Just about the only really good thing to come out of 2020 for Iris was Discord.
"I'm just really, really grateful to have all of you in my life," she admitted, the sappiness overtaking her once more. She'd becoming increasingly affectionate of late, thanks to Discord. Of course, she'd always been a very happy and peppy soul, but this new sort of affection was much deeper and softer. It was a new type of emotional vulnerability that even made her nervous sometimes, but in light of Corona and quarantine and Discord, this new side of her had been opened up wide and she had no intention of shutting that door again any time soon (if ever).
"I know it sounds cliché and you guys may be sick of hearing it, but I hope you believe me and understand that every word I say is true. I'm not just trying to be nice here. I really, truly, deeply mean every single word I say. The love I feel is just so strong and deep. It's not just me calling you all buddies and being grateful for your company. I just feel so lucky to know you guys at all. You may not think or realize it, but you all truly are magnificent, wonderful human beings with so much talent, passion and heart and that's why I feel so lucky to know all of you. And that's why I love all of you so deeply and completely. All of you guys just blow me away with everything that you are. Even the little things are so incredible.
"And to think that you guys like me too still floors me sometimes. I mean, I wouldn't consider myself a girl with low esteem, but knowing that people as wonderful as you like someone like me is just so amazing and incredible! Just getting to bond with you guys and be vulnerable has meant the world to me and I think it has done more good for me than even I may truly, fully know. Like, maybe to you guys, this is just simple chatter. But to me, it's so much more than that. You guys have opened me up and broken me down. You guys have taught me to be a better, kinder, softer, stronger, more accepting and understanding person. You all have taught me how to be better, and now I want to continue that path no matter where it goes and no matter how hard it is.
"I just feel so inspired to be surrounded by such uniqueness, talent, love, compassion and vulnerability. You all are so honest, friendly and helpful. You always have my back. It inspires me to be the same. Because I knew you, I have been changed for the better and I have been changed for good. But the craziest, coolest thing of all is that you changed the course of history and you didn't even try. You weren't trying to be heroes, but that's what all of you have become in my eyes. Your good deeds will spread out across space and time, some of them spreading through me, and I hope that I'm able to contribute a few good deeds of my own that, in turn, will also spread out across space and time, like overlapping ripples fanning out in all directions forever. Even the smallest of things have become big for me and I owe all of you guys something I can never repay. Thank you, and I love you all…"
"Oh, god, turn down the sap!" Jason was the first to speak, laughing, but they could all hear it in his tone that even though he was being silly, the true extent of Iris' message had moved him deeply. The same went for Storm, who still didn't like showing many emotions (especially if they were sappy). She didn't even speak, choosing instead just to hug Iris from behind and kiss her shoulder gently.
"Oh, Iris!" Clover was a bit more emotional. They could hear the high-pitched whine in her voice that signified how touched she was.
"Nah, Iris, you're just as wonderful and talented as all the rest of us!" Princeton encouraged next.
"Yeah, without you, a lot of us would've never joined this awesome group!" Quincy agreed. "So thanks for inviting us all in!"
"You're just as important as us, and you deserve to stand alongside us!" Emma promised, also trying to encourage the other woman.
"Yeah, you've contributed a lot too and we all respect and admire you just as much as you respect and admire us!" Maggie cried.
"You've acted as a connection point for us all, and a constant supporter to the best of your ability. We are lucky to have you," said Tempest.
"Yeah, this Discord has been the high point of my life too!" Gale added. "Games, movies, memes, talking. It's such a perfect way for us all to keep in touch! I know that even without Corona, it isn't always easy for us to meet up, so this was an excellent idea, Iris!"
"Ah, well, I can't take full credit for that," Iris laughed softly. "I joined another server at about the start of this year. It was a server for a YouTuber named Dangerous ASMR. It was thanks to her that I got inspired to make this one just for us."
"Well, regardless, we still owe you for taking the time to make and lead this server and make sure we all joined!" Gale encouraged.
"I'm just glad you all said yes," Iris laughed. "And that you all do indeed take time out of your day to chat with me."
"Of course we would! It's a lot of fun here!" Tempest promised warmly. "I feel like I've also become a better person thanks to Discord."
"Ironic, given its name, huh?" Jason laughed. "It's an accurate descriptor of this year though!" he added, earning a laugh from everyone else too.
"Wait! Dangerous ASMR… Isn't she the one who jokingly called the Earth a little dung heap that was on fire?" Clover cried suddenly.
"Ha! Yeah! That was her!" Iris laughed back. In one of Dangerous' older patreon videos, she'd stumbled across the line "little dung heap is burning" in a story and had since applied it to their planet in the year 2020. Truer words had never been spoken. Little dung heap was on fire, metaphorically and literally. But despite the dour tone of that joke, the Danger server actually was a wonderful place and Iris owed some of her personal growth to them. Like she'd told the others in her private server, it was only thanks to the Danger server that she got inspired to make her own.
So as much as Iris had to love and thank her old friends for, the new ones on the Danger server could never be understated either… danganfangirl, Net Neutrality, SassyBiDisaster, Snorlax891, Megatruck, Moviebuff3000, TheDoughBoy9810, iam_luntian, woodmr13, Eremiandor, Dolpha, Briana, I Lesbi-Can't, Kimberly, NyctOphelia, AJ Strange, The Walking Android 18, Gamer2345, Missing, Imperium of Man, DankDungeonMaster, Scott, The Forgotten Menace, Dimitri, WaterWolf11 and many, many more.
"So I just want to say thank you all again, so much, for making 2020 pretty darn good for me even though the rest of little dung heap is on fire," Iris concluded with a laugh.
"Right back at ya!"
"Same to you, love!"
"Thank you too!"
The voice chat remained sentimental and sappy for a few minutes more as Iris' heartfelt confession led others to open up as well, but in time, they slowly returned to the world of laughter and memes, movies and video games. In something that was harmony rather than discord, the group of friends suddenly found themselves goofing off once more and having a blast, but the deep love they'd felt during the confession was still very much there, and even after everything else had passed, that much would remain for as long as any of them could make it.
AN: Happy Pride 2020, everyone, and thank you all so much for being everything that you are! I love all of you!