaz started running towards the wall, stepping onto a broad foot boulder and jumping up.

Ava’s mouth went dry.

Yaz’s back was well visible under the x-cut sports top she was wearing, and her shoulders were glistening under the artificial light of the hall. Her muscles flexed as she hung, hands holding tightly onto the boulders above her as her legs dangled underneath her. And then she pulled herself up, ever so slowly, exercising complete control over her body.

Ava suddenly felt hot and cold all at the same time.

Yaz looked absolutely stunning. Having pulled herself up, she lifted her right leg, sideways along the wall, anchoring her heel in a boulder, steadying herself before she continued up the wall. All the while her face looked devoid of any kind of strain, instead she looked concentrated, yet somehow peaceful. It was like seeing an artist at work, every move careful, well studied, controlled. Ava could have spent the whole afternoon just watching her move along the walls.

But then Yaz reached the top, grinning as she pushed herself off the wall. “Take that Ryan”, she said, just loud enough for Ava to hear. Then their eyes met, and Yaz waved her over.

“That looked…”

Beautiful, she wanted to say, but she stopped herself just in time.

“Brilliant”, she finished instead.

“Ah thanks!”, Yaz replied. “Ryan likes putting little challenges in for me here and there, and I like beating them.”

“I can imagine”, Ava said. But she couldn’t really imagine anything right now, she was too busy staring at Yaz’s arms. Had they always looked this… muscly? Suddenly Ava felt flustered standing opposite the other woman, and she breathed in heavily through her nose.

“Are you alright?” Yaz asked, taking a step towards her to place a hand on her arm. It didn’t help.

“Yes”, Ava said, shaking her head. “Yes, I’m fine. Climb?”

She turned away from Yaz, trying to focus on the colourful boulders all around them.

Pull yourself together, Ava . You’ve seen plenty of attractive women in your life , she told herself, all the while knowing that she couldn’t really think of anyone who came even close.

“No partner.”

The words suddenly flashed through Ava’s mind, and she tried to chase them away. Yaz was here to teach her how to climb, and that’s what she was going to do. Climb. Absolutely nothing else.

“Ava”, Yaz called out, pulling Ava out of her thoughts. “What about this one?”

Just climbing , she told herself once again as she walked up to her teacher. When Yaz flashed her a smile, she felt her knees suddenly go weak.

Right?

When she left the climbing hall that evening, her bag slung over her shoulder and a hint of Yaz’s perfume still clinging to her after they had hugged goodbye, she suddenly wasn’t so sure anymore at all.

Chapter Text

It was her fourth class with Ava and somehow it was even more difficult to concentrate on teaching today. It was all Ava’s fault, too. She had come in straight from work, like on Sunday, except that this time she hadn’t just quickly popped into work before coming to the class. This time, she had actually been at work. And that meant that she had dressed accordingly.

Leaning over the reception desk, Yaz had been idly chatting with Ryan when the door to the climbing centre had opened and in walked Ava. Reading glasses perched on the tip of her nose as she was checking something on her phone, she was wearing a white blouse, neatly tucked into a pair of grey dress pants, and a grey vest, hugging her torso in all the right places. Her free hand was holding on to her jacket, lazily slung over her shoulder, and a silver chain blinked, going from a button on the vest into a small pocket.

A fob watch. Who wears a fob watch?, Yaz had thought.

When Ava had looked up, smiling as her eyes locked with Yaz’s over the black rim of her glasses, Yaz had thought she was going to faint on the spot. How did the woman manage to look even more amazing in her work clothes than she did in a tight sports outfit? It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair at all.

“Hiya Yaz!” Ava had said and then she had placed a hand on Yaz’s shoulder. She had expected their by now usual hug, but instead, Ava had leaned forward, placing a kiss on Yaz’s cheek.

Ryan’s eyebrows had shot up so far that it looked almost comical and Yaz’s entire body was suddenly on fire.

That was the moment when she died and ascended, but apparently her ghost had stayed behind in order to teach Ava how to climb on an overhang.

“Ugh, my arms hurt so much”, Ava called out from above her, pulling Yaz briefly back into the present moment.

“Just keep going!” she said. “Pull through, you’re almost there!”

“I don’t know if I can hold on”, Ava wheezed.

But Yaz’s attention had run away once again as her eyes were fixed on Ava’s back and then travelled just a little bit lower, lingering on the curve of her - 

“Yaz!”

She realised too late that Ava was falling and that she was standing right underneath her. There was a brief moment when Yaz’s brain snapped back into action and she managed to lean to the side, arms opening reflexively.

But the fall was too fast and as soon as Ava fell into her arms, her weight pulled Yaz down with her. She wheezed as the air was knocked out of her lungs when she hit the ground, rolling over once, twice, then finally coming to a halt on her back.

