Why Blaze is so Cool
There's not gonna be much of a preamble on this, it's basically just what the title says. We're gonna go over Blaze's design, character arc, and personality + miscellaneous, all while comparing and contrasting with Sonic, who she was created to be a rival and a friend to. And hopefully by the end of it I will have convinced you that Blaze is one of the best characters in this franchise. And maybe converted a couple to my Sonaze agenda by explaining just how good of rivals and friends they are, although that is secondary.
Let's go. Put under a cut because I don't hate my followers MOST of the time.
Part 1: Design
Blaze's design, like most characters in this franchise, is simple and striking. In terms of pure aesthetic it's very cohesive, with a good balance of visual elements and an excellent color palette to make her stand out among the already extensive cast of characters.
Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, it also portrays her character very well. Her clothing, which is formal yet practical (unlike most princesses in fiction she wears pants instead of a floofy dress) and it also shows that she's of royal blood. Purple, especially darker purple like with her tailcoat and the tips of her tail and "ponytail", is often used to signify royalty in fiction, and that combined with the gold necklace gives attentive audience members multiple clues towards the fact that she's kind of a big deal. The flared out cuffs on her gloves and shoes like just a tiny bit like fire. Admittedly her wearing heels is not very practical, but heels are generally seen to be a formal shoe, again tying into the royalty thing. Additionally, the fact that they are small heels (kitten heels, to be precise) makes it far more believable than if she was running around in high heels, and the fact that Blaze the Cat is specifically wearing kitten heels is adorable. The fact that she is wearing a bindi also is a subtle indication that she isn't from Sonic's dimension, as we have never seen any kind of accessory like that before in this franchise. Finally, Blaze's "hair" being tied back into a ponytail is used to show her personality: withdrawn, restrained, and work focused.
Her Super Form, Burning Blaze, also has an exceptionally cool design. Her colors turn from primarily purple with hints of red, pink, and gold to primarily red, with hints of purple, gold, and pink. Her hair, tail, and the cuffs on her gloves and shoes all turn into fire and drift up, showing just how much her power level has increased that her fire powers are literally leaking out of her. It looks raw as hell, to put it simply.
Okay, so Blaze by herself looks cool as fuck, and her design makes sense for her character. But how was she designed to be an equivalent and yet alternate Sonic?
There's a lot I'm going to go into here, so I'll just start with the big ones right off the bat. Beginning with their color palettes, both of their main colors (purple and blue) are right next to each other on the color wheel, and they are similar, but not the exact same, in hue. Additionally, purple (Blaze's fur color) inverted is green (Sonic's eye color), and blue (Sonic's fur color) inverted is yellow (Blaze's eye color). Other aspects of their designs contrast as well: Blaze has sharp eyes and a small nose, Sonic has round eyes and a long nose. In terms of attire, however, they're actually fairly similar. Both have pure white gloves with pure white cuffs, both have the same shoe design (solid color shoe designed to help them run fast interrupted by a white stripe in the middle) with the only differences being Sonic wearing red boots, Blaze wearing pink heels. They also both wear gold on what is most likely their most prized possession: Sonic has a gold buckle on the shoes that help him run fast and freely, Blaze has a gold necklace on the tailcoat that signifies her status as a royal.
Super Sonic and Burning Blaze are also designed to complement each other. Super Sonic is golden with firey red eyes, Burning Blaze is red with glowing golden eyes. Additionally, in specifically the version of Super Sonic we see depicted in Sonic Rush, his quills are chaotic, almost like they've been windswept: his own powers let loose by the Chaos Emeralds, like Blaze's have been with the Sol Emeralds.
Part 2: The Character Arc
Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure, while having Sonic's name on the title, is basically Blaze's story, with Sonic simply serving as a catalyst for Blaze's development.
Beginning with Sonic Rush, Blaze is introduced as someone who is competent, but alone. She crashlands in Sonic's dimension alone, and if not for Cream's (and later Sonic's) interference, she would have failed in her mission, despite her competence, because she was alone and with no one to back her up. Over the course of the game she slowly opens up to characters other than Sonic (most notably Cream) while also hearing about how cool and awesome Sonic is and how he can help her with her mission, which is something that she absolutely does not want. So when she finally meets the hedgehog himself, and has a proper conversation with him, just like a true Sonic rival-to-be-turned-friend, she lashes out. And just like every other rival Sonic turns into a friend, she ends up needing sense literally beat into her.
(Side note but while obviously in the real world violence is a last resort for conflict resolution, I'm glad that the first female Sonic rival wasn't treated differently than every other male rival up to this point, and it makes sense for both characters that they would fight their emotions out rather than actually talking)
But, after getting all that frustration out of their systems, Sonic is finally able to make Blaze see what's been in front of her the whole time: she needs help just like everyone else, and if she doesn't accept it she's going to get others and herself hurt. Lesson learned with a hopefully minimal amount of bruising along the way, Blaze is able to form an alliance with Sonic, and while they head their separate ways again, it's not out of stubbornness and fear of relying on others on Blaze's part this team: it's because she trusts Sonic to do his part just as she knows that she can do her part.
But Sonic still has one more lesson to teach Blaze, and as cheesy as it may be, he teaches her about the power of friendship, which in franchises like Sonic the Hedgehog the power of positive thoughts and feelings do have real effects on the world all these characters live in. With the alliance between Sonic and Blaze having turned into a proper friendship, the two are able to defeat the enemies threatening the rest of your friends, and they share a sweet moment together (with Blaze holding her hand out to Sonic, for once) before Blaze returns to her home dimension.
