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One of Those Moments

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“Well Ruth, looks like you are finally going to get your wish,” Debbie throws out her arms in defeat. “We’re going to die together.”

Debbie always thought it would end this way. Even after everything with Mark and Ruth’s ankle and all of the shit in between, she hoped it would be Ruth in the end. A small hope, sure, but it was there.

Ruth said it in passing years ago, but some part of Debbie held onto it.

Ruth sits on a rock nearby, seemingly abandoning the stars above them. It appears the stars have guided them to the middle of nowhere, starving, exhausted, and nowhere near the campsite.

Debbie joins her, trying to stay as close to Ruth’s back as she could. For warmth, she tells herself.

“Debbie Eagan, 32, found dead near a cluster of rocks,” she sighs, “She is best known for playing tv’s Laura Morgan on Paradise Cove, but you may also remember her as the woman who was bitchy to Linda Evans in a jewelry store on Dynasty.”

Ruth laughs, bundling herself tighter in her vest.

“In an attempt to restart her career, she played a wrestler on the short-lived TV show GLOW, which ultimately flamed out on the Vegas stage. A fledgling producer who never had a project of her own. She’s survived by…” she pauses, attempting to remember who would miss her after she was gone, “her mother, uh… her son, Randy, her ex-husband Mark… his secretary Susan, and many adoring valets.”

“If we died right now, my obituary would be: “Soap Star and Unidentified Woman dead in National Park.”

Debbie chuckles, “No. Well, at least Russell would throw you a great funeral. He’d cut together a… well-edited, adorable tribute montage—“

“Can we not talk about Russell?” Ruth interjects.

Debbie looks at the side of Ruth’s face, she can barely see her in the dark.

“Trouble in paradise?”

“No… I just—“ Ruth pauses, “I don’t think it's what I want.”

“Oh,” Debbie flattens her shoulders, leaning into Ruth, “Well… do you have any idea of what you want?”

Ruth folds into herself, bending at the waist so her elbows touch her knees as she stares into the nothingness of the desert.

“I don't know. I thought I wanted a job, a boyfriend. Now I have a job ‘til the end of the year and a boyfriend. Somehow, I still feel lost.”

She sighs at that, how the weight lifts from her chest. Lost, the thought echoes. It feels hollow and cold. She’s felt nothing but lost for so long. Lost and… empty.

“Well, maybe you feel lost because you’re holding yourself back from something you want.” Debbie edges closer.

“So, what? I just supposed to break up with him when he’s in LA waiting for me? And then what, I just...” Ruth sighs.

Debbie sets her hand near Ruth’s leg, brushing her pinky across the bare skin at the edge of her shorts. It was a small form of comfort, but the best Debbie could manage. If things were different, if they were different, she would hug Ruth again. Maybe when they weren’t stranded.

“Maybe you’ll get a chance to appreciate what’s in front of you,” she nudges Ruth’s shoulder.

You have GLOW and the girls and as boring as the show’s become we can improve it, do something different like we just did, you know, mix it up.”

Debbie lets her pinky move up and down, providing some comfort to Ruth. It was intimate, more so than Debbie was accustomed, but it felt like something to do with Ruth turned away from her.

Ruth takes a deep breath, her skin sprouting goose flesh across her leg near Debbie’s hand. She let her stay there, let Debbie’s hand linger for a moment before taking it. She squeezed gently, not looking at Debbie.

“Being lost isn’t so bad,” Debbie offers. “Plus, this might be the last time we see each other for a while.”

Ruth turns toward Debbie, angling closer to see her. She’s nearly forced off of the rock with her body angled toward Debbie.

Debbie offers her a smile, squeezing her hand back while keeping her steady.

Ruth sighs, they’ve been here before. That tingly, nervous, crazy, what the hell is going on here feeling.

Ruth lets go of Debbie’s hand, still watching her face, how it falls just a little when Ruth lets go.

“Appreciate what’s in front of you.”

Ruth smiles, reaching out toward Debbie. She tucks a loose piece of hair behind Debbie’s ear in a small burst of bravery.

Debbie’s breath catches in a way Ruth wasn’t used to. It was odd seeing Debbie like this, almost nervous. She’d seen it a few times, sure. The way Debbie never really knew what to do with her hands when she was worried or excited, or those few times in the ring. Ruth wouldn’t dare to think of all of the nervous looks Debbie had made in the corner of her eye when she thought Ruth wasn’t looking. No, Ruth buried those thoughts in herself, hid them until they were difficult to access. Maybe Ruth did know what that look meant, but she couldn’t allow herself to examine or understand its meaning.

When she looks at Debbie again it’s different, she thinks she understands more. How all of those looks and caught breaths, sighs, and nervous hands compared to each other, attached by an invisible thread leading to Ruth. Ruth felt her heart beat pick up, the heavy vibration growing in her chest, she didn’t want to let herself want but then Debbie’s reaching forward, leaning impossibly close. Her fingers are brushing against Ruth’s cheek and Ruth can feel Debbie’s breath against her lips. She lets out a choked gasp when Debbie’s lips finally touch hers. She wants to lean forward but she remains still.

