And just as I promised, Ophelia's birthday chapter, up at as close to midnight as I can get! Happy birthday to my second favorite Fates child!


As spring arrived in Nohr, the school year drew to a close, and Soleil went dateless. Ophelia would always insist she had to wait a little longer thanks to the busy work that came with the end of the year, and Soleil would patiently assure her understanding, never even thinking to threaten backing out of the deal. Not because she wanted to be on the cheer squad, by any means. She was just super stoked to have a date planned with Ophelia, the girl she'd been trying so hard to go out with for months.

Ophelia didn't hold up her end of the bargain until a few weeks into summer break, when Soleil's phone lit up late one night with a text. She checked it to find a proposition for the fated date. The message suggested meeting downtown at around noon the next day, and the plan of attack was simple: walking around and seeing the sights. Of course, in the cute way she did, Ophelia explained all this in a much more eloquent fashion than she needed to, but the fact that this simple plan took three texts to describe in full was charming. Soleil happily typed out her response, her face heating up as she did. When she sent the confirmation that that was A-okay, she happily skipped around her room, excited for the day that awaited her. "Oh shit," she said, suddenly stopping in her tracks during her celebration. "I should shower so I don't stink for my date!" She ran into her bathroom, practically jumped out of her clothes, and winked at herself playfully in the mirror. "Lookin' good!" Her shower was spent poorly but shamelessly singing along to songs on her phone, not really caring that her parents were both home and could probably hear her joyful ballads if they wanted to. Once she had decided she was clean enough, she turned the water off and stepped out, immediately reaching for her phone to turn the music down, as it didn't need to be so loud to be heard over the water anymore. In a moment of hopeless clumsiness, her hand missed the phone, slapping the counter top and slipping forward, which caused her to fall forward, the ground approaching rapidly. She squealed and grabbed at anything her hands could reach to save herself. She ended up grabbing her towel, which slid off the rack, not helping at all. She hit the ground, but thankfully not too hard to actually hurt. She did cause a lot of noise though, and seconds later, a knock was sounding at her door. "Soleil, are you alright?" Inigo asked through the door.

If he had opened the bathroom door, he would have seen a still soaking wet Soleil on the ground, face to the tile floor, a towel settling over her head, and her ass in the air. She quickly said, "I'm fine! Don't come in!"

Inigo didn't question the fact that Soleil's voice was muffled by both the door and a towel and shrugged, moving on. Soleil scrambled to get to her feet, hoping she could act like nothing ever happened, but one look in the mirror immediately gave away that something did, in fact, happen. Her lip had been busted open, and the blood had now moved its way down partially down her chin. It took everything she had to resist screaming, and she scrambled to grab some toilet paper to help stop the bleeding. "This is terrible! How did this happen on the night before my date? Ugh!" She stepped back and took in her whole face with the injury. She sighed and looked at her reflection remorsefully. "It's harder to notice like this, but that's probably because I'm stark naked." With another groan, she got herself dried off and dressed in her pajamas, ready to go to bed and hope that her injury would be all healed up by morning.

Those hopes were dashed when she looked in the mirror the next morning to see a gross red scab on her bottom lip. She held back tears, fighting the urge to cancel the date until the scab had healed. She stared at her phone, trying not to do just that for the longest time. Finally, the time came when she figured that if she did call to cancel, she would reach Ophelia already halfway to their meeting point, so she sighed, sucked it up, and headed out.

The downtown area was bustling with people and the sun beat down on the mostly bare shoulders of the people visiting for the day. Soleil looked around, examining the crowd and looking for the blonde head of hair that was her date. It took almost no time at all to find who she was looking for in front of the convenience store on the corner, and the sight of Ophelia brushing her hair out of her face to look down at her phone was a welcome one. Soleil had hoped that the excitement of seeing Ophelia would push the memory of hurting herself completely out of her mind, but the only effect the sight had on her was to make the scab feel about ten times bigger than it was. The anxiety was almost enough for her to turn tail and run, but she took a deep breath and repeated her father's smiling mantra to herself. Taking a deep breath and puffing her chest out confidently, she approached her date with a smile on her face and a warm greeting. Ophelia looked up from her phone and smiled at Soleil, not seeming to notice or care about the scab on her lip. "So, how do I look?" Soleil asked, motioning at her outfit, which was, by all means, so simple that the only reason she had to bring it up was to distract from her lip.

Ophelia scanned her pink tank top and matching skirt and nodded. "You look nice," she said with a nod.

It wasn't quite the praise she was hoping for, but Soleil disregarded that, because she absolutely had to return the appraisal. While she wanted to wax poetic about how Ophelia looked like a beautiful flower in a field of grass, soaking up the sun's rays and putting everyone else around them to shame, what came out was an awkward, "you...you look great yourself!"

Ophelia giggled at Soleil's stuttering and hesitation before nodding to the side. "Shall we get going, then?"

Soleil nodded enthusiastically and joined Ophelia's side as they began venturing down the street. "So what did you have planned for this wonderful day out?" She asked, hearing her father's accent start to come out slightly.

"I thought it'd be fun to just explore downtown," Ophelia answered. "So how about we grab some lunch and wander around a bit?"

"Sounds exceptional," Soleil answered. "Any ideas for where to eat?"

Ophelia sighed, looking around at the buildings surrounding them. "I...hadn't gotten that far yet," she admitted with a laugh.

"Don't fret, because I know just the place," Soleil assured her. She grabbed Ophelia's hand and pulled her along after her, weaving through the crowd and heading straight for a little coffee shop she knew. Once they got there, Ophelia looked around the inside warily. "Nice thinking, but I was more thinking something of substance for lunch. Coffee shops usually only have, like, pastries or snacks. I think."

"I understand," Soleil started. "But just you wait, the food here can be very filling. Especially when paired with the right drink."

"I guess we'll have to see," Ophelia said, taking a look at the menu. "Any suggestions?"

"More than you can imagine," Soleil assured her.

Once the girls had gotten their food and drinks, they took a seat at a raised two-person table by the window, Soleil resting her elbows on the table and her chin in her hands while Ophelia took a tentative sip of her drink. When asked how it was, she nodded and set the drink to the side. "So, come here often?" She asked, referring to Soleil's memorization of the menu.

Soleil nodded quickly after taking a sip of her own drink. "Oh yeah, this is my dad's favorite lunch date spot, so he showed it to me when I started showing interest in girls. I always try to get girls to come here if I can."