Blaze's arc in Sonic Rush isn't exactly complex, but I'd argue that complicated arcs are really only things that the comics have touched on, for both better and worse. The simplicity of her arc allows for it to be solid and easily understandable, and it doesn't magically fix everything or make her an entirely different character. Blaze still has to return home at the end of the game despite literally holding on for as long as she could, and she's still emotionally reserved, quiet, and work focused, but now those things no longer dominate her personality to her own detriment.
Blaze's arc in Sonic Rush Adventure on the other hand, shows that she still has a ways to go. While she did fractionally open up in the original game, both Sonic and Cream are just naturally charming and sweet with few downsides to their personalities. Additionally, she only ever really worked with Sonic himself, who is essentially an equal in terms of competence and power. Marine, on the other hand... well, she's an excellently written character, but that doesn't change the fact that in universe she isn't a super competent fighter, she talks a lot, has a big head, and a plethora of other tiny flaws, all of which add up when you're trying to save the world. Throughout Rush Adventure Blaze first rejects Marine for her relative uselessness, and then learns to appreciate Marine for what she can do as well as the fact that she is trying to get better, just like Blaze once did. Blaze goes from being helped by Sonic to being a guiding figure for Marine, and it's likely that despite no further game appearances from Marine, they formed a bond similar to Sonic and Tails, again showing that Blaze is an alternate equivalent to Sonic (and also that the same goes for Marine and Tails, but that's a whole other post).
Sonic in the Rush series doesn't really have a narrative arc, but he doesn't need one, as these are essentially Blaze's games with Sonic as a consistent helping force.
Part 3: The Personality and the Little Details
Of course, a solid design and decent storyline doesn't really help if the character has all the personality of a slice of bread. Thankfully Blaze has personality to spare, even if she is on the more stoic side of the cast.
Blaze's personality is also extremely cool, both standalone and as an inversion to Sonic's. She's pretty unique among the girls in the series (who tend to be friendly, outgoing, sociable, and personal desire oriented: Amy, Cream, Tangle, Rouge, etc.) while Blaze is more withdrawn and cold than the others (ironic, given her name), and puts the needs of her kingdom ahead of her own wants and her needs. She is duty and goal oriented when we first meet her, not concerned with friends at all, and in fact she has none (basically the opposite of Sonic, except for the fact that he is occasionally goal oriented when the time arises. She's obsessed with being able to do everything by herself to the point of turning down Sonic's help and later attacking him to keep him out of the way, while he reaches out to her on multiple occasions. She is stoic, quiet, withdrawn, shy, has emotional and often aggressive outburts when she thinks she's been personally insulted or if someone gets in the way of her goals, and is primarily responsible. Sonic is enthusiastic, loud, outgoing, bold, does not care what others think of him and will often slow down for personal fun even if there are more serious matters, and is primarily laid back. She over thinks, he barely thinks. I could go on.
The two of them together create a balance. Fire power vs wind power. Wind=Fire Hazard, without oxygen a fire cannot even get started. She is royalty who is strict and honor bound and never seems out fights unless she thinks they are necessary, he is... Basically a homeless adventurer who gets into fights and danger for fun. She has a special link to the Sol Emeralds, he has a special link to the Chaos Emeralds. Her fighting style is based off ballet, his is based off of breakdancing. Fire needs order and focus to burn properly, if let loose it can cause massive damage. Wind needs freedom and space to blow freely, if stifled it will just peter out. Despite being a cat with fire powers she is alright in water but hates height (likely because more height=less oxygen=less fire power for her), he is a hedgehog who cannot swim yet operates quite well in air, despite cats irl being good with heights and bad with water, and the opposite for hedgehogs. "Blaze" meaning fiercely burning fire, the power she controls, (also indicating high speed), "Sonic" meaning relating to sound waves, the speed he can surpass (also also indicating high speed).
Because she's Sonic's equivalent, she's also basically his equal in combat, being the only female to tie with Sonic in a fight while a) not being a literal god cus Sonic fights literally gods and b) not having any power ups. He's slightly faster, but she has more (literal) fire power on her side. Their fighting styles also contrast with each other, I've already mentioned the ballet vs breakdancing thing but also there's Sonic's spontaneity vs Blaze's controlled movements, his rush and agility vs her grace and power, his tendency to annoy enemies into making mistakes and flit around them like an annoying bug, while Blaze just charged them head on and overwhelms them. Sonic's fight style is all based off of learning it the hard way, Blaze's is most likely based off of literal training as she is a princess. They mostly have contrast with some interesting overlaps, showing how they are as similar as they are different.
Another interesting thing about them is that Blaze attempts to keep all her emotions under check and is kinda bad at it, she can rarely conceal more extreme emotions and she gets loud and obvious about them, whereas Sonic initially appears to wear his emotions on his sleeve, but when it comes to more serious emotions and when he gets pushed emotionally he becomes quieter, colder, and more withdrawn. Blaze can become an open book and he slams shut. Blaze being surrounded by people for her entire life but not having any emotional connections with them vs Sonic most likely being alone before he met Eggman and Tails and then choosing to surround himself with friends and loved ones. Their contrast in life stories and their personalities was insanely well thought out and it really shows. And on a more subjective level, they just look really cool when paired together, because that was literally how they were designed.
