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what am I doing here, if you're not with me?

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"Hello?" Judy sounds barely conscious, but the pain Jen is feeling eases a tiny bit just from hearing her sleep-tinged voice. 


"Judy," she manages to choke out, can hear the emotion in her own voice, hopes Judy understands what it means; she doesn't know how to put what she's feeling into words right now. 


"Jen," Judy breathes, so full of affection it hits Jen full force in the chest, makes her ache with missing Judy even more than she already was. 


"Jude, I-" Jen stops, takes a shaky breath, then words tumble out of her, "I'm so fucking sorry. I miss you so much. Please, if you want to- please will you come home?" She's sobbing, trying to calm herself, is starting to feel like a fucking idiot for calling like this, so early in the morning when she's such a mess, she hasn't even processed what she's just said-


"Yes." It's immediate, and full of conviction, Judy's response; the relief and hope that Jen feels is just as immediate, until she realizes what's happened. This wasn't how this was supposed to go. She wasn't supposed to ask anything of Judy. 


"Shit," Jen mumbles after a moment of silence, guilt quickly overtaking the relief. 


"What's wrong?" Judy asks, voice small now; Jen's reaction hurt her, of COURSE it did... God, she's already fucking this up. Like she fucks everything up.


"Fucking shit, Jude, I'm sorry. I don’t know what to do here. I don’t know what to say. I didn't plan anything to say, obviously, I'm word vomiting all over you, I just woke up and I couldn't stand it anymore, I HAD to talk to you-" she's rambling, knows she's bordering on hysterics, doesn't know what words are going to come out of her mouth next, and thankfully, Judy knows. After everything, still knows exactly what she needs. 


"Jen," she says, calm and soothing now, "take some deep breaths for me, okay? Try to center your chi." Jen can hear the smile in Judy's voice, and one blooms on her face in response, warmth filling her chest, tears slowing as she does what Judy asks. She breathes. Breathing easier already, knowing Judy is listening, picturing Judy's smile. "Better?"


Jen nods, stupidly, then remembers she actually needs to speak. "Yes."


"Good. So, how are you?" 


Jen laughs softly, fondly, at the simplicity of Judy's question, as if it's just another day and this is a normal conversation. "Clearly, I'm great. How are you?"


"I'm better, just hearing your voice." Judy's words mirror Jen's own feelings, and she sighs in relief- Judy wants to talk to her. She realizes now how terrified she was that wouldn't be the case. 


"I don't- I don't really know where to start." Jen shifts to sit up in her bed, turns the lamp on. "Other than I'm so, so sorry."


"What do you have to be sorry for?" 


Jen huffs out a rueful laugh, "Judy I kicked you out! I totally forgot who you were! I can only imagine how I would have felt, if you didn't remember me, if you didn't know me." It really was too painful to think about.


"Jen, it wasn't your fault. You had a traumatic brain injury! You didn't know. And I deserved to be kicked out. I probably never deserved to be in your life in the first place, in your home."


Jen is enraged that Judy still feels that way, that she made her feel that way, again. "You KNOW that isn't true.  It is as much your home as it is mine. In every sense."


"Okay. What all do you remember?"


"I think I remember pretty much everything, Jude. I remember I'm a murderer. I remember I manipulated you to cover it up, to bury the body of someone you loved-" Jen has to pause to stifle a sob, the self-hatred rising from her stomach like bile.


"No," comes firm from the other end of the line, "we both made terrible mistakes. But you're not a murderer, and anything I did, I chose to do. If you remember those things, you know that I've forgiven you. If you don't, I'll remind you. We were moving past it. We were happy. Do you remember that?"


Jen's gaze shifts to the empty left side of her bed, her hand reflexively reaching out to touch it. "It's all I've been thinking about."


"Did you mean it?"


"Mean what?" There's so many things she could be referring to.


"When you asked me to come home."


"Of course I did, but..."


"But what?"


"It's not fair of me to call you after two months and ask that of you. How is your job? Are you happy with your life there?" Jen is trying, she's trying so hard not to be selfish, because she knows Judy, knows she'd do anything she asked, even if it's not what's best for her. 


"Do you want me?" Judy asks, matter-of-factly, and it's the last thing Jen expected to hear. There's something in her voice, something knowing, something pushing- in a way Judy's never spoken about their relationship before. 


As much as Jen has been wanting, she's still unsure she's ready to truly confront this, stalls, "What do you mean?", even though she knows. She knows exactly.


"I think you know." Shit. Judy isn't going to make this easy on her... and she shouldn't. 


Jen closes her eyes, takes a deep breath. She owes it to Judy, to herself, to be honest. They've lost too much time already, could have lost each other completely. She can't bear the thought. "Do you remember what I said? When you told me you needed more?" The memory comes back to her again, the look in Judy's eyes when Jen told her, "You'll get it."


"It's all I've been thinking about," Judy says softly, and Jen's heart clenches.


"I meant it. I promise you, I meant it. I'm so sorry I forgot. And, yes."


"I know you did. I believed you." She pauses. "Yes, what?" There's a quiet hope in Judy's question.


"I want you. In every way I can have you." There's a sense of freedom Jen feels, at speaking these words out loud, both herself and Judy hearing them. There's a long moment of silence, and an image of Judy's face pops into Jen's mind- detailed- a huge grin overtaking all of her features, delicate lines adorning her smile. Jen aches to touch them. She believes that's what Judy looks like right now, but the longer she doesn't respond, the more nervous Jen feels. "Jude?"


"Then I will figure it out. I'm coming home." There are tears in her voice, but Jen can hear the smile, too. 


"Are you sure that's what you want? You don't have to decide right now." She keeps her voice as even as possible, not letting the excitement creep in, still wants to give Judy an out, still feels unworthy of getting to have her back. 


"Jen, it's all I've wanted. You know I never would have left, right? If I didn't think it was the best thing for you?"


"Yeah, I know. But can you get it through that pretty head of yours that there's no way my life could ever be better without you? And if I break my brain again, just wait it out, okay?"


"I promise," Judy pauses, "I'm going to have to take care of some things today. Will you call me tonight? After the boys are in bed? There's so much I want to talk to you about. Most importantly, Karen's vlog."


Jen laughs, deep and hearty. "Absolutely. As long as we talk about anything BUT Karen's vlog."


"Ugh. Fiiiine." Jen can picture the pout on Judy's face. 


She wants to say "I love you", wants to scream it, but she knows that's something she needs to wait on, wants to do in person- they've said it before, but it has a different meaning now. So she settles on, "I'll talk to you tonight, Jude."


"Bye, Jen."


After hanging up, she plops back down on her pillow to take a breath. That was one of the most important conversations of her life, she knows, and she needs a few minutes to decompress before getting up to start the day. She brings her hands to her cheeks, they feel sore, and it takes her only a second to figure out why. 


She hasn't smiled so much in months.




Charlie notices right away, because of course he does. Jen is making toast and scrambling eggs, because she's figured out the right settings on the toaster and that it's really hard to fuck up making scrambled eggs if you just keep stirring, when she hears the boys come downstairs. "Good morning!" She calls as they settle onto the bar stools behind her. 


"Morning, Mommy!" comes Henry's immediate reply, but Charlie is silent, so she turns around to look at him. He's eyeing her suspiciously.


"What? Too cool to tell your mom good morning?"


"What's going on? You seem... happy. Plus you're making us breakfast, and not the kind that gets poured into a bowl."


Despite her mood, she can't help but flip him off. Role model of the year, of course. 


"I don't know what you're talking about."


Charlie nods, disbelieving. "Uh huh." He looks at her some more, and she turns back around to finish the eggs.


"If you'll excuse me, I'm trying not to screw up these eggs."


"Good luck with that," he snorts, then, "You talked to her, didn't you?" It's not accusatory, it's hopeful, and Jen has to quickly blink back tears before turning around. 


She sees Henry's eyes light up as he glances between them. "Who? Judy?!?"


Jen gives Charlie a look, and repeats, in a more serious tone this time, "I don't know what you're talking about." Nothing's been decided yet, no "how" or "when" of Judy coming back, and there's still the possibility she'll change her mind. Jen definitely can't give Henry hope only for it to be yanked away, not after what he's already been through. Charlie seems to sense the tone, he drops it; Jen is grateful for the millionth time he's matured so much.


After breakfast, the eggs being heralded as "edible" and the toast "not burnt" (Jen will take it), Henry goes to use the bathroom. Charlie picks up some dirty dishes from the table and carries them to the sink, Jen watching him over her coffee mug as she takes a sip. "Has hell frozen over? What's happening? Are you actually going to wash a dish?"


Charlie looks at her, smirking, as he dramatically grabs the spray nozzle and turns it on, "Clearly, hell froze over, you made breakfast and no one died. Well, not yet. Henry could be puking his guts out in the bathroom."


She smiles at him, "Hey, Char, I want to be honest with you."


He turns the water off, focuses on her completely. "Yeah?"


"I did talk to Judy. It was good. I just- I don't want to get Henry's hopes up. Or yours, for that matter."


"I can handle it, I'm not a kid," he insists, then his eyes soften, "I do hope she comes home, though."


"Yeah, me too." She does. She didn't mention getting her own hopes up, but they're sky high, and the fall could destroy her. Judy said she'd "figure it out", and Jen would trust Judy's word with her life, but after everything that's happened? She wouldn't blame her for a second if she didn't. 


"I mean, how many more bland breakfasts do we have to suffer through?" 


Jen flips him off for the second time in a span of thirty minutes. Might be a new record. 




Jen has an open house that afternoon, gets ready and stops at the store to get snacks, trying very hard to focus. It's a $3 million beach house, she's been working hard lately and this is a huge listing for her. But as important as this is in her professional life, she can't keep her mind from drifting to Judy. 


She checks her phone before driving to the house, nothing; she knew there wouldn't be,  she's supposed to call Judy tonight, but she's tempted to shoot her a text, just to check in. She doesn't. 


They hadn't had contact in so long, but now that they have, that she knows how she felt- how she feels, and she's acknowledged it, out loud, it's like the floodgates have opened. There's no going back now. She's needy, and it's gross.


