Work Header

we got married in a fever (hotter than a pepper sprout)

Chapter Text

If there’s one thing that April will miss about Atlanta--or at least, as much as she can miss it from an hour and fifteen minutes away--it’s the everlasting supply of trendy liberal-owned businesses for things she doesn’t actually need. Because really, who trusts a Republican to know how to make a good pint of small-batch artisanal ice cream? Certainly not April.

“Ugh, this is so good,” Sterling moans as they leave the ice cream shop, which serves as their reward to themselves for officially changing all of their government paperwork to accommodate their new names. She already has ice cream all around her mouth as she practically devours the giant scoop of ice cream that is way too big for the tiny sugar cone it sits on.

“You might wanna slow down there, Babe,” April suggests as she turns Sterling’s head to wipe her mouth with a napkin like she would a small child.

“But I don’t want it to melt,” Sterling argues, going back in for more the second April withdraws her hand.

April rolls her eyes and focuses on her own paper dish of Death By Chocolate, knowing that sometimes you simply must pick your battles in a marriage. “So, what are your plans for the day after this?” she asks, knowing that she personally is having a goodbye hangout with Hannah B. and Ezekiel before she goes to collect the last of her things from her parents' house.

Sterling shrugs. “Probably gonna go home and do some last-minute packing.”

“Sterl, we move to Athens first thing tomorrow morning and you still aren’t packed?” April asks though she shouldn’t be too shocked by this development, seeing as this is the same girl who winged her wedding vows.

“I’m mostly packed,” Sterling says in her own defense. “I’m just still a little undecided when it comes to some of my non-clothes stuff. Like, should I really bring my books when we don’t even own a bookshelf yet?”

“Yes, because we’re buying one at your precious IKEA tomorrow,” April says, knowing that the last thing she wants is to have her car loaded up with boxes the next time they come to Atlanta for church--she’s sure Anderson and Debbie would like for there to be as little clutter as possible remaining in Sterling’s room when they’re gone, and Sterling is the Clutter Queen. “Just pack up everything that’s not too childish.”

“But what about my Switch?” Sterling asks.

“Pack your Switch and all of its games and accessories in a box labeled as such,” April says, this seeming obvious to her, even if she would prefer that Sterling not spend too much on video games while they’re working on their new marriage and towards getting accepted into the pre-law program.

“Wait, you’re telling me that you already have all of your stuff packed?” Sterling asks in disbelief, which April thinks might be a testament to just how much stuff she happens to own.

“Yes, Sterl. It was quite easy since my mom was a dear and packed up most of it when my dad kicked me out,” April reminds her, that dark time in her life being something she’d very much like to put behind her, even if being married is a symptom of all the unrest that it caused in her life.

Sterling finishes her ice cream cone in awkward silence after that, and April can finally enjoy her own.

“Thank you for the ice cream date, Mrs. Stevens-Wesley,” Sterling says once she’s thrown away both of their trash and comes up to give April bunny kisses, which would be a lot cuter if her face wasn’t once again smeared with cake batter ice cream.

“Thank you for changing your name with me, Mrs. Stevens-Wesley,” April replies, unable to not be charmed by the dork she married.

“I’ll see you at the house later?” Sterling asks, backing toward her dad’s hunting truck.

“You know it,” April says, hitting the button to unlock her Lincoln. “Bye, Honey,” she says, giving Sterling a finger-wiggling wave as she gets into the truck and drives off. And the minute she rounds the street corner, April’s smile drops.

“Motherfucker,” April swears to herself, feeling a fresh shock of pain in her pelvic area as she goes around to the trunk to get out her half-drank gallon jug of warm cranberry juice. She feels like a damn alcoholic trying to hide her booze from her loving spouse--except, in this case, swap crippling addiction with the UTI from Hell...better known as Florida. The last thing she wants when they have to move into their new house is for Sterling to coddle her--even if this is all her fault.

She chugs a good ten ounces straight from the jug before returning it to her trunk and getting into her car. Her only saving grace these past couple of days when it comes to not having to tell her wife about her little problem is that neither one of them is too keen on the idea of Anderson and Debbie hearing them having sex in Sterling’s childhood bedroom, and they’re far too busy to make time to do it anywhere else.

April 💍: omw! Should be there in 10.

She texts Hannah B. and Ezekiel before pressing her ignition button and pulling out of there, trying not to think that this constant agony she’s in is not the universe calling her a major slut now that she’s finally had sex. A lot of it.

She probably drives a little faster than necessary to Hannah B’s house, but an unfortunate side effect of her condition is that it means she has approximately…11 minutes before she’ll be on the verge of peeing her pants from drinking that cranberry juice. She’s just fortunate that she is ahead of the five o’clock Friday traffic—or even the 3 o’clock rush of lazy people.

“There’s the married lady!” Ezekiel yells to her the second she parks in front of Hannah B’s house.

“The newly not virgin lady!” April replies with all the enthusiasm she can muster, seeing as a virgin wouldn’t be experiencing what she is. She gets out of her car and is immediately pulled into a hug by Ezekiel, which turns into a group hug when Hannah B. comes out to join them.