Before Ruth knows it Debbie’s pulling away. She doesn’t look at Ruth, doesn’t offer anything but a grimace as she stares at her hands. There’s something in her face that Ruth can barely put a name to; fear. Debbie was scared.

“Debbie--”

No,” Debbie snaps. “No, no ‘oh Debbie’.” Debbie goes to stand, anything to put distance between herself and Ruth. She thinks of five hundred different ways to cut Ruth down to the embarrassment she feels.

Ruth reaches out grabbing Debbie’s arm. “Debbie.”

Debbie is forced to sit again.

“You didn’t let me finish.”

“Fine, Ruth. What?”

Ruth grabs her hand and squeezes tight. She offers Debbie a smile that isn’t returned. Ruth places a finger under Debbie’s chin, forcing her to meet Ruth.

Debbie surges forward, unable to stop herself. Ruth gasps, frozen for a moment. She kisses her back, soft and slow like the only thing holding them together is this one moment.

It’s odd at first, the feeling of softness against her mouth, Ruth invites it, pulls at it, and throws herself deeper.

Debbie pulls back, catching her breath. For a moment she examines Ruth’s face, searching for a sign of unease. When she finds none, she returns to Ruth’s lips, their gentle tug against her.

“Is this okay?” Debbie whispers.

Ruth nods, moving closer to Debbie, holding Debbie’s arm to keep her steady.

Debbie murmurs something else, but Ruth doesn’t hear it. She pushes deeper into Debbie, setting her hand on the bare skin of Debbie’s side, pulling her closer and closer.

Debbie’s pulling at Ruth’s neck, urging her on.

Debbie edges forward, nearly forcing Ruth off the rock again. Ruth has to hold onto Debbie’s shoulder to keep herself upright.

Before she knows it happens, Debbie pulls away, moving Ruth so she’s on Debbie’s lap, pressed against her.

Ruth’s legs rub against the harsh surface of the rock, she’s certain there will be scratches across her skin to greet her the next morning. She doesn’t care.

Debbie traces her thumb across Ruth’s face, examining every wrinkle and line, the way her bangs fall onto her forehead. She brushes them across the bottoms watching as they fall back into place. Even sweaty and exhausted Ruth was still… Ruth.

This was weird. So. Weird.

Ruth wonders how long they’ve been leading to this moment. All of the mess before this seemed to make sense with the softness of Debbies breath against her skin. Her thighs squeeze against Debbie causing her to gasp again. Her eyes were wild, flickering back and forth across Ruth’s face.

She smiles, shaking her head at Debbie. She leans forward just enough to brush her lips across Debbies, gently nudging Debbies cheek with her nose. It was strange, seeing Debbie like this, even feeling Debbie like this.

Ruth’s thought about it before, how Debbie’s lips would fit into hers, what it would feel like to pull her closer. They’ve been close before, but never like this. Never with Ruth’s hand inching to the small of Debbie’s back to push her forward ever so slightly just to feel her mouth again.

Debbie moans into Ruth, running her hands across Ruth’s vest, pulling at the collar.

“Debbie,” Ruth whispers between breaths.

She can’t stop, it’s addictive. Ruth tastes like sweat and something so uniquely hers and she’s pulling harder at Debbie, taking her bottom lip between her teeth, gripping her shoulders and pulling her impossibly close.

Debbie moans into it, as Ruth begins moving her hand to Debbie’s neck.

Ruth pulls away for a moment, pressing her forehead to Debbie’s. She thought about how they had been in this position before, Ruth’s hand on Debbie’s neck and her eyes focusing on Debbie’s, except Debbie’s eyes are closed this time. This time her brow furrows and Ruth can’t quite place that expression.

Debbie grabs Ruth’s hand, sliding it to her breast. Ruth instinctively presses into her causing her to moan again. Ruth smiles, kissing at Debbie’s jaw. Debbie holds her there.

————

“I think they’re over here,” Reggie motions for the group to follow. She can barely make out Ruth’s vest over the crest of the rocks along the trail.

Reggie steps forward. Just ahead she can she the back of Ruth’s head bobbing slightly.
“Shh,” Reggie urges the others. “I found them.”

She can see the hand grappling at Ruth’s back, bunching the fabric of her vest into a fist. It’s Debbie. Debbie is holding Ruth up and rocking her back and forth.

“What? Why don’t we get them and get this show on the road,” Melrose exclaims, rolling her arms to mimic wheels.

“Reg, you look like you just saw a ghost. What is it?” Yolanda says.

“Something I can’t unsee. Let’s go back.”

Yolanda peeks over the edge of the rocks.

“Oh,” she steps back. “Yeah, I don’t think they want to be found yet.”

“What? What’s going on,” Cherry moves past Yolanda, seeing the women bundled together just ahead. “Well… this is a development.”

