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she likes my American smile (darling I fancy you)

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Dani’s been in London for two weeks when she meets Jamie. She’s always been a romantic, but she’s never been so infatuated so quickly with another person.

Her roommate had dragged her out. Just two weeks of knowing Rebecca and Dani was sure they’d be good friends for a long time. She was nice, almost too nice, but still funny. She enjoyed the same shows Dani did and she was studying law, but in an English class with Dani so they’d spend a decent amount of time studying together, preparing for the semester.

She’s sweet and she’s friendly, and she’s insistent on Dani meeting her other friends. She says it’s because they’re too cool not to meet, but Dani thinks it’s because Rebecca has noticed how alone Dani is. She hasn’t mentioned anything from home, hasn’t mentioned any friends either. When Dani isn’t with Rebecca, she’s by herself, and her flat mate has definitely taken notice of it.

Still, Dani thinks it’s sweet for Rebecca to make an excuse, to try to get Dani out there in a way that’s not so pushy, doesn’t make Dani feel so directly pitied. Rebecca is a little bit older, three years, but seems wise beyond her age when it comes to reading other people. She seems to have more empathy than must be healthy.

The first friends she meets are Owen and Hannah. They’re a bit older, Owen works at the bar they go to and Hannah is his girlfriend, a loyal patron to the bar because of that. They’re pleasant people, only teasing Dani about how American she is a couple times before Rebecca scolds them.

Rebecca did an internship at the firm Hannah works for last summer which is how the two met. The pub is also right below her and Dani’s apartment so after bumping into each other enough there and at work, the two decided to plan bar trips together. They clicked and Owen was always there so eventually a little group was formed.

Jamie enters the pub about an hour after they’ve already been sitting. Dani spots her the second she walks through the door and Jamie’s gaze meets her eyes, curious and something else Dani can’t quite place.

She’s pretty, Dani thinks, whoever this girl is, but Owen asks her about her course load and her eyes flicker away to answer him.

“They’re not too bad,” she replies, smiling at the man who’s loitering with them a lot for someone who’s supposed to be working. She supposes that’s a perk in being the only one on. “It’s honestly a lot less work than I imagined, and with Rebecca’s help, you know, planning how to handle it, it’s all going pretty well.”

Owen smiles, humming in contentment and turning to refill Hannah’s drink. She didn’t ask, she’s in the middle of a conversation with Rebecca about something from their workplace.

Dani finds herself gazing back towards the door, looking for the woman she’d just seen walk in, but finds nobody over there.

“Hi there,” a voice behind her startles, almost making her jump in her seat. She spins to find the girl from before sitting down next to her. “I’m Jamie, take it you’re Rebecca’s new roommate?” she’s smirking, Dani can even hear it in her voice. She’s got a nice voice, really.

Her cheeks flush a bit, knowing she was just caught looking for her only to have her appear next to her. “Yes, I am,” she starts, smiling and clearing her throat, trying not to seem thrown off, “I am, I’m Dani,” she says, voice stronger now and smiling at not sounding too dumb. She reaches her hand out for Jamie to shake and hopes her palms aren’t sweaty.

“Pleasure to meet you,” Jamie replies. Something in her voice is smug but charming but inviting and Dani can already feel the crush forming.

“Nice of you to join us,” Owen appears back at their side, addressing the brunette with a look. “What took you so long? I’ve been trying to hold the fort down for nearly two hours without you,” he continues, and it clicks with Dani that Jamie must be a bartender too.

“I was busy, had to stay late at the gardens,” Jamie shrugs, “don’t be so pissy it’s not like business is crazy,” she gestures with a laugh to the near empty bar. “Anyways, give me a gin and tonic, I need a minute before it’s back to work,” she says, and Owen rolls his eyes but does turn to make her a drink.

“Jamie you’ve introduced yourself I assume?” Rebecca asks from the other side of Dani, apparently done with her prior conversation.

“Of course, I did,” Jamie smiles, “interrupted by Owen but I did.”

Jamie’s in overalls, dark blue denim, and a loose button up striped shirt over them. She’s hot, Dani thinks bluntly as she grabs the drink Owen presents her with, humming in the back of her throat and giving him a nod and smirk.

“So, how was work today?” Hannah asks Jamie, “anything exciting or the usual?”

“Flowers are always exciting,” Jamie grins, turning her attention then to Dani again, “I work for a rich family, in their rich garden during the day,” she offers, Dani nods along with a smile. “It’s a much better gig than this one, no annoying bartenders to ruin the mood, you know?” she teases, earning a huff from Owen.

“The only annoying bartender here is you ma’am,” he bites back, smiling though and Dani can tell they’re close. “Now hurry up and get back here. There’ll be a crowd any minute now really, it is a Friday.”

“But what about our new friend?” Jamie jokingly argues, “can’t I get to know her a bit first?” she reasons.

“You can get to know her from behind the bar,” Owen says, “like I’ve been doing with zero problem so far,” he adds, nodding at Dani and smiling when she nods back.

