Blake looked around impatiently. The hall was completely full, every seat taken and many more people, including Blake herself, standing around the sides. In fact, the cramped space was starting to get rather hot as a result of the bodies so tightly packed in. Blake shifted around uncomfortably, happy that the press conference was set to start in just a few minutes.
Flipping to a new page of her notebook, Blake glanced up at the stage. It was simple, just an elevated platform really, bare except for a small podium in the center. The banners that hung behind it had yet to be unfurled, presumably waiting for the arrival of the person who had called the conference: Yang Xiao Long.
Blake knew all about Ms. Xiao Long. She was the youngest Vale alderperson ever elected, a political wunderkind due to her age and charisma. Rumors had been circulating wildly for the past few months that she was planning to run in the upcoming mayoral election. Personally, Blake hoped the rumors were false. She wasn't a fan of politicians in general, and she especially detested the young, cocky ones, which is precisely what Yang Xiao Long came across as.
The sound of the door opening startled Blake from her thoughts, and she hastily wiped the scowl off of her face to focus on the people stepping onto the platform. First was tall man with dark, spiky hair and a seemingly permanent frown. Next, an excited girl with red-tipped brown hair who waved to the crowd as she walked. And finally, Xiao Long herself.
Blake's eyes widened as she took in the woman before her. Yang Xiao Long was even more stunning in person than on TV. Her blonde hair flowed behind her in soft waves, and Blake could see the sparkle in her violet eyes even from her spot in the back of the room. She was dressed impeccably in a black skirt and blazer, and her orange dress shirt had just enough buttons left undone to be considered slightly scandalous.
"Good morning, everyone!" she called as she reached the podium. "Thank you all very much for coming out today. I'm here to announce to you, the citizens of Vale, that my name is Yang Xiao Long and I'm running for mayor!" As she finished, the banners dropped open, revealing the words "YANG XIAO LONG 2016" written in large block letters. Blake rolled her eyes as the crowd applauded and Xiao Long grinned widely. It appeared the bimbo was running after all. Fantastic.
After a short speech from Xiao Long, the dark-haired man, who was introduced as Qrow Branwen: campaign manager, took a few basic questions. Next Ruby Rose: fundraising chair, announced a public gala next month to raise money for the campaign. Xiao Long gave closing remarks and that was that.
Blake frowned at her notebook. Stupid Yang Xiao Long with her stupid, gorgeous hair and stupidly dazzling grin had avoided answering any important questions about her platform or her plans for Vale. Unfortunately for her, Blake Belladonna didn't give up so easily. As other audience members filed out of the hall, Blake pushed her way up to the stage, where the politician and her entourage were currently posing for pictures.
"Excuse me, Ms. Xiao Long? I have a couple questions I'd like answered," Blake said, fiddling with her pen as she was ignored completely. Blake attempted to move closer but was blocked immediately by the Branwen guy from earlier.
"Press conference is over, sweetheart. Next time, wait in line to ask questions with the other boys and girls," he said gruffly. Blake narrowed her eyes, barely able to contain her anger.
Before she could punch the arrogant jerk in the face, a flash of blonde inserted itself between them.
"Now Qrow, that's no way to talk to a journalist. Pleasure to meet you, I'm Yang Xiao Long, but you can just call me Yang." She stuck out her hand as she spoke, smiling warmly at Blake.
Blake blinked, trying to figure out exactly where she had materialized from.
"Um, yes, well my name is Blake Belladonna, and I'm hoping that you'll answer a few questions for an article I'm to write about your candidacy," Blake said, somewhat transfixed by the purple eyes that were mere inches from her face.
"Sure thing! May I ask what news source you write for?" Yang responded cheerily.
"It's, uh, News n Stuff," Blake said sheepishly. For the first time, Yang's smile disappeared.
"Seriously? Y'know it has the 'n Stuff' for a reason, right?" Yang looked sincerely disappointed.
"No need to be rude about it," Blake said hotly.
"It's not rudeness, it's honestly. And honestly is very important for us politicians," Yang replied, smirking a little.
She's teasing me! Blake glared harder at the thought.
"Listen, Yang, I'm well aware of the limitations of my employer, but that's no excuse for you to—"
"Look, Blake—can I call you Blake?"
"Blake, you seem like a smart woman. And I'd hate to get on your bad side," Yang said. Blake fought the urge to roll her eyes. Too late for that, idiot.
"I can't imagine that you're happy writing for a 'news' source like that, so how bout you work for me instead?" Yang asked the question with such sincerity that Blake paused her mental eye rolling to stare in disbelief.
"DO YOU WANT A JOB WITH MY CAMPAIGN?" Yang yelled. Blake winced and gave her best withering stare. "Sorry, sorry," Yang apologized with a wide grin. "Well, whaddya say?"
Blake looked away from the blinding smile, thoroughly overwhelmed by the prospect of spending more time with this woman. Then again, her current job did suck, and Yang was unfortunately correct in her criticisms of News n Stuff.
"I'll have to think about it," Blake said finally.
"Totally! Just give us a call or stop by city hall when you make up your mind," Yang replied, reaching out to shake Blake's hand again vigorously.