“April, we missed you,” Hannah B. says, continuing to hug April tight even after Ezekiel lets go.

“I wasn’t even gone a week,” April reminds her, but the air-constricting hug only continues.

“Yeah but we’re all going to different schools next week in completely different cities, which means I won’t see you long enough before I start missing you again,” Hannah B. explains, and finally lets April go. “But since Luke’s gonna be at UGA with you and Sterling, I’m sure I’ll be visiting sometimes.”

April can’t help but be touched by how much Hannah B. really does care about her, even after all these years of April not always being the nicest to her. “You better set aside time for me on those Athens trips,” she says, trying to maintain her air of queen bee authority, but it’s hard when she’s going to miss these two so much. And she also really has to pee.

Lying between her friends on Hannah B’s backyard trampoline, watching the clouds, April could almost think that no time has passed at all since they first formed their little clique in sixth grade. For different reasons, all three of them were without friends, without status, and without love. But together, they didn’t just find friendship, they found strength in their united front. With April leading the way, always carrying herself with an air that she is and always has been better than everyone else, the three of them were unapproachable, unstoppable, universally loved and despised. It was fabulous.

But with their time together dwindling down, a door is closing on an era. Once April loses her childhood clique and moves in with her wife, it really does seem as if her time as a teenage girl will be over. And that is a bittersweet feeling to contend with.

“So uh, I know you were texting us, but I need to hear it from your lips. How was it?” Ezekiel asks as all three of them continue to look up at the sky, but April knows he’s addressing her.

“Which part?” she asks, turning her head to meet the annoyed eyes of Ezekiel and smirking.

“The sex part, obvi. You’re the only one of us who’s officially broken the lock on her chastity belt—unless you count that time I gave a handjob to Tevin Biggs…” Ezekiel trails off.

“Or me letting Luke touch my boobs,” Hannah B. adds.

April scoffs. “Until either of you have enough sex to get a horribly painful UTI, I am definitely the most experienced one here,” she says, using her more than regrettable trump card.

Ezekiel gasps, both shocked and horrified. “Oh, Sterling best be taking damn good care of you for that.”

“She doesn’t know. I’m just hoping it clears quickly so I never have to tell her. Hence why I’ve been drinking my weight in cranberry juice,” April explains, though saying it out loud, she does recognize that she sounds ridiculous. She just really doesn’t want Sterling to feel bad, seeing as she had a hard enough time with getting Sterling to keep up with her on their honeymoon. The last thing she needs is to give her wife a reason to not have as much sex with her as humanly possible…once April doesn’t feel like her lady parts are trying to actually murder her, of course.

“April, you should really see a doctor. If it’s as bad as you say, then you probably need like…medicine, not juice,” Hannah B. suggests.

Ezekiel nods with great enthusiasm. “Gotta say I agree with HB on this one. The last thing you should be worried about when moving to college with your wife is your nasty-ass coochie.”

“You guys are so nice, you know that?” April says sarcastically, getting out her phone. She’s been putting off her first visit with her new adult woman doctor, but she begrudgingly admits that it’s probably necessary now. And thankfully, she happens to already be on a texting basis with that doctor.

April 💍: Hi Janelle, it’s April Stevens-Wesley from Pastor Booth’s group counseling session? I know this is super last minute but is there any way you can squeeze me in for an appointment like…today? I just got back from my honeymoon and I think I have a UTI.

The few minutes it takes for a response are agony…and not just because April feels like her crotch is on fire.

Dr. Janelle Ames, OB/GYN: Yes, I can fit you in after my last appointment today. Come in around four-thirty. But while we’re at it, I’m looking over your records and it seems you’ve never received your Gardasil HPV vaccinations, and now that you’re sexually active, we should definitely do a Pap smear as well. Are you good with all that?

In truth, no, April just wants a prescription for antibiotics, not for Dr. Janelle to be only the second woman to get intimately acquainted with her vagina. And her mother always insisted that the Gardasil vaccine is for sluts and was unnecessary because April wasn’t going to be sexually active until she was married. Which may have been true, but April realizes it was probably incredibly stupid and shortsighted of her anyway. Teenage boys’ dicks literally cause cancer. They’re a carcinogen.

April 💍: Yeah, I might as well get the works. Thank you, Janelle.

Dr. Janelle Ames, OB/GYN: It’s my pleasure. But while we’re in the office discussing your urinary tract, you should probably stick to calling me Dr. Ames.

April 💍: 👍

“I made a doctor’s appointment for later. Are you happy?” April asks, returning her phone to her side on the trampoline.

“What’s it like being a real adult?” Hannah B. asks, sounding genuinely impressed.

“0/10, would not recommend,” April groans, covering her eyes with her arm as the sun peeks out from the cloud cover.


“Where’s April? Y’all really need to get on the road so you can have enough time to get settled,” Anderson says, looking around for his daughter-in-law after loading another box of Sterling’s things into the back of his hunting truck.

Sterling shrugs, having seen very little of her wife in the last 24 hours or so--she wasn’t aware that April had so many loose ends to tie up in Atlanta, but knowing her, she’s probably got a million reasons for all of it. “I think she went to get stuff from her mom’s house? Which is weird because she supposedly got all of it yesterday.”