Jen arrives about a half hour before the open house is set to start, and lets herself daydream a bit as she sets up the snacks in the kitchen. The commission she'd earn from this sale would be incredible- she's been making good money, anyway, and this would be damn near life-changing. She could set a huge chunk aside for Charlie's and Henry's college funds... could buy Charlie another car, hopefully this one would last a little longer... maybe a vacation with Judy could actually happen now, something all-inclusive, on a secluded beach... she remembers mentioning a "hut situation", and that would be amazing... she could definitely afford it... shit, she could afford a huge fucking diamond... WHAT. 


When that thought pops into her head, Jen stops in her tracks. "What the fuck am I thinking?" She whispers to herself. These are exactly the kinds of thoughts she can't be having. She hasn't seen Judy in months, she still lives several hours away, they haven't so much as KISSED and she's thinking about buying her a ring?! "When did I become such a lesbian?" 


"Jennifer?" Jen suddenly hears from behind her.


"Oh fuck ME!" She jumps. "Lorna? What are you doing here?"


"I have a client who is very interested in the property. I decided to bring him by personally, as a courtesy to you. Hopefully he'll make you a competitive offer."


"Oh," Jen tries to hide her shock, "well, thank you."


Lorna walks closer to her, lowers her voice, "Honestly Jennifer, yesterday I was concerned you were having some kind of mental breakdown," she studies Jen carefully, "and now I come in and find you talking to yourself, so that seems to confirm my suspicions."


"Jesus, Lorna, I'm fine, okay? I promise. Yesterday was just an emotional day for me. You know. I've always had a hard time with... graduations."


Lorna blinks at her, "No. I didn't know that."


"Yes, the pomp and circumstance of it all, always gets me."


"Okay, well-"


"Hello?" A woman's voice calls from the foyer.


"Sorry Lorna, gotta work! Find me in a bit with your client, okay? Thank you for coming." Jen high-tails it out of the kitchen, and it's a non-stop parade of people for the next two hours. A handful of them seem ready to make an offer. 


It feels like a day to celebrate, so Jen stops to get a nice bottle of wine on her way home. 


When she's pouring herself a glass in the kitchen, she lets herself think that she'll soon be pouring two.




It's about 9:00 by the time dinner is finished, cleaned up (meaning the Chinese take-out cartons are thrown away), a few games of Uno are played, and the boys are off to bed. Jen feels downright giddy as she changes into her pyjamas and settles onto the bed with her phone and glass of wine. Her emotions are in check, now, and she's determined not to start this phone call with, "So, when you coming back?", as much as she wants to. She's going to ask about Judy's life over the past two months, and she's going to listen. 


"Hi!" Judy picks up as soon as the phone rings, and it does something to Jen, makes her feel something, deep, that Judy is clearly excited to talk to her, too.


"Hey, Jude. How was your day?"


"It was good. Great. How about you? How was dinner?"


"Fantastic. Mr. Chow didn't disappoint."


"Well does he ever?!"


"Good point," Jen laughs, and it's amazing, how easy it is, still, just to talk. It always has been. "You know I could wax poetic about the fried rice for hours, but I want to hear about you. I want to hear about San Francisco. I want to know about your new job."


"Okay," Judy sounds pleased, "I've actually been working two jobs."


"'Working two jobs? Why does that sounds so salacious when you say it?"


Judy laughs, "No, nothing salacious. Unless you count leading painting classes mostly for drunk middle-aged women as 'salacious'."


"Really? One of those Painting with a Twist, bring your own wine places?"


"Yep. It's really fun. I don’t actually get to paint much anymore with my other job, so it was a way to still be able to do some teaching. With a very, very different kind of student population."


The thought of Judy directing increasingly drunk women in their painting makes Jen smile. "I bet you're great at that. Wish I could see it."


"Maybe I can give you a private lesson sometime. If you're lucky."


It's been so long since she's experienced Judy's flirting, and a warm blush immediately covers her cheeks. "Well I'm not going to turn that down."


"Obviously, you're not stupid."


"Obviously. Wow, Jude, you must have been really busy."


"Yeah, but it's been good. I wanted to keep my mind occupied, and cost of living in San Francisco is kind of ridiculous."


Judy's words have no malice behind them, of course, but Jen feels an immediate pang of guilt, about both of those things- tries to think of what she can say, if there's anything she can, opens her mouth but nothing comes out. Judy speaks up again after a few seconds of silence. 


"Anyway, I went and talked to my boss there today, I'm scheduled to work a couple of classes next weekend, one is a kids' class which is actually my favorite, but I told her those would be my last."


A lump rises suddenly in Jen's throat, happiness and guilt and so many other emotions bubbling up within her. Again, she has a hard time coming up with words. 


"Jen? Are you there?"


Jen coughs, "Yeah, sorry," she doesn't want to ruin the lighthearted mood of their conversation, "I'm just imagining you teaching a room full of drunk children."


"Oh, well for them it's more 'bring your own juice box'. But it can still get craaaazzzyyy."


Jen smiles, "I bet. Okay, well tell me about the other job. You got a promotion? I want to hear all about it."


So Judy tells her. Jen listens in awe as she talks about her interview, the position, her new boss and co-workers, the travel, the new programs she's come up with and implemented. Judy sounds happy, and more confident than Jen has ever heard her- she's always known Judy is smart, capable, incredible, so many other adjectives- but it brings her immense happiness that others are seeing these things and, more importantly, making Judy see them as well. 


As happy as it makes Jen to hear Judy talk about it, she starts to feel it, deep in her gut, even though it will kill her- she can't let Judy give this up. 


", it's really just been a great experience."


"Wow, Jude, that's amazing. I'm so proud of you. So, so proud of you."


"Thanks, Jen," Judy says, and Jen can picture the small smile on her face, the one she wears when she lets herself accept a compliment, "I'm actually pretty proud of me, too."


"I can't ask you to give this up for me," Jen says, in a rush, before the selfishness takes over, "You can't, Judy. Listening you talk about this job- you're clearly in your element. I've never heard you sound so happy."


Judy scoffs, "Okay, first of all, you've never heard me talk about you, or the boys. I can, right now, if you want. I can tell you that just the thought of seeing you again has made me happier than any job ever could," she pauses, allowing Jen the chance to respond, but she's fighting back tears, can't. "Secondly, you're not asking me to give up anything. I make my own decisions and there's nowhere I'd rather be than with you. I called my boss, Margo- you'd really like her, her energy is just phenomenal- and told her I'm moving back to Laguna. She said she needed to think about it, and we'd talk more Monday, but I'm really hopeful I might get to keep the job. I have a whole pitch planned out, well it still needs a little work... but I'm going to try to convince her I can do the job from home. If it doesn't work out, I will have to at least give them two weeks notice, I owe her that much after all she's done for me. But in two weeks, I'm back there. As long as you're still sure that's what you want."


Jen won't lie, can't, if it's what Judy really wants. "Yes," she answers immediately, then pauses, shaking her head. "You're too good to me."


"No, I'm not. I'm just the right amount of good to you. I can find another job if I need to, Jen. I can't find another you. Or another Charlie. Or another Henry," Judy's emotion is palpable, and Jen feels it, too. "You have no idea how much I've missed you."


Jen reaches her hand to her chest, feels her heart beating. It still aches, a bit, with how much she misses Judy, even now, even though they're talking. "Yeah, Jude. I do."


"Okay. Well now that's sorted, and you know you're stuck with me, tell me about how you've been. I'm dying to know how everything came back to you."


Jen takes a deep breath, and tells her everything. Most of it, anyway. About her dreams. About Christopher, and Lorna, and Ben. How the boys have been doing, what a rock Charlie's been, how much Henry misses her. How much he loved his painting, how much she did, too. They talk about Steve a bit- Jen remembering, the guilt from it. Moving on from it. It truly seems like Judy has, and that makes Jen feel better about moving on, too. Jen tells Judy that she feels totally moved on from Ted, and she hopes that brings her some peace, as well. She leaves out remembering how much she loves Judy, how empty her bed has felt without her- wants to wait to tell her those things in person, still. 


Judy laughs her ass off when Jen tells her about her meltdown at Henry's graduation, and Jen mumbles, "Should have kept that to myself," while Judy pulls herself together. When she finally stops laughing, she starts humming, Vitamin C. "I hate you," Jen says, feeling the exact opposite.


They talk, and talk, and when Judy realizes what time it is, they both put on "The Facts of Life".


Jen doesn't remember saying goodnight and getting off the phone, but she wakes up the next morning, phone by her head, well-rested, and a smile on her face.




Jen's a nervous wreck on Monday, thinking about how Judy's day is going. Judy had walked her through what she planned to say to Margo the night before, and it was very convincing- Jen absolutely believed she could do her job from anywhere, and she could still travel to the different centers in her territory just as easily. Jen knows how much it means to her, even if she isn't entirely letting on, and her own stomach is in knots wondering what Margo will say. She even sends Judy a text that morning:


               Good luck today. I can't wait to hear about it later.


A couple of minutes later comes Judy's reply:


Thank you 💜


God, she's missed that fucking purple heart.


That evening, as soon as she picks up the phone and hears Judy's voice, she knows it went well. 








Judy laughs, "Patient as ever, I see."


Jen's not amused. "Uh huh."


"Jen, she said we could work it out. She said there's no way she would lose me, and I can work from Laguna as long as I come to San Francisco once a month for a meeting. I'll travel to the centers just like I have been. But next Friday is my last day here at the office."


"Fuck yeah, Margo! You were right about her Jude, PHENOMENAL energy!" Jen is so happy, she knows she's shouting, doesn't care.


Judy laughs again, and it makes Jen's heart soar to hear it. "I just... kinda can't believe it."


"What can't you believe?"


"That I may get to have it all."


"You deserve it. And so much more," Jen means it, wants to give her everything, "I wish I could see you right now."


"You know, we could FaceTime."


"FaceTime? Isn't there like an age 25 cutoff for that?"


"Okay, Grandma, come on. I really want to see you, too. Let's just hang up and I'll call you back. Think you could figure out how to answer?"


"Aww, too bad you can't see me flipping you off right now."


"Bye! See you in a sec!" 


A second later, "Judy would like FaceTime" appears. Jen grabs her glasses from the island, slides them on, and clicks "Accept".