Melrose pumps her fist, “Called it!”

“You didn’t call shit, you barely know what’s going on half the time.”

“Yeah, if anyone called it it's me, and you owe me $50 bucks,” Yolanda laughs and points at Cherry.

Cherry sighs, “Fine, I’ll get you when we’re back at the hotel. What are we going to do about this?”

“We could throw a rock, pretend it was a coyote or something. They’ll find their way back eventually,” Yolanda offers.

Melrose whines, “That’ll take them forever, what if we just, I don't know, walk away and maybe talk or yell something from far away so they don’t think we saw them.”

Reggie thinks for a moment, “That’s actually not a bad idea. Okay, turn around we're going back.”

————

Ruth sighs into Debbie. She’s pressing her hand against Debbie’s abdomen, moving lower. Debbie wants to grab her hand, claim her with her mouth attached to Ruth’s.

They become molded into one being, pushing and pulling at each other. Ruth moves lower, fiddling with the button of Debbie’s shorts.

A bush behind them shakes.

Ruth gasps, nearly jumping from her shoes. She’s up and grasping her walking stick in a matter of seconds.

“Oh my god! Is that a mountain lion?”

“Are there mountain lions in the desert?” Ruth nearly screams.

“Guys?” Reggie’s voice breaks over the rocks.

Reggie emerges with Cherry, Melrose, and Yolanda by her side, flashlights illuminating beams of light toward Ruth and Debbie.

Hastily, Debbie presses at her shorts and musses her hair, attempting to ease some of the evidence of what had occurred moments earlier.

“Oh thank god,” Debbie sighs, “it's just you guys.”

The group wanders back to camp in mostly silence. Debbie occasionally talking to Cherry as they make their way into the warm glow of the dying fire near the center of the tents.

Ruth begins walking toward her tent she’d chosen to share with Sheila.

Yolanda reaches out, grabbing Ruth’s arm, “Hey, Arthie’s already in there looking after Sheila.”

“Oh,” Ruth stops. “That’s fine, I’ll just…” she debates momentarily sleeping in Sheila’s Bronco, quickly abandoning that plan and deciding she would sleep by the fire. “I’ll figure it out.”

“Okay,” Yolanda offers a small smile, “night, Ruth.”

“Goodnight.”

Debbie doesn’t speak to her, doesn’t even look at Ruth after they get back. She just walks to her tent in silence.

Ruth didn’t know what to expect, maybe a smile or acknowledging nod before Debbie disappeared for the night. She’d wanted something, anything to prove that what they had done hadn’t been a colossal mistake. Instead Ruth gets nothing but a bitter taste in her mouth, wondering if she’ll ever feel Debbie like that again.

————

Ruth settles by the fire, bundled in her sleeping bag with Justine’s screenplay nestled in her lap. She’d been reading through it for a while, though it was entertaining, funny even, she couldn’t stop thinking about Debbie. How was it so easy? She molded into Debbie like it's where she'd always belonged, and yet, she can’t help but feel something growing in the pit of her stomach.

She decides to sleep there, with the campfire still barely flickering with life. It was comfortable, she told herself it was comfortable, and she had nowhere else to go.

Debbie wasn’t speaking to her now. Ruth thought about the kiss, how Debbie was the one that initiated it. How could Ruth mess up when Debbie made the first move?

She supposes it has always been like this, with Ruth taking the fall and the brunt of whatever punishment Debbie decided would fit.

And that was fine, that’s how it’s always been.

Ruth decides to root around the remaining supplies left on the picnic tables.

Some leftover weed, a bag of marshmallows, some soda, and a half empty bottle of wine.

Ruth takes the marshmallows and wine and settles back into her sleeping bag, tearing the seal on the marshmallows and managing to break into the wine bottle.

It wasn’t good, but it was something, and maybe it would help ease her mind.

Ruth manages to drink most of the remaining wine before setting it aside, making sure it sat under her chair to avoid being kicked over and spent on the ground.

Her shoulders loosened, she lets herself push deeper into the sleeping bag as she watches the fire flicker off of the plastic and metal of the chairs.

Maybe Debbie wasn’t angry with her. Maybe she was. It didn’t matter, Ruth was choosing not to care. What happened, happened and that was fine, she’d just forget about it, chalk it up to a weird desert mirage that she could play in her mind later when she was feeling particularly bad about herself.

————

Debbie couldn’t sleep. She’s replayed the events of the day in her mind over and over. She imagined it ending differently, with her hands still on Ruth, limbs tangled together under the stars as they waited for the sun to come up so they could wander their way back to camp.

She could’ve kissed Ruth well into the night, maybe never stopped. But then the others showed up, and Ruth broke away from her so fast, maybe she didn’t want to kiss Debbie. Maybe Ruth was just going along with what Debbie wanted. She’d done it before, submitted to Debbie’s wants, followed the strict boundaries Debbie had set around herself.

Mostly.

