5083/Reading Rainbow

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Reading Rainbow
Date of Scene: 08 February 2021
Location: Library
Synopsis: Noriko catches up with Jubilation after she fled from the workout room following Noriko unwittingly brazen display of her affections in front of Paige, and the girl's subsequent comments. Noriko and Jubilation try to navigate the tailspin around their own orientations.
Cast of Characters: Jubilation Lee, Noriko Ashida

Jubilation Lee has posed:
    Slowly, the door to the library opens a touch and Jubilation Lee hesitantly slips through the narrow opening. She gently closes it behind herself and reluctantly lets go of the knob. She turns to look out in the library and takes a deep breath. Has she ever been in here? Either way, it would be the last place anyone would look. Perfect.

    She proceeds slowly, as one might when in enemy territory. Jubilee turns her head at each row of books and finally turns down one that's empty. She goes down the row and turns a corner. Dead end. With a sigh, Jubes sits down, hugs her bare knees, and settles in for some serious thinking.

Noriko Ashida has posed:
Noriko runs right past the library three times on her way to search other locations.  In fact, she ends up at the front door after having searched the grounds two times in a row.  One hand holding her wrist on the top of her head, she races through all of the places she's checked, an avalanche of words dithering out of her.

"...the library?!" emerges, discernible yet distorted.  Noriko races to the last option, her shoes pounding the rugs without a thought.

"No running!" is hissed in a stage whisper.  Nori's tell was letting the door swing shut behind her.  She comes to a stop and then has to walk around to find Jubes at human speed.  Not here.  Not here.  Not here.  She walks the stacks looking down each aisle.  Maybe she missed something.  Maybe Jubes got hurt and fell somewhere and-

"Jubes," Noriko whispers when she sees her.  She walks over and leans back against the books behind her, gauntlets behind her back.  "I'm sorry if I embarrassed you."

Jubilation Lee has posed:
    When she hears her name, Jubilee looks up and curls her lips inward. "You didn't," she whispers back. She slides over to make some room for Noriko to sit beside her. Minutes ago, Paige Guthrie had witnessed Noriko kissing her in the workout room and used a particular word to describe them. She didn't mean anything by it, but it was shocking for Jubilee. It led her to seek solitude in the library.

    Jubilee lifts her eyebrows and patpatpats the ground to her side, hopefully.

    "Sorry I ran off," she adds.

Noriko Ashida has posed:
Noriko moves to sit down, arriving the instant Jubilee's hand gives clearance to do so.  Okay maybe she had to move Jubilee's hand a little.  But she wants to be there for Jubes.  Who wants to be leaning back against books?

The speedster lifts her arm to put it around Jubilee's shoulders and kisses her temple.  She reaches for Jubes' hands with her free gauntlet.  "You don't have to say that.  What happened in there?"  It could be a number of things that have been shooting through Nori's mind like white fire.

Jubilation Lee has posed:
    Jubilation reaches both hands for that offered gauntlet, clutching the cold metal tightly. She takes a breath and cuddles against Noriko, leaning into that arm and the kiss at her temple. Silence comes just as easily as the comfort she feels against the other girl.

    Eventually, Jubilee finds the words. "...She said we're..." Jubilee whispers, turning to look at the other girl's eyes, hoping she doesn't need to finish her sentence. Her tone suggests confusion above all else. Not disgust or embarrassment.

Noriko Ashida has posed:
Noriko doesn't say anything.  She doesn't fill in that blank.  She doesn't crack a joke.  "Someone was going to say it," as if she's already this way or has thought about it a thousand times already.

But Noriko doesn't know what else to say, only what she feels.  Not something that is supposed to come out in words, not the way Nori feels it.  She squeezes Jubilee.

Jubilation Lee has posed:
    Jubilee swallows that. Someone was going to say it. "But, is it true?" she wonders aloud, as if Noriko could somehow know. This hadn't even occurred to Jubilation, not even once. Her feelings for Noriko just seemed so self evident, always there and just waiting for her to discover them. It didn't occur to her what others might say about them.

    "I..." She tries and then stops. "Do you look at other girls? Because... I don't." It's true, she doesn't, but perhaps not for obvious reasons. This line of discussion requires careful treading.

Noriko Ashida has posed:
Noriko's pushed this issue down so many times, there is no way to count them.  When Jubilation directly confronts it with that question left hanging in the air, somehow it feels so real, even more real than when Paige decided for her.  "I-"  Noriko speaks quietly, though she usually uses speed for all stealth, including underhanded comments she knows will cause casualties to unintended bystanders.

