Judy’s been at work for an hour before she realizes that she left her lunch at home. She contemplates asking Jen to bring it, but she doesn’t want to bother her. Jen’s done enough for Judy already. Even if they have been getting closer (for real this time, with no lies between them)… watching tv every night, drinking wine—physically getting closer.
Judy knows that Jen isn’t open with herself, either emotionally or physically, but slowly she’s been getting there with Judy. She’s been reaching out for Judy more, to the point where it’s not unusual for her to brush a hand along Judy’s back as she’s walking by or grabbing her hand when she’s making a point about something.
And Judy herself has started reaching out more as well, beyond happy with how far they’ve come since the first time she asked Jen for a hug. Jen allows Judy to give her a hug goodnight and hold her hand back when they’re talking; sometimes she’ll rest her hand on Jen’s leg while they watch TV or brush a piece of hair back from Jen’s face.
The closeness is confusing, especially after all they’ve been through in the last year and the drama with Ted, Steve… even Michelle.
Judy also doesn’t know what to make of Jen’s quiet happiness when Judy announced that she and Michelle officially weren’t going to be anything. It’s the mixed signals that confuse her. She knows that Jen loves her, knows that Jen is her person , but she also knows that Jen doesn’t like girls—at least not that she’s ever said (or would admit). But the way that they do sit together at night and the way that Jen looks at Judy when she makes breakfast or helps Henry with his homework… it can’t mean nothing.
So Judy’s stuck wondering, and waiting for anything to happen. Which is why she doesn’t want to bother Jen if she doesn’t have to. She wants things to be natural. Normal.
She can be normal.
Which is what she tries to tell her heart another 30 minutes later when she sees Jen walk through the door of Judy’s art room with Judy’s lunch bag held in her hand.
“Forget something?” Jen asks with a smirk, dangling the bag in front of her.
“Jen!” Judy runs over and squeezes Jen’s arm, trying to hold herself back from a full blown hug—those are just for before bed. “You didn’t have to bring this all the way down here.”
“And miss an opportunity to see your beautiful face?” Jen says, squeezing Judy’s chin.
And that’s the other thing—the jokey sort of compliments that also felt like flirting. But Jen is a sarcastic person so she can’t really be flirting?
She’s not flirting, Judy—be normal!
“Ha ha,” Judy deadpans, still trying to calm her racing heart. “Seriously, thank you. I was going to try and find somewhere to get lunch on my break.”
“Drive somewhere and back in a half hour? Here?” Jen says. “Honey, that’s why you have me.”
Judy forces herself to roll her eyes but can’t help herself from squeezing Jen’s arm again.
“You’ll be home for dinner, right?” Judy asks. “Henry asked me to make my cauliflower pizza for him again.”
“Oh… yum,” Jen says. “I’m sure Charlie is just as excited as I am.” And then she fakes a gag, which Judy is pretty sure is just to make her laugh. She knows that Jen has warmed up to her cooking, just as Charlie has as well. Jen smirks when she succeeds and then glances at her watch. “Okay, time to go—Momma’s gotta make that money.”
She leans in for a quick hug and Judy can’t stop herself from kissing Jen on the cheek, lightly, as the other woman pulls back.
It’s worth it from the way Jen’s cheek color and the way she practically runs out of the room.
Judy resolves to try and keep kissing her as discreetly as she can.
“Jen! What are you doing ?” Judy says as she exits the guest house one morning to find Jen on a ladder propped up against the main house.
“I’m cleaning the fucking gutters, what does it look like I’m doing?”
Judy pauses for a moment to take stock of the situation—Jen’s in a pair of leggings and a well worn sweatshirt that Judy knows was Ted’s (a sure-sign way to know that Jen woke up feeling sad or insecure, or both) and is wielding some sort of small leaf-blower. She’s balanced precariously on the ladder just waiting for an accident to happen.
“Okay…” Judy begins. “Why are you cleaning the gutters?”