When she opened her eyes, the first thing she noticed was that her face was rimmed with blonde hair. Then she felt her own hands, still holding on to Ava’s hips, followed by the feeling of someone else’s arm underneath her shoulders, another next to her face. Finally she became aware of a leg, firmly lodged between her own.

And then Ava’s face was right there, just inches above her own, cheeks red and lips slightly parted as their eyes locked. 

Oh she was definitely alive, Yaz thought. Very, very alive.

Neither of them moved. Yaz’s entire body was tingling and she knew it wasn’t because of the fall. Ava was the first to break eye contact as her eyes briefly dropped to Yaz’s lips.

Did she just…? Yaz thought, her heart suddenly leaping into her throat.

All she would have to do was lean up. Just lean up, let their lips touch, do what she had been wanting to since day one. Just lean up a lit-

“Hey, you alright?”

The moment was over as quickly as it had started, both women jumping apart and scrambling as they tried to stand up quickly.

A young female climber, a worried look on her face, stood in front of them.

“Yeah yeah”, Yaz answered, looking over at Ava, who nodded, cheeks still red. “We’re all good, just a little fall.”

“Good good”, the woman said, smiling. “Got a little worried there for a moment, sorry. Stay safe!”

They didn’t look each other in the eye anymore for the rest of the class, instead taking great care to look everywhere but. During their break, Yaz excused herself to the bathroom and proceeded to splash water into her face, desperately trying to cool herself down.

“Keep. It. Together”, she hissed at herself through clenched teeth. They had been lucky that neither of them had gotten hurt in the fall and it had all been because Yaz had been too distracted by Ava’s - 

No no no , she thought. She was going to keep her head straight this time, focusing on the climbing moves instead of Ava’s -

“Dear God”, she whispered, closing her eyes as her face turned bright red.

Then she suddenly remembered how Ava’s eyes had dropped to her lips, just for the briefest of moments, and her heart sped up in her chest. What if Ava had wanted to kiss her just as much as Yaz had?

Yaz didn’t know what to think at all anymore. Ever since Ava had stepped through the doors of the climbing centre two weeks ago, she felt like her head was swimming all the time. Nothing made sense. Even her climbing was off - when she had tried this afternoon to get some routes in before Ava showed up, she had kept falling down, making mistake after mistake until she had finally given up, lying on the floor frustrated and confused.

It was starting to get hard to even be around the blonde, with how much chaos she was causing in Yaz’s mind, heart and body. If she only knew what the blonde was thinking, if she just had an idea if the woman was even anything other than straight.

She’s definitely not straight , she thought, and groaned as her mind replayed the scene from before. For a moment, she could feel Ava’s leg between her own again, pressing against her, and the thought alone was setting her skin on fire.

“Inappropriate”, she mumbled, looking at herself in the mirror. “God, you’re being so inappropriate.”

She threw another splash of ice cold water into her face for good measure.

 

---

 

Ava was not entirely sure what was going on right now. Just a little while ago, she had been lying on top of Yaz in the middle of the bouldering hall, and all she had wanted to do, with every fibre of her being, had been to lean down and kiss her. In fact, now that they were on a break and Yaz had disappeared to the bathroom - she had been gone for almost ten minutes, Ava realised, hoping that the other woman was okay - her mind kept playing the scene over and over in her head, giving it an alternate ending every time.

When her thoughts turned to her hands gliding under Yaz’s climbing shirt, feeling taunt muscles underneath, she stopped herself, covering her face with her hands.

“What. Are. You. Doing”, she hissed at herself. She had wanted to pick up a new hobby, try something out that wouldn’t have her sitting down at a desk all day. Move around a little bit, have some fun while learning how to climb. Yet here she was, apparently lusting after her teacher with everything she had.

Ask her out .

The voice in her head was small, yet Ava suddenly stood up straight. Could she? She had no idea if Yaz was even into women, even less if she would be into her . It might be worth a try, she finally concluded. After all, if Yaz refused, they would just go their separate ways after the course. Ava wanted to keep bouldering, but there were plenty of other climbing centres in Sheffield that she could go to.

She suddenly realised that she didn’t like the thought of climbing when there was no Yaz in the picture.

Oh God, she thought as a realisation suddenly swept over her. Am I developing feelings for her?

Ava hadn’t been with anyone for a while. She was always busy with her manuscripts, often staying at work longer than necessary so she could have another look at just one more document . She didn’t see a lot of people outside of work, occasionally meeting up with her oldest friends, the Ponds. But that was generally it. And now here she was, losing her mind over the first woman she had met in ages.