Suddenly, there she is. Jen can see herself, too, both of them there on the screen, together, and for a moment they just wave at each other, grinning stupidly. 


"You did it!" Judy applauds her.


"Yeah yeah, well done me. Had to put my glasses on to see what button to click."


"I love it. Your sexy librarian look really does it for me."


Jen just smiles some more, staring at her Judy, who's flirting with her like they've never stopped. She takes her in, and notices a slight difference. "Your hair is longer! You look so beautiful." She does, and though Jen knows she's in love with her, has known it for awhile now, she's been so lost in the deep well of emotions she's been feeling that she forgot how attracted to Judy she was. Is. Seeing her now, even on a tiny screen, the warmth that floods her whole body reminds her. "So beautiful," she repeats, as she stares some more, can see she's wearing one of her patented floral dresses, a hint of cleavage peeking through before the screen cuts off. 


"Thank you," Judy grins even bigger, and then Jen hears the door open. It'll be the boys, and Jen wishes she'd thought about what to tell them- but she feels at ease now. They'll both be so excited Judy is coming home. She thinks, maybe, it's all going to work out.


They call out greetings to Jen, but she knows their focus will shift as they come up behind her, in 3...2...1...


"Judy!!!" Henry practically yells, grabbing the phone from Jen's hand. "Hi! Your hair has grown!"


She hears Judy laugh, "Hi bud! Hey, yours has, too! Going for more of a scruffy look?"


"Hey Judy! How'd you manage to convince Mom to FaceTime? Or was it a butt dial?" Charlie chimes in.


Jen can't even be mad their conversation got cut short- she just settles back onto the barstool and watches as Henry and Charlie both fawn all over Judy. The smile on her face feels like it's becoming permanent.


She's recalibrating again, just like when she was getting her memories back- but this time, she's letting herself believe that this is actually going to happen- that they're all going to be together, be happy. It feels unfair, after everything she's done, that she gets to feel this way, like Judy said "have it all"- but she's done fighting it. Life's too short. 




Jen is busy over the next couple of weeks, working hard with Lorna to close on the beach house for her client. Papers have been signed, and the closing date is in a month, they just have to work through any issues that arise with the inspection and the appraisal. The client is very motivated, and Lorna has actually helped make the process go smoothly- the commission is so close, Jen can taste it. (She's also glad for the distraction of work, otherwise she'd probably just be sitting at home, staring at the door until Judy walks through it.)


It's Wednesday, and Judy's due home on Saturday. Jen's wrapping up a meeting with Lorna, they've just discussed the inspection and Lorna's client wants a couple of fixes she knows her client will be amenable to. "Thanks so much, Lorna! I'll be back in touch after speaking with my client but I don't foresee any issues," Jen stands up when Lorna reaches out to touch her arm. 


"Jennifer, do you have a moment?"


Jen looks down to where Lorna's hand is on her, a little surprised at the physical touch. "Sure, but not a long moment. I have to get to the tailor for my final fitting for Christopher's wedding." She sits back down.


"Oh it won't be long. I just have to ask, has there been a change in you recently? You look well. The bags under your eyes are... less pronounced."


"Well that's quite the compliment, thank you Lorna!" Truly, for Lorna, it is, "Actually, yes. And I should probably tell you, Judy is moving back home."


Lorna nods, "Well, I can't say I'm surprised. I have always sensed something between the two of you, didn't think you'd be apart long."


Jen stands again, "Yep, well, I've-"


"And I know this doesn't matter to you, but I approve."


Jen stops, mid-sentence, closes her mouth as she stares at Lorna, trying to figure out if this is sincere. Lorna's gaze back is steady, and Jen can see that it is. It shocks her to her core when she realizes- it does matter. She reaches her hand down to place it on Lorna's shoulder, gives it a squeeze. "Thank you, Lorna."




Jen is at the tailor, admiring herself in the full-length mirror; she's been working out, and it's paying off- she looks good. She turns to look at her back when her phone dings from her purse. She reaches down to grab it, takes a look and smiles. A text from Judy. 


Will you send me a picture of you in your dress? Please? 🥺


Jen shoots back a reply, doesn't bother to correct her. 


                  Sorry babe. You'll just have to wait and see it in person.


She puts her phone back in her purse when there's a knock at the door. "Jen? Are you decent in there?" Christopher calls. Jen opens the door and he looks her up and down, letting out a wolf whistle. "Damn girl. You're going to upstage me!"


Jen laughs, "Impossible!" She gives him a look when she sees Adele in his arms. "Oh, Lord."


"What? Adele needed a final fitting, too! Doesn't she look stunning?" Adele is wearing a black tux with a bow tie, eerily similar to Jen's. 


"Okay, how did you do that?"


Chris grins, "Custom made! Obviously, you know she can't wear-


"Synthetics. Yeah, I know. Well Chris, your dog might upstage all of us." They share a smile, and Jen reaches out to grab his hand. "I'm so happy for you."


"Thanks, Jen. I'm so happy for me, too. Now let me go grab the tailor- I think your jacket might need to be taken in a bit!"


He turns around to leave, but she grabs his hand again. "I actually have a question to ask. Is it too late for me to add a plus one?"


Christopher whips back around, eyes wide. "Judy?!"


Jen nods.


He lurches forward to give her a hug, Adele awkwardly sandwiched between them. "Of course. I'm so happy for you."




That night, as Jen is tucking in Henry for bed, she decides it's time to tell him. "Boop, I have some news to share with you."


He leans up a bit, intrigued. "What is it?"


"Judy's coming home this weekend." It's a reflex, her smile, every time she mentions it, thinks of it.


Henry's grin looks like it could split his face in two, "For a visit?! Yay!"


Jen's heart leaps into her throat at his excitement over the thought of her visiting. "Nope," she shakes her head, "for good."


His mouth drops open wide as he sits up, crashes into Jen and wraps his arms around her. "YES!!!!!" he whoops. 


After she gets him settled down again, Jen heads down the hallway, knocks on Charlie's door. He's playing a game on his laptop, sound turned low. 


"Can I talk to you for a sec?" 


"Sure," he says, pressing a few more buttons, "You finally gonna tell me Judy's coming home?" He looks up at her and smirks. 


She stops short of his bed, "How did you-"


"Oh come on. I'd have to use a power tool to unscrew your smile the last couple of weeks. Plus I just heard Henry celebrating like a little girl."


Jen shakes her head in disbelief. "Well, yes, smart ass. She's coming home this weekend."


"Good," he says, simply, looking back to his game. 


Jen leans down to ruffle his hair. "I'm so proud of you, Char. Good night." She's walking through the door when she hears his reply.


"I'm proud of you too, Mom."




It's Saturday.


Judy called Jen at 9:00 a.m. to tell her she was hitting the road. This puts her ETA at about 4:00 p.m.


"Drive safe," Jen told her.


"I will. I can't wait to see you."


Jen felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest when she'd replied, "Me too."


Now, Jen and the boys are in the kitchen, preparing a "welcome home" dinner for Judy- Henry's idea (Jen wishes she could claim it).


"Thanks for giving us the hard, dangerous job by the way," Charlie snarks, as he and Henry chop the vegetables. 


"Yeah, try not to cut off any appendages, you two. And, hey, I'm trying to figure out how to boil these giant noodles, thank you!"


"Oh yeah, heating up water. So tough."


They finally, after what feels like hours, get the lasagna prepped and put into the oven. Jen looks up at the clock- 3:57. The excitement and nervousness she's feeling is enough to make her nauseous, and she sits down to catch her breath. 


Just as she does, she hears the door open. "Knock knock?"


Jen looks up and it feels like her heart stops when she sees Judy. She can't help the way her eyes travel up and down, taking her all in- it's so much better than seeing her on a phone screen. She's dressed comfortably, for the drive, well-worn jeans and a white sleeveless blouse. Bangs falling across her forehead, hair falling well beyond her shoulders now. Jen is stuck for a moment, but the boys aren't. Henry reaches her first, and Jen is surprised Judy doesn't topple over from the sheer force of his hug. "Oof!" Jen hears softly as Henry wraps his arms around her waist. "Judy! I missed you so much!"


Jen's legs finally feel stable enough for her to stand, and as she moves closer she sees the tears on Judy's cheeks. "I missed you, too." She smiles down at him as he looks up at her, pure adoration in both of their eyes. 


As Henry pulls back, Charlie steps up. "Welcome home." Tears spring to Jen's eyes as he gives Judy a big hug, whispering something to her, Jen can't hear. Judy doesn't respond, just nods, and when he pulls back, Judy gives him a blinding smile.


Jen walks closer, puts a hand on each boy's shoulder as she reaches them. "Why don't you two start unloading Judy's car? Any art supplies can go in the guest house, clothes and everything else goes upstairs to our room." Judy meets her eyes, surprise there- they didn't discuss this specifically, but Jen wants it to be clear from the get-go.


"Okay!" Henry answers happily and Charlie nods, then they head outside.


"Jude," is all Jen can manage as she pulls Judy to her, arms wrapping around her shoulders as Judy's circle her waist. Jen buries her face in Judy's soft hair. The ache in her chest has eased, bit by bit, since the morning she heard Judy's voice two weeks ago. Now, as she inhales, lungs filling up with oxygen and Judy, she feels like she can finally breathe.


Jen pulls back a bit, and Judy does the same, just enough to look at each other, arms not loosening their grip. There are tears on Judy's face, and when she reaches her hand up to Jen's, fingertips softly brushing along her cheek, Jen realizes she's crying, too. 


"Hi," Judy smiles. Now it's Jen's turn to bring her hand up, thumb running across those smile lines. 


"Hi." Jen finds herself looking at Judy's lips, thinking about how much she wants to kiss her- she's waited far, far too long. Judy seems to know what she's thinking, she cups Jen's cheek softly and closes her eyes. Jen closes hers, fingers on Judy's jaw as she leans in, heart pounding-


Just then, the boys barge through the door, loaded down with bags and clothes. Jen's eyes pop open, and Judy's are staring back at her. "Fuck," Jen mutters, feeling herself deflate in disappointment, but Judy just gives her a reassuring smile and squeeze before stepping away. 