Ruth always had a way of sneaking through. She was bold and pushed Debbie harder, made her question every choice. She was independent, free... she did whatever she wanted, even when it was a bad move.

So, maybe it wasn’t all Debbie. Maybe Ruth wanted it too. Maybe.

She tried to sleep, buried herself under her blankets and tried to make it stop. But the feeling just kept replaying, the way Ruth grabbed at her waist, how she’d pushed their foreheads together, how Debbie just knew she was looking right at her. She couldn’t open her eyes, didn’t want to see what was waiting for her.

She didn’t want Ruth’s hands to move away, or for her to leave and take whatever Debbie just gave of herself with her.

Debbie scrunched out of her cocoon, pushing the thick fabric down past her ankles. She would sit by the fire and stare at the blaze so she wouldn’t have to think about Ruth.

————

Ruth is snuggled into her sleeping bag when Debbie sits in one of the chairs. Of course, she is, every time Debbie needs to clear her head, there’s Ruth. She looks peaceful, her face soft in the slight glow of the remaining embers struggling to burn.

It’s cold, probably too cold to spend the night. Debbie reaches for the wine bottle under Ruth’s chair, pulls the sour liquid, wincing as she swallows. It was cheap and dry but it was something.

Debbie watches Ruth in the dark, how her neck bent with her head tipped onto her shoulder. She sighs as the rhythmic rise and fall of Ruth’s chest lulls her into some form of comfort.

It was easy like this, she thought. When Ruth didn’t know how much she wanted her. How Debbie would always look all over Ruth’s face and body and hands just to memorize them, to understand what she was thinking.

Debbie takes another swig from the bottle, contemplating whether or not to move Ruth before the cold set in.

Ruth begins to move in her sleeping bag, rustling the fabric. She mumbles something Debbie can’t quite make out and Ruth snuggles deeper into her covers.

Debbie wonders if this would be the last time she would see Ruth like this. Debbie would go back to LA, be with Randy, find another job but—

She couldn’t find another Ruth. No one has ever understood Debbie like Ruth does.

She doesn’t—no, she couldn’t…

No.

Debbie huffs, watching the burning embers fizzle and smoke in the pit.

“Ruth,” Debbie whispers, annoyed.

She stirs, not opening her eyes.

Debbie shakes her shoulder, “It’s cold as shit out here, come on.”

Ruth blinks, still half asleep.

Debbie stands, waiting impatiently for Ruth to join her. She walks toward her tent, pulling the door open and hooking it to make sure it remains that way until Ruth stepped in.

“Come on, Ruth.”

Ruth whines, bracing for the cold. Half asleep, she places Justine’s script in her bag, shuffling after Debbie, refusing to fully step out of her sleeping bag.

“Debbie, you don’t have to,” Ruth offers another chance for Debbie to put space between them.

Debbie shushes her, snuggling into her blankets.

“Come on, better than freezing to death.”

Ruth throws her sleeping bag down next to Debbie, nearly tossing herself along with it. It takes her a moment to settle next to Debbie.

Debbie turns toward Ruth, moving close enough to touch her. She doesn’t, but if she wanted, the option was there.

Ruth sighs, “should we talk about it?”

Debbie groans.

“Okay, never mind. Goodnight, Debbie.”

Ruth turns away from Debbie with a hmph.

“Ruth.”

Debbie wants to reach out and pull Ruth into her, hold her for as long as possible until one of them lets go. She just frowns, rolling onto her back. “I don’t understand you, Ruth.”

There’s faint laughter from Ruth. Debbie can barely see her shaking her head out of the corner of her eye. Ruth shuffles to face her again.

“So, you do want to talk about it.”

“No.”

Ruth sighs, sinking back. She fiddles with the zipper of her sleeping bag, watching Debbie stare at the top of their tent. She nearly resigns to letting the whole thing go, if Debbie didn’t want to talk about it that was--

“You’re so frustrating,” Debbie says.

“Oh, I’m frustrating? You’re the one that doesn’t want to talk about it but clearly wants to talk about it.”

Debbie flips herself toward Ruth, close enough to barely touch their noses. She can feel Ruth’s breath against her skin and it’s enough for her to want to scream.

She can’t. Ruth’s face is softer up close. Debbie focuses on the way Ruth’s eyes widen and her lips part. She hesitates to look further into those eyes, fully look at how they’re flickering across Debbie’s face.

Ruth moves closer, closing her eyes as she connects her lips with Debbie’s. Debbie takes a sharp inhale, melting into the softness of it. She doesn’t waste time, pulling the zipper of Ruth’s sleeping bag down and moving closer. Debbie opens her blanket, allowing Ruth to lay flush against her. Ruth’s hand instinctively moves to Debbie’s side.

Debbie is frantic, pushing and pulling at Ruth, anything to replay the noises Ruth made when they were lost. She pulls away first, planting kisses along Ruth’s jaw, her neck, collar bones, she moves back to her neck, sucking at her pulse point causing Ruth to shutter and moan.