Anyway in conclusion. Blaze is a fucking amazing character and a great rival and friend to Sonic, she deserves so much more attention in the franchise and fandomoverall and specifically should be played off of Sonic more because she was literally designed to be HIS friend and rival, Rush and Rush Adventure deserve remakes and also a proper sequel, and if they do ever make any of those then I will scream and cry and wail etc. and also Sonaze is the best ship in the franchise prove me wrong
TLDR: Blaze cool
Wingman? Wingwoman? Wingperson. (Chapter Four)
Summary: This is Part Seventeen of my series A Herrmann/Halstead Production. It is an AU where Christopher Herrmann's mom had an affair with Pat Halstead resulting in a baby. The series follows this OC character (Rebecca "Bex" Herrmann) as she grows up and gets to know her brothers and the various Chicago teams. It is very much an AU, just to underscore that. It doesn't follow the same timeline and characters will follow different paths.
Click here for the Series Rundown where you can find the links to read all of the previous installments (which I highly recommend you do so that this one makes sense.)
Rating: Teen and Up
Relationships: Christopher Herrmann & Original Female Character, Jay Halstead & Original Female Character, Will Halstead & Original Female Character, Jay Halstead & Will Halstead, pre-Greg 'Mouse' Gerwitz/Original Female Character, Will Halstead/Connor Rhodes, Assorted OC Couples
Warnings: Referenced Domestic Violence and Threatening Behaviour (these are warning tags for a brief scenes with Ty), Emotional Hurt/Comfort, Rejection, Self-Sabotage, Swearing, and I'm adding Emotional Whump because writing this one hurt me, but also on the flip side - Connor and Will still being too freaking cute to handle.
A/N: To underscore my previous note, this is an alternate universe so things have unfolded differently. This will not follow the canon arc exactly by any means. But I hope you'll still enjoy it!
Will called them back in the middle of the afternoon and it was pretty much the best phone call Bex had ever received. Top five for sure.
Her brother was giddy and the two of them were just as bad, drawing stares as they did a happy dance in the middle of the sidewalk. He couldn’t talk long since he had to go back to work, but promised to tell them the whole story later that night.
After his date.
“You’re next, Bex! You got this!” Will’s whispered cheers echoed out of the speaker phone. “I’ve got to get back to work, but I believe in you! Love you, bye!”
He disconnected before she could respond, leaving her standing there holding the phone and giggling as soon as she made eye contact with Emery.
“I would love to be a fly on the wall there for the rest of the day,” Bex said, still chuckling. “He is so spun.”
“That’s going to be you soon enough!” Emery knocked shoulders with her. “Got a game plan yet?”
“Still a work in progress,” Bex mumbled and Emery shook her head.
“Take your own advice, Bexie Babe,” she said. “And breathe.” She linked arms with Bex as they headed back toward the car. “What else was it you said to Will? You’ve already got something great and this is just taking a step toward something even better.”
It had certainly worked out for Will.
“Speak from the heart,” Emery continued. “You’re good at that.”
Breathe and speak from the heart. That seemed straightforward enough. “Okay, yeah,” Bex said, taking a shaky breath. “I’ve got this.”
“Say it again with confidence,” Emery demanded.
“I’ve got this,” Bex yelled.
“Yeah, you do!”
They high-fived and climbed into the Tin Can 2.0 to finish off the rest of their errands. High on Will’s success, they managed to zip through the remainder of the list and soon enough, Bex was dropping Emery off at Kira and Malia’s.
She waited until Emery was safely inside before getting ready to pull out of the parking and just as she was about to leave, her phone went off with a series of dings.
Picking it up, she swiped the screen to see a bunch of messages from Emery.
Pep talk texts before you go!
Breathe! Be brave!
Remember – horrible, horrible honesty.
And the last one was a bunch of emojis: lips, heart hands, and—
“Seriously?” Bex laughed as she dumped her phone back in the cup holder, ignoring the string of eggplant finishing off the message. Mission accomplished in any case.
A game plan was starting to form…
She felt lighter.
She felt ready.
Well, she needed to grab one more thing and then, she’d be ready.
As far as work days in Intelligence went, this one was actually kinda boring? With a break between cases, Voight had declared it paperwork day which sucked, but at least Adam was all caught up now.
Unlike Halstead, Atwater, and Upton who were still upstairs typing away. Dawson and Olinsky had ducked out awhile ago—no idea how they’d managed to be so fast.
Al typed with two fingers.
Kim was finished too so they’d made plans to meet up for pizza and a beer. He jogged down the front steps of the precinct, whistling to himself and feeling pretty pleased with—
“GAH!” He flailed away, nearly falling off the last step when Bex popped up out of nowhere.
Where the hell had she come from?
“You’re awfully jumpy,” she said mildly, leaning up against the railing with a tray holding two iced drinks in her hands.
“What are you doing here?” He looked around, trying to keep one eye on her and the other scouting for traps. “If you’re looking for Jay, you’ll be waiting awhile.”
“I’m here to attend to…other business.” She maintained eye contact with him while picking up one of the drinks to take a slow sip.
Other business. Like…revenge business.
“Right. Cool,” Adam said, keeping a careful distance away from Bex as he navigated around her on the sidewalk. “I’ve gotta go, but I’ll see you around.” He kept her in his sights, walking backwards toward the parking lot.
“Not if I see you first,” she called out.
He was inspecting every inch of his car before he got in it today.
That was fun.