“Yeah, well, if I can say anything after being married to your mother for twenty years, it’s that it’s sometimes best to not question things,” Anderson says, loading in another box. “Still though, she’s got y’all’s car so she better not be too long.”

Just as he says this, Sterling sees the Lincoln pull into their driveway. “Speak of the devil and the devil doth appear,” she says to herself, realizing after the fact that she really just provided Blair’s running commentary for her--them being apart really isn’t going too well, but to be fair, this is the longest they’ve been apart since they were born. She crosses the driveway to open April’s door for her once she parks the Lincoln and receives a kiss from her wife in return.

“Thank you, Darling,” April says sweetly, getting out of the car once Sterling steps out of the way.

“Where were you?” Sterling asks, raising an eyebrow.

April frowns. “I told you, I had to go get stuff from my parents’ house,” she says, going to the door behind her own and opening it to reveal quite possibly the most horrifying thing Sterling can imagine.

“April, there is no way in heck-”  Sterling starts to argue when April pulls Sgt. Bilko, secure in his kitty carrier, out of the car, but April isn’t hearing it.

“Sterling, he’s my cat. I can’t just leave him behind,” April says indignantly and holds up the carrier so she can be face to face with Bilko. “Isn’t that right, Baby Boy?” she asks as if she were talking to a real infant.

“Aw, a kitty!” Anderson says as he walks up to join them. “Who’s this handsome man, all white and fluffy like that? What is he?” he asks, sticking his finger through the bars of the carrier and scratching behind Bilko’s ear.

“It doesn’t matter what he is because there is no way we are bringing him home with-” Sterling tries to argue again, but April cuts her off yet again.

“He’s a Turkish Angora. They’re an ancient breed of cat that is responsible for all white-haired cats. Basically, a Persian without being Pug-ified,” April explains to Anderson, who is still completely fixated on the cat.

“He’s beautiful,” Anderson coos. “And Sterling, if I heard right and he’s April’s kitty cat, then obviously y’all gotta take him with you to school.”

“He’s actually been mine since before I even met Sterling,” April supplies, and Sterling really wishes Blair were here, as she’d definitely stand up for her against the fluffy white devil cat being moved into their first home as a married couple. But as it stands, she feels like she is fighting a losing battle with this one.

“Okay, but like, by that logic, I can totally take Chloe too, right?” she asks.

“Well no because Chloe’s chipped under your mother’s name, remember?” Anderson reminds her, and Sterling’s face falls--her last-ditch effort at getting April to take Bilko back to Mary, foiled by her own traitor dad.

“Sterling, I promise you, I’ve been taking care of Bilko on my own all his life and I have no intention of changing that now. All you have to do with him is love him,” April says, holding out the carrier for Sterling to take while she and Anderson go into the house for the last of the boxes.

Sterling sighs deeply and holds up the carrier to make eye contact with her nemesis--who, like a true Eldritch terror, has one blue and one amber eye. “Guess you and I are gonna have to get to know each other a little better, Bilk,” she says, defeated. She’s never in her life been a cat person, but thanks to her wife, she is now one’s stepmother.

Bilko hisses at her.

“Yep, that’s what I thought,” Sterling says, very tired as she returns the carrier to the backseat of the Lincoln, now seeing that along with Bilko himself, April also has loaded the car with essentials like food, a bed, a scratching post, and a whole little wicker basket of toys, all for the fluffy little prince.

She turns to go to the house for a box but is met by April and her deadlifting arms carrying out two stacked on top of each other. “Sterling, you aren’t leaving him in the hot car, are you?” April says, putting the boxes in the truck.

Sterling sighs and nearly rolls her eyes into the back of her skull. “The car isn’t hot because it’s still cool from you blasting the A/C on the way over here,” she points out to April. If this is going to be her life going forward, she has a feeling she’ll be needing a lot of ibuprofen for the headaches.

April groans and comes to take Bilko back out of the car as he yowls. “See? He’s overheating,” she says as Bilko gives Sterling a look that seems to be gloating. She opens the top latch of the carrier and pulls the little furball up out of it, holding him to her shoulder like a baby. “I know, Mama Sterling just doesn’t know how to take care of you yet,” she coos to him and Sterling can hear him start to purr. “Be better, Sterling,” April scolds her and takes Bilko into the house, leaving Sterling to lean against the Lincoln and, for the very first time, question her reasoning for getting married.

When Pastor Booth first tasked Sterling and April with coming up with their 1,10, 20-year plans, she hadn’t anticipated that they’d be moving into their first house within the first year, let alone the first week of their marriage, and yet here they are as they pull up in front of the corner house just two blocks from campus. It’s small but charming, white with black trim and shutters, and a screened-in front porch. The yard and trees surrounding it are a bit overgrown, but that’s to be expected since nobody’s actually been here to take care of it in weeks, if not longer. But still, just seeing it is enough to make Sterling forget all about how mad she is at April for making a unilateral furbaby decision because this is their home.

“Sooo much better than an apartment,” April says giddily as she unbuckles her seatbelt and gets out of the car, getting Bilko from the backseat. “Anderson, it’s beautiful!” she calls to Sterling’s dad as he and Debbie get out of the truck, having followed them here.