Blake offered her a slight smile, still reeling from the sudden change in the conversation.
"If you two are about done, we have places to be, Yang," the campaign manager broke in, sounding vaguely annoyed. Blake flinched a little. She had forgotten he was standing there.
"Right!" Yang said, unfazed by his attitude. "Nice to meet you, Blake." She waved briefly over her shoulder as he led her towards the door, where Ruby was already waiting.
"Nice to meet you, too," Blake muttered, staring after the woman, taking in the mess of blonde hair and the long, tan legs as they exited the hall.
As Blake left the hall and drove back to her office, she found herself unable to think of anything else.
Sitting in her cubicle, Blake stared blankly at the computer screen, trying and failing to write the first line of her article. Whenever she attempted a sentence, Yang's offer started rattling around in her head again.
I can't imagine that you're happy writing for a 'news' source like that, so how bout you work for me instead? Blake shook her head to clear it. Who did Yang think she was, acting like she knew what Blake wanted? It's not like now was a good time for Blake to quit her job, especially for such a nebulous offer. She was barely scraping by as it was, not to mention the mountains of college debt she had to pay off.
Blake sighed softly, slowly twirling a pen between her fingers. She was a journalist, what would she even do in a political campaign? And what would she do once it was over? It was crazy to even consider. Obviously. So why was she considering it?
"Hey Blake, you doing alright over there?" Blake jolted at the sound of the Australian-accented voice behind her.
"Oh, hi Velvet," she said, turning around. "I'm fine, why do you ask?"
"Well, you were kind of…growling?"
Blake felt her face heat up with embarrassment. "Sorry," she mumbled.
Velvet shifted her feet awkwardly.
"Would you like to talk about it?" she finally asked. "Coco always tells me not to keep stuff bottled up, y'know?" Blake sighed, grasping the pen tightly.
"Yeah, Coco has a point," she said quietly. "Velvet, you know Yang Xiao Long, right?"
"Of course! She seems like a good sort," Velvet replied. "Hey, didn't you go to her press conference today?"
"That's the problem," Blake said, tapping the pen on her desk rapidly. "She offered me a job."
"What? That's amazing!" Velvet smiled widely as she took in the news. "Are you taking it?"
"N-no, I can't," Blake said hastily, taken aback at Velvet's reaction. "I mean, I shouldn't, right? It's too risky and she's so…" Blake gestured wildly, unable to find the words. Velvet raised an eyebrow at her agitated colleague.
"Blake, you and I both know how you feel about working here. And it may be risky, but so is trying to find a career as a writer," Velvet paused to play with her fingers for a second. "And I wasn't going to tell you this until Monday but…Coco got me a job at her company."
"I have two more weeks. But after that, yeah," Velvet searched Blake's face for a reaction.
"Wow, congrats Velvet!" Blake said earnestly. Then she smirked a little, sensing a chance to turn the tables. "And did Coco get you a wedding ring as well?"
Her plan worked spectacular as Velvet immediately stiffened, turning a deep shade of pink.
"B-BLAKE!" Velvet stammered. Glancing around nervously, she quickly lowered her voice. "I told you, she doesn't like me that way. We…We're just friends!" Blake felt the corners of her mouth curling up further.
"If that girl isn't in love with you, I'll eat my desk."
Velvet visibly shivered at the word "love." She stuttered out a few half-hearted protests, twirling the ends of her hair. Suddenly she stopped, fixing Blake with a stern glare.
"Wait a minute, you're just trying to distract me!" She accused. "It's not working this time, Belladonna."
"Damn, so close," Blake said with a slight scowl, grabbing her pen again and spinning it twice.
"Now, tell me the real reason why you won't take a job on the Xiao Long campaign," Velvet continued.
"Fine," Blake relented with a heavy sigh.
"I just—I don't think I can work with her. When we met she was acting like she knew everything about me, but she doesn't! A-and she kept giving me this stupid smile. I mean, how can teeth be so white? And her eyes…" Blake trailed off, once again at a loss for words due to that idiot Yang Xiao Long. She fumed silently, bending her pen viciously between her hands.
Velvet stared at her with a curious expression on her face.
"Blake, do you like her?"
Blake's pen dropped to the floor.
"What?! No!" she practically screeched, knowing that she was turning red as she spoke.
"Ah, okay. I see what's going on here," Velvet said with a knowing wink.
"I SAID NO," Blake whisper-yelled, furiously scanning the area for anyone listening in.
"It's cute that you have a crush, but that's no reason to stagnate your career," Velvet continued sagely.
"What about 'no' do you—"
"I won't tell you what to do. But chances like this, and women like that, are once in a lifetime."
Blake paused her protests for a moment. Maybe Velvet was right. Obviously she didn't like the oaf, but her apprehension over Yang wasn't a valid reason for missing what could be the turning point in her career.
"I'll think about it some more," Blake said after a while. "Thanks Velvet."
"Anytime," Velvet replied. "I'll see you around," she said, turning to return to her own cubicle.
Blake took a deep breath, leaning down to pick up her pen from the floor.
Her choice was clear.