Ophelia raised an eyebrow while Soleil paused to take a bite of her snack. "How many dates have you been on with how many girls?"

Soleil flashed a pained smile. "Not as many as I'd like to say, unfortunately. How's that for an answer?"

Ophelia shook her head, saying, "okay, is this your first date?"

After sharing a laugh, Soleil shook her head as well. "No, Not my first, but uh, close." Ophelia laughed and she could feel her face start to heat up. "Okay then, how about you, if you wanna laugh about it?"

Ophelia's laugh subsided just as fast as it had come on. "Um, actually...this would be my first date," she said, her face flushing red. "Ever."

Soleil blushed as she watched her date shrink back into her chair. "I...I see. Well, it's an honor to be your first," she said. After a pause during which she realized the implications of her sentence, she scrambled to correct herself. "Date! Your first...date, it's an honor...gods damn it."

Ophelia laughed, her nerves easing a bit. "I got it, don't worry." For the next few minutes, the girls ate their food, Ophelia acknowledging that it was indeed more filling than she thought it would be. After congratulating Soleil on the suggestion, she changed topics. "So, would it be weird for me to ask about something you mentioned earlier?"

"Not at all," Soleil said. "I am an open book, for the most part."

Ophelia's eyes lit up. "I like books."

It was a complete throwaway comment, but it set Soleil's mind racing and she remembered something about downtown. "Hey, speaking of which, do you wanna go walk around a bookstore? I know an awesome one not too far away!"

Ophelia cocked her head to the side. "Er, I guess, but I wanted to ask you something." Soleil's wandering mind settled and she apologized, giving Ophelia the go-ahead to ask her question. "Right. So, about something you said earlier: when did you start liking girls? I mean, unless you don't wanna talk about it."

Soleil shrugged, totally used to getting that question from her dates. "No, it's fine. Actually, I was never really into anyone but girls, so I guess the answer is when I started thinking romantic thoughts." When Ophelia nodded, she got the question turned on her. "So what about you, huh? How do you feel about girls?"

Ophelia shrugged, tracing the rim of her coffee cup. "I dunno, I'm still figuring out the whole sexuality thing."

Soleil assured Ophelia she understood, but it also made her remember that this date wasn't one that was accepted willingly. She had essentially dragged Ophelia into going out that day. She didn't accept the offer because she liked Soleil, she did it so she would join the cheer squad, and that thought soured Soleil's mood a bit. She shook it off immediately, as a goal was forming in her head: to make sure this was the best possible first date Ophelia could possibly have. "I hate to change the subject so soon, but about that bookstore I mentioned..."

"What about it?" Ophelia asked, not seeming too perturbed by the sudden change of pace.

"Wanna check it out?" Soleil asked, turning in her chair to prepare to jump out of it.

"Sure!"

The girls left the little coffee shop, drinks in hand, and Soleil lead the way through the city to the bookstore. "The books are our current destination, but if you see anything else that catches your fancy, just let me know and we'll take a look, okay?" As they ducked through the crowds, one girl leading the other, they exchanged idle conversation, which proved more effective at getting to know each other than all those months hanging out briefly at school did. And, with each and every word that spilled out of her date's mouth, Soleil could feel herself falling more in love with her. The more time passed, the more convinced she was that her initial attraction was somehow prophetic, and the phrase "meant to be" crossed her mind several times. Judging by Ophelia's face and tone of voice, she seemed to be enjoying herself as well, which only made Soleil feel better.

Finally, they reached the bookstore as Soleil promised and stopped long enough for her to gather herself. "Whew, we've been walking a while," she said. "There's a bench just inside, if you wanna take a seat and rest your feet for a moment."

Ophelia nodded agreement, but Soleil should have known she wasn't going to get to sit down. As soon as they were inside the door, Ophelia's face lit up and her jaw dropped at the huge expanse of books within. She shot off into the store, completely forgetting Soleil's proposal to sit down and nearly forgetting she was there altogether. Soleil shook her head, still wearing a genuine smile despite being left in the dust. She scrambled to catch up to Ophelia, finally managing to reach the blonde girl's side while she stood in front of a huge shelf of books. "They're beautiful," Ophelia said softly, seeming to be on the verge of tears. "I've never been in a bookstore this...this huge before! I feel like this is the place I was born to be in!" She started picking out books, taking a look at their covers and sticking them back on the shelf, seemingly completely at random.

That day, they combed the entire inside of that bookstore, and Soleil had to play the role of impulse control several times. One potential purchase in particular made Soleil give a suspicious look when Ophelia grabbed it from the shelf. The hefty book with a child's smiling face on it was an awfully strange choice for a girl still in high school to be looking through. "A baby name book?" Soleil asked. "What's that for?"

Ophelia looked at the pages intently, nodding at the entries. "You see, my father and I have a knack for naming things, but he's much better at names than I am, so perhaps a name book would help me out."

Soleil bit her lip, making an unsure noise. "Ehh, I don't know, I think you'd get some weird looks if a girl like you were walking out of here with a baby name book."

Ophelia nodded, eyes moving from the names in the book to the area around them, making sure nobody was shooting her those looks as they spoke. "I guess you're right."

"Besides," Soleil continued. "You don't need some name book to help you, I bet you can think of the best names all on your own. All you need is a little practice. I think."

"You really think so?" Ophelia asked, slapping the book closed.

Soleil gave her companion a thumb's up and a wink. "I'm confident!"

Ophelia smiled, placing the book back on the shelf with a nod. "You're right, a true master of names can think them up on her own."

"What would you name our date?" Soleil asked, leading Ophelia away from the family planning area of the bookstore. Ophelia put a finger to her chin and hummed in thought. Her contemplation didn't last long, unfortunately, because another section of books caught her eye and she gasped before rushing off in their direction. Soleil laughed and shrugged. "Oh, silly Ophelia," she muttered to herself. "You are just incorrigible."

Despite Soleil's attempts, Ophelia still managed to walk out of the store having bought four or five books after another hour or two more of browsing. "That was fun!" She said happily, the large plastic sack full of books swaying back and forth on her arm. "What's next?"

"I'm not sure," Soleil said with a shrug. "We're downtown, so there're a bunch of options."

Ophelia looked around, examining the surrounding buildings and thinking to herself. "Let's explore and see if we stumble on anything."

That was the closest any of them had to an idea, so they set off, exploring the city blocks of downtown and looking for something to do. All the while, they continued chatting, as they had before they entered the bookstore. "So, about that name I asked you about earlier," Soleil said at one point.