“I knew you’d like it,” he says, doing the white dad half-jog over to them, arm outstretched holding a set of keys. “Now, I’m sure I don’t gotta tell you what to do with these, but it might be a good idea to get copies made so that y’all don’t have to be joined at the hip when you leave the house. You want me to take him?” Anderson points at Bilko.

“Sure,” April says, trading the cat for the keys--though unfortunately for Sterling, this won’t be permanent. “Sterl, shall we?” she asks, spinning keyring around her finger and looking toward the house.

Sterling nods enthusiastically, following April up the pathway to the porch, but puts a hand on April’s shoulder to stop her before they go up the steps. “Hold on, I want to do this right since you got me the last time,” Sterling says, knowing that she would like more than anything to carry her beautiful, crazy, sometimes infuriating wife over the threshold of their very first home together. Though April gives her a look of doubt.

“I’m not sure I want to risk you dropping me with your noodle arms,” she says, and Sterling can’t exactly say she’s wrong in her concerns.

“Well, okay, then hop on,” Sterling says, improvising by turning her back to April and crouching down.

“Quote Twilight and I will kill you,” April threatens as she climbs on Sterling to be carried piggyback up onto the porch, where Sterling briefly sets her down to unlock the door before she picks her back up again and carries her into the house.

It still smells like fresh paint, which is the first thing Sterling notices, followed immediately by the fact that it is hands down the smallest house she thinks she’s ever stepped foot in, outside of the trailer Dana kept her in that one time. And it’s all theirs.

“Oooh, hardwood,” April says when Sterling puts her back down. “Anderson, did they tell you what year the house is?” she asks when Anderson and Debbie follow them into the house with a few grocery bags.

“1957, so don’t be licking any chipping paint,” Debbie supplies, directing this statement entirely at Sterling, which is just plain offensive--she hasn’t licked paint in years, and that was only on a bet from Blair. “But Anderson had the place thoroughly inspected and repaired accordingly, so y’all shouldn’t run into any safety hazards.”

“Well that’s...comforting,” April says, looking around with a smile on her face, but Sterling can see in her eyes that in this small house, she is seeing her grand Pottery Barn design plans go up in flames. Though if she’s still dead set on Pottery Barn, Sterling guesses it wouldn’t take too much to fill the whole house. “And you said you wouldn’t mind me doing some additional renovations?” April asks as she walks into the kitchen, still perfectly audible.

“Not at all. In fact, I’d prefer it. More resale value and more money for y’all when you move on from here in a few years,” Anderson says, motioning for Sterling to join him in following April to the kitchen, which has appliances that look like they might be older than half the people in the house.

“There’s potential,” April says, putting her hand on the wall above the stove. Her being the optimistic one about this is surprising, considering the fact that she’s generally an enormous snob—and Sterling says that from a place of love. “I’m thinking a nice tile backsplash.”

“April, I don’t think I could ever tell you enough how glad I am to have you as my daughter-in-law,” Debbie says with all the sincerity in the world, having finally found a kindred spirit in April--at least when it comes to home design. “Sterling, do you want to be helpful and put these groceries away while we get more of y’all’s things out of the truck?”

Sterling nods and gets to work, thinking this will be an easy task until she’s confronted by the terrifying reality of being the one who establishes where things are to go in the empty cabinets and fridge. It’s such a responsibility...that she also shouldn’t worry about too much, considering that April will surely rearrange them if she isn’t satisfied. Still, though, she feels that she should be a little offended that her parents and April apparently have so little faith in her when it comes to carrying in the heavy boxes--some of which are still unopened wedding presents. April brings one of those into the kitchen and sets it on the counter before tearing into the elegant white wrapping paper and revealing a set of dishes.

“You know, as much as I appreciate the registry gifts, I have to say that there’s something lost when you know exactly what you’re going to get,” Sterling says, coming up behind April to look at the set, which is the exact one they picked out together at Williams-Sonoma.

April frowns. “That’s...kinda the whole point of a registry, Sterl,” she says, opening the box and removing the protective packaging.

“I know that, but surprises are fun,” Sterling says, following behind April as her wife decides where their dishes are to go.

“Surprises would lead to us getting Pioneer Woman Walmart dishes from your Uncle Deacon instead of the lovely Williams-Sonoma Pantry Dinnerware Collection,” April says, sounding like an infomercial as she holds up one of the nice white plates for emphasis. “Now, if you want to finish unpacking this, I have to go get Bilky settled in the laundry room until we’re done bringing stuff in from the car. He got outside once in his life and it was a truly traumatizing experience for the both of us.”

“Oh, I bet,” Sterling grumbles, still cranky about the whole cat situation. She never wanted one at all, let alone one that already hates her. But this is her life now. With April, she signed up for endless name brands, and not being properly consulted when it comes to major things like pets. Because really, that’s part of marriage. Sterling married April despite the wide range of things about her that are truly irritating, and April offered her the same courtesy in return.

But that doesn’t mean Sterling doesn’t have the right to be mad.