“Because I fucking can!” Jen says. She starts using the leaf-blower instrument rather forcefully, almost starting to teeter off the ladder.
Judy moves closer, holding her arms out uselessly as if she can catch Jen if she ends up falling. “You’re right, you can do whatever you want,” Judy reaffirms her friend. “It’s just… it’s 8am on a Saturday.”
Abruptly, Jen stops the blower and half turns her body towards Judy. “Ted would have been out here at 7am, Judy. It’s my job to take care of the house now—it doesn’t matter that I’m a fucking woman, this is my fucking house.”
Judy wants to ask what set this off, but she knows the best thing to do now is just to continue supporting Jen—not wanting to send Jen off even further.
“Well, can I help?"
“Grab the lawn mower and start moving,” Jen says.
So Judy goes into the garage and maneuvers the push mower back out to the yard, slowly starting to mow the short expanse of grass while also trying to keep an eye on Jen. Eventually she starts to find a rhythm, singing to herself while she mows and gets so distracted that she doesn’t even realize Jen is falling until she hears a loud ‘mother FUCKER ’ over the roar of the mower and looks up to see Jen sprawled on the ground with the ladder laying beside her.
“Jen!” she rushes over to the other woman groaning on the ground. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she grumbles. “Stupid fucking ladder fucking tipped over.” She starts to sit up and then looks down to take stock of herself, noticing the tear in her leggings at the same time as Judy. “And ruined my fucking leggings!”
“Jen, you’re bleeding,” Judy says. She reaches out to touch Jen’s knee, which has a surprisingly bloody scrape across the top—likely from Jen’s legs getting caught in the ladder on the way down.
“Yeah and I’ve also probably got a huge bruise forming on my ass.”
Judy huffs and tells Jen to wait there before rushing into the guest house to get her first aid kit. Luckily the other woman is still grumbling too much about the ‘fucking ladder’ to have tried to get up herself. Judy sits in front of her, taking out an alcohol pad, some Neosporin and a Band-Aid.
“This might sting,” she says before wiping the cut gingerly.
Jen hisses but still bites out, “I’m not a fucking baby Judy. And I have my own kids, I know how to do this myself.”
“I know,” Judy says simply. Still she continues, putting Neosporin lightly along the cut before finally covering it up with the Band-Aid. “All better,” she smiles cheekily up at her friend, who rolls her eyes but can’t stop the grin from spreading.
“Are you gonna kiss it better now, Mom ?” Jen asks with a smirk.
And maybe Judy feels her heart skip a beat at the question—she knows it’s a joke, but still —but she can’t back down from the challenge. So she leans forward, slowly, maintaining eye contact with Jen as her lips lightly brush the bandage over Jen’s knee. “All better,” she whispers.
Jen’s breath stutters at the contact and Judy pauses, still close to Jen’s leg, before Jen starts to move to get up, effectively breaking the moment.
“I’m done with the fucking gutters,” she says. And Judy still doesn’t know what brought this on, and still doesn’t know what’s happening with her and Jen, but she knows that whatever crazy idea she gets next, Judy will still be supporting her.
And maybe giving more kisses to make it better.
Judy can always tell when Jen’s had a hard day. Before everything they went through, before they told the truth ( always tell the truth, now), Jen would show her emotions through anger—cursing at everyone and hurting them before they had the chance to hurt her back. And while she still does that to most people, she’s stopped doing it to Judy.
With Judy, Jen gets quieter. With Judy, she knows that she doesn’t have to put up that front—she’s safe. Which also means she seeks out physical contact.
(As much as she claims to hate cuddling, Jen is quite the cuddle monster after a long, hard day).
So when Judy comes home late from work one night to the boys already in their rooms and dishes in the sink, Jen nowhere to be found, Judy knows that it’s a hard day.