She watched Adam scuttle off with a smirk.
“Bold move terrorizing folks outside of a police station,” a familiar voice said.
She spun around to see Mouse standing on the steps behind her, mouth quirked in a crooked little grin.
“They all know it’s justified,” she said, waving a hand at the precinct in general.
Mouse chuckled for a moment until his gaze met hers. All the good humour slowly faded away and tendrils of doubt started to creep into Bex’s mind.
He cleared his throat and adjusted his bag on his shoulder. “So, uh, you looking—you looking for Jay?” He jerked a nod back at the door. “I think he’s gonna be an hour or so still.”
“Actually, I came here to see you,” she said and his gaze snapped back to her.
“Me?” He looked like a deer in headlights and Bex wished she could hear what he was thinking because this one-eighty in his behaviour lately was giving her whiplash.
Mouse couldn’t breathe.
He’d been trying so hard to keep his distance—to take some time so he could be around Bex and not want…fucking everything.
But now here she was. Standing there looking beautiful with a smile of pure sunshine and she was here for him.
And he couldn’t.
How was he supposed to do this?
“I got you one of those iced caramel monstrosities you like,” she said with a teasing grin, holding out a cup with a familiar logo. His favourite coffee shop from three streets over.
He unclenched a hand from the strap of his bag and reached out to accept it with a jerk. “Thank you,” he managed to say.
“Soooo…” Bex tossed the tray in the trash and rocked back on her heels, taking a small sip of her drink. “You busy right now?”
Say yes and walk away.
“Well, I’ve got this monstrosity to work my way through now,” he said instead, clearly not in control of his own mouth anymore.
“What do you think about taking a walk with me while you do that?” Bex asked, fingers clenching on her cup as she bit at her lip.
If he was a better man… a stronger man…he would say no. Mouse could see where this was headed from a mile away. It had been building for weeks. Months really.
There was never any real possibility of hiding from it. Distance was never going to stop it.
Inevitability made him a weak man. He needed to live in this fantasy for a few moments longer and pretend that this was his life. That he and Bex were taking this step toward something more.
Instead of a mistake.
He wanted a few more minutes to pretend he could have this because when it ended how he knew it was going to end…the fantasy would be all he had left.
Mouse wanted to hold onto as many scraps as he could.
“Yeah,” he murmured, hating himself for giving in to this desperate need. “I could go for a walk.”
Bex and Mouse walked down the sidewalk together, bumping arms occasionally as they drifted into each other’s space. He filled her in on the boring day of paperwork they’d had and she told him about Emery’s progress.
Easy chit-chat that barely masked the humming tension between them.
She was doing this. Bex could hardly believe it, but she was doing this. The first part of the plan—get Mouse’s attention with a tasty beverage—has been successfully navigated and now she just had to make it through step two.
Set the stage.
There was a little garden park a block south of the precinct. Erin had actually introduced her to it one time when they met up for coffee. It was fairly quiet, nicely shaded, and had the added benefit of being relatively neutral ground that she and Mouse could both escape from if things went seriously south.
Plus a nice little bench they could make out on if things went seriously well.
…way to get ahead of yourself, Bex.
She deftly steered them into the park and made a beeline for the bench, patting the spot beside her for Mouse to take a seat.
He veered left instead, taking a spin around to look at the flowers.
That was fine. She could pour her heart out while standing just as easily.
Well, not easily either way, but whatever.
Bex left her drink on the bench and wandered over to Mouse’s side. He was staring hard at a bed of daylilies, jaw clenched.
He looked stressed.
…maybe this wasn’t the right moment.
But what if there was never a right moment? There was always something going on and finding a perfect time was probably never going to happen.
And if he was freaking out about them getting closer, then there was never going to be a moment unless she took the initiative.
Time to leap.
“Mouse,” she said quietly, but still managing to startle him. “Sorry. Um, I came looking for you today because there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”
His forehead furrowed into a deep frown. “Bex—”
“Just let me get this out, okay?” She said in a rush, holding up a hand to ward off whatever he was going to say. She’d come too far to stop now.
“We’ve known each other for…a long time now,” Bex said with a little laugh and he smiled back at her faintly. “You’re one of my best friends, but I feel like lately, we’ve been getting even closer and it feels like we’re moving toward something—something more than friends.”
Oh, god, could she be any more awkward?
“What I’m trying to say is that I would like that. And I’ve been getting the feeling that you would too,” she said, voice going up in a questioning note. “So, would you like to go on a date? With me?”
Bex held her breathe as all her hope and fear and excitement swirled in one terrified vortex.
Mouse’s eyes went wide. “Bex, no—”
Her brain stuttered to a halt and the vortex stopped.
Everything was silent.
Then that crack, the one deep inside that had been patched up so crudely, split and opened its jagged maw.
She’d done it again.
What the hell was wrong with her?
To think that Mouse could lo—that he might—
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I think I misjudged what was happening here and—oh, gosh. I’m so sorry, Mouse, please forget I said anything, okay?”
“No, Bex, no—” He grabbed at her arm to stop her very necessary retreat and she couldn’t look him in the eye because she was two seconds away from losing it.
“Not no no,” he said and what did that mean? Did he not know any other words right now?
Oh. She’d said that out loud.
“Bex, please look at me,” Mouse said and it was the desperate note in his voice that had her looking up. “Not no, I don’t want to, but no, I can’t. We can’t.”