“He makes a good point,” Dani offers, feeling like maybe she should try to insert herself more. She wants to get to know these people, try to at least. And she wants to try to be herself doing it. “Maybe though, maybe just let her finish the one drink, yeah? I mean, you do already have a head start in getting to know me,” she jokes. It’s kind of more confident, even if it doesn’t seem much, than she thought she’d be.

At Owen’s nod and shrug of defeat, “just the one then,” he says, grabbing her stool to sit with them again, Jamie claps and turns to face Dani again.

“So, what do you do?” Jamie asks, and it’s vague, but Owen tunes in too, and Hannah and Rebecca are both back in the conversation so she answers as best as she can.

“My plan is in education. I’m not sure what age really, but I love kids,” she smiles thinking about it. “The idea of helping them I guess, doesn’t really matter how old to me, not yet anyways.”

“That’s admirable,” Jamie nods, “I like kids, can’t go more than a minute with one though,” she laughs.

“Not true,” Hannah pipes up, “you’re great with kids, it just ruins your cool persona to acknowledge it.”

“I’d have to agree,” Rebecca adds, taking a sip of her drink.

They continue, breaching the basics of each other and Dani feels comfortable with all of them as if she’s known them for longer than an hour.

After ten minutes Owen points out that Jamie’s purposely not touching her drink and they all have a laugh while Jamie adamantly denies that idea.

She learns that Jamie is Rebecca’s age and met the other girl in high school. They’d lost touch for a while but the past year got back in touch and Rebecca got Jamie the job at the bar, leading to the group forming.

She loved gardening, was good at it, great according to Rebecca, but bills were high, and bartending gave good tips. She worked a little less at the bar ever since she got the gardening job, but she liked working there, liked the company even though she teased the opposite.

They’re interrupted when Rebecca’s boyfriend arrives, with a crowd of a few other guys. He isn’t there to spend time with them, but he obviously was going to come say hello.

“Peter, nice to see you,” Hannah says, but Dani can see the change in her manor at the man’s entrance. He doesn’t bother to give as friendly of a greeting as he sits at the stool next to the older woman.

Dani has met Peter plenty of times. He’s been nice enough to her sure, but she’s had a hard time reading him.

Based on Hannah’s drier greeting and Owen’s less than friendly hello, she can tell there’s a tension there.

“That’s my cue,” Jamie says, quiet enough for only Dani to hear and she smiles, feeling some sort of way about having Jamie address her with that smile.

Jamie rises from where she’d been sitting, sliding her drink with her and rounding into the back room. Peter greets Dani, nicer than he’d greeted the others, then pulls Rebecca aside to a small booth beside them, apparently not interested in small talk with her friends.

Jamie appears again in a few minutes, same outfit, now an apron wrapped around her waist and her hair is out of its bun, messy still in a way that frames her face perfectly. She smiles at Dani and Dani smiles back.

“Alright,” Jamie starts, leaning on the bar in front of Dani, “what can I do for you then?”

Here’s how it happens.

Rebecca leaves with Peter, apologizing and shooting a look to Dani who says she’s fine. She is really. She’d never imagine being comfortable enough with people she just met, but Hannah is the nicest lady she’d ever met, Owen is the friendliest person she’s ever met, and Jamie, well, Jamie is intriguing and gives Dani a nod to stay.

“I’ll stay for a while,” Dani smiles at Rebecca and Rebecca smiles back brighter, seemingly happy that they all clicked so well.

“Okay well, Peter and I have some stuff to go over, so I’ll be staying at his, but I’ll see you tomorrow?” Rebecca asks and Dani nods in confirmation. “See the rest of you lot soon, yeah?” she asks to which she receives a chorus of yeses

And well, Dani loses track of time because she's enjoying their conversations so much. Hannah and Owen have the sweetest relationship, and Jamie is maybe the wittiest person Dani has ever met, and she gets lost in enjoying their company. She ends up staying until last call, a little buzzed but not quite tipsy, and decides she might as well walk out with them instead of rushing to get home.

And well, Owen and Hannah are parked right out front, perks of having been there so early to open up. And well, Jamie offers to walk her to her door.

Dani doesn’t really know who initiated it but next thing she knows she’s pressed against the wall outside her flat, fumbling to find a key while Jamie’s lips press down the column of her neck.

She has to pull Jamie back, physically, to get a mind clear enough to dig through her purse, and Jamie’s smirking, then back on her the second the door opens.

She’s sure of her movements, and her hands are strong but not crossing any lines, and Dani is surprising herself by how well she’s handling the overwhelming feeling of Jamie against her. She drops her bag somewhere in the main hall, stumbling toward her room without letting her lips leave Jamie’s.

Her hands are lost in curls and Jamie’s are strong, steadying on her hips, as they somehow make it from the front door to Dani’s room, fumbling once again at the door before she finds herself on her back against the mattress with Jamie’s weight hovering over her.

It’s messy from that point while also being so so good. Hands explore, clothes are pulled off, probably ripped with haste, until there’s skin on skin and she can’t wait another second and - Dani groans when Jamie pulls away, just slightly to look at her face again.

“You’re sure?” Jamie asks, and Dani thinks it’s sweet, real sweet. She’s annoyed at the disturbance, but she takes in Jamie’s face, flush, and a bit wild, and still smirking despite not seeming so composed and thinks yes, yes, nodding frantically and pulling Jamie back down into her lips.

