The days leading up to the election were by far the most hectic of the campaign. Public appearances, interviews, and "get out the vote" efforts were more than enough on their own, but uproar after the press conference added even more to everyone's collective plate. News channels had also broken the story about Adam Taurus, aide to the Black campaign, breaking into Yang's office and attempting an assault. Of course, Mercury and Cinder wasted no time in distancing themselves from Adam while throwing him squarely under the bus.
After everything that went down, the phones were ringing near constantly with people calling to express support, admiration, anger, disgust, and a whole host of other emotions. Mercury was plastered everywhere, preaching ad naseum about Yang's dishonesty and (of course) his reservations about the homosexual "lifestyle," while gracefully dodging any questions about Adam.
"Does anybody actually agree with that crap?" Jaune cried, slamming the lid of his laptop in frustration.
"Unfortunately, yes." Pyrrha gingerly re-opened the laptop so they could watch the rest of the broadcast.
"And then there's the people that secretly agree but pretend that they don't," Blake added.
Jaune huffed. "Wow, they could at least have the guts to admit that they're homophobic - like this guy!"
"-no problem whatsoever with the gay lifestyle, but I don't think it's something that public figures should be forcing down our throats." The man nodded sagely and adjusted his glasses, as if he had said something profound.
"I'll force something down HIS throat," Ruby grumbled, glaring at the screen.
"Let's not worry about idiots like that," Blake said. "They're not worth the effort."
"Not even remotely," Pyrrha agreed.
Jaune grunted like he wanted to say something else but decided not to. Ruby had also elected to fume silently.
"I, for one, think it's awesome of the Councilwoman to come out like this! Pretty damn gutsy if you ask me!" Neon Katt was on the laptop screen now.
"Hey, that's good! Her show's super popular." Ruby was back to her usual smiling self.
Jaune shrugged. "I dunno. I honestly can't tell which way the tide is turning right now." He looked about as stressed out as Yang had been recently.
"I'm sure it'll work out," Pyrrha said, squeezing Jaune's shoulder fondly. "And we have Mr. Ozpin's endorsement now. He's very respected among the community as far as I can tell."
Ozpin had finally come through with an endorsement the previous day, eliciting great joy from Yang and Qrow. The two of them were out meeting with him now, both to thank him and to get his advice if possible. Yang was doing her best to handle everything, but it was obvious to everyone that she was stretched to her breaking point, and any tips from the former mayor would be greatly appreciated.
Blake's phone started buzzing and she jolted. "Um, I have to take this," she said, swiftly entering Yang's office to get away from Jaune and Pyrrha's inquiring looks.
"How are you doing? Feeling alright? And what about Yang, is she okay?" Weiss' questions tumbled out one after another. Blake chuckled. Somehow Weiss had turned into a mom friend? She wasn't sure when that had happened, but it was kind of sweet to witness.
"We're fine, I promise. Thanks for checking in, though," Blake responded.
"Are you sure you don't want to press charges? The Schnee Company has a fleet of lawyers at the ready, and I'd be more than happy to let you borrow some to put that- that SCUMBAG where he belongs."
"It's alright, Weiss. The restraining order is enough for now. And anyway, I have a feeling he's not coming back." Blake leaned against Yang's desk, mindlessly straightening up the papers that Yang had left strewn about earlier.
"Well...Fine. If you're sure." Blake heard a huff from Weiss' end. "However, I, I wanted to..." Blake waited patiently while Weiss gathered her thoughts. "I wanted to say I'm here for you. Both of you. All you have to do is say the word and I'll ruin that bastard."
"...Are you okay?"
"Ugh, seriously?" She could almost hear Weiss stomping her foot. "I'm trying to be supportive here, in case you didn't notice!"
"I did notice." Blake smiled. "Thank you, Weiss. It means a lot to me, honestly. I'll see you tonight, okay?"
"Yes, yes," Weiss said stiffly, but Blake could tell that she was secretly pleased. "I'll see you at the- what did she call it?"
