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All The Things You Are

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Therese lay with her back turned to Carol. She could feel Carol tracing constellations on her back, joining the freckles that adorned her back with her finger then lightly placing a kiss upon them.

God knows how many hours they were into January 1st, how many hours they had lost in one another. Therese still didn’t understand how a woman like Carol could feel something for her. She wanted it and she wished for it ever since their eyes met in Frakenberg’s and she got it, she isn’t used to things going her way. From her father to Richard, from the boarding school to her job, her life seemed like a heap of lingering disappointments but somehow someway, it changed. In quite literally a blink of an eye, her life got turned around and she fell in love. She fell in love with the same woman who now peppered her back with kisses, making her way up to her shoulder and to her sensitive ears. Therese let out a giggle as Carol brushed over the part of her ear that tickled just by wind hitting it.

“Oh. I didn’t mean to wake you. Go back to sleep.”

“It’s alright. I was awake anyway.” Therese leaned into Carol’s front and pulled the hand that lay on her waist closer around her.

“What are you thinking?” Carol whispered softly into Therese’s ear.

“I am thinking about how I’ve never.. had..this before” Therese tried hard to find the right words. When Carol remained silent she continued. “I mean I’ve never felt so..” loved, Therese chocked back the word.

Therese felt Carol tug at her shoulder to tell her to turn around. Now, they lay with their faces inches apart. Therese could feel the blush on her cheeks and tried to hide it by focusing on her finger that traced Carol’s ribs.

“I’ll be honest with you darling i’ve never had sex before without craving a cigarette right after it” Carol quipped. Therese felt some of her nervousness melt away and she broke a smile.

She finally looked up to face Carol. Her grey eyes looked so calm, like a pool of water with a single ripple going through it. These eyes spoke of nothing but adoration and honesty. Carol’s hand came up to Therese’s jaw and she leaned into the touch. Carol ran her thumb along Therese’s bottom lip, her eyes following the plane that her thumb traced.

“I guess one craving gets replaced by the other” Then Carol kissed her for what felt like the millionth time tonight and Therese felt fireworks go off in her stomach like a million new years.

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After being together for long, it is no news that both of them know all the little things about each other.

Carol knows Therese likes two strawberries cut down the middle on her waffles and that she likes coffee with cream in the morning but without cream in the evening. Carol understands when Therese needs her alone time and when she needs to pry and hold Therese to get her to feel better. She knows that Therese likes white chocolate over the dark chocolate in a box of truffles and that they wont last more than a day.

Besides that, one also starts to learn what turns the gears in the other, what garners what reaction.

Carol knows that if she doesn’t kiss Therese good morning Therese will sulk all day. She knows that if she mentions her assistant Therese will fume. She knows that if she drops her cigarette on the ground instead of in the bin Therese will slap her arm and scold her.

Most importantly Carol knows that if she runs her hands along Therese’s waist and then lets them wander to her behind, Therese will groan into her mouth as she kisses her. She knows if she bites Therese’s lip she will get Therese to roll her hips into her body. She knows that when her lips reach Therese’s neck she will roll her head back and grip Carol’s hair to encourage her to go on. She knows if she uses her teeth to leave marks there will be a “Fuck” muttered between pants and a “Carol I need you,” growled into her ear.

Oh and Carol knows too well that when she finally gives into Therese’s pleas and requests that she will be welcomed by delicious wetness that she knows tastes sweeter than any elixir in the world.

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For the first few months after they moved in together, within the close group of friends that knew, Carol and Therese’s supposed marriage became a running gag. There was a little sting to it, that two people who love each other so devotedly and so wholly can’t be together in the way that they want to but some days joking about it seems like the best way to get over the tragedy of it. When Dannie and Therese meet, there is always the “So how’s the married life treating you?”. Therese would always snort in response and say “it’s been great” almost nonchalantly but the grin on her face gives away exactly how much the thought warms her heart and makes her light headed.

Once when Abby is over and a bit drunk, she wraps her arm around Carol’s shoulder and pulls her down so both of them hunch, its as if Abby is about to give her a speech on the vast seas she has sailed.

“Listen Carol, I’ve known you for so long and you are my dearest friend” Abby says as seriously as she can while slurring her words.

“Cut to the chase Abby” Carol laughs.

“Alright, then! Is it true that sex is better after marriage?”

Carol’s eyes go wide at that question and Therese loses any colour her face had. Both of them are blushing slightly before Abby bursts into laughter, patting Carol on the back. Carol leans over to whisper into Therese’s ear.

“With you, it’s better every night.” Therese bites her lip to suppress her smile.

But jokes grow old and others take their place. All their years together can be counted in the endless list of inside jokes all of them share. As if one counted for every grey hair Carol and Therese earned till May 17th, 2004. Massachusetts has become the first U.S state to legalize gay marriage. There is no talk in their house, no chatter, just the silent joy that bubbled within both of them. Therese took Carol’s hand into hers, turning the ring that already adorned her ring finger.

“I know I asked you years ago. But Carol, will you marry me?”

And just like years ago, Carol said yes as tears escaped her eyes. Only this time, Therese will get to see Carol in that white gown she always dreamed of.

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As if by instinct, Carol’s eyes opened in the middle of the night just as the light in their hallway turned on. Tiny footsteps made their way to the bedroom door and soon light spilled into the master bedroom. Carol sat up slowly, careful not to wake Therese who lightly snored on her side, turned away from Carol. Rindy wordlessly crawled in between Carol and Therese, burying herself in her mother’s arms. 

“Is everything alright sweetie?” Carol whispered to Rindy.

Rindy shook her head against Carol’s chest and sniffled and Carol’s heart dropped. She cupped her daughter’s face and gently wiped her tears away.

“I had a nightmare about the aliens again” Rindy mumbled. She looked as though she was about to cry again.

“Shhh.. Don’t cry darling” Carol rubbed her back gently and pulled her closer.

“You know mommy met an alien once.” Carol said slowly. Rindy’s eyes became wide and she hugged her mother tighter. “Mommy, did it hurt you???” Carol chuckled at her daughter’s concern and kissed her forehead lightly. 

“No sweetie. She is the kindest soul. She helped mommy pick that train set for you.” Carol watched Rindy’s eyes grow wider and her crying ceased. Now she was intrigued as to know who this alien was. “When did you meet her mommy? how did she know I like trains?” Carol’s mind immediately went back to one of her most cherished memories. She looked over to Therese who hadn’t stirred since and assumed she was asleep. 

“Mommy met her during Christmas and she worked at the shop your train set came from. She said she knew because she read a lot.” Carol saw the excitement building on Rindy’s face, her heart warmed at the sight. All of a sudden, Rindy came close to Carol’s ear, as if to tell a secret.

“What did she look like?? Was she scary?” Carol laughed then immediately stopped herself lest she wake Therese. 

“Not at all, sweet pea. She looked exactly like everyone else.” 

“Then how did you know??” Carol smiled warmly at her daughter’s confused expression. Carol took in a breath and started.

“Because she had these big beautiful green eyes that held the stars in them and those eyes looked around as if they didn’t understand us humans.“ Carol emphasised certain words as if narrating an epic.

“Little bit like how Cindy in your class looks at her mathematics homework.” Rindy started giggling at that. 

“Cindy is just afraid of her home work that’s why she looks at it that way”

“I guess she was afraid of us humans too. But when she became my friend, she wasn’t scared anymore. She even helped mommy when mommy was the most afraid.”

“Really??” Rindy beamed at her mother, who just nodded in response. The circles Carol rubbed on her back finally started to do their job as Rindy yawned and curled into her mother. 

“Mommy?” Rindy spoke after a minute. 

“Yes dear?” 

“I am going to befriend an alien now,” Carol lovingly kissed her head in response and they both quickly went back to sleep.


The next morning as Rindy sat on their table munching on her breakfast, Therese came into the kitchen and stood next to Carol who flitted around making their breakfast. 

“Good morning angel,” Carol placed a kiss on Therese’s cheek and continued on her business.

“Carol, do I know this alien you were taking about last night?” Therese asked in mock innocence. Carol stopped dead in her tracks and turned to Therese looking slightly embarrassed. 

“You heard that?” Therese nodded and pulled Carol closer by the waist.

“I adore you. You know that?” Therese placed a quick kiss to Carol’s chin and started helping with the breakfast.  

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They never had any use for words. When entire conversations could take place in one look, shared across the bench seat of one silver Packard, words lost their appeal. Therese knew she was in love the minute her eyes met stormy grey ones. Carol knew she was in love the minute she saw green eyes twinkle and say “Yes. Yes I would.”. Without saying the “run away with me”, Carol whisked Therese away on a trip across the endless country sides and towards an endless horizon. 

Multiple nights spent in hotels laughing and talking and car rides spent sharing the same Thermos of coffee and electric silence. Silence charged with longing, charged with confusions, charged with questions. The new year came along before they knew, glasses clinked together, alcohol burned in their throats, idle conversation was made and forgot, and lips found lips in a magnificent kiss. Carol pulled back as if to ask “Is this alright? should we be doing this?” and Therese kissed her back as if to say “I don’t care”. Therese told Carol to take her to bed and then, without saying “I love you”, Carol made Therese believe there was not another person in the world who was loved more than she was. 

Then everything changed. They needed words to hold each other above water. Silence was deafening and everything needed rectification. “I took what you gave willingly.” “It’s not your fault Therese” “You don’t have to sleep over there”. Morning came and Carol untangled herself from Therese. She quietly made her way around the room and started to make her exit. Without saying “Goodbye my love” Carol kissed the top of Therese’s forehead in a last farewell.

They never had any use for words but Carol always meant to tell Therese she loves her.

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It’s been 15 hours since Carol got the telegram. 15 hours since the hurricane of revelations hit them and now they were left in the rubble. Both of them broken, tired and hopeless. They clung on to each other so tight that their arms would soon give out but neither would stay intact without the other’s arms around them. Everything was still, no sound except the ticking of a clock even dare disturb the silence in the room. The ticking felt oppressive, like a constant reminder of the flitting moments they had left together.

“What’s going to happen now?” Therese’s small voice broke the stillness of the air.

“I-” Carol started. She wanted to tell Therese everything. That she would have to leave, that she won’t come back, that she would love her always but this is goodbye. She was exhausted. Her heart would burst out of her chest if she uttered a single word of it to Therese.

“I don’t know. But we’ll be okay.” She lying through her teeth, maybe Therese knew it too. Carol could feel wetness on her shoulder and Therese started to tremble. She couldn’t leave Therese like this but this was compulsion not want.

“I am so sorry my angel” Carol bit back her own tears. For the first time, she was praying to anyone who’d listen to let Therese be happy, whether with or without her.

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“Therese!” Carol walked in on Therese happily chatting away to her assistant in the middle of the store.

“Hello Carol” Therese came close to her, a little bit too close and pressed kisses to Carol’s cheeks. Carol was still struck by the fact that Therese visited her the second time this week without informing her. It wasn’t unwelcome but it was alarming, they both knew they had to keep a low profile and Therese’s greeting was unusual.

“Excuse us Victoria,Therese would you mind following me?” Carol lead them both into the storage.

“Darling, are you okay?”

“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” Therese tried to sound innocent but Carol knew something was off when Therese purposefully avoided her gaze. Carol took her hand and then Therese’s shoulders relaxed as she let out a sigh.

“I am sorry. I was being silly but I just had this feeling about Victoria.”

Suddenly Carol understood the daggers Therese was shooting Victoria before she interrupted their conversation. She let out a hearty laugh and pulled on Therese’s hand to make her almost fall into her arms.

“Yes you are being silly. She isn’t my type. I don’t like blondes.” Therese now started smiling and pulled Carol into a kiss. Her hands slid down the length of Carol’s torso, purposefully stopping at her breasts and then continuing on. Carol groaned into her mouth, encouraging her meandering hands and Therese was happy to oblige as she quickly undid the buttons of Carol’s blouse and brought her lips to Carol’s collarbone. Therese’s hands went up Carol’s skirt, trying to find a way to negotiate her hose and panties while still continuing the routine of teeth and lips on her’s chest. After a good few minutes struggle, they both just burst into laughter.

“And I was just about to skip lunch.” Therese kissed Carol warmly while buttoning up her blouse.

“Come home soon alright? I don’t think I can wait for you for too long” Carol tucked a loose strand of hair behind Therese’s ear.

“Me too” Therese pressed one last kiss to Carol’s lips and headed out the storage.

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It’s almost ridiculous how naturally Carol and Therese’s lives fell into routine. When Therese initially moved in, there was always some place to go for dinner, the living room was always their ballroom, always the nervous excitement of kissing in the hallway, and then leaving a trail of clothing till their bedroom, and there was always something to discover in this new found domesticity. There were always the butterflies in Therese’s stomach when she woke up next to a slumbering Carol, eyelashes lit golden by the sunlight, her freckles showing up like the stars that appear at dusk and her whole face exuded serenity as she dreamed about whatever that gorgeous mind of her would conjure. (there was always the blush on her cheeks when she hoped that it was her that Carol dreamed of).

A month or so later when routine set in, the fancy dinners out dwindled to home cooked meals on their tiny dinner table, the living room became a place where both of them could lounge like cats, regaining their energies after a long work day, kissing in the hallway was still exciting but sometimes it would just lead to late night conversations, held at length in each others arms before one of them fell asleep, and everything domesticity had to offer had been discovered and engrained in their daily lives. Therese enjoyed it, much to her surprise, she enjoyed kissing Carol goodbye before running out of the house for work, helping her with the groceries, cooking dinner together and god knows she even enjoyed picking out curtains for the apartment with her.

But Therese still felt the butterflies in her stomach whenever she woke up next to Carol. Those butterflies ran wild in her stomach, like Rindy did once, running around their apartment yelling “Therese loves mommy!”, every morning when she saw the most beautiful woman in the world next to her and remembered that she was hers and hers alone. Therese thinks even the butterflies had fallen into routine with the both of them.

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“what made you change your mind?”

Therese wasn’t sure if Carol had actually asked the question or she just dreamt it. She looked down to meet Carol’s eyes but they stayed looking to one corner of the room. She brought a hand up to play with Carol’s hair, Carol hummed contently and moved her head to the side to press a kiss to Therese’s stomach. She could feel her heart beat quicken at that simple gesture, surely Carol heard it because she had turned her head to the other side on stomach and now looked up at Therese. Therese now knew she didn’t imagine the question and that Carol was waiting for an answer. She took a deep breathe and started.

“I met this girl at the party. She was like us and she came on to me. I enjoyed the attention too. It made me feel wanted.” Therese looked up to the ceiling.

“Oh.” Carol started to move her head but Therese caught her face in her hands and dragged it up her body to look Carol straight in the eyes.

“But I knew that that meant nothing. That no matter what, in the end, I only want to be wanted by you.” Therese watched the surprised expression on Carol’s face soften, her eyes getting glassy and mouth quivering a little.

Carol opened her mouth as if to say something but Therese cut her off by pulling her in to kiss her. Therese knew these lips were her home and as long as she would find her way back to them, that’s the only road she would take. Therese pulled back but didn’t move her hands from the sides of Carol’s face. Carol had tears running down her cheeks, she hadn’t opened her eyes and held back her sobs by biting her bottom lip. 

“Look at me.” Therese wiped the tears with her thumbs. Carol’s eyes opened slowly, she looked tired, the circles under her eyes clearer than ever but her eyes were still hopeful. She looked exhausted, she looked happy, she looked beautiful.  

“I love you Carol. And It will always be you and me.” Therese took Carol into her arms as she finally let go and cried into her chest. 

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“Names. Such a funny little thing they are. A string of alphabets brought together to then associate your being with, to put a tag on you as if you could be claimed. How insignificant and how incredibly significant at the same time.” Carol had said this in one of her far away moods, just a train of thought that finished just as the sentence did. Once the words fell out, there was no more pondering over it, well by Carol at least. Therese, on the other hand, clung to the thought of how names claim someone.

She thought of her own name, Therese. Tuh -rez. Theresa to most, Therese to some, Terry to Richard and when they were alone, Darling to Carol. Sometimes Carol would dare to call her sweetheart or sweetie in public, when the mood was light enough and when everyone was distracted. Therese still smiled at every term of endearment Carol called her by and she loved them all the same.

If she was honest, she was partial to when Carol called her angel. It held the image of Carol’s calm grey eyes on a new year’s night, many many times ago. That image was one she held incredibly close. She could hear the sentiment behind it whether it was whispered to her or shouted from another room, asking her if she’d seen Carol’s slippers. 

[But if she was brutally honest, she loved it the most how Carol said her name when no one was around. How Carol couldn’t stretch the Es like she normally would because she would be out of breath. How it was usually followed by a please or don’t stop, said equally breathlessly. How it sounded like a prayer, falling continuously from the lips she adored so. How it echoed off their bedroom walls. Most of all, she loved how it tasted when Carol would moan it into her mouth.]