The speedster waits for more words from Jubilee, but they are replaced.  A different direction?  And it hits her in the gut.  If she asks when, then Jubilee will know it is a yes.  But Nori doesn't know what will happen when it is a yes.  She only realizes in that moment that she always wants to be honest with Jubilee.  She'd already felt this, but this wasn't easy.

"Are you trying to figure out if I'm gay?"  Noriko blinks in surprise and confusion of her own.  "Does that matter?"  She wants to crawl inside herself and disappear completely as if she were folding herself into some kind of wink in time and space.

Jubilation Lee has posed:
    Conversely, Jubilation never confronted it. Never once. She never had to. Does she have to now? It's all so very confusing. When Noriko says the word, Jubes averts her gaze. "No, it doesn't matter," Jubilee replies, shaking her head gently. "...I..." Her eyes lower to her hands at the other girl's gauntlet.

    "I'm trying to figure out if I am," she answers, returning her eyes to Noriko's, as if they contain an answer to this question. She knows how she feels about THIS girl, there's no confusion there. But, other girls don't exist to her. Boys don't either. Just Nori.

Noriko Ashida has posed:
When Jubes averts her gaze, Noriko shrinks more and removes her arm from over Jubilee's shoulders, but it ends up over Jubilee's hands.  They are distinctively larger in this form, this extension of herself as Jubilee sees them.

"Oh.  I don't know how that works," in the real world.  Noriko was ripped out of her life before these things were even considerations.

"I've never looked at anyone the way I look at you."  An absolute truth.  "I don't know if it's if you can like girls, you like girls, or you have liked girls."  On that note, "I don't know if everyone even finds out.  It seems like they just know."

After a deep inhale, Noriko spills, "So...I have felt things that made me wonder before."  That deep seated honor bruises and swells as she looks down, somehow full of guilt over it which hangs over her body.  "What does that make me?"

Jubilation Lee has posed:
    When the arm slips away, Jubilee tightens her grip on the gauntlet. No, don't leave. Some comfort is found when the other gauntlet comes to cover her hands. She shakes her head. "...I..." Jubilee tries. Thoughts and feelings are drowning her, each more confusing than the last. The thought that some people just never find out is utterly devastating to her.

    "I don't know, Nori," Jubes whispers softly. "...I don't think it makes you anything." She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "I've never..." Some moisture accumulates in her eyes but it doesn't lead to crying. With Noriko here, sharing the load, Jubes is fine. They'll figure this out. Figure themselves out. She inches closer to the speedster, leaning her curled legs against her. "...I...I've never felt this way about anyone," she whispers, drawing up memories of Josh and the countless boys that have struck out with her, and she them, over the years.

    "I broke up with Josh..." she begins, looking up at Noriko. "Because of you." It's all focused on Noriko -- who she is, not what she is.

Noriko Ashida has posed:
Noriko falls into a stare when Jubilee tries to answer.  That inexorable question of orientation that's been boring into her.  The answer comes with so many expectations of her.  She doesn't know how any answer would make her feel.  She just knows she's not sure of any of them being all good.  "I don't know..." the speedster says with that eating doubt.  She remembers these incidents well.

When Jubes draws closer, Noriko shifts her whole body more towards the girl.  "Me neither."  /This/ feeling in her.  It has belonged only to Jubilee.  There was something so clear and simple.

Noriko is quieted by Jubilee's admission.  She left it alone back then.  Jubes' reasoning for breaking up with Josh didn't seem like an open subject with her friend, and Noriko was already grappling with her own realizations about herself and Jubes.

"What?"  Noriko just figured Jubes had miscounted the timing of when her feelings for Nori had started.  She didn't think...  But she's cycled out her initial shock in an instant.  "Okay.  So did you feel anything though with any of those guys?  Romantic or...you know."  Oh /you/ know Jubes.  Noriko flashes a blush.

Jubilation Lee has posed:
    The question draws some bit of glumness from Jubilation. "I don't know..." she answers in a whisper, giving her shoulders the slightest shrug. "I thought... maybe, yes, at the time. But, now... Looking back..." Noriko. Nori. Ashida. Noriko. "...I can't remember."

    As the pair wrestles with their own doubts and worries, each of them considering it for themselves, Jubes reaches an answer that apparently satisfies her. At least for now. "Maybe it doesn't matter..." she says softly, her eyes studying Noriko's. "...Maybe it doesn't matter what we are as long as we're together."

Noriko Ashida has posed:
"I think we like who we like how we like and love who we love how we love.  I don't think it matters, but it does affect us..."  Noriko hopes it isn't for Jubilee like it is for her.  That gnawing question that keeps coming out of the mire of her mind like all the other monsters that feed there.  It hasn't been pervasive lately, but it lurked, waiting for this moment.  At Jubilee's studying, it clearly matters for Noriko.