“What do you mean, we can’t?” Bex halted her escape attempts and now Mouse wouldn’t meet her gaze. “I need a little bit more here, Mouse, because I’m so confused.”
“You didn’t misjudge anything,” he said softly. “There was something there.”
“I thought about being with you. Wanted that so much.”
She reached out to lay a gentle hand on top of his. “Me too,” she said. “Don’t you think it’s worth trying?”
Mouse shook his head in a rough jerk. “It would be a mistake,” he said flatly, stepping back.
“Or it could be amazing,” Bex said. “And honestly, I’d put better odds on that outcome.”
“No, it would never work—”
“I think you could give us both a little more credit.” Frustration was starting to edge out the shock now.
“It wouldn’t be you,” Mouse said, looking out at the garden with a thousand-yard stare. “I would mess it up, Bex. There are things you don’t know about me—”
“But I want to know—”
“I could never be who you need me to be.” He tapped a fist against the centre of his chest. “I can’t give—there’s no way it wouldn’t end in disaster, Bex and then—I’d lose you.”
She didn’t know what to say. How to break through this horrible imaginary scenario he’d spun for himself. “Mouse, no—”
“I’d lose you,” he said, firm now in his conviction. “And I’d lose Jay and I can’t do that, Bex. You and Jay are the most important people—you’re my family.”
Mouse moved back into her space suddenly, gripping her hands in his. “I can’t risk it. Do you—please understand, Bex,” he said, voice breaking. “Losing you and Jay would be it for me. I couldn’t survive that. I can’t—it would—”
“Okay.” Bex fought to keep her voice level as the reality of things finally settled in. “It’s okay, Mouse. I understand.”
There would be no convincing Mouse that his fears were unfounded.
She couldn’t say with one hundred percent certainty that they weren’t because no one could predict the future—although Mouse seemed to think he could—and maybe they would end in disaster.
She’d rather try and see how it went then never try at all, but it took two of them to make that decision. Bex liked to think that their friendship could survive a break-up, but maybe that was her being naïve.
Maybe Mouse was saving them from a broken future, but that thought didn’t do anything to fix the widening crack of pain and grief spreading through her.
They were trading possible, imaginary future heartache for very real heartache right now.
How was this better?
Bex dug deep and forced a small smile on her face. Mouse looked like he was careening toward a panic attack and she knew how hard it must have been for him to get all of that out.
The last thing she ever wanted was for him to lose his family.
For them to lose each other.
For them both to fall apart.
At least she had more people to help her pick herself back up.
Mouse had Jay.
And he had her.
She could suck it up and hold them both together for now.
“You are never going to lose us, Mouse,” she said, squeezing his hands back. “You’re my family too and I don’t know if you’ve noticed this about us Herrmanns, but once we latch on to you, you’re stuck with us for life.”
They both chuckled a little wetly at that.
“We will always be friends,” she said. “We will always be family. Nothing could ever happen to make us lose each other.” She shifted their hands into a pinky swear. “I promise.”
He stared down at their joined fingers as she shook them. “I’m so sorry, Bex,” he began.
“Shut up.” She released his hands and pulled Mouse into a hug. He held stiff for a moment before putting his arms around her and holding tight. “Believe that we’re going to be okay,” she said. “That’s all I want from you.”
“Okay,” he whispered into her hair.
She’d try to believe it too.
They had to be.
Bex left shortly after that, saying she had to pick up Emery.
Mouse stayed in the little park, sitting on the bench and peeling at the edges of the label on his cup thinking that if he waited long enough…the ache in his chest would go away.
That the knowledge he’d done the right thing would kick in and he wouldn’t feel like he’d gone ahead and destroyed everything that mattered the most to him anyway.
But deep down, he knew.
This wasn’t how doing the right thing was supposed to feel.
Bex sat in her car outside of Kira and Malia’s building.
She’d somehow found her way back to the Tin Can and driven all the way there without noticing and that was definitely not good. She was lucky she didn’t get into an accident.
The sun was beating down on the windshield making it rapidly more uncomfortable in her sweat-sticky seat, but she couldn’t move yet.
Not when moving meant facing people and facing people meant telling them—
She couldn’t move yet.
Her phone buzzed and she fished it out of the cupholder to check the message.
Checking in to see how it went.
Oh, god, she couldn’t tell him. He’d totally cancel his date with Connor and he was so excited for it. She didn’t want to be the one to ruin that.
She’d had her fill of ruining things today.
BEX: I chickened out.
A laugh slipped out at the keyboard smash he texted back. Another rapid fire set of texts followed it.
WILL: We’ll work on your game plan.
WILL: It’ll be GREAT!!! You’ll see!
BEX: Sounds like a plan. Have fun on your date. Emery and I will be at Kira and Malia’s so you’ve go the apartment to yourself. 😉
BEX: How red is your face right now?
WILL: IT’S OUR FIRST DATE
BEX: I’m just saying…
WILL: We’re taking it slow, okay?
WILL: I don’t want to mess this up.
A lot of that going around.
BEX: Sorry, I’ll stop teasing. It’s going to be great. You guys are perfect for each other.
BEX: Have fun, okay? I can’t wait to hear all about it.
WILL: See you tomorrow
Yeah. She definitely was going to hold off telling him the truth for a few days.
He deserved to have this time right now.
They could deal with her disaster later.
Bex took a deep, bracing breath and headed up to Kira and Malia’s apartment.
You can talk about this.