God damnit, Jones.

Before she could chastise herself further, the door to the hall opened and Yaz walked in. She had obviously just thrown some water into her face to cool herself down, but hadn’t bothered to properly wipe her face dry, a bead of water running down here and there, along her chin, across her brow.

Ava wanted to kiss them all away.

“Right”, Yaz said as she stopped, eyes still avoiding Ava. “Back on the overhang?”

 

---



By some miracle, Yaz had survived the final hour of her class without any major incidents. They had even managed to laugh about a silly joke Ryan made as he walked in with his box of tools, fixing a loose boulder that somebody had complained about.

It had broken the ice between them a little bit and Yaz dared to look at Ava again. The blonde smiled at her, looking somehow relieved. When they went into their respective changing rooms a moment later - Ava into the women’s, Yaz into the employees’ - a thought crossed Yaz’s mind.

Maybe she should just ask her out. Nothing too big, but they could grab drinks after their climb, just a casual thing.

You’re not cool enough for casual , a voice in Yaz’s head said and she almost groaned out loud before she stopped herself.

When she walked out of her changing room, she briefly looked back into the bouldering hall, making sure everything was in order before they would close down for the night. That’s when she saw Ava’s chalk bag, lying on the floor next to the shoe rack. She had bought it in the climbing centre’s little shop after their last lesson, Yaz smiling next to her and talking about how it was her first step towards becoming a fully fledged climber. Ava must have forgotten it when she had put her shoes into the “used” rack before leaving the hall and Yaz picked it up.

A thought crossed her mind and she walked over to the changing room. She could just hand it back to Ava and casually ask her if she wanted to get drinks at the same time. Determined, she knocked on the door.

“Hey Ava?” she called out.

“One sec!” a voice came back from the inside and a moment later the door flew open revealing Ava dressed in the grey trousers from before, the white blouse hanging open, revealing a strip of milky white skin and just a hint of a cream coloured bra.

“I-” Yaz stammered, ripping her eyes away from the blonde’s cleavage, realising with horror that she had been staring. “I wanted - I thought -”

Finally she gave up, shoving the chalk bag into the blonde’s hands. “Youforgotyourbag”, she breathed, then reached for the handle and pulled the door closed between them.

Definitely not cool enough for casual.

Chapter Text

Ava was determined. She was going to ask Yaz out today, come what may. She was going to walk into that climbing hall and she was going to say, all casually: “Hey Yaz, do you want to grab a drink sometime?”

Surely, it couldn’t be that hard. This wasn’t her first rodeo, after all. And if Yaz said no, well, then there was only one class left and after that that would be it. Ava felt a familiar pang in her chest at the thought, yet decided to shove it away for the time being. Concentrate on the task at hand.

Full speed ahead! You got this.

At least, Ava thought, Yaz had confirmed her suspicions withthe way her eyes had gotten stuck on Ava’s cleavage last Thursday.

Definitely not straight , Ava had thought as soon as Yaz had panickedly pulled the door shut between them.

Suddenly, Sunday morning seemed to be taking forever. Ava briefly considered going into work to finish reading the manuscript she had started working on on Friday, yet she discarded the idea immediately, remembering how “ just this one letter ” had made her half an hour late last week. That wasn’t going to happen today.

She even managed to cook herself a light lunch, head buzzing the entire time she tossed the ingredients around in her pan.

Stay cool, she told herself.

When the clock on her wall hit three, she practically bolted out the door, barely remembering to grab her keys. On the bus ride over to the centre, her mind kept jumping back to Sunday.

Yaz’s hair, tousled as she lay on the ground.

Yaz’s cheeks, coloured by a faint blush as her eyes dropped to Ava’s lips.

The brief moment in which she had thought that Yaz was about to lean up and kiss her, just like that, in the middle of the gym.

Just some casual drinks, she thought, swallowing hard. You just have to ask.

She did not, in fact, ask. Instead, she was mostly quiet as they went about their lesson, Yaz opening by telling her that today, she would let her try a grade three route. She didn’t even really get excited about the prospect of trying a more difficult route, even though she had originally been looking forward to it. But now she barely managed to concentrate as she was moving along the wall, her feet and hands acting like they had never done this before.

“Come on!”, Yaz called out from underneath. “I know you got this!”

But all the encouragement was of no use today. All Ava could think about was Yaz, standing down there on the ground, and how it had felt to be pressed up against her, body warm underneath her own.

By some miracle, she managed not to fall down, instead giving up halfway through and jumping off.

“I’m sorry”, she huffed. “My thoughts are all over the place today.”

Yaz gave her a sympathetic smile. “I get that”, she said. “I have days like that, too. Wanna try another grade two?”

