You’re not entirely sure what you touched to elicit such a reaction from her, but your best guess is that it was the bump you felt, likely a mole or some kind of bug bite. You try not to think about it too much and resume your search, being careful to not touch whatever sensitive parts are causing her discomfort. You’re not even sure why she’d have you do this in the first place if you have to be so careful about it. After thirty seconds of fumbling about in the dark, you feel your hand touch the hard metal of a key ring and you quickly take a hold of it as you pull your hand back out into the bitter cold. Keys in hand, you continue walking towards her apartment, turning the corner when you arrive at the correct apartment number. You’re careful to watch your step and tighten your grip on her when you approach the stone steps, making sure not to lose your footing as you make your way towards the door. Ruby seems to have gone back to resting her head against your shoulder, though she’s still very much awake and alert as you approach the door to her apartment. You can’t really blame her for wanting to rest after consuming so much alcohol. Once you finally reach the door, you lean down to get a better look at the lock due to the poor illumination. You go through a few keys before you finally find one that turns the lock. The second you hear the tumbler click, you feel a pair of lips press against yours.
Her lips are soft, but the fur tickling at the smooth skin of your face is softer. You immediately sense that unmistakable, bitter taste of alcohol on her tongue as it clumsily dances against your bottom lip. After a few seconds, reality returns to you, and the urge to pull away becomes overwhelming. This is exactly the kind of thing you wanted to avoid, and even if you were interested in kissing her, you would under no circumstances take advantage of a drunk girl. It takes you a couple of seconds to finally pull yourself away from her lips, practically tearing yourself away and nearly dropping her in the process. She falls back, nearly threatening to fall off of your arms thanks to a combination of your frantic movement and her own surprise. Her arms shoot out and wrap around your neck, thankfully catching herself just in time to avoid sending you both onto the ground.
"Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop," you rapidly say as you lower her down to the ground. You desperately want to close your eyes and look away, the look of shock and confusion on Ruby’s face tearing you up inside. "I can't. I just... I can't do this, Ruby, I'm sorry."
"Wh-what? What's wrong?" she asks, her unsteady voice already threatening to give way to heartbreak.
"This... this is wrong, I can't just... I can't do this to you, Ruby," you say, feeling a sharp pain in your chest as you look down to see her shaking ever so slightly. You take a breath for air and try to continue, hoping to explain yourself quickly. "I should've said something sooner, but-"
"There's always a... fucking 'I can't', or... 'I shouldn't'... with fucking everyone! Every time when it comes to me!"
You can see the tears well up in her eyes before they slide down her furred cheeks in fat, wet drops. You want to ask her what she's talking about, or explain that you just don't want to kiss her because she's drunk; but your mouth refuses to cooperate with you as you stand there stunned. Her tone becomes unnervingly quiet, cutting through you like a knife. "I like you, but- I think... fucking every time..."
She turns and opens the door. You can hear a soft sob as she grips the door handle, forcing your train of thought to a screeching halt as you scramble for something to say. Anything at all. "Why did I think this shit would work...." she mutters before entering and closing the door behind her.
Your body shoots out and stops the door from closing, using your foot to keep it wedged open as you try to stop her. "Ruby! Stop, wait! That isn'- FUCK!" you try to say before cutting yourself off with a cry of pain as she tries forcing the door closed.
"Fuck off! I don't want to hear it you... fucking goddamn arshehole!" she yells back, her breathing briefly interrupted by a sob.
She finally stops with one last push, screaming out a furious "Fuck!" before stomping off into her apartment. You pull your foot out with a yelp of pain and shift it around, hoping to get some blood flowing back through it.
While the door is still open, you know deep down that she doesn’t want to see you. For a brief moment you wonder if it'd just be best to go home and contact her first thing in the morning to set things right rather than intrude into her home. However, you can still recall her pained expression as you tried and failed miserably to explain yourself. You should've nipped this suspected problem in the bud way sooner. You consider leaving after her outburst to give her the space she so clearly needs, but you already feel like scum for rejecting her. If your college experiences with heavy drinking are anything to go by, it might not be safe to leave her to her own devices with how much she drank tonight. So against her word, you decide not to leave and instead opt to set things right.