She knocked on the door and Kira answered immediately, Malia and Emery peering over her shoulder from behind.
Kira took one look at her face and reached out to pull her inside. “Oh, sweetie.”
Bex bursts into tears
Actual and Honorary Bastards Group Chat
MALIA: everyone come here now
ISAAC: WHAT’S WRONG?
SAM: do you need actual 911? We’ve talked about this, Malia
FAITH: Use your words
MALIA: Mouse said no.
DEVON: ON OUR WAY
BEN: We’re getting in the car
MALIA: bring snacks
MALIA: and alcohol
MALIA: a lot.
Their crew was assembled at Kira and Malia’s within twenty minutes.
He wasn’t quite sure what kind of scene they’d be walking into—everyone remembered AJ—but Bex seemed remarkably composed.
That was actually more disconcerting if he was honest.
She was teary as she gave them the run-down of her conversation with Mouse, but every time her voice started to break or she got choked up, she stopped and tamped it all down before continuing.
A quick glance around at his friends told him they were growing just as concerned.
“I’m so sorry, Bex,” Emery said, reaching over from her spot beside her on the couch to rub her back. “You must be crushed.”
“It’s not like we were even dating,” Bex said, looking down as she knitted her fingers together in her lap.
“That doesn’t make what you feel any less real,” Faith said softly. “It didn’t have to be official for there to be a real relationship there.”
Bex nodded, swallowing hard. “I just—I feel like I should have realized that’s why he wasn’t making a move, you know? And now I’ve pushed it and freaked him out and what if it’s all ruined anyway? I shouldn’t have said anything—”
“Bex, stop.” Isaac made his way over to the couch and wiggled his way in between her and Kira. “Anyone who saw the two of you together could tell there’s something special there and you’re not a mind reader, okay? Don’t beat yourself up for putting yourself out there.”
“I’m worried he’s going to pull away even more now—”
“You don’t let people get lost, Bex,” Emery said with a gentle smile. “Not for long and never forever. Mouse is in the Herrmann orbit for good and he’ll figure that out soon enough.”
“Okay. Yeah, I guess we just…see how it goes.” Bex sniffed and rubbed at her face before glancing around the room. “Please tell me there’s junk food in those bags you hauled in.”
“So much!” Devon hopped up and started rifling through them. He tossed Bex a bag of salt and vinegar chips first. “We’ve got you covered, girl.”
Isaac used the food distraction as a chance to slip away. His phone had been buzzing non-stop with people wanting to hear how it went.
Wanting to hear the good news that didn’t exist.
As far they knew, it was a sure thing so what was the harm in a few—many—playful check-ins.
They had Bex safely squared away, but he had no idea where Mouse was and he didn’t want to risk anyone making a playful comment to his face.
The guy had made a mistake, but he had to be hurting just as much as Bex right now.
Taking a deep breath, Isaac unlocked his phone and opened up the message thread that had been hopping all day.
He said no. Still getting the details.
Best if everyone just forgets about this for now.
Two seconds of silence and then…
The Bouse group chat erupted.
Isaac’s phone was going crazy. He’d muted it, but she could see him peeking at it every once in awhile and a flood of notifications flashing across his screen every time.
“Okay, what is going on?” she finally asked, not able to take it anymore.
Whatever it was, maybe it would be a good distraction.
“Hm?” He quickly flipped his phone face down again, not looking at her. “Oh, nothing. Sorry. Work stuff.”
“Isaac,” she said and he hummed, still not looking her way.
Her friend was wonderful at so many things, but lying to people’s faces was not one of them.
“Isaac, look me in the eye and tell me that’s work stuff.”
He looked her in the side of her nose as he picked up his phone and started to get up off the couch. “It’s work—oof!”
Bex leapt across Emery to snatch the phone out of his hands. “You forget I know your unlock code,” she said.
“No, Bex!” He tried to grab it back, but she already had it open and more notifications were flashing across the screen. “I’m so sorry,” he said, flopping back on the couch. “I—”
“Is this?” She swiped through the messages. “There was a bet going on me and Mouse?” She looked up to see a room full of regretful nods and Emery rolling her eyes.
“For the record, I was not involved,” she said. “I haven’t even been here.”
“Pretty much all of Fifty-One and a good chunk of the precinct and Med,” Sam admitted. “Not Chris and Cindy or Jay and Will. Or Connor actually.”
“Are you mad?” Isaac asked in a small voice. “We didn’t mean for it to get this big.”
Bex sighed. She wanted to be, but she didn’t have the energy. And honestly, she wasn’t even surprised. Fifty-One had been betting on everything for as long as she’d known them. And she knew how easily their shenanigans spiralled out of control. They couldn't help themselves.
Part of her wished they’d managed to curb those impulses for this particular situation though. She didn’t need it to get any messier than it already was.
“I’m not mad.” She waved the phone at him. “I’m more concerned about these reactions because you know how my family is. I don’t want anyone saying anything to Mouse.”
Well-meaning or not, it would make things ten times worse. None of them could possibly understand all of the layers at work. They’d just see her hurting and want to take action.
“I’m gonna—” She motioned toward the screen of Isaac’s phone.
“Oh, for sure,” he said. “Go ahead. It’ll be better coming from you I think anyway. More effective.”
Oh, she could do effective.
Bex opened the group chat and started a voice message.