Ava nodded. Somehow, she would manage to survive today.

But by the time Yaz announced the end of their lesson, Ava still hadn’t asked. In fact, she had said so little that at some point Yaz had stopped her, placing a hand on her shoulder to ask if she was doing alright. Ava could have used the moment, but she didn’t.

As she walked out of the changing room, she felt her pulse quicken as she was beginning to panic. She had a fear that, if she didn’t manage to ask today, she probably never would. Next Thursday would be their last lesson, and Ava was terrified that she would be able to pull herself together even less by then.

So when Yaz walked out of her own employee changing room a moment later, she made a quick decision.

Putting her hand against the wall next to the door, trying to lean in casually, she smiled.

Cool and casual , she thought. You look good like this, Jones.

She had even made sure to wear her vest again, the one she liked wearing to work, even though it was Sunday, having noticed how Yaz had stared at it last time. She was going to be smooth and quick about this.

“Hey Yaz”, she said, trying to angle herself even better against the wall, one leg casually crossing over the other as her heart was threatening to burst out of her chest. “Would you maybe like to-”

Before she could finish, the door to the women’s changing room flew open and smashed right into her face.

“Ah!” she exclaimed, lifting her hand to her nose as soon as the door swung back. When she pulled it away, it came back bloody. “Oh God”, she mumbled and then she was out like a light.

When she came to, she was lying on the floor, a figure hunched over her. She wasn’t entirely sure how much time had passed, but she could hear a voice calling out her name.

“Ava. Ava!”

Yaz sounded so worried, Ava thought. It was nice that Yaz was worrying about her.

She blinked sluggishly, Yaz’s face slowly coming into focus. She looked worried, too, her face pulled into a deep frown, and then Ava felt a hand on her cheek, and a lopsided grin spread over her face at the realisation that it was Yaz’s.

“Yaz”, she mumbled. There was a weird taste in her mouth, sort of metallic. Ava had no idea why. Suddenly, she felt the urge to laugh. “Yaz is protecting me.”

“Right”, Yaz said, frowning. “I think I’d better bring you to the A&E.”

“No A&E”, Ava mumbled. “I don’t like places with just initials.”

Now Yaz looked really worried. She shot a look at somebody outside of Ava’s field of vision, then leaned down as she looked Ava in the eyes. Had Yaz’s eyes always been this pretty?

“Ava, I think you might have to see a Doctor. I’ll bring you there, I promise it’ll be alright. Can you stand?”

Ava tried to sit up, but instantly the whole room was spinning and she felt sick. “No”, she mumbled, her thoughts slowly starting to become more coherent again. “Everything spins.”

She remembered leaning against the wall and suddenly something had hit her in the face. A door? Why had she been standing right next to a door?

Oh.

Before she had time to dwell on how incredibly wrong her attempt to ask Yaz out had gone, the woman pulled her off her feet. Literally. Suddenly Ava was lifted off the ground, securely held in Yaz’s arms as she carried her through the reception area and towards the exit, bridal style.

I’m getting blood all over her shirt , Ava thought, but then Yaz looked down at her and smiled, kindly, reassuringly.

“I’ve got you, Ava”, she said and Ava’s heart skipped a beat in her chest. Yes, she would let Yaz take her anywhere, she thought as she curled herself just a little closer against the other woman’s strong and warm body.

Yaz put her down into the carseat gently and with the utmost care, before she ran around the car and got in on the driver’s side. “It’s just around the corner”, she said, turning her key in the ignition.

But Ava was too busy watching Yaz’s face, studying every last detail of it. Her full lips, her strong cheekbones, her warm eyes, the way little strands of hair fell down at the sides, framing her face. She was the most gorgeous woman Ava had ever seen.

By the time they had arrived at the hospital, Ava was feeling secure enough to stand, Yaz holding on to her arm as she walked her across the parking lot. Ava was perfectly alright to walk by herself at this point, but she wasn’t going to complain, having Yaz this close.

There was a short moment of awkwardness at the reception desk when the nurse asked her if “Ms River Song” was still her current emergency contact. Yaz was standing a couple of feet away, just within earshot.

“No, no”, Ava said, probably a little bit too loud, although her voice was muffled through the wad of tissues she was pressing against her nose at this point. “She uhm… she hasn’t been that… or uhm anything else , for a while.”

Ava ended up giving the Pond’s number, thinking they were probably the safest bet. After all, they were kind of like her family at this point, and they would surely like to know if anything ever happened to her. Anything maybe a little bit less embarrassing than getting a door smashed into her face while she tried to ask the woman she fancied out on a date.

Once she had registered, they were sent into a small waiting area.