Judy rushes over to grab some clothes out of Henry's arms, he looks like he might topple over. "Thanks, Hen! I just left these on the hangers so they could go straight into the closet..." she looks at Jen, unsure, questioning. 


Jen nods, "I cleared out some space for you. Let's get this stuff upstairs."


By the time they get Judy's car unloaded and are back downstairs, the oven timer is beeping. Jen grabs oven mitts and takes the lasagna out. "It looks good... I think."


"What's this?" Judy asks, coming up behind her.


"Well, we found your vegetable lasagna recipe, and thought you'd be tired from your drive today. We wanted to make you dinner," Henry smiles proudly.


"Mom was okay sacrificing our fingers, but I think it turned out pretty good," Charlie adds as he opens the fridge to take out the (pre-made) salad. 


"Okay, just to clarify, there are no fingers in the lasagna," Jen glares at Charlie before turning to grab two wine glasses out of the cabinet, smiling to herself as she does. 


"That is SO sweet. What can I do to help?" Judy asks.


Jen makes a "shoo" motion with her hand, "Nothing. You go sit down at the table, I'll bring you a glass of wine in a second."


The look of pure happiness Judy gives her in response is almost enough to knock Jen on her ass. It's overwhelming, really, all of the emotions flowing through her body. Five minutes later, when they're all sitting down to eat and Jen looks around the table, at her family, she knows she wouldn't change a thing. 


Judy thanks them repeatedly for the meal, commenting on how delicious it is, and Jen feels pretty proud- it turned out really well. She finds herself mostly listening as Judy and the boys catch up. Henry asks how it's going with the animal shelters, and Jen is surprised for a second before she remembers they've been keeping in touch. 


"It's been going so well. Everyone loves the partnership. I'm working on a new program now, actually."


"What is it?" Charlie asks, mouth full of salad. 


"We're working on getting young adults and students who need community service hours to come volunteer at the centers. Hang out with our residents, play games with them, that kind of thing."


"Can anyone volunteer? Even if you don't need community service hours?"


Jen's eyes snap to Charlie in surprise, pride swelling in her chest.


Judy nods, "I'm sure that could be arranged."


"Cool," he takes a sip of water, "I'd be down to school some old people in checkers."


Judy grins at him, "Oh yeah? Real Bobby Fischer, are you?"


"Huh?" Comes Charlie's confused response.


Jen bursts out laughing, joy bubbling up from deep within. "That's chess, Jude."


Judy looks at her, taking a sip of wine and shrugging adorably. "Tomato, tomahto."


"I don't think that's the same concept."


"Well, we can just agree to disagree on that one."


They're smiling at each other, like fools, Jen knows, and it's so easy. It's like Judy was never gone. 


After finishing dinner and cleaning up, they all move to the living room, talking in between occasionally watching the marathon of "American Ninja Warrior" Henry's put on. Jen and Judy both have an arm slung on the back of the couch, fingers touching lightly, though there's lots of space, and Henry, between them. When Jen notices Judy yawning for about the twelfth time, she turns off the TV and stands up. "Alright, time to head upstairs."


The four of them walk upstairs together, and Charlie and Henry head to their rooms. "I'll be right there, okay Henry?" Jen tells him.




Jen and Judy get to the bedroom, and Jen points to the dresser, "I cleared out the bottom two drawers for you. I figured-" she gasps as Judy spins her around, and immediately presses her lips to hers, before pulling away after a moment. It's nothing more than a lingering peck, really, but Jen feels her lips on fire, regardless. She brings her hand up to touch them as she looks at Judy.


"Sorry," Judy whispers, eyes bright, slow smile creeping onto her face. "I couldn't wait."


Jen's face is hot, and she shakes her head a bit to break out of the fog, "Never apologize for that," she smiles. "If you feel like doing some unpacking, go ahead. I'll be back... as quickly as possible." She heads to Henry's room instead of grabbing Judy again, because once she does, she won't want to let go.


When Henry is safely in bed, she practically speed walks back to the bedroom. Judy has changed into her robe, and is putting folded clothes from a suitcase into her drawers. Jen walks to stand next to her, shoulders brushing, and opens a drawer to pull out her pyjama pants and t shirt. Judy looks up at her and smiles, doesn't say anything, but as their eyes meet, and Jen smiles back, she feels a rush of pure love. 


She gets changed, goes to use the restroom and brush her teeth, pads over to the bed, pulls the comforter and sheets back and crawls in, propping her head back on her pillow. Judy is still unpacking, and Jen thinks maybe she's screwing with her now. "You going to color code your clothes tonight, Jude, or are you gonna come here?"


"And... done!" Judy closes the drawer with a flourish. She walks to her side of the bed, takes her robe off and lays it on the foot of it, like she always does. Before, Jen wouldn't let her eyes linger when Judy was left only in her camisole and underwear; she's done with that pretense now. She's perfect, and Jen stares at her legs, for as long as she can, before Judy crawls into bed. She scoots over, close, puts her pillow right next to Jen's, lays on her side to face her. "Hi."


Jen turns so they're face to face, hand immediately finding Judy's cheek, hair. She twines some between her fingers as she studies her face. "I can't believe you're here. I missed you... I missed you so much."


Judy closes her eyes, leans into Jen's touch. "I missed you, too. Every day. When you were in the coma, all I did was hope and pray we'd be able to be here, like this again." She opens her eyes, they're glistening with tears, and Jen feels a stab to her chest.


"God, Judy I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry."


"No," Judy covers Jen's hand with her own, "That's not what I meant. I'm just thankful.  We're here now." She looks so tired, but so genuine, and so beautiful. Jen has never loved anyone more. She leans in to kiss her. Jen's kissed a couple of women before, but it's been decades, and nothing like this. Judy's lips are so soft, so pliant, and when Judy hums and moves to tangle her hand in Jen's hair, increase the pressure of their kiss, Jen feels it everywhere.


Jen moves her hand to wrap her arm around Judy's back, and Judy hooks her leg around the back of Jen's thigh, simultaneously pulling each other closer. Judy opens her mouth, Jen does the same, and when Judy's tongue touches hers for the first time, she can't stop the moan from escaping her- it feels like she's died and gone to heaven. 


It's so fucking hot, kissing Judy like this, languid, there's no sense of urgency as they enjoy the taste and feel of each other. Judy's hands drawing patterns on Jen's back, reaching down to graze her ass, which Jen really, really likes. Her own hands can't decide where to settle, Judy's hair, her back, her neck, they run over her perfect breasts (she can't wait to pay those the attention they deserve, later) which makes her gasp, Jen notes, will want to hear THAT as much as possible. They pull back to breathe, to stare, and Judy's lips look so plump and red that Jen has to go back in for more. She can tell they won't go any further than this tonight, she knows Judy's exhausted, but this is perfect. She's never, ever experienced a make-out session like this, and she feels like a lovesick teenager. It's exhilarating. If it weren't for the ache and growing wetness between her thighs, she would happily do this all night. Or forever. 


Their kisses slow, and Judy pulls back, her pupils are blown, cheeks flushed, and Jen has never seen anything so gorgeous. She says as much, and Judy replies, "Well fuck, Jen. You should look in a mirror right now," then leans in for one more soft kiss. ('God, she's sexy when she cusses,' Jen thinks.) Judy pulls back again and rests her forehead against Jen's. "That... was the most incredible first kiss of my life."


Jen nods, subconsciously licks her top lip. "Um, yeah. Understatement."


Judy smiles, yawns, "You ready to get some sleep? I'm sorry, I've had such a long day. Plus I've been waiting to hold you for months."




They lay their pillows flat, and Jen takes one more long look at Judy before rolling over. It's so hard to tear her eyes away from her face. 


Judy spoons her, soft breasts pressed to her back, legs tangled together, right arm underneath Jen's pillow, left arm snaking around her waist. "Good night, Jen," she whispers, into Jen's ear. Jen grabs Judy's left hand and moves it under her shirt, places it on her breast. They've never done this before, always stayed on top of clothes when cuddling, but Jen wants Judy to know there are no more lines. Judy inhales sharply, and Jen trembles as her hand moves gently along her scars, fingers caressing them, then gives Jen's breast a light squeeze, and leaves her hand there. Jen shivers as Judy places soft kisses on her neck. "This feels so good," Judy says as she tries to push herself even closer. 


"Mmmm-hmmm," is all Jen can respond. She feels a low throb, and it's thrilling, feeling this want. She wants to move Judy's hand lower but can tell she's so close to sleep. Jen can wait. It's pleasant, only slightly torturous, a steady thrum along with the beat of her heart, makes her feel alive in a way she hasn't felt in so long. Jen shifts her focus, takes it all in... Judy's nose buried in her neck, breath tickling her. Their legs intertwined, Jen wishing she'd taken her pyjama pants off. (Next time.) Judy's cool, soft hand on her chest, getting warmer.


Jen can't get over how perfectly they fit, how happy and complete she feels. She realizes- for months she's been struggling to understand her life, thinking there were hundreds of puzzle pieces she needed to put together for it to make sense. 


It turns out there were only two.




Judy wakes on her stomach to a soft hand rubbing her back, then gently gripping her arm, rolling her onto her side and into a warm embrace. The comforter wrapped tight around them, a snug cocoon. She hasn't registered where she is yet, hasn't reached that level of consciousness, but it's instinctual, the way she leans back into the touch. 


Her eyes open and she blinks a few times, it's not pitch black but the sun isn't quite up- dawn is starting to break. Judy has always loved this time of day, how it represents a clean slate, something she's needed often in her life. When Jen mumbles a "Good morning" in her ear, squeezes her tighter, Judy thinks she's never been so happy for the start of a new day. 


Judy takes one of Jen's hands in hers, brings it up to her lips, kisses her knuckles. "The best morning," she murmurs.


They stay like that a few minutes, and Judy feels herself start to doze off again when Jen starts talking, softly. "Every morning since the accident I'd wake up reaching out for something. I didn't know what at first... but it felt like there was a hole in my chest. I didn't even know who you were, Jude, and I missed you." 