And god, Jamie is - god. Dani has never been with a woman before. Never had real sex before she supposes. She’s gone through the motions sure, but Jamie’s hands on her, Jamie’s mouth on her, she isn’t sure how she’d gone so long without this.

Dani fumbles, and thinks maybe fake confidence won’t cut it once she’s finished and wants to return the favor, but Jamie moans and rolls her hips down to meet Dani’s hand and it’s good, it’s perfect, it’s nothing but her need to make Jamie feel as good as her.

It ends with Jamie panting into her neck, weakly rolling off of her to burrow her face into the side of Dani’s shoulder. Her breathing evens out, and with the warmth of her body on Dani’s side, and her breath on Dani’s neck, Dani finds herself slipping into sleep too, satisfied beyond what she thought possible.

Dani wakes up to an empty bed.

It takes a moment for last night to flash back into her mind and she can’t fight the smile for a moment before she remembers her bed is empty and feels her face fall.

She doesn’t quite know what she expected, but she knows she’s never felt like that before, never felt anything close to how she felt last night honestly. She’s sure Jamie felt something too, the intensity of it all being too much for her to not have.

Dani eyes the clock next to her bed, surprised by how late it is at 11 am. She hadn’t slept great the past year really, too much on her mind all of the time to find rest. She supposes being so physically spent after last night helped a great deal, Jamie’s presence helped a great deal.

Maybe Jamie had work, maybe Jamie had a thing. She figures there’s several reasons for the other girl to have left and tries not to let her heart sink further in her chest.

(She’s always been a hopeless romantic so she’s not sure why she thought reckless, first night of meeting sex was a good idea.)

She brushes her teeth, tosses on a pair of shorts and a hoodie, and decides to make coffee at least. That’s when she thinks Rebecca is probably home and feels a whole new pit in her stomach at what she hadn’t considered.

Way to go, find a friend group and immediately alienate yourself by having a one-night stand with one of them? Real smart, Clayton, she can’t help but think. What if Rebecca is mad at her? What if Jamie tells them and it’s awkward and Dani’s spoiled the only friends she’s made in this half of the world?

Her thoughts are cut short when she hears laughter coming from the other room. It’s Jamie’s laugh, she can already recognize despite only meeting her last night.

“Seriously,” she can hear Rebecca now as she hesitantly makes her way to the kitchen. “I swear she would have smacked you across the face if she could have,” and she’s laughing too, Jamie’s laughing again, and Dani takes a deep breath before stepping past the end of the hallway and into the open space that is the kitchen entrance.

Rebecca continues laughing, smiling at Dani in greeting, Jamie eyes light up and she smiles as well, hopping down from where she was sitting on their countertop.

“Morning Dani,” Rebecca says first, moving to grab something from the fridge, obviously in the middle of cooking some breakfast for herself.

“Good morning, Rebecca,” Dani smiles back, moving in to sit at the bar counter they have in the middle of the kitchen for their seating area. She moves her eyes across to where Jamie is still leaning against the counter on the other side of the bar top, focused on her with a small smile on her face. “Jamie, good morning to you,” she grins and Jamie’s moving then for a cupboard.

“Morning Dani,” Jamie says, moving again to grab at a teapot on the side of the stove. “Fancy some tea?”

Dani nods, smiling at the treatment as Jamie pours some, “however you take it is fine, I’m still learning when it comes to tea.”

“That’s right,” Jamie turns to grin at her before continuing, “I always forget you Americans don’t know what’s good for you,” she teases and Dani giggles at that, blushing in the older woman’s presence.

“Coffee isn’t that bad,” she defends herself, smiling still, unable to stop it seems since realizing Jamie hadn’t left, since being in her presence again maybe.

“If you say so maybe,” Jamie scoffs, pretending to be scandalized by the idea as she stirs some sugar into a mug and moves to opposite Dani at the bar, dropping the mug down in front of her. She walks around the counter, hand resting on Dani’s waist unnecessarily as she passes and sits down next to her.

“Any good?” Jamie asks, arms crossed in front of her and face leaning on her hands, as Dani takes a sip, humming in response.

“Less sweet than I’m used to,” Dani says, taking another sip after, “pretty good though, you’ll have to make me tea more often,” she flirts, kind of, like she thinks she’s flirting but she’s never really done it before.

“I’ll make you tea whenever you like,” Jamie smirks, and it’s cute and Dani thinks that was okay to say then.

“Ugh, okay,” Rebecca sighs, and Dani remembers she’s in the room. “I’m going to go get some work done,” she continues, grabbing her own mug and holding a plate of whatever she’s apparently finished cooking. “See you later for some studying?” she addresses Dani who nods in response.

“And you,” Rebecca turns to Jamie, “try not to scandalize my roommate anymore, got it?”

“She liked it,” Jamie grins and Dani can feel her face on fire, but she laughs despite herself as Rebecca fakes a gag before taking off towards her bedroom. “See you Becs!” Jamie calls after her, before turning her attention back to Dani with a grin.

“I should um, I think I should get going,” Jamie says, reluctantly rising and leaning against the counter closer to Dani than before. “Work and all that, you know?”