She walks upstairs and peeks in at the boys (and maybe gets sidetracked by reading to Henry for a good 20 minutes) before continuing on to Jen’s room. While it’s not an unusual sight anymore (especially since sometimes she sleeps in there—nightmares), it still pulls at Judy’s heart every time.
Jen’s laying on her back on the bed, staring at the ceiling, and doesn’t even look as the door opens. The TV isn’t on which usually means that it’s been an especially bad day—more than likely someone said something that hurt Jen’s feelings, even though she would never admit to it.
But Judy also knows that Jen won’t tell her about it, not until she’s ready, so she makes her way to Jen’s dresser and pulls out the pair of pajamas she keeps in there (which is not romantic, friends can keep clothes in friend’s dressers Judy, shut up) and quickly changes into them before making her way over to the bed. She gingerly climbs on beside Jen and waits patiently, her body language open, for Jen to eventually move into her arms.
It might take a few minutes, but she always moves into Judy’s arms.
And Judy might fall in love with her a little bit more every time.
But Jen is her best friend, and she needs the comfort of a friend, so Judy stays silent and just holds her, waiting for Jen to talk if she needs to.
And Judy’s not sure how long they’ve been laying there together but she’s nearly asleep when she finally hears Jen speak, her voice thick with tears.
“I just wanted to buy some new bras today,” she says, and Judy’s heart starts to break because she thinks she knows where this is going. “I haven’t bought any new underwear since Ted… since right after- and he- well he didn’t ever see it, or want to see it. And I don’t want to fucking see it anymore either. So I went to Victoria’s Secret and I just wanted a few bras, but the stupid fucking girl who works there wouldn’t take no for an answer. She insisted that I had to try them on, that they’re working on customer service or some other fucking bullshit and she- when she finally saw- well the bra couldn’t hide them-” her voice keeps hitching, “and if the fucking department store worker can’t even look at me when it’s her fucking job , how will I ever expect anyone to look at me ever again? I’m disgusting Judy, and it’s just a matter of time before everyone realizes it.”
And as she starts sobbing Judy has to keep her own tears in check because she knows that’s not what Jen needs right now, but fuck . How could anyone make Jen feel like she isn’t the most beautiful woman in the world?
Like she doesn’t deserve to be worshipped every single day?
And Judy knows that no matter what she says, Jen won’t believe her, not right now. So she holds her best friend as she cries and she doesn’t tell her “it’s okay” but as Jen grips her shirt even tighter, as she molds her body to Judy’s shaking with sobs, Judy can’t hold back.
“I fucking love you, okay?” Judy whispers fiercely. “I love you and I’m not letting you go.”
And she kisses Jen on the head, then, over and over, just whispering that she loves her until finally Jen falls asleep.
A usual weeknight shows Jen and Judy having a glass of wine (or two… or three) and watching The Facts of Life together—which is really just taking the time to complain about their days. If it’s nice outside (which it usually is) they sit outside in Jen’s outdoor living room.
As with every other day and situation lately, this time also ends up with the two women gravitating closer and closer until Jen’s arm is wrapped around Judy, or Judy’s hand on Jen’s leg, and if she can ever be persuaded, sometimes they’ll even lay down with Jen’s head on her chest.
(Even though she protests, Judy knows that Jen loves being the little spoon.)
It’s been about two weeks since Jen’s meltdown and she hasn’t since brought it up, but she has been increasingly more affectionate as time passes. Judy has also been sleeping in Jen’s bed most nights since then, a kiss on the head goodnight also becoming part of their routine.
And maybe Judy also can’t stop herself from saying “I love you” every night as well.
But she swears she’s heard Jen say it back once, when she was nearly asleep, when Jen likely thought she already was.
Tonight is one of the nights where Jen has her arm around Judy while Judy rests her head comfortably on Jen’s shoulder. They said goodnight to Henry a little while ago (Judy still gets emotional when he asks her to to say goodnight too, even though she’s been living there for nearly a year) and they’ve been sitting in silence since settling in.