The emotion in Jen's voice brings tears to Judy's eyes, and she hears it in her own when she replies, "I'm here." Suddenly all she wants is to be closer, can't possibly be close enough, pushes her hips back then mimics Jen's action from the night before- pulls Jen's arms around her even tighter, takes a hand and moves it up to her chest. Jen sighs, almost sounds like in relief as she squeezes Judy's breast, runs her thumb lightly over her nipple. Judy immediately feels her body respond, nipple hardening as she gasps slightly. Right by her ear, Jen also sucks in a breath as she feels it, too. 


"I love you, I need you to know how much I fucking love you," Jen whispers, and Judy's throat is tight, all she can do is turn around in Jen's arms and look at her in wonder. She wraps her arms around Jen and pulls, practically crushing their bodies together, and it feels divine- she can tell by the look in Jen's eyes that she feels it, too. 


Judy brings her hand up to Jen's face, brushes her thumb over the scar near her eyebrow. She's staring at her eyes, can't look away. "I thought about your eyes so much. I dreamt about them, and I could never do them justice in my mind." Jen doesn't respond, is just staring right back, Judy can feel her breath deepening. Next she takes her index finger and runs it down Jen's nose. "And your nose! How can it also be so perfect? I wish I could shrink myself down and use it as a ski slope." Jen laughs at that, low, it rumbles out of her chest, Judy vibrates with it. Then her thumb down Jen's lips, they part a bit as she passes them, stops at her chin and moves her hand across to her jaw, leaves it there, splays her fingers on Jen's neck. "I also dreamt about your lips, but I was just guessing. Now I finally know what they feel like-"


"Fuck," Jen breathes out, cuts Judy off by closing the inch between them, lips on hers, quickly opening and the kiss becoming wet, passion overtaking them both. Judy's body is singing, fire building low in her stomach, spreading everywhere. Last night was amazing but she was so tired; now the desire she's felt for Jen for so long, since they met, really, is bubbling up and she can't contain it, doesn’t have to anymore, and it's indescribable. 


She's worked a leg between Jen's thighs and Jen is slowly grinding on it, Judy took notes last night, reaches down and grabs Jen's ass, pulling her further into the friction and Jen breaks away from their kiss to let out a moan. "Oh, God," she throws her head back. Judy takes advantage, lips instantly finding her neck, kissing, licking, teeth on her collarbone. 


Judy moves her hands back up to Jen's hips, gives them a squeeze, then runs her thumbs under the waistband of her pyjama pants. They are really quite the nuisance. She pulls her lips away from Jen's skin, tough as that is, and says, "You know, you should work on wearing less to bed."


Jen opens her eyes, they're wild, and Judy feels herself become even wetter than she already is at the sight. "You should work on talking less," Jen retorts.


"Noted," Judy laughs, then pulls at Jen's pants again with her thumbs, "but could we...?"


"Yes," Jen eagerly reaches down, struggles for a moment, lets out a huff of frustration, "Oh fuck OFF!" she growls as she finally kicks free from her pants. 


Judy's giggling, can't help it, it's such pure happiness she's feeling, and Jen is back on her, kissing her, gets mostly teeth, "Shut up," mumbled against her mouth, but there's only happiness behind those words, too. 


"Okay," Judy agrees, then her mouth is on Jen's again, will never tire of it, bites down on her bottom lip a bit, testing, darts her tongue out to lick it when Jen gasps. Judy grabs the back of Jen's knee, hooks her leg around her, and Jen watches as Judy reaches down between them, eyebrows raised in a silent question, Jen nods immediately and Judy's hand goes into her underwear. She moans when she feels how soaked Jen is, fingers touching her gently, "So wet for me."


"Been like that since last night. You're so fucking hot," Jen's husky voice makes Judy shudder and she pushes her fingers further down, adds more pressure. Jen lets out a strangled noise as Judy finds her clit, rubbing in slow, wet circles. "Ffffffff-" she starts before biting her lip to quiet herself, squeezing her eyes shut. 


It spurs Judy on, seeing, hearing, feeling Jen like this, it's something she didn't think she'd ever get to experience, and all she wants is to make her come undone. She slowly pushes two fingers inside, as deep as she can, and Jen's eyes pop open. "Yessss," she hisses quietly, as Judy pumps her fingers in and out, heel of her hand pressing into Jen's clit with each thrust. She adds one more finger, and the guttural noise Jen makes lets Judy know she approves. Jen's grinding her hips, panting hard, but the angle isn't perfect, on their sides like this, and they're still wearing too many clothes, Judy knows it can be much better. She stills her movements, and Jen whines.


"Baby, can we-" Judy starts.


"No!" Jen nearly shouts, "Don't stop. Don't ever fucking stop." Her heel is digging into the back of Judy's leg, fingers digging into her arm, there's a possessiveness and need in her eyes that makes Judy feel even crazier in her desire, and when has she ever been able to deny her? 


Judy leans forward, throwing her weight against Jen until she's on her back, crashes their lips together at the same time she slams her fingers back into Jen. Jen wraps her arms around her, pulling her as close as possible, hips pumping wildly now, and Judy can tell by her movements and breathing that she's close. She curls her fingers on each thrust, pressing into her clit, hard, and suddenly Jen's back is arching, walls clenching around Judy's hand, mouth open in a silent scream. Judy slows her hand until she comes to a stop, waiting until Jen's done to pull out her fingers. Jen lies there on her pillow, eyes closed, breathing deep, and Judy props up on her elbow to watch her, left hand sneaking under her shirt to trace patterns on her stomach. "Can't believe I didn't get this shirt off you."


Jen opens her eyes lazily, slow grin spreading over her face as she brings up a hand to push a stand of hair behind Judy’s ear. "Next time."


Judy smiles at the implication, already can't wait for all the next times, then sobers a bit as she takes in Jen- the bright eyes, flushed cheeks, disheveled hair. The look of happiness on her face. "You are the most beautiful creature I've ever seen."


Jen shakes her head, "You should look in a mirror right now." Judy smiles at hearing her words from the night before. Then Jen leans up to grab her face, kissing her hotly, pushes her down onto her back and throws a leg over her waist to straddle her, all in one fluid motion. Judy lets out a yelp of surprise, excitement coursing through her as she looks up at Jen. 


"Wow. That was, like, very well choreographed. I'm impressed."


Jen shrugs, "Dance background, very helpful." She leans back a bit to grab the bottom of Judy's camisole. "Can we get this off? I need to see you." Judy nods, reaches down and pulls it off, watching Jen's face. How her eyes darken a bit, mouth dropping open, licking her lips as her hands immediately find Judy's breasts. Judy closes her eyes, sighing softly as her hips reflexively lift up at the touch. "God, Jude, there are just no words to describe you. Or describe how it felt for you to finally fuck me."


Judy opens her eyes, watching Jen as she kneads her breasts, thumbs her nipples. Her words have as much of an effect on her as her actions. "Oh yeah? I'm sure you could come up with something."


"Well... it was mind blowing. Earth shattering. Life changing," she takes a nipple between her fingers, gives it a pinch, and Judy gasps, feels a bolt shoot straight between her thighs. "Oh, you like that?" Judy nods, and Jen does it again. "And you..." Jen leans down to kiss her neck, trails to her chest, takes a nipple it her mouth, sucks, then bites gently as Judy starts to writhe beneath her, desperate for more contact now. "Are incredible. Stunning. Perfect," she moves to Judy's other breast, repeats her actions, "The best, most loving person I've ever known."


Judy groans as she tangles her hands in Jen's hair. "If you keep up this dirty talk, you're gonna make me come."


Jen leans up and scoots down Judy's body, "Can't have that yet, babe," and hooks her thumbs into Judy's underwear, pulling them off. She meets Judy's eyes, and Judy sees a little uncertainty there for the first time. She can tell Jen is contemplating, and gives her a second, although she's aching with need. 


Then, quietly, "I've never done this before, but I'm dying to touch you. And taste you."


Judy smiles, grabs Jen's hand and places kisses on the inside of her wrist, her palm, flips it and kisses her knuckles. Then she guides it between her legs, both moaning as their fingers meet Judy's wetness, together. "Jen, I've fantasized about this since the moment we met. Anything that involves you touching me, I want." Jen's eyes are wide, staring down at her hand now, but she nods, and Judy takes her hand away as Jen starts moving hers slowly, exploring. Judy's hands grip the sheets, it feels incredible, and with how long she's been waiting for this, she could combust on the spot.


"Fuck," Jen groans, as she finds Judy's clit and runs her thumb over it, then pushes a finger inside her, pulsing it slowly. "This feels amazing."


"You're telling me," Judy manages to reply. 


"I love you," Jen says before dipping her head down to replace her thumb with her tongue.


"I love you too, so much- AH!" The ability to form words leaves Judy as soon as Jen's warm tongue touches her clit, swirling slowly as she adds another finger, pumping faster now. Judy's hands find Jen's head, nails running along her scalp before gripping her hair, pulling her closer. The pleasure and love coursing through her veins is unlike anything she's ever felt. 


Jen pulls back, just enough to look up at Judy, "So good," then goes back in. Now she switches, fingers finding her clit and tongue entering her.


"Oh, fuuuck," Judy knows she won't last long now, legs starting to shake as Jen tongue fucks her. The pleasure coils deep in her belly as she grinds her hips up, seeing stars and gasping out "Baby, I'm coming," trying to be quiet when she wants to scream, especially when Jen removes her tongue and pushes two fingers back into her while she rides out her orgasm. Jen slides up her body to kiss her, tongue in her mouth immediately, Judy groans as she tastes herself. Her movements still, and Jen moves her fingers from inside of Judy right into her own mouth. 


Judy watches, mesmerized, as Jen hums around her fingers, "Mmmm... will never get enough of that."


Judy laughs breathlessly, brings her hands up, wipes her sweaty bangs off her forehead, "Wow, Jen. For someone who has never done that before... holy. Shit."


"What can I say, I've always been a fast learner. Plus, fucking look at you." Jen snuggles up into Judy's side, head on her chest, hand gripping a breast and staying there. Judy lifts a hand to Jen's hair, fingers combing through the soft strands as the sun starts to stream in through the window. She sighs, content, and kisses Jen on the forehead.


"Is this real, Jude?" Jen's breath tickles her chest. "Do we really get to have this kind of happiness?"