“Hello family and friends. This is Bex. Yes, I know about the bet. I hope you all lost money. By now you’ve heard that ‘Bouse’—who thought of that by the way? Never mind. Not important. Bouse isn’t happening and the most important thing to know here is that it’s no one’s fault. It is what it is, okay? Under no circumstances is anyone to say anything to Mouse. Not one word. If you do, I will know and I will make your life a living hell. And on top of that, I will never make any of you cookies every again. Think about that. If one of you steps over the line, no one gets cookies. Forever. So please just…try and be cool, okay? Love you. Bye.”
She closed the chat and tossed the phone over to Isaac before leaning against Emery with her eyes closed. Everyone was quiet for a minute. Emery stroked her hair.
“Chief Boden is backing you up in the chat and telling everyone to behave,” Isaac reported and Bex sat straight up.
“Uncle Bo was in the chat? God, you really did get everyone.” Bex shook her head. “Okay, no, we’re officially done with that little side quest. It’s too much. Food and drink and snuggles, now, please.”
Her friends leapt into action and she let them do all of the fussing. She was going to let herself be a mindless slug for the next few hours.
She should do one last thing.
Bex picked up her own phone and sent a quick text to Jay.
Would you mind going to check on Mouse? No questions asked, please.
Just do me a favour and check?
He immediately asked a bunch of questions, but when she didn’t respond just wrote “Okay.”
Now Mouse had someone too.
She stared down at her phone. “Don’t say it,” she said, holding up a finger to Julie, knowing she was giving her a look without even having to check. “I know, okay? I know.”
“I wasn’t going to say I told you so.” Julie cuddled up beside her on the couch, hooking her chin onto Shay’s shoulder as she checked out the rapid fire messages being exchanged in the group chat. “I was going to ask if anyone has actually talked to Bex. Do we know how she is? How she really is?”
Shay shook her head. Isaac had been light on details, but she could read between the lines. Plus, Bex sounded awful in the voice memo she’d left in the chat.
They needed to start organizing. Figure out ways to support Bex.
If there was one thing she knew about heartbreak—hard won through her years and years of experience with it—
It always got worse before it got better.
He made his way over to Mouse’s place in record time.
Bex had sent him that cryptic freaking message and then refused to respond to him so he had no idea what he was walking into.
A prickle of fear crawled up the back of his throat as he thought about past situations he’d walked into with Mouse. Things he thought his friend would never come back from.
“Mouse!” Jay banged on the door. “You in there? Open up!”
He kept on banging until the door finally opened.
Mouse stood there, looking like shit and blocking his way in. “What’s up, Jay? You’re gonna get me kicked out of the building if you keep yelling like that.”
“What’s up?” Jay tried to move forward, but Mouse wasn’t budging. “You tell me what’s up? Bex sent me a text asking me to check up on you—”
Mouse’s face did something complicated at that before settling back into a blank stare.
What the fuck was going on?
“Why is she worried about you? What happened?”
“She’s probably just worried because I’m doing what you said.” Mouse focused on a spot on Jay’s shoulder as he talked, voice slow and flat. “Pulling back a bit. Keeping my distance.”
That wasn’t—no, Mouse had got it twisted somehow.
“I didn’t mean don’t hang out with her,” Jay said. “I want us all to hang out like we always do. I just meant it was a bad idea to date.” He started to dig his phone out of his pocket. “Look, I’ll text her and we can have a movie night or something and get some pizza—”
His tone stopped Jay mid-screen swipe. Jay looked up to see Mouse watching him with a pain in his eyes that he hadn’t seen there for awhile now.
“You’re not getting it, man,” he said. “If I can’t—you said it would be a mistake, right? And I get that. I do. So, I’m trying to walk it back, but it’s—it’s hard.” Mouse’s hand gripped at the door as he took a breath. “…I just need a bit of space.”
The door was shut and Mouse was gone before he could finish his sentence.
“Shit,” Jay whispered to himself as a voice in the back of his head started rumbling that he may have seriously fucked up.
Will had been counting down the minutes until his shift was over, racing home as soon as he was free. He fed Kol, took him out for a walk, and then hopped into the shower.
Then he stared at his closet and really wished Bex was home.
He settled for sending her pictures of his outfit options until she and her friends helped him narrow it down to the perfect one.
Will felt like a teenager getting ready for his first date. It was a little bit ridiculous.
He decided not to examine it too hard.
One final check on his hair and he was out the door to pick up his date.
Connor was waiting for him at the door of his building, but Will managed to get out to open the car door before he made it there. “I would have come up to your apartment,” he said. “Knocked on your door for the whole nine yards.”
“Okay, don’t laugh,” Connor said, pointing at warning finger at him. “ButIgottooexcited.”
“What?” Will laughed, hearing enough of that mumbled mess to get an idea of what he said.
“I got too excited to wait upstairs and decide to come down to wait for you here,” Connor said, rolling his eyes. “Happy now?”
“Yes, actually,” Will grinned at him as he got in the car. “Very.”
They had dinner at one of Will’s favourite restaurants—an Italian place that was more hearty, than fancy. They stopped at a bar afterwards—not Molly’s because neither of them was interested in that level of scrutiny on a first date—for some after dinner beers and a few rounds of darts.
Will kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for things to take some kind of turn, but it was…
Conversation flowed easily between them with lots of laughter. They stuck to fun and interesting things. Kept it light. They’d had plenty of heart to hearts already so there was an unspoken agreement to lean into the levity of a first date.
And then there was the flirting.