"What name?" Ophelia's excitement over the books seemed to cause her to forget the earlier request completely.

"I asked you to name our date," Soleil reminded her.

Ophelia bounced a bit, her blonde curls bouncing with her. "Oh, right! Hm, I've never thought of the idea of naming a date before. Perhaps once it's over I'll have a good name to give it."

"Okay, I look forward to it," Soleil said with a smile. "Speaking of which, how are you enjoying yourself?"

Ophelia smirked and held a hand in front of her face playfully. "I guess you'll have to see when I give our date a name!"

"Fair enough," Soleil laughed.

The day passed, and the early afternoon hours turned into evening hours. The girls watched the sky darken, deciding it was probably best to wrap their date up and head home. "Do you want to grab dinner first?" Soleil asked once they had gotten to the light rail station. "I'd hate to send you off after your first date without dinner."

"I didn't see anywhere that would be a good dinner spot," Ophelia said sadly. "I would love to if there was anywhere close."

"I understand," Soleil said. "So, about that name..."

"Right!" Ophelia nodded and held a hand to the charm around her neck, fumbling with it and closing her eyes to think. Finally, her eyes shot open with a look of determination. "Alright, from this day forward, this very date will be known as The Galactic Downtown Adventure Tour!"

Soleil laughed, nodding her approval. "Sounds good. So did you have fun?"

Ophelia nodded. "Yeah, it was nice getting to know you better. Now I suspect we will get along just fine when you join the cheer squad." The last four words were delivered like a sucker punch, and reminded Soleil that that stipulation was the only reason she had gone on this date in the first place.

She sighed and gave Ophelia a weary smile. "You know what? I think I can do that. Since you held up your end of the bargain and all."

Before Ophelia could respond, her light rail arrived at the station, sliding to a stop behind her and flinging its doors open. "Oh, that's my train. I have to leave." She leaned in and hurriedly planted a smooch on Soleil's cheek. "See you in school, Soleil!" She waved with her free hand and skipped off, boarding the train just in time for the doors to slide closed and the train to start heading to the south of town.

Soleil would have waved at the departing train if the kiss hadn't taken her completely off guard.

Moments later, the train going north arrived on the other side of the station, and a dazed Soleil boarded it, staring into space and trying to commit the feeling of Ophelia's lips on her face to memory. When she got home and her father asked how the date had gone, she merely responded with a dreamy sigh. "Sounds like it went well," he laughed.

Soleil nodded and headed off into the house to rest her tired body and continue daydreaming about how her date went. It was nearly perfect, and the only way it could have gone better was if she had gotten a kiss on the lips from Ophelia. She looked in the mirror and saw the scab on her lip, looking better than that morning; but more importantly, it had gone completely forgotten once the date had started proper. If the date was good enough for her to forget the defect on her face, maybe joining the cheerleading squad would be worth it after all.

Then the school year started, and Soleil wanted to eat those words.

Ophelia was quick to find her on the first day, looking at her with a smug smirk. "Alright, Soleil," she said expectantly. "It's time to put your money where your mouth is."

Soleil sighed, struggling not to stare at Ophelia's lips, because looking there for too long would cause her think about the kiss she got, which would have ended in her day dreaming in the middle of a conversation. Again. Instead, she looked Ophelia in the eyes and said, "yeah, I know. My daddy didn't raise no liar, so I'll sign up. ...Just, when I can find the sheet."

Ophelia offered Soleil her hand. "I'll take you there," she said. Soleil hesitantly took her hand and they ventured down to the lunch room. Ophelia lead her to a tackboard on the wall with a bunch of papers and slips hanging off it. Ophelia grabbed a pen from her pants pocket and hastily scribbled her name on it, dotting her I with a star. Seriously, who gave her permission to be such a damn cutie? She offered her pen to Soleil, who refused it and grabbed her own pink gel pen. She jotted her own name down in the glittery ink and Ophelia nodded proudly. "There, now was that so hard?"

Soleil feigned her hand cramping dramatically. "Yes, actually," she cried out. "I think I might die!"

Ophelia laughed and turned on her heel, anxious to get to class. "Talk to you later, Soleil!"

"Later," Soleil called after her. When Ophelia was out of sight, she uncapped her pen again and drew a heart on each side of Ophelia's name, sighing dreamily as she did. The warning bell rang, startling her into rushing off to class.

The try outs weren't even for two weeks until after school started, and with every hour that passed, Soleil grew more nervous. Sure, she wouldn't be judged by the coach, because he was her own father! But all the other girls (and Percy if he wanted to go for it again) would surely scrutinize her up and down. She could already hear the cries of "you're only on the squad because you're daddy's little princess," and "you didn't earn your way on" bouncing around in her head.

The night before tryouts, Inigo knocked on Soleil's bedroom door, coming in to a very scared girl hiding under the sheets. "Soleil? Anybody home?" He jokingly knocked on the top of Soleil's head through the sheets. "I'd like to see the woman of the house."

Soleil couldn't resist his goofy tone and poked her head out, wearing a smile that wasn't forced, but still a little pained. "Yeah, dad?"

Inigo held up the cheer sign-up sheet, causing Soleil to flinch back. "I just wanted to tell you how proud I am that you're finally going out for cheerleading after all these years," he said, pointing at Soleil's glittery name.

"Yeah, well I won't be sticking around long, I'm sure," Soleil said. Suddenly, one of her fears rose up and she stood from her bed, looking her father in the eye with a frantic look. "Right! Dad! I want you to promise me something!"

Inigo took a step back, startled by Soleil's sudden volume. "Wh-what is it?"

Soleil didn't need to yell, but she was so nervous and anxious that she had no other idea of how to convey this request. "I need you to promise me to be brutally honest about how much I suck!" The next bit wasn't said without choking up a little bit. "If...if I'm a terrible cheerleader who can't do shit, I want you to tell me that upfront and not let me onto the squad just because I'm your daughter!"

Inigo nodded, putting a soothing hand on Soleil's shoulder. "Is that what you're scared of?"

"A little bit," Soleil admitted. "I'm already going to embarrass myself in front of the girl I like, so I don't need you pretending I'm better than I am on top of it."

Inigo motioned to the bed, where they both took a seat before he wrapped his arm around his shoulder. "Soleil, my flower, I understand that you're scare of messing up, but don't worry about a thing. If you go in there and do your very best, you'll do a job that will make everyone proud. And, yes, I'd love for you to be on my cheer squad, but if you just don't have what it takes, I promise you I won't show you any special treatment."