"Yeah," Judy smiles, "We really do."


They're silent after that, Judy hears Jen's breathing even out and she falls back asleep, too. She wakes, some time later, to Jen rolling off her and sitting up to stretch. Judy rubs her eyes and grins when she sees Jen's- there's a certain glint there and she knows what it means, "round two". She starts to reach for her when there's a knock on the door.


"Mommy? Judy? I'm hungry. Can we have pancakes for breakfast? Please?" Henry's sweet voice is music to Judy's ears, but she has to stifle a laugh when she looks at Jen- she's shaking her head, finger to her lips, mouthing "We're not here" then grabbing for Judy. 


Judy hugs her close, laughing as she calls back, "Of course! Give me a few minutes and I'll be down," proud of herself for sounding normal while Jen peppers kisses on her neck.


"Yay! Okay!" Henry replies, and she hears him clamber down the stairs.


"You stay in bed," Judy says while untangling herself from Jen, despite her protests, "and I'll go get started on breakfast." She leans down to give her a kiss before heading to the bathroom to clean up a bit. Jen is still lying there, cuddling with Judy's pillow when she comes out of the bathroom, and Judy has to stop for a moment, just take a look. It's surreal, that she gets to have Jen like this, and she tells herself to never take it for granted.


"I'll be down soon," Jen grumbles, "since there's no one to cuddle. I was cruelly abandoned."


Judy just smiles, says, "I love you," and closes the door behind her. 


Judy is surprised to see Charlie downstairs, lounging on the couch with his phone. "Morning, Judy. Sleep well?"


He doesn't look up, but she can hear the smirk in his voice. "Yes, thank you! Good morning!" She ruffles his hair on her way to the kitchen, where Henry is pulling out the ingredients for pancakes. "Good morning Henry! Thanks for getting started!"


Henry smiles brightly at her. "You're welcome! We haven't had pancakes since you left, but I think we still have everything." he digs in the pantry, searching. "Ah ha! The best part!" He holds up a bag of chocolate chips, triumphant. 


By the time Jen comes downstairs a few minutes later, the boys are sitting on the barstools, chatting and watching Judy while she works, sneaking chocolate chips here and there. "I see you two are being a big help," Jen snarks as she settles onto the stool next to Henry. Judy slides her a cup of coffee, and she gives her a grateful smile. "Thanks."


"Judy told us we didn't need to help," Charlie says with a mouthful of chocolate chips.


"It's true, I did," Judy looks at Jen as she mixes the batter, follows Jen's stare to her arm that's working the whisk. Judy coughs, and Jen blinks, a slight blush covering her cheeks. As she moves her eyes up to meet Judy's, she doesn't look caught- just winks. Judy looks down so the boys don't see her blushing in return. 


Twenty minutes later, the table is set and they're sitting down to eat. Henry takes a big bite of pancakes, and looks over at Judy. "I'm so glad you're back, Judy. I've missed our family breakfasts!"


Judy wonders if it will ever go away, the warmth in her chest, then Charlie chimes in, "I mostly missed the pancakes," but she looks at him, and he's grinning at her. 


"You're so full of shit, Charlie," Jen says.


"No, I'm full of pancakes. And thankfully not your 'scrambled eggs,'" he air quotes.


Judy guffaws, covers her mouth with her hand when Jen mock-glares at her. "You too, huh?" She accuses, and Judy just shrugs. She reaches over to grab Jen's hand, gives it a squeeze, then they all dig in.


Judy looks at the three of them while they eat, her family. Her heart feels like it could burst. She lets herself believe, this life is hers, and it could be permanent. 


She's home. 




Getting settled into a new routine is easy. It's the same as before, except now there's even more constant touching, and sex. A lot of sex. Judy's set up a makeshift office in the guest house, because even though work provided her with a laptop and she can work anywhere, she's found that if she's in the main house trying to work when Jen's home and the boys aren't, they get... distracted. And as much as she loves it, she does actually need to get some work done.


Judy's been in a few relationships before that have started out hot and heavy, but fizzled when it was clear there wasn't a real emotional and cerebral connection. To have the foundation of a deeply emotional relationship, with the best friend she's ever had, and add the incredible physical connection they now share? It's absolute bliss. Their need, their want for each other is insatiable. 


Judy is in her "office", wrapping up a video conference call with Margo and Greg one afternoon when Jen barges in. "Hey, babe-" she stops when she sees Judy on the laptop. "Oh I'm so sorry!" She turns around immediately when Margo speaks up.


"Is that Jen? We'd love to meet her."


Judy smiles, waves Jen over, who mouths "I'm sorry" again. Judy shakes her head, mouths back "It's fine."


Jen reaches Judy, crouches down so her head is in the frame. Margo and Greg smile and wave. "This is my girlfriend, Jen," she tells them with a smile. She's looking at Jen on the screen, and sees a weird look pass over her face. She's filled with a moment of panic. Surely she didn't over step with referring to her as her "girlfriend"? They haven't discussed labels, but Jesus...


She's reassured when Jen speaks up. "Hi Margo! Hi Greg! I've heard so much about you two."


"Nice to meet you, Jen, so have we," Greg says.


"Hi, Jen. Your girlfriend sure is special," Margo adds, "thank you for sharing her with us. We're lucky to have her."


Judy beams. She's still not used to this kind of support and positivity, still has a hard time with compliments, but it's the best kind of adjustment to make. 


"Don't I know it," Jen replies, squeezing Judy's shoulder. "Thank you, for everything you've done for her."


Margo waves her hand, "Oh, of course. She's done way more for us. Well, we were just wrapping up. Judy, we'll see you here in a couple weeks?" Judy nods, opens her mouth to respond when Margo adds, "Jen, have you ever been to San Francisco? You should come with Judy, make a weekend of it! I'd love to take you two out to dinner."


Jen nods, "That would be great! We'll see if we can work it out." She seems genuine in her answer, and Judy feels a rush of excitement at the thought.


They say their goodbyes and Judy closes her laptop. "Shit, Jude, I'm so sorry I interrupted. I know you come in here when you need to get stuff done. I'll at least knock next time, promise."


Judy stands up, faces Jen, wraps her arms around her waist. "It's fine! I'm glad you got to meet them. Thank you for trying to respect my boundaries but, I really don't care to have any," she stretches up on her toes to give Jen a kiss (she's barefoot and Jen is still in her heels). "I mean, maybe make sure you're clothed when I'm on a video call, but other than that, nope. Don't need them."


Jen laughs, and wraps her arms around her. "When is your meeting? Two weeks from Friday, right?" Judy nods, lays her head on Jen's shoulder. "That's the Friday after Christopher's wedding. I'll be closed on the beach house by then. We could make a long weekend of it."


Judy snaps her head up to look at Jen. "Really?!"


"Sure. I would love it. A little getaway... maybe do some wine tasting... I've always wanted to visit Napa and Sonoma. I've never been. Plus, then we won't have to be apart."


"Can't imagine a night without me, huh?" Judy teases.


Jen smiles, but her eyes are serious. "No, I really can't."


A thought pops into Judy's mind, an insecurity, she doesn't need to ask, doesn't need to ruin the moment- "Hey, I noticed when I called you my girlfriend you had a funny look on your face. Was that not okay? It's okay if it's not, you can tell me, I shouldn't have assumed-" she looks down, embarrassed. 


"Oh my God, Judy, are you serious?" Jen takes Judy's chin in her hand, yanks her head up to meet her eyes. There's a bit of a fire burning in Jen's. "I was just thinking how the term "girlfriend" seems inadequate to describe what you are to me. That's all." She turns and sits down on the edge of the daybed. Judy shifts to stand in front of her, Jen opens her legs wide to accommodate. 


Judy runs her hands through Jen's hair, filled with relief. "Oh. Well, what should I call you, then?"


"Hmmmm..." Jen looks deep in thought. "Life partner?" Her eyes are twinkling. Judy bursts out laughing, and Jen pulls her down onto her lap (Judy's suddenly very happy they haven't cleared the bed out yet).


The week of Christopher's wedding, Jen is stressed. The closing on her big beach house sale is Thursday, and Judy knows how ready she is to be done with it. She also has to give a speech at the wedding, and has just started working on it. As much as Judy has offered, Jen won't let her read it or practice in front of her. She's also been grumbling about "walking a well-dressed dog down the fucking aisle", but Judy can tell she's not really as annoyed as she's putting on.


Jen calls Judy one afternoon, she's just leaving a high school after a meeting with the principal about their new volunteer program. "Hi!" she answers the phone, always happy to hear from Jen. 


"Hey babe," Jen says, and Judy can tell by the tone of her voice she isn't in a good mood.


"You okay?"


"Ugh, rough meeting. The closing is tomorrow and this ass hole is trying to haggle the price down because the appraisal came in $10,000 under the price he's paying. Like, really dude, $10,000? You're paying 3 million. Go dig in your fucking couch cushions!"


"Wow, that's ridiculous. Did you figure it out?"


"Yes, luckily- and I never thought I'd say these words- Lorna was there, and we were able to convince him to drop it. Changing the paperwork would have been a giant pain I don't need right now."


"Good! So are you heading home?"


Jen sighs, "I wish. I have to go to the tailor first."


"Ooooh, to pick up your dress?" Judy can't wait to see Jen all dressed up for the wedding. Though, much like the speech, Jen won't tell her anything about her dress, despite much prodding.


"...Yeah. Have to try it on, make sure it's all good, then bring it home."


"And have a fashion show tonight, right? That's what you were going to say next? I knew it."


She actually coaxes a laugh out of Jen at that, "Nice try, Jude. It'll be a fashion show for you Saturday when Adele and I are walking down the aisle."


Judy grins, "Fine. I can't wait."


"See you in a bit?"


"Yep. I love you."


"Love you, too." (Judy never tires of hearing it.)


Jen already sounds in better spirits, but Judy passes by the store on her way home, and decides to stop for a bottle of wine and the ingredients to make her a cherry pie, anyway. When she gets home, the boys are in the pool (Charlie has been great with Henry this summer, barely complaining about the times he has to keep him occupied).


"What you got there?" Charlie yells when he spots her walking up.


She holds up the grocery bags. "Cherry pie!"