“Yeah, yeah, I um, I should do some homework too,” Dani stutters out, a little disappointed but thinking Jamie’s probably onto something. “I’ll walk you out?” she offers and rises at Jamie’s nod.

Jamie’s got her coat and that’s all she’d come with, and Dani can’t help but feel a bit smug that she’d managed to land a girl that’s this attractive as she pulls it over her shoulders.

“Maybe um,” Dani stumbles over words once they’re reaching the door, wanting to ensure she can see Jamie again soon, “I’ll see you, yeah? Soon maybe?” she asks and feels for a moment that maybe she’s fumbled the bag with her vagueness.

“For sure, yeah,” Jamie smiles, grabbing onto Dani’s hand, seemingly sensing her hesitancy and immediately reassuring her. “Weekends are kind of busy for me but um, maybe tomorrow night I could see you? Not to be too eager but I’d like to,” she continues, confident in a way that makes Dani flush and smile and kind of want to swoon, “see you soon, that is.”

“Yeah, yeah that’d be - tomorrow is great,” Dani smiles, trying not to seem as flustered as she feels.

“Great,” Jamie replies, “soo, I’ll see you then?”

“Thanks for the tea,” Dani says, dumbly and then blushing at how lame she might sound, ‘and the night,” she continues, trying to sound more confident and smiling when Jamie smiles at that.

“My pleasure, quite literally,” Jamie shrugs, squeezing Dani’s hand then turning for the door. She turns back, leaning up to press a short kiss to Dani’s cheek before continuing again, “I’ll see you soon.”

Dani doesn’t get a lick of work done that day, dreaming about Jamie instead.

-

Dani had always wanted a bit more than what was expected of her life. She’d lived in Rhode Island all her life, and while it was nice, she craved more than that. She was expected to go to college in New England, get a job back home, marry her high school sweetheart, and live happily ever after.

Eddie was sweet, but Dani was gay, had been gay she supposes the whole time. The thing is Eddie cared about her though, at least she thought he did.

He’d bring her flowers, he’d drive her to work and pick her up with a coffee ready to go, he’d hold her hand and he never stopped complimenting her as if it was still the honeymoon phase of their relationship.

He was always a gentleman, always trying to show he cared the ways he knew.

She was gay though. He hadn’t a clue and he tried to love her, he thought that she loved him back. They’d been together for so long that Dani had no clue how to go about ending things. She didn’t even want to really. Didn’t want to let him down, didn’t want to let everyone else down.

Dani spent a long time thinking she didn’t deserve to feel the things she felt. She felt she hadn’t earned the right to let her emotions interfere with other people’s lives. She wanted to help, help as many people as she could, and maybe, just maybe she’d get to a point where she didn’t feel so selfish living for herself.

She didn’t know how to stop it though. She wanted to feel a certain way. A way that would lead to the most happiness for the people in her life. A way that would make her life easier, just a little bit. She didn’t know why she couldn’t just feel the way she wanted to either. If she willed it, shouldn’t she be able to want what she wants to want? Why couldn’t she let such a kind, loving, handsome guy treat her right and enjoy it?

She felt like it was something wrong with her. Maybe she had been pretending to be someone she wasn’t for so long that she missed out on becoming anyone at all.

If she wasn’t herself though, then how could Eddie care about her? He cared about who he thought she was, he cared about the relationship they had, but he didn’t really know her.

Thoughts like these kept her up at night, made her stomach churn. She had been comfortable for so long, but the closer it got to high school ending the more permanent she realized she was making her position.

Her position being Eddie’s picture-perfect wife.

One night she finally snapped. It was the end of senior year, she’d been accepted to every university she and Eddie had dreamed about, and it was time to decide.

He wanted them to decide together. Over dinner, he planned to go over the pros and cons of each, go over the price, and the housing, and everything else.

He wanted her in his life, so badly he was letting it influence his whole future. But he didn’t even know her. She didn’t even know her. She knew that he thought he did, but he didn’t not at all.

“You tell Dani the good news,” Eddie’s mom asked. She had just walked through the door, waiting for him to grab his coat so they could go to a local diner and do out the math for each school.

“Um, no mom, it’s not that important honestly,” Eddie shrugged, calm in a way that made Dani wonder what his mother could possibly be so excited about that he hadn’t a care for.

“Are you kidding? Honey, it’s an ivy,” she shouted, always too enthusiastic, towards them both and Dani pieced it together.

She hadn’t applied to Yale, because why would she? She wanted an education degree and an ivy is expensive and she’d always felt it was unnecessary. Eddie was a little smarter, with an interest in math that led him to success in the more competitive fields. He’d been wait listed but hadn’t heard a thing in months.

“You got in?” Dani had asked, smiling for her closest friend. Whether he knew her, she knew him, and he’d always had low expectations for himself. Something like this, she thought, he deserved, he would be successful and amazing and everything he’d wanted.

“Yes, but it doesn’t after much,” Eddie shrugged, leaning behind his mother to the entryway closet for his coat, shrugging it on in a casual way.