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In what they called their hay days, Abby and Carol were never ones to back down from a challenge. It was their absolute competitiveness that once wound Carol in the ER with a broken foot at 3 am and Abby with a date with a nurse. Carol, Therese and Abby were having one of their girls nights in, with the three of them sprawled on their living-room floor and, as usual, Abby dramatically recounting their shenanigans and Carol only interjecting to correct a detail or confirm an occurrence. 

Therese was already in tears, laughing and clutching her stomach. Abby took a long sip from her martini and turned to Carol. She gave her a smug smile and started.

“Okay, Therese. I think it’s time you knew about your woman’s most brazen moments.” Therese’s laughing ceased immediately and now she sat up in full attention.

“And that’s your cue to leave immediately” Carol started to push Abby up and out of the apartment. Therese tries to interject, desperate to hear this story. 

“I will leave but I think you are depriving Therese of your magnum opus of stories. Strip poker is excellent family entertainment.” 

“Strip poker??” Therese exclaimed. Carol shot Abby a glare, who just shot her smirk back, she knew she had struck the sparks of the all-consuming flame that is Therese’s curiosity.

Carol came back inside the apartment after getting Abby taxi and Therese was instantly all over her, hoping to solicit this story out of her. 

“Okay okay I’ll tell you.” Carol sat down on the couch and patted her thighs, Therese immediately obliged and wrapped her arms around Carol’s neck as she sat down in her lap. 

“Sooo.. It was Christmas eve. Abby and I were out with some girls. We were new to the poker scene and obviously knew nothing. So we decided to try our hand at it, little did we know it was a full game of strip poker and we were left with nothing but a bedsheet to cover our bodies. We had to hail a cab in that get up at 3 am” Carol sounded shocked at the memory and Therese threw her head back and laughed.   

“And that’s how I ended up standing naked on the Brooklyn Bridge on Christmas Eve.” Carol finished and started to giggle herself.

Therese tucked a strand of her behind Carol’s ear and moved lips to it.

“Maybe you should show me how to play one day.” Therese whispered. Carol made a mental note to get that arranged pronto or at least after she attended to Therese’s hands that moved higher and higher up her skirt.

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“Hello? Carol?” Abby had grown used to late night calls but it always set off an alarm within her core.

“Abby, do you know any diner that sells pie right now?” Carol sounded tired, Abby could just imagine her rubbing her neck as if she was trying to get a knot out of it.

“Pie?? Carol, it’s 2:00 am.” Abby snorted. 

“Tell that to Therese. I don’t care that it’s 2:00 am, we need pie, she says” Carol let out a sigh and Abby laughed at that. She could just imagine her best friend sitting beside the phone in her robe with her head in her hands and a faint but tired smile on her lips.

“I tell you what Abby, this baby better be worth it.”

“Come on Carol. You know it will be.” Abby heard Therese’s voice call out something from far away. 

“I know. It will always be worth it. Anyway, the missus wants something else now, I’ll call you tomorrow. Goodnight darling.” Abby could hear Carol’s smile.

“Try and get some rest and give Therese my love. Bye.” Abby couldn’t wait to hear the end of this thrilling saga. 

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Carol impatiently tapped her heels on hardwood floor. She checked her watch for the tenth time in the last minute. Therese was flitting about their bedroom trying to find a scarf that went with her dress. Their reservation was at 8:00 and it was currently 8:05. Carol huffed and decided to call out for Therese.

“We’re going to be late if we don’t leave like 5 minutes ago.”

Therese came out of the bedroom wrapping a red gold scarf around her neck, looking slightly miffed.

“Don’t be smart with me when you are the one who decided to leave a mark in such an obvious place.” Therese pouted.

“I am sorry darling.” Carol laughed and then took Therese by the waist.

“You are looking ravishing today, though. Almost good enough to eat” She moved to kiss Therese’s jaw. 

“Let’s leave before you decide on a different kind of dinner altogether.” Therese quipped and moved out of her embrace, leaving an open mouthed Carol in their apartment doorway.

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“MOOMMY!” 

Carol heard her daughter call from the living room. She dropped the papers she was holding, causing them to clutter her desk and slide off to different corners of the room. She ran into the living room but there was no sign of her daughter or Therese. Her heart was beating in her ears and she started to lose her breath.

“Rindy? Where are you, sweetie?” Carol called out to an empty room.

“Over here!” A small voice came from behind the couch. Carol peered behind the couch to find Rindy trying to wriggle her way out. Carol let out the breath she was holding and immediately started to move the couch out of the way. Once free, Rindy jumped into her mother’s arms. Carol pressed kisses to her forehead and started checking her limbs for damage.

“How exactly did you manage to get stuck in there?“ Carol all but laughed while asking that.

“Therese went out to get something so I thought if I hid, I could scare her when she came back in” Rindy sounded so sheepish that Carol melted at her mischievous daughter’s demeanour.

“Alright then. Let’s go hide. Then we can scare Therese together.” Carol knew she would get scolded for this and get turned down when it was time to cuddle but right now, she was about to fully encourage her daughter’s schemes.

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“Mommy? Is our house haunted?” Rindy rolled the peas on her plate with her fork.

“No, the house is definitely not haunted, why do you ask?” Therese answered for Carol, who had a mouth full of vegetables which wouldn’t let her answer.

“Then why do I always hear a lady at night making pain noises?”

Rindy did not know what had happened but Therese lost all color in her face and her mother choked on her vegetables. She assumed they saw the ghost behind her and started looking around. When they both started to laugh, she knew something was suspicious but decided to finish her lunch instead. “grown ups” she sighed mentally.    

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Every child reaches a certain age where they question everything. Why is this so? or how did that happen?. Rindy is now 6 and everything is one big question. Her mother knows how to deflect her questions and not indulge her but Therese can never say no to the little girl and indulges every question she has, no matter how silly it may seem to her. The questions usually come out of the blue, especially when they are coloring together.

“Therese?”

“Yes, Rindy?”

“When we watch movies together in the theatre, why do you hold mommy’s hand?” Rindy was a sharp kid and Therese was no longer surprised when she asked questions like these but she did start thinking why did she take Carol’s hand whenever they were out? why did she long to touch her?

“I don’t know Rindy.” 

“Really? whenever I’m scared mommy squeezes my hand. Are you scared Therese?” Therese was really at a loss of what to say to the little girl who was now on the verge of interrogating her.

“it’s because mommy’s hands are the best ticklers and if Therese doesn’t hold them this will happen.” Carol came into the living room and started to tickle her daughter silly. Therese felt relief wash over her and moved to the kitchen to put away the dishes that littered their table. 

“I don’t know how you get yourself into these situations,” Carol said from the doorway to their kitchen.

“I don’t know. Rindy just wants all of the answers.”

“She gets it from you, you know,” Carol smiled lovingly at Therese. Therese felt butterflies in her stomach.

“Go put our daughter to bed before I take you right here and now,” Therese smiled goofily as she spoke.

“Right away ma’am” Carol pressed a kiss to Therese’s cheek and went back into the living room to their daughter.  

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“Taste it” Carol brought her finger to Therese’s lips.

Therese took Carol’s finger in her mouth and gently sucked until it was rid of the sweet substance that covered it. 

“How is it?” Carol asked shyly.

“It’s sticky” Therese joked and Carol slapped her arm. 

Therese kissed Carol’s lips to taste the same substance, she reveled in the flavor.

“You make great caramel but if you eat all of it right now, we won’t have anything left for the cake.” Therese stole the bowl from Carol. 

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“Come on, give me one good reason not to jump in the lake.”

“Therese, baby. You don’t know how to swim.”

“But I can learn this way”

“Don’t you dare!”

[A frantic Carol jumping in after Therese and CPR later]

“What did I tell you, you idiot!”

“Okay, I admit. There are easier ways to get you to kiss me,”

“You are sleeping on the couch,”

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Carol is deathly afraid of flying and Therese, on the other hand, could leave her seatbelt undone for the take off only if they let her do it. So when Carol sits rigid in her seat, clutching the armrests and tries to steady her breathing, Therese moves freely around the plane, shifting their luggage, escorting Carol to the washroom, finding flight attendant to help them with something. 

“How have you made it this long without someone throwing you out an airlock or something?” Carol said to Therese at one point.

“Is that what happens in your nightmares? that you’ll get blown out of the airlock?” Therese said teasingly in response, squeezing her hand. 

“Sometimes.” Carol turned away to hide the embarrassment on her face. 

“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you.” Therese whispered into Carol’s ear and gave her hand another squeeze. She smiled triumphantly when Carol visibly relaxed and soon fell asleep, still clutching Therese’s hand.

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“Why is it suddenly purple?!?!” Therese groaned in frustration as she crumpled the fifth photo she tried to develop in colour. All five of them had been shot she had loved and now they were completely ruined. She felt like she would cry if she wasn’t so angry with herself. She grabbed the wash cloth and defiantly wiped her hands, she would deal with this tomorrow.

Carol was lazily spread on her side of the bed reading a magazine and scoffing at whatever stupid things those articles tried to convince women of. She didn’t look up when Therese slammed the door open but merely closed her magazine and put her reading glasses away. Before she could properly lie down, Therese had already jumped on top of her, knocking the wind out of her lungs.

“Therese you’re going to have to let me breathe, sweetie.” Carol shifted so she wasn’t as uncomfortable and now Therese rested her head on her chest. “What’s wrong?” she whispered into Therese’s hair.

“I can’t get my pictures to develop in colour. I’ve been trying all evening and it’s just not working,” Therese sounded defeated. She snuggled closer to Carol but Carol was already getting out of bed. When she came back, she had a box that Therese had never seen before.

“Why do you need to develop them in colour when you have Rindy?” Carol handed the box to Therese with an eager smile on her face. Inside the box where multiple pictures she had taken but never used, all black and white, all coloured in with the closest shade to the colour of the actual scene she had photographed. Therese’s anger immediately melted away. Carol slipped into bed again, watching Therese rifle through the box with certain joy on her face.

“See, you don’t need to worry about the colour. you get it right even when it’s black and white.” Carol spoke with utmost sincerity.

Therese felt overwhelmed. No one believed in her more than Carol did and what she wouldn’t do to let Carol know how much it meant to her. She jumped on her again, this time connecting their lips and letting them say what words couldn’t express.

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“Where have you been, I was ready to call the police!”

“I was at work! Where else would I be?!” 

“Don’t get loud with me Therese!”

A stupid little argument had kept them from each other for four days now. Therese had grown tired of it on the second day and longed for Carol to be with her. She didn’t know where she was, she didn’t know who to call, all of a sudden calling the police seemed completely rational and she felt like an absolute asshole for lashing at Carol for suggesting it. Sometimes she felt Carol was treating her like a child like she wasn’t capable of existing on her own and often she forgot that Carol merely worried about her and wanted to take care of her. She cursed her inability to just let others help once. She had tried Abby’s phone thrice today, the shop twice and even Harge once. No one knew where Carol was and Therese was near to ripping her own hair out because of it.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Therese almost slipped as she ran across their living room in a matter of seconds. Her whole being lost all feeling when she finally saw Carol standing in their doorway. She fell into Carol’s arms more than she jumped in them. 

“I am so sorry Carol. I am so sorry” Therese repeated it over and over into the fur coat she loved so much.

“It’s okay darling. I am tired of fighting. Can we just go to bed?” Carol hugged Therese close, even she was exhausted. Both of them hadn’t slept well these past four days and were ready to make up for it right now.

Chapter Text

“Who was that on the phone?”

“It was Rindy.”

“Rindy?! At this hour? Is everything alright?”

“Oh calm down Carol. She has just been having some boy troubles. Some silly crush has been bothering her.”

“Therese where are my car keys?”

“On the hook as always. And where exactly are you going?”

“To this boy’s house and darling do me a favour.”

“What?”

“Pass me the sledgehammer" 

Chapter Text

“I’ve got everything under control.”

“Have you?”

“Does it look like I don’t?”

“I don’t know Carol. We are only 3 rounds in and you are already down to your underwear.”

“Since, when did you become so good at poker?”

“Being out in public and pretending I don’t want you helps in developing one hell of a poker face.”

Chapter Text

The biggest and probably the only regret Carol had about buying a house is that Therese gets scared by every little creak or groan the house makes and when she gets scared, she’ll run and hide in her dark room as if the red lighting brings her comfort. After all, she is Carol’s strange angel so Carol doesn’t bother asking and simply joins her to calm her nerves.

“I know you’re afraid but we can’t hide in this closet forever, darling” Her dark room was small and cramped, definitely no bigger than a closet.

“We’ve spent the most of our lives in the closet so how does a real one make a difference?” Therese spoke quietly, huddling closer to Carol.

“Because that one we are forced into and in our case, it even protects us from actual harm. This closet just gives me claustrophobia.” Carol kissed the top of Therese’s head.

“Come on. We’ll sleep with the lights on. Nothing will come close to you. I promise.” Therese looked into Carol’s eyes and decided that she was telling her nothing but the truth.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe you developed those photos at work!!”

“I took the wrong film! It was an accident!!”

“Therese was taking a photo of me in the nude an accident??”

 “In my defense, it seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.”

Chapter Text

“Explain it to me again - why do we need to pretend to be married?”

“Just say it’s our anniversary. I’ll do the rest,”

“Abby, what could this possibly accomplish?”

“Listen Carol, my sweetheart, light of my life, fire of my loins, this restaurant offers free deserts on anniversaries and sappy lesbian love stories always get extra ice cream,”

“I do like ice cream. Okay let’s do it

Chapter Text

Carol had just spent a wonderful evening. The first evening, in a long time, she actually enjoyed. Therese made her happy. Whatever this was, love or just a crush, dare she say Therese made her feel young and foolish. But it was the truth, it was reckless of her to invite her over before even knowing a lick about her beyond her name but she had agreed to come, Therese had even been eager if Carol was going to allow herself to be hopeful. Being reckless had its consequences and Carol should’ve known. It was either the universe’s way of bringing her back down from the clouds or Harge’s eternal horrible timing. 

Rindy was not going to be here for Christmas, Therese had probably seen her fight with Harge and god knows what she thought of her and now she was cold.  At this point, what else could possibly go wrong? she thought. The universe never left an opportunity to mock her.

“Just when you think it can’t get any worse you run out of cigarettes.”

Chapter Text

It’s almost 1 am and Carol is sitting on their couch, butt naked, with her head thrown back and pressing a blood-drenched rag to her nose. Therese felt really guilty about elbowing her in the nose but she could not stop giggling about their situation.

“Why does sex with you have to come with a safety warning?” Carol side eyed Therese, who had put on a robe and sat besides her on the couch

“In my defense, I thought this would go a lot more smoothly.”

Chapter Text

“Ow! What was that for?” Therese was startled awake by a pinch to her arm.

“If you keep falling asleep while I braid your hair we’ll never get done.” Carol said coldly but her thumb soothed the spot she just pinched.

“I can’t help it if you have talented fingers” Therese let out a yawn, not really thinking about what she was saying. Therese felt Carol’s hand moved up and down her arm.

“If you let me finish your hair quickly, maybe I’ll show you just how talented these fingers are.” Carol whispered into Therese’s ear. Therese shuddered and closed her eyes, trying to clear her head enough to think of something to say. Suddenly she stood up and took Carol’s hands.

“We both know that my braids would get ruined if we do that so why don’t you just show me now?” Therese quirked an eyebrow at Carol.

“You are impossible. Now, let me finish, I won’t let you have it this easy. You might get spoilt.” Carol pressed a kiss to Therese’s lips and sat her back down again. Therese basked in the easy feeling of having her hair played with.

“Too late for that. I’m already spoilt rotten."

Chapter Text

Steam gathered around her like an aura, wisping around her bare body then going up and out of the bathroom door which she had left open. She mindlessly ran her brush through her hair, eyes looking at her own reflection but not focusing, her thoughts were still about last night. How could she have ever thought there wouldn’t be a second time, that she wouldn’t have wanted Therese? Though she knew the answer, it was becoming hard for her to believe it. But it was still the truth, she knew she feared of this being another infatuation, something that felt like love like it had been with Harge like it had been with Abby. A sickly feeling to get over soon after she’s had her medicine. She wanted to protect Therese from it, from her. But somehow what she felt for Therese was not her having her head in the clouds, it felt real. Was it real? the world definitely didn’t think so but did Therese believe that? maybe she should. It would be the best for her, to have a family, to settle down, to not love someone who had failed to love another twice. Therese deserved happiness and someone who wouldn’t fail her, and what had she done but fail? Fail a marriage, fail as a mother, fail to have an affair, fail her furniture store, fail and fail again to meet whatever standard the scrutinising eyes of the world had set. Therese is young and foolishly in love like she had been, maybe Therese would move on, just like she had done. Carol was brought out of her thoughts when she heard the room door creak open and close.