"Hell yeah!" He whoops.


"Judy! Watch this!" Henry jumps up, "CANNONBALL!" and splashes into the pool.


"Well?" He looks at her expectantly when his head bobs up out of the water.


"That was a 10. Definitely. Your splash radius has improved dramatically."


He grins at her, and she grins back. 


Judy is just sticking the pie in the oven when Jen walks in, laying a black garment bag over the back of the couch before walking over to her. Jen comes up behind her as she's washing her hands, wraps her arms around her and settles her chin on her shoulder. "You look so sexy in that apron," kisses her cheek and Judy hums. "Is that what I think it is in the oven?" 


Judy nods. "Mmm hmmm," turns in Jen's arms and is alarmed when she sees tears in her eyes. She wraps one hand to the back of her neck, the other up to her cheek. "What's wrong? Did something else happen?"


"No," Jen shakes her head, "Nothing's wrong. Nothing. I was thinking on my way home, even if the closing had fallen through, I wouldn't even care-" Judy raises an eyebrow, "-well, I'd probably be really pissed for a few minutes, maybe smash a car up or something. But then I'd get to come home. To you." She brings her hands to Judy's face, thumbs running over cheekbones. "And then I actually do get home, and you're here, in your apron, making me a cherry pie. You're just fucking perfect."


Judy shrugs, "I'd do anything to make you happy." 


Jen gets a far-off look in her eyes for a second, "You know, when you were gone I bought a cherry pie from that bakery a few blocks away, the one I used to love," Judy almost opens her mouth, to tell her she knows, she saw- but decides against it. There's no need to revisit that, and how broken she felt then. It's so far behind her now. Jen continues, "I took one bite. Threw the rest in the trash."


This makes Judy feel happy and sad at the same time, and all she can think to do is lean up to kiss Jen. She wraps her arms around her, slips her tongue into her mouth (it still makes her knees go weak), and they get lost in each other for a few moments. She pulls back, breathless. "You don't ever have to eat anyone else's cherry pie ever again, okay?"


A devilish smirk creeps onto Jen's face. "Oh, baby, I don't plan to," then leans back in for another kiss.


Just then the door opens, Henry's sweet "Awww!" almost drowned out by Charlie's, "Oh God, get a room!"


Judy smiles against Jen's lips.




Judy is overflowing with excitement on Saturday as she gets ready for Chris and Alan's wedding. Since Jen, Charlie and Henry are all in it (the boys are ushers), they're up at the church getting ready with the rest of the wedding party. As Alan explained to Judy last night at the rehearsal dinner (she was so happy to finally meet him, he's such a doll), they kept the wedding party very small, only Jen and Adele on Chris' side and Alan's brother on his, because "deciding between their friends would be like 'Sophie's Choice'" and they "didn't want the drama to ruin their upcoming softball season." Judy had just nodded and smiled, pretending to know what he was talking about. 


Jen still wouldn't show Judy her dress beforehand, although Judy finally got the color scheme out of her after begging, "Jen, I don't want to be too match-y! Or clash-y!" Jen had rolled her eyes, "We wouldn't want to CLASH!" before relenting, "It's black and white. Literally impossible to clash." Judy had managed to swallow her tongue on her "brown" argument, she'd pushed Jen far enough. 


Judy had gone shopping, Jen did tell her the wedding would be somewhat formal, and nothing in her closet seemed right. She picked a floor-length black dress with a slit halfway up the thigh (Jen had mentioned loving her legs several times now, so she knows she'll approve), patterned with large dark pink flowers with green leaves. It has a high neck, but is relatively backless- which is what really sold Judy on the dress. The main body of the dress sits low on her back, and thick panels of delicate black lace cross up from each side, meeting at her spine and joining the thin straps at her neck. A diamond of skin in the center of her back is left bare. It's gorgeous, and she feels like a million bucks as she slips it on. 


Judy decides the occasion is appropriate for doing something different with her hair. She fashions an updo of a bun with a few soft tendrils of hair left down, framing her face, bangs parted a bit but still falling across her forehead. After applying her makeup, she looks in the mirror and smiles at her reflection. She's excited for Jen to see her, and even more excited to see Jen. The thought gives her butterflies; it's still so special to her that she gets to share her life with Jen, share moments like she knows the night will bring. Witnessing the love of two people becoming forever, celebrating, dancing- all on Jen's arm, knowing she's hers.




Judy arrives at the church about 10 minutes before the ceremony starts, and joins the line of people waiting to be seated. She cranes her neck to get a look at the ushers-  her face breaks into a grin and love and pride fill her chest when she sees them- Charlie and Henry looking so handsome, and so grown-up, in their tuxedos. Charlie catches her eye first, gives her a smile and a head nod of acknowledgement. Henry meets her with his arm extended when she reaches him, absolutely beaming,"Hi Judy! You look so pretty!"


She loops her arm through his, "You look pretty great yourself, you handsome devil!"


They walk toward the front row of pews, and Henry tells her, "Mom says you're special, so you get to sit in the reserved section. You can sit on the end here, and when we're done with our ushering duties, Charlie and I will come sit with you," he stops at the second row, labeled with a sign that says "Reserved for Family". Judy has to blink back tears as she sits down. She's never been in a "reserved for family" section, anywhere. 


She looks up at Henry before he walks away, "Don't tell Charlie, but I think you're the best usher of all time." He brings his hand up to brush off his shoulder, and she laughs. She looks around to take it all in, smiling at everyone she makes eye contact with. The decor is minimal- there are large bouquets of white roses at the end of every other pew, but the church itself is so beautiful, there doesn't need to be anything else. At first, Judy was surprised when Jen told her the ceremony would be at the church, but she quickly realized she shouldn't have been- it made perfect sense. Christopher's faith is very important to him, and that's something he and Alan have in common. Judy could tell that the night before, after Alan had mentioned to her that "God brought the two of them together". Her own views on God are a little more complex, but it's a lovely thought. 


As everyone gets settled and the violinist begins playing, Judy's eyes dart back to the doors excitedly. Just then, Henry and Charlie come sneaking into the pew, sitting down next to her. Alan is the first to walk in, ushering his mother, who kisses his cheek before taking her seat in the front row. Alan looks a bit nervous, but so happy, as he stands at the pulpit next to the pastor. Next is Alan's brother, smiling at people as he walks down the aisle, taking his place beside his brother. Judy already feels tears in her eyes, she feels almost nervous knowing Jen is next. First, she catches sight of Adele, wearing a... tux?! Judy's eyes immediately snap up, and there's Jen- she feels her jaw drop and eyes widen as she sees her. She's wearing a black tuxedo, similar to what the men are wearing, but it's decidedly feminine- slim cut black pants, perfectly tailored black jacket with satin lapels, white button up shirt and a black bow tie, black heels on her feet. Her hair is down, with a deep side part, loose golden waves falling over her shoulders. Judy's mouth has gone dry, she can't blink, doesn't want to miss a second of this as her head moves to follow Jen on the entire walk. As she passes by Judy, she smiles even brighter and gives her a wink. 


Everyone stands up as Christopher enters, and he looks so handsome, walking down the aisle with his mom. Judy tries to focus on him and Alan, she really does, but she feels almost disoriented after seeing Jen. As soon as Chris makes it to the front, his mother giving him away, Judy turns and her eyes are back on Jen, where they stay for the entirety of the beautiful ceremony. 


Jen is sexiest to her when she has absolutely nothing on, letting Judy worship every inch of her body. But this look... this is definitely a close second. 


When the ceremony is over, Judy hangs back while Jen and the boys take some pictures with the rest of the wedding party. When they're done, and Jen finally approaches her, she reaches out and grabs the lapels on her jacket. "You really couldn't tell me about this? Had to go and give me a heart attack?"


A slow smile spreads over Jen's face, "You like it, huh?"


"Yeah, you could say that. You're stunning."


Jen grabs Judy's hands, spinning her around to see the back of the dress. "And look at you. Talk about a heart attack." 


"Can we go to the reception now? There's supposed to be snacks there. I'm fucking starving," Charlie asks as the boys walk up. 


"Uh, language, dude! We're in a church!" Jen scolds him.


"Sorry, sorry!" Charlie looks up, "Sorry God. And Jesus. My bad."


Judy drives them all to the reception, it's at a venue called Seven Degrees, about 15 minutes away. They talk about the ceremony, and the boys chat about their experience during the day, laughing as they recount Alan and his brother taking shots of tequila they'd snuck into the church. Jen says she and Chris sipped on some champagne, "but I wish they would have shared the good stuff". Judy just clutches Jen's hand as she drives, smiling the entire time. 


When they arrive, everyone is outside on a beautiful terrace, where snacks and drinks are being served. Jen grabs them each a glass of wine as they mill around, mingling and taking in the beauty of the scenery. Judy still can't take her eyes off Jen. After about half an hour, they're ushered inside to the reception hall. Judy looks around in awe, it's huge, large round tables set up around a dance floor, white tablecloths and flowers on each table, blue lighting creating the cool ambiance of the room. Judy has never been to a reception like this. They find their table, and Judy watches Jen as she takes off her jacket to put it on the back of her chair, loosens her bow tie, leaves it hanging around her neck. Judy's body has been responding to Jen's appearance all night; she feels a low throb at the sight. They're sitting with Alan's brother and his wife, along with a couple of cousins, and Judy tries to focus on chatting with them as servers begin to bring around dinner. Chris and Alan arrive, and are introduced to much applause. As they eat, Judy feels Jen's eyes on her, and a pleasant blush creeps up her neck to her cheeks. "Woah, is that a chocolate fountain?!" Henry exclaims as their plates are being cleared away. 


"I think so," Charlie says, "Sweet! Let's go check it out!" 


The boys stand up to head to the corner of the room where the cakes and other desserts are set up. "Don't touch anything yet!" Jen yells after them. "Hey, I need to use the restroom," she says, gaze finding Judy's. "Do you need to go, too?" Her eyes flare, almost imperceptibly, but Judy sees, and it's all she can do to keep from moaning.