You open the door and step inside, closing the door behind you before taking a second to assess the situation and figure out what you should do. You can feel a stinging pain shoot through you with each step you take, looking down at the now wrinkled leather of the thick dress shoes that had saved your foot from further damage. You can barely see inside the dark apartment and you search for the nearest light switch, illuminating the foyer and part of the living room. The first thing you notice is that it’s much, much nicer than the cubicle you call an apartment. You figured it would be just from what you’d seen of the surrounding houses and apartments in the neighborhood, but you didn’t expect anything quite this luxurious. As your gaze travels from the full sized kitchen to the small breakfast nook alongside the spacious living room, you begin to wonder how she can afford the rent on this place with whatever her job is at the school. As you take a few cautious steps further into her apartment, you begin to notice the state of disarray the place is in. Dishes piled high in the sink, snack wrappers and takeout boxes littered around the various coffee tables in the living room and piles of clothing that you find yourself almost tripping over.
You want to find her and figure out exactly what’s going on with her, but you figure it might be for the best if you take a few moments to gather your thoughts and plan out what you should even say. You didn't want to her to do something she'd regret the next morning, but you didn't think she’d react that way to something as simple as cutting a kiss short.
You try to gather your thoughts and think of how to explain yourself, but your train of thought is interrupted when a sound reaches you from past the hallway. A cold chill runs down your spine when you realize that it sounds like... sobbing. Each second spent listening to the sound only causes the guilt to pile up on your shoulders and a sense of urgency fills you as you continue trying to find Ruby. You quickly make your way down the only hallway in the apartment, being careful not to trip over piles of strewn about clothing as you move. A light shines dimly from an ajar door at the end of the hallway, coming from what you can only assume is her bedroom. The stinging pain in your foot prevents you from rushing and forces you to take careful steps down the dark hallway. Deep down you hope that when you finally peer past the door, you’ll find that the sobbing you’d heard was just a figment of your imagination. You pray that you've misheard it, and that maybe it had just been the heater or AC making an odd noise. Only a thin door separates you and Ruby, and you feel as if your legs are tied down by a ball and chain as you near the end of the hall. A whirlwind of thoughts fly through your head as you put your ear to the door and listen.
"Fucking knew it... fucking knew it, you dumb fucking bitch…." you hear that all too familiar voice mutter between choked sobs.
The words pierce straight through your conflicted thoughts and you suddenly feel as if someone had knocked the wind right out of you. That nagging sense of guilt you’ve felt throughout the night returns, amplified by what seems like a factor of ten. It makes you feel like you have to act before things are beyond salvaging. You take a few deep breaths as you muster the fortitude to peer through the cracked open door. What you see when you finally bring your face close to the gap is the polar opposite of what you hoped you'd find, causing your stomach to twist into knots. You see her curled up on the bed in the fetal position, her face buried deep in her pillow. Despite the pillow doing it's best to muffle the sound, you can still clearly hear her sobbing. Your chest tightens and it feels like someone had just dropped an anvil directly on your heart. You find your body acting before your mind as you push open the door, causing Ruby to look to you with red, tearful eyes.
"What do you want?!" she screams out as she fruitlessly tries to wipe away the tears, new ones quickly replacing them. "Get the fuck out!"
You’re not sure what to say, though you’re fully aware that staying silent is just as damning as saying something unconvincing.
“I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” you say as you take a few careful steps towards her bed.
"Don't you come a step fucking closer!' she yells as she clenches her fist tight around the bedsheets, her aggression stopping you dead in your tracks.
"Calm down, Ruby. I just wanted to talk, okay," you say, putting your hands up to show you’re willing to listen.
"Calm down? Calm fffuckin' down, mate?! You're telling me to be fuckin' calm when you fffucking... shhit all over me?!"