“Did I tell you about the new house that’s on the market?” Jen finally says, her voice soft against Judy’s ear. “If I can sell this one, we’re gonna be eating good for weeks .” She lightly squeezes Judy with the arm that’s around her shoulders (which doesn’t make Judy more confused about their situation shut up ) and Judy shakes her head, prompting Jen to dig around underneath her to try and find her phone. She finally unearths it beneath her thigh, and immediately drops it to the ground. “Oh for fucks sake,” she grumbles, starting to lean forward.
“I got it,” Judy says. The phone ended up under the couch they’re on, so Judy gets off the couch and kneels in front of it, reaching her arm underneath. As she finally grabs it and pulls back, she holds it up for Jen with a cheeky “M’lady?”
Rolling her eyes but leaning into the act, Jen says “Why thank you, my dear,” and holds her hand out, palm down as if for Judy to kiss it like she’s a queen. Judy hesitates for a second, sure Jen is just joking, but then decides to go for it anyway. She leans forward and takes Jen’s hand lightly between both of hers before dipping her head down and kissing the top of Jen’s hand, lingering slightly.
“Anything for you,” Judy finally says. She holds Jen’s eyes, wanting the other woman to know that she really means it.
Jen rolls her eyes again, but her cheeks are pink and she pulls Judy up by the hands that are still holding hers and lets Judy settle back onto her chest. “Yeah, yeah, you too,” she says.
And Judy’s heart doesn’t speed up at the sentiment.
She’s absolutely not hoping that Jen really does have feelings for her after all.
Because that would be stupid, and it’s not happening.
But she’s still going to do anything for her.
It’s become a routine now for Jen and Judy to wake together (usually with soft smiles), and while Jen goes for her morning run, Judy will shower and get ready for work. Then when Jen gets back, Judy has already started on breakfast for the boys, with a separate breakfast for Jen—low fat greek yogurt, with a sprinkle of granola and fruit on top—a compromise to eating in the morning.
While Jen gets ready the boys come down and eat whatever Judy has made that day—she’s started seeing how many shapes she can make out of pancakes, and takes requests just to hear the boys laugh at her attempts.
Then Jen will come down, oftentimes just standing at the doorway to the kitchen, just out of sight to watch her family ( her family ) interact first thing in the morning. She loves the way that Judy always listens fully to what Henry is telling her, making sure that he knows she’s interested. She loves how Charlie pretends to be listening to his headphones, but that the light smile on his face betrays how he’s really listening to Judy trying to crack jokes. She loves the way the sunlight illuminates the kitchen from behind, casting Judy in the most beautiful glow.
And she especially loves the way that when she finally enters the kitchen, Judy turns all her attention on Jen, her entire face overtaken with joy.
“Morning sunshine,” Judy always jokes, while Jen rolls her eyes (as if she could ever truly be annoyed).
Judy slides the breakfast across the counter, along with a cup of coffee made just the way Jen likes it. (Jen tried to tell Judy that she didn’t have to do this every morning, in the beginning, but Judy insisted, said it made her happy. And Jen can’t deny that—can’t deny Judy’s happiness. And it doesn’t hurt that the coffee really is perfect).
“How was your run?” Judy asks.
“Fucking terrible,” Jen says, her smirk betraying her.
“Language!” Henry says.
And Charlie rolls his eyes and it’s a perfect morning. Every morning.
And every morning after the boys have left for school, after Judy has put the dishes in the dishwasher and Jen has finished her coffee, Jen grabs her purse and her keys and Judy gives her a kiss on the cheek goodbye. It started after she brought Judy’s lunch to her at work—and doesn’t include all the goodnight kisses on her head—but she hasn’t brought any attention to it because she doesn’t want Judy to stop.
Only today, Jen remembers that she wanted to remind Judy she’s going to have an early day at work. And as she turns her head, Judy’s already leaning forward, abruptly causing their lips to collide.