“Easy for you to say, the money they’re offering-” Eddie didn’t let his mother finish, guiding Dani out the door and closing it before she could shoot his mom an apologetic look.

“It’s not like I’m going,” Eddie shrugged, with an easy smile on his lips once they were in the car.

“What do you mean you’re not going?” Dani asked, confused to say the least at his words. “Eddie, it’s Yale. You don’t say no to Yale.”

“Why would I go there?” He asked, pulling out of the driveway and somehow seemed genuinely uninterested in the school. “You didn’t apply, no wiggle room really.”

That’s when it hits her. She thought it was selfish to leave him, selfish to explore this other side of herself she hadn’t allowed any room for. Dani had always preferred to stay with him, support him, be comfortable with him. So what if she didn’t feel the way she should? She could learn to; she would learn to. Eventually she would, right?

“Eddie,” she mumbled really, knowing what she had to do but not at all prepared. She’d been worrying about this for months, years, but she never thought she’d say it out loud.

“It’s not a big deal,” he replied, not noticing her shift in tone. “Really, I can get a degree anywhere, I don’t need some pretentious school to do good things in my life.”

“Eddie,” she tried again, needing to find her voice, needing to find a way to say it.

“Besides, I’ve always thought people who go to ivies are just trying to brag,” he joked, continuing down the side roads of the small town they’ve always lived in. “Anyhow, I don’t care where I go to school,” he continued, not noticing Dani’s panic beside him, “as long as I’ve got you with me there, part of me doesn’t even care what I’m studying, you know?”

And it’s too much. It’s too selfish. He’d change, maybe run his whole plan, his whole future, on the premise that she’ll be there to love him? She doesn’t love him. Not really, not in the way he thinks. Not in the way that he would throw away his future for.

“I’m gay Eddie,” it was out of her mouth before she planned for it to be. She hadn’t planned, not really, but she knew she had to ease into it. Knew she had to let him down easy. Thought maybe she’d just say she needed some space and ease out of the relationship altogether without ever having to say it out loud.

He stopped the car then and five minutes later Dani found herself on the side of the road watching him pull away, faster than he should be down the block.

She walked home that night and applied to University of London once she was alone in her room, away from her mother asking how it went, away from the pressure to give an answer she liked.

-

Jamie hangs around the flat a decent amount since that night. She stays the night in Dani’s bed, not sleeping much almost every other night for the next couple of weeks, waking up earlier than Dani to have breakfast with Rebecca, bringing Dani tea and then leaving for work.

It’s nice, really nice. Dani doesn’t know what she expected leaving for England. She’d wanted to be herself, and sure, a lot of that meant she wanted to be herself in the gay way, but she hadn’t exactly expected any women to come into her life and she hadn’t expected to be so taken with one so soon.

She likes it, having Jamie around is something she’d always wanted but never realized she did.

They talk and they don’t talk.

They don’t need to talk, which is new and it’s nice and it’s refreshing to be able to enjoy someone's presence so much that it’s all Dani needs to feel okay.

But when they do talk, it’s better. It’s usually late when they really talk. About the things that matter, that is. Dani learns that Jamie’s had a hard time. That the reason she and Rebecca lost touch is because she was in the foster system. Learns that she’s done time and that’s where she found her passion for gardening. Learns that she isn’t in touch with her birth family, not at all.

She learns that Jamie’s been through hell and back and that it’s near impossible to not feel all sorts of emotions she’s never felt in her life for this amazing woman.

Jamie doesn’t open up too easily, but the more Dani gives the more Jamie does as well. Dani tells her about Eddie, about all the pressure she felt. Tells her about how scary it was, realizing so late that she had to get out of that life. Tells her that she chose London at random, and that she’s really glad she did.

These conversations happen late, flushed skin pressed together, Jamie’s hands tracing shapes onto Dani’s bare hips. Dani’s more comfortable with herself when she’s with Jamie. Comfortable with her body, comfortable with her mind. She hadn’t felt a connection with another person that felt genuine, hadn’t felt right in her heart about someone until this point.

She likes the feel of Jamie against her too. She doesn’t trace such innocent shapes, still so intrigued with Jamie’s body that their conversations often get cut short by curious hands wandering too far (or just far enough). Dani can’t get enough of her, really, and it seems Jamie can’t get enough of her just the same.

Rebecca is around a decent amount and seems happy about the relationship progressing.

“You know, Jamie doesn’t really do this,” Rebecca says one morning, once Jamie has left, planting a kiss full on Dani’s lips before waving goodbye to Rebecca. “She usually takes a minute longer to warm up to someone like this. Seems she likes you. And I like the two of you, I think you complement each other well,” she continues, and she goes on for a few minutes, and Dani’s blushing at first but then she’s just pleased that she has her approval.

“I think we complement each other too,” Dani finally gets in after Rebecca has finished rambling, smiling at the thought of the woman. Always smiling at the thought of that woman it seems.

They hangout too after the first week, in the day. It’s nice, and it reassures Dani that it isn’t just sex for Jamie. Jamie comes over unannounced one day, cup of iced coffee in one hand and hot tea in the other. Dani grins, unable to stop it and welcomes her in. She’s studying, and Jamie insists that she doesn’t have to stop on her account. She doesn't leave though, she sits in Dani’s bed, reading a book off of Dani’s bedside table while the younger girl finishes her assignment as quick as possible.