“Debbie,” Ruth mutters. She throws her leg over Debbie’s hip and moves back and forth trying to relieve some of the tightness growing in her lower abdomen.

Debbie’s kisses grow softer against Ruth’s neck, lightly brushing up and down. She moves her hand to rest under Ruth’s neck, thumbing her way across flexing tendons.

“Do you know what you’re doing?” Debbie whispers, moving to look at Ruth.

Her cheeks are flushed and the redness is creeping down her chest creating warm patches on her pale skin. Debbie pushes a piece of damp, sweaty hair behind her ear.

Ruth is quiet, “...no.”

“Neither do I.”

Ruth nods, her eyes wide, “We can take it slow… if that’s what you want.”

Debbie kisses her again, softer than before. Placing light kisses on Ruth’s cheeks, brushing her lips across Ruth’s eyelids making Ruth to sigh and twitch under her.

Ruth can’t take it, the intimacy and softness from Debbie. She wasn’t accustomed to this side of her and how gentle she could be. She feels like she’s burning with every touch. The warmth in her stomach is growing uncomfortable and she needs to do something about it before she causes the tent to blaze.

Ruth presses her body harder against Debbie’s, moving her hand over Debbie’s side to her chest.

“Fuck, Ruth,” Debbie pants.

Ruth shushes her, placing a finger over Debbie’s lips.

“The others,” she whispers, “we have to be quiet.”

Debbie kisses Ruth’s finger before pushing it away.

“Better be quiet then.”

Debbie kisses her, her lips, her neck, her shoulder. She slides her hand under Ruth’s shirt as she continues on Ruth’s neck. Ruth’s breath catches when Debbie pulls her skin hard enough to bruise.

Ruth bites her lip to keep from making noise. She wants to, wants to scream Debbie’s name like she’s wanted to for so long. When Debbie slides her hand into Ruth’s sweatpants she thinks she might die there. She can see her name on the Omaha World-Herald’s obituaries section;

RUTH WILDER, 32, MURDERED IN NATIONAL PARK. PRIME SUSPECT, DEBORAH EAGAN.

Ruth laughs at that.

“What’s so funny,” Debbie moves her thigh between Ruth’s legs, supporting her hand to add pressure.

Ruth’s laughs are consumed by a small squeal she can’t help from escaping her mouth.

“You’re going to kill me.”

Debbie smiles into Ruth’s shoulder, “Maybe.” She nips at Ruth.

Debbie rises to look at her, removing her hand from Ruth’s sweatpants.

Debbie doesn’t know what to do next. Sure she knows, but this is Ruth under her, Ruth who used to change under her shirt for dance class. Now Debbie feels like one of the guys she picks up at the casino, feeling Ruth up before she doesn’t see her again. It’s startling. She knew how those lips felt and the hands grabbing at her. Debbie thinks if she lets Ruth touch her she might shatter and she can’t let that happen. She can’t do this. She can’t lose Ruth.

She wants to touch Ruth and claim every part of her as if it were her own.

Debbie runs her hand across her face, attempting to ease some of the tension growing. She knows if she doesn’t do something she’ll cry and think about all of the ways she could’ve had Ruth like this in their years of knowing each other. She would replay the number of times things could’ve gone differently if she just told Ruth, or took Ruth, or made any decision differently. They could have done this years ago, before Mark, before Randy, before every reason she has to leave.

She wants Ruth and Ruth wants her, it could’ve been so simple.

Ruth grabs her hand, lacing their fingers together.

“Why did you stop?” Ruth asks. She raises herself to Debbie, watching her face shift.

Ruth thinks this is it, they’ve gone too far. This is where Debbie kicks her out and she returns to the fire to sleep because Debbie’s realized this is one big mistake.

Debbie kisses her knuckles, it’s the only thing she can think to do.

“Debbie,” Ruth sighs, closing her eyes.

Ruth pulls their interlocked hands from Debbie’s lips.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Debbie mumbles, unable to look at Ruth.

Ruth nods silently, moving Debbies trapped fingers to her lips. Debbie rarely wants to talk, Ruth understands that if she did, if they did, then she risks this ending and she can’t let Debbie go without knowing if this is real. She takes this silence, allows Debbie to give her as much of herself as she wants. Ruth won’t ask for more.

Ruth kisses the palm of her hand, brushing her lips against her wrist and across her fingers, slipping Debbie’s thumb between her teeth, biting down lightly.

Debbie watches her, narrowing her sights on Ruth. She forgets how to breathe, with her thumb between Ruth’s teeth and the slight pain of them sinking into her skin. Ruth releases her finger with a small pop and kisses her palm once more before wedging it between their bodies and pushing Debbie’s hand closer than before.

Debbie looks at her surprised, she keeps Ruth’s gaze as she slides over her. Ruth lets out a choked moan, moving her hips against Debbie.

