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of memories that go unremembered, and then

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April is all smiles through the duration of the limo ride, gamely speculating with Ezequiel about what “crime against fashion” Lorna might be wearing tonight, but right before it’s time to step inside the extremely lavish venue where prom is being held, her face falls for just a second.

“Hey,” Sterling says softly. “If you don’t want to do this—”

“I do,” April replies, though the slight shake in her voice betrays her. “And I don’t even really care what those idiots think of me, it’s just…”

Sterling nods and they both let the sentence end there. Then April reaches for her hand and squares her shoulders.

“Let’s do this.”

Sterling doesn’t know exactly what she was expecting—a chorus of gasps, an explosion of confetti, a bucket of pig’s blood falling on them—but she’s sure it wasn’t relative indifference. 

It’s not like there’s no reaction—Franklin whisper-yells, “Dude, are they together?” when Sterling and April are only about a foot through the door—but most everyone is too preoccupied by their own individual prom night to spare the two of them much more than a raised eyebrow.

They claim a table as their basecamp, and Sterling can tell that April needs a few minutes to get her bearings, so she sits beside her, absently tracing little hearts with her thumb into the smooth skin of April’s palm. Blair is immediately ready to dance, tugging a somewhat reluctant Ezequiel along with her, while Luke somehow manages to still be sheepish asking his actual date, Hannah B., if she’d like to dance, too.

That leaves Sterling and April at the table, just watching the action in relative silence, and Sterling is struck with how utterly content she feels in this moment, despite the anticipation that’s lead them here and the chaos of sound and light that surrounds them. Sterling has spent so much time recently feeling out of place, but here with April beside her and their friends all around them, she knows she’s in the right spot.

“How are you doing?” she asks April as they sip watered-down punch. 

When April turns to look at her Sterling’s breath catches again. God, she’s stunning, hair in loose curls around her shoulders, makeup glittery but still soft.

“I’m okay,” April replies with a squeeze to Sterling’s hand.

“Just okay?”

“Well, I’d be better if you’d dance with me.”

“Thought you’d never ask!”

April laughs a little as they make their way to the dance floor. It’s not too crowded yet, and the song playing is something light and pop-y that Sterling almost recognizes, a song that doesn’t inspire much in the way of dancing other than exuberant jumping. They find a spot near Blair and Ezequiel, who actually move together quite well, both of them clearly feeling the beat, while Luke and Hannah B. are engaged in a sweet but awkward sway that’s just a little slow for the current song.

April, to no great surprise, isn’t a huge fan of this type of dancing. She’s always preferred a dance with steps, excelling in ballet and tap and ballroom, and obnoxiously pulling those moves out at every previous school dance that Sterling can remember (usually forcing Ezequiel to be her partner).

Sterling can see the gears working in April’s head, the way that she’s overthinking the lack of instruction, uncomfortable with this type of physical improv. So Sterling impulsively grabs her by the waist, pulling April in until they can jump together, a less-than-subtle encouragement for April to stop thinking and just let herself feel this moment.

April makes a startled noise at first, quickly glancing around them, but then she’s grinning and clutching Sterling right back, jumping along with her, goofy and imperfect and wonderful.

The lights shine through April’s hair as another song begins, a Spice Girls song that makes Ezequiel shriek first in delight, then despair when several of their classmates obviously don’t recognize it and retreat back to their seats. April keeps dancing, though, so Sterling dances along with her, giggling delightedly when April attempts to spin her.

Sterling’s starting to get tired by the end of the song, grateful when a slower beat starts up.

“I never came to the beach or stood by the ocean”

It’s vaguely familiar to Sterling—she thinks the voice is Miley Cyrus—and she pulls April close. April doesn’t hesitate before wrapping her arms around Sterling’s neck, and Sterling knows that they’re technically dancing too slow for this mid-tempo song but she doesn’t care, not when April is pressed right against her.

“And sometimes I get so scared of what I can’t understand

But here I am

Next to you”

April clears her throat, and when Sterling pulls back enough to see her, April’s face is painted with vulnerability, her expression in such sharp contrast to the sneer she used to direct Sterling’s way that it makes Sterling’s chest ache.

“I love you,” April says quietly, the words just for them. “You make me so happy, you know that?”

Sterling nods, because finally she does know that. “I love you, too. God, April, you’re so good to me. For me. To me.” She rolls her eyes at herself. “We’re so good together.”