"Thanks," Soleil managed. "Do you really think I'll do good?"

"Absolutely!" Inigo said. "If you're anything like me or your grandmother, you'll do great."

"But what if I'm more like mom?" Soleil asked, running a hand through her pink hair and thinking about the last time her mother tripped in front of her (which was about twenty minutes ago).

"Then I will still be proud of my daughter," Inigo assured her. He kissed her forehead and took a stand. "Alright, well we should both get some sleep, eh? Big day tomorrow, after all."

"Right," Soleil agreed.

As Inigo reached the door, he said, "oh, one more thing?"

"Yeah, daddy?"

He held up the sheet and pointed at the name above Soleil's. "Next time you wanna be sly, remember your dad gets this sign-up sheet and can see what you draw on it with your signature pen." Soleil's face heated up and she wordlessly buried her face in her pillow, laughing so hard tears streamed down her face. Inigo smiled and left the room, closing the door tight behind him.

This was going to be one interesting day.

And it was. Despite the classes leading up to it being about as boring as they could possibly be, the Soleil who usually didn't pay attention due to staring at pretty girls was replaced by a Soleil who couldn't bring herself to focus on anything except the impending terror of what was sure to be a horrendous failure of a tryout. When lunch came, she quickly found Ophelia and grabbed a seat next to her, looking for someone to talk about her fears to. Ophelia nodded understanding as Soleil talked to her about her fears. When Soleil wrapped up her venting with a question of what to expect, she received a confused look. "Weren't you at tryouts last year?" Ophelia asked.

"I guess," Soleil said with a shrug. "I don't remember any of it, though. I really only stayed on my phone and admired the pretty girls."

"Of course you did," Ophelia laughed. "Okay, well, all you'll need to do are some standard moves, nothing too ambitious."

Soleil nodded, biting her lip nervously. "Alright, good to know that I'll be fucking up the easy stuff," she sighed.

"You will not," Ophelia assured her. "All you have to do is think limber thoughts. ...And eat your lunch. Last year, I didn't eat breakfast the day of tryouts and I ended up regretting it."

Soleil laughed at the seemingly out of nowhere advice. "Yeah, right."

"No, I'm serious," Ophelia insisted. "You'll thank me when your stomach isn't killing you after tryouts."

Soleil wanted to argue, but Ophelia's dead serious look convinced her not to, and they spent most of the rest of lunch eating in relative silence. Finally, once their meal had wrapped up and everyone around them was preparing for their next class, Soleil asked one more question of Ophelia. "Do you really think I can do it?"

"Absolutely," Ophelia nodded. "If I didn't think you could do it, I wouldn't have made that deal with you."

"No," Soleil corrected her. "You went on that date with me to try to convince me that cheerleading is a sport, which I remain unconvinced about."

Ophelia laughed knowingly, grabbing her stuff and taking a stand. "You'll see soon enough," she said in a tone Soleil didn't like much at all.

The day drew to a close, and after the final bell sounded, Soleil grabbed her things and made tracks for the gym. After quickly changing into gym clothes, she stood in a line with the other girls (and Percy and one other boy) in a scene that was very familiar to the girls (and Percy) who had been on the squad the previous year. Even the coach's speech was very similar to the one he had given the previous year. "Alright everybody, you are all here to be a part of Nohr High School's beloved cheer squad." A paused to allow Percy to shout the school's slogan. "I'm very proud of the turnout this year. To be specific, I do believe this is the largest number of returning cheerleaders I've ever seen! However, if you are a returnee, don't get cocky, because I will still need you to tryout formally. Just to make sure this summer hasn't caused you to get out of shape.

"For those trying out for the first time, please be wary. I know some of you are doing this to avoid having to take P.E., but let me be clear: cheerleading is so much harder than P.E. that if you let your guard down, you'll shed blood that you wouldn't have in that class. So if that's your motivation, leave now." He paused, letting anyone who that warning apply to leave, but nobody left, and everybody remained staring at him. Once more he got flustered, turning and starting to pace in front of the prospective and returning cheerleaders. "Now, what is the most important thing to know about cheerleading?"

Ophelia jumped into the air, throwing her hand up eagerly. Just like the year before, she shouted, "cheerleading is a sport!"

Inigo smiled and pointed at Ophelia. "You haven't changed a bit over the summer. Very good. She's right! Remember, people will tease you, make fun of you, and try to tell you that cheerleading is merely standing around looking pretty, but cheerleading is just as physically exhausting as any proper sport. Keep that in mind!" His gaze landed on his daughter just in time to see her roll her eyes. He smiled devilishly and shook his head, continuing, "we will have routines, exercises, tumbling, lifting, and basically, if you can name it, it's probably in cheerleading. If you don't believe me now, you will. That's a promise from your coach Laslow. Now, head into the locker rooms and wait for your name to be called. We'll be doing individual tryouts. Break!"

The girls scurried into the locker room (with Percy obviously going into a different room) and some of the nervous girls who were going out for their first year of cheerleading started asking the returning squad members questions about what to expect. Soleil listened to the answers, trying to put on an air of not being perturbed. As the girls started filing out when their names were called, conversation died down a bit, which gave Ophelia the opportunity to approach Soleil. "Hey, how are you holding up?"

Soleil shrugged. "Same as earlier. Bundle of nerves, you know."

Ophelia nodded understanding and took a seat next to Soleil, letting their arms brush against each other. "Hey, at least this won't be like last year." When asked what she was talking about, she elaborated, "last year, my name was the last one on the sign-up sheet, so I was the last one in here. That was pretty hard on the nerves."

"I guess, but that won't help much," Soleil admitted.

"Why not?"

Soleil felt her face heat up as she said, "my name's after yours, so you won't be by my side the whole time to help ease my nerves, which is almost as bad." Ophelia's face flushed deep red, and she stuttered, trying to think of something to say. What came out was a nervous laugh, accompanied by her hand resting on top of Soleil's. "What, too cheesy?"

Ophelia laughed again, a genuine one this time. "No, it's fine. I was just...surprised." Suddenly, her name was called from the door, and she jumped up, taking a deep breath and giving Soleil a thumb's up. "Text me and tell me how it goes. And remember: limber thoughts."