"The Watch-the-votes-come-in-and-get-drunk-regardless-of-the-result Party," Blake stated in her most serious voice. "Don't be late."
Weiss poorly stifled a laugh, then tried to pretend she was clearing her throat. "Right, of course." She hesitated for a second. "And, Blake? Happy Birthday."
"Thanks, Weiss. See you soon." Blake ended the call. She took a moment to finish fixing Yang's papers before heading back out to join the others. Blake didn't like making a huge deal of her birthday, but it was nice of Weiss to remember. She was smiling again as she turned the door handle and stepped out to-
"SURPRISE!" Ruby was standing on the other side of the door. Like, right on the other side. Blake nearly ran into her.
"Gah!" She flinched backwards.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" Jaune bellowed, even though he was standing only two feet away.
Blake must have looked like a deer in the headlights, because Pyrrha decided to swoop in and save her.
"Why don't we give her some space everyone?" she said. She pulled Jaune and Ruby back a few paces. "You didn't think we'd forget your birthday, did you Blake?"
The three of them smiled innocently. Ruby raised her eyebrows excitedly and conjured a small cookie cake from behind her back. The words 'Happy Birthday Blake!' had been delicately frosted on top.
"Um, thanks." Blake gingerly took the cake. A slow moment passed, Blake awkwardly holding the cake while Jaune and Ruby beamed at her expectantly.
"Would you...like some?"
"YES!" Ruby grabbed the cake back while Jaune bounded off to find paper plates.
A few minutes later they were sitting in a circle eating the cookie cake, which Blake had to admit was pretty damn good. She even managed to gracefully dodge the "let's sing Happy Birthday to Blake!" bullet by bribing Ruby and Jaune with extra slices. Blake settled back in her chair, nibbling the confection and watching Ruby do her famous impression of Councilmen Port while Jaune and Pyrrha laughed raucously. Blake smiled and took another bite of cake.
Yang regarded her living room critically. Rug vacuumed, drink cooler stocked, counter packed with snacks. It looked just about party-ready, in her humble opinion. She sank down onto the couch to await the guests.
A minute passed, maybe two. Despite her best efforts, her fingers started tapping on the couch cushions and her leg started bouncing rapidly. The whirlwind of the campaign was over, and even the party-planning distraction had passed at this point. Now all that was left was nervousness, sitting in her stomach like a wriggling ball of worms. Yang shook her head to clear the image.
She stood up and paced for another minute, absentmindedly playing with the ends of her hair as she did. Somehow her feet led her into the bedroom, and eventually, to her nightstand. Yang smiled softly and pulled open the drawer to reveal a small, rectangular box wrapped in silvery paper and tied with a black ribbon. She reached in and fiddled with the ribbon, getting it perfectly even and aligned. The sudden sound of the doorbell made her jump. She yanked her hand back and slammed the drawer hastily.
"Comiiiing!" Yang hollered in the general direction of the front door. She trotted out of the bedroom, pausing in front of the mirror to frown and fix her hair. Yang usually thought that she looked pretty good, but today she was after something a bit more than "pretty good." It was election night, and she had people to impress! Well, maybe she was only concerned with one person. Whose birthday it also happened to be. Whatever.
Yang had chosen a purple dress that was a little too short and a lot too form-fitting for official wear. Her hair was in its usual flowing yellow waves, although she now felt that she should have put it up.
"Goddammit," she grumbled, turning away from the mirror. It wasn't like Blake was the type to care what she was wearing anyway. Yang ran a hand through her hair a final time and scuttled to the front door, pulling it open with a grin.
"Hey Blake, how's it…" she trailed off. Blake shuffled awkwardly by the door, pulling the sleeve of her jacket down nervously. She was wearing a dark purple - nearly black - three-piece suit over a pastel yellow dress shirt and a purple tie that matched Yang's dress uncannily well.
"Oh...huh." Yang felt sweaty. The way Blake had slicked back her hair into a thick braid hanging over her shoulder certainly wasn't helping.
