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Holding onto nothing is all I've known (until you showed)

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Emperor Philippa Georgiou sashays into the mess hall, head held high, and with each crisp, unmistakable click of her boots, the dining crowd gradually grows quiet.

“She is here, isn’t she?” Michael sighs, watching Tilly, Keyla, and Joann scurrying to gather their food on their plates, so they can retreat to a nearby table.

“Michael, your girlfriend is scary,” chimes Tilly, “she still insists that I change my name to Killy and trust me, she’s thorough when it comes to pursua—”

“Shhh! Incoming,” Joann says frantically under her breath, “hey I’ve got your sauce here let’s go.”

Keyla whispers a thanks, and the trio narrowly escapes just as Georgiou arrives by the other side of the table, marking her territory by laying her platter noisily right across Michael’s. Then Georgiou grabs Michael’s face and bends over to kiss her.

 

The mess hall is still quiet. Nobody is talking, which means that everyone is watching.

 

Michael weakly swats Georgiou’s arm as protest, but once she tastes that apple-flavored lip gloss on Georgiou’s mouth, she melts into the kiss like she always does.

“Nice to see you, too,” rasps Michael, trying to stare daggers at Philippa after they part. But upon the sight of her beautiful face and those big brown eyes, Michael’s resolve goes swoosh. Not to mention that Philippa is smiling the kind of fond, out-of-character smile reserved for Michael and it never fails to make her a bit starry-eyed. She ends up letting Georgiou rub the residue of her lip gloss off her mouth, and she preens under Georgiou’s touch though she’s supposed to find it condescending.

 

Even if they’ve only been separated for one morning, Michael had missed Philippa.

 

Georgiou slides gracefully into where Tilly had sat. Michael reminds herself that they’re in public so it’s best that she stop ogling at Philippa’s slinky body, clad in skintight-leather which, Michael resorts to her Vulcan training to do so, because Philippa is positively glowing for developments of late. Beating Control and taking over Leland’s position in Section 31? Check. Using her newfound power and not-so-new totalitarian methods to secure a bigger quarter for her and Michael? Check.

But being in a higher rank means more bureaucracy and less cloak-and-daggers stuff. Philippa has to find something—someone, to let out her pent-up frustration and energy.

Hence, Michael having trouble to walk straight after a long night. Check.

“Some of your Starfleet protocols are just—” Philippa lets out an ugh that’s so her, Michael is sure both the prime and mirror universe will gladly hand her the copyright, “—I am sure that with some gentle nudge,” Georgiou plunges her fork into an innocent diced carrot, “Saru will extend your leave. After all you have just saved the universe.”

“So I’ve heard,” grins Michael, “Tilly knows firsthand about your persuasion skills. No, no, don’t stare.”

Reluctantly, Georgiou tears her eyes away from the poor girl and back to her vegetable stew, which, Michael notes, is an odd choice of lunch since the Terran has always preferred the sort of…carpe-diem-diet.

“Why do you like to terrorize my friends so much?” Michael teases, finishing the last bit of rice in one dainty spoonful. Georgiou watches her eat, lost in her own thoughts. Michael can tell. Pippa will have this loose, intense look at the same time, her perfect brows slightly knitted. It means that a thousand things are rolling through her mind. Sometimes Michael can tell what they are. More often than not she has to ask. And Philippa’s answer is never boring.

“It’s nothing personal,” Philippa gives a one-shoulder shrug, “I treat everyone with violence and threat.”

“All hail the emperor who preaches equality.”

“That mouth of yours…” Georgiou eye’s gleam darkly as she tips her fork to Michael as if it’s her baton, “…is too smart for your own good. It shall be of a better use when—”

Michael clears her throat loudly, a weak attempt failing to cover a slew of explicit content that comes out of Philippa’s mouth. Blushing hard, Michael feels genuinely sorry for all the eavesdroppers. And Philippa has the nerve to give her a slight arch of brows after that…! Michael is so mad she can’t even think. She glares at Georgiou, and it turns out to be an unwise move because Georgiou chooses the moment to dip a piece of potato in her mouth, close her lips around the fork and pull out the utensil, slow and deliberate, as if she wished the fork is Michael’s finger or something else.

Michael’s cheeks flare up upon Philippa’s knowing smirk.

“Be good, Philippa,” warns Michael, and it’s when she hears herself does she recall she has said those exact same words to Georgiou on Qo'noS, where she thought they were never going to meet again. She wonders if Georgiou remembers that.

 

Georgiou does. Her face softens in nostalgia but she’s Terran after all. And a former emperor for Christ’s sake. She quickly finds a way to turn the tide.

“Or you’ll come…”Philippa’s voice dips in a sinister way, making Michael’s imagination work in her favor, “…for me?”

Michael scoffs, but her body is honest. She can’t help but shift a little in her seat, feeling the heat building treacherously. Georgiou chews on her broccoli while enjoying her girl squirm. Yummy.

“What are you having anyway?” Deflects Michael, scrunching her nose at the greenness in Georgiou’s bowl and the tea complementing along. It’s weird that her lover isn’t dining on fine wine and meat (or entrails of species Michael doesn’t know about and wishes not to know). Georgiou gives Michael a flippant look, and it reminds Michael of just the thing she’s been looking forward to.

“Wait here.” With that, Michael stands up, her chair backing with a grating screech before she walks away with her tray. Under normal circumstances, Georgiou won’t permit her pet to depart in such a hurry, but she’s feeling quite generous today even if her meal is disappointing as expected.