Once she’s done, she can’t not kiss Jamie, but it doesn’t end with sex, Jamie doesn’t leave. She asks if she wants to grab some food, just takeout but it’s sweet. Jamie holds her hand while they walk down the block to pick it up and Dani is on cloud nine, pulling the doors open for Jamie and blushing when Jamie smiles back at her, not letting her hand go once.

Jamie pops by again, unexpectedly, a couple days later while Dani is watching The Good Place, and that’s how they find themselves cuddled on the couch most afternoons with Netflix on and popcorn in one of their laps.

“Are you religious at all?” Jamie asks one day, hand resting on Dani’s bent knee, eyes curious while the tv plays.

Dani chuckles a bit, “no, not really,” she answers, “my church was the homophobic kind, you see. So I never really took an interest.”

“Right,” Jamie replies, leaning more back into the couch and squeezing Dani’s knee gently. “Always forget about that. I’ve never been religious either, never thought too much about it I guess. Brutal having to grow up with that though, I’m sorry you did,” she sympathizes and Dani shrugs, leaning a bit closer to her.

“It wasn’t that bad,” she says, “I’m sure fifty years ago it would’ve been worse. I’m also sure in hindsight it seems like it was easier than it was,” she contemplates. “I knew gay people weren’t doing anything wrong, I guess. I just didn’t want to be a gay person, you know. I thought my mom would be mad at me. I thought life would be easier.”

“It probably would be, honest,” Jamie says, “a lot less fun though. And less hot, definitely less hot. I mean, look at me,” she jokes and Dani giggles, nudging Jamie’s shoulder.

“I’d hoped I was bisexual for a long time,” Dani says, after a moment. “In high school, middle school. I knew I liked girls from the very beginning, but I wanted things to be easy. Wanted to just find that one guy who could make it easy, I guess.”

“You can’t really choose that, can you?” Jamie questions after a moment, eyes still burning into the side of Dani’s head.

The blonde finally shifts to return Jamie’s gaze, smiling softly before replying, “apparently not, but I really thought I could. It’s why I came here actually. The realization that I couldn’t,” she nods, and Jamie does too, understanding.

“I always kind of knew, I guess. I always resented not having any family but… maybe it was better in that way, you know?” Jamie asks, “Nobody to question me, nobody to impress by not being gay and all. I think having family, people depending on you can do more damage sometimes.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Dani thinks, finally shifting to lean her head on Jamie’s shoulder. She feels Jamie sigh at the contact and reaches to hold her hand too because why not. “Pros and cons, I guess.”

“Absolutely,” Jamie agrees.

They sit in silence again for a little while. Dani usually talks through shows, movies, anything really. She’s content not to right now though. She likes sitting with Jamie and not talking. It feels nice, reassures her that the connection isn’t one sided in the way that Jamie seems to revel in it too.

Dani likes how Jamie’s hand feels on her leg. Always likes the way Jamie touches her. She feels her mood shift in a second now that she’s thinking about Jamie touching her and she likes it.

She’d always heard people talk about the honeymoon phase, the annoying phase where you can’t keep your hands to yourself, where things get heated at the drop of a hat. She’d never felt that with Eddie, obviously. She feels that with Jamie though, more than she imagined she would.

One moment they’re talking, one moment they’re sitting, somewhere in between Dani’s mind wanders to images of Jamie’s head between her legs and it’s inevitable.

She’s trying to be more confident too, more assertive. She thinks it’s hot when Jamie does it, likes it very much when Jamie does it, but she wants to be as confident right back.

She turns to look at Jamie, just a bit since she’s already so close to her. Her lips are what really have Dani’s attention 90% of the time, and that’s no different right now.

Jamie notices her looking and smirks, not turning yet. Dani sees a challenge in that though, Jamie’s smugness when it comes to all of this attracts her like nothing else but still, she wants to see Jamie shocked, have Jamie flustered.

She doesn’t hesitate to reach her hand up to cup Jamie’s jaw and lean in to catch her lips in a hard kiss, not waiting to swipe her tongue over Jamie’s lips and push into her mouth when it earns her a gasp. She doesn’t pull away until breathing becomes necessary, only barely catching a gulp of air before Jamie’s hands move to her hips and she’s pulled back in.

Jamie connects their lips, deepening the kiss this time and pulling Dani tight against her. It’s slow, and steady and hard and all Dani’s been thinking about for the past two days. It’s not long before Jamie’s got her on her back on the couch, holding her weight above Dani and kissing her with a sense of urgency, as sense of something else too.

Dani’s whimpering, a mess under Jamie, pulling her down to feel more of her, moving her own body up to try to press as much of herself as she can up against the brunette, whose hands are exploring her body, gentle but sure and so strong against her.

She’s out of her mind with want when Rebecca walks in on them, shrieking overdramatically and throwing her hands above her eyes.

“Oh, fuck’s sake,” Jamie’s kind of laughing, pulling Dani’s shirt back down from where she had bunched it up under her bra and pulling up and away, “You couldn’t have given me like-”

“Don’t finish that sentence,” Rebecca scolds, moving her hands down and glaring at the girls, “No sex on a community couch, basic decency ladies.”