She turned her head and saw Therese frozen in her tracks, hand still on the doorknob and newspapers wedged between her arm and her side, in her stupid little red and yellow beret which made her gaping expression doubly cute. Carol followed green eyes that went all over her body, the gaze ran along her side, curving madly as they took in her hips and her ass then dragging along her legs till they slowly slid back up her length, starting from her ankles and then stopping at her chest, at that Carol swore she saw Therese’s breath hitch, until finally reaching her face. Carol mind cleared off her sombre thoughts with the sight of Therese drinking her in. Carol looked Therese up and down as well, trying to gauge what went through her mind, what made the lust in her eyes so apparent. Carol tried to suppress a smile.

“Don’t do that in public” She half joked.

Had she ever looked at Abby that way? at Harge that way? she must have but Therese was different. She was braver, she was bolder and she deserved better but for once in her life, Carol didn’t want to be a martyr.

Chapter Text

Therese had not been away from her desk for more than a few minutes but yet it seemed like they replaced it with a garden of roses. Three bouquets cluttered her already messy desk and made everyone in a five-metre radius of her incredibly curious. Therese immediately sped back out into the hall to find Stevie and hopefully get some answers for this extravagant inconvenience.

“Stevie, why am I a florist now?” Therese asked incredulously.

“Oh, you finally saw them. I don’t know they came for you about 15 minutes ago. No message attached or anything.” Stevie chuckled out an answer.

“Okay. Thanks.” Therese started to make her way back.

“I’ll let the boss know to be careful with your files. Thorns cut deep sometimes” Stevie called out.

Therese rolled her eyes at that but smiled all the same. When finally at her desk she saw the note. A small red card that read “April Fool’s” in a delicate flourish. No sender but Therese could recognise that handwriting anywhere. She made her way to the office telephone clutching the card in hand.

“Hello?”

“Can you not?” Therese spoke into the receiver, certain her smile could be heard in her voice.

“Whatever do you mean, Miss Belivet?” She could practically see Carol’s pale brows raised in feign innocence.

“What am I going to do with them? bring them home?” 

“They are yours to do with as you please. But come home soon, Abby has sent a box of chocolate liqueurs and I'd rather not have Rindy get her hands on them.” Carol tried to sound nonchalant but Therese could tell that Carol had their night mapped out.

“Is that so? Well, let’s remedy that tonight” Therese spoke quietly. Work was no place to be flirting, she reproached herself.

“See you soon, darling. love you” Therese smiled wide at the sincerity in Carol’s voice.

She kept the phone down, heart thumping as if she just ran a marathon. She would have to dodge multiple questions about the flowers, about who sent them, about why was she smiling so much but at the moment all Therese was thinking about was how she was going to get back at Carol for this after they finish their liqueurs.

Chapter Text

After being pregnant and taking care of a child with a sensitive stomach, Carol is no stranger to vomit but that doesn’t make the smell anymore pleasant. She is concerned for Therese and doesn’t want to leave her, so she bears the smell and rubs Therese’s back with one hand and pinches her own nose with the other, thanking the heavens that Therese keeps her hair short. Therese looks up at her again, eyes squeezed shut, bangs stuck to her forehead, cheeks streaked with tears and her mouth pouting ever so slightly, Carol’s heart clutches over the sight but she knows this is nothing more than a silly turn a little bit of wine gives her, well not a little bit try a lot, and some tequila, Carol curses herself for that decision made on a whim and in the hope for an interesting night.

“Sweetie, why-” Carol was startled by her voice and then remembered to remove her hand from her nose.

“Therese. Sweetie. Why did you drink so much when you know this happens?”

“I don’t know.. I just.. I wanted…” Therese spoke through choked sobs and fresh tears ran down her cheeks.

“What are you thinking?” Carol now asked this every time Therese fumbled, it was as if she was saying take your time to collect your thoughts I’m listening I’m here. Carol wiped the tears with her thumbs.

“my mind is a dark place, you don’t want to be there” Therese spoke quietly before falling into Carol’s lap and promptly falling asleep. Carol chuckled and brought Therese’s head up to her chest and squeezed.

“Your mind is beautiful. Have beautiful dreams, Angel.” Carol kissed the top of her head. She didn’t know how she was going to carry Therese to bed but right now she would hold Therese till the smell got too much.

Chapter Text

Carol never slouches, ever. So when Therese sees her walking around without her usual saunter, needless to say, she gets concerned.

“Carol, are you feeling okay?” Therese manages her biggest puppy dog eyes so that Carol won’t brush off the truth for too long.

“I am fi- ugh this back has been giving me problems. I think we need to change the mattress.” Carol’s face scrunched in pain as she tried to properly roll her shoulders.

“Okay. Go lie down on the bed and let’s see what we can do about that.” Nothing more had to be said, Carol was already making her way to their bed while Therese went to find some lotion.

“Oh and Carol?” 

“Yes, Darling?”

“Make sure you take your top off.” Therese said over her shoulder.

Therese taking initiative was always a welcome surprise to Carol and who was she to refuse. She slowly unbuttoned her blouse, then rolled it off her shoulders, wincing at the pain, and let it hit the floor. Before she could try and reach her bra, the door opened again and the sound of slow music swept into the room. Therese came in with a bottle of lavender lotion and stood right behind Carol.

“Here. Let me help.” Therese slowly unbuckled Carol’s bra and it joined her blouse on the floor. The skirt and panties followed suit and Carol now stood naked in front of Therese.

“Lie down” 

Carol slid onto her stomach without any question and propped her chin on her folded arms, she felt either one of Therese’s thighs move to each side of her hips and the weight of her settling on her lower back. Music flowed through her entire body as Therese worked the sweet smelling lotion into her shoulders, her back and her neck. Nimble thumbs rolled wide circles into her muscles, pulling groans of pleasure from her throat. 

“You are so good to me. I should have you do this more often.” 

“Shh.. Just tell me where you want me” Therese spoke quietly, her voice almost mingling with the jazz.

“A little more to the right … so go down a little more… carefully, slowly…”

Carol buried her forehead into the pillow. She was practically melting with every pull on her muscles, with every palm driven slowly and carefully into her shoulders, with every shift that Therese’s thighs made around her hips. Lavender filled her senses, the saxophone vibrated through her body, Carol was certain this was heaven. Just as she was about to fall asleep, one unfortunate slip of Therese’s hand hit a particularly sensitive spot and was thrown back down to earth.

“Ouch!” Carol tried to pull away but she was effectively pinned down under Therese’s weight, not that she minded anyway.

“Oh I’m sorry” Carol could feel Therese lean forward, she could feel Therese’s hot breath on the part she had just hit and now she could feel the smile on Therese’s lips as she lightly kissed her back. A low moan escaped Carol’s lips as Therese’s weight shifted off her and her mouth traveled the length of her back, leaving sloppy open mouth kisses all down her spine.

Therese’s hands now massaged Carol’s thighs in the same slow rhythm that she had worked the shoulders with. Therese bit down on the lowest part on Carol’s back, just above her ass and Carol’s hips bucked up into Therese’s mouth. At this point, Carol was already desperate for Therese, gasping and panting for air, continuously calling for Therese to give her the release she so desperately needed. Therese’s hands had made their way to Carol’s inner thigh and their pace started to get rougher, nails dug into flesh, leaving behind marks that her mouth could not. Her fingers played around tender folds, which were oh so deliciously wet for her. Therese smiled wide at Carol’s desperation and ran her thumb over her clit.

“Oh god Therese, please” Carol had somehow managed to speak through the pillow she had her face buried in.

Therese was always happy to oblige, slowly entering Carol with her finger. Her fingers worked a slow pace with her thumb circling the sensitive nub, just the way Carol likes it. At this point, Carol had turned into a babbling mess, gripping at the bedsheets, panting and working her hips as best she could against Therese’s hand. Therese had just been watching Carol writhe beneath her but now she brought her mouth to Carol’s ear and nibbled on her ear lobe. Therese’s hand started to cramp and she wondered whether she could go on, then Carol moans echoed loudly through their bedroom and Therese decided to end their games.

Her hand increased the pace and she added another finger. It didn’t take too long till Carol tightened around Therese’s hand and violently grasped the bed sheet, Therese moved her free hand over Carol’s and slowly kissed her forehead as Carol’s entire body quaked with pleasure. Therese wiped her fingers and lay down beside Carol with her head propped up by her palm, watching her gather her bearings and look absolutely spent brought the biggest smile to Therese’s face.

“I should have you do this more often” Carol rolled her head to the side to face Therese, still laying on her stomach.

“Is your back any better?” Therese giggled. She could feel the blush on her cheeks, only slightly shocked at what had just happened.

“Oh, I think you took care of more than just my back darling” Carol moved to take Therese into her arms.

“I love you”

“Love you too, my angel"

Chapter Text

1) If there is something Carol hates it’s those customers who run into the shop 15 minutes before it closes. It’s about rain outside and Carol’s hair had been made a right mess out of due to the humidity and she was in no mood to deal with some old snob who would go so far as to say their “nordic” armchair actually came from the Vikings and then she would have to go through all thi- oh no. The ding of the door came and the customer lunging an armchair followed. Oh no.

She’s cute.

2) The shop was to close nearly an hour ago, Carol would have to tell the old couple who peered into the shop that it’s technically closed and she is just finishing her deal with one Therese Belivet. Therese knew her stuff and did have a fine sandalwood armchair. The wear and tear on the cushions showed it’s age but there was nearly none on the heavily varnished wood-work of the armchair and no matter how charming her customers were she was twice as charming and wasn’t going to back down from a fair deal. Therese’s little flustered face, where her nose scrunched ever so slightly and her bottom lip pouted, quickly became her favorite sight and it would be a shame to see it go.

3) Their deal had turned in her favor, Carol was happy at the win but sad to see her new favorite customer go. But she didn’t go too long before seeing Therese again because now the girl came almost every week, lunging whatever piece of furniture her tiny body could handle. Carol started to wonder how much furniture did this girl actually own. What a strange girl she was.

4) Weeks went by and it became crystal clear to Carol that this girl was just bringing whatever furniture she had in hopes to get a deal. Carol had no clue as to what goal or agenda Therese had in mind and quickly grew frustrated. She lov- liked- she liked the girl. Therese was kind, gorgeous and intelligent, almost the best company Carol had since the divorce, save for Abby and she had this nagging feeling that something was wrong.

5) Therese brought over a useless couch, at least it was useless to Carol and Carol quickly grew tired of it and confronted Therese about what was it that she wanted. The girl turned bright red, muttering apologies under her breath and turning on her heels to get out of the shop. Carol stopped her by gently taking hold of her wrist. She urged again, only this time Therese looked her straight in the eyes and said

“I want you”

Carol could never imagine these words coming out of Therese’s mouth but it was all she ever dreamed of since Therese first stepped into her shop that late evening.

Chapter Text

1) Rindy came running into her beloved home on Madison Avenue and didn’t give her mothers even a second before she started to tell them all about the show and tell at her school. You had to bring your parents and introduce them to the whole class then the parents had to present something of their own. Carol had asked her if she wanted her and Harge to go and Rindy immediately declined and firmly said that daddy is out for business and I want my mommies to be there.

2) Carol has reluctantly agreed after Rindy had managed to get Therese to say yes - Therese could hardly ever say no to Rindy, she says it’s because of her eyes- so both of them sat one late Saturday night discussing what they would present, Rindy was so excited and they wanted to give it their best for their daughter. After a bit of brainstorming and a bit of fun, they had decided to do a song from Rindy’s favorite movie

3) A week’s effort and at least 3 noise complaints later, Carol and Therese had perfected their song. Abby had come over one day when they practiced and died laughing at them, she couldn’t believe the ends her usually suave and elegant best friend would go to for her daughter. Rindy had been kept unaware of the song to make sure it was a surprise for her too. She whined and begged but her mothers were relentless.

4) The faithful day arrived and Carol drove with one hand laced with Therese’s and with a bumbling Rindy in the back seat. Rindy lead them both into her school and suddenly both Carol and Therese felt self-conscious, worried about the gazes their daughter would have to suffer just because they didn’t fit in. Rindy very proudly introduced them to her classmates who were already well versed and vaguely envious of Rindy having two moms instead of just one. The pride in Rindy’s smile when she yelled “Love you Mom and Mommy” before she disappeared into class caused Carol to hold Therese tighter and Therese to bury her face into Carol’s neck to hide her tears.

5) Carol and Therese performed Be Our Guest from Beauty and The Beast complete with the fake french accent that Carol put on and packed with exaggerated expressions Rindy never thought her mother was capable off. Therese cracked up throughout the performance but never once messed up on the piano. The performance finished flawlessly with Rindy running out of her seat and jumping into Carol’s arms. Rindy’s class teacher asked them to join their cultural camp from time to time and even though the whole class had begged they would only think about it. This day was perfect and they won’t be able to repeat it even if they practiced silly old routines their whole life.

Chapter Text

1) While Carol’s softball days were done long before Rindy, she still came out to Central Park on the odd Sunday to watch Abby’s team absolutely obliterate their competition. Either Abby was a great coach or everyone else was really bad but nonetheless, she cheered them along anyway and treated them to food and drinks right after.

2) They had their regular game going and surprisingly the other team was doing well against Abby’s bombshells. They were starting to catch up and then the catcher called strike and the batter changed. Belivet 52 came up to the plate, Carol usually never paid close attention but this little cutie took her entire focus away from anything else

3) Belivet shouts in celebration as she hits a home run and Carol quickly messages Abby if it’s okay if she cheers for the other team now? (to which Abby replies I thought you already had your sexuality crisis)

4) Bombshells win against the Angels 5/4 and a close and thrilling game calls for a massive celebration with both teams. Carol charms the shit out of Therese Belivet and ends up getting a phone number. Phone numbers turn into meeting for coffee, which turn into Therese teaching Carol how to bat by wrapping her arms around her body and physically showing her how to swing, that turns into a kiss behind the bleachers.

5) Carol tries to hide the relationship from Abby as best she can and Therese starts finding Abby suspicious, both of them start having a falling out with Carol and it only gets resolved when Rindy intervenes and tells Carol to tell them both the truth in true 80s movie fashion. Carol runs to the rematch between them and when the Angels win with Therese’s home run, Therese straight runs into the bleachers and kisses the face off Carol. (Abby is the one wolf whistling in the background as this happens)

Chapter Text

1) Therese would be considered lucky, in bars if she told them where she worked she would be praised but nothing is quite as boring as being a renowned Hello Girl. There were 450 women in the Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit and she was one of them, what an opportunity! or so everyone said, but transferring calls from monotone, down trodden, battered voices on the military front to their loved ones took it’s toll on her more than she let on.

2) Though she didn’t mind one specific call. A nurse who would always call the same address, in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Her voice was pure caramel and never lost it’s elegance. Who was she calling? How was her day going? the voice never changed, never let any of the outside turmoil in. Sometimes Therese would catch her laugh before she started talking and how the laugh would linger in the one sentence she spoke. Therese would wonder if the germans heard this laugh maybe the war would end sooner.

3) The same call came but this time Therese found out who this voice sought everyday. Her daughter, Rindy. The voice spoke more than one sentence today, as if all the all of their small interactions in the past had built up to this, it all felt strangely intimate. Therese laughed as she did, breaking her professional tone, but went on her job as directed. How bizarre was it that she was falling for a voice she would never meet?

4) Therese admired the woman’s devotion. Being on the front lines, cleaning wound after wound, saving life after life and then still having the time to call her own daughter everyday at 12. What a mother this woman was, nothing Therese had ever own, for her own mother abandoned her after she lost her father. But soon the calls stopped. Therese grew worried, not just for the woman but the little girl in Ridgewood too. She checked with every board but no sign of an outgoing call to New Jersey. Therese felt heartbroken, as if someone special was taken from her, more over she felt heartbroken for the girl. She wrote Rindy a letter, telling her that her mother was okay and that she would call as soon as she can. Even if it was a lie, it would comfort the girl till she got to know.

5) The war was no where near stopping and Therese had no intentions doing this work for another year. She left the Signal Corps to work anywhere, maybe a newspaper she had thought. Months and months had past and she still thought of the nurse, maybe she should visit her house in Ridgewood, no that would not go well, who was she to Rindy or the nurse even, they didn’t even know each other’s names. The phone rang for her and the same familiar voice came through the receiver, Therese felt like she was going to cry.

“I just wanted to thank you for the letters you sent. Rindy really appreciates them.”

“It’s no problem. I am glad I could help.”

“Let me take you to lunch, It’s the least I can do.”

“You really don’t have to. You’ve done en-”

“I am free tomorrow. How does 12 sound?”

“Alright. I’d love that.”

Chapter Text

1) A bustle of children are around her, eager and bubbly, all of them trying to show her their artwork. Therese tries to calm them down but she would be lying if she said that their excitement didn’t get to her too. Once she has them settled, paints are brought out and she has all their attention on a simple technique that seems like magic to the children. Her hair is pulled back, her plaid shirt is tucked and knotted at her waist and her jeans are already used to having paint all over them.