"Since when do you wear dresses?" Blake asked, staring at her with wide eyes. She fiddled with the end of her braid. Yang had never loved braids more than in this moment.
"Uh." Yang said helpfully. "I...like to mix it up sometimes…"
Blake's eyes were pretty obviously wandering down now, and Yang felt vaguely pleased that she wasn't the only one getting distracted.
They stared at each other for another minute before Yang remembered that she had a house.
"AH, come in! To the house, I mean." Yang smiled and bowed clownishly, opening the door wider. Blake laughed and stepped in gracefully.
"So," she said as Yang closed the door. "How long do you think we have until other people get here?"
Yang's smile took on a distinctly smirk-y quality. "Oh? Now why would you be so interested in that, babe?"
Blake rewarded her with another laugh and an eye roll. Then she moved directly into Yang's personal bubble and stroked her fingers over her bare shoulder.
"You know," Blake whispered. "I really like it when you show these off." She pressed her lips against the skin and Yang couldn't stop herself from shivering in response. It was like an electric shock had just run up and down her spine.
"God, Blake. What the hell did this suit unlock in you?" she mumbled, half to herself.
"I…don't think it's the suit," Blake answered truthfully, her face reddening.
The doorbell rang. "To answer your question, they'll be here any minute." Yang dodged a halfhearted swat from Blake and opened the front door for a second time.
"Dang sis, you didn't tell me we were supposed to dress up!" Ruby was wearing jeans, but at least her shirt was a button-up with a collar. Weiss stood next to her, taking in Yang's outfit.
"Dress code is optional," Yang said cheerily.
"Trying to impress someone?" Weiss asked finally, smirking in Yang's direction.
"BLAKE!" Ruby yelled before Yang could think of a snarky reply. Her sister charged past her into the house, Weiss trailing behind her and pulling gently at Ruby's shirt in a forlorn attempt to slow her down.
"Wow, you look, SO GOOD." Ruby circled Blake excitedly. "I love that hairdo - look Weiss, it's like Elsa's in Frozen!"
"It looks nice," Weiss said, kindly pulling Ruby a couple feet back.
"Thanks." Blake moved to stand next to Yang.
Ruby's eyes widened further. "Awwww- you guys look even better like that! Did you plan this? Seriously, it looks like you're going to the prom together." She bounced lightly as she spoke.
"More like they're getting married," Weiss muttered.
Oh god, it did look like they were getting married. Yang's face felt like it was on fire. Blake looked equally flustered.
"OH-KAY why don't we turn on the election coverage?" Yang lunged for the remote like her life depended on it and flipped over to one of the local news channels.
Weiss and Ruby exchanged a knowing look, but generously dropped the subject (for now).
"Lisa Lavender here, reporting from the polling stations where thousands of Vale locals have turned out to cast their vote in the 2016 mayoral election. Over an hour remains until the polls close and the results will be tabulated, but turnout is already at a record high for a local election in Vale. Pre-election polls showed the top two candidates, Mercury Black of the Black Corporation and Councilwoman Yang Xiao Long, neck and neck. Exit polls show voters split on key issues.."
"Looks like we've got some time to kill before the votes come in," Ruby said. "Can we play Mario Kart? Pleeeaaase?"
"Absolutely!" Yang replied.
"Not again…" Weiss groaned.
"Actually…" Yang spoke hesitantly. "Before we do that, I wanted to say something." All of them turned towards her expectantly.
Yang cleared her throat, rubbing the material of her dress through her fingers as she searched for the right words to say. "I just… I wanted to thank you. The three of you have supported me through this whole election thingy and- well, I know you'll always have my back. And I wanted you to know I'll always have yours." They were all staring at her now. Yang chuckled awkwardly. "That's all, I guess."
"Yang!" Ruby leaped onto her arm and clung tightly. "I love you too!" Yang grinned and kissed the top of her head. Blake shuffled closer and Yang snagged her with her other arm, pulling her against her side.
"Get over here, Weiss."