And it’s like a lightning bolt has shocked it’s way through Jen’s body, from Judy’s lips to hers. The kiss isn’t even quite a kiss, just two lips brushing momentarily. And Judy gasps, so quietly Jen wouldn’t have even heard it if her lips weren’t a fucking inch from the other woman’s, but she does. And she sees how Judy’s cheeks flood with color and suddenly Jen’s backing away, all thoughts in her head forgotten.
And before Judy can utter a word, Jen’s out the door.
Fuck fuck fuck fuck shit motherfucking idiot fucker goddamit chants through Jen’s head as she races to her car to get away from Judy and what just happened. What the fuck just happened .
She just kissed Judy.
Well Judy kissed her.
Judy meant to kiss her on the cheek, and they kissed on the lips.
Her best friend.
Her person .
She can’t just kiss Judy. She doesn’t have those feelings for Judy.
Sure, she gets all warm inside when Judy curls up against her while they watch TV. And sure, she feels safer than she ever has with anyone else on the few nights she lets Judy hold her instead. And of course she’s more affectionate and open with Judy than she ever was with Ted (ever has been with anyone)—but that’s just because Judy’s her person. Her best… very platonic, person.
So she didn’t feel a spark when their lips touched.
It wasn’t like every fucking inch of Jen’s lips were now on fire.
She definitely wasn’t thinking about going back inside and grabbing Judy to shove her lips back against hers. Wasn’t thinking about how perfectly their lips would fit together properly; how good Judy’s hair would feel between her fingers. And she definitely wasn’t thinking about shoving Judy against the kitchen island and ravaging her completely.
…. Fuck .
I’m in love with Judy .
The thought knocks the wind out of Jen, rendering her completely useless in the front seat of her car, which she still hasn’t started. Her car, which is sitting in the garage of the house where Judy is probably still in the kitchen. Where Judy makes her breakfast everyday and includes her children and treats those children like they’re her own. The house they share where certain paintings and ‘woo-woo’ crystals of Judy’s have popped up, adding a touch of herself everywhere Jen looks now.
But Judy can’t love Jen too. That’s ridiculous—Judy is the best fucking person in the world and Jen is just… Jen. She’s angry and aggressive, hard to love; she’s scarred, inside and out. Judy could never love Jen like this.
She tells Jen that she loves her everyday. And she does make Jen feel safe, and even beautiful (when she looks at her right before bed, after their makeup is off, and finally kisses her head before saying goodnight).
And Jen has to know now, can’t sit and wonder whether this is just her, so she opens the car door back up and storms back into the house where Judy is now sitting on one of stools at the kitchen island banging her head muttering “stupid stupid stupid” to herself.
And Jen can’t have that—can’t have Judy ever thinking she’s stupid when she’s anything but—so she doesn’t even hesitate before walking up to the other woman, simultaneously pulling Judy’s hands away from her own head and pulling her off of the stool, swallowing her gasp with a kiss.
And fuck is it a kiss.
Is this really what it’s like to kiss someone when you’re in love? To kiss someone you trust with your life, with your darkest secrets, darkest parts of yourself? Someone who still makes you feel worth it despite all that?
And it takes Judy a second to respond—Jen panics, ready to pull back and run away once again—before Judy winds one of her hands into Jen’s hair and the other around Jen’s waist and starts kissing her back for all she’s worth.
It’s messy; open mouthed, teeth clashing, typical Jen fighting for dominance, messy.
But it’s perfect, and it’s them , and finally it starts to slow down, fading into softer kisses. The two women just pressing their lips together over and over, before Jen notices the tears on Judy’s face at the same moment Judy starts smiling too wide to even continue kissing Jen back properly.
“I love you,” Jen says, finally pulling back to look Judy in the eyes as she says it. “I really fucking love you, you know?”
And Judy lets out a watery laugh, somehow her smile getting even bigger.
“I know,” she says, before pulling Jen back in for another kiss.