2) Therese goes around the class room, one by one helping everyone- well at least trying to help one student before someone else tries to pull her away. She goes over to Rindy, who is trying to draw horses but can’t get their tails correct. She is a cute kid, with fiery grey eyes that make Therese melt whenever she says please. Suddenly Rindy rushes out of her seat and yells “MOMMY!”. At the classroom doorway stands perhaps the most gorgeous woman Therese had ever seen. The woman scoops her daughter up and smiles wide, the wrinkles around her eyes crinkling and her laugh lines ran deep and prominent. Therese was certain that she is the most gorgeous woman she had ever seen.

3) “Mommy! Look what Therese helped me make!”

“That’s gorgeous darling but you shouldn’t be calling your teacher by her first name”

“Oh that’s okay. I prefer that to Ms. Belivet” Therese walked up to the pair, brushing at her clothing as if it would make her look more presentable.

“I am sorry to interrupt your class this way, Therese”

“Oh it’s no problem Mrs. Aird. Rindy is an excellent student and I was hoping to meet you one day. I can see why she is so brilliant.” Carol gave a wide smile at that and Therese internally praised herself.

“You have some-” Slowly, Carol reached over to wipe some paint off of Therese’s chin, her thumb slightly grazing the corner of Therese’s lips. Therese’s skin burned at the touch and she had to stop herself from melting into the woman’s hands.

4) A good week had passed, a whole week of her face burning everytime she looked at Rindy because her eyes reminded Therese of her mother. A whole week of confusion and internally scolding herself to remain professional while her mind ran incredibly unprofessional scenarios through her head about Carol Aird. This was the third time she had changed her clothes for a silly parents- teacher conference. She settled on a simple black dress, put her hair up in a neat top knot and hung a simple gold necklace around her neck. Hordes of parents went in and out of her tiny room and her cheeks were already aching from smiling so much. Time was about to end and she couldn’t help but feel disappointed that Rindy hadn’t shown up. Just as she was clearing her desk and getting ready to leave, there was a knock on the door. The wind blew out of Therese’s lungs as she saw Carol, in a simple yet elegant black suit with her white blouse not buttoned up to all the way.

5) “Oh I am so sorry I am late. I lost track of time.”

“It’s no problem. Please sit.” Therese tried to look behind Carol but Rindy wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Carol noticed Therese looking around and clarified that Rindy was with her father for today.

“Oh no, I can’t keep you here. How about I take you to lunch, if you are free right now.” Carol bargained and Therese had to stop herself from immediately yelling yes

“Oh you don’t have to do that. It’s fine, I-”

“Please, I was late and It’s the least I can do for Rindy’s favourite teacher.”

“Alright. Let’s go then” Therese gathered her stuff and walked up to Carol.

“Perfect. Do you like chinese?” Carol winked at Therese and stepped to the side to let her pass. Therese thanked her stars that she was walking in front of Carol because she was sure that her face was as red as tomatoes.

BONUS: Obviously after said lunch, trips to art museums happen, more lunches happen, invitations to apartments are accepted and Therese ends up kissing Carol at the back of an art supply store. Rindy is obviously spending a lot of time with Therese at home so when she is in class one day, she calls out MOM to Therese and doesn’t correct herself, not noticing the mistake. Needless to say, Therese’s heart burst into a million butterflies and she immediately texts Carol “Rindy just called me Mom. You’ve got competition”

Chapter Text

1) In neat typewriter, Therese had January 1st written on the small of her back. No year, just the month and the date. She had heard the long stories about how the date meant the day a soul would be complete and find fulfilment but she had never paid any attention to those stories. She hardly paid any attention to the stories the sisters told in her boarding school, believing in god and fairness was difficult when the world had burned with chaos and war and her own mother had abandoned her, but every new year she would wait for that fulfilment to come, only it never did.

2) Richard had first purposed to her on the new year, they had been over at his family home and his mother gleefully shouted over the bursting firecrackers as Richard had asked her to marry him. Therese had immediately burst into tears and Richard had wrapped his arms around her protectively, thinking she was overwhelmed, thinking she was too in love to believe it. In reality, Therese had never felt so numb. This was the day her soul would find fulfilment and ya da ya da andthis is what she was supposed to be happy about, about marrying a person who she felt no love for, with whom lying in bed felt like ancient torture. She felt dumb and naive because she believed in another story her sisters had drilled in her head. Her mother had never come back like the sisters had told her and neither did the date meant anything to her.

3) Therese had managed to convince Richard to wait, he had been understanding and waited what was coming up to be another year for Therese to say yes. Therese would still avoid the question, she didn’t want to feel the disappointment again when she had just stopped trying the remove the date off her body and yet her mind still drifted back to it especially since it was close again. Little did Therese know that in a few days she would be on her roof, with the one person she had ever loved and that she would ask her to go to the west with her. Therese had said yes to Carol’s ‘would you?’ truly believing for the first time that the date had meant nothing because right now her soul felt more whole than it ever did.

4) The days on the road had been bliss. January 1st was in two days and it was the first time Therese had thought about the date on her back since the start of the road trip. Therese had never bothered to ask Richard about his date, she just assumed they matched but what if they hadn’t? was that why Richard waited? what if Carol and her matched?. Therese knocked on the bathroom door to hand Carol her sweater, the door opened and Therese couldn’t stop her eyes from wandering every inch of Carol’s naked body, she saw December written right below Carol’s right breast and immediately forced her eyes up as Carol asked, “Is everything alright?”. Therese didn’t know what to think about the fact that their dates didn’t match? the fact that she just found a gun? the fact that her squeezing her thighs was doing nothing to help her situation? She was a mess of emotions the entire day after that.

5) December 31st had arrived. She had decided to forgo wearing her pyjamas under her robes in sheer desperate hope that maybe tonight it would all make sense. Though she hoped, her thoughts had kept her trapped in front of the vanity, brushing her hair and lost in thought. Carol had put her arms on her shoulder, idle conversation was made that meant nothing but meant everything in that moment. Their lips met for the first time just as the day changed to January 1st. It finally made sense to Therese as her back burned and hurt as if someone dragged a needle through it. The date on her back now read January 1st, 1952 and Therese felt whole. 

BONUS: Therese traced Carol’s date, 24th December 1951, as they laid in bed together. Therese felt dejected that their dates didn’t match even though Carol clearly loved her. 

“What was on the 24th?”

“You don’t remember?” Therese looked up at her and shook her head.

“Darling, we met for the first time on the 24th.” 

and just like that, it didn’t matter to Therese at all that they didn’t match and she kissed Carol again knowing that she found her whole.

Chapter Text

1) Therese’s job was as unfulfilling as ever, a cement prison with the same people meticulously doing the same tasks over and over and over again. Another christmas is going to come and go but Therese finds nothing different within herself or the world around her.

2) It’s busy, each is excepted for christmas eve but the sales floor, despite the excessive decoration is devoid of holiday cheer. Everyone is rushing to get the biggest, most flashy gift for their child, whether it is what their child wants or not Therese can’t tell and some how she thinks neither can the parents.

3) Leather slaps against the glass counter and Therese’s attention is pulled towards the noise. A woman, about 25, not much older than Therese who is looking to decorate a nursery. She says that they don’t know the gender but she can feel it’s a girl and Therese smiles at excited tone of her voice. 

4) The C.O.D slip is signed Mrs. H. F. Aird. Mrs. Aird is glowing, Therese doubts that it’s just the pregnancy that makes it so, something in her yearns to learn more about this magnificent woman. Therese gets her first Merry Christmas of the day from Mrs. Aird and with a last lingering look and wide smile, just like how she appeared, Mrs. Aird disappears into thin air.

5) Therese finds the strength to send her a postcard, wishing her a Merry Christmas and well wishes for her baby. It’s a last attempt to make contact with her but Therese knows it’s futile, she sends it anyway. But there is a reply, a short postcard back thanking Therese and wishing her a Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year from Carol. Carol Aird. Therese runs the tip of her finger over the name, strangely feeling glum, as if there was a connection that was missed, that maybe in an alternative life, this Carol Aird would mean more to her than just ink on a postcard and a slowly fading memory of a gorgeous face. 

Chapter Text

1) Therese doesn’t want to say she dislikes wedding photography because it pays the bills but it leaves her feeling awfully empty. Coming back to an empty apartment with Lebanese take out after spending a whole day capturing everyone’s utmost happiness is maybe the most disheartening thing of all but thankfully she is always exhausted enough to fall asleep immediately afterwards.

2) Another typical wedding. Over-bearing mother of the anxious but charming groom trying to micro manage everything and a sort of dopey father tagging along her every step. What’s not so typical is that Therese made quite the unusual friend, who likes to ask all sorts of questions and is penchant to Therese’s camera. Rindy introduces Therese to her mother and the bride - well she actually runs to her mother and exclaims the THERESE DID IT! it being answering her burning questions. The bride introduces herself - Carol Aird- and Therese is more than happy to photograph her and her gorgeous smile for the rest of the day.

3) Over the course of the next week Therese gets invited to the Aird residence for dinner and to Rindy’s project presentation. She gets close to Carol, she knows she is in love but it can’t be and Carol insists it’s some soulmate connection they have which makes matters worse for Therese. Carol decides to ask her to accompany her to a soccer game and how could Therese refuse?

4) Carol isn’t awfully interested in the soccer game which shocks Therese considering she brought them there but she finds herself gasping and shouting every now and then. She can feel Carol’s gaze on her all throughout the game and through the corner of her eye she can see Carol beam everytime she got excited about the game. The night ends with them walking back to Therese’s apartment after getting some ice cream and swooning over an old records shop. Carol asks about Therese’s work, about what she likes to photograph the best and Therese bravely replies “I like photographing you the best”

5) They first kiss when Carol is over Therese’s apartment to check out how the photos were coming along. Before it can go anywhere further, Carol gets a phone call and she has to detangle herself from Therese. Therese lies on her bed, recounting the events that just happened and listening to Carol having an heated argument with someone. Carol apologises and leaves before Therese has any say. Therese gets a letter and it’s from Carol, confessing her feelings but also telling her how having Rindy makes it more complicated and how they can’t do this. Therese is heartbroken and decides to go on a road trip to LA to hopefully get away from the mess that is her life, she informs Carol on a drunken whim. She is 10 blocks from her apartment when a familiar car stops next to her taxi and when the windows roll down it’s Carol. she says “I’ll come with you. If you’d let me.” and Therese, besides herself, quickly transfers her luggage to Carol’s car and both of them set of on a beautiful road trip across the US.

BONUS: Rindy, being the sharp kid that she is, figures out that her mother is head over heels for Therese. She is the one who convinces her to go on the road trip and calms her father down. 

BONUS BONUS: When they get back from their road trip, they move in together and enjoy late-night ice cream and trips to the old record store every month.

Chapter Text

1) It’s a late afternoon bus and it’s pouring down with rain. Therese has her headphones shoved in and music blaring. The bus is almost completely empty. The bus starts to slow down, stopping the moving painting of trees and grey skies outside of the window. Therese keeps looking out of the window until she feels someone sit beside her. She is already annoyed and turns to find the most beautiful stranger, with blonde hair and grey eyes as stormy as the skies outside sitting beside her. The heat rises to her cheeks and she quickly turns away to look out the window again.

2) The bus ride is long, almost torturous for Therese because with every sharp turn the stranger is thrown against her and even the slightest contact makes Therese squirm in her seat. This time, the bus turns the right unexpectedly and Therese nearly falls into the stranger’s lap, she looks up to apologise but the stranger is smiling at her kindly. Therese still apologises and returns to staring out the window.

3) Therese has been listening to Easy Living this whole bus ride. Her sound is so loud that she can barely hear the tires move or the pitter patter of rain hitting metal. A slight tug on her shoulder makes Therese remove one ear bud and look over. 

“You listen to music awful loudly” Therese would be pissed if it was anyone other than her saying it.

“But you have great taste. Easy Living is my favourite song in fact”

“Do you wanna share?” Therese offers her earbud and the stranger accepts

4) They spend some time listening to music sharing ear buds and looking in opposite directions but slowly yet surely the wire of the ear buds cause them to lean closer and closer together. Before Therese knows it, she has a head of soft blonde hair leaning against her shoulder and sleeping, Therese would go back to looking outside but she’ll never find the same beauty and peace as she finds in this sleeping strangers face. She gathers the courage to wrap one of her arms around the woman’s shoulders to keep her from startling awake from all the bumps they were going over.

5) The blonde wakes up and gives Therese an embarrassed look. Their faces are inches apart and their lips only a breath away, Therese forgets that she has her arm protectively around the woman, hell she nearly forgets her own name and widely searches for it in calm grey sleepy eyes. A whistle from the back seats breaks their gaze and they quickly detangle. The woman’s stop is first and needless to say, Therese is disappointed to see her go. Before she goes, the woman reaches over to Therese’s phone and quickly punches her own number in. Therese only gives her the widest of smiles as the woman exits after saying “Call me”. Therese whips her head back out the window to watch the woman walk along the sidewalk and disappear into the crowd. Somehow she feels this bus ride was shorter than any time she’s taken it before.

Chapter Text

Therese had all her supplies spread across the floor, her hair pinned back and had on one of Carol’s old shirts that she wouldn’t miss if Therese ruined it. It was the height of New York summer and it was much cooler down on the floor than on her desk yet Therese still wiped at her forehead with the back of her hand every few seconds. The heat was getting to her bad but she refused to use the air conditioner, sweat ran down the back of her neck and her shorts clung to her thighs. Her mouth had started to run dry but Therese was determined to finish this set before evening even if she fainted of dehydration. Her fingers were moving on their own, drawing, cutting, glueing and adjusting every little detail to a miniature version of an interior of a cathedral. She had preempted the headache that had started at the back of her skull and had now made it way to her forehead. 

“Fuck” Therese broke the roof again. the third time in the past hour. She pinched the bridge of her nose and heaved a sigh and with that every bit of energy, every bit of focus she had built went away like a puff of smoke. 

Therese felt defeated, she wanted to rip the entire set apart or just curl up next to it and cry. She somehow convinced herself that if she just walked around in the living room for a bit and calmed down, she would be able to get it done. She thought about putting on a record but the scratching of the needle would poke at her headache till it actually made her skull crack open, a walk would burn her skin to ash and if she picked up a book right now her set would never be done. Therese settled on getting a cigarette from the bedroom and a beer from the refrigerator, even when nothing worked nicotine and alcohol at least dulled her senses enough for her to stop feeling like a dynamite stick about to bring down a building. The cigarette didn’t feel good with her already dry mouth and she coughed out the smoke almost immediately, she ran over to the fridge to grab some water. The water chilled her throat and took some of the edge off of her, she closed the refrigerator only to notice a note stuck to it. It was stuck under Therese’s favourite magnet.

Will be late from work, sorry. Hope you get your set done. I believe in you, Darling  

With anyone else Therese would’ve thought the magnet was a coincidence but living with Carol had taught Therese that there indeed were no accidents. She finished her cigarette, picked up a glass of water, plucked the note off the door and went to put on a record. Glow Worm was the perfect song for her to work to, especially since the memory of Carol and Abby drunkenly singing it in their living room would keep her smiling even if she messed up her set. She read over the note again and knew she wouldn’t mess up.

Chapter Text

When their innocent mission to make the best snowman ever had devolved into a raging snowball war they never knew. It all started with a Don’t you dare throw that snowba-, dangit! said by Carol and after she got the snow out of her hair, there were no exceptions to the icy sting of a snowball to the face. They were divided into teams, Rindy had smartly chosen to side with her mother because she knew while Aunt Abby was a force to be reckoned with, her mother was no push over either and would go through hell just to win this for her.

“Tell me how is it fair if you have Rindy and I am just here with my two hands?”

“All is fair in love and war, my dear Abigail” 

“Therese is on my team then!” Abby proclaimed. All eyes whipped around to look at Therese, who was happily taking pictures and not participating.

“Oh no. I couldn’t-” Before Therese could finish, Abby had pulled her down behind the meagre snow wall she had built in lieu of defences.

And then there was no stopping them. Abby whispered strategies into Therese’s ear while Carol and Rindy fortified their snow walls of defence. The first blood was drawn by Rindy as she nailed Abby in her gut and then promptly hid behind her mother. Therese was giggling throughout at how competitive and serious both Carol and Abby were about this, she couldn’t understand why it warranted Carol to scream TAP DANCE YOUR WAY OUT OF THIS as she flung a snowball at Abby, who dodged and screamed backYOU WANT TO BRING THAT UP MISS HUNG LOW ON A TWO DAY FURLOUGH. While Therese clutched her stomach and wiped the tears out of her eyes from laughing, Carol turned to her and swung hard, snowball hitting Therese’s neck and face. Therese stood there shocked for a minute, processing what had just happened, then her eyes grew intense and Carol mouthed a sorry while Abby signed the cross across her chest and hid Rindy behind herself.