She thinks there’s something so beautiful about Ruth’s eyes snapping shut and the way she knits her brow, pushing her hips forward into Debbie. Maybe it’s the wine or how Ruth relaxes into her, how she sighs just a little too loud when Debbie circles her just right. Debbie thinks she’s drunk.

Ruth grips at Debbie’s back, holding her just above the hip. She’s pulling her close enough that Debbie’s arm begins to cramp.

“Ruth,” Debbie kisses her cheek, “gonna have to speed it up, I can’t feel my arm.”

“Oh.”

Ruth grabs Debbie’s wrist again, controlling her hand and moving her where she needs her. The sound that comes out of Ruth’s mouth is loud enough that Debbie thinks the nearest town might have heard.

“Shh,” Debbie captures her lips.

When Ruth continues making those painfully beautiful sounds she reaches behind her, grabbing a pillow and shoving it into Ruth’s face. She presses hard into the pillow when Ruth continues making noises that Debbie wishes she could allow, but Ruth was right. Their tent is flimsy at best and clustered with the others, and there isn't the typical Vegas ambiance to drown out Ruth’s near screams.

She swears Ruth is taking this as a challenge to be louder. She can still hear Ruth moaning loudly through the pillow. As much as Debbie likes it she makes a mental note to talk to Ruth about her concept of quiet when they weren’t doing this.

Ruth’s hand is still holding onto Debbie’s when her hips raise and she goes silent for a moment before sinking back against the blankets. Debbie’s hand releases the pillow, allowing Ruth to swat it away, gasping for air.

Ruth surges forward, consuming Debbie’s mouth, her hands grabbing and pawing at Debbie’s stomach and chest. Debbie grips Ruth’s wrist when she scratches at her scalp.

Ruth thinks she could survive forever like this, Debbie’s weight half rested on her, her tongue working wonders against Ruth’s.

Ruth slips her hand across Debbie’s stomach, brushing her fingers along the waistband of Debbie’s shorts. She can feel the goosebumps rising against Debbie’s skin.

Debbie rolls away from Ruth before she can understand what’s happening, Debbie’s pulling off her shorts and tossing them across the tent.

She sits up, readjusts herself over Ruth so her legs are bracketing Ruth’s hips.

Ruth rises with her, pulling Debbie’s shirt off in a haste. She takes a moment to admire Debbie. The way the loose strands of her hair fall around her face, the slight arching of her back as she moves her hips forward against Ruth, the way her eyes won’t leave Ruth’s once she has them.

She gives Debbie a quick kiss before kissing her neck, running her hands along Debbie’s exposed sides.

Debbie wishes, under different circumstances, that she could stay like this for as long as they wanted. But they can’t. Debbie knows that there’s little time before she combusts and takes the whole campsite with her.

“Ruth,” she sighs with her head turned to offer Ruth more access.

Ruth hums in response.

Faster.”

Ruth breaks away to look at Debbie offering her a grin she had only seen once before, with Debbie’s hand wrapped around her neck.

Within seconds Ruth flips them so Debbie back hits the blankets, forcing her to let out a huff. Debbie's arms instinctively go up in surrender.

Debbie giggles.

“I’ve always wanted to do that,” Ruth smiles.

“Oh, always?” Debbie laughs playfully.

Ruth buries her face in Debbie’s shoulder. “Mhmm,” she finally hums.

Debbie yanks at Ruth’s hair.

“Just touch me,” Debbie gasps.

Ruth doesn’t hesitate, pressing her hand into Debbie.

“Is this okay?” Ruth whispers.

Debbie can barely form a thought around the softness of Ruth’s touch.

“Yes,” she moans, pulling Ruth into a kiss.

Ruth moves her hand faster, leaning back to watch Debbie as she shifts under her.

Debbie bites her knuckles as her hips buck against Ruth. Ruth pulls her unbelievably close, her legs wrapping around Ruth’s hips. Her head falls back as she stretches and writhes.

She falls back in silence, letting out a choked sob. If Ruth hadn’t watched it happen she wonders if anyone would even know Debbie Eagan was capable of making a pulled face that landed somewhere between ecstasy and pain. Mark certainly wouldn’t know. If Ruth was honest with herself the only reason she gained any form of satisfaction from their meetings was how she imagined Debbie under her, touching her. Now that she witnessed it, felt it, tasted Debbie, she doesn’t think anything else could compare. She wants to do it again.

Ruth removes her hand, brushing her fingers across Debbie’s skin. She kisses her sternum, sucking at the side of Debbie’s breast pulling her skin hard enough to bruise.

Debbie gasps, her nails sinking into Ruth’s scalp.

Ruth continues, working herself lower and lower across Debbie’s body, leaving reddening marks as she goes. When she settles between Debbie’s legs.

Debbie throws an arm across her face, the feeling of Ruth’s lips and tongue overwhelming her.

Ruth pulls Debbie’s leg over her shoulder, settling her hand on Debbie’s hip to slow her movements. She hums against her, watching Debbie gasp for air.

