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i'm ready to fall, so tired of it all (need you here with me)

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There was something wrong. Jamie could tell as soon as she pushed the front door open, dropped her bag just inside. It’s nothing tangible; the air feels heavy. If she’s honest, a strange anxiety had been twisting, growing inside her since Dani left the shop at lunch time. 

It’d been rough, the past couple of weeks. A bad spell that had dragged on longer than any preceding it, Dani more distant. Flinching from mirrors, her hands clenched into fists more often than not, drifting around their little flat as though not all there. Ghostlike, Jamie sometimes thought with a twinge of nausea. And Jamie hadn’t believed in intuition, in gut feelings, but then she hadn’t believed in ghosts either until one took up residence inside her wife.

So when that unsettled feeling grew stronger as she climbed the stairs, she wasn’t particularly surprised. Didn’t really doubt it, either. Dani had gone home hours ago, claiming a migraine, and Jamie had taken one look at the pinched creases in the corners of her eyes and shooed her upstairs. She’d meant to close up early— it was a Saturday after all— but then there’d been a constant stream of customers and she hadn’t been able to get away.

The flat was dark and quiet, which in itself wasn’t odd. Dani’s migraines were usually brought on by stress and hit infrequently but with great force. It made sense that the lights were off. The logic of it didn’t settle the churning in her gut. She pushed the unlatched bedroom door open, her eyes flicking from the empty bed to the light that spilled out beneath the en suite door. 

“Dani?” Keeping her voice low. She knocked softly.

After a minute with no response, Jamie pressed her ear to the door. The sound of quiet sobbing had her throwing all notions of privacy out the window, the need to comfort and hold overwhelming. She pushed with more force than necessary, and the unlocked door flew open.

“... Jesus, Dani!”

She had expected Dani to be sitting against the wall by the toilet. She had expected nausea from the headache. Expected a long evening of holding Dani’s hair back, of fielding her ridiculous apologies. She had not expected…

… blood. Blood, in the sink, and she followed the stream against the current from where it swirled around the plug hole, up and up to Dani’s arm, which she had clutched against her chest. Up to the stain that was already forming on her white shirt. Up further, with a gulping breath, to Dani’s face. Pale, washed even whiter in the harsh fluorescent light. FIlled with shock, fear mirrored back to her.

“Jamie, I… it’s not what—”

Jamie was shaking her head before Dani could finish. “If you try and tell me it isn’t what I think it is, I swear, Dani—” she was shaking, she realised detachedly. Shaking and panicked and unsure and with no idea how to make this fucking right.

Dani’s mouth had slammed shut at Jamie’s interruption, and she shrank back when Jamie stepped forward into her space. 

“Please go,” choked, almost a whisper, “please, I’m okay, please—”

“Can’t do that. Sorry, Poppins,” it came out sharper than she meant, and there was more she should probably say, but the words weren’t coming, so she stepped forward again, cupped her hand round the back of Dani’s neck, wrapped her other arm around her back. Dani was stiff, resistant in her arms and Jamie almost went to pull away when Dani collapsed forward with a shuddering exhale, her face coming to rest in the crook of Jamie’s neck. She was crying, Jamie could feel the dampness seeping into her shirt. 

Jamie stood in the middle of the bathroom, holding all of Dani’s weight as she slumped against her, and she steadied herself. Braced her legs, made herself a rock for Dani now. There’d be time for her to fall apart eventually, but she needed to carry this for Dani now. For the both of them. She cradled Dani’s head against her, smoothing the hair at the nape of her neck, murmuring senseless things, tiny things, words that carried nothing on their own, nothing but the weight of feeling Jamie was forcing into them.

Finally, “Let me see,” against Dani’s ear. A reluctant nod. Jamie pulled back, grabbing for the first aid kit above the sink. Dani looked unmoored without the contact. She let herself be pulled into the bedroom, sat on the edge of the bed. Watched Jamie gather a damp washcloth, a towel, antiseptic, bandages.

Jamie knelt in front of her and reached for her arm, still held tight against her front.

“Can’t I just… do it myself? It’s fine, Jay, I promise,” shame pulsing thick through her words.

Jamie just shook her head, and Dani finally let her take her arm.

She managed to keep herself quiet, but she was glad that Dani couldn’t see the expression on her face. It wasn’t that the wounds were particularly bad; three horizontal cuts midway between elbow and wrist; but knowing Dani had done this, the visual was confronting. Jamie had to close her eyes for a moment, breathing through the almost overwhelming urge to cry. Channelled that urge into cleaning Dani up, wiping the still slowly pooling blood away. She glanced up, forcing some imitation of a smile. 

