The hotel ceiling was taking up all of Jaune's attention. Off-white, smooth, with a quickly spinning fan quietly clacking away rhythmically. He noted the single feature, a hair-thin crack that ran a jagged run for just over a foot, and committed himself to memorizing its shape. It was boring, practically nothing, but thinking of nothing was preferable to thinking of anything at the moment.

It was hot. A debilitating, humid heat that made any exertion a trial and even inactivity an uncomfortable preference. He felt sticky and smelled of sweat and chlorine. They hadn't even gotten to the shower after swimming before they

A sigh that was part growl and part groan ground in his throat and he wiped his hands across his face, wiping away sweat and trying to wipe away thought.

"We could pretend this never happened," said a small muffled voice from under the pillow next to his and then, quieter, "I mean if you want."

"No!" Jaune said, too loudly. "I mean n-well, not re...I don't..." He sighed again and turned his head to look at the girl next to him. "What do you want?" he asked quietly.

Silver eyes stared back at him from under a pillow. She wasn't freaking out, at least she looked calmer than Jaune felt, but afterwards she had covered her head with the pillow and lay on her stomach, motionless. There was a pang of jealousy in that. Jaune's own pillow had been lost in the first few moments of passion.

"I want..." Ruby started, and Jaune caught himself holding his breath. "I want a shower," she said, finally.

"Ha," Jaune said, releasing his breath in a sound of mirth, though he wasn't really sure what was funny. "Me too."

Ruby pulled her head out from under the pillow and supported herself on her elbows. Jaune's eyes lingered on her naked breast until Ruby realized and covered herself with her arms, blushing.

"Sorry," Jaune stammered, looking back to the ceiling.

"No, it's just-"

"I didn't mean to-"

"It's silly since we just-"


"But still, you know...?"



Jaune stared straight ahead at the ceiling above him. The fan quietly clacked away, the only noise in the room. With as much subtlety as he could muster he pulled the sheets slightly higher around his waist. Ruby groaned, burying her face in her pillow.

"Could this be any more awkward?"

Jaune couldn't tell if she was asking him, herself, or the universe in general.

"I think," he said slowly, "that if I really try... I could make things worse."

Ruby snorted laughter. "Please don't," she begged, smiling.

Slowly, she rolled over onto her side, facing him. Jaune kept his eyes locked on the ceiling. Just keep staring at that hairline crack, he told himself. That's safe.

"I don't really mind," she said. "Looking at me, I mean. We did just..." she trailed off, opting to make a complicated hand gesture instead of finishing the sentence.

He turned to look at her and she turned red immediately, her flush running down her face to her chest. His eyes ended on her hip, a bedsheet draped lazily over her, accentuating more than covering. There was a mole on her pale skin. A dark heart he had kissed only moments before. Something only the two of them had seen, a voice whispered in his head.

He looked back to her face and saw she couldn't even meet his eye. He opened his mouth to apologize again. For everything.

"I liked it."

The words came tumbling out of her mouth, almost tripping over themselves.

"Me too," he said, forcing himself to be calm. One of them needed to be.

"It was my first time."

"Me too."

"I'm glad it was with you." She smiled at him and reached for his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. He tried, but failed to smile back. She was waiting for him to say something, but the only thought he could never say. Not to her.

Her smile faded quickly and she pulled her hand away from him. She turned onto her side, facing away from him and soon he heard the sound of quiet sobs. Jaune reached for her and stopped halfway.

"I'm sorry," Ruby whispered.

He reached for her again and gently rubbed her arm.

"I'm sorry," Jaune whispered back.

He moved closer to her and wrapped an arm around her, holding her back against his chest.

"I miss her too," Ruby said.

Jaune nodded and closed his burning eyes.

"I didn't mean to," Ruby sobbed, her voice a whisper. "I didn't plan it, especially after... I didn't... I don't..."

"I know," Jaune whispered back.

"Don't hate me."

"I don't hate you."

"No, I mean..." Ruby turned her head to look back at Jaune. Her eyes were red and her face was glistening with tears as much as sweat. "I mean don't hate me, but..." She looked away quickly and took a deep breath. "I'm not in love with you."

Jaune squeezed her tight. "I know," he said, reassuringly.

A sigh of relief left Ruby.

"You're my best friend, Ruby." Jaune whispered. "I'm not ready for... for anything. Not yet, not with anybody, but... I'm not sorry this happened."

Ruby's hand found his and he squeezed it gently. She squeezed back before pulling away slowly.

"I'm going to take that shower now."

Jaune nodded as Ruby rolled out of bed and headed to the bathroom. He heard the sound of running water and lay on his back, staring at the ceiling once again.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"I'm not sorry," he said.