[personal profile] hat_writes_stuff
Title: Clear The Air
Author: Almighty Hat
Fandom: Monster High (webisodes, TV specials, and doll diaries set to 'frappe')
Characters: Abbey Bominable & Heath Burns (mentions of Manny Taur, Frankie Stein, Clair, Holt Hyde & Jackson Jekyll, and Headmistress Bloodgood)
Word Count: 2,985
Rating: G
Pairing(s): Abbey/Heath (brief, brief mention of the tumbleweed that is Frankie and Jackson and Holt and Clair)
Warnings: Canon-typical misogyny, called on

Author's Notes: Somewhere on the internet, someone said they were really disappointed in the Abbey/Heath subplot in Ghouls Rule-- that it was less about their feelings for each other than about Heath getting his man card back in Manny's eyes. And somewhere on the internet (possibly in the same place, I don't remember), someone said they weren't really keen on Heath, who for a long, long time was That Creeper Who Wouldn't Stop, eventually being rewarded with a girlfriend... and then he hits on Jinafire in Scaris. Basically, I just wanted to make sense of all that. So I re-watched Ghouls Rule, and this happened.

Summary: In the aftermath of Ghouls Rule, when there aren't emergencies or crowds, Abbey knows she and Heath have a lot to talk about.

November started with party cleanup and relief at Monster High. Holt (and Jackson) was safe, the human population of New Salem had made some pretty significant strides toward not wanting to lynch their monster neighbors, and Abbey had been relieved to hear that Frankie wasn't upset about Clair kissing Jackson. ("Jackson and Holt are both really voltageous guys, in really different ways, but it's scary hard dating someone with a split personality when neither personality likes the other. When they're a little more in synch, then we'll see. And if that means I missed my chance, it's better than knowing they'd fight over me if they could figure out how.")

It was good Frankie wasn't worried, but Abbey had some boy-related troubles of her own. Early in the first week of November, Abbey watched Heath at lunch-- when she saw him get up to dump his tray (still most of the lunch period left, that was good), she headed up to him and touched his shoulder. "Come. We talk."

Heath cringed, then tried to cover it with a half-interested look. "Is this where you tell me you want to start dating other people? Because--"

That was interesting, but Abbey cut him off. "Okay, we talk about two things. That second. In private."

"Did I set something on fire that I don't remember setting on fire?"

Fair question. "Not where I see," she offered, taking Heath's hand (interestingly warm, through the protection of her necklace, a steady even warmth like a heated stone, not the splotchy warmth of most non-undead warm-blooded creatures' hands. She wondered if he knew how much that touch could hurt her without the necklace's magic) and leading him into the deserted clawditorium. "So, Manny Taur. You are friends with him. Why?"

"Whoa, are you gonna start telling me who to be friends with? Because I don't think we're at that point in the relationship, you know?"

"No. But is important answer. Answer worth waiting for." And she waited, expectantly.

"... Aw, man. It's-- it's hard to explain, you know? It's like..."

Heath was a funny boy, who could be surprisingly sweet and highly amusing, and like a fire, he was warm, useful if you were careful, and nice to look at-- but like a fire, he burned up more oxygen than was useful. "Stop," Abbey said, mostly gently. "We make pretend now."

Heath's eyebrows went up high enough they looked like they wanted to run away. "Okay... what are we pretending?"

"We pretend we are in Himalayas, on mountain, near my home, in cave where no one can hear us talk. Is very cold."

Heath flashed Abbey the kind of grin that made her want him to keep talking. "I don't get cold. ... Should I... light us a fire?" He twitched his fingers, flame leaping between them.

Abbey blew a frosty kiss over them, dousing the flames. "No. No fire. Cave is very high up mountain; air is thin. Fire will steal breath from us; fire, and too many words. Like, you know, I 'dunno,' is complicated, these take breath that is better in lungs than out. But still," she insisted, as Heath's hand flared up again and melted the ice away, "we must have this talk.