Therese ran straight for Carol and took her down by the waist into the snow. Therese attacked her with tickles and soft punches before she kissed her, hard. She deepened the kiss for a second but before Carol could reciprocate she pulled back. Carol was breathless beneath her, looking up at her as if she was made of some divine magic. Therese grinned and without breaking eye contact, grabbed a fistful of snow and slammed into the right side of Carol’s face and neck.

“All is fair in love and war my sweet.” said Therese as she got up, wiped the snow off herself and proudly shook hands with Abby as if she was some army general coming back from a victorious battle.

Chapter Text

Late night walks in nearby parks were easily one of their favourite things to do when the nights were restless and the house felt suffocating. They would sometimes walk down to the ice cream parlour just down the block from their apartment and share a scoop of ice cream over light conversation and jazz that lulled their restless bones into static. After the ice cream, they would walk around the park talking about everything under the sky and beyond, guided by moonlight and freed by the absence of other people, they felt safer in the shadows than most women of New York would feel. Soon, as if out of nowhere, thunder roared and icy rain poured down over Manhattan, Carol grabbed Therese’s hand in a frenzy and they both ran into a gazebo. 

“Shit- I liked this skirt” Therese stretched the skirt in front of herself looking at it sadly.

“Looks like we’ll be trapped for a while…” Carol put her one hand out of the gazebo and caught raindrops and ran the other hand through her wet hair. Therese looked out at the park that was so still just a moment ago and had suddenly come alive. She watched trees that swayed in the wind to the music of the rain and propped her chin on her folded arms on the edge of the gazebo’s window. Carol came up behind her, arms wrapping around her waist, out of instinct Therese pulled away but Carol pulled her back in insistently.

“Wanna dance?” Carol whispered the question as if Therese would refuse but she didn’t, instead she nodded and shift her arms to Carol’s shoulders.

“It would be a terrible dance without music” Therese said even though she started to move with Carol as she lead.

“With you it will always be a terrible dance” Carol exaggerated her honesty and earned a pinch to her arm. With a sigh and quirk of her lips, Carol started to sing Teresa Brewer.

Till I Waltz Again With You filled the gazebo till Carol tried to hit a particularly hit note and failed miserably, Therese burst out laughing while Carol blushed and looked away from Therese.

“I’d like to see you try Lady Day” Carol mocked Therese but Therese was up to the challenge and immediately picked up the song where Carol left off. Therese now spun Carol around and took the lead. Dancing with one another with the rain and wind billowing around them was not what they thought they would be doing tonight but It was certainly one of the better surprises life could offer.

Chapter Text

By some divine grace they had found out that April 17th would be a Sunday and on maybe the only weekend where both of them wouldn’t have work to finish. So, on a moment’s notice, Therese packed their suitcases while Carol made sure their car was ready for the late night drives and they had set off to anywhere the tires would go to. This time Carol made sure she had an extra tire with herself and Therese was immediately nostalgic about a Christmas many years back.

Now on the floor of some hotel, Therese gushed over the book and journal Carol had got her. Therese raved about the quality of the paper and the smell of the leather that covered the journal, she exclaimed her excitement about the book and Carol simply smiled at her love while sitting back and enjoying her whiskey. Therese went to her suitcase and came back to sit beside Carol, the smug expression on her face told all the tales of playful mischief.

“Close your eyes and hold out your hands.”

“You can’t be serious Therese I-”

“Just do as I ask” Therese took Carol hands and turned her palms out, Carol sighed but obliged and closed her eyes and awaited whatever Therese had for her. She felt lips press against her only briefly and she almost chased after them.

“I hope those lips where yours sweetie otherwise I don’t think I like your surprise very much” 

“Shh.. Here. Now open your eyes” Therese pushed a small glass bottle in Carol’s palm and when she opened her eyes they light up,

“Oh Its perfume! Thanks Darling, I needed this” Carol immediately started to apply some to the insides of her wrists and her pulse. Therese’s mind went back to a very similar scene back in 51, she smirked and held out her wrists.

“Me too.” Carol obliged and Therese carried the same movements.

“Oh that’s divine. Smell that.” 

Therese expectantly leaned forward while tilting her head to the side and exposing her neck. Carol caught what she was trying to do immediately but played along. She leaned forward and breathed Therese’s in and exhaled hot breathe down her neck through her pursed lips. Therese shivered, her mind blanking for a second. Before she could recover, Carol gently bit her neck, pulling a moan from the back of her throat and then slowly Carol kissed her neck while she slowly pushed Therese down into the carpet and crawled on top of her. She kissed and sucked on Therese’s neck till she was just pants and moans. Carol pulled back to flip her hair back and Therese had immediately grabbed the back of her neck and crushed their lips together. The kiss grow deeper and moved slow, their bodies moved together in waves. Therese’s hands were in Carol’s hair and around shoulders pulling her closer and closer, Carol kept herself up on her elbows. Lips moved harshly and urgently against one another and it was a dance of tongue and teeth, they laid there on the carpet just kissing till their lips felt sore and Carol’s arms started to burn. She pulled back for one a second to whisper against Therese’s lips

“To President Mckinley” Therese had immediately start to laugh, her giggles did not stop even after Carol moved off her and laid beside her on the carpet. Therese moved her head to her left, crying due to her laughter and Carol reached over to wipe the tear away with her thumb. Again Therese’s mind jumped back to the time Carol had comforted her in her car. She thought she was selfish then, to want Carol and nothing else, and she still believed she is selfish now, to want nothing more than to kiss those coral lips till the world dissolved. How wonderful it was to finally give into her selfish tendencies and it being perfectly wanted, needed and cherished.

Chapter Text

Parked outside a gas station, Carol leaned out of the driver’s seat window, savouring the feeling of cold wind cutting into her cheeks and the warmth of the smoke that pooled in her mouth and quickly left with an exhale. The highway was quiet, only the occasional car whizzing by and the calm rattle of tree leaves shaking in the wind indicated the world was still moving otherwise the sky was frozen in a flurrying of pinks, oranges and purples and fields in front of her were static. Carol had weirdly felt calm, they was none of the nervous excitement of starting for the west, none of the anxiety that was almost omnipresent throughout her life and none of the constant chatter in her head, it was rare for Carol to have a quiet moment to herself where nothing moved and neither did she. She brought the cigarette to her lips and took a long drag, she blew two smoke rings into the air and watched them disperse up into the air with the similar-looking clouds that littered the otherwise cloudless dusk sky. Carol continued the routine till she heard the passenger door click and a now quickly growing familiar presence settle next to her. She blew the last two smoke rings that the cigarette could offer and threw the butt out of the window. 

“You shouldn’t do that.” Carol looked over to Therese looking quite stern

“Do what exactly?”

“You shouldn’t throw the butts out of the car.” Carol all but laughed at that and watched Therese pout a bit.

“I’ll make a note of that. Now, shall we go?” Carol didn’t wait for the response and started the engine. 

After finally finding a decent motel where they could sleep comfortably and possibly avoid bed bugs, they quickly checked in and locked themselves away in their room. Carol came out of the bathroom and went to grab the stout Therese had managed to get her from the gas station, quickly popped the cap off and took a swig. She turned around and leaned back against the table to look at Therese who sat on the couch and was starting the phonograph. She watched lithe hands delicately place the pin precisely into the groves of the record, she watched green eyes flutter shut and pink lips curve into a smile as they fell for the music that now crooned through the motel room. Her stout had been hovering mid-air for a good few minutes while Carol took in Therese as she sat in her robe with her legs folded underneath her and arms supporting her up.

“How do know how to blow smoke rings?” Startled out of her daze Carol took a swig of her stout instead of answering the question.

“Something from my youth I suppose” Carol spoke, bemused by Therese’s need to know everything. She watched Therese shuffle a bit and watched her avoid eye contact.

“Would you teach me?” Carol’s eyebrows shot up after Therese spoke at long last. Carol grinned and sauntered to her bag to grab her cigarette case and her lighter, she slowly came back and sat down next to Therese on the couch.

“I suppose I can.” Carol offered Therese’s her case. She lit Therese’s cigarette first before lighting her own, she took a long drag and immediately blew out a ring.

“It’s quite simple. Hold the smoke in your throat, not your mouth, push your tongue back, curl your mouth in a ‘O’ and then push out the smoke” Carol demonstrated once more. She looked over to Therese and raised her eyebrow. Therese immediately started to cough, failing to hold the smoke in her throat.  

“You said it was simple” Carol laughed at Therese who looked at her through watery eyes.

“Just because its simple, doesn’t mean its easy”

Therese tried again and again and again. Her eyes would light up when they caught the smoke in her throat and she would excitedly exhale only to fail at forming a ring. Carol watched Therese pout and huff each time, sometimes she would shake her head and mussel up her bangs before trying again. Carol was surprised in herself, she had managed to notice something other than Therese’s lips this whole time, maybe it was because she found Therese’s scrunched up face entirely too adorable but yet still she found herself leaning closer before she caught herself and pulled back. 

“Okay okay. Tap your cheek to help create the ring” Carol told Therese before she almost ran through her cigarette.

“Like how?”

“Like this.” Carol leaned forward and tapped Therese’s cheek with a single finger and out blew a perfect ring. Therese’s face lit up like Christmas and she immediately threw her arms around Carol. Carol was taken by surprise and almost pushed flat on to her back by the sheer force of the hug, one hand stopped her from falling back and the other went around Therese’s waist. The whole body felt warm and the feeling of Therese so close made her long for them to be even closer, whether that would ever happen she didn’t know so she hung on till Therese decided to pull back.

“Sorry, I got excited” Therese blushed and moved away from Carol on the couch and Carol let her, she would come to her if she wanted to, Carol reproached herself and her thoughts. She located her stout and downed the rest of its contents down to still her nerves and hopefully douse the fire that lit across her senses. 

Therese was a craving stronger than that of a cigarette or a martini and Carol felt like a fool to have hope that she would someday fulfil this craving, this craving of lips against lips, bodies pressed fully against one another, them finally becoming one. Maybe a shower before going to bed would help, Carol thought.

Chapter Text

It had been a while since a little blonde girl had frolicked around her house, coloured on her table, swung her legs back and forth while waiting for food and every time she was this little girl smile, her heart felt like it increased with her lungs as she breathed. She clamped her fingers to call the girl over and pulled her into her lap.

“I want you to have this” She watched the miracle of a child’s curiosity turning into pure joy and kissed the top of the girl’s head. The tiny body jumped off her lap and hurried across the house.

“Mommy! Look what grandma gave me!!” The little girl held the gift above her head like a trophy.

“Mom. You really shouldn’t have. This girl will break this camera in a second.”

“Rindy, it’s for her to be as close to her namesake as possible.”

“Thank you Mom” Rindy came over and pressed a kiss to her forehead and then turned back to her daughter who now fiddled with all the peculiar nobs and buttons of the camera.

“Therese baby, Let me teach you how to use that camera so you can show grandma how good you are at it, Okay?”

“Okay!” Little Therese nodded with such energy she might have given herself whiplash and then ran right into her mother’s arms, excited to spend the rest of the day learning how to work a camera.

Chapter Text

The usual martini glass between her lips was a rye and water for tonight, Carol rested it against her head as if to numb her nonexistent headache. Abby shared her drink but not her solemnity, almost gloating at her best friend.

“Trouble in paradise?” Abby raised her eyebrow and smiled wickedly.

Carol took a swig of her rye and smiled to herself

“Carol! I’m home!”

“In here sweetie!”

After removing her coat and shoes, Therese padded across the apartment into the study and came up behind Carol, she snaked her hand around Carol’s neck and tipped her chin back so Carol looked at her almost upside down.

“Don’t work so hard. Come have dinner.” Therese gently caressed Carol’s forehead, causing Carol’s eyes to flutter shut and revel in the loving touch.

“In a bit. How did your day go?” Carol made no effort to change their position and talked to Therese with her head still tipped back. Therese giggled at her love, dimples showing deeper in the orange and yellow light of the desk lamp.

“It went well. I’ll tell about this one idiot over a glass of wine.” Therese was sure all the blood in Carol’s face would be pooling in her head by now so she decided to end their conversation. Therese brought her lips down to Carol’s, minding her chin to make sure it doesn’t hit Carol’s reading glasses, and placed a delicate kiss on them. Before Carol could bring her hand to the back of Therese’s head, Therese ripped away from Carol, wide eyed and in shock. Carol immediately stood up and faced Therese, already grimancing because she knew what had done.

“You lied to me.” Therese spoke low and Carol knew she had no way of getting out of this.

“I didn’t kno-”

“You knew! You even said you wouldn’t!!” Therese’s brows knit in rage.

“I am sorry!! I got hungry and your truffles were the only thing left in the fridge!!” Carol tried to explain but even she knew it was futile.

“You are not getting anything for me till you get me those truffles back!” Therese said with a finality and Carol would not dare argue instead she immediately went to pick up her coat and run to Abby to ask her where exactly did she get those truffles from.

“Yeah something like that” Carol got up to put away her glass.

“I told you she would get to know” Abby laughed as she pulled out another box of chocolates from her fridge.

“Don’t you start.”

Chapter Text

“Therese, I need to move” Carol tried the rub the sleep out of her eyes, her back felt static and her legs felt twice as heavy.

But Therese didn’t budge, she kept her head on Carol’s chest and nuzzled closer, tickling her slightly.

“You have a pillow, why are you sleeping on me?” her voice was hoarse and she was groggy and in no mood to physically move Therese away from her. She brought her hand up and gently shook Therese and Therese just whined in response.

“You are my new pillow.” mumbled Therese as she wrapped her arms and legs around Carol.

“Okay.” Still in her sleepy daze, Carol mumbled back and moved her hand to lay across Therese’s cheek but it actually covered her face. Later in the night, Therese would have a problem with that and Carol would have body aches the next day, but right now this was the only position Therese would let them sleep in.

Chapter Text

The apartment is suspiciously quiet especially since both Therese and Rindy were home. When Carol walks through the door, she is immediately on edge and forgoes calling out for Therese, past the kitchen and into the living room, Carol spots Therese fast asleep on the couch. Her cheek smushed against the cushions causing her lips to part slightly and shake the hair scattered over her face with every breath she took, one hand flung over her head while the other dangled off the side. Carol hoped she had any of Therese’s talent to capture how truly adorable this looked. Carol quietly removed her shoes and her coat, moving as slowly as possible as to not wake Therese up, and then made her way to Rindy’s room and peeked in to see her daughter clutching her teddy, still in her day clothes and with a bundle of books strewn on her bedside table. Carol immediately understood that her daughter had probably thrown a tantrum before going to bed and that was why Therese was practically knocked out on the couch. She walked back to the couch and knelt down beside Therese.

“Therese” Carol whispered, holding onto the couch arm for support to lean closer to Therese.

“Daaarrrllliinnggg” Carol sang while still keeping her voice low. Suddenly Therese put her hand very weakly on Carol’s mouth, fingers almost dangling off and tugging her lower lip down with them.

“Shhh.. You’re going to wake her” Therese didn’t open her eyes at all and her voice came all muffled due to the cushion wedged against her cheek. Her hand remained on Carol’s lips as she seemingly went back to sleep.

“Your lips are very soft” Therese mumbled and hummed, her lips tugging into half a smile.

“Are they now?” Carol kissed Therese’s fingertips causing Therese’s eyes to flutter open. Carol watched Therese adjust her position to sit up on the couch, slyly trying to wipe the drool off her chin, then she pushed herself up to kiss Therese on the lips.

“Hmmm.. very soft” Therese held Carol’s face close to hers.

“You are very endearing when you are half-asleep” Carol joked

“I am endearing all the time” Therese pulled Carol up and into a lazy, sloppy kiss, hoping to fall back asleep in her arms on the couch.

Chapter Text

“Would it be all right if I borrowed your sweater? It smells like you.”

Therese had asked one night in Denver and Carol had just smiled the derogatory smile that Therese loved. She had grabbed her red knit sweater and walked over to Therese but instead of handing it to her, Carol told Therese to raise her hands up and swung it over her head then dragged it slowly down Therese’s body. With her fingers still under the sweater, Carol found the skin above Therese’s navel and started to tickle her silly. Therese giggled and laughed then attempted to run from Carol’s preying fingers but Carol had immediately seized her running with a gentle push towards the bed and by connecting their lips together.

Therese had remained bundled in that sweater that was unflatteringly big on her, making her look younger than she already looked but the smell of the sweater kept her warm more than its wool did, the feel of the sweater soothed the ache of not being able to touch Carol in public and the way Carol looked at her in the sweater immediately made all the lingering glares at her seem null and void.