April leans up, brushing their noses together, and Sterling thinks that’ll be it but then April is pressing her mouth against Sterling’s.

And it’s not a wild kiss, or anything, but Sterling still gasps into it, hands coming up to cup April’s cheeks as Miley sings, “I never would’ve believed you / If three years ago you told me / I’d be here writing this song.”

When they pull apart the world is still intact. Sterling thinks she feels a couple of pairs of eyes on her but she honestly can’t be bothered to look anywhere but at April. April, who just kissed her in front of their entire school and is now smiling up at her so sweetly.

“My mom got us a hotel room,” Sterling says in a rush, every word of the sentence slipping out before she can think to edit it.

April’s eyes go huge. “Wow, she’s really campaigning hard to be the president of PFLAG, huh?”

Sterling laughs, so in love with April’s brain for working that fast. “Guess so. We don’t have to use it, if you don’t feel ready…”

“Do you feel ready?”

What Sterling wants to say is so ready I could burst, since that’s how she’s felt ever since learning about the hotel room, but she settles for, “Yes.”

Her enthusiasm must be obvious, though, because April smirks. “How very measured of you.”

“I’ll have you know I’m an extremely low-key person.”

“Oh yes, that’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of you.”

Sterling brushes her thumb across April’s cheek, biting her lip when April leans into the touch. “There’s totally no pressure, though.”

“I feel like I should be saying that to you.”

“You’ve missed it?” Sterling can’t help but ask, though the answer is clear by the way April’s eyes have darkened, the way she’s clearly trying to keep her breathing steady. “Being with me?”

April swallows hard. “You have no idea.” Her fingers clutch Sterling’s hips a little tighter, and Sterling actually has to bite back a moan.

Good Lord, how will she possibly survive sex with this girl?

“Then let’s do it,” Sterling says quickly. “Maybe we should leave soon? Like after another song?”

April throws her head back with a laugh, and Sterling is captivated by the movement of her throat. 

“We’ve got all night,” she promises. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Sterling sort of expects the night to feel endless after that, but while her whole body does start to thrum with anticipation, she still manages to have a great time and stay present. She dances with all of her friends, even Luke, who spends the whole time asking Sterling if she thinks Hannah B. likes him, in a way that Sterling can’t help but find sweet.

Ellen is working the snack table, and she breaks into a wide grin when Sterling comes by for a few more cookies.

“You and April look great out there!” Ellen chirps, and Sterling would swear there’s a knowing look in her eye. “I’m happy for y’all girls.”

The statement is entirely genuine, as Ellen always is, and Sterling finds herself grinning back. “Thank you.”

“I always knew you two were quite the team. And all that tension after years of friendship, then connecting again—goodness gracious, what a love story! I’m rooting for ya, my hand to God. ”

And maybe it should be weird, their teacher all but admitting that she ships them (April recently explained to Sterling what that means), but it just sort of feels like an extension of the joy that this whole night has been.

Luke is named prom king, with Lorna as his queen; an odd couple, to be sure, though Lorna seems delighted by the turn of events. As Sterling watches Luke struggle to push the plastic crown over the top of his head, she’s struck by the fact that she always thought it would be her up on that stage beside him, the student body cheering them on as Willingham’s ideal king and queen.

Instead, she gladly watches from the audience, arms wrapped around April’s waist as April’s head leans back against her chest, Blair whistling when Lorna waves her scepter in the air and Ezequiel loudly advising Hannah B. to “go get her man.” Sterling really doesn’t think she could be happier.

That is, until Blair zeroes in on her several minutes later:

Dude, get out of here! It’s time to get it wet!

You think?

Totally. The coronation—kill me for calling it that—is, like, the cake cutting of prom. You’ve put in your time. GTFO and go scissor till ya drop!

Oh my god, Blair.

Don’t ‘oh my god’ me, Sterling Wesley. Our walls aren’t that thick. I know where your mind’s been.

Yikes. Sorry!

Don’t be sorry. Go take care of your normal human needs! In a very nice hotel room that I could have had the chance to stay at tonight, by the way, but I’m such a good sister that I’m telling you to go get laid, instead!

I truly owe you one.

You truly do!