 

The peasants around her are no longer whispering, talking at a normal volume. Georgiou doesn’t care about them. Let them watch. Let them watch her Michael because none of them will have her. Michael is hers only. And since Georgiou is feeling generous, she decides that no one here is secretly coveting her girl, or she will gladly demonstrate a hundred ways to kill with the glass in her hand.

 

“Whoa, you’re staring as if your tea is causing the crick in your back.” Michael breezes into her vision, her eyes sparkling with a smile. If Michael isn’t such a sight for sore eyes, Georgiou would’ve punished her for how she has exposed her weakness in public.

“Luckily my dear, those magical hands of yours never fail to work the kink out of me,” says Georgiou lazily, and her Michael splutters after hearing such praise. Wonderful. Maybe her lunch isn’t so unpleasant after all.

“Great, you’ve finished. Time for dessert,” Michael pushes aside Georgiou’s platter and sets down her new bowl as replacement. She offers Georgiou a spoon but she ignores her.

Georgiou takes back that comment about her lunch.

“What the hell is this?” She glares at the mushy globs in colors of white arsenic and human feces.

“Come on, you’ve got to try some ice cream. It’s delicious!” Michael laughs at the horror on Philippa’s face and leaves a spoon in front of her as an invitation. Not waiting for her, Michael digs in first. Maybe Georgiou would be more willing to try the ice cream if she proved that it’s not poisonous.

“Mmm…” Michael rolls her eyes with pleasure when the flavors hit her. She licks her lips, “…chocolate and vanilla. Just perfect.”

She can tell by Georgiou’s scowl that the Terran remains unconvinced, and is probably going to say something nasty again. So when those sly lips part, a prepared Michael seizes the opportunity to slide a full spoon into her mouth.

 

“Mmmph!” Georgiou’s eyebrows shoot to her hairline as she, instinctively, closes her mouth to fend off the invading spoon. But the motion is what Michael wants. It’s too late. She growls at Michael who’s already drawing the empty spoon back, but then, she gets distracted by Michael’s smugness. It occurs to the Terran that she is the only one capable to make Michael happy and satisfied like this. That fact pleases Georgiou more than she cares to admit, and unwarranted warmth blossoms in her stomach.

 

Then the sweetness explodes on her palate.

 

Michael watches the surprise blanking Philippa’s features, smoothing her brows and draining away the snarl. But what Michael hasn’t anticipated is the blush blooming on her cheeks, as if she’s more than caught off guard. Shy, even. There’s nothing Michael wouldn’t do to know the reason behind that reaction.

The knot in Philippa’s milky throat quivers. The Terran has swallowed.

“Well?” Asks Michael eagerly, perching in her seat, “do you like it?”

Georgiou blinks. Then she blinks again.

“Too sweet for my taste,” lies Georgiou blatantly, her mouth puckered in disdain a beat too late, “and the cold is bad for your teeth.”

“Live a little,” Michael pouts, looking at the older woman with kicked-puppy-eyes.

Georgiou huffs, “I don’t care for sugar and fat.”

“And you’ve also been eating healthy, all the vegetables...” Michael cocks her head, suspicious. Georgiou folds her hands across her chest, her expression revealing nothing and nor does she touch the spoon before her. The ice cream is melting, two lonely islands sitting in a slick puddle of brown and white. While Philippa refuses to talk, Michael stirs the ice cream. Great, it has officially become a vile-looking goop.

 

The silence stretches, and their tension seems to bring the mess hall to quietness once more.

 

“Need to watch my figure, don’t I?” Georgiou mutters. She grabs the loafing spoon in front of her in one harsh motion, but her tone is somehow placating.

It takes Michael less than three seconds to connect the dots.

Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius will never not be confident. However, in lieu of recent events, this is Philippa feeling what is close to insecure. She is not old but she surely isn’t as young as Michael. When they’re in bed, her stamina is ample but when emotions come into play, she finds herself in a foreign land where she could be tired out. And that has never happened when she still had an empire to rule.

It has happened more than once, where Michael catches Georgiou staring at her naked body in awe, fascination and something opaque that Michael is meant to ask what it is, but in those situations, Michael is too exhausted to even form a sentence. Now Michael understands where that’s coming from: Georgiou wants to keep up, and it does not matter if it’s her being prudent, competitive, self-aware, or all of the above. It’s Georgiou’s way of telling Michael that she values their time together, that she values their relationship.

“I’ll spar with you, then. To work off the calories.” Michael offers casually as if it's nothing, but she secretly congratulates herself when Georgiou stops looking like she’s going to toy the spoon to death. Georgiou dotes the attention back to Michael, and Michael plays it cool, tasting her ice cream as if she hasn’t just gained an important piece of information about the Terran.

But then the fire that reignites in Georgiou’s eyes makes Michael think maybe, she's exactly where Georgiou wants her to be, that she is counting on her to make that proposal.

“Deal.” Georgiou mirrors her nonchalant attitude. Michael can’t shake the feeling that she’s playing another game, and that their power dynamic shifts (yet again) to Georgiou’s side.

“Only sparring,” says Michael in an afterthought, seeing how obedient Georgiou is now eating the ice cream she brings her, “no funny business on the mat.”

“Of course,” smiles Georgiou, and her teeth seem sharper than usual, “what else is there to do on the mat?”