(She had packed the sweater in her suitcase then because it wouldn’t matter to Carol and Therese could keep her close, even if it was through fabric and perfume. Then she was back in New York, weeping into that sweater which no longer smelt like Carol. She was gone and all Therese had left was this sweater that could not keep the cold out anymore)

Chapter Text

A Staccato of beeps and a worrying dullness of her senses are the first things that usher Carol into consciousness. The room swims into her vision slowly, her eyelids practically stick together making it difficult to actually take in the room without a couple of blinks. The white tiles, shallow light and Christmas decorations gave no clear indication as to where she would be, only the sight of her own arm with a thin clear tube that travelled to the IV bag by her side made her understand that she was in the hospital. She was still numb, her thoughts were cloud and the only thing she looked for was something to confirm that she was, in fact, Carol. Carol in a bed that wasn’t hers, in a room she had never seen, with an arm that she couldn’t remember and Christmas decorations that she couldn’t remember putting up around her bed and room. With her neck too stiff to move, she rolled her eyes and looked all around the room and finally saw something that was definitely hers, a woman in a blue skirt and bent over looking for something with her behind pointed directly at Carol.

“You look beautiful Darling” Carol’s voice was gravel, yet with considerable effort, she croaked out. Therese immediately straightened and whipped around, a gasp escaping her lips that Carol was sure she wasn’t meant to hear.

“You hadn’t even seen me you pervert” Therese chuckled but tears filled her eyes almost immediately. Therese sat down beside Carol carefully and took her hand into both of her own.

“I like your decorations.” Carol looked around once more, at the tinsel on her room curtains, at the candy canes near the flowers on her bedside table and at the string of angels that she knew Therese cut on her own. Therese said nothing, she just smiled at Carol and held her hand to her lips, tracing her pinky with her lips and trailing her thumb over the freckles she loves.

“Do you remember anything?” Therese choked out, tears finally falling but the smile on her face never faltering.

Carol closed her eyes, pushing back the only memory she had of a faint voice, unmistakably of Therese, sobbing and murmuring.

You need to wake up because I can’t do this without you. Please wake up Carol. Please.

Carol sighed heavily then opened her eyes to look over to a crying Therese, sat on a chair beside her bed, looking tired, broken but also looking revealed, almost holy.

“I’m sorry I won’t be home for Christmas, I had the best Christmas present planned for you” Carol dried Therese’s tears and smiled reassuringly at her. Talks of whatever happened, how she ended up here or what would’ve happened didn’t matter, for now at least.

“It doesn’t matter. You are a big enough Christmas present on your own” Therese smiled again and shifted to sit beside Carol on the bed.

“Terribly sorry baby, I don’t think I come with a receipt” Therese laughed and Carol finally felt like she had come back to the right world.

“Oh how I’ve missed you” Therese leant down kiss Carol softly.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe you talked me into this.” Carol laughed.

Her voice blew with the summer air and her hair flew without reprimand, it messed up her curls and Therese knew that bugged her but who was she to care when the wind blew Carol’s perfume along with it and the bumpy roads gave Therese the perfect excuse to wrap her arms around Carol’s waist and gently lay her head against Carol’s strong back.

She had been behind someone on a cycle multiple times and most of those times it was Richard who was in front, who was always so stiff, always so clammy, always smelled of cheap paint thinner and cigarettes. Therese would hang on to the back of the bicycle seat or grip the sides of Richard’s coat but never did she feel the need to completely press against him even in the winter months where her fingers would threaten to give away and shatter like the ice they were. With Carol it was always different, it almost felt blasphemous to her to compare Carol to Richard but unfortunately what other choice did she have.

Her eyes scanned the benches they passed in central park, in a sea of unknown faces, what were the odds that Therese would spot Richard, slumped over with some other girl looking away from him. Richard looked up and caught Therese’s gaze, Therese wished she could say she didn’t see the surprise or the absolute disgust in his eyes but she had seen it, she could feel it burning a hole in her back as they cycled past him, Therese tugged even closer to Carol.

“Darling, you have the best of ideas you know” Carol called out and every thought of Richard was wiped away from Therese’s mind. She raised herself a little to bring herself to Carol’s ear.

“Wait till we get home, then you’ll see the best of my ideas” Though their cycle immediately swerved after that almost making both of them fall, Therese was incredibly happy being a tease.

Chapter Text

Poker nights with the girls was a preferred past time for Carol and Abby but then like with everything else in her life, Harge happened. Carol still believes that in the heart of Abby’s heart, she hates her for putting an end to weekend nights at Jeanette’s, where there were no restrictions on them. Martinis on their tongues, room filled with cigarette smoke and laughter and their money getting the best use by being put on the table for some fairly innocent fun. Gone were the housewives, the daughter-in-laws, the sisters, the neighbours and all the other facades each of these women had no choice but to master, and together they played the night away as just women, nothing more and certainly nothing less. But the war ended, the husbands came back and so did the responsibilities, and they came back three fold, stubbing out their fun like the endless cigarettes they crushed in crystal ashtrays.

With Therese, Carol found that she could have all the fun she had dearly missed. It always surprised Carol how much she and Therese actually did share, whether it be a love for swing dancing or a penchant for poetry. Now was one of those excitingly surprising times, when Carol had found an old pack of cards and boasted about her skill, Therese had immediately caught her and quipped back about her own poker prowess, apparently Phil had taught her well. This quickly devolved into them moving their coffee table out of the way and settling down on the carpet, wine in hand and their clothes on the mercy of the hand being dealt to them and their own poker face.

“Shit!” Therese drew her arms around her bare knees and hit her forehead on top of them.

Carol had won with a three of a kind. Nothing too special but Therese had been banking on the fact that Carol was bluffing and had confidently thought she was going to get Carol’s blouse off. Now she sat in her bra and panties in contrast to Carol, who was still in her blouse and skirt and had only lost her jewellery, stockings and her bra (losing the bra from underneath her blouse was an early attempt to rile Therese up so she could easily get away with anything she did).

“Okay. What do you want?” Therese was already looking for a blanket to cover her soon shivering body. She didn’t catch the turn of Carol’s lips and the raise of her eyebrows before she suddenly reached her hand over and placed one finger on Therese’s knee. Therese froze immediately and stared straight into Carol’s eyes. With just one finger Carol slowly pushed Therese’s knees apart, her eyes never leaving Therese’s. Therese’s breath hitched and she exhaled shakingly as Carol started to lean forward, over the cards, and placed her finger right on the edge of her underwear.

“This goes off” Carol dragged her finger down the lace and to the edge of Therese’s lips.Therese’s brain went into overdrive under Carol’s gaze and she just stared blankly at Carol while desperately trying to control her breathing.

“You heard me.” Carol leant in further. “Take.” her finger then found Therese’s clit. “It” her finger roughly dragged down her lips, nails scraping her clit. “Off.” then she dragged her finger back up, smiling when she found the fabric getting wetter and wetter.

“Come over here and make me.” Therese nearly whispered but her voice was steady and demanding.

“Make you?” Carol let out a short laugh and crawled closer to settle between Therese’s legs. Her finger drew circles on Therese’s clit through her panties, her lips mere inches away from Therese’s, catching the warmth of the short pants Therese let out.

“How do I make you, Therese? tell me,” Carol spoke against Therese’s lips, she stared at them for a minute before bringing her gaze back to Therese’s. Her finger stopped at once and it earned a whimper out of Therese.

“Kiss me,” Therese brought her hand up to Carol’s cheek and pulled her into a kiss. It took no time for the kiss to get heated, tongues meeting the minute their lips did for the first time. Carol didn’t move further and with one arm holding herself up, Therese didn’t either.

Therese shifted her hand from Carol’s cheek to her hair and lightly tugged to direct Carol’s mouth to her neck. “Bite me,” Carol gently bit and tugged on porcelain skin then slowly soothed the skin with her lips and tongue, Therese’s groans got rougher. Therese was panting heavily, tightening her grip in Carol’s hair each time Carol sucked or nipped at her neck. She guided Carol by the hair to her collarbone and down her sternum where Carol continued her routine of tongue and teeth as ordered by Therese.

Her mind had seemed to have eluded her and all that she was aware of was Carol’ lips on the dip of her breasts, nipping and sucking occasionally. why isn’t she moving? Therese was getting impatient, worried that her wetness would soak through her panties and seep into the carpet if Carol continued this achingly slow pace. She brought her hand to the buckle of her own bra and quickly rid herself of it, then she grabbed Carol’s hand, the one which remained frozen over her clit and crushed it against her exposed breast.

“Touch me,” Therese breathed out. Carol moved forward to gently sway Therese onto her back and into the carpet, she hovered over her for a minute before attacking her lips and roughly kneading her breasts. Carol’s lips replaced her hands causing Therese to moan loud and long. One of her hands played with Therese’s hard nipple while Carol worked the other nipple with her tongue.

Therese felt like she was going crazy, whimpering and screaming for Carol but Carol wasn’t budging, she remained focused on the task Therese set her to and didn’t dare wander further. Her hand came to rest next to Therese’s hip and only then it hit her that Carol wasn’t going to give her the release she so desperately needed unless she obliged. Take. It. Off.

Therese pushed Carol off of herself and hooked the sides of her underwear, dragging them down as best she could. “Love me,” Therese whimpered, her hands only being able to nudge her underwear to the middle of her thigh. Without a missed beat, Carol nearly ripped Therese’s underwear off and placed Therese’s hands into her hair and around her shoulders. Pressing a quick flurry of kisses down Therese’s torso, Carol quickly reached her centre and ran her tongue flat against it. Therese was so deliciously wet and Carol was determined to lick up every single bit of her. She worked her regular pace, circling her clit then pressing it flat. Therese came quickly, with Carol running her tongue right up Therese’s opening and then suckling on her clit. Her thighs almost clasped shut around Carol’s head while she continued to lick as Therese rode out her orgasm. Therese collapsed like a lump, legs going limp and her arms loosely flung over her eyes.

“I think it’s safe to say I won,” Carol looked at her with her biggest, most loving grin on her face.

“Oh yeah you did,” Therese huffed, Carol laughed at her love and kissed her shoulder.

“How about I give the winner her award?” Therese peeked out from under her arms and grinned at Carol.

“Is this award perhaps in the bedroom?”

“Oh you can have this award wherever you feel like it.” Therese reached over to pull Carol into another kiss.

Chapter Text

The pages fade in and out, Therese is trying to complete this chapter but her eyes betray her, burning for sleep and familiar hellos to welcome dreams. Her hold on the book becomes looser and her head sinks into the side of the couch. Someone, obviously Carol, takes the book out of her hands and sets it to the side. Therese can feel Carol watching over her by the couch but doesn’t open her eyes to acknowledge her, it fills her with a strange warmth to be observed by Carol when she supposedly isn’t aware of it. She hears Carol shift her feet and sigh quietly, something that isn’t rare but Therese can feel it would build into Carol fidgeting around the apartment, smoking up a storm. She opens her eyes and Carol isn’t looking at her, rather she is looking towards the balcony. Therese reaches out and tugs on her dress to get her attention.

“Are you upset?” Therese speaks softly and Carol only nods in response, still not looking at her.

“Do you know why?” Carol shakes her head in response but her brows furrow and her shoulders tense up, Therese tugs at her dress again to get her to look at her.

Therese pats her chest and takes Carol’s hand and immediately, Carol crawls on top of her on their sofa and puts her head on Therese’s chest, right over her heart. It’s uncomfortable, it takes them a while to settle and Therese knows Carol’s legs barely fit when she is alone on the couch so right now they must be painfully dangling off the edge, yet Carol seems to instantly relax so Therese lightly traces her fingers along Carol’s neck and then gently starts to play with her hair.

“Is this better?” Therese whispers. Carol nods against her chest and exhales deeply.

“Do you want to do something?” a shake of the head.

“No? Okay. Are you comfortable?” a hesitant nod.

Therese then sits up so her back is against the armrest of the couch, Carol whines and her hands crumple Therese’s sweater and tug down, but Therese shushes her and squeeze on Carol’s shoulders to tell her to move up. Now, her legs fit entirely on the sofa but her head still remains on Therese’s chest, ear pressed directly to Therese’s heartbeat. Therese wraps her arms around Carol, one wrapped around her head and with a hand in her hair and the other resting on her back. Therese reaches for her book and starts reading out loud, softly and slowly, while still caressing Carol’s scalp. Carol can hear when Therese gets into the dialogue she reads because her heart beat fastens so she smiles to herself and she can feel the skips in Therese’s heartbeat whenever she decides to shift her cheek to press a kiss to Therese’s chest. Carol doses off first, mouth slightly parted and cheek smushed against Therese’s olive sweater, Therese doesn’t notice and continues reading till her eyes get heavy as well and she slumps forward, curling over Carol, and falls asleep too. With their foreheads almost touching and breaths in sync, they sleep through the slow Saturday afternoon, when even the cars seem to whisper their honks and the ever present chatter that floats up from the street sounds like a lullaby. The city that never sleeps falls into a comfortable slumber on a mid-july’s afternoon.

Chapter Text

“I’m not frightened, Therese”

She had said, valiantly but the truth was that it wasn’t the right question to ask. She had felt safe, even in the dark that usually haunted her, it was safe in the confines of fog covered windows, with the low hum of the engine and soft snoring coming from the side of her, a certain perfume that rained warmth through her body and with a strange girl by her side. She had never felt safer. There was an offer to help, a sweet gesture but said with such bold courage it had left her stunned.

“But you’d tell me. If something scared you. If there was something I could do to help,”

Silly girl. Could she turn back the dials of the clock? Turn the days back to when they were the same age? When one was foolishly getting married to a rich man’s heir and the other rotting away in a boarding school. She couldn’t help, not more than she already was. But alas it was the wrong question to ask.

Whatever scared her, whatever frightened, it all had been accepted and she had been patiently waiting for it to fall apart.

Then it did fall apart, as quickly as they came together. She no longer felt safe, checking over her shoulder more than a normal person would, not calling anyone in the fear of getting taped, not checking mail should it carry an ultimatum and soon her fear would shake her enough that she would stop eating. This was human degeneration. Where she would go to a court room and get sneered at by perverse men, who heard nothing in those tapes beyond their moans, beyond their gasps, they heard nothing of the promises, of the hope, of the safety, of the love. It was all a manifestation of an insanity she didn’t feel to them and how they took sweet pleasure out of it. Their stares clung to her bones like a slime, a plague she couldn’t wash out. But even under their accusing eyes, their gloating smirks, she wouldn’t be disgusted with herself, she refused to be. Even at her lowest, she knew she was far better than the man who brided her with their own daughter’s affection. She was far better than the man who loved nothing and no one more that the drink and his business. That man loved their daughter however and it was better for his longevity that he did but that was all she could say in praise of him.

In the back seat of a taxi, Carol had decided she would let her daughter go today. That she would not live without knowing dignity, without knowing respect or without knowing love. Carol saw Therese walk across the street, with her grown up hair and grown up clothes, and that feeling of safety came back to her from beyond the frosted window of a taxi. Carol thought of Therese’s strength, how she left everything for her, of how she was strong enough to love even when the world wouldn’t accept it and suddenly Carol wanted freedom from this war and in that moment it hit her that her daughter wanted it too. Then that was that, Carol would not live against her own grain anymore.

Chapter Text

Carol rounded the corner to their living room, raising her arms above her head and twisting her back to get the knots out of it. Even though her eyes were closed, she could see Therese laying on their couch with a book in her hands or her eyes to the television. A smile crept up on her face and a warm excitement spread through her tired bones at the thought of burying her face in her love’s chest and feeling her aches fade away in her arms. Just as she opened her eyes, smile as wide as ever, she saw exactly what she thought she would but nothing of what she wanted to see. Therese was on the couch alright but her hands were not in a book or under her head but in the fur of their fairly recent addition to the family. Carol didn’t hate the little furball but those fingers petting him should be in her hair right now and she didn’t appreciate him taking up her space on Therese’s chest. She huffed and collapsed in the love seat next to her couch and glared at the dog.

“Are you done with your work?” Therese asked, rubbing her eyes and smiling at Carol.

“Yes. And I was hop-” Carol started with her nose in the air and away from Therese but was quickly cut off.

“Could you take him for a minute? I desperately need the bathroom.” Before Carol could even answer, Therese had shoved the pet into Carol’s hands and ran into their bedroom.

Carol raised the pup to level eyes with him and squinted accusingly at him. She moved down to the carpet and put him down, slightly away from herself but the pup hopped energetically back into her lap. He was obviously in the mood to play and though Carol was blatantly jealous, he was pretty adorable so Carol obliged him by lightly throwing him back again and catching him as he ran and jumped back into her arms again. After the 5th time, Carol scooped him up and raised him to her eye level again, ignoring the sting of his tiny teeth nipping at her thumbs that raised him from underneath his pits.

“I didn’t let the law take that woman away from me but you have the audacity to do it in my own home?” She brought him closer to her face but kept him at enough distance so he wouldn’t lick her entire face off.