Apparently Connor had been holding back before because Will was overwhelmed in the best way possible. Although he liked to think he was giving as good as he got if Connor’s heated glances were anything to go by.
They stayed out until midnight. Hours later than they should have considering the day they’d both worked, but neither of them had been ready to say goodnight too soon.
Will took Connor back home and walked him to his front door.
“I like the whole nine yards,” Connor said, quirking a smile at him before leaning in. “So…where does a goodnight kiss fall on the taking it slow spectrum?”
He pretended to think it over. “It’s allowed,” Will finally said, moving to close the distance between them.
It was tentative to start, in the way of first kisses, until Connor tilted his head just so and everything slotted into place. Will felt the sparks down to his toes as he deepened the kiss.
He chased the feeling until Connor made a surprised noise and Will pulled back to see he’d somehow crowded Connor into the wall of the building.
“We should probably stop before we break the spectrum,” Connor said, sounding a little breathless.
“Right,” Will released him with an embarrassed chuckle. “Sorry about that.”
“Don’t be.” Connor darted forward to give him one last peck. “I liked it.” He smiled at Will before saying goodnight and heading inside.
Will’s phone went off as he headed toward his car and he knew before he checked it would be Connor.
CONNOR: What are you doing Friday night?
WILL: Going on a date with you?
CONNOR: My fancy car and I will see you at seven.
WILL: I’ll be waiting on the sidewalk.
He knew he was grinning like an idiot the whole ride home, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care.
He’d gone on a date with Connor Rhodes.
And it was awesome.
Walking back to a Bex-less apartment was less awesome. He wanted to tell her every single detail, but that was going to have to wait until tomorrow.
At least he wasn’t completely alone.
“Kol,” he said, as he flopped down on the couch. “Come here and let me tell you about the wild day I had.”
She and Emery made it back to the apartment by ten the next morning. Well after the time Will would have left for work so at least she wouldn’t have to face him until that night.
Or so she thought.
His stuff was all hanging by the door when she opened it and she could hear humming coming from the kitchen.
“Will?” She called out, sharing a resigned glance with Emery. “What are you doing home? Everything okay?”
“Yeah,” he called back. “Somebody needed a switch so I don’t go in until noon. Glad I still get to see you…” He trailed off as he came out of the kitchen and got a good look at her as she stood in the living room.
She tried to look normal, but—
“Oh, Bex,” he said, face falling as he made his way over in two strides. “What happened?”
“I’m fine,” she said, but her voice breaking on the last word didn’t help her cause at all.
Kol lifted his head up from the couch and whined at her.
“Kol says that’s bullshit,” Will said.
“Language, Kol,” she managed to mutter before Will had her wrapped up in a gigantic hug. He maneuvered her toward the couch, getting Kol to scoot over to make room. Emery murmured something about making tea as she headed for the kitchen.
“I really am okay, Will,” she started to say before he cut her off with a flat look. “I will be okay,” she amended. “Talking with my friends last night helped a lot.”
“You can talk to me too,” he said earnestly and she loved him for it, but—
“What I really want to do right now is talk about your date.”
“Are you sure?” He didn’t look convinced by that plan of action at all.
“Oh, my god, yes,” she exclaimed. “I need the serotonin, okay? Do not leave a single detail out. I want to hear about the date. I need to hear about the asking! I mean, I know it went well, obviously, but I want to hear it all from you.”
“I did the sleeve thing,” Will said, already blushing.
“I knew it would work,” Emery yelled from the kitchen.
“Yeah, definitely not how you thought it would though,” Will said, rolling his eyes. He proceeded to tell them the whole hilarious story and Bex sat back, letting herself bask in her brother’s joy.
Later that night, when it was dark and quiet and Will was still at work, she and Emery sat on the couch with Kol between them.
“How are you really doing?” Emery asked her.
“I could ask you the same thing,” Bex shot back.
Silence filled the space between them as neither one moved to answer the question.
Horrible, horrible honesty, right?
“I’m not okay,” Bex whispered. “I feel like I’m walking around with my chest ripped open and I’m trying to hold it together and it shouldn’t be that hard, but every step keeps dragging me down.”
Emery nodded, reaching over Kol to grab her hand. “I’m not okay either,” she said. “I thought I could keep busy and distract myself, but I’m—I’m scared all the time, Bex, and it’s so exhausting. I hate that everything is such a mess, but I can’t find my way through it.”
Bex shuffled around to fully face her on the couch. “I don’t want to talk to my brothers about this right now,” she said. “It’s just too complicated—it’s too much, but—”
“You need to talk about it,” Emery said.
“We both need to talk,” Bex countered. “About all of this stuff. Without pretending we’re okay.”
“So, we’ll be not okay together for awhile.” Emery squeezed her hand and Kol grumbled, rolling over on the couch so they could give him belly rubs. “I can handle that.”
Not okay. Together.
Sounded like a plan.
If you need something to make you smile after reading this and you haven't spotted it yet, I rewrote the break room scene as a little ficlet from Connor's perspective. It's called I'm Looking Disrespectfully, Sir and you can read it here.
Click here to read Wingman? Wingwoman? Wingperson. on ao3:
And here is the tag list (let me know if you wish to be added or removed):
@sorry-i-spaced, @iunnowatuwant, @thegirlwhowishedeveryonelived, @ivyalmighty, @thewannabewriter, @lexhalstead3, @multifandomgrl08, @foxes-and-cats, @sensitivemallysix, @thebewingedjewelcat