“Hey Princess, where do you want this?” Anderson asks, coming in with the gun safe that he was smart enough to bring a hand truck for.

Sterling’s just about to answer that it would be best kept in the back of their bedroom closet when April turns around to see what exactly her father-in-law is referring to.

“What’s that?” April asks, raising an eyebrow.

“A safe,” Sterling replies, though Blair’s spirit has her desperately wanting to answer with a certain iCarly quote. Either way, she knows April is bound to not take this very well, but hey, serves her right for the cat thing.

“For her guns,” Anderson adds helpfully. “Bedroom closet like at home?”

“Uh, yeah,” Sterling replies and her father proceeds to wheel it into the bedroom while Sterling is left to deal with her outraged wife.

Hands on the hips and wide-eyed with a tapping foot waiting for an explanation, April is not the least bit pleased. “Excuse me, but please tell me that you did not just have your dad put a box full of deadly weapons in our bedroom, where we sleep.”

Sterling shakes her head. “Of course not. The guns are still in their carrying cases in the truck,” she explains like the responsible, licensed gun owner that she is. But April hardly seems impressed with this answer.

“Sterling Stevens-Wesley, I really feel like you bringing guns into our home is something we should have discussed prior to move-in day. I don’t want them anywhere near me.” For someone with a father who himself carries a gun on his person, April seems to be pretty unswayable from her stance. And Sterling can't help but notice that April wields that new 'Stevens' in her name like a weapon.

“You told me to pack everything I own that isn’t childish, and these guns are mine. They’re to protect both of us if something were to happen, but more importantly, I like having them. So if you get to unilaterally decide that we are going to co-parent your cat going forward, then I get my guns,” Sterling argues, refusing to back down from this.

“They’re unnecessary and more importantly, they’re dangerous,” April argues, refusing to take Sterling’s low road bait. “I can deal with you hunting and slaughtering animals, I can even deal with you being an armed bounty hunter like you’re fucking Pedro Pascal. But I would very much prefer for you to not have your arsenal in our house.”

“It’s not an arsenal, it’s like wait, six guns. Six guns are not that much and I’m locking them in a safe separate from their ammo. C’mon, don’t be like this.” In truth, if Sterling had known ahead of time that this would be such an issue, she might have been more open to bringing only one gun instead of her whole small collection. But April just had to go and tick her off, and in all fairness, she now looks equally pissed.

“Fine, you can have your stupid guns, but they better stay locked away or I swear to God, Sterling…” April hardly seems to be satisfied with this compromise, but then, Sterling knows that April is not great at not getting what she wants.

“...You know I carry a gun on me like...most of the time, right?” Sterling asks, feeling like none of this should be all that surprising to April, who has literally seen her shoot the tires of a pink Caddy at a moment’s notice.

“Not anymore, you don’t. That’s for damn sure,” April says definitively before going out to get more boxes.

“If we’re getting the four-poster bed, then I think we need to cut costs when it comes to the dresser and nightstands,” Sterling says, trying to be practical about this since April’s dad has yet to actually prove he’ll be reinstating her allowance, so they probably shouldn’t burn through all of their wedding present money in case they need an emergency fund for essentials like food or Hulu Live.

“Sterl, we are not getting the Malm. It’s ugly and the Hemnes is bigger with more drawers for only an extra hundred dollars,” April argues, which is basically all she’s done since they’ve been in IKEA--when she’s not grumbling about why they’re even here in the first place, that is. “Besides, our bedroom can literally only fit the queen bed, nightstands, and dresser, so we might as well furnish it with four decent pieces of furniture rather than one good bed and three minimalist nightmares.” 

“Oh, so you do admit that the furniture is decent?” Sterling asks smugly, feeling like she’s achieved a small victory considering the things April’s been saying for the past hour.

“Decent is not good. Decent is decent and that’s the Hemnes and the Yttervag--which is just awful, by the way. This is America, give things names in English,” April says, reminding Sterling that this is indeed the girl who once helped lead the Young Republicans.

“Wow, you sound so much like your dad right now,” Sterling says, knowing this is probably crossing a major line but it also isn’t untrue.

April gasps. “You take that back right now.”

Sterling makes a show of pretending to consider this request before shrugging. “Yeah, no.” She can see that this has genuinely struck a nerve in April, and the part of her that deeply loves her wife knows that comparing her to John Stevens is a major line crossed. But Sterling is annoyed...and hangry. This is taking way too long and she just wants meatballs.

“We’re getting the Hemnes,” April says firmly, penciling it onto the order card. “But, you know, all of this would be a moot point if I made one phone call to my aunt. We’d be decked out in wall to wall free furniture.”

Sterling would argue that April’s Aunt Franny seems like someone who will make you pay in other ways. “Yeah, like the allowance you’re getting from your dad is free money, right? There aren’t any strings attached at all.”

“Don’t be like that. My aunt loves me and she loves you too,” April says, leading them out of the bedroom area.

“Does she? Because I feel like I’m sort of irrelevant, it’s just all about you,” Sterling argues, marveling at how fast her wife manages to walk with such short legs as she struggles to keep up.