“You feeling any better?” Yaz asked as they sat down. “You look less… confused.”

“I am”, Ava said. “I think it was just the initial shock.” She glanced over at Yaz who had a smear of red on her shirt. “Sorry about the blood”, she mumbled.

“Hey, don’t you worry about that for a second, alright? Most important thing is that you’re alright.”

The words warmed her chest, and Ava felt herself blush. Thankfully, most of her face was still hidden behind the tissues, although she was pretty sure the bleeding had at least calmed down by now, if not stopped completely.

Tentatively, she lifted the tissues away from her face.

“Oh dear”, Yaz breathed.

“That bad?” Ava asked, shooting the woman a crooked smile.

“No, no”, Yaz immediately replied, looking a little bit flustered. “I didn’t mean… I… you always look pretty.”

There was a moment of silence as Ava let the words sink in and Yaz looked away to intently study the wall opposite of them, staring at it like it was some kind of puzzle she very urgently had to solve.

“Before”, she suddenly mumbled, still not taking her eyes off the wall.

“Hm?” Ava replied, blood rushing in her ears.

“What did you want to ask me?”

Ava swallowed. This wasn’t what she had imagined, sitting next to Yaz, her face a mess, waiting for a Doctor to come patch her back together. But it was as good as any moment, she finally realised. When an opportunity presented itself, with a woman like Yaz, you had to just take it. It very possibly wouldn’t come knocking twice.

“I wanted to ask if you -”

“Ava Jones?”

The rest of the sentence got stuck in her throat as a nurse looked across the room, waiting for someone to get up and follow her into an examination room.

“Thanks for bringing me here”, Ava said, leaving her question unfinished. “You don’t have to wait around, my friends said they’d come pick me up later.”

But when she got up, Yaz’s hand was suddenly around her arm and then Yaz was standing next to her, so close. Ava briefly felt self-conscious about the state of her face again, but then Yaz leaned towards her, and left a soft, lingering kiss on her cheek.

“I’ll see you Sunday”, she breathed, and with a smile, she turned around and walked away.

Yaz didn’t see how, behind her, Ava slowly raised a hand to her cheek, ever so gently touching the spot where Yaz’s lips had been just moments ago with the tip of her fingers, smiling.

Chapter Text

Time was slipping through Yaz’s fingers as quickly as she had ever experienced before. Every move that Ava made on the wall, every step she took, and every boulder she grabbed, Yaz felt her slipping further away. And all the while the only thing she wanted to do was wrap her arms around the blonde’s waist, pull her close, and kiss her.

But instead, she went about the lesson as always, calling out words of encouragement and tips, helping Ava find the best routes, bringing her a bottle of water during their break.

Ava herself was not showing her usual bubbly and slightly overactive self today, instead being curiously quiet, an expression occasionally flitting across her face that, to Yaz, looked almost dismayed. She wondered if she should ask the blonde what was up, if she maybe was still in pain from her accident last week - after all, there was still some visible swelling around her nose - but the words never left her mouth. 

When the clock showed Yaz that they had only five minutes left of their final lesson, it suddenly felt like a stone was sitting in the pit of her stomach. They were going to say goodbye and then Ava was going to walk out of that door and Yaz wouldn’t know if she would ever see her again. Maybe Ava would come back to climb from time to time? She had shown great enthusiasm for the sport, after all. Yaz felt a spark of hope flicker in her chest, but then the clock struck eight pm and suddenly they were walking towards the changing rooms.

Just as Ava was about to open the door to the women’s changing room, Ryan emerged, Ava’s bag in hand, tool belt on his hips and the bottom of his trousers soaked. Yaz frowned.

“Ryan? Something wrong?”

“So”, Ryan said, looking guilty. “We might have a bit of a leakage situation going on.” He looked at Ava, tone apologetic as he handed her her bag. “Sorry, I don’t think you can go in there right now.”

“You can use the employee changing room with me, if you want.”

The words had left Yaz’s mouth before she could think about them and as she realised what she had just suggested her heartbeat quickened.

Ava looked back and forth between Ryan and the door to the changing room, then nodded.

“I really need a shower”, she admitted. “Thanks for offering.”

And that was how Yaz found herself in the following situation: sharing a changing room with the woman who had been the sole focus of her attraction for the past three weeks. She closed the door behind them, then walked to the open shower, half-hidden behind a wall, and switched on the water. “Always takes a moment for the water to get warm”, she mumbled.

Ava was standing at the door, hesitating for a moment as a slight blush crept over her cheeks. For a second, Yaz thought she was going to say something, but then the blonde just nodded as she walked over, dropping her bag on one of the benches along the wall. When Ava bent down to take off her climbing shoes, Yaz turned around. The last thing she wanted was to see even a glimpse of Ava changing out of her clothes.