"Right," Soleil nodded. "Good luck, not that you'll need it." She hated seeing Ophelia go, but watching her leave wasn't too terrible. She spent the next few minutes staring at the wall absently, thinking about what to expect. Finally, her own name was called, and she could tell her father was hard at work resisting following up with a cutesy pet name. Ophelia came in and grabbed her stuff, accompanying Soleil out the door and heading for the gym's exit with a wave. A pair of pom-poms sat in the middle of the gym and Soleil did as she figured she was expected to do and picked them up. "Hi dad," she said quietly.

"Hey now, when you're in this gym and I'm wearing this whistle around my neck, you will be calling me coach Laslow," he said.

"But that's so weird," Soleil protested.

Laslow barked a laugh and took a stand from his favorite seat in the bleachers. "It's how I do things, now let's get started. You aren't doing this to skip P.E., are you?"

"No," Soleil said, shaking her head.

"Yet you don't think cheerleading's a sport, is that correct?" Laslow fiddled with the whistle in his hand, seemingly ready to blow into it at the drop of a hat.

Soleil bit her lip, shrugging nonchalantly. "Not...really? That's why Ophelia convinced me to sign up, to try and prove to me that it is."

"I see," Laslow said, a smile making its way across his face. "I'm glad to hear it. You'll be convinced soon enough. Now let's do some exercises! These will be the basic moves you'll be expected to know for the year, so try to figure them out quickly. If you can't you may not make it onto the squad."

And so they got to work, Laslow barking orders and Soleil doing her best to follow them. The requests weren't overly hard to fill once Laslow explained how to do them, but there were a few flubs, leading to Soleil falling on her butt and immediately sharing a laugh with her father. Every maneuver that she performed was followed by Laslow looking down and frantically scribbling a note down. It got to the point that Soleil needed to look away when she knew he was taking a note, but the sound of the pencil scratching on the paper was impossible not to listen to. What felt like an eternity later, Laslow took a stand, putting his clipboard down next to him, and stepped down from the bleachers. He gingerly took the pom-poms off Soleil's hands and took her into a tight hug, patting her back and saying, "I'm so proud of you, Soleil. It took a few years longer than I would have liked, but I finally managed to get you to try out for cheerleading, and I couldn't be more happy for you."

"Thanks," Soleil said. "Even though I signed up because of a girl and not you?"

Laslow laughed and pulled away, moving both of his hands to Soleil's shoulders. "I knew it would happen that way if it happened at all, so yes." After they shared a laugh, he left his daughter's side to sit at the bleachers again. "Now grab your stuff and take a seat next to me."

Soleil nodded, and once she had herself settled, she elbowed her father's side. "So did I make it in?"

He smiled and shook his head. "You'll see when I hand out the acceptance letters."

"Damn it," Soleil mumbled.

Not long after getting home, Soleil's phone lit up with a text from Ophelia, asking eagerly if she got accepted. She responded with the explanation that she had to wait for the letter just like everybody else. Ophelia's response was a confused. "what? I was told right away last year."

"Weird," was Soleil's response, typed out while half-watching a show.

"Granted, telling me early was kind of a bad idea, but still..."

That message was ignored, because Soleil's mind started jumping to conclusions, evidenced by her next text, "oh no, what if I didn't make it in and that's why he didn't tell me?"

Since this as a text conversation, Soleil waited for Ophelia to respond, though her mind had made several logic leaps in the time it took for her phone to light up again. The message said, "calm down until after I tell you the story of what happened last year." Despite her sudden panic, Soleil patiently waited for Ophelia to type out the story, which took five texts to send thanks to her flair for dramatics. However, after working through the fluff and reading the story of Ophelia accusing Laslow of favoritism the previous year, Soleil started to calm down a bit.

"So you're saying he's just making sure no one can say he's playing favorites," she asked.

"I think that's it exactly," Ophelia assured her. "Just wait it out, okay?"

That was easier said than done. A week passed without any news regarding the cheer squad, and the would-be newcomers to the squad started to get nervous, turning to the returnees for reassurance. They were usually good about dissuading people's fears (especially Percy), but only Ophelia's word could calm Soleil's nerves. The newcomers were assured that if they got accepted, coach Laslow would find them during lunch.

One morning, Soleil couldn't help but notice a stack of envelopes sitting snugly between the driver's and passenger's seats on the way to school. She looked their way, but just as she was able to make out Ophelia's name, her father put one hand on top of the stack. "Hey now," he warned, eyes still on the road. "Spoilers, my dear."

"Aw come on," Soleil said. "You've kept me in the dark long enough."

"You get to figure it out at the same time everyone else does," Laslow assured her. Soleil asked in a sweet voice if she could learn just a little sooner, and he bit his lip. "We'll see," he said. Reluctantly, Soleil accepted the answer and stared at the stack under his hand. "I should have let you drive today," he grumbled, realizing his hand was going to have to stay put for the entire drive.

The day wore on, and shortly after the lunch bell rang, Soleil hurriedly entered the combination on her locker. The sooner she could get to lunch, the sooner she could learn if she was accepted or not. She flung open her locker and saw an envelope sitting just inside, her name inscribed on it in fancy cursive. She gasped, put her stuff away and grabbed the envelope, too eager to wait any longer. She carefully dug into it and produced a paper. It was clearly not personalized, but that wasn't important; what was important was the message inside, which congratulated Soleil on making it onto the cheer squad! Soleil loudly celebrated, causing some students to give her weird looks, but she couldn't have cared less about the eyes on her at the moment. She had to tell Ophelia right away! She ran to the lunch room, a woman on a mission. When she found Ophelia, the blonde girl didn't get so far as a greeting before getting tackled by a tight hug. "Wha-what's this about?" She asked.

"I did it!" Soleil said happily. "I made it!"

Ophelia's face lit up and she started returning the hug. "You did? Oh yay! I'm so happy for you!"

They broke apart and Soleil flashed Ophelia the envelope. "See? Here's your proof."

"Nice,"Ophelia said with a nod. "Now you get to see just how much of a sport cheerleading is!

Soleil scoffed, pocketing the letter. "Please, as if. If anything, I'll just show you how easy I can do everything."

"You're on," Ophelia said, her eyes narrowing. She was, of course, the first person besides Soleil to receive her letter, and the girls spent the rest of lunch talking about how excited they were to get to know each other and the new girls to the squad over the coming year. The first practice came and went days later, Soleil and Ophelia using that time to meet the new girls together (Percy was still the only boy on the squad) after telling Laslow what size uniforms they needed.

Then, the second practice came and the real trouble started.