“Well, yes, she’s my aunt. Just like I know for certain that your aunt and uncle like you a lot more than me. It’s just how things work,” April says, looking over the list for anything they’ve missed, but the bedroom was the last room that they had to furnish--it immediately followed the two of them bickering over the Uppland chaise sofa in the living room, when Sterling had to put her foot down over paying an extra $150 for the same exact thing in a slightly different shade of beige. “But if having thousands of dollars worth of Ikea furniture is what will make you happy, then so be it, Sterling.”

Sterling has come to find that, in most settings, it isn’t a good thing when April uses her whole first name like that. “It will make me happy, and I’m still agreeing to the Pottery Barn coffee table, am I not?”

“I guess,” April says, seeming to give up on this fight, which isn’t as satisfying to win as Sterling thought it would be.

“...Can we get meatballs on the way out?” Sterling asks, actually a bit relieved when April chuckles at the request.

“Why anyone would trust food from a furniture store, I will never know.”

“No, no, no. Leg A is supposed to attach to this part here like so,” April directs Sterling as they sit on their living room floor, assembling the (absolutely pointless) TV stand for a TV that they do not own. She tosses the instructions at Sterling to look at while she turns to stab a meatball in her to-go box and dunks it in the lingonberry jam, which Sterling is pretty sure would qualify as grounds for divorce if she felt so inclined.

Sterling looks over the diagram again, feeling all the more justified in how she was attaching the leg before, but she figures she’ll give April’s method a try, seeing as they’ve made very little progress so far. “So uh, we’re definitely going to be having to do this for the whole rest of the weekend, right?”

“Yep,” April says, popping the 'P' at the end of that word smugly. “The drawbacks of getting our furniture in pieces.” She continues eating her meatballs--which she seems to be enjoying a lot for being furniture store food--while Sterling grumbles to herself and continues working. This is especially frustrating, seeing as April has always been the handy one in this relationship, and she’s choosing to punish Sterling by offering her the bare minimum of help. Sterling can hardly believe that this is the same woman who she was so happy to marry a week ago. And yet, they’ve somehow turned into an old married couple before the ink on their license is even dry.

Sterling continues working in silence, irritated beyond measure when April turns out to be entirely correct about the stupid leg attachment. And honestly, a part of her wonders if they’re both feeling particularly irritable due to making it a full 48 hours without sex—or maybe that’s just her. “So uh, where exactly are we sleeping tonight, if the bed isn’t getting delivered until tomorrow?” It’s an innocent question with entirely un-innocent motivation behind it.

“On our mattress on the floor, like heathens,” April says, sounding not exactly pleased about this. “But at least it’s a Saatva--and was bought for us by my Uncle Bill. Which is really weird, come to think of it.” She makes a face and continues eating as Bilko trots out to join them from wherever he was lurking in the house.

“Keep him away from the losable parts, please,” Sterling says, hurrying to secure her pile of screws.

“I am, I am,” April says exasperatedly, setting down her to-go box and pulling Bilko into her lap before he can start playing kitty hockey. 

He yowls a sound of protest before settling into April’s arms, and Sterling can eventually hear him start to purr.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about this sooner,” April says, her apology coming out of nowhere and taking Sterling completely by surprise—the words ‘I’m sorry’ aren’t usually a part of her vocabulary. April looks down at Bilko as she scratches behind his ears, causing him to close his eyes with a look of complete contentment. “I just love him a lot and I know my mom…doesn’t. But if you really don’t want him here, I can take him back there tomorrow.” April looks as if she’s about to cry when she says this, and in any other circumstance, Sterling knows that this would be a blatant manipulation tactic. But Sterling knows her wife and therefore knows how much she’s loved this cat since the day she got him, so her show of emotion has to be at least a fraction genuine, if not completely.

Nobody can ever say that Sterling isn’t desperately in love. “You don’t have to take him back,” she says, giving in faster than her Uncle Deacon on a diet. She isn’t crazy about Bilko, but the one thing she can’t possibly abide is being the cause of genuine unhappiness in April (as opposed to just being a nuisance).

“Really?” April asks, an adorable crooked grin on her face that reminds Sterling exactly why she married her—it was for this heart-skipping feeling inside her that she experiences when she feels the happiness of someone else just as strongly as if it were her own.

Sterling makes a show of being put out as she sighs and looks at Bilko perfectly content in his ‘Mommy’s’ (as April calls herself) lap. “Yes, really. He’s yours; I can’t just make you give him up.”

April puts Bilko on the floor so she can lean over the pieces of their TV stand to kiss Sterling firmly on the lips. “Thank you. Really, you have no idea how much this means to me.”

Really, Sterling does. Which only makes her feel like more of a jerk for even putting up this much of a fight in the first place. “You don’t have to thank me,” she says nonchalantly, figuring at the very least that Bilko will be her wife’s responsibility, and at the most, she’ll have to give him fresh water every once in a while. A very small price to pay for the happiness of the woman she loves more than all but one other person out of almost 8 billion.

“Sterl, do you wanna try some of this moisturizer?” April calls from the bathroom just as Sterling has started to get herself settled into bed—well, their mattress on the floor with their new expensive sheets on it. “It’s crazy expensive and makes your face smell like rain.”