"What are you even talking about, Ruby?" you ask, genuinely wondering if that's how she saw it when you pushed her away after the impromptu kiss. You desperately want to explain the reasons behind your actions but she continues to march forward with her verbal barrage.
"Don't fucking play dumb, you cunt! You keep fffuckin'... saying all this stuff! Making me feel... fucking good again! And jusht like before, I think it'sh all okay, and I just... get fucking thrown off like I'm nothing!" she shouts out as she practically leaps off the bed, quickly closing the distance between the two of you. She stops just before reaching you, a choked sob leaving her throat when she does. You see mascara laden tears start to run down her face, staining her normally brown fur with streaks of black.
"Ruby, I don't... What do you mean like before?" you ask, still unsure of what you’d done to her that warranted this kind of reaction. “Whatever I said or did to you, I’m sorry. This is the last thing I wanted to happen.”
"Last thing you wanted to happen...." she mutters, letting out a weak chuckle before resuming her crying. "Yeah right, you expect me to believe that? You even... fffuckin' told me that I was jussht a... fucking last resort."
“What? I never said anything like that,” you say, and you feel slight relief at the prospect that this was all likely a misunderstanding.
"You told me on the goddamn phone!" Her hand clenches into a tight fist, only to be released mere moments later as her composure of rage breaks. She lets out another sob as she abandons her approach to sit back down on the edge of her bed. She turns her head away from you to stare down at the floor, then takes a shuddering breath before muttering, "I shhould've known better... I'm such a stupid fucking cunt..."
“You’re not either of those things, Ruby,” you say, and you take a single experimental step forward.
"Oh yeah?! Then why do you only see me as jusht... a damn seatwarmer! Becaushe you think I'm a fucking disgusting, fat cunt, jusht like the others?!" she yells again, and you can see more teardrops forming in her eyes as her breathing quickens.
You’ve never seen her act this way before and hearing her verbally tear into herself leaves you speechless. Not in a million years would you have predicted you were going to end up in this situation tonight. The worst part is you feel woefully unprepared to deal with her in this delicate state. It feels like you’re navigating a minefield and you’re left paralyzed for fear of making the situation worse. The only thing you can think to say is something that’s sitting at the forefront of your thoughts, a simple question that you hope will help you figure out what’s going on with her.
"Ruby, what are you talking about? I never said you were a seatwarmer, and I've never thought of you that way,” you quickly shoot back before she continues to put herself down. “And what others? Who’s saying this stuff to you?"
"Fucking everyone'sss saying it! Every goddamn one..." she yells, quickly petering into a sob as the words leave her mouth. "If they don't outright hate me... orr talk ssshit about me, or lie to me, or try to make me feel worshe than I already do... then they just... just... fucking look at me and think, 'Oh... there's that one girl that keeps fucking... getting shit on by everyone! Poor fucking her!'"
More and more tear drops begin to fall down her soaking wet, furred cheeks as she tries and fails to catch her breath. "What's the point of working out and taking care of myself! If…." she yells, her breath shuddering deeply once again as more tears form in her bloodshot eyes. "...if every single time I look in the mirror I see an ugly bitch?" she whimpers before trailing off into more sobbing.
“So tell me how I’m supposed to feel when-” she cuts off, sniffling and wiping away at more tears, staining her already dark hands with the black mascara. “-the only reason you asked me out was because you needed someone to fill a seat!”
You begin to say something to defend your position before you quickly cut yourself short. It dawns on you that she isn’t wrong in her assumption, even if you never explicitly stated it. You feel like you deserve to be yelled at for being so inconsiderate of her feelings. No amount of good intentions could excuse the fact that you used her as arm candy even if you came to enjoy her company throughout the night. Even still, you feel as if she’s being too harsh on herself, her assessment enough to make your heart feel as if it’s being pierced by a dagger. The only thing you can think to say is something that can’t be interpreted as anything else but burning sincerity.