"Ugh." Weiss crossed her arms. "If I do this, can I be excused from playing Mario Kart?" She said the words "Mario Kart" with almost comical disdain.
"You can just watch," Yang responded graciously. Weiss rolled her eyes but slid in between Ruby and Blake, and Yang clearly saw the way she smiled and relaxed in their embrace.
Ninety minutes later, all the guests had arrived and a steady wave of talking, laughter, music, and the drone of the news channel washed over Yang's living room and kitchen. The results were starting to trickle in, and while Yang was slightly behind Mercury at the moment, there was nothing definite yet. Blake sipped her punch and watched the vote tally tick up slowly. Yang's percentage dropped by 0.1 and Blake felt her anxiety spike. She sighed and took another gulp of punch. Everyone else seemed to be having a good time, even Yang, who was currently hanging out in the kitchen with Sun and his bandmates.
"You okay?" Jaune had appeared in the chair next to her. "You seem, uhh, broody?" He held out a cookie towards her, moving in the exaggerated way he always did when drunk. "Could I interest you in an oreo?"
Blake gave him a stilted half-smile. "No thanks."
Jaune shrugged, following her gaze to the election coverage on the tv screen. Yang dropped another 0.1% as they looked. "Ohhhh," Jaune said, understanding dawning. "You know, Yang's gonna win."
"Didn't you just say this morning you weren't sure?" Blake raised an eyebrow.
"My opinions have since changed," Jaune replied with a smile. "She's gonna win, I can feel it!"
"I agree with Jaune," Pyrrha chimed in, coming behind Blake to take the seat on her other side, trapping her in a positivity sandwich. "These things have a way of working out."
Blake managed a less-stilted half-smile. "Thanks for trying to make me feel better, but…" she glanced at the tv again. "She deserves this. Honestly, all of Vale deserves this. And to think she might lose because of the press conference… is horrible."
"Agreed, but we've done all we can now," Pyrrha said. "I believe in the people of Vale to make the right decision. And if they don't, all of us here will work together to move forward from that."
Jaune nodded vigorously and smiled glowingly at Pyrrha. "Yeah!"
This time the half-smile wasn't stilted at all. "I'm...going to eat some oreos. Jaune?" The man leapt to his feet faster than Blake had ever seen him move.
"I'm pretty sure drunk Jaune would leave me for a sleeve of oreos," Pyrrha whispered to Blake as they headed to the kitchen, eliciting a giggle in response. Jaune remained oblivious as he led the way to their destination.
They passed by Yang and Sun, the latter looking even more intoxicated than Jaune was, and Yang flashed Blake a grin and a wave.
"Don't worry Yangarang, you'll close that gap!" Sun said energetically, clapping his hand down on Yang's shoulder.
"Thanks Sun." Yang chuckled.
"And anyway, it looks like you've already locked down somethin' more important!" Sun's yelling was loud enough to carry across the whole kitchen. Blake looked up to see him staring directly at her.
"You know what, Sun? You're absolutely right." Yang's warm, goofy smile was too much for Blake to handle. She hurriedly looked away and busied herself pretending to examine the selection of snacks on the countertop, although the supply had been decimated through the combined efforts of Ruby, Jaune, and Nora.
"Wait, I'm right? YOOOO NEPTUNE, I was right about something!"
"Whoa, congrats dude!"
Blake sighed in relief and slunk out of the kitchen, relieved to be out of the spotlight. She leaned against a wall and returned to staring at the election coverage. Yang's tally ticked up a point. Maybe she should give positivity a try.
Blake turned towards the source of the voice. "Followed me out here? I'm impressed you managed to shake Sun and Neptune."
"Those knuckleheads? They distracted each other," Yang said, grinning. She gingerly took Blake's hand in her own. "So, how're you holding up? You seem a little tense."
"I'm fine." Blake scanned Yang through the corner of her eye. That dress really did look amazing on her, and the dark purple shade contrasted wonderfully with her mess of blonde hair.