The first order of business on the second day of practice was putting on the new uniforms. They were slightly different from the last year's, but the girls who had done cheerleading already had no problem adjusting to the new look. Once she had it on, Soleil did a spin or two, asking Ophelia how she looked. After receiving a positive response, she pinched the sides of the skirt, doing a curtsey with it while examining the length. "The skirt's not too bad," she mused. "I could see myself doing the thing with this."

"The thing...?" Ophelia asked warily. "Do I even want to know what you're talking about?"

Soleil rolled her eyes. "Oh, I'm on the squad now, so you don't have to pretend anymore. You know, the thing cheerleaders do on game days to rile the sports player up."

"Um, cheer?" Sophie guessed.

Soleil shook her head insistently. "No, the other thing!" When her response was silence, she motioned to her skirt. "The thing where you don't wear panties to excite the boys!"

A moment passed in that locker room that was so silent that one could hear a pin drop from outside the school. Ophelia hesitantly put a hand on Soleil's shoulder and said, "er, Soleil? Where...did you hear that?"

"I read it," Soleil said. "In...my stories."

"What kind of stories have you been reading?" Sophie asked. "Because that is so not true."

Soleil's face started to heat up when faced with that fact, but before the other girls could laugh at her and embarrass her, Nina stepped in, face red as she said, "however, that gives me a wonderful idea!"

The girls shared a laugh at Nina before heading out to practice. "Man, I'm glad I learned that before a game day," Soleil said to Ophelia on their way out.

"It's okay," Ophelia assured her. "Everyone has their misconceptions, even if yours was a bit weird."

"What can I say," Soleil responded. "I'm a hormonal teenage girl who loves other hormonal teenage girls."

For Soleil, the trouble didn't end there, because Laslow came out of the gate giving the girls (and Percy) extremely strenuous tasks, as if he was purposefully throwing out the hardest ones he could possibly think of. The new recruits had a considerable struggle with this method, and the returning members were confused about Laslow's change in coaching this year. When someone asked him to explain himself, he shrugged and made a dismissive hand gesture. "Worry not. There's a method to my madness. Remember, keep smiling!"

Soleil was having a hard time keeping to this ideal, because she was easily the worst member of the cheer squad at nearly every action. Where most of the girls would perform something flawlessly, Soleil would, more often than not, miss the landing or slip up at some point and end up hitting the padded ground hard. Laslow would do as he did with all the other girls, and that was to help Soleil up, tell her to smile, and pat her on the back before sending her off to try again.

After a month with only minimal improvement, Soleil cracked during one particularly infuriating practice. When prompted to smile, she stomped her foot and shot a glare at her father. "How can I smile when I'm so terrible at this?"

"Everyone has to start somewhere," Laslow assured her. "You just need to keep working at it."

Soleil crossed her arms and pursed her lips. "Yeah, I started at the bottom and I'm still there! I don't think it's even possible for me to get better!"

Moving his hands to his daughter's shoulders, Laslow gave her a warm smile. "Hey now, you don't actually believe that."

"I'm trying not to, but it's so hard," Soleil whined. "What if I can't do it?"

"You can," Laslow promised her. "Your grandmother was a dancer, I'm a dancer and a cheerleader; this is in your blood."

Soleil shook her head, tears starting to form in her eyes. "It doesn't matter if it's in my blood, I can't do it!"

Laslow's face grew serious, his smile disappearing. "You can," he insisted.

Soleil nearly screamed, "I can't!"

"You just need a rest to clear your mind," Laslow said, brushing off the fact that his daughter just yelled in his face. He patted her shoulders again and said, "take five, Soleil." He ushered her into the locker room and continued addressing the others without missing a beat.

Once she arrived, she tore her headband from her hair and threw it at a locker with a frustrated yell. "Gods, damn it!" She sat down hard on a bench and buried her face in her hands. "Why did I think this was a good idea?" She spent the next couple of minutes silently focusing on her breathing, taking deep breaths and shuddering with anger every few exhales. She didn't hear the door to the gym open, so when a hand found itself on her shoulder, she screamed. She jumped to her feet and turned to see a startled Ophelia, hand outstretched and eyes wide. "Oh...hey Ophelia. What's...what's up?"

"I wanted to check up on you," Ophelia answered.

Soleil's face settled and she guessed, "because my dad asked you to, right?"

Ophelia put on a stern frown and crossed her arms. "No, because I wanted to."

Her friend's eyes held sincerity, so Soleil immediately felt guilty for assuming, rubbing the back of her head awkwardly. "Oh, sorry."

"It's okay," Ophelia assured her. She moved to where Soleil had thrown her headband and picked up the white piece, examining the golden marks running along it. "I've always thought this was a really pretty headband," she said in an attempt to change the subject. "Where'd you get it?"

Soleil shrugged, taking her seat again. "I dunno. It belonged to my grandma before she died."

Ophelia nodded and approached Soleil. "I see," she said as she took a seat next to her. "Did you know her?"

Soleil shook her head. "No. My father said she died before I was born. Sometimes he jokes that I'm her reincarnation, as if he believes in that sort of thing."

Ophelia laughed a soft, but genuine sounding laugh. "That sounds like something my dad would do too. I too didn't get to meet my grandmother. I have a trinket from her too, actually."

"Is it that necklace you showed me before the cheer competition?" Soleil asked, to which she got a nod in response. "That's cool that we have that in common."

Ophelia nodded quickly. "Yeah." They sat together in silence for a minute, Soleil feeling better just by sitting next to Ophelia. Finally, Ophelia cleared her throat. "Okay, time to address the elephant in the room. How are you doing?"

"Not well," Soleil responded, her mood instantly dropping. "I can't do any of these stunts, and my dad isn't even helping! I know I told him not to show favoritism, but I didn't mean for him to be harder on me."

Nodding, Ophelia slid closer to Soleil, their arms brushing together. "I know, but keep in mind that this is hard for all of us. He didn't start with stuff this difficult last year."

Soleil sniffled, still down, but appreciating Ophelia's presence. "I wonder what's different this year."

'What's different is that he skipped the easier stuff," Ophelia said. "If he covered the easy stuff that you need to know to do the hard stuff right, you wouldn't be having so much trouble." After a moment of contemplation, she suddenly bounced, startling Soleil. "Hey, I have an idea! What if I helped you?"

"What?"

Ophelia nodded happily. "Yeah, what if I helped you get the stunts down? It'd be like tutoring, but with cheerleading. You'd get to learn the easier stuff, I'd get a refresher on that same stuff, and then, when we come back to practice after the fact, we'll blow them all away!"