“I’m sorry, Ruby,” you say, taking the opportunity to take another step forward.
"How shhhould I even believe that you're sorry? Ffucking... so many people told me, 'I'm sssorry', 'I didn't mean it', 'I'll never do it again'...." she says in an eerily calm tone, rapidly blinking a few times to clear the tears from her eyes. "Like it jusht... makes all of the shhit they put me through all okay."
"Every single name, poke, pussh, laugh, hit... fucking everything all okay. And that it makesh ME the bitch for shaying it's all wrong, even when they'rrrre lying through their teeth shaying they're sorry... just ssso they can do it all over again."
As Ruby catches her breath and continues wiping away at the tears collecting on her face with her black-stained hands, you're left in a stunned silence. You muster up the nerve to try and make things better for her, hoping that you can break through her shell of sorrowful self-deprecation. "Look, I'm not going to lie and say I know how you feel right now, but you can't honestly think I was putting on an act, right?" you say, doing your best to not let your temper get the better of you. "All that time we spent together these past two weeks doesn't mean anything to you? You think I’d go on these jogs and work out with you damn near everyday if I didn’t enjoy your company?"
"Someone put on an act for two whole years!" she yells without a slur, as if all the alcohol had left her body in one furious shout. "And what did he do?! He disappeared, left me to be mocked, and when I did see him again he just... fucking told me it was all just a joke!" She pauses to catch her breath. "You don't- no, you can't know what it's like to have your heart broken. Not like I do. Not like that."
“I'm sorry that happened to you, Ruby. I can't imagine what it's like to go through something like that," you say, feeling a pang of guilt as you tell the half-truth. "But you can't expect me to know that about you if you never told me.”
"And you can't just expect people to talk to others about old shit that hurt them, Mike."
Your brow furrows as your frustration finally gives way. You run a hand through your hair before letting out a long sigh, all the while throwing up your free hand up out of exasperation. "I tried, alright? I told you that you could come to me if you ever wanted to talk about something. Just like you did for me."
"You don't go around reopening old wounds just to talk about them with the first person that comes along!" she shouts. "Maybe... Maybe it's for the best if you just leave, Mike."
"Just leave? How can you expect me to leave and just... forget about everything that's happened tonight?"
"What is it that you want to hear from me?" she asks, finally daring to meet your gaze again. "That you're forgiven so you can rest easy tonight?"
"What, so you just want me to leave you here to-" you start, cutting yourself off before you say something you'll further regret. You wish you could’ve kept your stupid, fat mouth shut, as you've made things that much worse for her.
"Leave me here to what? Feel like shit? Or are you going to feed me some bullshit about how everything's okay? How I'm still a 'good person', but that you just don't want to be with someone like me?"
"Because I'm still gonna feel like shit either way," she mutters, new tears forming and threatening to wet her cheeks again. She shudders in breath before continuing, "So you might as well just go."
"If you really want me to go, I'll go,” you say, even though your brain is screaming at you to do the exact opposite. “I just want you to know everything I said tonight wasn't a lie."
She remains silent, once again making a futile attempt at wiping away tears with her fingers, only managing to spread around more of her already smeared makeup. She looks away from you once again as she continues to breathe in shuddering gasps.
“I meant what I said earlier, Ruby,” you say, the concern in your voice palpable. "I wouldn't lie about having a good time with you tonight or about all the reasons I asked you to be my date in the first place."
You watch her as you continue to speak and you notice her breathing slowly returning to a steady pace as she takes deep breaths. You feel relieved that the panicked expression you’d seen in her throughout the night is nowhere to be found for the time being.
You can't help but feel responsible for everything that's happened tonight and her silence only amplifies the guilt you're feeling right now. "Look, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have even come into your apartment like this but I couldn't stop thinking abou-"
“It's fine....” she quietly responds, still refusing to look at you before continuing. "I should've realized... fucking stupid of me not to. I didn't stop to think about whether you wanted to even kiss me or not. Fucking stupid, selfish and-"
"Don't," you interrupt, and she briefly looks up as you continue to speak. "You're not awful like you make yourself out to be, Ruby. Not even in the slightest.”
