Jamie’s panic sets in as soon as Dani leaves the greenhouse.
“You know I live above that pub, right?”
She’d said it, bravado-bold and drowning in the lidded shine of Dani’s eyes, caught, irrevocably, in her undertow.
She’d meant it.
She’d meant it a hundred times over, would say it again, but…
“Got a little flat. Right above the boring, little pub.”
Dani had grinned, skittish and proud, the press of her lips giddy, hungry. “You and me,” she’d said again, her ignorance pointed, letting her fingers drag along the worktable towards Jamie’s, “getting a boring, old drink… In a boring, old pub.”
“A boring old pub,” Jamie had repeated, carried away in Dani’s current, raising her eyebrows, “or the flat above it?”
“Like I said,” Dani had breathed, her fingers inching closer, stumbling along the rough cut of the wood below them, “let’s see where it takes us.”
Jamie hates her flat.
It’s never been home, Jamie thinks, sagging back against the table behind her. It’s never been anything more than a place to sleep, to shower, to pick up a fresh change of clothes. To eat a quiet dinner at a shabby table, made up of whatever leftovers Owen’s bestowed unto her, peeling back the tinfoil with a quotidian curiosity.
(Even that, Jamie realizes dimly, has become a rarity.
Her last four nights have been spent settled across from Owen and next to Dani, Jamie gorging herself on dinner rolls, desperate for the brush of skin that comes with every reach across the table, across Dani, for the bread basket.)
Jamie isn’t sure she has a home at all.
“It’s, uh, right up this way,” Jamie says, nodding up the wooden staircase before glancing back at Dani, smiling and soft, behind her.
“Okay,” Dani says.
Jamie flushes and looks immediately away.
She goes first, leading the way, and when the fifth step creaks, Jamie pauses. Throws a glance back at Dani.
Dani raises an eyebrow.
“Creaks,” Jamie offers simply, belatedly, and when her voice pitches, she turns back around again and, shaking her head, resumes her ascent.
Behind her, Dani smiles wider.
Two-thirds of the way up the stairs, Jamie stops. Turns back around. “It’s not…” she starts, hesitating, “it’s not much. My place. It’s… A place to sleep, yeah?”
“Mmhm,” Dani hums, and Jamie peers at her for a moment before nodding, satisfied, and turning back around.
“M’not exactly…” the words tumble out of Jamie’s mouth two steps later, “bringing girls ‘round right and left, you know? Just––”
Dani’s fingers wrap around hers, and Jamie stops talking entirely.
“I invited myself up,” there’s a grin in the tremor of Dani’s voice, self-satisfied and secret, “didn’t I?”
“Beg your pardon?” Jamie reaches the top of the stairs. Dips a hand into her pocket for her keys.
“You’re not…” Two hands, shaking and sure, flit along Jamie’s waist, “just… Bringing me ‘round. I,” Dani takes the next step up, and when Jamie feels the easy press of lips at the base of her neck, she freezes, “invited myself up.”
There’s a pause. Another press of Dani’s lips, curling around her collar.
“When I asked you…” Dani continues, clarifying, her voice teetering as she pulls away, “if you wanted to have a drink with me––at the boring, old pub,” Dani’s hands squeeze gently, emphasizing, and she takes another step up, her lips finding Jamie’s ear now, “below your flat––that was… That was me inviting myself.”
“What happened,” Jamie swallows, fumbling with her keys, reaching for the keyhole, “to seeing where a boring, old drink took us?”
Behind her, Dani only grins. Presses a soft kiss to the swatch of skin just below Jamie’s ear.
Jamie misses the keyhole three times.
Jamie loves her flat.
Her flat, she thinks, wondering how she’d never seen it before, is everything, and all at once: a place to sleep, to shower, to pick up a fresh change of clothes. To eat a quiet dinner at a shabby table.
Jamie loves her bed, loves the streetlight glaring outside her window, garish light made glowing in the shine of Dani’s hair, splayed across Jamie’s pillow.
Jamie loves her shower, loves the tub even more. Jamie loves the feeling of sinking into a hot bath––“you’ve never,” and Dani had been aghast, had sounded personally affronted, “used this to take a bath before?”––and the feeling of Dani, slipping in after her, grinning as her knees come to rest around Jamie’s waist, one hand dipping beneath the water building between them as her other loops around Jamie’s neck.
Jamie loves her chest of drawers, battered and squeaky as it is, loves watching Dani consider her flannels, folded and carefully cordoned in their respective drawers. Jamie loves the moment Dani makes her decision, the moment Dani lifts a shirt to her face, the moment Dani breathes in deeply before shrugging it on, swathing herself in Jamie.
Jamie loves her shabby table, wobbling as Dani backs into it, impatient and unsatisfied with the distance from door to bed, lips insistent and unrelenting. Jamie loves the view of Dani she gets later, Dani leaning back, propped, on the table above her, cheeks full and flushed, sated and insatiable still.
“Thanks,” Dani sighs, nuzzling into the crook of Jamie’s neck that first night, “for having me.”
“Thank you,” Jamie murmurs back, grin burgeoning, into the muss of Dani’s hair, “for inviting yourself.”
“I like,” Dani props herself up on an elbow, eyes shining in the low light, “where a boring, old drink took us.”
Jamie’s grin widens. Spreads, unrestrained, across her face. “I like it, too.”
She’s quiet then, her hand finding Dani’s, their fingers tangling together.
“Thanks,” Jamie says after a moment, “for, uh, coming here. For coming,” she clears her throat, her fingers tightening around Dani’s, “home. With me.”
Dani smiles. Ducks her head, lighting her forehead against Jamie’s. Kisses her, long and soft and painfully tender.
“Welcome home,” Dani whispers, and kisses her again.