Soleil straightened up, eager for the opportunity to spend extra time with Ophelia. "That sounds like an awesome idea! Let's do it!"

"Alright," Ophelia said. "We'll set something up later, but until then, let's get back out there, okay?" When Soleil nodded agreement, Ophelia got to her feet and stretched. When she realized Soleil's headband was still in her hand, she slid it back on her friend's head, pausing after she was done to stare into her eyes. Soleil was perfectly okay with that, and the two girls stayed frozen like that for a few moments, just taking each other in with Ophelia's hands framing Soleil's face. When Soleil's eyes narrowed and she leaned in closer, Ophelia's face flushed and she jumped back, awkwardly clearing her throat to change the subject. "Let's, uh, go back now, yeah?"

"Yeah," Soleil said, taking Ophelia's hand and using it to help herself stand up. "But I saw that! You're not getting away from me, Ophelia Dusk!"

"Shut up and get back to practice."

After practice, Soleil followed her dad to the car, ready to rest her tired muscles at home. "Would you like to drive us home?" Laslow offered, to which Soleil responded by sadly shaking her head. When they got in the car and started heading home, Soleil sighed as she freed her hair from her headband, looking at the piece with uncertainty in her eyes. "Dad, do I deserve to wear this?" The question was asked in a voice so silent that if she hadn't been heard, she wouldn't have pushed the subject.

However, she had been heard, and coach Laslow had clearly become Inigo again when he said, "of course you deserve to wear that. It looks great on you."

"No, I don't mean like that," she clarified, watching her father reach for the radio to turn the catchy pop music down. "I mean, like, is there any way for me to live up to my grandma's legacy that doesn't involve embarrassing myself in front of so many people?"

Inigo sighed, refusing to take the eyes off the road but putting on a sympathetic smile. "Soleil, my flower. Don't worry about that. You weren't given that headband to be just like your grandmother, it was given to you because it's one of the only things I have left of my mother. There was never any pressure to follow in her elegant footsteps."

"Oh really?" Soleil snapped, her blood starting to boil. "Then why did you write my name down on the sign-up sheets three years in a row? If there was no pressure, what do you call all those smart remarks about me going out for ballet, or interpretive dance, or cheerleading?"

Inigo's eyes widened and he bit his lip. "Er, I can see how you would think that..."

Soleil tossed the headband into Inigo's lap before crossing her arms and fixating her gaze squarely out the passenger window. "I've heard enough," she said simply. "I'm quitting the cheer squad."

She thought the sudden stopping of the vehicle was because of what she said, but when she looked to the windshield, she saw that they had gotten home. Inigo, however, was sitting in the driver's seat, hands tight on the wheel and gaze downcast. "Soleil, that's a big decision."

Soleil stubbornly shook her head. "No, joining was a big decision, and it wasn't even made for me!"

Inigo's response came quickly. "True, but it wasn't me who finally pushed you into doing it, it was Ophelia." The succinct and calm response shut Soleil up immediately, and they sat together in silence in the car for a moment. Finally, Inigo said, "talk to her about this before you make that decision. It may be nice to get a second opinion." Finally, he reached to the keys and shut the car off. "I'm sorry," was all he said before getting out and making haste to the front door. Soleil sat alone in the car for a moment, thinking over the tone her father had used for his apology, almost like it pained him to have to say. Or maybe it pained him to leave?

Whichever it was, Soleil's thoughts were interrupted by her phone vibrating. She looked down at her phone to see Ophelia's name shining at her through her tear-stained vision. It was then she realized she had been crying, but she couldn't recall for how long to save her life. The text was about the tutoring session that had been suggested earlier, and Ophelia's question (in simple terms) had been when worked best for Soleil. After running through her mental schedule, Soleil responded that she didn't have anything going on during the weekend, so a plan was made for that Sunday, which happened to only be a day out. Finally, Soleil dragged herself out of the car and made her way inside, excited to take the next day off, but arguably more excited to get to spend some time alone with Ophelia again. However, the downtime wouldn't have excited her so much if she had known that the day leading up to the tutoring session was going to be an awkward, quiet mess in her house. Inigo seemed to withdraw completely, and both Soleil and her mother got a particularly strong anti-social vibe from him, so neither of them felt courageous enough to ask what was troubling him. Both him and his daughter were giving off the air of something being very wrong though, so it wasn't difficult to guess what was amiss.

Sunday afternoon came, and not long after giving Ophelia her address, Soleil was greeted by a text telling her to grab her uniform and head outside. The crappy car sitting out front definitely belonged to her friend, but she was confused when she took a seat inside to find only Ophelia sitting in the driver's seat. "Is this kosher?" She asked.

Ophelia nodded and proudly produced a wallet from her pocket. She opened it to reveal that coveted card nestled neatly in the middle. "I'm proud to announce that I have just recently earned my proper driver's license, so yes, I can drive wherever I want with whoever I like."

"Neat!" Soleil said, bouncing in her seat and putting her seatbelt on. "So let's head out. I really need to get good today."

Not picking up the vague implication of a deadline in her friend's voice, Ophelia shifted into drive and set off, towards a local gym. Once they got there, Soleil repeated herself while they were changing into their uniforms, finally prompting a, "what do you mean?"

"If I can't get any better after today, I'm quitting the squad." The words were delivered with the hesitation of a girl who knew exactly who she was talking to, and dreading the response, which was assuredly going to be over the top and dramatic.

Instead, Ophelia sighed and nodded understanding. "I see. I'd understand."

"Really, you would?" Soleil asked.

Shooting a pointed gaze at her companion, Ophelia cracked a smile. "On one condition." When prompted further, she said, "do you recognize cheerleading as a sport now that you see how hard it is?"

Soleil buried her face in her palm. She should have known that was coming sooner or later. Despite her annoyance, she meant it when she answered with, "yeah, I do. I didn't give you girls—and Percy—enough credit."

"Good," Ophelia said with a nod. "Now let's get out there, shall we?"

Soleil nodded, but got distracted when she tried to brush her pink hair from her face. That shouldn't have been a problem. "Wait, where'd my headband go?"

"You weren't wearing it when you got in the car," Ophelia answered. "I figured it was in your purse."

Soleil shook her head, only bothered by her unrestrained hair because now she was thinking about it. "If it's not on my head, it's on the nightstand by my bed. That's how it works." Then she remembered when she threw it at her dad. He must have kept it to himself for the time being, which caused a couple different feelings to start swirling around in Soleil's chest.