“She loves me more than you. Remember that you beast.” Carol smiled despite the threat. This little pup, wiggling his tongue in mid-air, in an effort to lick her, was far from a beast. She heard a chuckle come from behind her and she put him down immediately.

“How much?” Carol knew Therese had been standing there for a long time and probably heard her.

“All of it.” Therese smiled at her beautifully, dimples on display and green eyes creasing.

She walked up behind them and sat on the loveseat, spreading her legs and urging Carol to settle in between them. Therese quickly threaded her hands into Carol’s hair and watched her completely melt into the touch with a sigh. Carol pressed a kiss to Therese’s knee and enjoyed the feeling of her slender fingers running through her hair. The touch was sweet, like cotton candy that melted in your mouth as soon as it touched your tongue.

“And yes I love you more than anything in the world.” Therese whispered into her hairline and pressed a kiss to it.

“But Darcy is a close second

Chapter Text

“I like it when you wear your red coat” Carol leans against the doorway watching Therese get ready.

“I’ll wear that then”

Carol hates letting Therese go to some last minute job on a Saturday. You work hard enough already! She says, out of worry more than anything but her chest lifts with pride seeing Therese work so hard and come back home satisfied, exhausted but satisfied at least.

“Have a good day and hurry back.” Carol pressed a kiss to Therese’s cheek and wiped away any lipstick stains with her thumb.

Then Therese is out of the door and the apartment loses someone it’s life when there is no patter of Therese’s feet or the clatter of her trying to do something or the other. With a coffee in hand, Carol stands by their window that looks to the road and spots a single woman in a bright red coat trying to navigate through the waves of people there. While she did love Therese in red, it also allowed her to spot her anywhere in a crowd, especially the jovial New York crowd of a Saturday morning.

Carol put her mind to work after a while, doing any extra paperwork for the shop, all their chores, go out and replace the flowers in the vase, checked the window twice already for a certain red coat. Call it the honeymoon phase, call it Carol’s growing dependence but weekends without Therese weighed down on her mind and cost her heavily on cigarettes. She would slip into daydreams about what Therese would be doing, working without a break? laughing with her co-workers? thinking of home?. She feels stupid, ignorant even, to give herself so wholly to someone, to wait for their arrival while draining the last embers of a cigarette like a sad pet. She knows better than to hand over control of her life to someone else like this. They were two women, living in an apartment alone, how long before Therese’s colleagues start asking why she isn’t married? how long before one of their neighbours gets entirely too nosy? how long before she loses control over her fingers and the hospital denies Therese any means to fix it? It wouldn’t last but for the first time in her life, she hoped it did. She would fight for it.

What was this pull to continuously check their window? this gnawing feeling at the back of her head that says “She might be here. Go get her”. Therese could not come back tonight and Carol would still be by the window looking and hoping for that red coat. She smashed her cigarette in the ashtray and went to pick up her rye. This is what becomes of you, she leaves and you are back to the drink Carol scoffs at herself and feels it deepen the frown on her face. Did Therese know of the power she held over her? maybe she did and maybe she would use it against her. Carol shook her head and scoffed again because some part of her that wasn’t loud enough in front of the rye and water knew that Therese would never dare. That Therese was itching to get out of work and into her arms again. She stood by the window once again, the sky just about darkening and there it was, the red coat shuffling it’s way through the crowd. Carol’s heart leapt and she stopped herself from running to the door and actually waiting for the buzzer.

“Hello, my Darling.” Carol charmingly opened the door, as if she hadn’t been fawning over Therese the entire day.

“Look at what I got you!” Therese excitedly thrust a handsome bouquet of flowers in Carol’s face.

“They finally got hydrangeas and I know you like them so I simply couldn’t resist. Sorry, I came in later than expected because of them” Therese closed the door and hung her coat up, Carol had remained silent and Therese wasn’t sure why.

“Did you already bring some flowers for the vase? We can put’em elsewhere if you’d like,” Therese moved slowly, almost afraid to enter Carol’s space.

“I love you. More than you know. More than you can fathom.” Carol spoke suddenly, setting the hydrangeas on the table and capturing Therese’s lips in her own.

“I didn’t know you like them so much. They were an expensive bunch but still,” Therese joked against her lips, she knew there was more behind that confession but they had the whole night to figure that out.

“I am going to shut your smart mouth the best way I can” Carol kissed her again before she could retort and started walking them backwards to the bedroom. Or the couch. Or the kitchen counter. Whichever came first.

Chapter Text

For Carol, while sleep is now dreamless, it is calm. It’s an overwhelming peace felt through exhaustion of both body and mind. Floating through her conscious with her lover in her arms is serenity at its finest. Until of course-

“Jesus fucking christ! OW!” Carol blew back into the mattress and pressed her palm into her jaw.

“Huh? What happened?” Therese tried to rub her eyes open.

“What happened?! you were sleeping under my chin and socked me right in the jaw when you tried to roll over. Jesus Therese, I nearly bit my tongue in half” Therese sat up, turned on the lamp and saw Carol gripping her jaw with the expression of pure agony on her face.

“I did?” Therese failed to notice the dull ache on the top of her head until now. Carol opened one eye and glared at her as best she could, her face twisted in all the tell tales of a snarl.

“Oh, I did.” Therese started to laugh, unable to control herself, making Carol even angrier. Carol huffed and turned onto her side, showing her back to Therese and putting distance between their bodies.

Therese tried to stifle her laugh but to no avail. She laid back down and stared at Carol’s back for a minute and let her laughter fade away.  

“Did I hurt you?” Therese traced loose patterns on Carol’s back and felt her stiffness falter for a minute but Carol gave no answer.

Therese moved closer and pressed a kiss to Carol’s shoulder. 

“Do you want me to kiss it better?” At that, Carol cracked and Therese heard a slight sigh and a giggle come from her. Therese tugged on her waist to turn her around again and buried herself back under her chin.

“You know, they could make a weapon out of your head sweetheart. What would we’ve done if something actually happened to my tongue?” Carol poked Therese in the side.

Therese let out a short laugh and started to press kisses to the underside of Carol’s jaw. She moved to her jawline and peppered it with kisses as well. She bit down a couple of times, earning groans from Carol. Therese reached her lips and kissed them gently before pushing her tongue past Carol’s lips and quickly deepening the kiss. Carol let out a surprised yelp and moved her hands to Therese’s face, pulling her away.

“This may be a bad idea at 3 am, darling. You have work tomorrow.”

“But I’m kissing it better.” Therese grinned and moved back in to kiss Carol. She knew she would be grumpy in the morning even after her third cup of coffee but Carol would deal with that just as expertly as Therese was dealing with her right now.

Chapter Text

Therese gets drunk easy. She is the lightest of the light weights so when the record loses its jazzy feel and swing comes on, the alcohol easily convinces Therese that she needs a stage to dance on. Carol is worried about a multitude of things, about Therese falling off, about her heels starching her beautiful mahogany table or about anyone seeing this stupidity from their balcony.

“Darling, you need to come down. Your heels-” Carol tried to reason but Therese was having none of it, kicking of her heels and loudly singing along with the record.

“I need you up here with me!” Therese yelled a little too loud for just the two of them in the apartment.

“Oh you’ve got your head in the clouds!” Carol extended her arm to bring Therese down but with surprising strength, Therese managed to drag Carol towards the table without tumbling.

“Baby don’t cha know it’s rude, To keep my two lips waiting when they’re in the mood” Therese sang along with the record in her New York drawl that only came out around Dannie.

Carol was immediately disarmed by the accent, much to Therese’s satisfaction and got lead up to the table. After a little while of careful stepping, Therese manages to get Carol to loosen up and make a few of her own starches on the table. They danced entirely too close to each other till their thighs gave out and managed to only make it to the couch before passing out on top of each other in a pile.

Chapter Text

Carol always calls Therese ‘the sensible one of the two’. While Carol won’t care about the weather outside, Therese knows when to carry their umbrella and when Carol decides to forgo any kind of protection against the cold, Therese knows to always keep an extra scarf in her bag. Suggesting walking instead of a taxi, small diners instead of fancy restaurants, small things here and there that make Carol fall in love with her more and more each day.

“Therese, don’t you think I should hold it?” However, sensibility is no match against her irritably.

“No, you shouldn’t. I told you to bring your umbrella but her majesty couldn’t believe the rain would rain on her heavenly path.” Therese talks flushed faced and clearly struggling to keep the umbrella from blowing away. The rain was hitting them both hard and Carol had given up on trying to save her dress two blocks ago.

“I can keep it stable and I wouldn’t have to stoop. You know how my back is.” Carol must’ve looked apologetic enough for Therese to hand over the umbrella with only a little pout.

Carol straightened up and held the umbrella still above both their heads, feeling only slightly smug. She grabbed Therese’s hand and placed it over hers that held the umbrella. She didn’t need to look at Therese to know she was blushing and smiling. The winds blew against them and the rain drenched every part of them so after two more blocks back to their apartment they burst into a fit of giggles but didn’t let go of the umbrella, keeping their hands together and basking in the rarity of having each other so close in public. Therese had suggested leaving their purses at home for this short walk, the rain would’ve destroyed everything in it completely. Like Carol always says, She is the sensible one.

Chapter Text

“Will you marry me?”

Harge hadn’t shocked her. During his three months of furlough, all he talked about was how his mother wanted to see him wed and happy should anything happen to him. His mother, in all her overbearing ways, had gotten measurements for a wedding dress done one tomato aspic lunch not too long ago. She wasn’t surprised that Harge had dropped to one knee in front of all his friends and asked her with the most extravagant ring, in fact, she was terribly bored by it. Wasn’t it supposed to be a grand reveal? Something every girl dreams of? But she felt off. There were no fireworks, no butterflies, no doves, none of the arbitrary things related to love going off in her head or heart. It was just a dull, frustrated, panic to say yes as quickly as possible should she disappoint Harge or, even worse, his mother.

The wedding was a grand affair, how could it not be? And with her last name went her freedom but she wouldn’t realise that until she tried to apply for a job instead of complying to Harge’s insistence to have a child. She had wanted children, two or three, two daughters and a little boy but soon even Rindy was more than their relationship could handle. She found herself thinking about silly superstitions, “get married in May and you’ll surely rue the day”, maybe they were true? Maybe the month of May was to blame. She knew there was no one to blame but herself. A bitter divorce happened. Another thing that didn’t shock her. It would’ve shocked her many years ago, when Paris was her summer home but not now, the cynic in her knew better now.

But it was the bitterest end with the sweetest reward. And that reward shocked her, surprised her and excited her every day. Even littlest things that made her warm and giddy, made her feel young. Seeing a roll of film next to her cigarette case in her purse since she often found herself carrying extra rolls for Therese. Their toothbrushes in the same place, bathrobe hanging next to each other. Cleaning up their clothes from the hallway while Therese soundly slept and softly smiled in her sleep, a smile she carried all the way from the night before.

“Marry me, Carol.”

There was no grand gesture, no measurements, but just a simple statement whispered into her ear in the afterglow of their love making. There was a teasing tone to it, both of them knew it could never be but Carol felt every butterfly, every dove, every firework, everything she should’ve felt ten years ago in that one moment before Therese promptly decided to roll on top of her and fall asleep.

“My angel. I will”

Chapter Text

“I always wanted to know what it was like to walk down the aisle. Though I don’t know who’d walk me down it.”

Therese had leaned over and whispered into Carol’s ear very absentmindedly, her eyes following Louise and Louise’s father down the aisle as they walked towards Dannie, arm in arm and smiling so brightly that it made her mirror their smiles in equal power. While Therese’s eyes followed Louise, Carol’s eyes were glued to Therese’s profile, slightly stunned by the statement thrown so casually as if it held nothing of the tragedy that it did. She bore such pity for the girl, my poor little orphan. She would’ve turned the world upside down if that meant she could give Therese this simple thing she was deprived of. Carol found herself getting lost in the thoughts of her own marriage, how ultimately it was her taking it for granted, how she never appreciated her father enough for walking her down the aisle. It was all given to her and she still wanted more and here, next to her, was a girl who was smiling so beautifully, happy with dreaming of a wedding she couldn’t have, at least not with me. Carol’s gaze settled on the deeply formed dimple on Therese’s cheek, how she wanted to kiss her then and there. Therese then turned to Carol, brow furrowed but an open smile still shining on her face. She mouthed “what?” To Carol and Carol mouthed "I love you” back to her. They listened to Dannie and Louise recite their vows to each other, Carol immediately asking for Therese to grab a tissue out of her purse. Soon enough, all the guests exited the church and celebration began.

Everyone said very drunken goodbyes to each other, stomachs filled with wedding cake and fancy wine. Carol struggled to open the door to their house while Therese giggled and leant on her bent over figure. Both of them had been slightly tipsy as they tumbled into their house. Therese took Carol’s coat and tugged the edge of her dress while bowing slightly before going to the coat rack, Carol laughed and twirled towards the large stained glass window at the end of the hall. They were living in a old church which had been remodelled into a luxurious house. From where Carol stood, on the elevated floor in front of a large window, she could very easily make out where the aisle must’ve been and where the altar must’ve been. She looked at Therese, in the dark of the house, her white dress being lit by the moonlight behind her. Her eyes took in the white dress Therese wore, how it was only few inches and a little lace embroidery shy from an actual bridal gown.

“Therese! Darling walk towards me from where you stand!” Carol called from across the hall.

“What are you up to?” Therese called back but obliged, slowly making her way to Carol.

“You wanted to know what it would be like to walk down the aisle. Well this is the best we can do!” Carol smiled, hoping and waiting for Therese to catch on to her train of thought.

Therese stopped in her tracks, looked around and immediately burst into laughter. She shook her head, continuing on to her path to Carol, straightening her back and holding her arms out as if she were holding a bouquet of flowers and as if she had someone holding her by the crook of her elbow. Carol started to hum the bridal march and it echoed off the house’s high walls, making it sound dramatic, an almost celestial melody. Therese’s couldn’t stop giggling, seeing Carol at the end of the hall, her features backlit by the moonlight, in a white dress that was nothing like a bridal gown, her hair that gleamed silver and her jewellery that caught in her eye and irritated her vision. Carol looked positively beautiful and Therese felt her heart getting fuller and fuller with every step. Just as she finally reached Carol, Therese stood in front of her and held out her hand. Carol laughed, she removed a ring from her middle finger and very proudly slid it on to Therese’s ring finger. They both were giggling like children as Therese repeated the action and essentially returned Carol’s ring back to her. They looked into each other’s eyes, both slightly out of focus because of the alcohol.

“I, Carol, take you, Therese, as my wedded wife. To have and to hold. To steal truffles from. To clean up after.” Therese smacked Carol across the arm. Carol’s laughter only fading as she continued “From this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

“I, Therese, take you, Carol, as my wedded wife. To have and to hold. To kick off the bed at midnight. To remember simple tasks for.”

“Hey!!” Carol began to speak but Therese shushed her with her finger.

“From this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” Carol grinned at Therese.

“Do I get to kiss the bride now?” Carol broke the long silence they held, bringing back the laughter and the giggles.

Therese threw herself onto Carol, attacking her lips with sloppy kisses. Carol picked Therese up by the back of her knees, bridal style and carried her to their bedroom.

Chapter Text

“have you ever dreamed of me?” Therese drummed her fingertips against Carol’s ribs.

“Dreamt of you?” Carol inhaled deeply as if appraising the question at length.

“What kind of dream are you hoping to learn about?” Carol looked down at Therese and waggled her eyebrows at her. 

Therese let out a gasp and smacked Carol’s arm, a smile grew on her face as Carol seized her hand and brought it to her lips. Silence fell upon them, Therese thought Carol had forgotten the question already.

“I thought you might have dreamt of me in your life as I am now. About loving me as you do now.” Therese ducked her head and focused on drawing a line down Carol’s sternum to her navel.

“I know I have.” Therese started to press kisses on the invisible line she just drew. Carol gently pulled her up by her jaw and their leveled eyes.

“Remember when you came to Ridgewood, on Christmas? My mind could only dream that night and it saw you as you are with me right now, in my arms, kissing my chest, as you will be with me tomorrow, sitting on our dinner table, looking positively gorgeous and sharing breakfast with me. The only difference is that your hair was longer.” 

Therese laughed, feeling unexplainably giddy at the thought of Carol dreaming of her. 

“And I dreamt of telling you that I love you. It was a lot different in my dream but that doesn’t matter.” Therese saw Carol’s eyes darken, their thoughts running in the same direction.

“Show me then.” Therese whispered. 

Carol turned Therese over without a word, kissing her jaw, her neck, her ears and then the lips. Running her hands all over Therese’s body, Carol soon replaced them with her mouth. She settled between Therese’s legs and pressed a loud kiss to her hip. 

“I love you, Therese.” Carol’s lips moved against Therese’s skin, voice slightly muffling. She continued lower and finished showing Therese everything she had dreamt of. 

