One day, a mysterious invite to a server showed up on her home page, an invite to server called "Daoist Discord" from a user by the name of "Transcendent Tourmaline Trapmaster".
Maybe she could talk through it? Explain that she was just a hot mess and needed to get herself under control? Explain to Romana that this was an understandable impression but the real cause had been her own neediness?
Wait a fucking minute. Why was this what Romana had gone to? Was Romana gay? Was she trying to—
No. Fuck no she wasn't going to start talking like her adopters. They were wrong about her and they were probably wrong about everything else too.
Damn them for all of this. Why did she have to be raised by such an aggressively terrible bunch of assholes? And if they'd been messing up her reactions, who knows what else they could've done to her thinking. Heavens they were awful.
And then the rest of Romana's words made it through into her brain.
Oh. Oh. She hadn't been listening to her body at all. And denial was ever a thing. Damn she was a mess.
Fuck. Okay. Listen to her body. What did she feel?
She felt warmth from Romana's hand gently holding hers. She felt Romana's arm around her shoulders.
She felt a tingling electricity through herself everywhere she was in contact with her mentor.
She felt her pulse quickening and her face warming as she thought about those points of contact and her body's reactions.
She noticed an unfamiliar warmth low in her abdomen.
She noticed tension in her muscles from her stress.
She felt the cheap chair she was sitting on, and the cool air around her. Her nipples were even a little hard from the chill.
She realized that more than half of what she'd noticed herself feeling had been about Romana.
She sighed and slumped against her mentor, blushing brightly.
"You may be right. I don't understand it, and I don't know what we do about it, but you're probably right. You haven't been wrong yet. I don't get it though, I dated a boy in high school — it didn't go well, but I did."
She chuckled softly as she petted her gently.
"It's normal for this to be pretty awkward. I'm... approximately bi, and on the dating market, for what it's worth. Maybe you did that just because you felt like you were supposed to. Maybe you are attracted to multiple genders and sexes. Maybe that's shifted. I haven't seen enough to know. For now, though... I think it's wise to just take the time to let it sit in your head and think about it in the background, and maybe talk to more people about it, if you have someone to trust about that sort of thing."
"Huh. Yeah. that's definitely something I need to think about. I... I haven't ever thought about any of that before."
She let out a dark chuckle at the last bit.
"Heh. Trust? I don't know anyone I could consider trusting with this except you, and maybe some of the others on the server. My advisor at the school can be mostly trusted about school-related things. That's about as far as that goes, though, and this very much isn't that."
Quiet little sigh nuzzle a little closer.
My hand slides up to stroke through her hair.
"It's okay to wait a while for this to sink in, and it's okay to want this. Just..."
Her palm slid across her scalp, brushing back her bangs.
"It's good to get a chance to breathe some fresh air to and stay moving and working as well. This doesn't have to be the only way you can enjoy this warmth."
A faint hum escaped Hailey at Romana's touch, and she let herself lean into the contact a tiny bit. She took a breath.
"Okay. Let's say I do want this, but staying moving sounds pretty great too. What would you suggest I do next?"
"You know this area better then I do, but I think going out for a walk would be a good idea?"
An eager smile slid onto Hailey's face.
"Ooh, we could. There's a tolerable little park about ten blocks east, or I could should you the rooftop garden where I go to relax, and where I made my thread today. It gets kinda prettier as the sun sets. The route back is... interesting, though, in the dark."
She smiles warmly.
"The rooftop garden sounds lovely~"
Haliey grinned and nodded. "It is! I should get us some water to take along."
She made to stand, but suddenly paused, struck with reluctance to extract herself from the snuggle with her mentor. A very faint disappointed needy whine slipped out of her without her noticing as she scooted away and stood up, and then with a breath she bounded over to the kitchen shelves to start pulling bottles out. In a crisp whirlwind of motion, she lined up six glass bottles, each wrapped in colorful silicone webbing in blue or purple or pink or green. She filled each with water, as fast as the tap would flow, capping them with silvery plastic athletic-spout lids from a small bin near the sink and then lining them up in an empty spot on the table.
She smiled softly, and zipped around her, disappearing in motion and flickering into visibility just long enough to place a finger on each to send her qi through each bottle.
Hailey paused for a fractional moment, seeing Romana flicker in and out of view, before continuing.
"Oh that just won't stand. I've got to catch up soon," she said with an awed grin.
When the last bottle was done, she strode across the room to the closet, leaning in to fish out a drawstring sport pack to carry them in.
She smiles warmly.
"There's lots of fun to be had with movement methods! This one specifically is a stealth and illusion technique too with really specific requirements, but getting down enough to zip around is going to happen pretty early on~!"
An excited smile stretched her face as she came back, University of Toronto bag in hand, and started loading the bottles in.
"Thanks for adding your special touch to these, by the way."
She took a look around, checking everything over as she closed up the bag.
She pecks her cheek lightly.
She grasps her free hand, standing beside her, and walks her to the door.
Hailey blushed again at the kiss, following Romana to the door and then putting her shoes on.
She took a little look down at her feet and laughed quietly.
"It's been so long since I've bothered with shoes that the whole thing seems a little odd to me, frankly..."
"Well, if body tempering will let me do without, you won't hear a word of complaint out of me," she said with a grin.
Hailey smiled warmly and opened the door, stepping out onto the walkway and locking up behind Romana once she'd exited.
"Route's got as much roof-hopping as a magical girl anime. Ready?"
"It can. Really, the hard part is figuring out a way to keep your feet clean consistently. I think I'll throw that in once I teach you your first movement technique as a fun little sweetener...~"
She walked out with her, her footfalls silent enough to make it easy to hear the quiet sound of her breathing.
"But of course."
"Can hardly wait."
With a grin, Hailey strode out to the railing and leapt across the alley, a combination of wanting to show off for her mentor and delighting in the thrill of her improved body pushing her to dare greater in her run. She hardly paused on the far wall of the alley, bounding straight into a jump onto the roof at the end.
Roll and spring and run, the same route as before but faster, rooftops and ledges flying under her feet as she leapt further and higher along the path to her favorite rooftop in Toronto.
She runs alongside her, hanging just a bit behind for the jumps, fading out of her perception as she goes to launch herself forward, before reappearing with the gentle brush of her hand against hers as she runs and flies forward, a small grin on her face as she goes.