Yaz was unsure what to do next, and so she just stood for a moment, wondering if she should just start changing, too.

Ava is in the room , Yaz thought, and a familiar feeling crept over her skin - tingling, her whole body just tingling and growing hot.

This is your own fault , she chided herself. She could have just offered the women’s employee room to Ava, opting for the men’s one herself. But instead she had suggested Ava use this room with her and now here she was, staring at the wall, hands on hips, completely thrown off balance by the sheer knowledge that behind her, Ava was getting naked.

“Yaz.”

Ava’s voice sounded close, a lot closer than the bench she had been changing at. Yaz frowned, suddenly realising that she hadn’t heard any noise for the past minute or so. If Ava was standing behind her, talking to her, surely she could turn around?

When she did, Ava was standing right in front of her, feet bare but still wearing her trousers. Up top, however, all she was wearing was a blue sports bra, covered in little stars.

Suddenly, Yaz was holding her breath.

For a couple of seconds, Ava was just standing there, eyes fixed on Yaz’s face as neither of them moved, even the air between them seemingly standing still.

“Yaz”, Ava whispered again. She was so close that Yaz could see every last detail in the blonde’s eyes: the way the green and brown were flowing into each other like water colours, the way the golden specks almost looked like they were dancing across. “I wanted to…” Ava started, then stopped and swallowed, her eyes dropping to Yaz’s lips. “I’ve been meaning to…”

And then Yaz suddenly couldn’t bear it anymore, couldn’t stand the tension in her stomach and the beating of her own heart, and so she leaned forward, closing the gap between them, pressing her lips against Ava’s as she placed her hands on the blonde’s hips.

The moment she felt Ava’s soft lips against hers, Yaz felt like her heart was exploding in her chest, heat shooting through her entire body. But then she realised that Ava’s body had gone rigid underneath her hands and she broke away, eyes going wide with the frightful realisation that maybe this wasn’t what the other woman had been going for at all .

“Oh God”, she whispered, taking a step back, ready to barge out the door. “I’m so sorry, I - this is wildly inappropriate, you clearly didn’t want this and I totally misread -”

But before Yaz could finish, Ava had taken a quick step towards her, crashing her lips against Yaz’s with such force that they stumbled backwards together, Yaz’s back hitting the door.

Yaz’s hands found their way back to Ava’s hips, while the blonde’s hands were cradling Yaz’s face. Their lips danced against each other, waves of heat crashing through Yaz’s body as Ava opened her mouth, moaning softly into Yaz’s mouth as their kiss deepened.

“I’ve been wanting to -” Ava breathed when they briefly broke apart, hands moving away from Yaz’s cheeks to roam over her shoulders, mouth wandering towards Yaz’s neck. When she placed the first kiss there, Yaz thought her knees were going to give out underneath her. “Me too”, Yaz said, barely able to keep her thoughts in order.

She’d been wanting to do this for weeks. The brief thought that maybe they shouldn’t be doing this here , at her workplace, was swiftly pushed away when Ava’s hands started pulling at her sports top and Yaz willingly lifted her arms above her head.

As soon as her sports top hit the floor, Yaz wanted to drop her hands, but then Ava pinned them down over Yaz’s head and Yaz’s mouth went dry as heat pooled between her legs.

When Ava started touching the naked skin over Yaz’s stomach with her free hand, lips returning to Yaz’s neck, all leftover rational thought left her mind and her head was swimming. Wherever the blonde touched her, she left a trail of blazing hot skin behind and as her mouth moved over Yaz’s neck, biting and licking whatever skin she could find, Yaz let her head fall back against the door, a moan leaving her lips. 

Suddenly, she was very aware that the room around them had filled with steam from the water that was still running in the shower and a thought crossed her mind.

“Shower”, she managed to breathe and Ava briefly pulled away. There was a moment of confusion in her eyes, before the idea sunk in and her eyes went completely dark.

She grabbed one of Yaz’s hands, letting the other one go as she pulled her towards the shower.

Yaz’s barely had time to think about the fact that they were still wearing some of their workout clothes when the water hit her and Ava was pushing her against the cool tiles, kissing her hungrily. Her leg was slotted firmly between Yaz’s, pushing up against her core in a way that made Yaz gasp, pressing herself into the contact for want of more friction.

“Ava”, she mumbled, mind foggy with sheer desire, as the blonde’s hands pushed their way underneath her sport bra, cupping her breasts. Yaz moaned, pushing her upper body against Ava’s hands.