“Won’t need stitches, at least.” Dani refused to meet her eyes. “This part’ll sting a bit.”

Dani didn’t even wince at the alcohol wipe. She seemed to have shut down, letting Jamie bandage her arm, letting Jamie coax her out of her ruined shirt and into a soft sleep one, letting Jamie flick the bathroom light off, the bedside ones on, turn the duvet down, shift her gently into bed. “You want anything?” she asked softly. Dani shook her head, and Jamie joined her in bed, pulling Dani to lie with her head on her chest.

It was enough, for the moment, to just listen to Dani breathe. To simply know she was there. 

Dani eventually broke the silence. “Are you going to ask?”

“Ask what?”

Jamie felt Dani shrug. “All of it. Why, what the heck I was thinking, all of it.”

“Do you want me to ask?”

Dani shrugged again, falling silent.

“Did it help? Did it do what you wanted it to?”

“I don’t know. A little bit? I just— I just wanted to feel real, Jamie. I feel like I’m slipping away, and I don’t want to fade away. And if I, if I…” she trailed off.

“If you can bleed, it means you’re still here, yeah?”

“It’s fucked, I know,” the ferocity caught Jamie off guard. “You must think I’m crazy, god—”

“I don’t.”

“What?”

“Think you’re crazy. I don’t. Don’t like you doing it, think there’s other ways, but it’s not crazy. You’re not crazy.”

And this hadn’t been the plan, revealing this; not when she’d met Dani, not even when she’d walked into the bathroom earlier that evening, but Dani was looking at her like she didn’t quite believe her, and that wasn’t going to stand. So she sat up, pulled away slightly. Pulled the sleeve of her shirt to bunch around her shoulder and twisted her body so that the lamp light caught on a dozen parallel silver-white lines on her inner arm above the elbow.

“Jamie, I—” Dani’s breathe audibly caught. She raised a hesitant hand, and Jamie held still as she traced the scars with a barely there touch. Jamie dropped her sleeve as soon as Dani moved her hand, leaning back against her pillows.

“How have I not seen those before?”

Jamie huffed a humourless laugh. “Don’t make a habit of drawing attention to it. They’re pretty faded unless you know what you’re looking for.”

“I don’t know what… when?”

“Third foster home was rough. I would’ve been, what, thirteen? ‘S not the point though, Dani. It’s… I get it. I get it. ‘M not mad at you. I’m just worried. I get it, and I don’t know how to help, and it hurts that you’re hurting this much.”

And damn it, she’d told herself she wouldn’t cry, but all this— the memories, the fear, the pain— it was a lot and the tears were coming with or without her permission. She focused on the feeling of Dani’s hair under her hand as she ran her fingers through it over and over again. Grounding herself in the now.

After a few minutes, “It’s going to scar, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, love. It’s not gonna just go away. I’m sorry.”

“I didn’t plan on it, you know. When I left today. I just suddenly felt so empty and… not here and everything was so much and I didn’t really think.”

Jamie hugged her tighter. “You’re here. You’re here and you’re real and you matter. ” Dani’s hand came up to rest over top of hers, squeezing gently. 

“I don’t like you hurting yourself.”

“Not planning on making it a regular thing.”

“I’m glad. But if… if you feel like that again, can you tell me? Or call me? I’ll be here. Please?”

There was silence for a while, and Jamie had almost resigned herself to not getting an answer when Dani shifted, pulled away, met her eyes for the first time.

“Yeah. I’ll try. I’m sorry, Jay.”

Jamie cupped her cheek, brushing her thumb over Dani’s cheekbone once, twice, again. “Hey. None of that. Don’t need to be sorry. Wish I could make it go away for you.”

Dani tipped her head forward, kissing her, and it felt oddly like Jamie was the one being comforted, but she leaned into it. I’m here, she tried to say, I’ve got you, the pull of her lips over Dani’s filled with soft desperation.

“I love you,” she whispered, into Dani’s mouth. As if she could fill her with it, keep her here with it.

“I love you,” Dani whispered, as if she knew, as if she wanted the same thing, as if she almost believed it could work.

Jamie had to believe it could. When there were no more words to be said, when the the lights were turned off and the darkness fell around them (but never between them), when Dani’s breathing deepened into sleep. When there was nothing to hold onto but those whispered words, Jamie had to believe it was enough.

The morning would come, and there would be more questions, more tears. The Jamie of ten years ago, the Jamie-without-Dani, would’ve scoffed at it, but now she could only pray to whoever was out there that this love, so tangible between them, could anchor them both here. Create its own force of gravity. 

I need her, she whispered into the night.

You can’t have her.

She’s here.