"Anyway, I'm sure you're more stressed than I am."
"Hmm, I dunno about that." Yang rubbed her thumb over the back of Blake's hand. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm terrified, but... I don't feel like I need this as badly as I did a few months ago."
"I'm not sure, to be honest. There's you." Yang gave her a crooked grin.
"..." Blake couldn't take it anymore. She grabbed Yang's shoulders and pulled her into a tender kiss, pointedly ignoring the WOO's from elsewhere in the room. Yang smiled against her mouth and wrapped an arm around her waist in response.
"That was nice," she said, pulling back about a centimeter. "What dyou say we get away from the peanut gallery?"
Blake hesitated. "But the votes..."
"You're more important than that mess." Yang spoke without missing a beat. "...too sappy?"
"No. Just right." Blake kissed her cheek softly and allowed herself to be dragged through the room, past a beaming Jaune and Pyrrha and a snickering Sun, down a short hallway, and into Yang's safe, quiet bedroom.
Yang immediately flopped down on the bed and patted the spot next to her for Blake. "So."
"...So?" Blake took the invitation to sit.
"Soooooo," Yang started again. It was like she was trying to psych herself up for something.
"What is it?"
"It's your birthday and I know you don't like to make a big deal buuuut I got you something small and I hope that's okay, is that okay?" The words tumbled out completely uncontained. Yang laughed awkwardly and ran a hand through her hair. "Sorry, I just-"
"I'd be honored to accept your birthday gift," Blake interrupted, giving her another kiss on the cheek. Yang blushed, which in Blake's opinion was absolutely adorable.
"It's...this." She fumbled in the drawer of her nightstand for a second, then offered Blake a small wrapped box.
Blake took it and made a show of shaking it up next to her ear, although it didn't make any noise. Yang chuckled weakly, and judging by her fidgeting Blake figured it was time to put her out of her misery.
"You know I'm going to love it no matter what, right?" Blake soothed as she pulled the black ribbon off and set it aside.
"I know! I just…" Yang trailed off. Her face was still red, and she was staring at Blake with an odd expression.
Finally, the wrapping paper came free to reveal an oblong black case. Blake clicked it open to a velvety interior, with a pen tucked into a small divot.
"Oh...wow." Blake breathed, taking it out and turning it slowly between her fingers. The pen had a lovely black finish with a golden, Chinese-style dragon embossed on top. At the tip of the cap were the letters 'BB', also embossed in a pretty cursive.
"I ruined your other nice pen so I thought I could maybe get you a replacement? And the etching stuff is custom so it's the only one like it in the world!" Yang explained, searching Blake's face for a reaction.
Blake felt tears welling up in her eyes. How the hell was she supposed to explain to Yang how much this meant to her?
"I love it." That seemed inadequate. "I really, really love it. Thanks Yang." It still seemed inadequate, but Blake supposed it was the best she could do.
Yang looked thrilled. "I'm so glad to hear that! I was worried it would be too little. Or too much. Or stupid."
"...Blake, are you crying?"
"No." Blake sniffled, her voice warbling. "Maybe." Warm arms were around her a second later, followed by a soft kiss on her forehead.
"I-" Yang gulped. "Um, I…" Blake could feel Yang's heart beating like a jackhammer. Suddenly she recognized the expression that had been on Yang's face, and the realization made her smile uncontrollably.
"I know." Blake leaned back so she could see Yang's eyes, wide and glistening like she was about to cry. "I love you, too."
Yang's entire face was red now. "Wh-wait, no fair! I was-" Yang stammered. "I was gonna tell you first!"
Blake shrugged. "Too slow."
"Unbelievable!" Yang struggled to contain her smile. "I plan this whole big romantic reveal and you snipe me!"
Blake giggled. She stroked the side of Yang's face with her hand. "My deepest apologies. How can I make it up to you?"
Yang raised her eyebrows. "I've got an idea.." She leaned in to kiss Blake, then continued leaning, gently pushing Blake down flat onto the bed. Blake kissed her back blissfully, sliding her fingers into Yang's hair.