April has no objection to them leaving, so they say their goodbyes, Sterling’s stomach lurching with nerves and excitement when they finally make their way back to the limo. April holds her hand the whole drive to the hotel, offering it a gentle squeeze as Sterling stammers through the check-in process.

“Breathe,” April advises when they step into the elevator. “We can’t have you passing out before we’ve even started.”

So Sterling tries to breathe as they walk down the hallway. The room itself is really nice, with a huge bed and a view of the city. She and April just stand there for a second, hand-in-hand, and Sterling realizes something needs to happen but she isn’t sure how to start.

Luckily, April does, tucking a stray strand of hair behind Sterling’s hair and letting her hand settle on the curve of Sterling’s cheek. Sterling’s brain has been whirring over the mechanics of all of this—how quickly they’ll be able to get out of their prom dresses, whether her hands will remember how to touch April, if an orgasm will be easy to recognize when it’s another girl—but looking into April’s eyes, her mind quiets just a little.

April presses a soft kiss to her cheek and Sterling breathes in sharply. God, April smells good. She kisses her way to Sterling’s lips, thumb still stroking along Sterling’s cheekbone as she presses their mouths together, kissing Sterling so gently, so slowly, like they have all the time in the world.

Sterling wants to get fully lost in this, to completely give in to the sensation of April kissing her, but she can feel the anxiety creeping back up her spine, and she can hear Tami’s voice in her head telling her to talk about it.

“April,” Sterling whispers, breath already labored.

April pulls back. “Need a minute?”

“No, or, maybe. It’s just… you know what I like.”

“Yes,” April says simply.

Sterling’s cheeks are burning as she says, “And I don’t know what you like.”

“It’s okay. I promise, it didn’t take you long to figure out last time.”

“I don’t want to figure it out,” Sterling whines, aware she sounds completely petulant. “I just want to make you feel good.”

April, infuriatingly, seems intent on staying calm.

“You make me feel good without even trying.”

Sterling groans. “How do you always know what to say?”

“It’s a gift,” April replies with a tiny smirk. “Sterling, I’m not concerned in the least about your abilities in this regard.”

Sterling can’t help but feel a little flicker of pride at that. “Really?”

“Really. Besides, just being here with you is… wonderful.” April takes a step back, gesturing to the room around them. "And we don’t have to go any further if you don’t want to.”

“Oh, I want to. Believe me, I really really want to.”

April nods. “Okay, then let’s take it one step at a time.”

She leans in for another kiss but Sterling needs to say something else; April is sparkling in the lights of the city and Sterling can’t believe that she’s hers.

“April.”

“Yes?”

“You’re radiant.”

April full-on grins. “See? You’re already making me feel good.”

“Mmm. Compliments,” Sterling chuckles. “Why am I not surprised?”

“You realize this is another pot-kettle situation.”

“We do seem to find ourselves in a lot of those.”

This time Sterling is the one to lean forward. She wraps her arms around April’s neck, letting herself sink into the moment, now. She’s still nervous but vocalizing the feeling has made the knot in her stomach loosen, more reminiscent of the sheer excitement she felt right before prom.

April’s tongue presses to hers and Sterling hears herself whimper. She longs to feel that tongue everywhere, to be reminded of exactly what it can do to her. Sterling’s hands go to the back of her dress, weakly attempting the zipper before April bats her hands away and takes care of it herself.

The gravity of the moment hits Sterling just as the dress slides off her shoulders; she and April are going to be naked with one another. A thing that’s happened many times before, but is entirely new to Sterling.

She gulps at the thought, as April helps ease the dress down her body. April has to kneel to get it all the way off, and the sight of her down on her knees in front of Sterling makes Sterling let out a shaky exhale. April’s eyes rake over her for a long second once Sterling is standing in only her bra and underwear, hands cupped around the backs of Sterling’s calves.

Sterling thinks she might be shaking but she isn’t sure, she just knows that the skin of her legs feels like it’s on fire from where April’s touching it. And that’s just her calves. 

When April’s eyes resettle on Sterling’s they’re dark with lust, as she breathes, “God, I’ve missed you.” 

She presses a kiss right above Sterling’s knee and Sterling nearly falls right over, squeaking out, “Wait, I can’t.”

April immediately pulls back and Sterling shakes her head. “No, no, I want to keep going, I just…if you’re gonna do that then we need to go to the bed, I’m not gonna be able—”

April lets out a low chuckle that’s easiest the sexiest sound Sterling’s ever heard. “Just getting your dress off, Sterl.”