The blonde didn’t need to be asked twice. Pushing up, she pulled the bra over Yaz’s head, and then she leaned down, enveloping one of her nipples with her mouth, flicking her thumb over the other one. Yaz moaned at the contact, more heat flooding her core, whispering Ava’s name in between moans as the blonde licked and sucked at the hard bud, briefly taking it between her teeth to bite down just enough to draw a gasp from Yaz.

That was the end of Yaz’s patience. She tugged at the blonde’s bra, pulling it over her head. She took a moment to marvel at Ava’s chest, cupping her breasts as she pressed another kiss on her lips, tongue licking hungrily inside her mouth. Not breaking the kiss, she let her hands travel down, making quick work of Ava’s trousers and pants. Before Yaz knew it, her own clothes were gone as well, leaving their outfits in a wet heap on the floor next to them as they pressed their naked bodies flush against each other, water running over their skin as Yaz’s hands traveled down over Ava’s butt, squeezing it as she pulled her closer, increasing the pressure of the blonde’s legs on her core, groaning at the contact.

Just as Yaz was starting to think that she would go insane if the blonde wouldn’t touch her right that second , Ava’s hand was suddenly moving down over her stomach, drawing a long, deep moan from Yaz as she pulled her leg back just enough to let her hand dip in between, fingers gliding over slick folds.

“Yaz”, Ava gasped as she felt the wetness against her fingers, staringin wonder at Yaz who felt herself blush. 

“You”, was all she said in reply and then Ava started dragging her fingers over her core and Yaz’s head fell back against the tiles as she moaned. For all the impatience they had exhibited before, Ava was suddenly taking her time, teasing Yaz as she let her fingers glide over her entrance, the pad of her index finger pressing against her just enough to make Yaz gasp and her muscles tense in anticipation. But then Ava’s fingers never pressed inside, instead returning to her clit, drawing slow circles over it.

“Ava”, she breathed when she thought she couldn’t bear the teasing any longer. “Ava, please .”

When Ava slipped one finger inside of her a second later, Yaz felt the world around her fall apart, pleasure erupting between her legs as the blonde started moving inside of her, using her leg to increase the pressure and keep Yaz in place as Yaz still tried to move her hips against Ava’s hand. 

This was so much better than Yaz could ever have imagined being touched by the blonde would feel like and she never wanted her to stop ever again as she pressed herself harder against Ava’s hand, forcing her deeper inside. 

By the time Ava added a second finger, pumping steadily, Yaz wasn’t sure how long she was going to last. Her entire body was buzzing at the feeling of the blonde filling her, pushing into her. But then Ava curled her fingers, hitting a new spot inside of her that made Yaz’s pleasure wind even higher. She didn’t know what to do with her hands, lifting them to Ava’s shoulders, digging her nails into the soft flesh. With each thrust, Ava’s palm hit Yaz’s clit just right, pulling louder and louder moans and gasps from her as she lost all control over herself, the only feeling that still existed being Ava’s fingers inside of her, Yaz’s walls fluttering around them as she felt herself nearing climax.

And then, with one final thrust, the tension in Yaz’s body broke in the most exquisite way. Ava’s hand shot up just in time to cover her mouth as a scream fell from her lips that would most certainly have been audible down the hallway. Ava continued pushing into her, coaxing every last drop of pleasure from her until Yaz slumped down, holding onto Ava as her world went dark for the briefest of moments.

“Are you alright?” Ava whispered, hand leaving Yaz’s mouth to wrap the arm around her waist, fingers still buried deep inside of her. 

Yaz blinked, slowly taking in the room around her once again. She gasped as Ava carefully pulled her fingers out and she immediately felt empty, almost mourning the loss as the blonde’s hand came to rest on her hip instead, gently caressing the skin there.

“Yes”, she breathed. “God yes.”

They just held onto each other then, for Yaz wasn’t sure how long, as the water kept running over their skin and Yaz’s heart beat slowly calmed in her chest, the butterflies in her stomach however never subsiding.

All the while, Ava was placing soft kisses against her cheek and jawline. When she placed a kiss just underneath the lobe of Yaz’s ear, the brunette felt the fire in the pit of her stomach instantly returning.

“I want you”, she murmured and instantly felt the blonde’s body tense in her arms. She let her hands travel over her back and then, in one swift movement, turned them around, Ava’s back hitting the tiles as she gasped softly, eyes wide.

Yaz peppered kisses over Ava’s collarbones, hands moving up to cup her breasts. She took her time with them, just like Ava had done before, wanting to wind the blonde up. Taking a hard nipple in between thumb and index finger, she gave it a light pinch and heard Ava draw in a sharp breath. “Is this okay?” she asked softly, and Ava nodded quickly, biting her lip as her breathing grew heavy. Yaz started kissing the underside of Ava’s other breast then, working her way to her nipple, dragging her tongue over it.