A sharp and continuous knocking at the door made Yang jolt backwards. "Yaaaaang!" Ruby's intrusive voice yelled from the hall.
"Oh for the love of-" Yang groaned and got up, marching to the door and pulling it halfway open. "What?" Blake seized the chance to stealthily stand up and straighten the bed covers.
"Oh, so you weren't having sex! Close one, huh Weiss?"
"Ruby…" Weiss and Yang growled in unison. Blake approached the trio and stood beside Yang, unconsciously wrapping her arm around her waist.
"Geez, sorry! I even knocked this time… Anyway, we thought you'd want to know that you're winning!" Ruby explained quickly.
"I'm- wait, really?"
"No need to be so surprised," Weiss said, managing to sound encouraging and admonishing at the same time.
Yang let out a giddy laugh and bounded past them, racing back to the living room to see the current results. Blake followed close behind with nearly as much excitement. And sure enough, there were the most recent results plastered on the screen: a smug portrait of Mercury with 47.8% written beside it and Yang's glowing face and wide smile with 48.6%.
Qrow clapped a hand on Yang's shoulder. "There you are, kid. I was wondering where you got to." He gave Blake a side-eye and a small smirk.
"It's gonna be tight, and there's still some votes coming in, but.. it looks good."
"Holy shit." Yang's face was lit up in a familiar way, and it made Blake's heart soar.
"I'm proud of you." Qrow's expression was the softest Blake had ever seen.
"Thanks, Qrow." Yang grinned at him. "I bet you could use a drink, huh?"
Qrow shrugged. "Just juice for me tonight. Lately I'm trying-" he stopped, then paused. "Trying something new."
Yang's smile got wider, if that was even possible. She launched herself at Qrow's chest and hugged him tight, eliciting a gentle chuckle in response.
"Is it hug Uncle Qrow hours? Wait for me!" Ruby barreled over and practically jumped onto Qrow's back, eliciting a not-so-gentle grunt.
"Damn, you got heavy," Qrow grumbled, struggling to keep his balance.
Blake figured she should let them have their moment, and she subtly moved away to sit on the couch and watch the coverage up close. Weiss came to silently sit next to Blake, her excitement only very thinly veiled.
They didn't say anything else, but a shared smile was enough to communicate their feelings. The vote reporting count was at 70% now, and Yang's tally ticked up another 0.1 as they watched.
A moment later, Ruby approached and squeezed in next to Weiss, and Yang vaulted over the back of the couch to sit next to Blake. She landed with a thump and threw an arm over Blake's shoulders.
"I never want this moment to end," she stated simply.
"Really? Don't you want the final result?" Weiss questioned.
"Yeah of course, but then everyone is gonna go back home. And this has been my favorite party ever. Of all time." Yang grinned.
"What if we stay after they call it?" Ruby suggested. She seemed to be physically vibrating in excitement. "OH we can watch Frozen!"
Weiss groaned. "Ruby, we watched that last week. I want to watch Tangled."
"But Frozen has the best songs!"
"Debatable. And anyway, Rapunzel is better than Elsa."
A loud gasp. "You take that back!"
Blake tuned out their familiar bickering and focused on Yang instead, who was listening to them fondly. She traced her eyes along Yang's strong jawline, over the tiny freckles on her nose from spending too much time in the sun, along the soft locks of golden hair that fell in an unruly collection on her forehead, and into those bright, purple eyes.
"Staring again," Yang teased gently.
"You do it too."
"Yeah, I do."
They smiled at each other. Blake suddenly understood what Yang meant, about wanting the moment to last forever. There were some feelings you just wanted to hold onto and never let go. And she realized that if she ever got unstuck in time like in Slaughterhouse-Five, this was the moment she would want to keep coming back to. Blake leaned into Yang's side, feeling her warmth, listening to her steady breathing. Something about this felt so right. It felt like peace and excitement and a beginning and an end all at once. It felt like home.