And Dani is the one with her hands over her eyes now, groaning in embarrassment and a bit in disappointment and covered from head to toe in a blush.

“Alright then,” Jamie smiles down at her despite Dani not looking before stepping off the couch and grabbing Dani’s hand, pulling her to her feet and leading her straight to her bedroom.

Dani can’t help but laugh to now, joined by Rebecca at the way Jamie is. Blunt doesn’t begin to cover it.

“Use protection,” Rebecca shouts after them jokingly, and Dani laughs, also relieved she doesn’t genuinely seem mad. Jamie’s covering her laugh with a kiss as soon as the door to her bedroom is closed though and any thought other than more, more, and Jamie leaves her head.

-

A month into seeing Jamie she gets a call from an unknown number. It’s not unknown, not really. Just a number she’d deleted from her phone. She knows the number, has since she was a kid and her and Eddie got the first cell phones together.

“Hey Danielle… it’s me. I um, I’m not sure why I’m calling actually, just um… maybe give me a call back? I miss you Danielle, I um, I’m at Yale and… yeah. I’m not sure where you are. Nobody is? Look, give me a call if you can.”

He hangs up after that.

She doesn’t call him back, doesn’t know if she will either, it’s too much for her to deal with him right now.

Jamie comes over that night, smiles bright and dirt on her forehead. That’s new too. She’ll rush over after work, needing to be with Dani as soon as she can it seems. She always looks happy, and a bit dirty but smells like flowers. She gets Dani to join her in the shower a few times too, but tonight Dani passes, insisting she has homework to catch up on and reassuring Jamie with a quick kiss before ushering her into the bathroom and closing the door. She needs a moment.

“Eddie called me today,” she tells Jamie, once the woman is in Dani’s bed, reading the end section of the book she’s been working on since that first time she came over unannounced. Her hair is wet and she’s in Dani’s t-shirt and not much else.

“Eddie? Like ex-boyfriend Eddie?” Jamie asks, sitting up and putting her book down so she doesn’t lose her place.

“Yeah um,” Dani starts, moving to sit on the edge of the bed before continuing, “I didn’t answer. He left a voicemail though, I guess hearing his voice kind of through me off.”

“What’d he say?” Jamie asks, reaching a handout to hold Dani’s, immediately providing tremendous comfort. “Want me to handle this bloke? I can fly over and kick his ass if you need me to?” she offers, and Dani giggles though she knows Jamie is mostly serious. Jamie smiles though, as she always does when she gets the desired reaction out of Dani. She makes things a little lighter, a lot easier.

“No, no,” Dani shrugs, “not yet anyways. It was mostly harmless, just said he wanted to talk, wanted to know where I was,” she explains. “Not in a creepy way. More of a… ‘I never told anyone where I was going and kind of disappeared’ way? He’s right to be concerned, I guess. I just wasn’t expecting it.”

“Well yeah, I’d be a bit shaken up too I suppose,” Jamie replies, eyes still a bit concerned but pulling Dani into her side. “How about we watch some tv then get some sleep?”

“Yeah,” Dani cuddles into her, burying her face into Jamie’s neck and breathing in. She smells nice, like Dani’s body wash.

It’s not long before she’s asleep in Jamie’s arms, only a little longer before she’s jumping awake, startled by a nightmare.

“Dani?” Jamie’s up too, instantly at her side again, “what’s wrong, babe?” and her voice is groggy, but she’s reaching for the side table to turn a lamp on and when she does her eyes come into focus, concerned more than tired.

“Nothing, nothing,” Dani’s trying to catch her breath, unable to for a moment until she feels Jamie at her side again.

Jamie’s hand is on her back, when she looks up she meets worried eyes. She’s concerned obviously, and Dani feels a little lighter because Jamie knows her, really knows her and she cares about her. Her relationship with Eddie was a dark contrast but she’s here now, with Jamie in her bed and against her side and asking if she’s okay.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Jamie asks, quiet and careful, hand rubbing comforting circles into Dani’s back while the other girl catches her breath.

“He um,” Dani stutters, eyes cast down on her own hand playing with the blanket. “He got really mad. Like, really mad. I didn’t think he would ever…” she trails off, images of Eddie still fresh in her mind from her nightmare. “He was always so sweet, you know. Cute, but nerdy so he wasn’t too full of himself, gentle usually, just a sweet, family guy, who I’d be stupid to not want to spend my life with. Having him react like that well… it made me realize maybe he’d never been sweet... never been nice. Maybe he just felt like he owed it to me since I was dating him, you know?” she questions, finally looking to meet Jamie’s eyes.

Jamie’s eyes are what hooked her in the first place. The way the other girl looks at her, looks at everyone maybe, it’s like she actually cares what they’re saying. It’s refreshing in a world so full of people who don’t care. Jamie seems like she’s listening and then some. Shows that she’s listening and trying to understand your every word by looking as deep as she can. It’s like she’s in Dani’s head. Dani knows she understands, knows she gets it more than other people have, more than anyone has.