"Does it matter to you?"  A different question, at least the speedster thinks so.

"I'll be with you no matter what anyways."  Noriko wills herself not to run from the conversation, not to retreat wholly into herself, to be here for Jubes even as much as she's struggling.

Jubilation Lee has posed:
    Jubilee stares, listening carefully to Noriko's interpretation of the situation. She takes a deep breath and starts pulling one arm out from their hand sandwich. She slowly reaches up and rests her palm against the other girl's cheek, holding it there. "...I...I don't know," she answers truthfully. "I'd like to know what I am. What we are. Maybe it's not so simple?" She takes another breath and leans her face in to give a tiny, chaste kiss.

    "I just know I've never felt like this about anyone," she repeats. "Boy or girl. Ever since... Ever since I met you I've been... Confused. And..." That moisture on her eyes appears again. "Now... I've never been more sure of anything."

    Another deep breath. A memory bubbles forward. "Remember I said I've never kissed anyone?" she prompts. She said that and it didn't make sense. There was Josh at the end of a long line of boys that she had been tangled with over the years. She had trusted that Noriko knew she wasn't intended to lie to her. "...When you kissed me on New Years...I felt things that never came before. No one else."

    "So... If I am. Or you are. Or if we're not. It doesn't change how I feel about you. That's why it doesn't matter..." Jubilee answers, finally.

Noriko Ashida has posed:
Eyes lift when Jubilee's palm comes to her cheek.  There's a softness and vulnerability to Noriko in these moments, something fragile yet aloof, but Jubilee draws her back.

"Me too.  I mean.  I haven't had a lot of opportunities, but I love you.  I want you."  But Noriko wants to know herself.  So it doesn't matter till it does, she realizes.  It seems like no big surprise the moment the thought pops into her head.  Somehow the thought of knowing herself brings Noriko to fought tears, the sight of Jubilation's emotion strong enough to break down the efforts.  There's a swipe evident by her tears' disappearance.

"Yeah.  I thought you were drunk or high or something," Noriko mumbles.  Noriko never knew the other boys, even if she'd heard of them.  She's not exactly the investigative gossip or anything.  "Oh."  There's some conscious breathing going on, more so than the energy dedicated to slowing down.

Noriko had hoped that's what Jubilee meant.  That it doesn't matter for them, for them together, and somehow she feels like some weight has been lifted.  Jubes won't care.  And she doesn't care.  And, "I feel the same."

"...so I just tell anyone who labels us to fuck off?"

Jubilation Lee has posed:
    "I love you, too," Jubes whispers. Four words that explains it all. So simple. So pure.

    "No, I wasn't drunk or high," Jubilation explains. "I just... I guess I was lying, kind of... But I think you know what I meant. And why it wasn't a lie..." Her gaze rises to watch Nori's reaction to that, hope in her eyes. There was a time when Jubilee liked coming back to their room after a date more than the date itself.

    Jubilee silently laughs at Noriko's last point as she shakes her head. "I don't care if they do," she answers. "No one else matters."

Noriko Ashida has posed:
"I was hoping," that's what Jubilee meant.  "I think I believed it because I wanted to," which is different than just hoping and waiting, a certain internal decision.  Noriko grins warmly.  "I guess I did know."

"I think I'll just say I'm gay for you," Noriko says with a smirk as if she's extremely comfortable with this definition for now.  It's easy to be comfortable with such things here in Jubilee's arms, so safe from judgement, from the imposition of even the phantoms of other people's values bearing down on her.

"Until further notice."

Jubilation Lee has posed:
    Jubilee's eyebrows rise in astonishment. She didn't even know that was an option. "Then... I will, too," she agrees with a smile. But then... it fades. She has to say it. Really say it. Not just 'me too.' Jubilee moistens her lips and inhales deeply through her nose. The air is returned to the world, slowly, past pursed lips.

    "I'm gay for you," she whispers, her eyes rising to meet Noriko's as she reaches again for the other girl's gauntlet.

    She blinks a couple of times and slowly forms an easy smile. "We should probably kiss," she points out just before leaning in to do that.

Noriko Ashida has posed:
Let it be a lesson.  A little bit of sarcasm and honesty goes a long way.  In this case, for Noriko, it's actually probably a good thing.  She can't help but let out a little laugh at Jubilee's a ha moment, but with Jubilee, Noriko's always been a mirror for the emotional landscape and so she hangs on that inhale, the pursed lips.

Jubilation's reciprocation.  Noriko breathes, understanding the significance instantly.  These optional words.  Jubilation said them.  They mean more.  "That is what you do when you're gay for someone," Noriko says with a faint smirk before she leans, finding her way to the kiss, the kind of kiss only made possible by being gay for someone.