You can see the barest hint of a smile flash across her face for a brief moment before she speaks, her tears now barely flowing. “...You sound like my mum, Mike.”
You take the opportunity to approach the bed and take a seat on the very edge, turning to look at her before flashing her what you hope is a comforting smile as you respond. “If it’s what it takes to get you to understand then I have no problems with sounding like your mum.”
The two of you just sit there looking at each other for what feels like an eternity, neither of you daring to break the silence. There's a conflict raging inside you, your brain screaming at you to just comfort her, hold her or to do anything but sit there staring like an idiot. But you're paralyzed by fear, unsure if merely touching her would be enough to instill another bout of panic induced sobbing in her. You opt to play it safe and let her make a move first, promising that you'd respect whatever decision she came to, whether she told you to stay or go.
“... I don’t want you to go, Mike,” she says, her brutal honesty enough to leave you lost for words. “...I just thought something was happening. I guess I was just seeing what I wanted to see.”
"... Can I tell you something?" you ask, lowering your tone to almost a whisper in an effort to keep her calm.
She sniffles in an attempt to clear her nose, but the noise instead turns into a snort. “Yeah, sure.”
“The only reason I didn’t kiss you back is because I didn’t want to take advantage of you,” you say, rubbing at the back of your neck in embarrassment at your brazen admission.
She breaks eye contact and looks down at the bed, her thumbs fidgeting with the hem of her dress. You can see her tail twitching ever so slightly out of the corner of your eye.
"I'm sorry about what I did and everything that happened tonight, Ruby. I can just leave if you want," you say, moving to get up from the bed.
"No, I... I don't want you to leave."
You turn around, noticing her tail twitching at a more noticeable speed as she struggles to find something else to say.
You can see her mouth trying to form words, but they silently die in her throat before she could speak them. "Alright, Ruby," you respond, breaking her from her anxious loop to look back up into your eyes for a brief moment. "I'll stay a little longer."
“Y-you can-” she mutters, cutting herself off as her gaze strays from yours. “You can lay against the bed if you want, Mike.”
“You sure?” you ask, not wanting to make a move until you double check that it’s alright with her first.
The only response you get back from her is in the form of a nod and you slowly inch your way along the edge of the bed until the headboard is directly on your left. You think about taking off your shoes before raising your legs onto the bed, but decide against it for fear of her reading into it as you getting comfortable despite everything that’s happened tonight. The last thing you’d like to do right now is lead her on a second time. You lay against the hard wooden backboard, the pillow pressing against your lower back providing you with a small amount of comfort. After getting yourself situated, things are no different than before, the two of you looking to one another as you each wait for the other to make a move. After a couple of minutes you see her shift and start to inch her way towards you, only stopping when your bodies are about to touch.
You can see the apprehension in her eyes and movements, her hand almost reaching out to you before retracting and balling up into a fist. “Can I?”
You’re not sure what it is she wants to do, but you’re terrified that denying her is only going to make things worse, so you nod. “Yeah, it’s okay.”
You expect her to scoot even closer to you, but within seconds you feel the heft of her head resting against your shoulder, an errant strand of hair tickling the exposed skin of your neck. Looking down at her face only causes you to feel the sting of guilt, her makeup streaked fur leaving black stains on your white dress shirt as she buries her head into your chest. You can see trails of now dried tears running down her the length of her face, clearly visible even in the faintly illuminated room. You want to say you’re sorry, even though deep down you know it’s not nearly enough to make up for the damage you’d done tonight. Even still, you figure it’s a good start towards making things right and you open your mouth to speak, only to be interrupted by the sound of her voice ringing out first.
“I’m s-sorry, Mike,” she says, and it pains you to see fresh tears forming in the corner of her eyes. “I was supposed to be a good date and I couldn’t even do that right. All I did was make you look like an arse for bringing me along to cock things up.”