“I always thought he was a good person,” Dani continues, sighing with her and finally able to hold eye contact with Jamie (now that she’s looked up, she can’t really look away). “I think that realizing he wasn’t hurt more than the rest of it,” she shrugs. “I guess, in my mind I’d just sacrificed a lot, you know.

“I wanted to make him happy, I wanted to make his mom happy, I wanted to keep my mom proud of who I was. It was worth losing part of myself because these were good people, I was helping good people,” she runs a hand through her hair now, trying not to let tears of frustration slip out but finding it hard under Jamie’s strong stare. “It was worth losing myself to help a good person, but realizing he wasn’t? Realizing he didn’t care about me, more so what I provided him as arm candy? That was… I don’t know… it sucked,” she finally sighs thinking she’s done there.

That’s more than she’s ever told anyone. She had always felt kind of guilty about not being able to love him back. Never really thought so hard about it until Jamie came into her life and showed her what it was like to be really cared for, even in the most innocent of ways. She’s not sure she even understood why him reacting that way had hurt until just now, letting the words come out of her mouth.

(AN: TW domestic abuse)

It was almost as if Jamie’s mere presence, mere stare, had pulled the truth out of the back of her mind. Made everything a little bit clearer.

“Dani…” Jamie trailed off, moving her hand just a bit closer to Dani’s on the comforter, offering it if she wanted it. “He didn’t… I mean, he didn’t do any, he didn’t hurt you, did he?”

Dani does grab onto Jamie’s hand that’s been offered once the question leaves. Jamie’s eyes are a rock enough but feeling her, touching her, it grounds her in a way she’s never felt.

“No, not… he um,” Dani runs another hand through her hair, subconsciously flipping Jamie’s hand in hers, interlocking their fingers. “I had um, my wrists were bruises, but he didn’t… didn’t hit me at all no, not if that’s what you’re asking,” Dani explained, noticing Jamie’s face harden.

Eddie’s had hardened, and he had been holding her hands. It wasn’t intentional, honestly, but when he got mad, he tightened his grip and her wrists were purple for the next week.

Jamie is mad right now though; Dani can see it. But the hand in hers doesn’t tighten. Jamie’s thumb strokes the back of her hand and she squeezes gently, comfortingly, and as hard as her face is she doesn’t let her hand get any tighter.

“I will kill him, you know,” Jamie says, “years from now, when nobody is expecting it. That way it’s less likely to be traced back too,” she rants, words biting but tone soft and careful still, not knowing how shaken up Dani is exactly.

Dani giggles tough, turning in Jamie’s arms and giving her a small smile that sends a wave of relief over Jamie.

“Thank you,” Dani says, moving to pull Jamie in for a hug, needing to be close to her right now. “But I don’t think killing him is the answer... I just think, maybe I’ll block his number.”

“I think that’s a good idea too,” Jamie says, smiling softly as Dani giggles again into her shoulder.

(AN: TW moment over)

-

“Okay but… what’s it mean?” Dani asks, laughing into Jamie’s arm that’s wrapped around her.

“It’s like, when you’re excited you know? Or like startled by something?” Jamie explains, “It’s more of a reaction that like a word, you know? How have you not figured that out yet? How long have you been here?” she teases, throwing her leg over Dani’s hip to pull her closer as Dani tries to pull away, pretending to be offended.

“I’m just checking,” Dani defends, “I could have figured that out, it’s just you say ‘blimey’ so often, so randomly,” Dani laughs and Jamie joins her. “I just didn’t want to use it and have you tease me when I do it wrong, sorry for trying,” Jamie laughs harder at that.

“I suppose I would have, huh,” she laughs, “imagining you saying that in any context makes me laugh though, you’re too American,” she teases, and Dani shuts her up with a hard kiss to the mouth, spinning to face the other way once Jamie is lost in it.

“Why am I always the big spoon,” Jamie mumbles, not really mad though, pulling Dani’s waist so she’s perfectly pressed against the length of her body.

And Dani’s never been so content in her life, the more she thinks about it she doesn’t think she knew this type of total satisfaction was possible. She came here looking for more. Jamie hit her unexpectedly, but she makes her feel things she never imagined she could. She doesn’t think she’s stopped smiling since she saw the girl walk through the bar doors with that smirk on her face.

Jamie makes her want to live her own life. She lets her know that there’s more and that Dani deserves that more. She makes her feel like she deserves anything in the world, really.

Dani spins in her arms, Jamie groans in annoyance, mostly because she’s just gotten comfortable, but Dani presses a quick kiss to her mouth to shut her up again. She pulls back, Jamie smiles at her, and

“Will you be my girlfriend?” Dani asks, before she really knows she’s going to ask. She does that a lot. “Like, official and all that?”

“I thought I was,” Jamie says, eyebrows furrowed.

“Oh?” Dani smiles and Jamie laughs. “Is that a yes?”

“Well obviously,” Jamie chuckles again and throws her arm around Dani’s waist, pulling her into her. “I like you like crazy, you now?” she asks, leaning in to press a quick kiss to Dani’s mouth.

“I know you do,” Dani smiles, and she’s happy like she didn’t know was possible. “I like you even crazier.”