"It'll turn up." Oblivious to this new train of thought, Ophelia dug out two headbands from her own purse and offered them both. "Here, you can have one of mine." She wiggled the one covered in stars and said, "this one's Galaxia, and the yellow one's Sarah."

Several questions arose from that one simple sentence. "You even name your headbands?" Soleil started with a laugh. When answered by a nod, she shook her head playfully. "Gods, you are too cute. I'll take the one with the simple name, because that's clearly your backup."

Ophelia smiled and handed the plain yellow headband to Soleil. "Hey, don't underestimate the power of a princess."

"It's a princess now, huh?" Soleil asked, taking the headband but wishing Ophelia had put it on her head for her like she had the other day.

"That's the meaning behind the name Sarah, so yes," Ophelia responded, putting Galaxia on her own head. "Now let's get going, shall we?"

The gym Ophelia had chosen for practice was kind of empty, but that was alright, because the girls needed a lot of open space and the lack of people meant nobody to protest when they pulled out the gymnastics mats and laid them out across floor that would usually be taken by rowdy basketball players. While they were stretching, Soleil decided to make small talk. "So, I don't think I'm going to improve today. I inherited my mom's clumsiness more than my grandmother's grace."

Ophelia shrugged. "You know Sophie? She was—and still is pretty clumsy, and all it takes is a few moments outside practice to see that. Cheerleading helped her out, and it can help you, too."

"How did Sophie do it?" Soleil asked, barely being able to wrap her head around the idea of Sophie being a klutz.

Ophelia stood straight, confident in the stretches she had done, and spoke as she watched Soleil continue her own stretches. "She told me she gets into the zone. Really focuses on the task at hand and kinda...forgets all about it. It's admirable, really."

"I see," Soleil said. She too stood from her stretches and nodded. "Alright, teach, let's get this over with. Where do we start?"

Ophelia smiled, liking the sound of the nickname for whatever reason. "Unlike coach Laslow, we'll start with simple stuff. Then, when we go to practice tomorrow, you'll at least be a little more ready for the harder stunts."

"Right," Soleil nodded. "Lead the way, cutie!"

At the sound of the pet name, Ophelia only protested a little bit before beginning to tutor her friend. Once the lessons started, however, everything changed. She did as Sophie apparently did and set everything else aside to focus on the stunts she was doing (and the beautiful girl instructing her, of course). She couldn't tell if it was the lesser difficulty of the stunts she was being asked to perform, or the method she had learned about moments earlier, but she was doing infinitely better. There were a couple of stumbles and falls at the start, but once Soleil got into it, she did much better than she could have hoped. After a couple of hours that flew by, Ophelia took a deep breath. "Alright, I think we've done enough today. How are you feeling?"

"Like I can do anything!" Soleil said, proudly puffing her chest out. "Thank you so much for taking me out today, Ophelia. It means a lot to me."

The girls scurried back into the locker room, feeling accomplished but exhausted. Soleil quickly freed herself of the top of her cheer uniform and sat on one of the benches, breathing heavily. Ophelia smiled and proceeded to start changing herself, but not without catching herself looking at her topless friend occasionally. "So, have you thought about what you're going to do about quitting the squad?"

Soleil shook her head. "Now that I know how to do the simple stuff, I think I'll be okay."

"Glad to hear it," Ophelia said. "It means a lot that I was able to help."

Soleil hummed contentedly and nodded. "It means a whole lot to me too. I owe you so much for this. How can I possibly repay you?"

Feeling her face heating up, Ophelia shrugged hesitantly. "Don't...uh, don't talk like that when you're not fully-clothed."

Soleil smirked and reached up to move her bra strap from her shoulder before giving Ophelia a suggestive look. "What, am I flustering you?"

"N-no!" Ophelia snapped, laughing awkwardly. "Just put a damn shirt on, okay?"

"I'm totally flustering you," Soleil laughed. "But fine, whatever." They got themselves dressed and left the gym, hopping into Ophelia's car. The sun was starting to descend, signaling the end of the day. "Does this car have a name too?"

Ophelia laughed, shifting into drive and making her way through the gym's parking lot. "That's like asking if the ocean's deep! My beloved first car has been lovingly named the SS Virginis!"

Soleil raised an eyebrow. "That's an...odd one."

Ophelia laughed as she flipped her turn signal on. "I got it on my birthday, and I'm a virgo, so I named it after one of the stars in the constellation."

Soleil nodded understanding. "So, uh, where are we going now?"

Ophelia bit her lip. "Right, I should ask before I just drag you places. I was kind of...uh, just hoping that you would wanna...grab some dinner with me or something."

Soleil gasped deeply, looking to Ophelia in the dimming sunlight with a giddy expression. "You mean you wanna go on a dinner date? Hell yeah, sign me up! Let's go wherever you want."

And they did, the dinner being pleasant and their seat in the restaurant giving them a stunning view of the sun setting over the mountains. Ophelia offered to pay with the money her father had given her for the day, but Soleil adamantly refused, insisting that picking up the tab was the least she could do. After leaving a nice tip for their cute server, they got going. They decided to end their day there, as it was a school night, after all. When Ophelia pulled up in front of Soleil's house and unlocked the doors for her, Soleil slipped Sarah the headband off her head. "Here you go," she offered.

Ophelia shook her head and declined. "No, you hold on to it until you find your grandmother's."

She knew exactly where to ask to find her grandmother's headband, but the gesture was so nice that Soleil couldn't bear to reject it outright. "Thanks," she said, taking her seatbelt off and preparing to leave. "And thanks for everything today. Really. I don't know where I'd be without you."

"Not on the squad, first of all," Ophelia laughed. "But I'm glad I could help."

Soleil groaned in frustration. "No, you don't understand, this means so, so much more to me than you can ever know, and I don't know how to convey that."

Ophelia put a finger to her chin, stroking it in thought. "Hm, maybe you could form a monologue like my dad and I do. That usually helps me express my feelings."

Soleil shook her head, the inkling of a plan coming to her. "Maybe that works for you guys, but I work differently. Here, I have an idea." Before Ophelia could ask what that idea was, Soleil pulled her in close and planted a timid kiss on her lips. She pulled back to see Ophelia's stunned face immediately as red as a tomato in the dying light of the day. "Heh. Sorry about that," she said quickly before bolting out of the car and into her house.

About fifteen minutes later, her phone buzzed with a text from Ophelia. It read, "it's okay, I guess you deserve my first kiss after all I've put you through."