She buries the side of her head and snout even deeper into your shoulder. Her tears start to soak through your dress shirt, and you have to fight the urge to just wrap your arms around her to provide comfort. The only thing that keeps you from doing so is the ever present fear of making things worse for her. You decide to carefully bring your right hand up to her head and position it between her two pointed ears, resting it there to provide some semblance of comfort to the girl crying in your arms. “There’s nothing to be sorry about Ruby, if anything it’s my fault for not being straight with you beforehand. I accept your apology, but I shouldn’t have led you on like that. I’m sorry.”
"No... it's all my fault. I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I fucked up, I fucked up, I fucked up...." she sobs as she buries the side of her face deeper into your now wet shoulder, gripping your other shoulder and dress shirt tightly for support.
Her breathing is erratic and you can hear a muffled sputter between sobs as she tries and fails to get it back under control. You apply a tiny bit of pressure with the hand on her head, pressing her deeper into your shoulder in an attempt to show that you’re still here with her. The minutes that follow feel like hours and you’re not sure what to say to her, or if you should even say anything at all. The only saving grace is that you can feel the flow of her tears slowly coming to an end, though you’re almost positive it’s because she has no more left to cry. You flinch when you feel her free hand brush against your shoulder, though a quick glance down tells you she’s just using it to wipe away whatever tears hadn’t already soaked into your shirt. Another few minutes go by and you’re surprised that she’s the first to break the silence.
"You shouldn't have to be nice to me after I yelled at you, Mike," she mutters, sniffling as she continues to rub at one eye. “You’ve been nothing but nice to me all night even after I made you look so bad at the restaurant. I’m sorry.”
“I already told you I forgive you for that. It wasn’t nearly as bad as you think it is, really,” you say, idly brushing your fingers against her hair in the hopes it’ll help calm her down. “I’ve got plenty to apologize for too. I deserved to be yelled at for just walking in, even after you told me to leave, and it really hurts me to see you like this. I’m sorry, Ruby.”
“Thank you, Mike, but... I don't just feel terrible for yelling at you, it's because I yelled at you for something that isn't even remotely close to being your fault.” she says, and you can feel her ear twitch and bump into one of your fingers as she continues to speak. “I usually don’t even think about it, but for some reason it just all came back to me at once tonight, so... I'm sorry for lashing out at you like that, you didn't deserve it."
Your thoughts come to a standstill as you try to figure out what to say next, and only one question comes to mind: "What happened?"
"I... I shouldn't have talked about it to begin with. None of it was your fault,” she says with an almost eerie level of calm.
"Do... you want to talk about it now?" you ask, hoping she'll open up to you so that you can be of help.
There's a pause. Ruby breathes in, then replies with a brief, "No."
Her response makes you think it’s probably a bad idea to continue prodding into something that seems like a fairly personal matter to her. That isn’t to say you don’t want her to open up to you about it, especially after seeing all the tears she’d shed over it tonight. You aren’t sure how to respond to her denial though, instead opting to just say one word.
“Okay,” you say, and you continue to hold her in your arms in the hopes that she drifts off to sleep soon.
Before you can adjust to the silence in the room, Ruby quietly speaks up again, "I'm a fucking cunt for thinking you were doing this on purpose... you’re too good to me, being willing to put up with my shit… I’m sorry, Mike."
A small smile tugs at the corner of your mouth as you speak. “I accept your apology, but I’m not ‘putting up’ with anything, Ruby, I promise.”
“Ah, stop lying, mate. I know I can be a handful,” she mutters, struggling to meet your gaze as she continues to speak. “You’re too nice for your own good sometimes, you know that?”