“Okay. Cool,” Sterling manages, helping April back to her feet when she extends a hand.

“Can I see you, too?” Sterling asks softly, and April nods, turning around so Sterling can unzip her. When she turns back around Sterling just about falls over again.

April is a goddamn work of art.

"Oh my god, April,” Sterling gasps, taking every inch of her in.

Her eyes are everywhere except April’s face, but Sterling can still hear April’s smirk when she says, “You know, I’d make some remark about how the way you’re looking at me right now is reminiscent of our first time, but honestly, you always look at me that way.”

“Can you blame me? How the hell do I make it through a single school day knowing you look like that under your uniform?”

“You don’t. Hence the supply closet.”

“Well, it’s gonna be getting a lot more action in the last week of school, let me tell you.”

“Noted.”

Sterling swallows hard. “I think we need to go to the bed now.”

She could have anticipated it, but when April fully climbs into her lap Sterling is pretty sure she’s seconds away from passing out.

“This okay?” April asks, hands settling over Sterling’s shoulders.

Sterling answers by kissing her. April smiles against her mouth, catching Sterling’s bottom lip between her teeth. Sterling’s fingers dig into the smooth, perfect skin of April’s low back, while April’s fingers gently tug her hair out of its updo.

April kisses down along her neck and licks her way up the other side, sucking Sterling’s earlobe into her mouth, and Sterling fears she might be done for. She tries to remind herself to breathe as she manages to get her own bra off, but then April is firmly pressing her shoulder and Sterling finds herself flat on her back, completely breathless again.

April hovers over her, smile knowing and dirty, as she unhooks her own bra before draping her body over Sterling’s. She’s so warm and soft and Sterling wants to touch her everywhere, but before she can April is pinning her wrists overhead, and Sterling moans.

“God, you feel good, baby,” April whispers hotly against her ear.

Sterling’s brain is getting foggy with how turned on she is, with the combined sensations of everything happening right now, but she manages to get out, “Say that again.”

She feels April smirk against the base of her throat. “Which part?”

“Any of it. All of it. Call me baby again.”

April rocks her hips down against Sterling’s and for the first time Sterling notices how hot she is there. “Baby. You feel like heaven.”

The hand of April’s not holding Sterling’s wrists skims down Sterling’s side then back up again, thumb brushing Sterling’s nipple.

“My hands have been desperate to touch you like this,” April continues.

“Have you—have you thought about me when you—” Sterling pants, utterly past the point of any embarrassment for the question.

“Of course. Dreaming of being with you again. Pretending my fingers were yours.”

Sterling whimpers, arching up into April’s words and her body, feeling April’s nipples scrape against her own. April grins down at her, clearly so pleased with herself as she lowers her mouth to Sterling’s breast, lips closing around her nipple.

“You’re gonna kill me,” Sterling gasps, the words strained.

“Oh, I sure hope not,” April replies, but then, in a voice that tells Sterling that she knows exactly what she’s doing to her, asks, “How would you feel about me going down on you?”

Sterling lets out a strangled sound that April laughs loudly at.

“Is that an affirmative?”

Yes. Oh my god.”

April laughs again, the sound rumbling against Sterling’s stomach as she kisses her way lower. She finally releases Sterling’s wrists and Sterling’s fingers immediately sink into her hair, tightening their hold when April slips off Sterling’s underwear.

An eternity might pass, or perhaps April has gained the ability to bend time; April seems capable of just about anything at this point. Then finally, finally, her mouth is between Sterling’s legs and her lips and tongue are sliding over Sterling and nothing, truly nothing in the entire universe has ever been so spectacular.

Before tonight, Sterling wondered if this would be the moment when everything would come back, if April touching her again would be the key to unlocking the rest of her memories; if the first press of April’s tongue against her would initiate a tidal wave of recognition.

Now, though, it’s so much more feeling than actual memory. April’s warm, perfect mouth slides over her and Sterling is back in the supply closet, she’s at the lake house, she’s in the backseat of the Volt. She’s all the places where April has touched her but she’s here, most importantly; here beneath April’s glorious tongue, here as April slowly slides a finger inside of her.