Sterling chuckles, marveling about how in just two short years, she’s managed to go from being constantly annoyed by April’s need to flaunt her wealth, to being more amused by it than anything. It’s ridiculous what people’s addictions to homophobic chicken sandwiches can buy. 

“Sure,” she says, getting up from the bed and going to their house’s one bathroom, where April is standing in front of the mirror in a nightie so short that it barely covers her butt. She really does seem to have an endless supply of sexy pajamas, and Sterling has to wonder if she bought these for their marriage or if she’s actually been sleeping alone like this for all the time they’ve been together.

Sterling’s not sure which option she enjoys the thought of more.

“Here,” April says, dipping her fingertip into the moisturizer and coming over to smear it over Sterling’s t-zone while whispering to herself, “Simbaaa.”

Sterling laughs, unsure how April managed that with a straight face, which falls apart completely as she bursts into a fit of giggles. April really is a lot goofier than anyone will ever know. “Was that your motive all along?” Sterling asks, making a show of being unamused as April rubs the cream in.

“Maybe.” April shrugs. “Or maybe I just want to make sure you age gracefully along with me. Wouldn’t want people to think I’m your trophy wife in thirty years.”

Sterling rolls her eyes. “As if they don’t already think that now.” My, how things have changed between them since just this afternoon.

“Aren’t you suave?” April seems genuinely impressed by the speed at which Sterling came up with that one, and really, she should be. “Did you get the bed made?”

“Uh-huh,” Sterling says as April finishes with her face and goes to the sink to wash her hands. “So uh,” she starts, coming up behind her wife and wrapping her arms around her midsection, resting her head on her shoulder. “New mattress. New marriage. Think we should…uh…break it in? At least we know my parents can’t hear us.” Sterling has never been one to be good about suggesting anyone should have sex with her; she’s much better with actions, in that regard. Heck, even with Luke, all the talk was flimsy excuses, not flat-out requests.

But Sterling desperately wants this. They haven’t been able to have sex in almost 72 hours, which is a new record for their marriage, and Sterling can’t say she wants to extend it. Even at her most infuriating, April is still smoking hot and great at whatever she puts her mind to. 

“I’d really love to,” April says, and that’s all Sterling needs to push her hair aside and start kissing at her neck. “But we can’t.” These words shatter Sterling’s dreams and confuse her all at once as she pulls back. 

“Why can’t we?” Sterling asks, worried that something might be wrong. Or worse, worried that April doesn’t actually like making love with her. It’s sort of expected on a honeymoon, but maybe now that they’re properly settling into the married lifestyle, they’re properly settling into it. Or maybe Sterling is just overthinking it.

April sighs and seems to purposely avoid eye contact with Sterling as she struggles to find the words. “I may have a very mild-” she mumbles the rest of that sentence inaudibly, and Sterling tilts her head to the side curiously, frowning.

“I’m sorry, you have a mild what?” Sterling asks, noting just how embarrassed her wife is about this.

“I have a UTI,” April admits, then buries her face in her hands like she has something to be ashamed of.

Sterling shakes her head, finding it ridiculous that April could be ashamed of herself when she should clearly be blaming her wife right about now. “Oh my god, April, I’m so sorry,” she says, her entire mood quickly shifting away from being amorous to being the nasty jerk who did this to her beautiful wife, and who now needs to do everything in her power to make April feel better. She knows for certain that Blair’s still not forgiven Chase Colton for the one she got over the summer—though a UTI is preferable to what Miles gave her, and Sterling can only be grateful that she at least doesn’t have to worry about that with April (outside of a legit miracle).

April shakes her head exasperatedly. “Sterl, it’s not your fault. A UTI isn’t an STD, it’s merely a consequence of all the fun we were having on our honeymoon without taking all the necessary precautions to prevent it.” She’s making a show of seeing this through a lens of practicality, but Sterling knows her wife far too well for that to work on her.

“Does it hurt?” Sterling asks with all the sympathy in the world as she reaches down to place a gentle hand on April’s lower stomach.

Almost immediately, April drops all pretenses of seeming fine. “It hurts so bad I would easily believe this is God finally punishing me for one of my many, many sins. He saw how happy being married to you makes me, and decided to put a damper on that by making my urethra try to kill me. But I got antibiotics from my new gynecologist and it should clear up in a few days.”

Sterling is having trouble processing all of that at once but she’s pretty sure she got the most important part of all, which is that her wife has been in pain and will get better, but in the meantime… “Oh, poor baby,” Sterling coos, pulling April in for a tight hug. “I’m so sorry you’ve been going through that. Why didn’t you tell me? I would’ve…I don’t know, taken care of you and not been such a jerk at IKEA.”

“I didn’t want you to get unnecessarily worked up. Overreacting is my job, remember?” April’s candid moment of self-deprecating humor is a major breath of fresh air after this hell day they’ve had up to now. “Besides, I didn’t want to add any more stress to moving when I knew you’d hate bringing Bilko.”

“So you did plan on that,” Sterling says, catching April in a white lie that she’d already suspected.