Minutes pass and even though you’re glad she’s no longer crying, you can’t help but feel a pang of guilt for setting all of this in motion. No matter how many times she’d told you it wasn’t your fault, you still can’t help but feel responsible for almost everything that happened tonight. For a moment you wonder if there’s more you could be doing to comfort her. From the little she’d told you during her bouts of yelling you could glean that she’d been through a much rougher breakup than any you’d ever experienced before. It made your blood boil to think anyone could’ve been horrible enough to her in the past that it still hurts this much years later. And to make matters worse she wasn’t exactly wrong when she said you couldn’t know what it was like to have your heart broken like that. While your past relationship didn’t end as smoothly as you would’ve liked it to, being led on for two years was just… downright cruel. A few more minutes pass and you can feel her shifting into a more comfortable position against your body.
“Can I ask you something, Mike?” she nearly mutters, and you quickly look down at her, giving her your undivided attention.
You quickly nod in approval even though the nervous, unsure look in her eyes makes you wary of what she’s about to ask you. “Yeah, sure.”
"Did you mean what you said? About the whole... kissing me back thing?" she asks, and the instant you parse her sentence you’re left lost for words. “Y-you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”
You feel as if you’ve been put in the center of a minefield, any possible answer you could ever hope to give her likely being one she doesn’t want to hear. It dawns on you that you can’t even answer the question in your own head. You run the night’s events through your head and try to picture if things would’ve gone differently had your morals not been a factor to consider. Worse still, you remembered that the thought of dating an anthro girl or even dating her earlier in the night hadn’t bothered you in the slightest. As much as you wanted to say that you still wouldn’t have done anything if she wasn’t drunk, you knew you’d be telling a lie in saying so. Even though you apparently have... feelings for the girl in your arms, that intense fear of of permanently damaging your friendship with her keeps you from acknowledging it. You decide honesty is the best policy given how much she’d opened up to you throughout the night whether she intended to or not.
“Look I-” you start, and you have to fight against the lump forming in your throat to give your explanation. “Look, I should’ve said something about this to you a long time ago and I feel like an idiot for not having mentioned it before. If you weren’t drunk and I hadn’t just gotten through a bad breakup a few weeks ago? Yeah I… definitely would’ve kissed you.”
You’re shocked at your own honesty, and despite that you still feel a tinge of anxiety as you await her response. Her gaze meets yours and you mentally brace for what you’re about to hear when you see her mouth begin to move.
“Shit, mate, I had no idea,” she says, and you can begin to see the barest hints of a blush start to form underneath thin layers of brown fur. “I’m sorry for being such an awful cunt to you tonight.”
“Nah, It’s mostly my fault, I should’ve said something about it before asking you to come on this date with me,” you say, bringing up your free hand to rest on her exposed, furred shoulder, pulling her tighter to you as you continue to speak. “If anything, I’m the one who should be apologizing for what I did back at the restaurant.”
“Huh?” she asks, looking up at you in confusion. “But... you didn’t do anything back at the restaurant, at least not that I can remember.”
“Yeah, that’s exactly why I want to apologize,” you trail off, struggling to find the right words to explain why even now you still feel guilty. “I should’ve cut you off way before Kevin and Melanie stepped in to do it and I just… didn’t. Instead of saying something, or anything really, I stayed silent for stupid reasons. It was my responsibility as your date to look out for you and instead of doing that I was too busy worrying about what other people would think if I caused a scene. It was shitty of me to do and I’m sorry for that.”
“We’re both kind of fuckups, aren’t we?” she chuckles weakly as she continues rubbing at one eye. “I forgive you though.”
“I forgive you too,” you say and the two of you just continue to sit there, neither of you daring to break the silence despite staring intently into each other’s eyes. She eventually breaks eye contact first and rests her head against your chest. She takes in a quiet breath through her mouth and releases it in a long sigh. You can feel the tenseness of her body waning as she relaxes further into you, her previously labored gasps for air now steady, quiet breathing.
You can feel the wet patches on your clothes begin to cool, and you can no longer feel Ruby crying fresh tears on you. You gently shift your fingers through the hair on her head, thankful that things have finally calmed down a bit. Despite everything that's happened tonight, your heart slows in response to feeling Ruby's gentle heartbeat against your chest.