Sterling’s entire body jerks, the orgasm hitting her hard and fast but April doesn’t stop, the hand not between Sterling’s legs pressing her pelvis into the mattress as Sterling squirms and cries out. 

“Yes, baby,” April encourages before her tongue resumes its work, fingers curling deep and perfect and Sterling’s going to come again, she knows it.

“Fuck,” she exhales. “Holy shit, April, I—”

She’s on her way to saying “I love you” when her second orgasm hits, stealing the last of the breath from her lungs. Sterling’s spine curls off the bed and sparks flash behind her eyes and her mouth is forming April’s name but no sound can come out.

April guides her through it all, only slowing down when Sterling stops flailing against her. Sterling twitches a couple more times as April licks the skin of her inner thighs, tongue tracing slow, unhurried patterns.

April eventually rises with a quirked eyebrow and Sterling tugs her down on top of her, needing to taste herself on April’s tongue, needing April to feel how fast her heart is beating.

April has learned her, Sterling realizes as her breath starts to even out. April has studied her like a textbook, taking the time to discover exactly what Sterling likes and needs, exactly how to touch her. The intimacy of it hits her in this moment, as she strokes a hand through April’s hair, as April’s lips press to the base of her throat.

Sterling wedges a knee between April’s legs, groaning when she feels just how wet April is through her underwear. April lifts her head, eyes half-lidded, lower lip caught between her teeth and Jesus, Sterling has to touch her, even if she doesn’t know what she’s doing.

She gently presses April onto her back, and when April falls back against the pillows Sterling would swear that she’s an angel come to earth. Sterling stares down at her, eyes wide and hungry, and April raises a hand to her cheek.

“Just do whatever you’re comfortable with,” April murmurs, though her voice is rough with want.

Sterling trails two fingers over April’s jaw and across her mouth, breath hitching when April’s tongue darts out and licks over them. Sterling can only shake her head, utterly overcome by this girl as her wet fingers travel lower, circling one of April’s nipples.

April sucks in a sharp breath through her teeth, chest arching into Sterling’s hands, and that’s what gives Sterling the confidence to bend her head to April’s other breast, swirling her tongue over April’s nipple before releasing it with a wet pop.

The sounds seems too loud in the quiet hotel room, but then April lets out a noisy whimper when Sterling’s hand creeps down her stomach. Sterling cups April through her underwear, and somehow April is both wetter and warmer than Sterling expected, making Sterling gasp.

April parts her legs wider, sighing out a, “Please, Sterl,” that Sterling feels right in her gut. She quickly drags April’s underwear off her legs before putting her hand back where it was, but this time nothing separates them as her fingers slip over April.

“Jesus Christ,” Sterling breathes. “You feel so good.”

April whines, shifting her hips against Sterling’s hand, and Sterling gets the message, starting to move her fingers in a steady rhythm. April’s eyes flutter closed, her hands clenching the bedsheets and her nipples pointing toward the ceiling and God, this is so much better than any dream.

“Need you inside, baby,” April rasps, so Sterling lowers her fingers slightly, trying to mimic what she knows she likes, what she felt April do to her. It seems to work, because April starts nodding almost in time to Sterling’s movements.

Sterling curls her fingers and April moans her name, high and breathy, a sound that Sterling absolutely needs to hear again and again. She brings her other hand back to April’s breast, stroking the skin there as her fingers work in and out of April, as April continues to pant her name. 

And then April’s own hand darts down, shifting Sterling’s wrist ever so slightly before she’s coming, clenching tight around Sterling’s fingers.

(And Sterling had nothing to worry about earlier; it is quite clear what is happening.)

Sterling watches her face the entire time; this euphoria that she can’t believe she’s privileged to witness. April Stevens: completely free, overcome with pure pleasure—pleasure that Sterling got to bring her.

“You’re magnificent,” Sterling whispers, and April just smiles up at her, expression as close to dopey as Sterling’s ever seen her.

“I love you,” April replies. 

Sterling curls up beside her, holding April close. This all feels familiar, but Sterling couldn’t say if it’s a memory or something deeper, something closer to fate; if perhaps it’s not that they’ve been in this exact moment before but that they were destined to find each other in any lifetime; that she was always meant to be here with April, in each version of the universe.

It could be a memory, Sterling thinks distantly, but for the first time that doesn’t feel important. 

April is in her arms, and nothing else seems to matter.