“Nothing gets past you, Miss Bounty Hunter,” April chuckles. “Really, I am sorry that you aren’t happy with the situation. But I promise you that he’ll grow on you once you get used to each other. He really is just a little fluffy sweetheart.”

“That remains to be seen,” Sterling says stubbornly. “Anyway, since you’re busy healing, I’m going to need you to cuddle with me to make up for it.”

April rolls her eyes before following Sterling into the bedroom. “As if you even need to ask for that.” She crawls under the covers with Sterling and is quick to turn on her side and pull Sterling in close. “You know, just because I’m not up to being touched tonight doesn’t mean I can’t take care of you.”

Sterling very desperately wants to take April up on that offer—just the thought of her fingers or her mouth have Sterling feeling her pulse in places where she normally couldn’t—but she’s still got some lingering guilt for causing her wife to get an infection, and she’s not sure her conscience would allow her to fully enjoy getting some one-sided pleasure from her wife tonight. This is not to say that she isn’t fully planning on taking care of any lingering frustration herself once April’s asleep.

“You don’t have to,” Sterling declines, shaking her head. “I’d rather wait until we can both enjoy making love again.”

April groans. “Have I told you how much I despise you calling it that?”

Sterling rolls her eyes, knowing it really only comes down to semantics with April and doesn’t go any deeper. “It’s a physical expression of my love for you and vice versa. It’s making love, and calling it anything else feels…impersonal. You’re my wife.”

April clears her throat and sits up a bit, resting her head on her hand. “Rebuttal. Major rebuttal. My wanting to call a physical act that we take part in as wife and wife by its more direct name does not imply that I think it’s any less special or romantic. Why do you think I waited to do it until our wedding night? However, what my opponent fails to address is that my love for you has existed for a lot longer than I’ve been having sex with you, which would strongly suggest that the two things are not mutually exclusive in the slightest. And ‘ lovemaking’ is a gross word and sex with you is…not gross.”

Sterling can’t help but be amused at how quickly this has turned into a legitimate debate, and for that reason, she isn’t backing down just yet. April should have never turned her into such a master debater. “Ordinarily, you can separate sex acts from feelings for someone, but that’s due to the fact that we humans as mammals experience certain urges for the purposes of reproduction and the continuation of our species. But seeing as you and I are, unfortunately, incapable of reproducing sexually, our lovemaking is exactly that. An expression of our love.”

“I’d hardly consider that unfortunate. But seriously, Sterl? You’re gonna go all Noah’s Ark to justify being a total sap?” April at least seems amused by all of this—the last thing Sterling would want is a real argument over something this dumb. “I’m just saying that someone who fucks as well as you do should avoid terminology that makes it sound…boring.”

Sterling smirks, finding April’s crude but very flattering opinion to be incredibly sexy in a dirty sort of way...which is pretty unhelpful at the moment, seeing as she can’t exactly show off those skills tonight. Though that won’t stop her from teasing April just a little. “Boring, you say?” she asks playfully before she’s suddenly rolling over on top of April and pinning her arms above her head.

“Sterling, what are you doing?” April squeals in surprise but doesn’t seem necessarily upset by this turn of events. At least not until Sterling initiates a tickle attack, the likes of which an only child like April has never seen. “No, no, no, stop it!” she says between fits of giggles, struggling against Sterling, who is unrelenting until April frees one of her arms and punches Sterling square in the breast, doubling her over on the bed.

“Mother F!” Sterling almost swears as she doubles over on the bed, holding her poor abused boob.

“I didn’t want to have to do that, but you forced my hand,” April says unapologetically as she catches her breath and recovers from the tickle attack, reaching over to turn off the light from their one IKEA lamp on the floor. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m good,” Sterling says, nodding and settling into bed. “Nice debate.”

“Thank you. You had a better argument for pro-lovemaking than I thought you would,” April concedes. “Sorry if I hurt you, but for future reference, I don’t like to be tickled.”

“Yep. I got that,” Sterling says, nodding uselessly in the dark. “You wanna go out to breakfast in the morning?”

“Love to,” April agrees just as their cracked open bedroom door is pushed a little wider, and Bilko comes in to join them, lying down by April’s feet.

Sterling sighs and turns over on her sleep side, figuring that she and April will be able to more properly hash out tonight’s debate in a rematch in a few days, and something tells her it will end with April out of breath for another reason entirely. “‘Night, Babe.”

“Goodnight, Honey.”

Sterling closes her eyes and waits for sleep to take her, which it almost fully does in just a few moments. But then April is gently shaking her awake by her shoulder.

“Sterl? Did you lock the front door?” April asks in a whisper, though for whose benefit, Sterling doesn’t know.

“Mmhm,” Sterling replies sleepily.

“And the deadbolt?” April adds, forcing Sterling to groan as she gets out of bed, knowing April will not possibly let her sleep until she can assure her that the house is fully secure. “I love you,” April calls after her in the dark as Sterling grabs the metal peewee softball bat from the corner, just to be on the safe side.

“I know,” Sterling grumbles, knowing the kind of reaction that’ll get her.

April giggles. “Oh, give me a few days and I am going to ravage you so hard.”

“Counting on it,” Sterling calls from the hallway and heads to the front door to lock it.