Your eyelids begin to flutter as the call for sleep tugs at them, forcing you to break the moment of silence with a question. "Is it okay if I sleep on the couch?" She doesn't respond, leaving you unsure if she still wants you here or is even awake to begin with.
You gently shift one of your legs out from under her own and hang it off the edge of the bed, but you stop as you hear her take a quick, sharp breath in. You feel her head gently shift against your chest; which only confirms that she probably did fall asleep resting against you. "Sorry, Ruby. Just going to go sleep on the couch," you repeat, seeing her ear twitch slightly in silent response.
"... Do you have a blanket I could borrow?" you ask as you shift your other leg out over the bed and gently move her off of your legs and onto the bed.
She doesn't respond, making you question again if she's awake or asleep. You decide against risking waking her up and slowly come to a rise, but you stop as you hear her voice and feel something holding your arm back by the sleeve.
"No... Please...." she whimpers out as she weakly tugs the sleeve of your shoulder back to her.
You stop and look at Ruby, noticing that her expression is different than it was just moments ago. The sinking feeling in your gut returns when you see her expression, a harsh reminder of the same panic you saw in her eyes earlier tonight. Her mouth opens as if she’s trying to say something, but you can tell she’s having trouble finding the words. You feel a pang of guilt when you see her breathing begin to quicken again, and you take the initiative to say something first.
"You... want me to sleep with you here? On the bed?" you ask just to make sure you’re understanding her correctly. “Are you sure? I don’t mind crashing on the couch.”
She nods, still holding onto your sleeve and giving it another slight yet firm tug that tells you everything you need to know. You take a deep breath and stretch your nearly asleep leg before putting them both back on the bed. You once again find yourself resting against the hard wooden backboard of her bed, wondering how you’re going to fall asleep sitting upright. Ruby shifts against you as she tries to find a comfortable spot to rest her head on, though you’re oddly surprised that she wants you to stay after everything that’s happened tonight. Somehow she senses your discomfort and reaches for a large pillow near the foot of the bed, handing it to you. “Sorry, thought you had a pillow behind you.”
You can’t help but smile at how considerate she is, even under these circumstances. You ease back into the pillow, giving some relief to your back and neck as Ruby rests back against you. You bring a hand back around her and rest it against her shoulder, leaving your other at your side. You can feel Ruby begin to slowly drift back into what you assume is slumber, making it a struggle for you to not follow suit. You can feel the tickle of fur against your neck as she shifts against you in her sleep, the warmth nearly enough to make you shiver. Her position looks to be a bit uncomfortable and you shift yourself to provide her head better support. Her quiet expression as she sleeps is cute, at least from what you can see in the dark. It’s certainly a far cry from how she looked earlier; but you’re thankful that you managed to talk things out enough to get her into this calm state.
You take a brief moment to think about what you’re going to do or say to her in the morning given you’ve basically promised to stay the night. You want to do something to make up for everything you’ve put her through throughout the entire night, knowing she’d likely do the same for you if the roles were reversed. You realize far too late that you’d forgotten to give her the necklace you’d bought earlier in the day, carefully reaching down with your free hand to retrieve the small box in your pocket. You look at the small, unassuming box as you question your options. You're unsure if it'd even be a good idea to give it to her now, especially after explaining your troubling situation in full honesty and seeing how hurt Ruby was by virtue of you never telling her. You set the box on the nightstand beside the bed, hoping that you'll have a clear and far less exhausted mind in the morning to make your decision on what to do with her gift.
You gently shift your fingers around the soft fur on her shoulder and rest your head further back. You close your eyes and let out a quiet yawn. You'll figure it all out in the morning. For now, you're just relieved you accomplished what you’d set out to do. You hope that things will continue to go smoothly tomorrow. You take several deep breaths in and out through your nose and relax your shoulders. You rest more of your arm around Ruby and pull her tighter to you before finally joining the tired roo.