"On mountain, are many things I will not say, to save thin air for breathing. Manny Taur is bully, forgets ghouls are not weak, treats friends like herd who follows him, laughs at herd of friends; Abbey is unhappy when her friends become part of this herd. When we save our breath, I do not say things I think you see with own eyes. We pretend we are on mountain, so I only say, you are friends with Manny Taur. Will only ask, why?"

Heath fidgeted. "Abbey..."

"Answer is important to me. Will be patient for answer. Take time, but do not waste breath." It might make him think past 'it's like, I don't know,' long enough to help her understand. "Is challenge. Use only words that matter."

It got her a nod, and a few long moments of silence while Heath thought, and then the admission-- "I don't know if I can explain it to a girl."

That was part of the problem-- Heath (and a lot of down-below boys) seemed very confused about the differences between male and female, and Heath only got worse about it when he was listening to Manny. "Is only one thing different between boys and girls. Is not difference in brain." Heath blushed at that, hair sparking, and Abbey had to smile.

"It's just-- no, wait, no wasting breath. Okay. You and your ghoulfriends? You totally have each other's backs, all the time. You get each other. You're tight. It's harder for dudes-- or at least it's harder for me."

"Why is harder?"

"I don't know," Heath admitted. "It's not like I'm shy or anything. I've been on teams with pretty much everybody. Track and Casketball and SKRM. But Clawd's always got stuff to do, and Gil's parents are really strict, and every time I hang out with Deuce for a while, I think he gets sweaty."

"... Sweaty?"

"His sunglasses slip a lot around me. Probably 'cause I'm a fire elemental and he's cold-blooded."

"Not just hair?"

"Nah, he's got a note for Phys. Dead and everything."

"Abbey will be careful around Deuce, then."

"Why? ... Ohh, the snake thing. And the ice thing. That probably doesn't mix as well as fire and ice," Heath concluded.

Abbey nodded-- then steered a little. "You were talking. Why you spend less time with some boys you want make friends with."

"Right. Yeah. Well, what I mean is-- I get it, about Manny. I do, I'm not dumb. I get that Manny can be a jerk sometimes, and that he doesn't really stop and think about whether or not he's pointing and laughing at a friend when he wants to point and laugh. I get," Heath promised, "that girls can be strong-- I like how strong you are-- and I totally get that it doesn't really matter who saves who from heavy stuff falling on them as long as everybody gets saved."

Abbey nodded, prompting, privately deciding she was glad he knew that much-- that the important part was that everyone got out okay.

"... And I know I was... probably kind of silly trying to save you from detention and stuff, but I wanted you to know I could. That you didn't have to save me all the time."

... Oh. That was... a little different than Lagoona had thought. "Heath..."

He blazed ahead anyway. "But when most monsters are yelling 'Heath, no!' Manny isn't. ... You don't, either, probably because it's a waste of breath, but--" Heath took a breath, himself. "Manny doesn't blow me off, or suddenly remember he's got plans, or get angry phone calls from his parents, or turn me to stone for a couple of hours and wander off.

"It's really easy to say 'just be yourself,' but no matter how cool I know I am, I don't have friends to spare like you do. Who do I hang with for sure if I can't keep Manny as a friend?"

Heath could be annoying, Abbey would admit that to herself even if there were only certain times she'd say it to Heath. It sounded like Heath annoyed boys as much as girls, and the boys were too subtle-- Heath only seemed to half-understand that annoyance. (Maybe it was a fire elemental thing; Holt, happy as Abbey was to have him safe again, certainly didn't seem to notice his power to pester.)

"Friends on mountain are different than friends down-below," Abbey told him. "Rules are complicated. Making cheese side by side for three months without speaking does not make friendship, here. Much talking is involved, much breath spent-- but also, much listening is done."

"... That's it? Just listen?"

"And stop to ask sometimes if you make sense, or if you hurt feelings. Almost make enemies with Frankie, once, because we only hearing words, not always meaning behind words."

"Seriously? But you're totally tight now!"

"Seriously," Abbey agreed with a nod. "In down-below, there is breath to spare for talking things out. Most things can be fixed. Heath is good person; should have good friends."