Oh, yeah. Yeah, she does. She just nods and stands up, letting Jen grab her hand and lead her to the bathroom. There's two individual bathrooms, and as Jen pulls her into one, closes the door and locks it, she looks around, "Wow, it's so nice and clean in here-" Jen cuts her off by spinning her around, crashing their lips together, and Judy groans in relief as their tongues meet. Jen's hands are warm on the exposed skin of her back, and Judy's hands find Jen's hair. Judy pulls away after several moments, panting, "I've been thinking about this since the moment I saw you at the church... seriously, I'm surprised God didn't smite me down for what was running through my mind," she reaches for Jen, hands heading for the waistband of her pants.


Jen grabs her hands, pushes her into the door and pins them above her head. "No," she says, voice deep and quiet, eyes dark.


"Please, Jen," Judy begs, desperate. "I feel like I might die if I don't touch you."


Jen shakes her head, "We don't have much time, and I can't give a speech looking like I've just been fucked. Luckily, your dress allows for easier access." She lets go of Judy's hands and takes a couple of steps back. Judy watches, practically shaking with desire as Jen unbuttons the cuff of her sleeve, slowly rolls it up to her elbow, eyes raking up and down Judy. "You think I haven't been dying to touch you, too? That dress Jude, fuck. I almost abandoned Adele halfway down the aisle when I saw you."


Judy loves it, Jen's intensity- it's always been there, a big part of her personality, but before, she always channeled it into anger. Now, it's shifted, and Judy gets the benefit of all of her passion. It's been a joy to see Jen transform, become so confident in herself, her body, and her sexuality. It's such a turn on. Judy can tell, now, that Jen believes she's beautiful. Jen believes she's wanted. Jen believes she's loved.


Judy stays glued to the door, Jen's fiery eyes pin her there, but she has to reach down underneath her dress, between her thighs, touch herself over her underwear, to alleviate some of the pressure building as she watches Jen. Her eyes flutter shut as Jen closes the distance between them, grabbing Judy's hand and replacing it with her own. Faintly, they can hear the DJ, saying speeches will start in 5 minutes. "Fuck," Jen mutters as her fingers find Judy's clit, and she slams her head back against the door, "I'll have to make this quick." 


"Shouldn't be an issue," Judy whispers, she's been ready to come since she first saw Jen. Her hands grip Jens shoulders, trying to keep her balance as Jen enters her with two fingers, thrusting hard, curling them perfectly each time, just how she knows Judy likes. 


"Yeah, baby, I can tell you've been ready for awhile," Jen says into her ear, before taking her earlobe between her teeth.


"Hours," Judy gasps, head spinning. 


"I'm so damn lucky, Jude, you're the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen. I wish I had time to get that dress off of you, as beautiful as it is. Fuck, I love you," Jen knows sweet talk turns Judy on, and her words and fingers are bringing her close to the brink. One last thrust and curl of her fingers and Judy's coming, biting her lip, hard, to stay quiet, eyes slammed shut as she rolls her hips to ride out the pleasure. Jen holds her up while she comes down from her high, then steps back, turning towards the sink to wash her hands. Judy just stands there, catching her breath, in disbelief of what just happened but feeling incredible. Jen turns back around and smiles at her as she rolls her sleeve back down. "Take a couple of minutes, but not too long, okay? Don't want you to miss my speech."


Judy nods as she steps away from the door. Jen gives her one more lingering kiss before stepping out of the bathroom. Legs still shaky, Judy walks to the sink and turns it on, studies herself in the mirror. She just has to touch up her hair a bit, and wipe away some smudged lipstick- her lips are a new shade, now, a mixture of hers and Jen's. The thought does nothing to ease her racing heart. 


She leaves the bathroom, grabs another glass of wine from the bar, and slides back into her seat as Alan's brother is finishing up his toast. Luckily, the boys are shoveling their faces with chocolate covered... everything, and don't seem to notice. Everyone raises their glasses in a toast, a glass of champagne has been placed at her seat, so she grabs it, toasts with two hands to the happy couple. "Next, we have the maid of honor, Jen!" He hands the microphone off to Jen, who thanks him. 


She looks incredible, and Judy can't help grinning like a fool watching her as she's the center of attention. Even in this lighting, her face is flushed, and Judy gets a thrill at being the only one who knows it's not from nerves. "Hi everyone, I'm Jen," she starts, and Judy and Henry both let out a "WOOOO!" at the same time, unplanned, then high five each other.


"Ha, thanks for the warm welcome," Jen continues, "So, Christopher and I have been friends for more than twenty years, and he's always been a wonderful friend. Of course, that has changed from the early days of our friendship, when he had to take my contacts out for me because I was too drunk to do it myself," she pauses as a ripple of laughter runs through the crowd, and Judy looks at Chris, he's nodding and laughing, too. "Yes, that did actually happen, more than once," Jen says, taking a sip of her wine and comically lifting her eyebrows, "Seriously, it takes a great friend to stick their fingers in your eyeballs. Anyway, our friendship has shifted as we've grown up, and now he's godfather to my son. Chris has been there for me through thick and thin, and always pushes me to be better. Even when I haven't wanted to push myself. He's also helped me to realize things about myself, things that I may not have realized on my own, and have brought me great happiness." Her eyes shift to Judy for a split second, Judy's heart leaps, before focusing back on Chris and Alan. "I'm so glad Chris met you, Alan. You two are perfect together, and I hope you continue to bring out the best in each other. If I know anything about love, it's that when you find it, hold on tight and don't let it go. I know you two will hold onto each other forever." Jen raises up her champagne glass, "Let's have a toast to the happy couple. To Alan and Chris!"


A chorus of "Hear hear!"s and clinking glasses erupts, as Judy and Jen make eye contact, raising their glasses to each other.  Judy feels warm from the inside out, a slight buzz of alcohol, and a stronger buzz from the emotion she's feeling. Jen walks back to the table after hugging Chris and Alan, and takes her seat.


"Great job, Mom!" Henry says.


She looks at them expectantly, "Yeah? Was it okay? Everything I planned to say kind of flew out the window when I got up there."


Judy nods emphatically, "It was perfect."


"Yeah," Charlie says with a mouth full of chocolate covered strawberry, "it was good." 


Jen sits back in her chair, sighs, "Glad that's over. Now time to drink and cut a rug!" Judy hands her the rest of her glass of wine. Jen smiles, downs it, and takes her hand. Now it's time for the first dances, and they watch as Chris and Alan dance, then have sweet dances with their moms, respectively. 


"Alright!" The DJ says as the applause dies down, "now it's time to party!" Everyone starts to flood the dance floor as the opening notes to Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" pulse through the room.


Jen stands up, holds her hand out to Judy, shimmying her shoulders, "Let's go!"


Judy stands, smiling, and drinks the rest of her champagne. She looks at the boys. "You two coming?" They stand, too, Charlie only somewhat reluctantly, and the four of them make their way to the floor. It's so much fun, dancing with them. Chris comes over to join them, too, giving everyone a big hug before moving on to greet other people. Judy can see Charlie, surprisingly, got more of Jen's rhythm than Henry did- he's an awkward dancer like Judy. After the first song ends, the "Cha Cha Slide" starts, and Henry squeals in excitement. About halfway through, Judy is worn out, and she heads back to the table for a breather, Charlie following closely behind her.


She sits down to chug some water, watching Jen and Henry as they goof off and "cha cha real smooth". Jen is so carefree, having a blast, and it makes Judy indescribably happy to see her this way. Henry, too. She leans over and grabs a strawberry off Charlie's plate. "Hey, Char, your mom told me you and Natalie are still seeing each other. Why didn't you bring her?"


Charlie shrugs, popping a marshmallow into his mouth. "I dunno. It didn't seem like the best time to introduce her to my two Moms, at a gay wedding. Thought it might be a bit much. I'll invite her over for dinner sometime soon."


Judy's heart skips a beat at his words, and she swallows the rest of her strawberry, looks at him, incredulous. "What?"


"What?" He looks back at her, confused, as if what he just said wasn't a big deal, wasn't monumental. Somehow that makes it even better. Judy can't believe how far they've come. 


She just shakes her head. "Nothing. Make sure you let me know what she likes. I'll make something good."


"Okay," he nods, then adds, "something with meat."


Judy laughs, "Got it." 


Henry runs back to the table as the song ends, plops down, slightly sweaty. "That was AWESOME!"


Jen comes back a couple of minutes later, a drink in each hand, gives one to Judy.


"Thanks!" She says, grateful, as she takes a few big gulps. "Mmmm, mojito, delicious."


Jen drinks hers quickly, places the empty glass on the table. Another fast song is ending, and the first slow song of the evening starts. Jen strokes Judy's shoulder. "Come on," she says, softly. 


Judy looks up at her, "Gladly."


They walk to the dance floor, hand in hand. Judy puts her arms around Jen's neck. In both of their heels, Jen's only got about an inch on her. Jen wraps her arms around Judy's waist, one hand finding the exposed skin of her back, fingers digging in. They look into each other's eyes for a moment; Jen's are shining- with a little bit of alcohol- but mostly, Judy thinks, with love. Judy nuzzles her cheek into Jen's as they sway to the music. While Ed Sheeran croons "me, I fall in love with you every single day", Judy thinks about how this has been the best few weeks of her life, the best night of her life. She opens her mouth to say so when Jen speaks first. 


"Do you have a dream wedding? Something you've imagined since you were a little girl?" Judy shivers a little, words spoken directly into her ear. 


"No, not really," she replies as they keep dancing, "Steve wanted a big wedding, and I went along with it because it's what he wanted. I'd probably want something small. Maybe on the beach."


Jen nods, hums, "Hmmmm," and gives Judy a kiss on the shoulder.


"What about you? If you ever got married again?" Judy asks, curious.


"Ehhh, I'd only want one thing out of another wedding."


Judy lets out a soft laugh, "What's that? New china? Some good cake?"


Jen stops moving, so Judy stops, too, and pulls back to look at her. When their eyes meet, Jen says, simply, "You."


Judy feels a swell of emotion fill her chest, take her breath away, at the look in Jen's eyes. She's seen it before, this same look- but with all they've been through to get here, it has only become more intense. As she tucks her head back into Jen's neck, takes a deep breath, relishing the moment, the pure happiness she feels, she knows- it's a promise. Jen tightens her grip as they begin dancing again. 


Judy believes her.