Subtext Warning: This story implies a loving relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18, this type of thing is illegal in the state/country in which you live, or you are offended by it, read no further.
Acknowledgements: Well, there aren't really any for this one, unless I say the regulation thank you to Kamouraskan for her humour, wit and lack of social skills which are rivalled only by my own. Yes, you can all roll your eyes at that one. Also to Kam for an edit. Oh, I suppose I should thank Randall Slater for putting me in such a good mood after I managed to get my crotch stuck climbing a security fence. Those spikes are viscous! If I was a bloke, it would have meant a quick trip through the emergency doors of RPA for some reconstructive surgery!
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The light was settling slowly against the pale sky. It was the time of evening that was purely ethereal, a time in between darkness and light. A time of blurred emotions. I smiled to myself as I sipped at my scotch. Yeah, definitely a time of blurred emotions. I was sitting on a folding chair, watching the last traces of the sunset over the site Mel and I were excavating. Now there was a thought. I shook my head to chase Mel's image from my mind. Why was it that whenever I was alone, thoughts of the dark haired Southerner rose? Oh, I knew the reason, but refused to accept it. No way in hell. But there was just something about her. Whether it was her naivety, her beauty, or the disarming way she made me feel so very easily what I had not felt in a long time, I just didn't know. What I did know, was I was prone to fits of uncharacteristic awkwardness whenever I was in the woman's presence. Worst of all were the mortifying blushes that seemed to creep up from nowhere when Mel occasionally cast me a sly glance. That was it. Best not to think about it. If I didn't think about it, maybe it would just...go away. Stupid thing was, we'd been working together for five years. I have no idea when it started, but it did. It just kind of hit me one day. I loved her. I believe that can happen sometimes. Why it happened to me, I'll never know. But here I was, staring through the dwindling light, thinking about a woman who was probably as approachable about the subject as a Saint. Damn, I was thinking about her again. I took another sip of my scotch and swallowed my emotions along with the burning liquid.
I never noticed her slip up behind me and lay a warm hand on my shoulder. I must have tensed, because she gave the muscle there a light squeeze. I half turned and looked up at her. In the dying light I knew she couldn't really read my expression, but she must have caught something in my eyes because she moved to sit on the ground beside me.
"Penny for your thoughts?" she asked as she rested a forearm on my knee.
The physical contact between us had become so casual over the years that she thought nothing of it. I did. It was all I thought about. I gritted my teeth and took another swallow of scotch before I dared to answer. I noted with some disappointment that I had perhaps one mouthful left in the bottom of my glass.
I shrugged, "Just watching the sunset." I said, making a point of running my eyes over the horizon.
She smiled at me then, "No you weren't."
When the hell had she become so perceptive? When the hell had I become such an open book?
"Could've fooled me." I said, trying to make my mood sound lighter than a tonne of bricks.
She nodded sagely, her eyes seeking mine in the dim light. God knows what she found in mine, but I was lost in hers. I blinked and looked away quickly, sloshing the remainder of my scotch around in its glass.
"Janice, what's wrong?" Her soft voice drew my eyes back to hers. I always was a sucker for self torture.
"Nothing." I tried to smile, but it came out more like a buckled grimace.
She sighed and removed her arm from my knee. My shoulders almost sagged with the relief. That, however, was short lived as she rested her cheek there instead, staring sideways up at me. She looked so right, sitting there like that, that I felt tears prickling my eyes. I blinked them back. To cry would be my undoing.
"You know, you have to stop doing this." she said. I felt the timbre of her voice hum against my leg.
"What?" The word sounded like a worn record, crackling in my throat.
"Hiding from me."
Something stabbed through me, "Why would you think that?"
"Because it's true. You're always out here, staring at the sunset, but you are miles away."
I swallowed my last mouthful of scotch and set the glass down on the ground. My movement brought me closer to her and a caught the faintest hint of her. I didn't need that.
"I like the sunset."
I felt her smile, "A sloop of amber slips away upon an ether sea..." she trailed off at my blank look.
"Dickinson," she said, as if I should have known, "but you don't come out here to watch sloops of amber, Janice."
"I don't." I somehow found myself saying. Why was it that I could never lie to her, not even for her own good?
"Then why don't you tell me what's on your mind, I might be able to help."
"No, I don't think you could."
Silence. She shifted against me and my body reacted of its own accord. I shuddered lightly. She must have felt it, but she did nothing, just looked at me with those eyes of hers until I thought I'd burst, or die, or both. What was it with us? What was it with me?
"Why don't you try me?"
I shook my head against the temptation of speaking.
She sat up then, and gathered my hands in her own. My seemingly chilled flesh was enveloped in the warmth of the embrace. I felt the tears again and willed them to leave. However my will seemed relatively unforgiving of late.
"Janice," she said, my name rippling over her lips, "It's alright, whatever it is, it's alright."
I shook my head again and tried to pull my hands free, yet she held me firm.
"No Mel, it's not alright."
"C'mon," she reached up a hand to brush a tear from my cheek, "it can't be that bad."
I tried to smile, but I must have failed miserably because something washed over her features. She brushed loosely at my hair and caressed the side of my face with light fingertips. If I didn't get away from her soon I was going to loose it completely.
"Mel, don't." I whispered as her hand found its way back to mine.
She looked down at our hands then, and laced her fingers with my own. Perfect. She stayed that way for a moment before meeting my gaze and speaking gently.
"You have no idea how much I love you, do you?"
Until next time,