In that moment, Yaz knew exactly what she wanted to do. She started kissing down between the blonde’s breasts, working her way to her stomach, nipping ever so lightly at the soft skin.

Then, she dropped to her knees in front of her.

“Yaz”, Ava whispered, eyes wide.

“Hold on to something”, Yaz replied and Ava’s hands reach out to her sides, one grabbing the rail that held the shower head, the other one grabbing the rail with the soap dispenser attached to it.

When Yaz was sure Ava had a tight grip, she lifted the blonde’s right leg, draping it over her shoulder, letting the water from the showerhead roll down her back as she held on tightly with one hand, kissing the inside of Ava’s thigh.

When she worked her way closer to Ava’s core, Yaz was met with the most beautiful sight: the blonde was throbbing, swollen and slick with arousal, and it sent a fresh wave of wetness between Yaz’s own legs. She breathed in the scent of Ava’s pleasure, leaning closer, until she finally tasted her, dragging her tongue over the blonde’s entire length in one deep stroke.

Ava gasped and out of the corner of her eye, Yaz saw her grip on the rails tighten. Smiling, Yaz licked over her once again, groaning as she tasted the arousal on the tip of her tongue.

Her strokes were long and slow at first, but soon enough she was spurred on by Ava’s panting above her, and she dipped her tongue inside of her. Ava’s back suddenly arched off the wall as she gasped, pressing herself into Yaz’s face, moaning with pleasure as Yaz pressed her tongue against her inner walls before she dragged it out again. 

Yaz’s reward was a fresh wave of arousal and she lapped it up with gusto, quickening the pace of her tongue against Ava’s clit. Her own core was throbbing at this point.

If she held on to Ava tightly enough and waited till the last possible moment, she could manage.

The blonde was rocking her hips against Yaz’s face, who more then willingly complied, alternating between long and deep strokes and flicking the tip of her tongue off the hood of the blonde’s clit, drawing moan after moan from Ava with each movement.

“Yaz”, Ava groaned, chest heaving as she panted. “Yaz I’m close -”

Grabbing Ava’s leg even tighter, Yaz shoved her free hand between her own legs, moaning into Ava as she let a finger glide over her own clit, stroking herself fast as she felt Ava’s orgasm build.

She took the blonde’s clit into her mouth, briefly sucking on it, and then, with one final flick of her tongue, she felt Ava unravel above her at the same moment as Yaz’s own orgasm washed over her. She continued to lap at the blonde, moaning against the wetness, licking over her until she stopped when she felt her tremble.

Gasping, Yaz pulled back, her own hand still resting between her legs as she dropped her forehead against Ava’s stomach.

When she looked up through hooded eyes, Ava was suddenly somehow even more beautiful than before: her cheeks flushed, her chest heaving, wet hair matted against her forehead and cheeks, lips swollen from their kisses and mouth slightly agape as she tried to catch her breath.

Carefully, Yaz slipped Ava’s leg off her shoulder and then stood up, placing a soft kiss on the blonde’s lips. Ava finally let go off the rails, arms wrapping around Yaz’s neck instead, as she wrapped her own around Ava's waist.

They didn’t say anything for a while, just sharing idle kisses while they caught their breath and let their heart rates calm down. Suddenly, a thought crossed Yaz’s mind and she frowned.

“What?” Ava asked, smiling.

“Last time”, Yaz said, remembering the way Ava had leaned against the wall before her face had met a door in a most unpleasant way. “You wanted to ask me something.”

A blush flared over the blonde’s cheek and Yaz’s heart rate quickened once again.

“I wanted to”, Ava said, not looking Yaz in the eye. “I wanted to ask you if you want to grab a drink with me after the lesson.”

Yaz’s heart swelled in her chest and she felt a fresh set of butterflies erupt in her stomach.

“Yes”, she said, grinning.

“What?”

“Yes we can go grab drinks. Under one condition.”

Ava looked at her intently, nodding.

“I get to take you out to dinner, first.”

Ava’s eyes grew wide and then the most gorgeous smile broke out on her face, eyes shining with delight, before she leaned in, giving her answer with a kiss.

That night, they walked out of the climbing centre side by side, Yaz ignoring the looks that Ryan was throwing their way as she desperately tried to keep herself from blushing.

I’m never going to live this down , she thought.

But those were thoughts for another day. Because today, as the door closed behind them and they stepped out into the cool evening air, Ava reached out, taking Yaz’s hand into hers and intertwining their fingers as she gave her the softest of smiles.

Today, she was with Ava. Tomorrow could wait.

Chapter Text

“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.