"And I guess you mean... friends who don't laugh if I have to get rescued by a ghoul." He seemed disappointed, but it was a thoughtful kind of disappointment, at least.

"Is... handy," Abbey said carefully, "when people laugh at you for being saved. Is good way to tell who is not caring you need saving." She scooped up Heath's hand, squeezing it for a moment-- strong but careful, to remind him she was a yeti, not fragile. "You make me laugh," she told him. "Sometimes when you are falling, I laugh. But it is not for laughing when more than Heath's pride could be hurt."

"What d'you mean, Abbey?" But he didn't let go of her hand.

"Manny says 'Heath is saved by girl,' and foolish monsters laugh. Would not care so much if Manny says 'Heath is saved, hooray.'"

"... Oh." There was a spark in his eyes-- he understood, or understood better. Abbey watched it bloom on his face, in the pull of his eyebrows, the downward turn of his mouth, the way he looked off to one side to not look at Abbey as he thought. Heath being safe was a cause to cheer, no matter who saved him. Heath's safety was worth cheering for as much as anyone's.

"Very oh," Abbey agreed, rubbing Heath's hand with her thumb. "Heath is safe," she told him, adding, "yay," even if the fearleading squad wouldn't really count the way Abbey said it as cheering.

"... So does this mean you don't want to see other people?" Ah yes. They had two things to talk about, didn't they?

"Depends. We are dating, not couple, yes?"

Heath's head tilted, confusion on his face. "... What's the difference? I didn't hear about you dating anybody else, so I kinda thought because you went out with me..."

"You ask to one dance. One dance makes date, not girlfriend." Things weren't that different down below, were they?

"... So you have been out with other guys?"

"No." For one thing, the Dance of the Dead hadn't been that long before Halloween-- that might need to be clarified. "Not in down-below."

"Why not?"

"Nobody ask me."

"Why the heck n-- wait a second. Didn't you just tell me there's only one difference between boys and girls?" This was true, so Abbey nodded. "But you wait for guys to ask you out, all the time?"

"In some things, am old fashioned," she admitted. "Always more girls than boys on mountain; always air is thin. When boy yeti says he like girl yeti, says come with me, come share food, come skate down mountain, it make girl yeti feel special-- is breath spent just on her, not only grunt or wave of hand."

"Being asked out makes you feel special."

Abbey nodded. "Like proper lady. Like worth very much to boy." More important than the breath that could be in his lungs.

"I follow so far-- if I want to go out with you, I have to be the one to ask." Abbey nodded, smiling, because that was the right conclusion. "So, what would make me your boyfriend?" Heath asked, a little too eagerly for Abbey's tastes.

"You ask, I say yes. But--" because Heath was opening his mouth-- "No asking yet."

It made her heart heavy, how fast his face fell. "Why not?"

"You ask me on date, I go with you. Would like very much being your girlfriend... but do not think I would like being girlfriend of boy who flirts and plays games with many other girls."

"That bothers you?" he asked, worried.

Abbey tried to nod, shrug, and shake her head all at once-- but Heath seemed to understand the gesture as yes, no, and not really. "Not as girl and boy who date sometimes. For girlfriend and boyfriend, yes, that bothers Abbey."

"So, I'm allowed to flirt with other girls-- date other girls?" Abbey nodded to him, and he kept going, "as long as I'm not your boyfriend, but if I want to be your boyfriend..."

"Flirting stops, please," she agreed, nodding. "Also, dating girls who are not Abbey stops. And please. Do not ask to be boyfriend without readiness to stop both."

"I can stick to that," Heath said, agreeing. "And you won't get jealous if I go out with other ghouls?"

"Only as jealous as you if I say yes to dates from other boys," Abbey said-- and watched Heath's expression twist up like he'd just sipped very sour yak milk.

"Well, I'll be jealous, but if you like 'em I won't set 'em on fire." He paused, then amended, "I won't set 'em on fire on purpose. ... Unless you ask me to."