Debbie sinks her nails deeper into Ruth’s scalp, scratching harsher as the tension in her builds. She cries out through clenched teeth when Ruth’s fingers press into her.

“Fuck, Ruth,” she sobs.

She can feel Ruth’s smile against her as she continues.

Debbie moves her hand to the sleeping bag, gripping tightly at the fabric and pulling. Ruth moans against her and it’s enough to force her over the edge.

Ruth kisses her thigh before moving up to drop down beside Debbie. Debbie kisses her hard, sucking Ruth’s lip between her teeth again. Ruth raises her hand against Debbie’s neck, sliding her thumb across Debbie’s jaw.

When they separate Ruth’s eyes are wide and full of something Debbie can’t quite place. She can barely breathe with the weight of Ruth’s eyes staring into hers.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Debbie narrows. She grabs a blanket and throws it across them.

“Why?” Ruth frowns. She settles into Debbie’s side, throwing her leg across Debbie’s hip.

Debbie kisses her forehead. “You make it harder to leave.”

Ruth bows her head, pressing her nose into Debbie’s chest. Ruth doesn’t want her to leave, doesn’t want whatever this was to be forgotten. She wants Debbie, she lo--

No.

Debbie runs her hand across Ruth’s curls, “Ruth, I can hear you thinking.”

“What? I’m not--”

“Yes you are.”

When Ruth doesn’t answer Debbie yanks the blanket from Ruth, wrapping it around herself. “Tell me or I won’t share this with you.”

Ruth doesn’t know what to say. She can think of hundreds of small comments and threats Debbie’s thrown at her over the years but now… this was different.

Debbie’s face softens when she sees Ruth’s horror. She almost inaudibly whispers a “sorry”.

Debbie shrinks. Falling back to lay next to Ruth, tossing the blanket back over her and settling at her side.

“I don’t want you to leave.”

Debbie turns to face Ruth, she wraps her arms around Ruth’s middle, pulling her close again, tight enough that she almost wishes she could blend them together.

Ruth sighs, “Yeah…”

“I have to. Randy..” she trails off. It’s unbearable, the weight that settles across her chest.

“I know. I think I avoid talking about Randy and that whole part of your life but… what if you brought him to Vegas?”

Debbie sighs into Ruth’s neck.

“Come on, I think he’d like it. Flashing lights, all the noises, the jello at the buffet.”

Debbie laughs.

“It might be nice.”

Debbie doesn’t respond. She holds Ruth, resting her head on her shoulder.

Maybe there's something there, maybe Ruth is right.

Ruth plants a light kiss against Debbie's forehead before drifting to sleep.

————

In the morning, with the sun peeking through the zippered door of the tent Ruth startles awake. Debbie is still warm next to her, their limbs a tangled mess.

Debbie is already awake, running her fingers across Ruth’s chest. She bumps her forehead against Ruth’s chin. She leans up enough to kiss Ruth in tired slowness.

Ruth sighs, smiling, “morning.”

“Morning,” Ruth offers a lazy smile, stretching her arms out and relishing the sweet ache that follows.

“Don’t look so pleased with yourself.”

“Why not?”

Debbie rolls her eyes, slipping away from Ruth. She sits up, reaching for her shirt that’d gotten lost hours before.

Ruth smiles leaning into her pillow. She watches as Debbie slips into her clothes, noting all of the little marks she made across Debbie’s skin.

“Hey,” Debbie smiles.

“Hey.”

“Do you want coffee?” Debbie reaches her hand out, drawing her finger across Ruth’s bangs brushing them to the side of her face.

Debbie’s hand rests against Ruth’s cheek, holding her face as she smiles. Ruth nuzzles into her hand slightly, humming.

“Dont.”

Ruth looks up, meeting darkened eyes.

“Why not,” Ruth challenges, nipping at Debbie’s wrist.

Her breath catches, “Ruth.”

“Hmm?”

Debbie pulls her hand away abruptly, leaving Ruth to lower her face and shrink.

“Do you want coffee or not? I think I heard the girls moving around a little bit ago.”

“No, I’ll be out in a second,” she pulls the blanket over her head. “Not awake enough to see daylight.”

Debbie huffs, sliding into her cardigan. She rolls her eyes watching Ruth peek over the edge of the blanket, still watching her as she moves around the tent.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Hmm?” Debbie hums.

“How long have you… wanted that?”

Debbie is startled.

“Uhh,” she runs her hands over her flushing cheeks, “a while.”

Debbie didn’t want to be honest, if she were she would’ve said before Randy, before Mark, before a lot of things. Ruth wasn’t like everyone else. If she were honest with herself she might’ve said somewhere in the time they were still in that scene study class together

“Oh.”

Debbie presses her palms into her eyes, a bolt of shame firing through her stomach.

“Did you not know?” she barely manages.

Ruth is quiet for a moment, “I don’t… know. I think I've always known things were different with us. I don’t think I could let myself wonder what if, what if i kissed you and you were disgusted with me for even wanting that.”