Chapter Text

“Mommy when can we go to the zoo again?” Rindy eyed the glass of milk Carol set down for her.

“We can go in the afternoon if you want, sweet pea.” Carol kissed Rindy’s forehead and walked back into the kitchen.

She went back to setting a tray of breakfast up. Some fruit, some toast, orange juice and coffee, a single red tulip in a small vase. She scoffed at herself while fixing the position of the flower, she knew it would be appreciated no matter how sentimental it was. She gripped the sides of it firmly and lifted it off with ease, sauntering off to the bedroom while reminding Rindy to quickly finish her breakfast and to get her backpack ready. As she entered the bedroom, there was a slight snore coming from underneath a mound of white sheets and no other sign of Therese that she could see. Carol walked slowly towards the bed, making sure the clanking cutlery didn’t make too much of a racquet.

“Good morning, sleepyhead.” Carol sat down on the edge of the bed, just where Therese’s body was curled up under the sheets.

“G’morning” Therese rolled and stretched, a satisfied smile bloomed on her face just as she saw Carol.

Therese reached out and lazily caressed Carol’s arm, lifting her chin and puckering her lips to get Carol to kiss her. Carol rolled her eyes and set the tray on the bedside table. She leant down and gently kissed Therese, smiling as she felt hands on the sides of her face holding her to sleepy and slow lips.

“You taste good. Did you take some of my strawberries?” Therese teased.

“Yes, I did. And you taste awful. Get up and brush.” Carol kissed her again.

“If you are trying to get me out of bed then you will have to try harder.” Therese stretched and buried herself further into the mattress.

“Be as lazy as you want sweetheart, your breakfast has been brought to you.” Carol laughed.

“I love you.” Therese sang the last two words and motioned for Carol to kiss her again.

Before Carol could lean back in, in came Rindy like a ball of boundless energy and jumped up on the bed, landing on Therese’s stomach and winding her a little. Carol couldn’t stop laughing when finally Therese sat up to envelop Rindy in her arms and started to tickle her mercilessly. Soon enough, even Rindy’s breakfast was moved into the bedroom and the three of sat in between pillows and sheets mapping out their plans for the day.

Chapter Text

Carol cupped her gloved hands around her mouth and blew hot breath into them. Winter had been miserable that year, seeping through her clothing and chilling her nerves. She sighed, pushing a small cloud into the air and then pulled out her phone to check the time. Carol wondered how it was possible that today she was the one who was on time, the weather was getting worse, she had left her cigarettes at home and her damn hands just would not warm up, Therese would never hear the end of this. Carol tried to move her fingers just to get some feeling back into them, tried rubbing them together so that the friction would heat them up, tried shoving them in her pockets but every two minutes or so she would have to keep her nose from running but alas nothing helped. She went to send Therese a message about how it was her fault if she got frostbite but she stopped at her lockscreen.

It was a picture of Therese from last Christmas. Her eyes were squeezed close, her head down, the dimple in her cheek deep and prominent as she laughed and adorably tried to cover her smile with her hands. Her dark hair was in a ponytail yet a few strands fell forward and the edges of her hair glowed due to the christmas lights and formed a halo around her angel. Carol remembered fondly that this was her reaction to the christmas gift Abby got for the both of them. She felt a deep warmth bloom from her chest and travel to all of her senses. It wasn’t the greatest picture, Carol had took it in a hurry, it was slightly blurry, awkwardly centred but it was the most beautiful thing Carol could have on her phone. She caressed the screen and felt her cheeks pinch from smiling. Suddenly, two hands were covering her eyes, Carol grabbed them and recognised that softness immediately. 

“You’re late my love,” Carol said pulling those hands away as she turned to look at Therese. 

Therese said nothing and just smiled at Carol. There was a mischievous glint in her eyes which put Carol on alert, she was up to no good. Before Carol could react, Therese made her way past Carol’s coat and shoved her hands inside her shirt, pressing her cold fingers to Carol’s stomach and quickly pinching her sides. Carol let out a loud yelp and jumped back from Therese.

Carol wanted to scold her but there she was again, laughing with her eyes closed and with her hand covering her mouth. Suddenly Carol noticed the green, the red and the gold all around them, the white of snow giving them the perfect canvas to glow vibrantly. It was as if just from Therese’s laughter all this christmas decoration had magically appeared, but no, Carol had just failed to notice them before, when she was grouchy and cold but now, Therese was here and all of a sudden, it felt too warm for gloves. 

Not one to be out done, Carol went to pinch Therese in the sides as well. Therese yelled “hey!” and lurched for Carol again, missing her completely and giving the start to a chase down the streets of Rockefeller centre. They ran through crowds, probably getting cussed out by every person on the street but they didn’t care. Slowly running out of breath, Carol turned to look at Therese but seemingly she had lost her in the crowd. She suddenly felt her heart drop, worry taking over her elation so quickly. She went and stood by a shop, just calling Therese till she felt hands pushing her own away and lips being pressed onto hers. After recovering from her initial shock, she laced her fingers with the hand holding on to her own and kissed back. 

Therese pulled back first, “I win.” she said and Carol laughed so loud she was sure people around her were staring. 

They went and got hot chocolate from the Blue Bottle Coffee shop, as romantic as the place was, Carol insisted they get takeaways. As they walked back out in the cold air, Therese was adjusting her coat when Carol pulled her to the side. She had a wicked smile on her face as she pulled a flask out from her purse. Therese understood now why they had taken take away,

“Because hot chocolate is always better with amaretto.” Carol said as she dumped a little hot chocolate out of both cups and topped it up with the delicious almond liqueur.

They spent the rest of the day walking through the Abby Aldrich gardens, leaning into each other as they walked. Therese reached over to take Carol’s hand, they were both warm from the alcohol and the closeness to each other yet Therese’s fingers were cold. Carol laced their fingers together and ran her thumb across the ring on Therese’s left hand. Therese put her head on her wife’s shoulder and pulled her arm closer. Winter could never be too cold, Carol thought and pressed a kiss to Therese’s head as they continued their walk together.

Chapter Text

It’s a bright winter morning yet the breeze carries a sharp, cutting, chill in it, Carol tries not to fumble as she selects the key on her keyring and pushes the door open. She opens it just a crack and slides in, not wanting the cold to get into the house as well, her fingers ache as she tries to move them. She has forgotten her gloves at that department store.  Florence is standing beside her suddenly and she startles, pressing her hand to her chest and jumping slightly.

“Your coat ma’am.” Florence waits for Carol to take off and hand over her beloved fur coat.

Carol moves finally and she does so wordlessly, handing over the coat, taking off her scarf and running her fingers through her hair. She can hear two voices in the living room, one effortlessly light and cheerful due to its young age and the other husky yet warm, fatherly was the only way she could describe it. She collects her breath and walks, counting her clicks of her heels till she reaches the living room. Father and daughter come into view, sitting by the coffee table and colouring. Harge turns first and Carol squints at the warm smile he throws her. Rindy yells and runs over to drag Carol to her coffee table, her hands still feel achingly cold and her eyes dart around the room for her cigarette case.

“Find what you wanted at the store?” Harge slides his arm around her waist, scooting over to sit closer to her.

“No,” Carol answers coldly. She watches Rindy’s expression change, a slight twitch of her lips, her eyes closing almost as if she flinched away from a fire. She presses a kiss to Rindy’s head,

“I found something better.” Carol caresses her cheek and hopes that she managed to smile warmly at her. Rindy smiles back, it’s an honest smile Carol knows this.

She wonders if she’ll like the train set. If anything it was an impulse purchase, Carol was starting to wonder why she had dished $5000 on it without thinking twice, she watched Rindy colour a picture of Santa and thought of the clerk, in her charming Santa hat and with her own eager to please, honest smile. Carol dismissed it, she must’ve just reminded her of Rindy that’s why Carol had been thinking about her the whole ride over.

“I’m glad.” Suddenly Harge is in her ear, pressing up against her side.

In an instant, Carol turns her head to her right, she knew it was the wrong way the minute Harge’s lips covered her own. Carol felt a groan bubble in her, not one of pleasure like it was supposed to be, like it was expected of her but a groan of frustration, of boredom. The press of his lips was insistent, demanding and slimy. Carol hoped that Harge would get the hint if she just didn’t kiss back, if she just stayed perfectly still, like a dead cold corpse. Yet Harge held her there, his hand rough on her waist. Carol pulled back immediately. She put some distance between them and moved to put her arms around Rindy. She heard a huff come from behind her and then the shuffling of Harge getting up.

“Wipe that lipstick off before you leave.” Carol spat, watching the shock clear on Harge’s face as he put on his hat. He yanked a napkin of a side table and pressed it to his mouth, rejection clear on his face and left.

Now she was sitting in her pyjamas, at her study, reading through her mail. Harge had come over in the morning to take Rindy, she suddenly saw that same warm smile in her mind as he threw the mail onto her bed and shivered. Carol read the words in front of her again.

       Salutations from Frankenbreg’s Department Store. Employee 645-A

Her gloves came with it. She was grateful to this employee 645-A, the image of the man at the ski department looking her up and down was what her brain immediately associated with that.

Men” Carol scoffed as she flung the card into the trashcan.

The light caught her hand in a way that her red nail paint nearly glowed, vibrant against her pale skin. Again the thoughts of the girl were back, red hat and green eyes that reminded her of Christmas. The girl was shy yet confident, aloof yet all knowing, how she had looked at Carol when she slowly rose to her feet from behind the counter as Carol slapped her gloves on the glass. Carol immediately jumped to fish the card out of the bin, she traced the letters with her finger, the delicate script felt almost tangible. It was her counter where she left her gloves, not at the ski department.

“Employee 645-A” Carol said out loud, rolling the “title” around in her mouth. She felt a giddy smile take over her face. She wondered if she would get to have lunch with this delicate and alluring creature.  

Chapter Text

There was always something comforting about her dark room. The funky smell that would eventually not even be noticiable, the silence, the red light that covered everything in an ominous tint, developing photos was a catharsis even when there was a deadline just creeping around the corner, poking at her anxieties and making her concious of exactly how slow the whole process of developing film was.

Knock. Knock “Therese, can I come in?” Carol whispered through the door.

Therese chuckled and went to open the door just a crack so Carol could slide in without letting too much light into the room. Therese closed the door and let Carol wander around the room and look at her photos.

“Everything okay?” Therese asked as she turned around.

Carol had her arms behind her and she stood impossibly straight, scanning photos with such respect as if she had been given orders.

“Yes. I just got bored, alone in the living room so I decided to come watch you work.” Carol said.

Therese watched as she perched herself on an empty spot by the sink, running her fingers through her hair once. The red light complimented her pale skin, her complexion was warm and the cold lighting made it seem like she had a glow. It cast shadows on all the contours of her face, the hollow of her cheek looked was almost solid black, her eyes were also hidden in the shadows only and the grey sparkled through it, the shadow around her eyes ran along her nose, the curve of her supple bottom lip was even more prominent, shadows danced in her golden hair and sat beautifully in her curls. She looked like a movie, a film noir where the detective meets the femme fatale only to fall madly for her. Therese walked up to her, her fingers reaching out to touch the fabric of her skirt. 

“Is that okay?” Carol asked. 

Therese replied with an impassioned kiss. She felt Carol shudder against her mouth and take her by the waist. Their arms wrapped around each other, tangled in hair or bunching up clothing, as simple firm kisses grew hot with their desire. They rocked back and forth, both lips in a silent dual to taste more of the other, to feel more of the other, to claim, to bruise. The pucker of their kisses and the slurp of their tongues echoed off the walls, a sound so obscene it felt like sacrilege to the usual quiet of the dark room. Therese felt her lungs burn for air but she kept kissing as if Carol’s lips were a substitute for oxygen. Yet surely they broke for air, Therese slid her hands from Carol’s hair to her chest and felt her beating heart and heaving chest under her palm.

“I don’t know if I am going to be able to work with you here.” Therese said. Carol laughed, tugging Therese’s waist and pressing her closer. 

“Then how about you keep me company in the bedroom?” 

Therese missed a deadline for the first time in her career.

Chapter Text

Carol slowly woke up to gentle lips against her jaw, more tracing than kissing yet they were still enough to move her into the realm of consciousness. She didn’t open her eyes yet, just hummed as Therese continued her tracing along her jaw and down her neck. To wake up next to Therese’s warm, beautiful body that kept the winter cold away and cozily curled against her with the look of serenity on her young face was a divine gift that Carol relished in every morning but to be woken up by the sweet press of lips, the soft meanderings of even softer skin delicately bringing her morning in was something that Carol was deeply moved by. If it had been anyone but Therese, Carol would’ve maybe been reluctant, annoyed even, but Therese’s touch was always one filled with love, with devotion, with no ulterior motive other than to make Carol’s day better and to show her the love that she felt for her and Carol felt it in every touch, every brush of their fingers, every kiss of her lips, even in her eyes as she looked at her across a room. Carol’s heart would undoubtedly fill with sudden emotion and to feel that same burst of warmth and love first thing in the morning was a thing that Carol would cherish and fight for the rest of her life. 

“Good morning angel.” Carol finally opened her eyes and took in Therese’s sleepy smile and mussed up hair. 

“G’morning” Therese said, voice slightly hoarse from sleep. 

“I love you.” Carol pulled her closer by her cheek and kissed her sweetly on the lips. 

Chapter Text

It’s abysmal. Carol could smell the earthy musk in the air, a telling sign of forthcoming rain that would turn snow into dirt ridden sludge. Therese had rolled the window down, dirt smelling winter winds mixed with her cigarette’s smoke filled the car. For the first time Therese didn’t sink into her seat and curl into it, she moved restlessly, adjusting herself constantly as if something was bothering her legs. Carol could hear her shaking exhales, the rumble of the engine, even the crunch of tyres rolling over displaced gravel, yet the silence that encompassed both of them was deafening. The air was thick, as if both of their anxieties, tensions and worries had manifested into a heavy emulsion in which the both of them sunk slowly. 

“What are you thinking?.. You know how many times a day I ask you that?” There is ice in her words, she regrets it immediately. 

“I’m sorry. What am I thinking? I’m thinking that I am utterly selfish. And I-” 

“Don’t do this. You had no idea. How could you have known?” Carol feels sympathy for the girl. It was her own fault if she was honest, she knew the risk, yet she dragged Therese into it. Why should Therese be the one to feel guilty? her stomach threw bile up her throat, Carol swallowed. 

“I - I should have said no to you. But I never say no. And it’s selfish because I take - everything. Because I don’t know - anything. I don’t - know what I want. How could I if I just say yes to everything?” Therese’s voice shook, Carol threw a panicked look towards her, seeing Therese’s features start to contort with horrific sadness. 

The sight shakes her core, suddenly she feels like she is spiralling out of control and that there is nothing she can do to console Therese. Her hands move on their own, pulling up to the side of the road and killing the engine. Carol can keep up a front, hell she’s had enough practice at it, so she steadily slides across the bench seat. With a hand to Therese’s chest and the other around the back of her seat, Carol turns the weeping girl towards her. She looks all over her face before finding her eyes.

“I took what you gave willingly.” Carol says vehemently. 

Tears roll down Therese’s cheek still yet her eyes don’t leave Carol’s. Carol brings her hand to Therese’s face, she wills herself not to shudder at the soft feel of her, at the feel of wetness that she smears across Therese’s cheek in an effort to wipe her tears away. She feels Therese lean into her hand, nuzzling it almost, threatening to completely undo her and break her into small pieces. Carol slides her hand down to Therese’s chin and wills her to look at her again.

“It’s not your fault Therese. Okay?” Carol says.

She starts to move away but Therese’s hand weakly closes around her wrist and pulls her back. Therese cups Carol’s hand in both of her own and presses it to her chest. Carol closes her eyes, she feels the cushion beneath her shift and the sound of fabric against leather, she can feel Therese’s warmth come closer, her breath against her lips. In moments, they are so close that their noses skim each other’s and their breaths mingle. Carol wants to pull back, start driving again. They are out on a public highway, with that detective still on their tail, it’s inviting trouble if anything and she should pull away. she should pull away. she should pull away. 

But she doesn’t. 

Carol opens her eyes and finds Therese staring back at her, red puffy eyes, tear stained cheeks making her look impossibly younger. The sadness in her eyes didn’t look like it was new, it was an early born fear of being abandoned, of being betrayed, of losing love just in a day, Carol’s heart broke for the girl. Carol leant forward and kissed her, a wistful kiss filled with longing and unsaid sorries. They kiss for the longest minute, Carol felt her body melt into the sensation of Therese’s lips against her. They kept it somewhat brief, knowing it wasn’t safe. They moved back to their seats wordlessly. Carol started the car and Therese lit another cigarette. As they pulled onto the highway again, Carol put her hand on the seat beside her. Without a minute’s delay, Therese closed her fingers over Carol’s hand. Nothing else was to be said.