"Would not say yes to boy I didn't like," Abbey pointed out, smiling, because it was sweet, really-- familiar, in a way, because the yeti boys back home would sometimes fight a girl's enemies for her. Heath just fought with fire. "But will say-- so far, is no boy in down-below Abbey like better than Heath."

He grinned, broad and warm. "That's because I'm so hot-- and you're so cool."

Abbey giggled, even if she felt like it was a silly display. (A down-below observer would have described at as smiling and saying 'heh.') "Is because you make me laugh. Make me feel like worth more than air already in lungs."

"Hey. Boost my ego?" Heath asked. "About that whole speed-dating thing...?"

"Ghouls make pressure just like boys," Abbey said, shrugging. "I think, where is harm? Will say no to boy who can't speak mind-- so many!-- and cross fingers for Heath in line." Although there were other boys she might've said yes to, if they'd been in line or hadn't gotten tongue-tied.

"How long have you been carrying a torch for me?"

"Abbey can see," Abbey said with a shrug. "Heath is scary-cute."

"So, love at first sight, huh? Did I even have to say anything?"

All right, there was boosting his ego (honestly enough) and then just inflating it like a hot air balloon. "Also thought Heath was annoying. And confusing-- am still learning language. Was worse then."

"Scary-cute," Heath listed, counting on his fingers, "funny, annoying, and confusing. Huh." He looked at Abbey. "Doesn't sound like that adds up to a lot of reasons to say yes."

So she tipped the scales. "Also friendly. Protective. Brave. ... Proud," she added, "good proud and bad proud, same time. Persistent, sometimes so persistent that will not listen. Good and bad qualities, like everybody."

"Yeah, I guess I do. ... I can make you a deal, though," he offered.

"What is deal?"

"On the saving stuff. When it needs ice, it's on you; when it needs fire, it's on me-- when it needs strength, that's Abbey, but when it needs speed, that's the Heathster."

"Mm. Like team." She liked the sound of that.

"Good team," Heath agreed. "Good and balanced. And... even if we're not ready for boyfriend-girlfriend, we're ready for being a team, right?"

"... Sneaky," Abbey informed him, but it was half-admiring.

"I don't mind being sneaky if it means I can take you to the movies Friday afternoon," he tempted.

"Friday night."

"Need time to get ready?"

Abbey shrugged. "Still have detention for disobedience." Even if they'd only disobeyed because the Headmistress was too worried and busy to listen to Frankie. "Two months. Is small price for Holt and Jackson's life."

"... Yeah. Um. Listen, thanks, for that. They are my cousin."

"Was right thing to do. ... You helped."

"You and Frankie did the dangerous stuff, going up on that hill," Heath pointed out, admiring.

"We need electricity to stop machine, ice to break shackles and make the getaway. That is me and Frankie. In school, we need best runner for distance, lead normies to party." Heath had been just right for it, fast enough to get ahead of the mob so he could set a steady pace for them, long-winded enough to keep the distance even all the way down to the Hall of Halloween, his flaming hair a beacon he could douse when he needed to disappear on his pursuers. "That is you. Everybody does needed part, plan goes off without the hitch."

"I guess we all make a good team," Heath admitted.

"We do."

Overhead, the bell rang to signal the end of lunch-- and five minutes to the next class. "I need to swing by my locker before class," Heath admitted, reluctantly. "...We're good, now?"

"We are good," Abbey promised him. Heath stood, then helped Abbey up, and she couldn't help but smile at the thoughtfulness.

Heath grinned at her once she was on her feet, not letting go of her hand. He grinned the grin that let Abbey know he was planning something-- but before she had time to warn him off or remind him they had to get moving, he pulled her hands to his lips and kissed them, briefly.

His mouth was warmer than his fingers, and Abbey felt a flush spreading over her cheeks that she wouldn't swear, even to herself, was only from Heath's body heat.

"I gotta blaze," he told her, still with that impish smile. "Catch you when I can!"

Heath was a strong runner with a good wind, and took off at speed.

Abbey was content to let him have the last word (and gesture. The gesture had been pretty good), and collected herself enough to get to her next class on time.

She wasted enough breath to inform the clawditorium, "Good talk," and started on her way.
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