“I could never,” Debbie smiles, relieved Ruth felt the same thing she’s been torturing herself with for so long. She rushes toward Ruth, capturing her lips and consuming every bit of Ruth she could grab onto.

“We could’ve saved a lot of time if you kissed me sooner,” Ruth smiles.

“Shh, we’ll make up for it.”

Debbie’s hand wanders to Ruth’s chest, stroking her thumb across her breast. She wonders how much of Ruth she could take that Ruth would allow.

Ruth moves her hand to Debbie’s wrist, forcing her to press harder.

A lot more, Debbie thinks.

She moves Ruth onto her back, kissing at her jaw and neck. Ruth’s gasps and sighs are intoxicating. Her senses are clouded with residual exhaustion from the night before but she can’t stop touching Ruth, wanting Ruth.

“Debbie,” Ruth nearly moans.

“We can’t have a repeat of last night.” Debbie hums into Ruth’s ear. The warmth of it almost enough to end Ruth before they really began.

“You can suffocate me again if you want,” Ruth nips at Debbie’s lip.

Debbie pulls away quickly, pushing at Ruth’s shoulder. Ruth playfulling waggles her eyebrow causing Debbie to laugh.

She kisses her again.

————

Reggie hands Debbie a mug of coffee, offering a smile.

Debbie turns to appreciate the landscape before everyone is up. The sun peaks over the rock formations, bringing them into daylight. She smiles for a moment, inhaling the fresh air and smell of the shitty coffee the girls managed to steal from the hotel.

“Morning,” Debbie manages to tell Tammé.

“Ugh, I slept so good in that limo.” Tammé stretches as she approaches Debbie.

Debbie takes a deep breath, “Listen, um... so Cherry’s right. It’s stupid to put you back in that ring.”

“But what if Welfare Queen isn’t a wrestler?” Tammé asks, “What if she's a manager?”

Debbie thinks for a moment.

“It’ll lighten things up, and Bash will have something to play off of in the ring.”

“I mean, you should probably have Rhonda tell him. It’d be better coming from her.”

Tammé nods.

“And, um, I am not going to be around, anyway.”

“Why? Where do you think you’re going?”

“You know I can’t do nine months like this with a small kid.”

“Bring him here,” Tammé offers.

“That’s what Ruth said,” she smiles.

“Well, she’s right. If I had it to do all over again I wouldn’t have waited so long. Even with Earnest, I should’ve dragged him to a few auditions. Especially when he was a baby and didn’t know any better.”

“So what are you saying?”

“Don’t fold your tent and give up on a show that you produce and star in.” She pauses, “Stay and fight. That’s what I’m trying to tell myself.”

Debbie smiles. She turns away just as Ruth starts wandering towards them. Ruth smiles toward her before nearly running to Reggie who already has a mug of coffee in her outstretched hand.

Debbie catches glimpses of Ruth as she tries not to look, tries not to think about how she’d nearly torn those sweatpants off of Ruth hours ago. Ruth’s hair is a mess of curls and she traces Ruth’s jaw with her eyes before she sees it.

Oh my god.

She hadn’t noticed before in the shade of their tent but Ruth has a sprawling line of pink marks maring her skin running down her neck, just visible through her hair. She coughs, attempting to gain Ruth’s attention.

When Ruth doesn’t look up Debbie loudly places her mug on the table, trying to get Ruth’s attention without the others. When Ruth finally looks up to meet Debbie’s wide, panicked eyes she knows something is wrong.

Debbie moves to rub her neck, trying to convey the message to Ruth. Ruth doesn’t quite understand what’s happening when Debbie makes exaggerated eye motions to her own neck.

“Too late, we all already know,” Cherry smiles over her coffee.

“What? I--” Ruth attempts to stop her.

The group laughs.

“Ugh,” Melrose groans as she makes her way across the camp toward the group. She plucks a cup of coffee from the table, unaware of Debbie’s glare behind her.

“Thank god, I need coffee after last night.”

“What happened last night?” Stacey asks. Everyone in unison turns to look at her, a mixed grouping of confusion and glares.

Melrose turns to glare at Ruth and Debbie. “Well, these decided to hook up last night. So, thank you. I’m happy you solved your weird friend thing but I hate both of you now.”

Ruth offers a short, “sorry,” blush moving across her cheeks and down her neck.

“No, no, I fully blame Debbie. I assume it was her causing the ‘oh, Debbie’s’ last night,” Melrose mocks.

“We’ll keep it quiet next time,” Debbie offers a small smile to Ruth.

“Sure, I definitely believe you,” Melrose groans sarcastically.

“Yolanda was right, y’all are too weird for that not to happen,” Tammé laughs.

Yolanda laughs, “that’s right, pay up!”

A few of the girls sigh loudly, shuffling around. A mixture of “We’ll get you when we’re back at the hotel” and a couple, “I swear I bet on this month.”

Ruth and Debbie gape at each other before breaking out into laughter.

“Man, I had y’all down for Christmas,” Cherry groans.